24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed from 28th February (vide page 342), on motion by Mr. Cockle -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to -
May It Please Your Excellency:
We, the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the Address: - “ but desire to advice Your Excellency that the Government no longer possesses the confidence of the Parliament and the Nation because its latest proposals -
neglect to restore continuous full employment and are totally inadequate (o assure job opportunities for school leavers;
leave Australian manufacturing industry wit’hout adequate protection and the business world without a return of confidence,
adopt only short-term measures which can be readily reversed or abandoned in a further application of its ‘ stop-go ‘ policies;
provide no basis for long-term planning of investment, production, employment and balance of overseas payments;
overlook family social services which would. have a continuing social and economic benefit;
reject the unanimous and urgent request of the Premiers for an inquiry into the needs of education:
fail to reverse its three increases in interest on housing loans;
ignore the need to protect wool producers from price manipulation;
give no assurance to the dairying, meat, wheat, sugar, fruit, and other primary industries in the event of the United Kingdom being admitted to the European Common Market;
fail to restore a fertilizer subsidy to strengthen primary industries;
defer the restoration of selective import licensing;
ignore the opportunities for developing Northern Australia;
employ the wrong methods in reducing taxation;
betray the hopes of migrants coming to Australia, and
postpone legislation to expose and curb monopolistic and restrictive practices “.
.- May I join with other honorable members who have spoken in this debate and congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, upon your appointment to your high office. Your appointment was well merited and I offer my personal congratulations.
The business before the House is the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech, and the Opposition has moved an amendment of censure. There are fifteen grounds in the amendment, and in that connexion I remind honorable members that saying something does not make it so. That does not appear to be understood by the Opposition. It has listed fifteen grounds but has produced no facts to support them. These fifteen’ grounds are merely statements unsupported by any evidence or facts.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has been trying over a period of time to project to the public an image of wisdom and responsibility, an image of somebody who thinks before he speaks. But the unfortunate thing about the Leader of the Opposition is that he speaks before he thinks. Not only that, he speaks before the caucus speaks and before his executive has spoken. This has led him into a situation on West New Guinea in which he has caused great harm to the resolution of that dispute and to our future relationships with our neighbour, Indonesia. The time will come when the true enormity of the damage done by the Leader of the Opposition will be revealed to all. Of course, we are well aware that there are great cleavages of opinion within the caucus at present on the fundamental issue of foreign policy. Yet this is the party which has moved a censure motion.
– How do you know there are cleavages?
– We know because you have been split among yourselves ever since you have been here, and while you are divided you will stay on the Opposition side. After this contretemps on West New Guinea, the Labour Party managers got together to try to reach a compromise. All the attributes of honeyed words and calm persuasion were brought into the caucus to seek a compromise, and it was this compromise which gave birth to this censure motion with its fifteen grounds. If you go through them, you can see the compromise.
It is an interesting exercise to look at the grounds and see the pattern. The first of the grounds deals with job opportunities; and quite obviously, it flows from the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). He does not know the problems. He has built a horror comic out of the word “ automation “ although he does not even understand the meaning of the word. He sees automation everywhere in Australia, lost job opportunities and people out of work. The fact is that to find true automation in Australia you probably have to go into the plastic industries; you are unlikely to find it anywhere else. What we have in Australia is growing mechanization. To suggest that there is horror in this situation is nonsense. We have had mechanization in the world since man first discovered the wheel. We have had mechanization at advancing rates since the first Industrial Revolution. The important point is that as each mechanical change has come, so we have adjusted to it, and so we will adjust to future changes and advances in mechanization.
The honorable member for Blaxland boasts of an affinity with, indeed a descent from, people like the Tollpuddle martyrs. It is a proud boast, but I suggest that the philosophy espoused and the actions taken by those worthy gentlemen of long ago are completely out of date to-day. The honorable member should abandon that kind of thinking. He ought to think big. He ought to think in realities instead of allowing statements such as these to be included in a compromise censure proposal.
Then I come to the second charge that is made in this amendment, to the effect that the Government’s proposals leave the business world without a return of confidence. It is rather difficult to decide who originated this item. From the terms of it I rather suspect that it came from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), because I think that honorable gentleman probably wanted to embarrass the Leader of the Opposition. When we are talking about confidence in the business world, we have to remember that the Leader of the Opposition has been predicting doom and disaster and depression ever since he came to this place. The people of Australia perhaps think that on the law of averages he has to be right some time, and that perhaps this is the time when he is going to be right. So confidence ebbs. But the fear that brings about a lack of confidence is, in reality, the fear that the Leader of the Opposition may become Prime Minister. This is the true source of the lack of confidence in the business world in Australia. As the fear that the Leader of the Opposition may become Prime Minister recedes, so there will be a restoration of confidence. The honorable gentleman is the final single individual in this country responsible for this fear.
It is not a wise move to make predictions in politics, but I will make the prediction that the next confidence crisis in Australia will occur when the next Leader of the Opposition is elected. We had a confidence crisis when Dr Evatt was appointed Leader of the Opposition. We had a confidence crisis when the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) was appointed* Leader of the Opposition. We will have the next confidence crisis when the next Leader of the Opposition is appointed.
Then I come to the third point of this censure proposal, which refers to shortterm measures which can be readily reversed or abandoned. This, of course, is clearly the work of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), because the whole of this charge rests on nothing more substantial than economists’ semantics. The way that they look at the situation is this: If you implement long-term economic measures, they are harsh and inflexible, and this is bad. This argument results in contentions that one frequently hears, such as the suggestion that if you cannot finance capital works for development from loan moneys then you should not proceed with them at all, because you cannot abandon the principle that long-term loan money is the only source from which to finance developmental work in Australia. Proceeding from that proposition, we come to the essence of this part of the censure proposal, which implies that the short-term measures that are adopted must be bad, because, being short-term measures, they are capable of being reversed or abandoned. This is another example of economists’ semantics.
The fourth point of the motion is concerned with long-term planning of balance of payments. This, of course, was obviously inspired by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), because he ought to know how desirable it is to plan, in the long-term, for a certain level of overseas balances. Everybody would like to be able to plan in this way, but the honorable member for Lalor ought to know of the pressure exerted by commodity prices in the world, and how difficult it is to influence these prices. He ought to know how much the Government would like to be able to plan in the long-term for its overseas balances. The difficulty is, of course, that we are subject to overseas influences and pressures, which it is not easy, and sometimes impossible, to move in the desirable direction. But it is true that while the Opposition is throwing this in as a make-weight in an omnibus censure motion, the Government is getting down to hard, solid bargaining trying to protect our overseas markets and commodity prices.
The next item in the censure motion is social services, and this has quite clearly flowed from the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser). Nothing need be said about this, because the honorable member for Eden-Monaro and his supporters behind him were demolished in debate in this House last week.
The eleventh ground is an interesting one. It deals with import licensing and this is quite clearly Calwellian. The Leader of the Opposition opposed the introduction of import licensing and while import licensing was operating, he constantly and severely criticized it. His attitude is best summed up in his own expressive words. He is reported in “ Hansard “ as having said, referring to import licensing -
This was his view about import licensing. But to-day he presses for its re-imposition. This is not the only point on which he has changed his mind. Back in 1954 or thereabouts, when speaking on an immigration bill, the Leader of the Opposition, who was then the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, praised the Australian security service. Now he can find nothing that is good about the security service. The Leader of the Opposition has changed his views on everything. What was formerly good is now bad and what was formerly bad is now good.
We come then to the thirteenth ground of the censure motion. This deals with taxation and again is clearly Calwellian. The Budget of 1960 produced a debate during which the Leader of the Opposition complained very trenchantly that the five per cent, rebate on personal income tax had ben removed. He complained about its removal. He did not suggest it was unjust or that it favoured the wealthy as against the poor; he just wanted it restored. In this year the rebate is restored, and now he finds that he must seek some other grounds on which to oppose it. The truth of the matter is that he sees his role as Leader of the Opposition fitting him snugly. He sees himself destined to oppose and therefore he opposes as a matter of form. That is the true basis of this censure motion; it is merely one of form.
Now we come to the fifteenth and last ground, which deals with monopoly and restrictive trade practices. The origin of this ground is interesting. I am quite certain that it is Edwardian. The way in which it comes up is this: The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has no confidence whatever that the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition could, as an Attorney-General, encompass the details and difficulties of legislation dealing with restrictive trade practices; so he has had two bob in. He wanted this put on the list merely to ensure that this Government and the Attorney-General in this Government would proceed with the proposal for restrictive trade practices legislation and get it moving along so well that it will be good legislation, and if ever the sorry day comes when the Australian Labour Party is in office, it will not have to rely on its own Attorney-General to handle it. AH the work will have been done. Although there have been complaints from the other side about company profits and monopolies and restrictive trade practices, only one Opposition member has ever stumbled across a restrictive trade practice which he has ventilated in this House. The honorable member .for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) stumbled across a restrictive trade practice when he went to buy a motor car tire. It is true that he has mentioned the matter about ten or fifteen times in this House, but it related always to the same old tire. The honorable member has stopped mentioning it now. He also, apparently, has become tired* of it.
There is the origin of some at . least of the grounds for this censure motion. Let us now have a look at the speech made by the Leader of th. Opposition. It was not a good one. Nobody could say that it was a good speech. The great tragedy about it was that the role of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr Haylen) was to inject a little humour into it. Unfortunately, the part where he injected the humour was on the page that the Leader of the Opposition forgot to read. The honorable gentleman was speaking to a packed House and a gentleman of the press who represents a Victorian morning daily reported that members of the Government side of the chamber sat quiet and discomforted. Yet a representative of a Melbourne afternoon newspaper - obviously, he sat in a part of the press gallery different from that occupied by the other pressman - criticized Government supporters for going to sleep. How can one reconcile the statement by one observer that members on this side of the chamber were discomforted and quiet and that by another that they went to sleep? It is a great pity that the representative of the evening newspaper did not complete the story. He told the correct one so far as he went. If there was any discomfort apparent among Government supporters, it was due only to the boredom of having to listen to the Leader of the Opposition for 40 minutes. . If the representative of the evening newspaper had completed the story he would’ have added that he could count more members asleep on- the Opposition side than on the Government side of the chamber. For goodness sake do not challenge me to name them:
The Leader of the Opposition has always had trouble in relating ‘ facts - economic facts, at least - to his utterances. In the Budget debate in August, 1960, he complained that national growth was too slow.. Yet, while he was saying that, registrations of new motor vehicles were climbing to a record rate of 320,000 a year and the number of houses being completed was rising to a record rate of 100,000 a year. However, the honorable gentleman did not even notice these things. In his speech on the Budget in August, I960, he spoke only about constitutional reform. Then, in November, 1960, he adopted a lofty objective attitude and declared that the real problem facing the Government was that of balancing our overseas funds. He seemed to be almost exclusively concerned with that matter at the time. Nobody can know better than do honorable members in this House the strength of our overseas payments position art present. Yet the Opposition attempts to censure the Government on the score of the balance of payments.
The Leader of the Opposition has complained about the reluctance of the loan market to provide funds. Every member of this House knows that the last two Commonwealth loans have been over-subscribed by a total of £70,000,000. Yet the Opposition attempts to censure the Government on the state of the loan market. I believe that the proposal respecting the investment by insurance companies of 30 per cent, of their investible funds in public securities, including 20 per ‘ cent, in Commonwealth securities, has played some part in this. The Leader of the Opposition, honorable members will be interested to know, strongly and loudly acclaimed the Government’s decision to apply this ratio, which is referred to as the 30/20 per cent, ratio, to the investment of insurance company funds. Yet he now attempts to censure the Government on the ground that it cannot obtain necesary funds from the the loan market.
In his speech last evening, the honorable gentleman asked the Government to fix a target for car production. He challenged the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to name a target. What an extraordinary challenge. Have we in Australia come to a time when we are to- give every industry a production target? Once we do that, we have to apportion between manufacturers their various shares of the market, and once that is done-, the next and obvious step would be something which perhaps the Opposition would welcome - the setting of work norms for individual workers m the plants. That may be what Opposition members want, but is certainly not what honorable members on this side of the chamber or the Australian people want. Not only is the Leader of the Opposition wrong in this philosophical approach, but he is wrong in fact because the motor car industry, on which he built this vehicle of criticism, does not want it either. It is a bustling, competitive industry. AH those engaged in it are looking for an increased share of the market. They do not want this sort of control with the setting of targets, the setting of norms and sharing of the market.
In the course of his speech, the Leader of the Opposition spoke about the inequity of the 20 per cent, investment allowance. His very words show that he misunderstands the nature of this provision, that he misunderstands the nature of industry and of productive capacity in Australia. He said that the allowance should not be made because there was already in Australia unused productive capacity. If he looks at the Department of Trade’s summary of production in Australia two years ago, at the very height of the boom in Australia, he will find that in many industries there was up to 40 per cent, unused capacity. The whole point is that a factory will not put in machinery capable of producing only X number of units because that number happens to balance the number of orders. If that were done, there would be no possibility of expansion. These undertakings must install plant capable of producing far more than they are currently producing and for which they have orders. That is the very nature of expansion. The investment allowance has the very important function of encouraging efficiency in Australian industry, and of helping industry to make very difficult decisions.
To give a typical example, an industry may be faced with the problem of retaining a relatively efficient machine with a productive capacity 25 per cent, greater than what it is currently producing, or of putting in a new piece of machinery with a productive capacity 100 per cent, greater. The new machine would make for greater efficiency and, what is of equal importance, it would reduce the unit cost. Ordinarily, it would be difficult for management to decide to take the risk because the capital cost of increasing capacity has to be amortized and spread over the unit cost of production. This bold step by the Government will help industry to make such decisions when confronted with this problem in individual plants. The day will come when we shall treasure this measure as a way of increasing our rate of production and of creating a bold, bustling type of private industry..
I believe that the fundamental issue in our future growth is stability. The time has come when the myth that a little mild inflation is not a bad thing has been destroyed. Inflation can only erode, it can only harm, it can only hold up development. Stability is the fundamental issue. That this Government has achieved stability is proved by reference to the consumer index over the last twelve months.
Stability is the fundamental thing which has to be looked to. It must be the foundation of all policy. If achieving stability means short-term economic measures, then I, foi one, favour shortterm measures. If the very nature of the measure is such that it can be diverted, withdrawn, changed or varied, then the very fact that it has this flexibility makes me favour it.
There was sent, I think to all honorable members of this House, a small booklet containing the final address delivered by Robert L. Garner, President of the International Finance Corporation and VicePresident of the World Bank. In delivering that speech, he had nothing to gain, and no purpose to serve other than to make a personal declaration of what his long international experience in finance and economic matters had taught him. He included all that in his address, and I suggest that it ought to be made compulsory reading for all honorable members of the Opposition.
.- It was very pleasant although strange to be sitting here this morning listening to the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden). At least during the time I have been in this Parliament, we usually have not seen or heard from the honorable member until after the arrival of the afternoon plane from Melbourne because he had been appearing for the employers in the arbitration court in that city. So the honorable member’s knowledge of what has been said in this House can only come from his reading of “Hansard “ or the newspapers, or from what he has been told by some one else. Every one in this place knows that the honorable member appears regularly in the arbitration court and gives a good deal of his time to his legal practice in Melbourne. So, one good result of the last election is that he will now be in the Parliament when every one else is here.
The honorable member stated that the Labour Party did not wish to discuss foreign affairs during this debate. If the Government will present a statement on foreign affairs we will be only too willing to debate the question of Indonesia and the Government’s foreign policy as a whole, but our censure motion is directed to the Government’s economic policy at home. If Government members want a debate on foreign affairs, let the Prime Minister present a statement. When he held the External Affairs portfolio and wanted a debate on foreign affairs, he presented a paper to the Parliament. Obviously he does not want such a debate at present.
The honorable member for Bruce said that mechanization and automation have been in existence since the invention of the wheel. But he has not explained why 33 per cent, of the work force in the mining industry has been displaced in the last four or five years. I notice that the honorable member is now leaving the chamber. All I say to him is this: “Do not run away to your legal practice in Melbourne now that you have made your contribution for the day.’* Again I invite him to explain why one-third of the work force of miners has been displaced in the last four or five years. Was not this the result of mechanization? What has the Government done to correct this evil which displaces men from their jobs and has other obvious effects on the community as a whole?
Many phases of the Opposition’s amendment invite discussion. One is restrictive trade practices. On other occasions I have dealt with the monopoly which has been created in the tire trade. We could discuss restrictive practices also in relation to cables and the creation of cartels in the timber and clothing trade. If clothing retailers do not sell certain goods at the price stipulated by the manufacturing company they do not receive any supplies of that company’s products. Unfortunately there is not sufficient time for honorable members to deal fully with all aspects of these matters.
The honorable member for Bruce claimed that the economy is stabilizing and everything is improving, but a heading in to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ reads: “December Retail Sales Down 7.2 per cent, in the City “. There is the answer to the honorable gentleman who has just concluded his speech and left the chamber.
We could discuss many matters in relation to which the Government deserves censure. We of the Opposition believe that the Government no longer retains the confidence of the people. If the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) were the man of courage that he claimed himself to be when he said that a Prime Minister had to be a man of courage who was prepared to select certain corns to stand on and then stand on them hard and firmly, he would now resign. In the recent election the Labour Party polled 2,534,680 votes and the Government parties 2,213,000. This gives the Labour Party a clear majority. The voting indicates that the people do not want this Government. The Opposition has 62 members in this Parliament, including the honorable members for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) and the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). If they were given complete voting rights, thus conferring on the people whom they represent real representation in this Parliament, the Government clearly would not be entitled to govern this country. It is not entitled to govern this country, because of the facts I have stated. The majority of the people have rejected it. The Government parties and the Opposition are in equal numbers in this Parliament, and the economic policy which the Government is pursuing to-day is not one which could give anybody confidence in it. If the Government is as courageous as the Prime Minister claims, let him go to the people immediately and ask for a mandate to govern instead of continuing with the shoestring majority that he has to-day. Let the Government go out and ask the people for a workable majority v ih which to continue implementing its policy. We believe that if the Prime Minister does that there will not be a Liberal-Country Party Government but that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) will then become the Prime Minister of this Commonwealth and there will be a firm policy brought down, in which the people can have confidence.
Look at the way this Government has played around with the economy of Australia over the past two years. We have seen its policies spread out over the years since it was elected in 1949 and the way it has created economic crises from time to time. We had the first horror budget in 1951-52, which destroyed a situation of full employment. We had another horror budget in 1956, which once again destroyed the growing, confidence of the people and prevented the return of full employment. On 23rd February, 1960, we saw the start of the “ stop-go “ policy of this Government. To-day it has completely confused the people and they do not know what they are doing. It talks about making money available to provide employment; but the real issue to-day is that the people of the Commonwealth no longer have confidence in the Government. They are afraid to invest their money because they do not know when next this Government will change its policy and bring about a state of affairs in which the people could lose their money.
Let us look briefly at this Government’s policy over the last two years. In February, 1960, there was the lifting of import’ controls and the pegging of the basic wage. There was a no-deficit budget in August, 1960, but another policy in the following November, 1960.
The Government was not honest and fair dinkum. At that time it knew a by-election was coming up, that the then member for Calare was going to resign. It therefore held off until after that election on 5th November until 15th November, when it introduced another horror budget which increased from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent, the sales tax on motor cars, tightened interest rates and controlled investment by life insurance companies. Then, as the result of the outcry from the people, in February, 1961, off came the increased sales tax on motor cars and the Government announced it would review its policy on interest rates ami its proposals in respect of investments by life insurance companies.
In August, 1961, there was another budget; and at that time the Leader of the Opposition told this country and the Government that our economy needed a boost and an increased deficit budget in order to increase employment by giving an impetus to the economy. The Government ignored that warning; all it came forward with was a small reduction in sales tax from 8i per cent, to 2i per cent, which would not have any material effect, as the amount involved was only about £2,000,000. Since that time- in February of this year - we have had the recent statement by the Prime Minister on what this Government is going to do; but what it has not done up to date is to restore the confidence of the people in h. Then the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) rises in this chamber and talks about the loan moneys which have been contributed.
Let us examine the real position regarding loan money and the Government’s real policy on overseas investment in Australia and borrowing overseas. In this Government’s term of office our overseas borrowing has increased by some £280,000,000 in ten years. That is how the Government has been able to maintain Australia’s overseas reserves - not by genuinely building them up out of earnings from exports, but by continued borrowing. The Government and its supporters claim that the fact that it has been able to borrow so much overseas indicates the confidence that overseas investors have in this country. Of course overseas investors have confidence in Australia whether it is being ruled by a Labour government or a Liberal government, because the opportunities for investment abroad - opportunities to exploit the people of other countries - are diminishing year by year. No longer can the capitalists invest their money confidently in Cuba or in the new African nations, because of the independence won by those nations. No longer can they confidently invest their money in Asia or South America. The result is that there is a surplus of investment money available, and Australia, being one of the reasonably stable countries, is an obvious place for some of that money to go. Investors overseas know that there is no risk in this country of a revolution of the sort that has occurred in other countries in which overseas investors used to place their money. So those investors are prepared to take a smaller profit with less risk than they would face if they invested in other places. The Government, therefore, cannot justly claim credit for the position of our overseas reserves.
Now let us look at our internal loans. We know that already this Government has borrowed more on the internal loan market than it claimed was available on that market Is that a credit to the Government? Is not the real position that, as the result of the legislation introduced by the Government late last year, insurance companies and superannuation funds are compelled to invest a certain proportion of their money in Government loans? They have no real alternative to doing so, because unless they invest in Government loans they have to pay excessively high taxes on the money not invested. That is where so much of the Government’s loan money has come from. Furthermore, because of the economic instability in Australia to-day many investors are not prepared to invest their money in new enterprises, but are prepared only to invest in short-term Commonwealth loans on which they can realize at short notice.
The Government must increase considerably its own investment in Australia either by’ way of financing increased public works, by providing increased allocations for housing or by helping with the establishment of new industries, such as an aluminium industry. Honorable members recently elected for Queensland seats are greatly concerned over the export of bauxite from the Queensland deposits for processing abroad, and well they might be! Why should we export raw materials to provide employment in other countries and then import the processed commodity? This Government should itself subsidize or establish an aluminium industry in Queensland or wherever is most suitable for its establshment. The same thing applies to iron ore and coal. Why should we be exporting iron ore and coal and at the same time be importing steel, the payment for which is another charge against our overseas funds?
If the Government is to restore stability in Australia it must do what I have advocated. It must establish industries to aid in decentralization of population and to provide employment generally. By doing so it could soon solve the unemployment problem. Since the Government took office in December, 1949, unemployment has risen from roughly 8,000 to more than 131,000. The figure has been growing year by year because the Government believes in having unemployment. Its belief is that a sound economy is one based on a reasonable pool of unemployed. The only point about which its members differ among themselves is how large the pool should be. I believe that the Prime Minister would not be prepared to do anything to alter the present volume of unemployment except for the drubbing that he received at the recent general election. He is prepared to take action only when he is afraid of losing the Prime Ministership. He is willing to sacrifice a few of his members at elections but if there is any risk to his own bide, he is prepared to take some action to rectify the position.
Let us look at one of the points raised in the motion of censure - that which deals with education. Once again, we of the Opposition are concerned to realize that insufficient money is being made available to conduct State education departments. The New South Wales Government is spending £79,000,000 a year on education. This is still insufficient to ensure adequate classrooms, sufficient teachers, sufficient schools and all that goes to make up an education system; yet the Commonwealth Government is prepared to sit idly by and do nothing about it. Yesterday, the New South Wales Teachers Federation carried a resolution of congratulation to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) on the work that he is doing in bringing pressure to bear on the Government to do something about the frightful state of education.
We believe that it is high time that there was a three-tier conference on local government between the Commonwealth, the States and local government itself in order to arrive at ways and means of financing local government. I suggest that in this’ time of economic crisis the. Government should have gone out of its way to encourage local government. If. any local council is prepared to reduce its rates, the Government should make up the deficiency between the total rates received and the amount necessary to attend to the affairs of the council. The deficiency could be made up by way of a grant or an interest-free loan so that more money could be poured into the economy. At the present moment rates represent a very substantial financial burden, not only to workers, but to commerce and industry. If that drag on the economy could be reduced, additional money would become available for spending in die community. The loan money which is so obviously available could provide a backstop for the full finance that is necessary to carry out local government programmes. This is a problem which the Government must attack instead of pursuing its present policy under which it is prepared to assist only those people in the higher income brackets. The labourer in industry in receipt of about £800 a year is to have his taxation reduced by £1 7s. a year. He will buy a terrible lot with that!
– It is about 6d. a week.
– Yes. The tradesman in industry earning about £1,000 a year is to be given the magnificent taxation reduction of £2 14s. a year! But what about the supporters of the Liberal Party - the tall poppies on £10,000 a year? Their tax is to -be reduced by £221 a year. What about the fellows on £20,000 a year? There are 345 of them. Their tax reduction will amount to £544. How much of that money will they put into the economy? Apparently the Government believes that they will spend it and that they will possibly invest it in industry. But the people who have these large sums of money no longer have confidence in this Government and they are no longer prepared to invest their money in industry to provide employment. If there are no buyers, there are no investors. In order to get buyers you must provide people in the lower income brackets with additional money. Every £1 that these people get they spend.
The Labour Party says that the Government should increase the social service payments because, every £1 that a social service recipient receives he will spend immediately. This will immediately provide an increased turn-over which will take up the drag indicated by the decline of 7.2 per cent, in retail sales which took place in Sydney recently. To stimulate spending money must be given to the people in the lower income brackets who need it and who will spend it immediately. If you can create buyers, you will get investors later on. In any case, the investors have sufficient money at the present time.
Let us consider the 20 per cent, taxation allowance on new machinery and the sales tax on motor cars. When this Government took office, the sales tax on motor cars was Si per cent. The honorable member for Bruce spoke about what this Government had done to encourage the motor car industry. The fact is that it increased the sales tax from 84 per cent, to as high as 40 per cent., then took it back to 30 per cent, and now proposes to make it 22i per cent. If that is the way the Government stimulates industry, I would hate to see it dampen industry down.
If the Government wants to help the workers, why does it not allow them to claim transport costs as a tax deduction? Do supporters of the Government realize that as a result of this Government’s policy, some workers have to spend up to £2 a week travelling to their place of employment? The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) could cite figures in that connexion. Some workers in his electorate have to travel 38 miles a day each way to and from their place of employment at a cost of from £2 to £2 10s. a week. Yet this Government will not allow them to claim that expense as a tax deduction. However, the Government allows the tall poppies to claim 20 per cent, on the cost of machinery as a tax deduction. Business executives who use their motor cars to travel to and from their place of business are allowed to claim such expense as a tax concession, but the wage plug does not count. If the Government wants, to stabilize prices, why does it not eliminate advertising costs as a tax deduction? Obviously, advertising costs play an important part in the cost structure. If that allowance were- discontinued, less money would be wasted on advertising, and that would bring about a reduction in prices.
The Government has announced that it will spend an additional £5,000,000 on housing:. Honorable members should realize that the provision of that £5,000,000 will not make available the same amount of money for government home building as was spent last year. At present, government expenditure on housing is about £36,000,000 a year. An additional £5,000,000 will make the total £41,000,000, whereas last year £44,000,000 was spent on government housing. Throughout the Commonwealth, State housing commissions have a waiting list of 96,000 applicants. This Government is dampening down the number of homes that are being built. In March, 1960, 10,800 homes were built. The last figures available^ - for January, 1962 - show that as a result of the Government’s policy, the rate of home building in Australia in that month had been reduced to 5,300 homes. The Government should ensure that sufficient money is made available for public works to provide employment for the 131,000 unemployed. It should provide additional money for home building to ensure that the rate of construction can be maintained at 10,800 a month. This Government’s policy has been to maintain unemployment to dampen down the demand for imported goods so that it can correct the trade balance. We say that unemployment must not be used to dampen down the economy. We must have full employment and, if necessary, impose selective import controls to protect Australian industry.
Members of the Australian Country Party are pleased about the sale of millions of pounds worth of wheat to Communist China. They have not taken into account the effect of these negotiations. In my electorate, there is a small factory employing ten girls who make handkerchiefs. Handkerchiefs are one of the things imported into Australia from mainland China as a result of a reciprocal trade agreement with that country-. Imported handkerchiefs from Communist-controlled countries are causing unemployment among Australian workers.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) made some interesting points in his speech. First, he said mat overseas financiers were investing money in Australia to the detriment of our national economy and that they were doing so because of our stable economy. Then he amended that statement and referred to our reasonably stable economy. Then he said that the country was suffering from economic instability. He contradicted himself three times in three minutes. The honorable member peddled the old line of printing more money without any increase iti production to pay for some fantastic social service scheme.. Then he said that we should adopt measures that would involve the expenditure of less money on advertising. On the other hand, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) promised the people in his policy speech that he would spend more money on trade promotion overseas. What is that if it is not advertising? Yet the honorable member for Newcastle is in favour of spending less money on advertising.
The House has been asked to consider this long-winded and vague censure motion covering fifteen points. The censure motion has been moved by this promiseanythingforavote Opposition. The Opposition does not mention in the amendment three very important features of the Australian scene. There is no mention of defence or the Opposition’s socialization policy, and there is very little mention of the most vital thing for Australia - our overseas trade. During this debate, we have heard the Opposition speak of practically everything but the amendment. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) said1, “ Let us look at the Prime Minister’s policy speech. It is not factual.” Very well, let us look at the policy speech of the Leader of the Opposition and take two or three points from it. The Leader of the Opposition and his party are asking the people and this Parliament to put them in office as the government. The honorable member for Wilmot said that the Prime Minister’s policy speech was not factual; but the Leader of the Opposition said - i pledge that there will be no socialization for three years.
How can the Leader of the Opposition give that pledge when he and every one on his side have to sign a declaration that socialization will be the basis of their policy? At the time of the election, the Leader of the Opposition said there were 150,000 unemployed in Australia. The official figure was 108,000. So the statement by the Leader of the Opposition was untrue. In his policy speech, the Leader of the Opposition made another untrue statement when he said that we had spent £2,400,000,000 during this Government’s term of office on defence. Actually, we have spent £1,966,000,000. These tactics of the Opposition are not unusual because on 30th November, 1959, the Leader of the Opposition said, “Here is a country that has spent £2,000,000,000 on defence and it has not a thing to show for it “. Actually, we had spent £1,575,000,000 on defence. What reliance can we place on the word of the Opposition? This was deliberately misleading the people of Australia, so how can we rely on any promises or statements that are made by the Leader of the Opposition?
We admit that unemployment is a problem. We have done something about it and will continue to do so until the problem is solved. Let us look at history. I admit that it is difficult to find historical records of Labour administration because there has been so little of it. Only twice in Australia’s history has there been more unemployment than there is now and both those occasions arose under a Labour administration. The first occasion was in 1932, when the level of unemployment was not 3 per cent, but 30 per cent., after nearly three years of Labour government. Then in 1949, due, of course, to conditions on the coal-fields, the level of unemployment reached 5.5 per cent., not 3 to 4 per cent., as the honorable member for Wilmot said yesterday that it was.
There is a problem, of course, but honorable members on the Opposition benches cannot truthfully say that all of these 130,000 people can be employed. Even the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions said that a proportion of 1.5 per cent, of the work force unemployed is to be expected. That represents about 60,000 people, so we really have a problem which concerns 70,000 unemployed, and we are doing something about it. We will see that- the problem is solved.
We have heard many times, of course, that democratic socialism, as advocated by the Opposition, is the answer to all our troubles. We are told that it will bring all the people together, and that we will see the realization of the ideal, the brotherhood of man. All people, we are told, will be on the same level. Well, Russia is recognized as a country that has perfected the system of socialism, and where else is there a more pronounced class distinction than in Russia? Where else are the standards of living of the brainy people and the top military men further apart from those of the ordinary working men and the farmers?
The honorable member for Wilmot also attacked this terrible Government, as he described it, for the way in which it has handled the housing situation. He said that in 1960 the number of houses built was 108,000, while in 1961 only 80,000 houses were built. The honorable member said that this was a terrible thing. The Leader of the Opposition, however, said in his policy speech that between 80,000 and 90,000 houses per annum were probably necessary to provide for newly-married couples, for migrants and for slum clearance. The honorable gentleman says that 80,000 to 90,000 houses are probably necessary, yet the honorable member for Wilmot tells us that the Government has let the country down on housing.
– When did he say that?
– He said that during the course of his speech last night.
The people of Australia are now asked to place their confidence in the Leader of the Opposition and the Parliamentary Labour Party. They are asked to believe that the
Labour Party will handle the affairs of the country efficiently, especially those affairs which are of such tremendous importance to us - our relations with the other nations, particularly the Asian nations. The Opposition says that if it is allowed to form a government it will maintain friendly relations with these nations. Well, let us see how the Leader of the Opposition encourages the maintenance of friendly relations with our nearest neighbour, the Indonesians. The honorable gentleman said -
The sabre rattling speeches of the Indonesian President, Dr. Soekarno, were reminiscent of Hitler’s performance at ihe time of Munich, and just as menacing.
– When did he say that?
– On 4th January, 1962. That was said by the Leader of the Opposition, the man who would have the final responsibility for determining his party’s opinion on foreign affairs. He compares our nearest neighbours with the worst criminal in the history of the world. He went on to say -
Dr. Soekarno’s threat to use force to annexe the territory after solemn promises by himself and his Ministers that force would never be used to achieve this show. how worthless his promises were.
In other words, the Leader of the Opposition has branded Dr. Soekarno as a man whose word cannot be trusted in any circumstances. What sort of relations with our Asian neighbours will utterances of that kind engender?
The Leader of the Opposition has made many statements on this subject since the time of the election. On 13th February, 1962, an article appeared in “The Age” in Melbourne, under the heading, “ Nothing for a War, Very Little for Defence, Mr. Calwell “. The honorable gentleman is reported in that article to have said -
Despite the expenditure of more than £2,400 million on defence in the past 12 years-
That figure, of course, is wrong, the correct figure being £1,966,000,000-
Australia has nothing to fight a war with, and very little with which to defend itself.
According to the remarks of some of the honorable gentleman’s supporters, we do not need anything to defend ourselves with in any case. On 11th October, 1960, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) said -
This Government should reduce its expenditure on armaments and use the money it is now wasting on expenditure for war to work for peace.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said -
All we need to have at our disposal is something in the nature of a police force to meet that form of attack pending the arrival of assistance from the United Nations.
These statements were made during the debate on the defence estimates for the year 1960-61. The honorable member for Lalor was supported by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who said that we ought to provide a police force and a force to be available for the United Nations, and nothing else. I should not, of course, leave out the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), who seems to have been a bit nettled by my comments. He said, on 12th October, 1960-
My point is that we should prepare ourselves to supply troops to the United Nations, and that is the only justification that Australia has for supplying any troops anywhere at any time.
It is, of course, most significant that in these estimates debates in the last two years neither the Leader of the Opposition nor the Deputy Leader (Mr. Whitlam) has spoken at all.
Now I come to tackle the statement of the Leader of the Opposition that we have nothing to show for our expenditure on defence since this Government has been in power. The honorable member, of course, again misleads the public. He implies that we should have £2,000,000,000 worth of warships, aeroplanes and other tangible articles. What he does not tell the Australian public is that since this Government has been in office we have spent £530,000,000 on pay alone for members of the Services. Does the Leader of the Opposition think the men should not get paid? We have also paid out £217,000,000 for salaries for civilians employed in the defence departments. All the general expenses add up to a total of £1,406,000,000 out of the £1,966,000,000, a proportion of 72 per cent.
We spent £359,000,000 on the material requirements of the forces, such as vehicles, weapons and other equipment. Does the Leader of the Opposition think that we should not have bought such things? Various other items accounted for a good deal of expenditure. We had to buy plant, for instance, to use in the maintenance of equipment that had previously been purchased. Should we not have done this?
These are items of expenditure that are not readily apparent to the average Australian, and I am mentioning them to show where the money has gone. The States have been given, for instance, £6,000,000 for the provision of housing for service personnel.
Now, Mr. Speaker, we are told that we have nothing to show for the money we have spent. Let us take a quick look around Australia and see what airstrips have been built since this Government has been in office. Starting in the north, we find that there are airstrips at Darwin, Broome, Port Hedland, Learmonth, Avalon, East Sale, Richmond, Williamtown, Townsville and Alice Springs.
– Surely you do not give this Government credit for Williamtown!
– My information is that-
– Get your facts correct.
– Fancy the honorable member for Shortland telling me to get my facts correct! [Quorum formed.] I am not so small that I would not apologize, if I were wrong. If my claim that we built Williamtown is wrong, I will apologize, but my information is that the new fighter base at Williamtown was established by this Government. We also established new strips at Avalon and other centres. Apart from work done in Australia with defence moneys over the last twelve years, we have established a complete air base on Cocos Island, with all the necessary equipment and air strips, and we have established a complete air base at Butterworth in Malaya. The honorable member for Newcastle is doubtless a great general. He and other Opposition members are so expert in defence matters that they would not consult those who have had many years of experience in this sphere. They do not agree that we should send troops to Malaya, although this helps to build up friendly relations with Malaya as well as giving us a front line. Their idea is that if we want to defend Newcastle, we should put the troops into Newcastle.
Let me mention some of the other establishments that have been built with defence moneys. We have the enormous and complex radar system at Brookvale which covers the industrial areas of Sydney and Newcastle. We have the radar establishment at Darwin and we have the mobile radar system. We have ground-to-air missiles and many - other items of equipment that are esssential to modern warfare. In what other way is the money spent? Does the Leader of the Opposition want to mislead the people into believing that our ships stay in port and our aircraft on the ground all day and the service personnel do nothing? Of course, there are constant bombing exercises and fighter interception exercises. These matters all concern the defence vote for which the Leader of the Opposition says we have nothing to show. In fact, we have a flexible and mobile defence force. In my own electorate, we have a stores depot and training centre at Bandiana. This depot holds millions of pounds worth of stores, but the public does not inspect that every day. I am reminded that Opposition members do not go there either; yet they say we have nothing to show for the money we have spent on defence!
We have purchased 500 aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force over the last twelve years. We have bomber squadrons with Canberra aircraft, fighter squadrons with Sabre aircraft, maritime reconnaissance squadrons, transport squadrons, an airfield construction squadron and a ground-to-air guided weapons unit. We also have the prospect of very large and more modern aircraft arriving in the near future. Neptune aircraft and Bell helicopters are expected to arrive very soon.
I do not think I have left the House or the people of Australia in any doubt as to whether the statements of the Leader of the Opposition can be relied upon in this matter. If the Opposition thinks that by moving these long-winded and vague amendments it will bluff any member of the team on this side of the House into crossing the floor to vote with it, it should think again. I say here and now that we realize this game is tough. We received almost as big a shock at the result of the election as the Opposition did, but the Opposition has not recovered from the shock yet. Perhaps we have not fully recovered, either, but we are getting over the shock more quickly than the Opposition is. We are forming ourselves into a keen, energetic and tough team that the Opposition will find impossible to beat.
– The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten), like other Government supporters, tries to avoid answering the criticisms in the Opposition’s censure motion by shifting the ground and trying to engage us in a discussion on other matters, although the Government is also vulnerable on those matters, too. I wish the Minister for Air (Mr. Bury), who is now speaking to the honorable member for Indi, would let us all into the secret. He is obviously correcting the honorable member for Indi, who made many wild statements. He was so far off the point that he did not worry about including a few inaccurate figures in his speech. When dealing with housing, the honorable member said that last year 108,000 homes were constructed by the Government. That sounded good; it was a good figure. But the facts as given by the Commonwealth Statistician show that last year, we completed only 83,504 homes and not 108,000.
– I said that.
– This shows how much notice we can take of the honorable member for Indi. I come now to this most serious motion moved by the Opposition. I am sure the people of Australia expect the Government to stand up and answer the charges we have made in the motion. But Government supporters try to turn this into a debate on defence and other matters so that they can dodge the very issue we have raised. Whenever they are in trouble, they call us socialists and say that we plan to socialize the nation. If socialism means the provision of work for those who are out of work, the provision of hospitals for the sick, the provision of education and the care of the needy, we are proud to be socialists. We do not believe in unemployment, as the Australian Country Party does.
We attack the Government because it has failed to provide for the people and has lost the confidence of the Parliament and of the people. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) made some excuses for the position. He said, in effect, “The election was perhaps a photo-finish, but we won. Maybe we received a bit of a poke from the people.” Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Government was nearly knocked right out of the ring! It received much more than a poke. The Treasurer said, “We have the numbers in this House “. But of course the Government has not the numbers in the House. If the honorable members for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) and the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) were given the full voting rights in this chamber that they are entitled to receive, the House would be evenly divided. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and those who sit behind him should really be ashamed to hold office now and to try to struggle on without having a clear majority in the House.
– They are out on their feet.
– I do not know about being out on their feet, but they seem to be confused. From time to time, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), or as some people call him, the “ Minister for Unemployment “, gives us figures relating to unemployment. He gives us a different figure every time he thinks of something new. I thought his best effort was when the figures for January were disclosed. He said that the whole increase was attributable to children leaving school. He spoke as if all the children who were leaving school had rushed in to register for employment. Everybody knows that young people leaving school were looking for jobs and that those who did not find them went back to school. That kind of statement about children leaving school is typical of the sort of talk that we hear from the Minister for Labour and National Service about this problem of unemployment.
Apparently, the unemployment problem was not known to the Government prior to the general election. Before the election, Government supporters accused Opposition members of talking about unemployment when it did not exist. They said that we were scaremongers, in the community and that we were trying to create a depression. I do not know whether the loss of fifteen members from the Government’s ranks has brought its attention to this problem. Perhaps it realized that a lot of its former supporters in this place were out of work. Thinking about them, perhaps it realized that about 131,000 others were out of work, too. Having received a jolt in the election, the Government realizes that it must try to do something about unemployment, and it now attempts in a hurry to make in its programme a few changes that it hopes will restore some confidence to the people and carry it over for a time. Obviously, the Government does not expect the present situation to improve for a long time, as the Treasurer is busy intimating that this policy is flexible and that the Government will be prepared to change it rapidly, if necessary, as has been done in the past. That is no way to win back the confidence of the people of Australia. Manufacturers will not set about planning until they see that the Government controlling this Parliament and administering the country’s affairs has a set programme for restoring the stability of the economy.
A fairly big manufacturer in my electorate asked me, after the Government’s plans had been announced, what I thought of them. I said: “ I am glad that the Government realizes that there is a problem and that the unemployment position has to be rectified. No doubt, its housing programme at least will pick up a little.” The manufacturer replied: “ I would not trust them at all now. I have been caught too often. I will never forgive the Prime Minister and the Treasurer for deliberately creating unemployment in this country. They nearly sent me bankrupt, and I am not prepared to take a chance on them again. If my bank told me to-morrow that I could have any amount I wished on overdraft, I still could not trust the present crowd in office any longer.” That view plainly states the position that we in this country face to-day.
The Government proposes to reduce the sales tax on motor cars. Does it think that such a reduction will make people rush out and buy new cars? Does it think that because a motor car is now £60 or £70 cheaper the motor industry will pick up overnight? Many business people, because of their commitments, need to buy a new car every two years or so, and some of them have been able to keep it up. Many private individuals buy a new car only at intervals of some years, and the wageearner, who is further down the line, generally buys on the used car market. The wage-earner cannot hope to buy a car, whether used or new, unless his employment is secure, not just for six months or one year, but for an extended period of years. Until this Government can assure him of that security, he cannot afford to buy a car or replace bis existing one. Furthermore, business people will not continue to buy vehicles unless they can be assured of business coming in. If their business is not sure, they will make their existing vehicle last a year or so longer than the period of one or two years for which they usually keep a motor vehicle. The Government can restore confidence in the community only by giving an undertaking that its policy, whatever that policy may be, will be followed for a certain period. This Government must give the community something better than a promise of stopandgo - a promise that it will do one thing to-day but may do something different to-morrow.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in his amendment, which constitutes a motion of censure of the Government, has pin-pointed a number of matters in respect of which the Government has to answer to the people instead of contenting itself merely with attacking the Opposition. The Government ought to let us know why it has not done something about these matters that have been raised by the Opposition. We should be told what the Government proposes to do about the problem of unemployment, for unemployment constitutes a serious problem whether there are 131,000, 100,000, 50,000 or some smaller number of people unemployed. Unemployment is a very serious thing for all those who are out of work. Governments, regardless of their political colour, all have an obligation to provide full employment for the people.
It is true that this Government has now made some move to stimulate homebuilding, which it deliberately set out to halt earlier. The Government now proposes to make more liberal advances to ex-servicemen under the provisions of the War Service Homes Act, and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia has increased its maximum advance for home-building. But the provision of additional money fs not the real answer, because money borrowed has to be repaid. If the amount borrowed increases, the weekly payments become greater. There is a limit to what the wageearner is able to repay weekly. From whatever source a person borrows money, whether it be the War Service Homes Division or some other lending authority, he will still need £1,000 or more as a deposit on the purchase of a home. Many people in the community want homes. Many of the 131,000 persons who are unemployed want homes. The increase in the maximum loan will not help them at all. The Government, in co-operation with the States, ought to undertake a national programme really designed to increase home-building and to provide for the people the homes that are so much needed.
I turn now to social services, Mr. Deputy Speaker. One could almost say that this Government cares little for Australia’s children and their future and that it cares even less for those in this community who are aged and invalid. What is the position with respect to child endowment? The Government has done nothing about it. Why are not Government supporters honest enough to say whether or not they believe in child endowment.
– They do not believe it.
– Of course they do not believe in it. But they are not game to remove it from the list of social services. They hope just to let it die. The Government and its supporters care nothing for families. They care nothing for the mothers who are struggling to bring up and educate their children properly. This brings me to the field of education - another field in which the Government does nothing. How many times has it been presented with a plea to do something? How many times has it been asked to establish a committee, similar to that appointed to inquire into the universities, to investigate the needs of primary, secondary and technical education in Australia? How many times have the Premiers of the various States pleaded with the Government to appoint such a committee? Yet this Government refuses to do anything ‘about it.
– Even a Liberal who is Leader of the Opposition in one of the States has presented that plea.
– This Government has met with that plea from Liberal and Labour sources alike, but it has done nothing about the matter.
The funeral benefit payable in respect of pensioners, which amounts to only £10, is miserable, however one looks at it. This Government puts it in the same light as it puts child endowment. It refuses to increase this benefit to a worth-while amount and it is not game to remove it from the list of social services benefits.
– We introduced child endowment.
– The honorable member ought to know something about child endowment. He is one of the few honorable members on the Government side of the chamber who understand the problems of raising a family. He is perhaps the only member on the opposite side of the House who may cross the floor when the Leader of the Opposition’s amendment is put to the vote. Yesterday, the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), appealed to Government members to examine their consciences, to think of the children, of the people of the nation, to think of the future of Australia and not their individual seats. I think that there is a chance - a slim one perhaps - that the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) will come across and vote with us on this motion. ‘_>
In South Australia, we have a Premier named Sir Thomas Playford. He has completely lost confidence in this Government. He has lost confidence in it even since the last general election. During the election campaign, he went from house to house canvassing for this Government, pointing out what a great . thing it would be for Australia if the Menzies Government were returned. But now, since the people spoke with a decisive voice at .the election, Sir Thomas Playford does not want to know the Menzies Government because he has a
State election on his hands. Indeed, the Liberals in South Australia, are frightened to call themselves Liberals. In all their pamphlets and other literature, they describe themselves as the Playford candidates. It is obvious, therefore, that not only the Opposition, but Sir Thomas Playford also, has lost confidence in this Government.
Perhaps, on his part, it is only another of those changes of front which are so popular amongst members of the Liberal Party. Perhaps he, too, is trying to hoodwink the people into believing that he is different from Mr. Menzies. Sir Thomas Playford is no different from the Prime Minister of Australia. He supported this Government’s credit restrictions. He is as much responsible as is the Prime Minister for creating unemployment in Australia. When it comes to hospitals, Sir Thomas Playford is just as vulnerable as is this Government. When asked for help in connexion with a hospital in the south-western area of Adelaide taking in Glenelg and Brighton in my electorate, and one at Unley in Mr. Speaker’s electorate, Sir Thomas Playford, like the Prime Minister, merely said, “ You probably need hospitals, but if you want them your local government bodies can build them “. I hope the people of Glenelg and Unley will record the same vote against Sir Thomas Playford that they recorded against this Government in December. I am confident that we shall push the Playford Government right out of the ring in South Australia next Saturday, because there is no difference between the Liberals here and the Liberals in that State.
Yesterday, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) said how proud he was to be a supporter of the Government. He did not apologize for what the Government had done. He said it had done the right thing. At least he is honest. He is proud to stand up and say: “ I join with the Prime Minister who, with the Treasurer, was responsible for unemployment. I was prepared to step on the toes of the little men in the community. I was prepared to hurt them and to crush them.” He has not changed front like many others have done. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) said that there were many people in receipt of unemployment benefit who were just malingerers. What an accusation for a responsible member of this Parliament to make! I wonder whether he would have the courage to say that in his electorate? I should like to take him to my electorate and introduce him to a young married man who has five children, and who has suffered under this Government’s policy. This man was put out of work. Because he could not continue to pay his rent, his family had to be split up. Two children were put into an orphanage, and the others spread round amongst other families. That family is still split up, in the first place, this Government caused unemployment, and secondly, because the Playford Government has not provided homes for the needy in South Australia.
The motion proposed by the Leader of the Opposition deserves the support of this House. This Parliament has now been sitting for two weeks. I understand that it will sit for only another five weeks. That is a rather strange programme. Is it that the Government has no plans for the future? Is it that it considers it better to shut this place up and at least hang on to the reins of government than to keep the Parliament open and take the risk of being defeated?
I should like the opportunity to speak for some time about the European Common Market. What does the Government propose to do about the European Common Market? What plans has it for protecting the primary producers of Australia? It is certain that the United Kingdom Government will enter the European Common Market, more for political than for economic reasons. Whether we like it or not, the United Kingdom will join that market, and it is the Australian Government’s responsibility to let the people of Australia know what plans it has for protecting not only the primary producers, but the whole nation in the future. Parliament should be kept sitting so that members, might be kept informed and, what is of more importance, so that the nation may be kept informed of what the Government intends to do. The Prime Minister has already clamped down on two of his back-benchers. Although we do not always agree with what the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) have to say, their speeches do usually contain some words that are worth listening to, and we are entitled to hear their views. But the Prime Minister cannot take the risk. He proposes to shut the House up and hang on in the hope of retaining office and in the hope that at the end of the year, after a redistribution of seats, he will be able to bring on a snap election and hold the reins of government a little longer. I believe that the motion proposed by the Leader of the Opposition expresses the views of the majority of the people of Australia, and I hope that it will be carried. If it is not carried in this House, it certainly will be carried by the people of Australia at the first opportunity they have to vote upon it.
– The main thing that emerges from the speech just delivered by the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) is the fact that there is to be a State election in South Australia next Saturday. I think he delivered a very good propaganda speech for the Australian Labour Party in South Australia. But there were one or two other things in his speech about which I should like to comment. He is usually a very happy man, but to-day the honorable member is quite gloomy. I think that when he met this gloomy manufacturer in South Australia to whom he referred, some of the gloom rubbed off the manufacturer on to him. The honorable member became quite gloomy about the motor trade. He said that nothing about it was any good. In a very logical way he spoke about how certain people buy new cars every year. He went down the line and mentioned how the working man buys his motor car from one of the used car dealers. But the interesting thing is that the picture of the motor industry is not a gloomy one, because the January sales of 19,500 cars were an all-time record. It was just a bit of gloom which rubbed off on my honorable friend, but I am sure that it will disappear.
The third matter I should like to mention is the honorable member’s comments about the European Common Market. He asked what the Government intends to do about it. I shall explain to the honorable member the actual position at the time of going to press, as it were. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), in my opinion the most powerful and most able negotiator in the whole of the British Commonwealth of Nations, if not in the world, is waiting now to know whether the Labour Party will give him a pair so that he can catch an aircraft on Sunday night to commence negotiations overseas next Wednesday. When I saw him at midnight last night he still did not know whether he would be given a pair. So much for the interest that the honorable member for Kingston shows in the European Common Market. If the Opposition is sincere and believes that the future of this country depends so much on Britain’s proposal to join the European Common Market, why not let Australia’s great negotiator, the Minister for Trade, knows that he can catch the aircraft on Sunday night and get on with the business of his country?
Now let me join the ranks of those on this side of the House who expressed curiosity about the failure of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), in stating this enormous list of fifteen items of criticism of the Government, to say one word about the two most critically important things that face this or any other country - defence and external affairs. He said not one word about them. This is even more strange when we remember the way in which the Leader of the Opposition has been racing around the country for weeks past. Every day the newspapers print statements that he has made - not short ones but statements covering sometimes half a page of a newspaper. Most of them are quite irresponsible. We know what he said about Indonesia; we know what he said about Dutch New Guinea, and we know of his request that we bring the troops home from Malaya and use them as a garrison in Darwin.
Then he said that we had spent £2,400,000,000 on defence and had nothing to show for it. Statements like that do nothing but harm. By making these irresponsible claims, the Leader of the Opposition has offended the Malayans. If any honorable member doubts that let him read the transcript of broadcasts from Radio Malaya which have followed the statements of the honorable gentleman. He has offended our great partners. We have a solemn defence arrangement with our blood brothers in New Zealand and the
United Kingdom. We have given our solemn word and they have given theirs that we shall defend each other in a partnership if the occasion arises. As the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) so rightly pointed out, under this defence agreement our men are< stationed not in Darwin, but 2,000 miles further away. The Leader of the Opposition has said that we should break this defence agreement and bring our troops home, despite the fact that at present they are in a friendly country so much nearer to any potential enemy and providing 2,000 miles of defence in depth between, the complex Asian mainland and our own shores. The Leader of the Opposition has offended not only the Malayans, our treaty partners, but the Indonesians too. If any honorable member doubts that, let him read some of the news- papers from Indonesia in which he will see how the Leader of the Opposition has damaged our relations with that country.
In the context of Dutch New Guinea let me remind the House that the Indonesian Archipelago of 3,000 islands has numerous islands which are hundreds of miles closer to Australia than is Dutch New Guinea. I commend to the Leader of the Opposition this simple philosophy in international relations: “ You cannot be wrong if you are making friends, and you cannot be right if you are antagonizing people “. That is a basic and simple philosophy in international affairs.
On 11th February this year the Leader of the Opposition, when referring to our defence expenditure, said this -
Despite the expenditure of over £2,400,000,000 on defence in the past twelve years, Australia has nothing to fight a war with, and very little with which to defend itself.
I regard that as an irresponsible statement, and I use the word “ irresponsible “ because it is the kindest word that I can call to mind. As the responsible Minister for Defence, I believe that the statement requires an answer. When such a charge is made I believe that I should stand up and tell the House and the people of this country how this money has been applied and what there is to show for it. As the honorable member for Indi pointed out, the figure of £2,400,000,000 is a gross exaggeration. The expenditure has been overstated by hundreds of millions of pounds, which is another indication of how careless and irresponsible the Leader of the Opposition is.- Of an expenditure of £2,000,000,000, in round figures, over £1,400,000,000 has been used on what we call maintenance, which includes pay, clothing, food, housing and other things for the men in the services. In addition, tens of thousands of civilians - unionists if you like - have been paid out of the maintenance votes of the defence departments. This leaves about £600,000,000 which has been applied to all those things which the services need, such as ships, aircraft and guided missiles, and to the modernization and re-equipment of our defence factories, the building of airfields and the thousands of other things that are necessary.
If the Leader of the Opposition wants to see something for the money which has been spent why does he not lift his eyes and cast them over his own State? I am sorry that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr Pollard) is not in the chamber. He would know of the tremendous jet test airfield which has been established at Avalon at a basic cost of over £3,000,000, and of the work done in the engineering workshops there. He would know also how we have remodified the wings and the integral fuel tanks of the Australian-built Canberra so that now the aircraft is much better and much more effective than it ever was.
Has the Leader of the Opposition ever heard of the Commonwealth Engineering Factory? There is something for him to see. lt has been making marine engines of up to 4,500 horse-power, and that is quite a job. Now it has orders for engines of 10,000 horse-power. If the Leader of the Opposition goes to Footscray he will see how millions of pounds have been spent on re-equipping the ammunition factory. I pay tribute to the craftsmen in that factory for the way in which they handled the enormous problem associated with the adoption of the FN rifle, which involved a tremendous departure from the small arms ammunition used previously. Ever since there has been a rifle, the propellent in cartridge cases has been cordite. With the introduction -»f the 7.62-mm. weapon we had to provide a granular propellent. This is a very complex chemical explosive which has to be handled with great care. It required the staff at Footscray to acquire news skills, which they did. There was another problem. The percussion caps to go in the cartridges use lead azide, which, as honorable members know, is a critically sensitive explosive. The staff overcame that problem and now we are making the new caps and cartridges. Still the Leader of the Opposition claims that there is nothing to show for our defence expenditure! From that factory alone 55,000,000 rounds of this new ammunition have gone to the Army. You can see the same thing throughout Australia. Let us go to Point Cook.
– Why not go to St. Mary’s?
– I will come to that in a moment. At Point Cook there are the new Air Force academy, the school of aviation medicine, the school of languages and a dozen other things. Let us go across to Albion where there is the RJD.X. factory. Does the Leader of the Opposition not know anything about hexanite and R.D.X.? Does he not know that one factory in Canada supplied all of this explosive which was used by all Allied forces including those of the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia during the war and then went out of production? We did not believe that we should be dependent on overseas sources for the supply of this basic explosive so we built the R.D.X. factory at Albion. It is there to be seen by any one who cares to do so. If war comes to-morrow the present production rate can be stepped up three or four times overnight.
Mention was made by way of interjection of clothing factories. We have one at South Melbourne, but I suppose the honorable gentleman has never heard of the other one at Brunswick. Both are doing a magnificent job.
The honorable member for Indi mentioned Bandiana. That reminds me of another point which is not apparent to the average person. I refer to the way in which strategic materials have been stockpiled in case war should come and we should be denied access to the sources of such materials. They have been stockpiled. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) mentioned Bandiana. He mentioned the tens of millions of pounds’ worth of war reserve stores, which are there to be seen by anybody interested enough to go and look at them.
We will cross the border now and go into the territory of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti). I am sure he will be most interested in this, because the Government made a very courageous decision to undertake the production of the FN rifle at the Small Arms Factory, which is in the heart of the honorable member’s electorate. It cost £5,000,000 to re-equip that factory to produce the FN rifle. Not only did we have to find the money; we also had to gamble on the quality of the men - the craftsmen and artisans - who would man the factory, because they were being called upon to produce a rifle that the world has not seen before, with standards of limitations and metrology that had not previously been asked for in a rifle. But the men in the factory at Lithgow responded; and they have turned out this rifle. They have done a magnificent job, and I will say more about that in a moment. The sum of £5,000,000 was put into the Lithgow Small Arms Factory by this Government out of the defence vote, and so good has been the work of the men there that we have sold this rifle in open competition all around the world, to places as far apart as Ghana and New Zealand, whilst orders from other countries are still coming in. If the Government had not put that £5,000,000 into that community, I am sure the honorable member for Macquarie will agree it would have been disastrous for the City of Lithgow, because its other main industries, coal-mining and brewing, had practically ceased, and this great industry was tottering; but this Government saved it.
The men in the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow were largely responsible for its revival, but that fact is not recognized by the Labour Party as a whole. I am sure the honorable member for Macquarie is acquainted with Alderman Dudley, who is held in the highest esteem in union circles in Lithgow. He is the head not only of one of the unions but also of the combined group of local unions, and he is a highly respected man. Well, he had something. to say about this matter after the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) had criticized this factory. I did not step in and take the honorable member to task, but Alderman Dudley, the union leader, did. Can one think, of anything more incongruous than a union leader having to castigate the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for what he said against the men in that factory. Alderman Dudley said -
Last week Mr. Whitiam criticized what he called a delay in producing FN rifles and equipping the Austraiian Armed Forces. Mr. Whitlam should be told by Labour unionists that the Federal Government set the target date for production in March, 1959. The Government has not only maintained its local schedule of production but is currently selling and delivering rifles to New Zealand and Ghana in West Africa.
We are selling them to Malaya also and have received inquiries from half a dozen other countries. Alderman Dudley continued -
We are producing Australian rifles as cheaply and even cheaper than many overseas countries. We would like him to arrange to visit Lithgow to meet the rank and file of the factory unions.
It would be a novel experience for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to meet the rank and file, but the invitation is there for htm and only time will tell whether he accepts it.
By interjection, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) has raised the question of the St. Mary’s filling factory. First of all, why was it needed? It was needed because the previous Labour Government at the end of the last war sold up every bit of. filling equipment in all the filling and explosives factories in Australia. We had the ridiculous position where we were producing explosives and had the capacity to make shell and bomb cases and mortar bombs, but nowhere to bring them together and put the explosives into the cases. That was why the St. Mary’s factory had to be built. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) raised all sorts of questions about the building of that factory. At enormous expense we brought in outside independent people who made the closest examination of the whole project. The best management consultants in Australia said that it was one of the best establishments of its kind in the world and that the money was wisely spent; and of course it was. That factory was equipped at a cost of well oyer £20,000,000, and it was necessary. You do not build things for defence just for the moment. They are an insurance, and you plan to* use them in the event of war. We have the St. Mary’s factory to-day, and there is not a better factory of its type in the world. That is the general consensus of opinion of men from the United States of America, Germany and Japan who have seen it and said, “ It is superb “. One thousand men are employed there to-day in time of peace; and in time of war it will be not only a necessity but also a god-send to this country. But I am sure honorable members opposite would then ask, “ Why did you not build three of them? “
In reply to the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Don Cameron) I shall deal with the position in Queensland. There is the head-quarters of the bomber squadrons. When we established our field force as a regular army where did we station it? In Queensland, in and around Brisbane. Then there is the jungle training school at Canungra in addition to the Amberley Air Force base. Then we have the rotary wing and the fixed wing aircraft components of the Army. They have all gone to Queensland. I mentioned the Air Field Construction Squadrons. One of these constructed the airfield at Townsville. Wing Commander Ling and his men did a magnificent job in that instance. They went into the jungle behind Townsville and found their own basalt and crushed their own rock; and when they had done that they left the tidying up to be done by somebody else and went to Cocos Island where they constructed another airfield. Then they went to Butterworth and did the job again; and later at Darwin they established one of the greatest air bases in the southern hemisphere. Yet the honorable member for Lilley wants to know what has been done in Queensland. If he likes he can have a total account of the work done in pounds, shillings and pence, and it will surprise him because he has not been here long enough to find out these things.
I do not want to trespass on the province of the Service Ministers, but we have provided £210,000,000 for capital equipment for the Navy, for some of the most modern ships available in the world to-day in the classes that we want. If there are any ex:Navy men here like myself, I would like them to see these ships and others that we have modified - the type 12 and Q class - and see the comfort provided for the men as compared with what men in the Navy ‘had to put up with in years gone by. We find the Army never before so readily available or so well equipped, and like the Navy, with its morale never so high and never better in any way than it is at the present time. We have put £186,000,000 into the Army for new equipment and money is still going in at the rate of £10,000,000 a year. We have the FN rifle, the 105-mm. howitzer, the recoilless anti-tank weapon, ocean-going landing ships, 7,500 vehicles, armoured and otherwise, and 8,000 wireless telegraphy sets with which we re-equipped and refurnished their communications. There are also 500 items of heavy earthmoving equipment.
What can be said about the Navy and Army can be said also about the Air Force. There we have provided £290,000,000 for equipment. The Sabres and Canberras are being built here as well as the Winjeel and Vampire trainers. Then there are the Neptune Maritime Reconnaissance Squadrons that are in the north of Queensland and are now being equipped with the latest version of the P2V7, and the great CI 30 transports of the Royal Australian Air Force. So the story goes on. Far from having nothing to show for all this expenditure I say, without any fear of contradiction, that never in the history of this country has there been so much to show for what has been spent on defence, and never has the country been so well prepared to meet an emergency.
So I return to the question I asked at the start. Why was not our defence policy criticized in the motion? Does the Leader of the Opposition agree that we cannot be censured on defence? I believe that that is the position. I believe that, deep down in his heart, he believes that the defence programme and policy of this Government are right. But the real reason why he did not include defence in his motion, and why he is not game to bring up the matter of defence, is that the people behind him have not the same ideas on the matter as he has. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) quoted the statements made in this chamber by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), and then another by the honorable member for Reid. Their views all add up to one thing: That we disarm, as the honorable member for Reid suggested, that we give it all away and join up with the United Nations. Nobody has a more starry-eyed idea of the United Nations than I have. Nobody has a greater hope for its future. But any man who suggests, at this time in the history of the United Nations, that we take the safety and security of our native land, Australia, and put them into the hands of 100 different countries whose representatives sit in a glass house 10,000 miles away, is more than irresponsible, because to do so would not just be folly - it would be criminal folly, and would not be supported by one decent Australian.
– First, I should like to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your re-appointment to your office, and I congratulate also the new members of the House on their election to it.
The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) has made a very spirited defence of his department and its activity.
– And it was a good one.
– I would even concede that it was a good speech. In any event, he has made a very spirited defence, but I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that his department’s activities have not been attacked or even mentioned on this side of the House during this debate. He suggested that the only conclusion that could be drawn from that fact is that neither the department nor the Minister controlling it is vulnerable to attack. I have noticed that in this debate many honorable members, on the other side of the House, particularly Ministers, have made no reference, or only passing references, to the subject-matter of the amendment which was properly moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I suppose that we could justifiably reach the same sort of conclusion that the Minister has reached, and claim that the reason why honorable members opposite have made, at the most, only passing references to the subject-matter of the amendment, is that they regard the position of the Leader of the Opposition in that respect as invulnerable.
Here we are debating a virtual motion of censure of the Government, and we have the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) adopting precisely the same tactics as those adopted by the Minister for Defence. He complained rather bitterly that we had not mentioned Indonesia or defence in the motion. He also objected to the fact that any amendment to the motion for the Address-in-Reply was moved at all. So he objects both to the fact of this virtual censure motion and its form. I presume that he would like us to consult with him on what matters we should include in a motion of censure against the Government of which he is a member. That would seem to be the only way to satisfy his complaint.
I support the amendment because I believe that it is appropriate. My view is that if we are dissatisfied - as are many sections of the community - with what the Government proposes to do we would be remiss in our duty if we did not take steps to express ourselves on the matter. I will produce to the House some evidence of the dissatisfaction with the Government’s policy that is felt outside this House. Only this morning all members of the House received the 1962 report of Haliburton Investments (Australia) Limited, prepared as recently as Monday, 26th February, 1962. That organization did not express great satisfaction with the Government, and it is certainly not a socialistic concern. The Haliburton people say on page 9 of their report -
The complete reversal of Government policy has brought new hope to trade and industry and to the community as a whole. Two questions, however, remain to be answered - firstly, how effective will the new official measures prove to be in reviving the economy and bringing about a substantial decline in unemployment? and, secondly, how quickly will evidences of renewed confidence appear?
Only time can provide the .answers, but the adoption of a policy of expansion in place of one of stagnation should, over the next few months, act as a great stimulus.
You see, they are hesitant about it. The report continues; -
At the same time, many people will be asking whether the policy elaborated by the Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, on 6th February will prove to be only another phase of what has often been referred to as the “ stop and go “ principles on which the Government has operated almost throughout the whole of its eleven years of office, but which could more appropriately be termed “ go and stop!”
Here is a great financial institution criticizing the Government’s stop-and-go policy. The people of that institution are not Communists or socialists. They are people whose interest is- in the manner in which the nation’s economy operates, because they are financiers who exploit the economy. They say that the Government has operated a stop-and-go policy almost throughout the whole of its eleven years of office, and they point out that many people will be wondering whether the Government’s present proposals constitute merely another phase of stop-and-go.
The conclusion that I can draw from the speeches from the other side of the House, particularly those of several Ministers, is that the only defence that the Government can put forward for the stop-and-go nature of its policy is that the policy is flexible. Honorable members opposite say that if these measures are not enough other measures will be introduced, or if the measures are too severe they will be modified. So again we have stop-and-go. As a matter of fact, one Minister who spoke this morning reiterated what the Treasurer has said in that respect. He said that the policy was one of flexibility. I put this to you, Mr. Speaker: The Government cries that what is required to-day is confidence. Confidence! How much confidence can people have in the present proposals of the Government when they have been assured by the Treasurer himself that, if it be necessary, the Government will amend the proposals in any direction and at any time in accordance with its estimate of the economic position? Have we not had quite a lot of experience of the Government’s estimating of the. economic position? For eleven years the Government has carried on this stop and go policy. Is this an edifice upon which to build confidence?
The only evidence that the Treasurer has provided of great prosperity in the economy is that the Government’s recent loan was heavily over-subscribed. He suggested that this indicated that financial institutions and, to a minor extent I suppose, small private investors, had confidence in the Government. It indicates quite the reverse. Although - the banks, the great insurance companies, and great financial institutions of all sorts art extremely liquid and in an extremely healthy position they prefer not to invest their money in industry at present because the) lack confidence that the Government’* present economic proposals will operate u> the manner in which we all desire them to, operate. So investors have placed their money at a> low interest rate in government stocks and fronds. It is traditional for them to place their money where they feel that for the time being, it is safest. In so doing they express not confidence in the Government’s economic measures but a lack of confidence.
Opposition members have been accused of being calamity howlers. Government supporters are always accusing us of something; I have heard Government supporters, particularly Ministers, stressing their sympathy for the unemployed. I have noticed other of their expressions of which I think the people will take heed. I propose to refer to a statement which has been made by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) but before I do so let me say this: I disagree entirely with what the Minister for Defence has said about our attitude towards granting the Minister for Trade a pair in a vote on a very important motion. He said the Minister for Trade wanted to go overseas but was waiting to see whether he would get a pair or not. The fact is that the Minister for Trade has been negotiating for a pair but there has been some question about the terms of the pair and he is as much responsible for the delay as we are. The Minister for Trade will know perfectly well that he is not waiting.
Speaking to a conference of rural interests the Minister for Trade said that he deplored the amount of unemployment that existed and that the Government would take steps to see that the situation was corrected. He said that the Government believes in full employment but it does not want to see a situation in which the worker can leave one boss and go to another. It does not want employment to be quite as full as that. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) recently suggested in this House that that was so. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) drew attention to the dangers of what Government supporters call “over-full employment”. The honorable member said that in this situation the trade unions would be able to bargain and exploit the position.
After drawing attention to the horrible situation that could arise with over-full employment, the Minister for Social Services proceeded to defend the Government” s present proposals along these lines: He said that if we were to give the unemployed worker the rate of sustenance proposed by the Opposition, sooner or later there would be an army of professional unemployed. That was his great fear. From all these statements it can be deduced that whilst the Government believes in full employment it believes in a very different type of full employment to that in which the Opposition believes. It believes in a type of full employment in which there is a certain percentage of unemployment - a pool of unemployed. It does not believe that a man should be able to go from one job to another.
I feel that the Government, after its talk9 with the chiefs of industry, came to the conclusion that one of the requirements of modern industry is a reserve labour force. There may be arguments for that. But I put it to honorable members that if the exigencies of modern industry require a reserve labour force then those men who are compulsorily unemployed because of the requirements of industry should have adequate provision made for them and their families. I do not put forward any new theory in this respect. In some Commonwealth awards such as the building trades award and others which deal with casual and seasonal workers it is recognized that there must be a certain percentage of unemployed at some stage or other because of the exigencies of the industry. Endeavours are made to see that the rate of payment for the worker is so loaded that it will compensate him for that period of unemployment which is forced upon him by the requirements of his industry. I do not claim that the amount that the court awards for that purpose is sufficient. But I do say that this Government which invariably upholds the court - I am one who would abolish the arbitration court - might well give effect to this principle which the court observes.
I say definitely and deliberately that the Government’s present measures do not spring from a genuine sympathy for the unemployed. They spring from a realization that the people are outraged at the amount of unemployment that the Government has deliberately created. There is no question but that this was the Government’s deliberate intention. Last March, it was stated in the Administrator’s Speech that the Government’s economic measures were having their intended effect. At that time the building industry- bad been deliberately depressed to the extent of 30 per cent. The motor car industry, also, has been depressed.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– In the few moments left to me, I wish to refer to the sixth point of the censure motion which deals with education, lt is well known that last year a representative conference was called in New South Wales of parents, delegates and educational authorities, lt directed attention forcibly to the position of primary, secondary and technical education in Australia. Frequent representations have been made to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) asking that a committee like the Murray committee be appointed to inquire into education in Australia. Each time, the Prime Minister has somewhat contemptuously rejected the representations. Quite recently, he informed the Premier of New South Wales that the Commonwealth Government had no intention of calling such a committee together to discuss education. I can only say to the hundreds of thousands of persons who want something done about education that if they want their wishes granted, they will need to change the government.
Education is far beyond the resources of the States. In Australia to-day we are spending 2.2 per cent. of our gross national income on education compared with Finland, for example, which spends 6.2 per cent, of its national income on education, lt is not good enough and we urgently need a change of government and a change of outlook on education. I make that point because I recall that New South Wales spends 79 per cent, of its loan allocations on education. It spends more on education than does any other State, and it would like to maintain that expenditure; but it cannot do so without the assistance of the Commonwealth Government.
Finally, I am impelled to vote for the censure motion because I feel that I cannot support a government which has supported apartheid. I cannot support a government which introduced the Crimes Act denying basic civil liberties and providing that boys of sixteen may be dealt with as habitual criminals. I cannot vote for a government which prevented- a noted professor from visiting New Guinea, has interfered with appointments to universities, introduced telephone tapping and has deliberately fostered unemployment. I cannot support a government which has given political asylum to a genocidal maniac who is in Sydney lb-day. Moreover, this Government is led by a Prime Minister who possesses an ideology that should have been extinct in the eighteenth century.
.- I had hoped that this Parliament would have seen a fighting Opposition prepared to make for better government in Australia; but all we have so far is an Opposition comprised of members who fight among themselves and protest very mildly and meekly against the Government’s policies. I shall confine my comments to two or three main points. First, I believe quite sincerely that we should re-introduce national service training, and I am confident that the Australian people generally are also of that opinion. I have gone to the trouble of making inquiries from many individual persons about their views on this subject and I sincerely believe that the parents, at least, are in favour of the re-introduction of national service training.
I know the reasons why it was discontinued. First, there was the question of finance. Secondly, some experts in the warrant officer class were- taken from other military assignments to train young men. But come what may, I believe that fundamentally national service training should be an important feature of our national life because it trains young people to be good citizens. Whether the men who have trained will eventually be useful as members of the armed forces is not the complete answer to the problem. The more important fact is that those who undergo national service training become good citizens. The money spent in that direction is fully warranted. I do- not accept the argument that national service training involves waste of money and man-power. I believe that national service training is worth while.
I turn now to the question of Indonesia and West New Guinea because the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has made great play on this subject. The honorable gentleman has made some very extravagant and foolish statements on this matter. He has not had the courage to repeat them since. I make this criticism of the Leader of the Opposition with the reservation that I regard him as a personal friend. I know that he is deeply interested in New Guinea because he has been there many times. But his statement that we should have a completely bellicose approach . to West New Guinea is foolish and unstatesmanlike. On that count I am afraid that I regard him as quite irresponsible. Many of us have had some experience of war, and we do not want it again. . For the Leader of the Opposition to try to provoke war by his statements is quite reprehensible.
So far as I understand the situation, what the Leader of the Opposition has said on this question is one extreme; and what the Government has said through its spokesmen is the other extreme. The Leader of the Opposition has said, in effect, that he wants war with Dutch New Guinea.
– That is quite wrong.
– That is exactly what he said. On the other hand, I rather fear that some of our Ministers have said, in effect, “ Let us preserve Dutch New Guinea by looking towards Indonesia “; and they have added in their own minds, “so that Indonesia can be a curtain against the reds “. That is quite wrong in my opinion, because I believe - and I know something about it - that the Indonesians are not anti-red; they are inclined to be very much pro-red. For that reason I say quite bluntly that I think some of our Ministers are completely wrong in their estimation. But, I repeat, I also believe that members of the Opposition went to an extreme when they said, through their Leader, that they want war. I repeat that no person who has ever fought in a war wants to see another one.
– No such thing has ever been said by us.
– The reports are there to be read. We have had the good fortune during the last couple of days to hear some very fine speeches by new members of this House, and also by some of the not-so-old members. In my view the im portant point that has emerged is that there is more vigour in the Government than there is in the Opposition. This, I believe, is tremendously important.
– What rubbish! You must have been half asleep.
– Well, at least I was not locked out. The all-important requirement for this country is good government, and the Opposition has npt’ - although I hoped they would have - suggested a really virile approach to our problems, if only as an attempt to ensure a continuation of good government. All that Opposition speakers have done has been to offer some very vague criticisms. There is nothing of any great importance or value in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition, which simply consists of a number of abstract suggestions. Nobody on the Opposition side has talked about defence or about international affairs. Perhaps that is because they are afraid of the facts. On that count alone, in my view, they stand completely condemned.
I recall a period from 1946 to 1949 when I was a member of the Opposition for three years.
– Not enough!
– I may have more time later. I will still be here. At that time we had a really virile Opposition, which kept the Government on its toes all the time. All we have in the Opposition of to-day is a collection of reluctant dragons. That is the most appropriate name one could give them.
.- In rising to support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), I first want to congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, upon your re-election, by unanimous vote, as Speaker of this House. It was an indication of the esteem in which you are held by honorable members on both sides of this chamber. I hope that members will heed the advice that you have given to them, so that they will not impose too great a strain on your charitable nature.
Listening to the speeches of honorable members on the other side of the House, we have heard many diversions engaged in, with the object of taking our minds from the substance of the debate. But the ideas expressed have been old and hackneyed ideas, and they would have impressed very few of the thoughtful people who have listened to the debate.
The debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply should provide an opportunity for the Government to put forward its policy and programme for the remainder of the year. It also provides an opportunity for the Opposition to analyse and criticize the proposals advanced by the Government. With a stable government we could reasonably expect that the GovernorGeneral’s Speech would give an authentic outline of proposed government action. History has shown, however, that the statements made in the various GovernorGeneral’s Speeches have turned out to be no more than disappointing mirages. The Government makes many laudable promises, but it does not follow them up with action. This is another indication of the Government’s irresponsibility - bold words, containing many promises, in August, with a complete change of front in November. It is this irresponsible conduct, more than anything else, that has contributed to the destruction of confidence in the commercial and economic sectors of our community.
Confidence is now almost non-existent. The people still do not trust the Government, and they have very good reason for not trusting it. They have seen the Government’s stop-and-go, fits-and-starts policies operating over the last eighteen months, to the detriment of the country. Business people admit that trade is still worsening. Retrenchments are still taking place. These statements are authentic, because they are based on information obtained from the sources of business activity. They are in distinct contradiction to the newspaper campaign that is being indulged in in an effort to convince the people that confidence has been restored throughout the commercial world. Confidence can be restored only when the individual members of our vast army of unemployed are again taking home their pay envelopes. Then and then only can we truly say that confidence has been restored. Wishful thinking and autosuggestion will achieve nothing. When we attain full employment the commercial sector of our economy will function in an atmosphere of confidence. There will be no need for a newspaper campaign to try to whip up an artificial feeling of confidence. Business men will again be willing to take the necessary risks to expand and improve their businesses, and normal activity will be seen once again.
The major question that we must ask ourselves is this: Are we likely to see these things happen under the present Government? I think not, and tens of thousands of Australians think the same way. The Government has a record of instability and stop-and-go policies which change every few months, with disastrous consequences to our country. Such policies have undermined our manufacturing industries, which must of necessity enjoy continuity of output and be assured of sound markets for their products.
The abandonment of import controls hit many manufacturers very heavily, because they were faced with competition from cheap-labour countries. Worse still, the local market for our products has been badly shaken because of decreased purchasing power as a result of the increasing number of unemployed. The potential spending power of these unfortunate people has been virtually destroyed. They have no weekly pay envelopes, and the token social service contributions that they receive do little to help the economy. At best they save the recipients from dying of starvation.
Our economy will become buoyant and healthy again only when the 131,000 citizens who are now unemployed are taking home weekly or fortnightly pay envelopes. This is a fundamental requirement if we are to get the economy back on the rails. In the absence of any long-range plan on the part of the Government, we must say, with a good deal of reluctance, that the unemployment problem is far from solved, and that we cannot foretell when it will be solved. The short-term improvizations that have characterized this Government’s policies merely serve to postpone the time when the issues must be tackled in a responsible manner by the government of the day.
Another matter causing grave concern is the inability of the teenagers, the boys and girls leaving school, to obtain employment. It is worth noting that another section of the community, men over 45 years of agc, have difficulty in obtaining employment.
They invariably get the same answer from employers, “ I am sorry, but you are too old “. I am sure that other honorable members must have had experiences similar to mine. Daily young people, in some instances accompanied by their parents, seek our assistance to find employment. With the fierce competition for jobs at a time of business stagnation, this request is almost impossible to fulfil.
Employers are demanding a much higher standard of education from teenage applicants. The qualifications needed now to obtain a position are much higher than they were formerly. This may be a sign of the times, but it is poor consolation to the young men and women with average school training who are now seeking employment in the commercial world. We recognize the need for higher education. For some considerable time the Australian Labour Party has advocated that facilities for higher education be improved. It is interesting to note that all the State Premiers are seized of the importance of higher education. Indeed, they have sought a national inquiry into education needs, but this has been refused by the Commonwealth Government. The casual approach of the Government to this vital necessity is well known and it is sad to think that our young boys and girls will be deprived of opportunities for a full education. Their future will be made much more difficult than it need be.
The Government’s attitude to home seekers is apparent.. It has allowed three increases of interest rates for home mortgage finance. Interest is a burden at any time, and with increased interest rates the burden on the home purchaser becomes much heavier. The ultimate goal of owning a home is made more difficult, and put far beyond the reach of many. Should sickness or unemployment be visited on the breadwinner, the chance of owning a home becomes most remote. There is no shortage of materials and man-power for home building. But we urgently need a Labour Government that will provide the necessary finance at low interest rates. Labour believes that housing is a major social problem needing immediate sympathetic attention from the Government. Many thousands of home seekers must, have been sadly disappointed when Labour just failed to win office. Labour’s policy on housing with low interest rates would have been a great benefit to all concerned.
A most topical subject is that of oil. I wonder whether our new oil discovery will provide much benefit for Australia. We use some 3,000,000,000 gallons of oil a year. Will the enormous profits of this industry go overseas or will the Government insist on a reasonable proportion staying in Australia? What guarantee will we have that Australia will share the benefits and prosperity that inevitably flow from oil production? We know foreign capital is entitled to a fair return for its investment, but where national interests are vitally concerned, it behoves our Government to lay down conditions that will ensure that Australia will enjoy the benefits of its oil production. In to-day’s press, we read that our neighbour, Indonesia, has insisted on getting 60 per cent, of crude oil produced there. It also insists on receiving 60 per cent, of the net proceeds of oil sales. Will Australia have a chance to invest in our new discovery?
Australians, through the Government, have spent millions of pounds in subsidizing oil exploration. The companies concerned are generally wealthy oil companies trading in Australia. They derive further benefit from taxation exemptions and in this way Australian taxpayers are making a double contribution to the discovery and production of oil. AH Australia will be interested to know what share there will be in this discovery of oil for us. Will the Government show the same patriotic national intent as it did a few years ago when an English newspaper company sought to buy a commercial radio network in Australia? On that occasion, the Parliament passed a resolution which had the effect of preventing the proposed take-over. Will the Government show the same spirit and national outlook in regard to oil production and sales?
Primary producers must be a most unhappy section of the community. Politically, they generally support Liberal and Country Party governments. But surely they must be doing some hard thinking now when they see their security being gradually undermined by inflation and other processes working against them. No doubt quite a few of them will continue to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that costs are stabilized. Some honorable members in this chamber have been bold enough to advance that false proposition. Costs have not been stabilized. In fact, even with our present Government-created depression, some costs of primary production are still rising. When normal trade returns under this free-enterprise Government, the primary producer will once again be exploited. Even if we get back to full employment again, the old process of exploitation will commence once more. Primary producers are compelled to sell their exports at world prices but their production is based on a high internal cost structure. The portion of their production absorbed in home consumption is covered by internal economics, but they have little protection when they have to sell on overseas markes.
One great need, which was dealt with by the Australian Labour Party during the recent election campaign, is the application of more fertilizer to the land. Most landholders want more fertilizer but refrain from incurring the high additional expense that would be involved. Labour’s proposals for a fertilizer subsidy would open up new lands and give new hope to many producers. In many instances, it could mean the difference between progress and stagnation, success and failure. I had a case some time ago in which a soldier settler with a large family was forced off his land because of his low fertilizer quota. Because the authorities refused to increase his fertilizer quota, he could not develop his property to its maximum economic limit. As a result, he was forced into the position Of being a failure as a farmer instead of a success. Under Labour’s fertilizer subsidy plan, that soldier settler could have become a successful farmer. Probably, thousands more people, throughout Australia, not only ex-servicemen but also ordinary farmers, would be a success on the land under Labour’s plan instead of being on the brink of failure as they are now.
This Government constantly proclaims that we must increase production and exports if we are to maintain our standard of living. Yet it ignores these means of giving practical assistance to the farmers in a way that would increase production and achieve the objectives that the honorable members opposite claim are so important to Australia. This Government does not face up to the need to protect the interests of primary producers despite the noisy claims made by Government supporters in debates in this House; The Government’s greatest failure in the eyes of primary producers is probably its adoption of policies which have made tens of thousands of good Australians too poor to buy the products of our primary industries. The local market is the best market. A producer who sells in that market is not subject to the vagaries of overseas prices and to exploitation by all the middlemen, including the shipping combines. Therefore, clearly, trie best market for our primary producers is the local market, and the so-called representatives in this place of our primary producers should be proclaiming the strengthening of that market as the great and vital objective in this country. I admit that honorable members opposite pay lip service to these aspirations, but they do nothing practical about them.
We know that one of the factors that have contributed most to the present situation is the Government’s refusal to re-impose import, controls. The re-introduction of these controls could have very wide effects on our economy, not only in relation to our balance of payments, which is an important aspect of the economy, but also in relation to our secondary industries and those Australian industries that are trying to produce the goods needed to maintain Australia’s standard of living and, at the same time, are trying to make reasonable business profits. The Government, instead of adopting a policy of re-imposing import controls, chose to follow the dangerous and disastrous theory of damping down demand by destroying purchasing power and thereby creating a pool of unemployed. This is the paradox to which our primary producers and manufacturers in particular and our economy generally are subject at the present time.
The general election on 9th December demonstrated clearly that the people of Australia do not want the present situation to continue. At least SO per cent, of the electors voted for Australian Labour Party candidates and only about 43 per cent, voted for candidates put up by the present Government parties. But, by a quirk of our electoral system, the Government obtained a majority of two. That does not mean, however, that the policies enunciated and put into effect by this Government over the last few years have met with the approval of the Australian people. On the contrary, I believe that on 9th December last the Government received from the people one of the most perfect rebukes that could have been administered to it. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and his followers certainly hold the reins of government, but they were so shocked by the results of the election that very shortly afterwards they held conferences, at which they sought the advice of all and sundry. They conferred with many people who have no association with this Parliament at all, and the Government now pretends to heed the advice that was tendered to it at that series of conferences. Just how far it will go with this is problematical. If we look at the Government’s past performances, we cannot have any great confidence that it will carry through all the proposals that it has said it will put into effect. In successive years, this Government has announced various programmes and policies, and invariably has failed to give effect to them. I think we may logically expect that the same pattern will obtain during the life of the present Parliament as has obtained during the lives of recent Parliaments.
I might traverse many other matters, Mr. Speaker, but my time is running out and I shall be unable to do so. I join with my colleagues in registering what we believe to be the Australian people’s genuine lack of confidence in the present Government. It has earned the displeasure of the people of Australia and it should no longer occupy the treasury bench. The Australian Labour Party submitted to the electors a programme which was accepted. Only an unfortunate circumstance in our electoral system has prevented that policy from being put into effect already. I heartily support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition.
.- Mr. Speaker, I join with other honorable members in congratulating you on being elected once more to occupy the chair in this House. I join with other honorable members, too, in congratulating the new members in this place who have already made their maiden speeches here.
The amendment now before the House, which constitutes a motion of censure of the Government, contains no mention of defence and foreign affairs. That is very significant. Nor does it mention that aspect of national development which is concerned with water conservation. Honorable members on this side of the House and, I am sure, the Australian people interpret the omission of any mention of defence and foreign affairs, no doubt correctly, as being a sign that the Opposition agrees with the Government’s polices in relation to these matters. I believe that the absence of any mention of water conservation in the amendment either is an admission by the Opposition that it agrees with the Government’3 policies in this matter or is indicative of a complete lack of thought on the Opposition’s part concerning the great importance of this aspect of national development, which ought to receive top priority.
The Governor-General’s Speech sets out quite clearly the principle which this Government has applied, and which it promises to continue to apply, in planning and putting into effect projects for national development. This principle is that the Government is prepared to examine, in conjunction with the State governments, special works designed to build up export income and reduce imports. The Speech records many examples of the successful application of this principle, and I mention particularly the reference to water conservation. The conservation of our various water resources is of very great import and interest to the Australian people, and they may take encouragement from that part of His Excellency’s Speech which stated that the Commonwealth Government has taken up with the State Premiers and the territorial authorities a proposition to establish a Water Resources Council. The object of this council is stated as follows: - so that the greatest possible amount of basic information on Australian water resources can be scientifically secured and made available.
I should like to emphasize that there is no intention to take from the State governments, who are very jealous of their rights and privileges, any of their responsibilities or rights concerning water problems. It is the Government’s intention to combine the efforts of all, to achieve a planned progress for the benefit of all. Later I think it would be appropriate that I should mention certain work which amply proves that the Government has been on the ball in this respect. The main responsibility for the control of water resources rests, of course, with the individual State governments. As the Commonwealth Constitution makes special reference to water rights, the Commonwealth does become interested; so that both the Commonwealth and State governments have an interest in the control and conservation of water.
I refer honorable, members to the report made by the Rural Reconstruction Commission on irrigation, water conservation and land drainage in 1945. In that report the commission recommended-
To obviate the lack of co-ordination-
I emphasize that - to obviate the lack of co-ordination, an allAustralian plan should be worked out and adopted, with the assent of the various governments.
It also recommended that the Commonwealth should endeavour to promote interstate co-operation and co-ordinated development generally. That this has been done successfully, in part at any rate, may be proved by the references in the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General to several aspects of water conservation. First, reference is made to the rapid progress in the works of the Snowy Mountains HydroElectric Authority. Even during this debate some honorable members have pointed out that this scheme, which was originally estimated to cost £200,000,000, is now estimated to cost between £400,000,000 and £450,000,000, the figure depending on whether the honorable member concerned wanted to blow up or pull down the estimate. We all know that, because of the manner in which they have been let, most of these contracts and sub-contracts on the Snowy Mountains project have been carried out for less than the original estimated cost, but if we were to add the natural rises in costs that have occurred from the time the scheme was envisaged, I think it would be fairer to say that the ultimate cost could be nearer to £700,000,000 than the £400,000,000 at present estimated.
With the Snowy Mountains scheme, His Excellency also mentioned the planned Snowy-Murray development, the work of the River Murray Commission, and the preliminary examination carried out by the
Commonwealth in conjunction with the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in connexion with the building of the Chowilla dam. When we consider all these things I cannot see any ground for the suggestion in the Opposition’s no-confidence motion that the Government’s latest proposals include only shortterm measures that can be readily reversed or abandoned in a further application of its stop-go policies. Why, there is no need to go far outside New South Wales for an excellent example of Labour’s stop-go policy in connexion with water conservation. The fourth assertion in the proposal is that the Government’s measures provide no basis for long-term planning of investments, production, employment and balance of overseas payments. What better long-range policy could there be than one providing for water conservation?
But I look to the time, as I know many people do, when the planning at least will move away from the River Murray and its tributaries to central and northern New South Wales, to Queensland, to Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Here I should like to cite certain figures from the Commonwealth Year Book for 1961. They relate to the storage capacities of completed dams of a major nature in Australia. In this case, a major dam is taken to be one with a storage capacity of 100,000 acre feet or more. In New South Wales, the total storage capacity of the major dams is 7,632,135 acre feet. In Victoria it is just about half that. There, it is 3,740,300 acre feet, while in Tasmania the total storage capacity is 1,650,100 acre feet. In Queensland, it is down to 1,065,000 acre feet. Of course, these figures do not include the capacities of some dams that serve two or more States. For instance, there is the Hume Weir with a storage capacity of 2,500,000 acre feet and then, near the South Australian border, there is Lake Victoria with a storage capacity of 551,700 acre feet. Honorable members will note that no mention is made of a major dam in South Australia, the Northern Territory, or Western Australia. As I said earlier, I am looking to the time when this planning will move further afield.
Here I should like to quote the following from last month’s issue of the publication, “Power Farming and Better Farming Digest”-
A foreboding shadow lies over a sunny land - spectre of poverty amidst plenty - a poverty of the most basic, most’ important single- commodity we as a nation possess - water.
We are the world’s driest continent and out seriously limited water resources create a- major national problem. Our development is actually governed, geared, controlled by our water supplies.
In ten years we will have a two million increase In population–
I think that is a reasonable estimate -
We will need almost 50 per cent, more water. In twenty years we could feel the dry, dusty, arid pinch - the great thirst.
The situation needs urgent effort on a national basis. It merits the employment of large-scale resources in terms of planning, man-power and money to conserve and utilize the water available.
That was stated in an advertisement but, for truth in advertising, that is a splendid example. I quote it because it sets out so succinctly just how I and many inland people feel about this problem. The figures quoted in the advertisement have not been just pulled out of the air. They have been substantiated time and time again. For instance, they are substantiated by the Water Research Foundation of Australia, and I should like now to give the House a few details of the objects of this organization. It is a national,” non-profit organization which is working towards an end which I consider a very creditable and very useful one. The foundation was formed six or seven years ago. Its object is the carrying out of research into conservation and development of Australia’s water resources. It endeavours to stir up interest, among governments and among the public, in water problems. It relies upon funds from private citizens, companies, industrial organizations, and in some cases from government and semi-government sources. The foundation is well aware, as many people are, that Australia’s growing population and her rapidly increasing industrial production will make increasing demands upon our water supplies. In this respect, I think the position here can be likened to the situation in the United States of America when that country was passing through the early stages of its industrial development. For instance, in the year 1900, it was calculated that the United States of America used 600 gallons of water per head per day. In 1950, not only had the population there doubled but the per capita consumption of water had risen from 600 gallons to 1,100 gallons per head per ‘ day. . To-day, the use of water per head per day in the United States of America is 1,500 gallons, or two and a half times what it was in 1900. Some authorities in the United States have calculated that the amount of water being used in that country doubles every 25 years. Let us face the fact that we are not in such a fortunate position in relation to water resources as are the United States and other countries. We have a much more limited potential, although at this, stage we are not quite sure what the potential is. The reason is that whereas in other countries they have been able to assess the mean annual discharges of their rivers by constant river gaugings over a very long period, we in Australia have only intermittent records taken over a much shorter period. Experts claim that the average annual rainfall in Australia is 16.6 inches. How they arrive at that figure I do hot know. I was always taught that you could not average an average, but undoubtedly the figure has been arrived at by the same formula as that which tells us that the average rainfall in other continents is up to 26 inches and in the United States up to 29 inches.
Far from diverting us from our efforts In this regard our low rainfall should do two things. First, it should underline the greater need for the use of stored water in the lower rainfall areas, and, secondly, it should make us continue to strive to build up our storage capacity to its full potential. It has been said on a number of occasions that already we have made great strides in this direction. It has been said also that already we have more water stored per head of population than have other countries. This may be so, although I have not checked the position. To me the important thing is that we have not yet reached our full storage potential. I contend that our progress to date has been influenced too much by day-to-day thinking, with the result that we have had a very uneven development over the continent. That is why this new endeavour’ by the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the States, to form a water research council is to be highly commended.
Water conservation is closely related to flood control. At present we have very few dams on our inland rivers. For instance, on the Lachlan River there is no dam between the Wyangala dam, near the headwaters, and Lake Brewster, near Hillston. That one dam cannot efficiently fulfil two purposes. It cannot be used for flood mitigation and at the same time for irrigation purposes. People who want to irrigate in the drier months want the dam kept full, and the people who suffer damage in flood times want the dam kept reasonably empty to take the top of the surge that comes down. For many farmers floods are more than a nuisance; they are the final blow which takes away the margin of profit on their operations. I can recite many cases in my own area, particularly among soldier settlers, in which farmers have had to leave their properties because they have been unable to meet their commitments. Many areas of magnificent lucerne country have been handed over to grazing because of the ravages of floods and the incursion of noxious weeds such as noogoora burr and Bathurst burr which cannot be overcome without adding considerably to the farmers’ cost of production. In some areas the flat alluvial soil has been scoured so badly that it is unfit for further agricultural use.
In the presence of world demands and pressures we cannot continue in this way. There is no economic soundness in this kind of business. One farmer told me that he had prepared a paddock for sowing each year since 1949. On two occasions only was he able to sow it and then it was washed away. In every other year he was not even able to sow the ground. His final words were: “We have done the best we could, but the situation is completely beyond our control. It is now up to the Government.”
The Government has several plans to develop Australia. The first is to make a comprehensive survey of river valleys, so the effort to form a water research council is particularly encouraging for us in the country. The second is to concentrate planning in one joint authority. The third is to set up the machinery to allot priorities. In short, the Government’s policy in relation to water conservation is designed progressively to utilize all available water supplies in the best interests of the people and of development generally. The Go vernment’s record in the Snowy Mountains project, .and in other schemes which I have mentioned, is very laudable. It is significant to note that the Government has not been censured by the Opposition for its activities in this regard. Its big thinking with the Chowilla project and its initial efforts to form a water research council are rays of light and hope to a lot of people in the inland. I can assure the Government and the State Premiers that many farmers, many businessmen and many electors will be watching the progress of this movement and the action to follow.
– Order! I call the honorable member for Wide Bay and remind honorable members that this will be a maiden speech.
.- Mr. Speaker, may I associate myself with the congratulations which have been directed to you. I address this Parliament conscious of the fact that the last Labour member to represent the Wide Bay electorate was one of Australia’s greatest statesmen, the late Andrew Fisher, to whom the nation is indebted for the reforms and progressive legislation which have made this country worthy of its British heritage. In the 46 years since the late Andrew Fisher graced this Parliament the people of Wide Bay have remained loyal subjects of the Crown, and, on their behalf as well as on my own, I pledge their and my unswerving loyalty to Her Majesty and the British way of life which she symbolizes.
It is indeed catastrophic that the mismanagement of this country by a gerontic government is bringing us to a state at which the very forces which will overthrow all that is worth while in our cherished heritage, including freedom of speech and freedom of association, are being nurtured in a flourishing seedbed of unemployment, misery and insecurity. The Wide Bay electorate, in common with all others in the Commonwealth, and particularly in Queensland, has felt the full impact of the frenetic fiscal policy which has been followed by this Government for the last twelve years.
The Labour Party presented a prudent policy during the election campaign, a policy which had the support of the majority of the people of Australia. No procrastination, platitudes, cliches, rhetoric or hoary catch-cries will alter the fact that if Au»» tralia is to regain its economic strength and its inhabitants’ confidence in their own destiny, that policy will have to be implemented because it is a policy for the people and not for sectional interests.
The Wide Bay electorate, with its diversity of enterprises, one dependent on the other, has a real concern in the immediate remedial policies to be implemented. Queenslanders know, even if it is obscure to some of the moguls who mould government policy, that there is an economic Brisbane Line. The shipbuilding industry in my State has been practically squeezed out of existence by an unsympathetic government. Ships have been imported which could have been built in Queensland yards at Brisbane and Maryborough. A skilled work force built up by a previous Labour government has had to be disbanded at a time when danger threatens from the north. Decentralization and the imperative need to build up the defences of the north of Australia demand that this Government’s contribution to such a vital matter should not be measured only in terms of pounds, shillings and pence. Expenditure which may seem uneconomic now will, in the long term, ensure that this country is kept free and independent; and no price is too high to maintain that status. I therefore urge the Government to see that the Brisbane and Maryborough shipyards are kept in production and that sufficient orders are placed to enable them to plan for some time ahead. It ought to be obvious that any increased subsidy for freighters for the Australian National Shipping Line to carry the produce of Australian farmers and graziers will be more than offset by the savings in freights to men who are battling against rising costs and reduced incomes. As well as giving producers a guaranteed price sufficient to assure them of their costs of production, the freight and insurance savings will help to ease the burden on their dwindling resources and enable them to establish overseas markets in new areas as a counter to any possible losses through Britain’s entry into the Common Market. It is useless for Government sycophants to cry socialism when subsidies are mentionel, since American price support programmes are on a gigantic scale and I do not think that country could be termed a socialist strong hold even by the most intemperate redbaiter in this Parliament or out of it.
The ordering of overseas ships for the Australian Navy has been a blow to the Australian shipyards. Whilst I realize that neither of the Charles F. Adams type destroyers could have been built at Maryborough in the Wide Bay electorate, I believe there are in Australia tradesmen and technicians capable, perhaps with some overseas advice, of building such destroyers. It is a fact that minesweepers are being purchased from Great Britain and whilst their specifications prohibit their being built in Australia by any of the present yards without some major replacement of plant, I believe that if these vessels are to be a standard type of vessel for our fleet, we should have the facilities for their construction, repair and maintenance in Australia. Otherwise, let us have ships built for Australian conditions by Australian workmen and using Australian materials. The shipyards at Maryborough could build vessels for similar work, but if the Government is of the opinion that vessels to the specifications ordered are necessary - although in fact similar vessels have in the past and during war-time been built here for similar work - assistance should be offered to make the necessary alterations and enable at least one Australian shipyard to construct this type of vessel.
Secondary industry in provincial Queensland is being hampered and even destroyed by the Government’s erratic and crazy pattern of economic measures. Once thriving industrial plants at Maryborough, Bundaberg and Dalby, owned and controlled by Australians, are slowly being strangled, while American and Japanese interests are gaining a firm grip on the State’s greatest assets, which should be developed in the interests of the people and not foreign combines. I again mention the question raised earlier by a member on the Opposition side with regard to the discovery of oil in Queensland and to what extent the people of Australia would share in the profit derived from that discovery and the establishment of an oil industry in Australia. The Queensland Government has mentioned something in terms of a 10 per cent, royalty, but it is general knowledge, that in even mediaeval Middle East countries, the royalty paid to the Eastern potentates is approximately 50 per cent.
Transport costs are one of the main problems facing industry in Queensland, and it is here that the niggardly treatment of that State, whose inhabitants have to pay interest on the taxation they have paid, has its worst effects. Industrialists and producers are unable to reach their biggest markets because of the burden of prohibitive distribution costs. This transport factor not only hamstrings established industries but also prevents industries from seeking sites in cities such as Maryborough and Bundaberg in the Wide Bay electorate. It therefore becomes necessary for this Government to review its policy in relation to grants for roads and railways in Queensland, which is placed at a disadvantage because of the great distances to be travelled in that State. Labour’s policy of returning the whole of the petrol tax to the States would go a long way to help those who are struggling to maintain markers and employment against rising costs and the financial boa constrictors who are poised in the jungle of government finance ready to gobble up anything worth while.
I also urge the Government to begin a survey with a view to putting in hand as soon as possible the standardization of the railway line from Brisbane to Bundaberg. Engineers may think it worth while to change the present route in certain places to give the best possible service to the community, having regard always to the economic advantages to be secured, as well as the military aspects. The Commonwealth Government has assisted with millions of pounds in completing the standardization of the railway line from Perth to Brisbane. It is now time that a start was made to take it north from Brisbane because, if Australia becomes involved in a limited war, there is little doubt that the Queensland railways will once again become a major transport medium. This project would also help to provide work for many Queenslanders where employment, lamentably, is at depression level. Additionally, engine power and rolling stock will have to be changed and this will enable the flagging industrial plants which I have just mentioned, as well as others, to plan ahead in anticipation of sharing in the orders that will have to be placed.
If the Government should reject this scheme because of its well-known antipathy to Queensland, or because of its commitment to a laisser-faire economic policy, I remind it that a Labour government under my Labour predecessor, the late Andrew Fisher, built the East-West line. The Government might well look into that transaction to see if it can derive from it any lessons which would be of benefit to Queensland and Australia. Offering tremendous scope to national development and increased productivity is the Burnett River basin. I thank the honorable member for Calare (Mr. England) for mentioning water conservation. The Burnett River flows, in time of flood, through some of the most fertile land in Australia. In fact Binjour, and particularly Gurgeena Plateau, are recognized as having arable soil the second deepest in the world. To-day, following good rains, this country looks a picture with its orchards, paddocks of sugar cane, maize and grain sorghum; but four months ago much of this land was bare and parched and farmers and orchardists who were irrigating from holes along the river began to wonder how long the water would last.
There are only two weirs on the Burnett River, at Bingera, near Bundaberg, and at Mundubbera, both being in the Wide Bay electorate. It is a matter for comment that all the major dams built in Queensland have been financed by the Queensland Government at the expense of the Queensland taxpayers and without any support from the Commonwealth Government. Here is not a question of what we can grow, because the country has proved itself in reasonable seasons, yet almost every winter it becomes a waste land. I urge the Government to set up an authority similar to the Snowy Mountains Authority to investigate the possibilities of water conservation along the Burnett River and its tributaries. This has already been initiated by Queensland State governments, but their resources have been limited. National enterprise in the building of a series of weirs in the Burnett basin would be repaid at the very least three hundred-fold in increased production. Cane-growers in Wide Bay, many of whom have just experienced one of the worst seasons for years, now look forward to what promises to be a bountiful harvest, but they are plagued- by the threatened loss df markets should Britain enter the European Common Market. While it is pleasing to hear of increased uses of sugar cane and its by-products, especially in the manufacture of plastics, the cane-growers’ hopes of additional markets in the United States of America have been dashed by the recent United States decision to give preference in sugar quotas to countries buying her surplus farm produce; and, as honorable members know, we in Queensland have in many cases a surplus in similar produce.
Finally, I want to make reference to the building industry, the accepted barometer of the nation’s prosperity. The Wide Bay electorate has over 100 saw-mills, two of these being the largest saw-mills in the State, and they are working 20 per cent, below capacity with consequent evil effects on employment because of the lessening demand for timber. There is a demand for homes, but unless money is made available continuously on reasonable terms, young married couples are denied what should be their right in an enlightened community. Such a policy would stimulate the building and timber industries and allied enterprises, as well as provide a bulwark against the infiltration of subversive influences. A happy, contented home life is anathema to some of the foreign philosophies which Government supporters and members profess to abhor but do little to counteract. About all they do is smear decent people.
Government supporters merely waste the time of this Parliament by quoting expenditure figures for various years without taking into consideration money values and increased population. That kind of argument has featured so largely in debates in the past that the real needs of the people have been hidden in a labyrinth of political propaganda. This nation needs action, not words, to achieve its full greatness - action that implies a positive desire to put back to work those who are jobless and to find permanent employment for the thousands who are leaving school each year, as well as to maintain a steady flow of suitable immigrants.
If I have tended, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to be parochial in my speech, it is because I have spoken of the things that I find in my own State of Queensland. - 1 am certain that Queensland members of this House, listened with envy to the recital, by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) of the millions of pounds being spent in the southern States, and ruefully compared them with the money that the Government spends in Queensland.
This Government has wrecked the economy. If it will not act to repair the damage the party of which I am proud to be a member is willing and able to accept the task of putting Australia back on the. road to greatness. .
.- I should like . to congratulate the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) on a maiden speech which I thought first-class. I am sure that he will make a good representative here of his important district. He will be a very good member, indeed, if he is as good a member as was Mr. Harry Bandidt, who preceded him in this place and earned the affection of us all. May I also say to the honorable gentleman that this Government looks at Australian defence policy from the viewpoint of certain important criteria. I make that remark to him in respect of his comment about the possibility of building Charles F. Adams class destroyers in Queensland. The criterion by which the Government moulds its defence policy is that it shall promote the most effective defence of the nation. Nothing else counts. If the Government thought that that criterion could be satisfied by ships, weapons and so on built in Australia, its policy would be to have those things built in Australia. In this particular case the necessary criterion could not be met in Australia. Having had the privilege recently in San Francisco of seeing a Charles F. Adams destroyer, I can quite understand why at this particular point it is not possible to build such ships in Australia; and yet such ships are necessary to our effective defence. When the honorable member convinces this side of the House that when considering this particular prob-lem he has applied the criterion of the most effective defence for this country, and has not just considered the problem from the point of view of increasing employment and so on in his electorate, we will listen to him with more respect.
I, too, join the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) and other members on this side who have expressed their disgust at the fact that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) should have seen fit to make a statement on foreign policy and defence policy of such seriousness at the time that he did, and yet not think those policies important enough to include in the censure motion that he moved. I was overseas at the time that the honorable gentleman made his statement, and I was able to witness and to hear for myself the appalling effect that his pronouncements had in the countries I travelled through. So, I repeat, I should like to join with other honorable members who have expressed their disgust at the honorable gentleman’s statement.
In the last six months we in this country - or some people in this country - have been persuaded into believing that an economic genius has come into our presence - a sort of mid-20th century messiah in the person of the Leader of the Opposition. He is the messiah to save us from our economic ills. That is how he has presented himself to the Australian public, and on Tuesday night he so presented himself to this House. His words have clothed him in an aura of infallibility in the eyes of some sections of the press and of the more servile of the people who sit behind him - which includes most of them. It is an infallibility which would do credit to any messiah. So infallible and god-like does the honorable gentleman regard his periodic rush of ideas to the head - ideas which he translated into a so-called policy during the last election campaign - that when a month or so ago the Government announced certain economic measures he claimed that they were stolen from the Australian Labour Party’s election policy, and that the fact that the Government intended to implement them was proof that Labour was right and that the Government was wrong in the circumstances of the time. He claimed that the Government had taken over these measures, not because it believed in them, but as a result of cold fear induced by the election results. I think that I am quoting somewhat near the words used by the honorable gentleman the other night.
Let us assume for a moment that circumstances other than the election results did not dictate the Government’s economic measures. I will have something more to say on that in a moment, but let us assume that now. What, in those circumstances, can we say about the messianic quality of the honorable gentleman’s, pronouncements and of his infallibility in prescribing a cure for the economic situation? Let us look back, and not very far at that. In 1959, when the Government judged that the economy required a mild stimulus and budgeted for a deficit, what did the honorable gentleman say? He said that the stimulus should have been greater and the deficit larger. In February, 1960, when it became clear to the Government that even the mild stimulus given to the economy five , months earlier had created inflationary pressures, what did the honorable gentleman then say? He said that the Government’s measures should not be implemented. Indeed, he said that more spending should be the order of the day. During the Budget session of 1960, when the Government believed that even further restraint was required to meet a fastdeveloping inflationary situation, and budgeted for a surplus, what did the honorable gentleman, this healer of economic ills, say? Can the House guess, Sir? I am sure it can. The Government should have budgeted, not for a surplus, but for a.deficit. In November of the same year, not many months later, his reaction to the economic measures of that month, which were designed to quell the inflationary boom was, if you please, that the boom did not existin effect, that the boom should be allowed to continue unquelled.
In 1961, faced with the downturn of activity, the Government again budgeted for a deficit. What did the honorable gentleman have to say then? Again, I am sure that the House could guess. He said that the deficit was not big enough; it should have been £100,000,000, a figure which, incidentally, has been given an infallibility almost as great as the honorable gentleman would like to achieve for himself.
I move on to the next point in time. Because of a change in circumstance which not even the seer who leads the Opposition could have foreseen, the Government announced certain measures to give the economy a further stimulus. What did the honorable gentleman say on Tuesday night? I am sure that the House will be able to guess again. He said that the stimulus had not been enough. More concessions should have been given. Under about fifteen headings, the Government should be spending more money. This has been the reaction of the Labour Party to the economic circumstances of the last three years. This is the record of the man who professes to have the answer to the economic ills of the present.
On three occasions, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on the basis of the best advice available to it, the Government has pursued policies designed to give a stimulus to the Australian economy. On three occasions it has acted to» contain or eliminate inflationary or boom conditions. In each case the objective was the .ame - the creation of the basic conditions in which maximum economic growth could take place. Our score was three all. The Opposition’s score, on the other hand, has been six-nil. Not once did Opposition members hesitate. Not once in these three years did they deviate from the infallible panacea of all ills. It did not worry them that the environment in which each of these decisions was taken was different. The price of wool varied by over 30 per cent, in that period and our overseas reserves varied correspondingly. Opposition members did not worry that there was also such a thing as a margins case; that there was land speculation in one period and not in another; that the level of investment varied in accordance with tens of thousands of individual investment decisions by individual Arms; that the prospect of Britain entering the Common Market made it necessary for us to see that our economic decks were stripped and ready for action. No Sir! None of these variables, nor any of the others which entered into the Government’s thinking, made any difference to the Opposition. The same prescription was put forward time after time. The six-nil score remained the same. Spend! Stimulate inflation, whatever the circumstances!
It reminds me of nothing so much as of those people who swear by a betting system. If they go on using it long enough the conditions are bound to arrive in which it will be successful. They will have a win - if they live long enough and if their money lasts out. So the Leader of the Opposition emerges, not as a messiah, but as a sort of super-punter, waiting for the conditions under which his system will provide the answer. It would be amusing if it were not tragic. It is about time that the honorable gentleman and his party realized that, unlike my mythical punters who risk only the future of their families, they are risking the livelihood, the security and the future happiness of 10,500,000 Australians by confusing punting with policy.
Of course, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the honorable gentleman did not punt right this time. Being a fair-minded man, I will admit that he came closer to finding the conditions into which the universal prescription fitted than he had ever done before. It has been the same prescription, in September, November and now again in February and March. But conditions have changed. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) have pointed out, our loan raisings have been enormously successful. They have been about £90,000,000 more than was expected and have been more than enough to convert a planned budget deficit into a considerable surplus, with all that that means in depressive effects in circumstances which require the opposite policy - the policy laid down by the Government in its considered appraisement of the economic situation when it looked at the Budget last year.
The Government, faced with the enormous success of its loan raising, seeing the depressive effect that this would have if the situation were not corrected, acted in accordance with its usual flexible policy and took the recent measures to correct the situation. It did this to ensure that, at the very least, the deficit planned in the Budget would prevail. Did the Leader of the Opposition who has been represented as an economic messiah predict that this would happen? Of course he did not. I have searched carefully through his budget speech, through his policy speech delivered during the general election campaign, and through the speech that he made on Tuesday night. I can find no reference to our loan raisings in this context at all - not a single, solitary reference! Yet loan raisings have varied by nearly as much as the mystical £100,000,000 that appears to be the talisman of Labour’s hopes. Not only does the honorable gentleman stand condemned because he is a punter but also because he is always punting in the same direction - in the direction of continuing inflation.
As my honorable friend from Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) pointed out in a really remarkable speech, on nothing is the Labour Party itself so deserving of censure as on its continued attempts to delude the public that the problem of inflation is not a problem at all. This is a process in which Opposition members aline themselves with the get-rich-quick boys, the speculators, the supporters of the milk bar economy and the people who cannot lift their eyes above the profits to be made in the present. These are the people to whom the Labour Party is giving comfort and solace and whose case Opposition members have made their own. In fact, Mr. Deputy Speaker, inflation is as great a problem as unemployment itself because it saps the moral fibre of the nation, distorts the economy and encourages people to believe that they can take it easy when some of the greatest challenges of the twentieth century are crowding in upon us.
From one point of view, inflation is worse than unemployment, because by destroying the incentives of the great primary industries it destroys their capacity to provide the export income without which the manufacturing industries would not be able to keep going. This point of view is not original. It has been laboured time and time again by honorable gentlemen on this side of the House and has been expressed in the Government’s policy. But it has always been treated with derision and contempt by honorable gentlemen opposite. As the honorable member for Wakefield said yesterday, the Opposition has a responsibility to tell the nation - particularly the farmers out in the great rural areas - where it stands on this issue. They will not do it, of course, because it does not suit their punting, inflationary policy. On the contrary, Labour would claw the proud, independent and efficient wool industry to its knees and prop it up purely with subsidies.
That is all that the Labour Party has to offer to prevent the wool industry from collapsing altogether. That industry, with its vitality and vigour lost, would be pushed around by bureaucrats and petty Labour politicians who believe that Australia has reached its present greatness while its people have sat on the beach at Bondi. We have not attained greatness through a 35-hour week, or by pursuing policies which reduce the rewards of skill and encourage our citizens to sit passively by and let their sense of human and family responsibilities be destroyed by too great a dependence on the State. God forbid that advocates of such policies should ever get their clutching hands on to an industry whose resources, independence of mind and spirit, hard work and never-ending willingness to innovate have made it the very yardstick by which Australian achievement is judged. Such people, Sir, do not even remotely understand the value of those qualities which have made this country great. They are beyond their comprehension and because they do not understand, they would destroy this great industry. We should be censuring the Opposition - not it censuring us. We should be censuring it for its rigid, punting policies, for gambling with the prosperity, stability and future greatness of this country and for deliberately concealing the truth from the Australian people.
.- At long last we see the people of Australia awakening- to the fact that north Queensland is an important part of this continent. I come from that part of Australia, and those who have elected me have given me a mandate to ask for a fair deal for Queensland generally and for north Queensland in particular. That is all we want. We have an historic past. If you visit the old gold-mining fields you see the relics of the old mines in bits of machinery and mullock heaps. Now we are developing huge deposits of bauxite, and more recently oil has been discovered. In north Queensland we have a copper industry and we are entitled to some share of the returns from it. If we do not get what is due to us we will hear more speeches like that delivered by the Minister for Mines in the State Parliament advocating Queensland’s secession from the Commonwealth. There will be more support for such a move, although it is not one that I myself would support.
I am a businessman and, as I still have my business, I have personal knowledge of the effects of the Government’s economic measures. The worst effects were to be seen through the lack of confidence in the future. My business had a turnover of more than £100,000 annually, but it fell by 30 per cent. I say advisedly that this lack of confidence was brought about principally because the people did not know how long the Government’s measures would last.
At first, the people of Townsville said that the economic measures would end within three months. Then they said that they would end in March, and later that they would end in June; but finally everything was so indefinite that the people lost confidence in the future. The people of Australia will take a lot, as was shown during the Second World War when the Labour Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, told them what they could expect. I believe that on this occasion the people of Australia would have spent their money normally if they had been told from the start how long the economic restrictions would last.
I am in the retail furnishing business, and normally would sign about 65 hire-purchase agreements a week. Sometimes we have signed that number in a day. For the first two or three months of the credit restrictions, the people did not buy so much. I have made it a standard practice to ask customers when they have completed a hirepurchase transaction what they will buy next, and frequently they would buy something else. But after the economic measures took effect, they would not sign new agreements. And if I said to them, “ Your husband is not out of work “, they would reply, “ No, but we do not know when he will be unemployed “. That was evidence of the gloomy outlook and the lack of confidence in the community.
The Herbert electorate is comparatively small by some standards. I shall take the liberty of speaking about it for a time as I believe we should know more about Australia. Since coming here, I have realized how ignorant I am about other parts of Australia. That is to my discredit, but I have been too busy trying to make a living. The principal town in Herbert is Townsville, which has a population now of about 50,000. Smaller towns are Ingham, Home Hill, Stuart, Tully and Ayr. The last two are sugar towns. We also produce tobacco, some fish and timber. Later, I propose to make a plea for assistance in the development of the tuna fishing industry. There are great numbers of tuna in the waters of north Queensland. I have seen acres of sea white with froth from tuna. They are good fish when processed properly and they appear in north Queensland waters between October and May when other industries are slackening off. With government assistance, an industry could be established to employ 100 to 200 men in the season.
The timber industry in the Herbert electorate is in a bad way, mainly because of competition from imported timbers and because hard timbers produced in the south have reduced the uses for ordinary plywood. We have a copper refinery at Stuart and with increased production this year some measure of stable employment will be provided. This will mean a great deal to the town of Stuart. The cement works have a capacity of 130,000 tons a year, but they are turning out now between 60,000 and 80,000 tons depending on the demand which has been reduced because of the decline in building and the fact that Japanese cement can be imported into north Queensland more cheaply than we can supply it from Towns* ville. That position should be corrected. We also produce a quantity of meat.
Various schemes have been put forward for this area, but the proposal which holds most promise in my opinion is the scheme to dam the Burdekin River. It would be expensive. It has been described as uneconomic, but many schemes which are uneconomic when established ultimately prove their worth. The Burdekin River scheme has not yet been actually taken up by the State Government, but I think it will be commenced in the next year or two. The Burdekin is the biggest river in Queensland and one of the biggest in Australia. It has a run-off approximating that of the Murray River, and all of it goes to waste in the shallow waters of Bowling Green Bay. A comprehensive report on the area compiled by the State Government shows that the water could be put to use.
The purpose of the Burdekin River scheme is threefold. It will serve for the provision of hydro-electric power and water for irrigation, and it will also be valuable for flood control purposes. In order to give the House some idea of the magnitude of the scheme, I will cite some figures concerning estimated costs. These estimates were made five or six years ago, and they would probably not be accurate in to-day’s conditions. However, the estimated overall cost of the main dam was £18,000,000, while it was estimated that hydro-electric plant would cost another £9,000,000. If we wrote off half the cost of the dam as being carried by the irrigation project, the hydro-electric power would cost £148 13s. 4d. per kilowatt.
This is not excessive by comparison with the costs of power supplied under various other schemes. In the case of the Kariba dam on the Zambesi River, and also the Koomboolooma dam, both of which are in South Africa, the cost of power is £260 per kilowatt. Power from the Miboro dam in Japan costs £229 per kilowatt, while power supplied by the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority costs £149 12s. per kilowatt. The Warragamba dam on the Nepean River in New South Wales was built at a cost of £38,000,000, and power supplied from that dam costs £820 per kilowatt. It should be remembered, however, that this dam was built primarily for water storage. I should also mention, of course, that the puroposed thermal power plant at Collinsville, which will cost about £19,000,000, will supply power for £125 per kilowatt. Of course this plant will be constructed for only one purpose, the supply of electric power. If we are going to engage in the smelting of bauxite in the area in which it is -mined, we must have ample supplies of power, and the only way to provide these supplies is by the use of cheap hydroelectric plants.
With the establishment of suitable irrigation schemes, tobacco production in the district of which I am speaking could be brought up to about 13,000,000 lb. a year, provided some kind of satisfactory marketing system were made available. It would have to be quite different from the present system, which leaves growers at the mercy of fewer than five buyers. It might then be possible to sell tobacco at a reasonable price, and the excise on the crop might amount to as much as £18,000,000, which would go a long way towards financing the entire scheme. While I am on the subject of tobacco, let me say that it is high time something was done to give tobacco-growers an opportunity to organize their own marketing system, so that they may enjoy a measure of security. If honorable members could see the conditions under which many of these tobacco-growers live, and then see the prices offered for their product, their eyes would be opened. Most of us are familiar with the story of the grower who submitted his leaf at the morning sale in
Brandon, only to have it rejected. He took it home, rebaled it, submitted it again in the afternoon and sold it at twice the price he was offered in the morning. When things like this happen one wonders what is wrong with the marketing system.
Similar chaotic conditions existed in the early 1920’s in the sugar industry, but they were rectified by the introduction of proper control methods. I think the Government should give attention to the conditions now existing in the tobacco industry. I know that relief has been granted by the Government to meet a particular situation, but it is better to have a healthy industry than to be continually trying to patch up a sick one.
The scheme I have outlined also involves cattle fattening. We all realize that the beef cattle industry is going to be one of our most important industries in the future, and north Queensland, of course, is our greatest cattle producing area. Unfortunately, because of changes in conditions according to the seasons, when the time comes for slaughtering the grass has dried off and the cattle quickly lose weight. There is a shortage of fat cattle after August or September. After the implementation of stages 1, 2 and 3 of the scheme I have referred to, the turn-off of cattle could be increased to almost 500,000 beasts, which is far greater than the number processed at the combined meatworks in Townsville, where it is considered they have a pretty good spin if they kill 200,000 head a year.
There is another point that should be mentioned in connexion with this scheme. During the last ten years or so about £500,000 has been spent on flood relief in this area, and we have nothing to show for it. It would be better to spend the money constructively on a scheme to prevent floods.
I would like to tell honorable members that a minor crisis is developing in the slaughtering section of the meat industry. As the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) has said, a new practice has been introduced, known as the can pack system. This involves a new method of killing. The beast is knocked over, killed immediately, and the skin peeled off rather in the way a banana is peeled. The carcass then moves along a kind of assembly line, and specialized butchering is not necessary. The result is that about 100 fewer men are required on the butchering floor. The union claims that the number of men employed in the meatworks will be drastically reduced, although the management says that this will not be the case. Personally, I feel that the union is right. Further, with the introduction of the federal award which is based on an eight-hour day rather than on a tally system, the season could be still further shortened, and we must therefore try to increase our total output.
As honorable members are aware, the Herbert electorate is probably the largest sugar-producing area in Australia. Incidentally, I was rather dismayed when I went to the dining room in this building to find that most honorable members use saccharine instead of sugar. Last year the seven mills in the Herbert area treated almost 3,000,000 tons of cane. The Victoria mill, which is the largest in Australia, and, I think, the largest in the southern hemisphere, crushed more than 500,000 tons. The sugar industry is of importance to every part of Australia. The men who work in the cane-fields are, for the most part, itinerant workers. When the cane season is finished, most of them come back to the southern parts of Australia, where they spend a good deal of the money that they have earned in north Queensland. With the recent improvements in mechanical harvesting, about 500 fewer men will be required each year in the cane-fields, and this must have a slight economic effect on other parts of Australia. I should also mention that the thousands of tons of fertilizers which are used each year come from the southern parts of Australia, and 99 per cent, of the machinery used is manufactured outside of Queensland.
The sugar industry is experiencing difficulty throughout the world at the present time. China is trying to increase her production, and so increase individual consumption, which now stands at less than 3 lb. a year. India is trying to do something about her surplus, after years of trying to build up production. In South Africa last year 2,000,000 tons of cane was left in the fields. This year there has been a world conference at Geneva, but it has done little to inspire confidence in the industry. At the beginning of the year sugar was quoted in London at £stg.27 5s. a ton. It rose to £stg.30 10s., then dropped to £stg.24 before the conference, while after the conference it fell to £stg.21 10s. It was only as a result of good marketing and organization by the sugar-producers and the Sugar Board that the price did not fall even further. Of course, in the case of any primary industry, stabilization must be achieved. This is axiomatic.
Before I close I would like to make a few remarks on behalf of age pensioners. These people bring their troubles to me regularly. They feel they are entitled to the zone allowance which is enjoyed by all other people who live in the north of Australia. I think the Government should give serious consideration to this claim. I believe it is a just one, and that the pensioners are entitled to this allowance. I certainly have never seen a wealthy pensioner.
I would also suggest that the waiting time for the receipt of unemployment benefit is too long, especially in the case of a man who has a family to keep. I have seen cases in which a family has been practically reduced to starvation because an unemployed man has had to wait a long time before receiving the unemployment benefit.
.- I would like to congratulate those new members who have made their maiden speeches. I would also like to congratulate you, Sir, on your re-election to the Speakership of this House.
Last Tuesday night the House listened to a very long speech, which was badly read, by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). It would have been a much better speech if he had cut half of it out, and it would not have mattered which half of the speech was left out. He started off by moving what he was pleased to call a censure motion, in which he listed fifteen points. As my friend, the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), said last night, the Lord Himself was satisfied with ten points, but the honorable member for Melbourne said, “ No, I want to go five better “. I was surprised that in his fifteen points there was nothing to suggest that he was proposing an amendment to one of the Ten Commandments, but I suppose that is something that will come in the future.
The fifteen points may well be described as a Calwell curry, because he had to take something from here and something from there and put everything in, in an attempt to please every one. As a result, he finished up with fifteen ingredients, but there was no curry in it at all.
– Order! There is too much audible conversation.
– I am indebted to you, Sir, for your solicitude, but the bleating of sheep has never worried me. I would like to say to the honorable gentleman, and to those who sit behind him, that there was something about his censure motion that I admire very much indeed. It at least represented an effort and an achievement to get together some points - in this instance, fifteen points - upon which all the various sections of his party could agree. He wanted something upon which those who follow him could say, “We can support you on this “. I wonder whether the term “ follow “ is not used with a measure of disregard for the truth. As I look at the other side of the House I can see a score or more of those purporting to follow him who have very little affection for his back, at least in its presently undamaged state.
Right through the honorable gentleman’s speech and right through the speeches of many of his alleged followers has been this recurring reference to stop-go policy. This is the new cry, a stop-go policy. One can visualize the honorable gentleman spending a feverish week-end trying to think up some new party cry. He has come up with this stop-go policy. I do not know what the argument is. Possibly it confirms some of my suspicions. I may be a little dull; 1 cannot understand this argument of stop-go. If we take the argument through it runs to this effect: No matter what circumstances this country may find itself in, no matter what may touch, affect and concern this country, its economy is supposed to keep ripping along. I notice that the honorable and very new member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) is interjecting. Would you mind telling him, Sir, that his nappy is showing. This is the argument of the Leader of the Opposition: We must let the economy run along, never stop and never go. He ignores the red sign and the green sign. Apparently his policy is forever amber. If that picture is unpleasant to him, he may picture himself as the economist of Balaclava, the lineal descendant of the character who organized the charge of the Light Brigade. He .will lead on his faithful; he will keep on going no matter what happens and no matter what barrier he may find himself up against.
The Leader of the Opposition has been vigorously supported in this stop-go argument by one of the largest daily newspapers in Australia. I refer to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. For months now, according to this newspaper, everything that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has done or said has been wrong. The newspaper does not seem to like the Prime Minister at all. It does not even like his suits. If he wears a double-breasted suit, he is losing touch with what is going on. If the right honorable gentleman makes an announcement, it is wrong in fundamental thinking. At the same time, the newspaper has turned to the Leader of the Opposition, has looked at him and has declared that here is the new-found political messiah. This has not always been so. When the Leader of the Opposition finished his policy speech, the “Sydney Morning Herald “ wrote in glowing terms about- him. It described his speech in this way - . . confidence without braggadocio, charm and wit without slick recourse to words; at times a strange gentleness rare in public men, a quick and amazing memory and a complete imperviousness to hostile- interjection, plus an odd flair of brilliance.
The editorial in the newspaper this morning referred to his censure motion and said he had made a brilliant analysis of the country’s economy. This affection between the Leader of the Opposition and the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ has not always been apparent. I understand that the managing director of the newspaper is a gentleman named Henderson. I have never met Mr. Henderson; I would not know him if I fell over him. He seems to look upon the Leader of the Opposition as some new-found political giant. There is now this strange community of spirit between the two and this great exchange of fellowship. May I, with your indulgence, Sir, take the House back a few years. Admittedly, it is some sixteen years, but I should like to take the House back to March, 1946. This is powerful stuff. The honorable gentleman then had this to say -
I have not the slightest doubt on the display of the “Sydney Morning Herald” and the “Sydney Sun” that, if the Japanese had landed in Australia … the first persons to fling up their greasy hands and surrender would have been the members of the editorial boards of the “Sydney Morning Herald “ and the Sydney “ Sun “.
He then continued with this lovely language -
I know that Quilp-like creature, Henderson, and I know that had Australia been overcome the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ would not have ceased publication. It would have come out the following day as the “ Sydney Morning Shimbun “, with Henderson still as editor.
I did not understand the word “Quilp” when I first read it and I thought that this was some legitimate neology on the part of my friend, with his great attention to language. I thought he had found some new word. But this is not so. There is a description of “ Quilp “. He was speaking of Mr. Henderson, the managing director of the “Sydney Morning Herald”, who described him as being impervious to hostile interjections and having a strange gentleness. This is what the Leader of the Opposition wanted us to understand when he referred to Mr. Henderson as a “ Quilp-like creature “. He meant -
An elderly man of remarkably hard features and forbidding aspect, and so low in stature as to be quite a dwarf, though his head and face were large enough for the body of a giant. His black eyes were restless, sly, and cunning; his mouth and chin, bristly with the stubble of a coarse hard beard; and his complexion was one of that kind which never looks clean and wholesome. But what added most to the grotesque expression of his face, was a ghastly smile, which, appearing to be the mere result of habit and to have no connexion with any mirthful or complacent feeling, constantly revealed the few discoloured fangs that were yet scattered in his mouth, and gave him the aspect of a panting dog.
Such hair as. he had, was of a grizzled black, cut short and straight upon his temples, and hanging in a frowsy fringe about his ears. His hands, which were of a rough coarse grain, were very dirty, his finger nails were crooked, long and yellow.
The creature appeared quite horrible with his monstrous head and little body, as he rubbed his hands slowly round, and round, and round again - with something fantastic even in his manner of per forming this slight action - and, dropping shaggy brows and cocking his chin in the air, glanced upward with a stealthy look of exultation that an imp might have copied and appropriated to himself.
That is remarkable. That is the way the Leader of the Opposition described the editor of the “Sydney Morning Herald”, which to-day describes the Leader of the Opposition in grand and uncompromising language as being the new-found political saviour of Australia. As I say, I do not know Mr. Henderson, but I want to say to him - I hope some one will relay this to him - that politically speaking, the Leader of the Opposition is not worth two bob. Is the memory of the managing director of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, which has come out with a full-blooded campaign against the Prime Minister personally and against this Government in everything it does, so short that he has forgotten the occasion when the Leader of the Opposition, as the Minister responsible, launched a prosecution against the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ and against the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) for a very mild breach of political censorship? These honorable gentlemen opposite are proud to stick to principle and ready to desert it when this suits their convenience.
I should like to move on now to another feature of the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition on Tuesday evening, Sir. He took great pains to try to explain to the House that he and his party were in a state of rapture over the result of the general election. There are genuine feelings of goodwill towards most new members who some to this place. A considerable number of new members have come here on this occasion. Some, by the look of them, are still stunned with surprise. So is the Leader of the Opposition, but, with his great affection for pantomime, he has allowed his surprise to put on the cheerful mask of exultation and he has persuaded himself to believe that the result of the election was a complete vindication of his political doctrine. In a short rebuttal, Sir, I say that that is not the case, because the honorable gentleman deserted his political doctrine during the election campaign.
No one resiles from an individual merely because of disagreement. But this, was not mere disagreement. This was, frankly, a clear case of deception, which was not even hidden away in the plethora of material promises which the honorable gentleman put into his policy speech. Picked out in insolent isolation was this undertaking: “We promise not to raise the question of nationalization during the lifetime of the Twenty-fourth Parliament.” When I heard that, I thought: “ This is remarkable. He is now standing in a stream of political conversion.” In this respect, however, the honorable gentleman did not even get his feet wet. What he declared in his policy speech, in effect, was, “ I promise to break a promise”. One can take the journal of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour Party and find in an issue so recent as that of February, 19S9, the following text written by the honorable gentleman: “ The A.L.P. policy based firmly on the principles of democratic socialism must never be altered to gain a political advantage.” Yet; a few months ago, he completely submerged his undertaking to carry out a socialist promise. So one is left to wonder whether what the honorable gentleman wrote for his party’s journal in 1959 represented brave language or whether it was just the persiflage of a miserable little lamb who was running about in lion’s clothing. I ask the honorable gentleman - I believe that the Australian people are entitled to a frank answer - to. state plainly whether or not he is a socialist. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) sits at the table looking at the moment like a stunned mullet. He may be persuaded to speak on his leader’s behalf.
Surely there is no more miserable form of deceit to which a political leader may be prepared to descend than to undertake to repudiate the whole fundamental principle of his party, Mr. Speaker. This is no ordinary opportunism. To style it as expediency would be to exalt it. To describe it as a shabby manoeuvre would be to deck it out in finery. To speak of it as a mean, miserable, shuffling form of behaviour would be to speak of it gently. The honorable gentleman led a counterfeit campaign. For sheer falseness his lead cannot be outdone. However, that does not disturb the honorable gentleman. Let it be conceded that he is not disturbed by it. He knows perfectly well that to-day he leads a party that lays false claim to Labour traditions and has within its ranks people who are prepared to encourage false hope for the future. It is a party that has within its ranks a score and more of people who swear to him an allegiance that is false and whose only fidelity to him is in their search for means to remove him.
The honorable gentleman takes the view that if he cannot win office by deception he will try to win it through fear. So he has run round the countryside like a sort of political commercial traveller, trying to sell - and, I regret to say, successfully - the idea that this country is going to the dogs. The honorable gentleman has been, and is, Australia’s greatest calamity-howler. He is one who never takes any sort of pride in what this country has done. He prefers to run around scrounging for trophies in wreckage. Whenever there is announced any news of value to the country, what does he do? He deplores that news and runs round with a long, gloomy-looking face.
I would be the last person in this Parliament to deny the fact that within the last twelve years this country has experienced difficulties, but in those twelve years it has achieved, a remarkable rate of growth. Is it to be denied that in the last twelve years Australia’s population has increased by 2,300,000 persons? Nevertheless, our people to-day are better fed and better housed than in the past. .
– The honorable member was nearly unemployed.
– I know that the honorable member is feeling his oats, but he ought to try to keep within the line.
– I take a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The term just used by the honorable member for Moreton is objectionable to me, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– No point of order is involved. I suggest that honorable members remain silent and allow me to hear the honorable member for Moreton, and that they bear in mind the fact that they are more comfortable in this chamber than they would be outside it.
– The people of this country are better housed and better fed to-day than they used to be. The fact that we have run into difficulties is no cause for despair. It is no cause for shame. Admittedly, it may be, and is, a cause of regret. The disequilibrium that has come upon the Australian economy is something that can and will be repaired, but it will not be repaired so long as we have these long-winded gloom-mongers like the Leader of the Opposition running about the Australian countryside trying to stir up all the mischief and lack of confidence that they can.
– What about-
– Oh, shut up, Eadwig. The Leader of the Opposition, Sir, is not prepared to reserve his criticism of the Government’s policies and actions for any objective survey. His criticism sweeps against policies with all the looseness of a philanderer. He takes the view that he will make use of any miserable, scrimpy little stone which he can find to put his foot upon in launching criticism of the Government. In this, of course, he is vigorously supported by his new-found journalistic friends on the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. No one in this country has any need for shame about what it has done in the last twelve years. Admittedly we have from time to time run into difficulties, but is this running into difficulties cause to throw up one’s hands and say: “ We will not have any more of this. We are prepared to go quietly “? If this country does take the view that it can go quietly, then it will go quietly. But it will go quietly under the suzerainty of a foreign power. One has only to look about to see the tremendous build-up in the world’s population and the plight of many hundreds of millions of people who, to-day, are finding it not merely difficult but impossible to obtain adequate sustenance. This presents a challenge to every civilized country, lt presents a challenge particularly to Australia. The forced march of development in this country in the last twelve years has caused us to strike this disequilibrium. As I have said, we can and we will get out of it.
The last thing that I want to say to the House is this: Great play has been made on unemployment in Australia. No one on this side of the House, to my certain knowledge, has ever been prepared to try to determine unemployment or employment on any statistical basis. But what of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen)? He took the view that if we got down to 5 per cent, of unemployment, for all practical purposes we would have full employment. Has his leader ever sought to rebuke him? Of course not. In the absence of any rebuke, the honorable member goes on his way scorning his leader in that miserable rag, the “ Century “. Government supporters in this House are not prepared to explain away any circumstance of employment substantially in terms of statistics, but the Leader of the Opposition apparently, is quite prepared to tolerate having in his ranks the honorable member for Parkes, who settles for a flat rate of 5 per cent. I put it to the Leader of the Opposition that his approach to this problem is as soulless and metallic as the loyalty shown to him by the honorable member for Parkes. The great thing here is to have a spirit of optimism, not pessimism, and we shall very soon find ourselves on the way back. I appeal to the Leader of the Opposition to stop dividing the Australian people, to realize that this Government, this Parliament and the Opposition have a great trust, a great duty which is to be discharged not by some anxious attention to those things which divide the Australian people, but by deliberate and conscious attention to those things which unite the Australian people. Surely chief among these is the need to kindle, stimulate and strengthen this country, the need to build, to strive and to seek for a stronger Australia and to see that strength borne to the service of a wider humanity on the powerful wings of pity and compassion.
.- We have just heard a remarkable outburst from the darling of the Kremlin. He was almost a victim of the Government’s stop-and-go policy, but he was stopped, just as he was going out, by the Communist Party preferences. He is a remarkable man. He looks like Hitler, he acts like Hitler - -
– Order! I must ask the honorable member to restrain himself.
– I rise to order.
– Order! There is no ground for rising to order.
– Are you ruling that he is not in order?
– I am asking the honorable member to restrain himself.
– The honorable member for Moreton also owes his salvation to Khrushchev. I might say that- he gave another remarkable display to-day. It reminded me of the time when he alleged that he found a spy in the Bolshoi Ballet that was visiting Australia. Honorable members will recollect that on 2nd August, 1959, in this Parliament, the honorable member for Moreton alleged that a member of the Russian M.V.D. - secret police - was included in the Bolshoi Ballet ensemble that tumbled and stumbled in touring Australia. On the 2nd August, 1959, the following appeared in the “Canberra Times”: -
Mr. Killen who was speaking on the motion for the adjournment for the House of Representatives -said that the Bolshoi Ballet was a weapon of international communism. “ It would be folly of the first order if we failed to recognize that behind the grace and beauty -of the traditional Russian ballet is an ulterior motive “, he said.
The honorable member has come a long way since then because, you know, the discovery of an M.V.D. agent in the ranks of the ballet is undoubtedly probably the lowest form of political counter-espionage. From his outburst to-day, one could say that he has turned from “ Mein Kampf “ to the Communist manifesto. Here to-day, in a wild outburst, reminiscent of an angry sheep, and almost incoherent at times, the honorable member was telling the House what was wrong with our leader, but he did not say much about the policy that almost forced him from the Parliament. It would seem that he is still smarting over the fact that he and other members of this Government are here because the Communist Party gave their preferences to them, which meant that he and his leader were returned to office.
This honorable member, who has just engaged in a wild tirade of abuse in which he made no attempt to defend the policies of his Government, this honorable member who in the previous Parliament won his seat by a huge majority, is here now because of a meagre 110 votes from the Communist Party, votes which he said he would never take to enter this Parliament. By this wild tirade, the honorable member tries to take our minds off the manner of his election. If he were a man of principle he would not have taken the votes. If he were a man of principle, he would not have accepted office on those votes, but, like all members of the Liberal Party, he will do anything that will enable the Liberal Party to sit as the Government in this Parliament.
He and the other members of the Liberal Party care little for principle. The honorable member for Moreton exemplifies this. This Government which has been humiliated and discredited, this Government which is unwanted, this Government which is bankrupt of ideas seeks to remain in office by any means it can so long as it can retain the plums of office and what goes with them. I could spend a considerable amount of time dealing with the honorable member for Moreton. In fact I would enjoy half an hour relating some of his escapades, but no honorable member who relies on Communist Party preferences to put him in Parliament is worthy of more than a few minutes of the time of honorable members on this side. I do not intend to waste time on him except to say that I noticed that his tirade was listened to by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I suppose we all recall those famous, unforgettable words: “ Killen, you are magnificent “ that boomed forth from the Prime Minister. I suppose, too, that we could relate that old one, “ You know, all this is Killen “. I noticed the Prime Minister looking at him, and I suppose he was saying to himself: “ In ten or fifteen years time you will make your way to the front bench because you are a great man. You won your seat on Communist preferences. Not many men could get away with that. You are a man with a great future.” But I have other things to speak about. I do not propose to spend any more time on the honorable member for Moreton.
I congratulate the new honorable members upon being elected to this Parliament. In particular, I congratulate those who come from Queensland and hope that they will be with us for many years because their presence is a clear indication of the incompetence of the Government, and its neglect of Queensland. They are an indication of the fact that the people support an administration led by a Labour leader, that they expect a Labour administration to give Queensland the things to which it is entitled. I congratulate those honorable members on both sides who have already made their maiden speeches and I wish them success in this Parliament.
The Leader of the Opposition has proposed an amendment which means, in effect, that the Government no longer possesses the confidence of the Parliament and the nation. He has based that proposal on fifteen points. We selected those fifteen points for economic reasons. I do not think we would have enough paper to list all the things that we could list against this Government. But those fifteen points are quite sufficient basis for the criticism we level at the Government. The motion has been proposed because of the results of the voting at the last federal election on 9th December. In that month this Government went to the people with a majority of 32. To-day, it siu in this Parliament with the slender majority of two, and if the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) and the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) had the right to vote, which they justly should have, this Government would have a minority in this place. Three former Ministers have been added to the 131,000 unemployed built up by this Government. Sixteen former Government members are now missing while the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) are here only on slender majorities brought about by the fact that the people in their electorates were most indignant at the Government’s policies. Here I might point out that the Labour Party polled 317,000 more votes than did the parties who are here to-day as the Government. This Government, which is here on Communist preferences, and its Ministry have not in fact the support of the Australian people. It is’ here because of the preferences it enjoyed from a party which it has constantly condemned. In addition to that, this Government has stolen the policy of the Labour Party. Almost every measure introduced since the election was one advocated by the Labour Party’s leader during the election campaign. Being bankrupt of ideas of its own, this Government has conceded that Labour’s promises during the election campaign are possible of fulfillment. I think we should never forget the policy speech delivered by the Prime Minister during the last election campaign. On page 20 of that speech appears the following statement: -
Under us, as your repeated choice, Australia has, beyond question, developed and prospered. Its growth over the last decade has been phenomenal, as nobody can fairly deny.
The Prime Minister went on to say -
Can similar things be achieved by a divided and disorganized opponents, lacking experience, judgment and standing?
Further on he said-
There may be some - I find it hard to believe - who would wish to see our foreign policy, our trade relations, our territorial responsibilities, our financial and economic affairs, put into the hands of our opponents.
He further said -
Tt provides the final reason why we ask you tq renew our mandate to go on building a great nation for a great people.
What was the answer to that? Half the Government disappeared from this Parliament! Three hundred thousand more people voted for the Labour Party. Everything put up by the Prime Minister was repudiated by the Australian people, and the Government suffered the most humiliating defeat in the history of any political party in this country. We have moved this censure motion against the Government to indicate clearly that it has not the confidence of the people and should resign and go to the electorate.
Let us also have a look at the Ministry. What has the Government done to build it up since the last election? At the table sits the Minister for Air (Mr. Bury). I understand that he is a first-class economist, so, in accordance with the Prime Minister’s usual practice, the honorable member has been appointed Minister for Air. I noticed last night that in a long, dreary exposition of what he thought was financial policy he was watched by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). As bad as the Treasurer is, 1 am sure he said to himself: “ This chap has no chance of beating me. The Prime Minister knows that as an economist he is a good Minister for Air.” The Treasurer himself, since he has held the portfolio, has seldom been in the country while a budget has been debated. With complete contempt for the economy of this nation and for the welfare of the people he has continually left Australia as soon as a budget has been introduced. On one occasion we found him in Tokyo when he was supposed to be at a conference in Washington. On other occasions he has been anywhere from the Isle of Capri to London, but never in this Parliament while we have been debating great economic measures.
He has made endless predictions of how good the economy would be. He has said that nothing would happen and that all in the garden would be. lovely. The truth of the matter is that the prime ministerial prospects of the Treasurer have been shattered for all time because he has been shown up as the most tragic Treasurer ever produced by the Liberal Party of Australia, and he had pretty tough competition to beat. No wonder the Country Party members cried their eyes out when one of their number did not receive the portfolio, because, after looking at the weird mob in the Country Party, I do not think you could find a worse Treasurer than the present one. He deserves to be condemned for his policies. What have they been? They are stop-and-go policies, but he calls them flexible - release money one day and restrict it the next; make plenty of bank credit available one day and give none the next. He claims that by these roundabout means he is giving flexibility to the economy and a stimulus and confidence to industry. What is the position to-day? We have 131,000 unemployed men and women.
I think it was a member of the Country Party who said that the people do not want this precious Labour Party policy of full employment. Members on the Government side do not care about the unemployed. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) said that many people who were unemployed were malingerers. I do not think that any honorable member opposite really believes in a policy of full employment. The Treasurer is one who gave effect to policies which he knew would cause unemployment and a loss of confidence and retard progress.
– What is full employment?
– Full employment is when there is work available for every man, woman and child able and willing to work. To bring the bright, up-and-coming young member up to date, let me tell him that in 1949 there were only 9,800 people unemployed and 96,000 jobs were available. To-day there are 24,000 jobs available and 131,000 men and women looking for work that is not offering. That is the result of the policy of full employment which has been adopted by liberalism. I hope that has dawned on the honorable member, because if it has not I remind him that just over the border from his electorate we have taken a Country Party seat, and he is “next in line with Channel 9 “.
The contempt which the present Ministry has shown the Parliament should never be forgotten. Honorable members will recall that last year the right- honorable gentleman held three portfolios. He was the Prime Minister, Acting Minister for External Affairs and Acting Treasurer. At one time if, we desired to ask a question of the Treasurer we had to ask the Acting Acting Treasurer to ask the Acting Treasurer, so farcical did the position become.
Those are reasons why we believe the Government has failed and deserves to be condemned. Its policy in relation to unemployment alone deserves the condemnation of the people of this country. Let me mention the honorable member for Lowe (Mr. McMahon), the “Minister for Unemployment” as one of my colleagues called him to-day. Every statement he has made on unemployment over the years has been completely wrong and completely out of focus with the real facts of the situation. He was supposed, as Minister in charge of the Department of Labour and National Service, to have an intimate knowledge of what was happening in relation to unemployment, yet we found him continually prophesying but never correct in his prophesies. In the meantime unemployment was growing from day to day. These are matters which we believe should be put before the people so they will know that the Government which is still in office is comprised of the incompetents who brought about the present state of affairs.
Honorable members opposite claim that there is disunity in the Labour Party. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and others have criticized the Labour Party. I do not know whether there is any disunity in the Labour Party but you can always see that the Liberal Party is not exactly a really harmonious body. The iron discipline of the machine was brought down yesterday to pull into line three Liberals who do not endorse even the foreign policy of the Government. To-day the so-called Liberals who like to call themselves independent and to regard themselves as being free to vote as they please are tied hand and foot. The honorable member for Chisholm is almost frightened to open his mouth because he knows that he has no chance of living politically if he supports the things that really matter. And what about the headline “Shaken N.S.W. Libs Say Menzies Must go!” which appeared in a newspaper recently? Is that any great sign of unity? That is a bright statement for people who are supposed to be united behind their leader. There are half a dozen Liberal Parties including the Askin Liberal Party in New South Wales, the Playford Liberal Party in South Australia, and the Menzies Liberal Party in Canberra. But the State Liberal Parties have decided on one thing - they do not want to be contaminated by the present Menzies federal Liberal Party because the burden would be impossible to carry. The Menzies federal Liberal Party’s policies have completely destroyed the country’s economy.
It is interesting to look back on the Government’s policies. The leaders have bungled on vital matters. The Treasurer has not known what has been going on and the Ministry has not cared. All in all things have been happening in the Ministry and in the Government ranks which have shown, to say the least, complete contempt for the responsibilities which honorable members opposite have carried.
We pointed out that it was vital to do something to protect Australian industry. We pointed out that it was vital to do something to maintain full employment, to stimulate the economy and to extend public works. We pointed out continually the need for something to be done at the Treasury level, in particular, to show that money was available so that work would be provided and the development of our country would proceed. But no! The Treasurer’s statements, when he has been in the country, have read like a fairy story.
The “ Sun “ of 8th August, 1961, had this to say in its editorial: -
Rosy predictions of prosperity just around the corner for Australia have come with confident assurance from the Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies. They were accepted at face value by an audience of 1,500 selected by invitation from party supporters.
The boom that was “ roaring along “ owed much of its force to the Government’s Budget last August, based on a firm policy of “expansion”.
In its anxiety to repair the damage, the Government has had to slow down immigration and make millions available to absorb some of the 110,000 unemployed . . . Government and semi-government employees increased by 24,100, and of these 4,400 were absorbed in Commonwealth Government jobs.
The truth is that the Government would not heed the warnings given by the Labour Party and continually criticized us for the proposals we advanced. What is the situation to-day? Last December mis Government deemed as inflationary and impossible all the policies which we had put forward as an Opposition. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said they were impossible of fulfilment, and he was joined by every member sitting on the Country Party benches, who also said these things could not be carried out. Honorable members opposite said that our proposal to spend £100,000,000 was inflationary. We were told that our socialistic programme was not possible, and that our sales tax proposals could not be carried out. We were told also that certain concessions to industry to stimulate confidence were not possible. Yet to-day we find in this Parliament every member of the Government supporting the policies put forward by the Labour Party on that occasion. In other words, the Government, because of its complete humiliation at the last election, is trying to carry out a policy which it does not believe in and has no intention of giving effect to in the real sense of the word. As the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) has said, our policy was ridiculed and yet at this stage we find the Government endeavouring to implement it.
What is the position in Queensland - no development at all, no defence of the north of Australia and the wide open spaces. Yet the Government ridiculed criticism from Queensland. But the election of nine new members to this Parliament from that State indicates the attitude of the people towards this Government. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) knows full well that in a blue-ribbon Country Party seat next door to his electorate Labour won election by thousands of votes because of the policies of the Government. I mention these things in order to state the real position. Earlier I pointed to the shortcomings of this Government and the reasons for the state of our economy, the destruction of Australian industry and the undermining of the stability of this nation. We have pointed out the incompetence of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and his advisers and those around him and the complete inability of the Government and its backbenchers to face up to the responsibilities of government and give effect to policies that matter.
To-day we have the legacy of men and women unemployed, of closing industries, of increased bankruptcies and men and women on the farms and in other places wanting to live in a reasonable state but being retarded in every way because of the policies being followed by the Government. That is why, with other members on this side of the Parliament, I support without reservation the no-confidence motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition, which we believe expresses the view of Australians everywhere that this Government must go. The Prime Minister to-day leads the tattered remnant of a once proud and arrogant government. At the election the majority of the people voted against the Government and its policies; and the Prime Minister is indebted to the Communist Party for his slender majority. Unemployment and economic chaos are his legacy and now, completely shorn of honour, dignity and respect, he and his Government are trying to survive by giving effect to a policy in which they do not believe. Clearly the Government has forfeited the confidence of this Parliament and, unhonoured and unsung, it deserves to be pushed into oblivion.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to make a personal explanation arising out of the remarks of the honorable member for Grayndler.
– Is leave granted?
Opposition Members. - No
– Order! Leave is not granted.
– Now we know the measure of the Opposition.
.- Mr. Speaker, I am always pleased to follow the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) because his many misstatements in themselves provide sufficient material for a speech. Usually we get something humorous in his speeches. Among members of the Labour Party he is officially known as the jester of that party, but I have never heard him flatter than he was to-day and I would have thought he would have shown a bit of fight for his party. When we came back here with such a small majority we were shocked, and you, Sir, were surprised, too; but we did console ourselves with the thought that we might have a revitalized Opposition which would give some constructive pointers to the Government. But what have we had? We have had nothing - no constructive ideas at all from the Opposition. All we have had is criticism of Government policy, and poor criticism it has been, too. When the honorable member for Grayndler rose I expected to hear quite a good speech, but he spent threequarters of his time on personalities. Of course, this is not unusual. Normally he tries to be a bit funny, but I do not think he got a laugh to-day. Normally he tries to put on a performance for the new boys particularly, because only those who have not previously heard his wisecracks can raise a laugh. Most of us who have been here for some years know that he merely rehashes the same old matter over and over again.
The honorable member said that some members on the Government side of the House were lucky to be here, but, looking at the Opposition, it surprises me that some members on that side of the House won endorsement let alone election to the Parliament. The honorable member also said that we on this side of the chamber were tied hand and foot to our parties. He said we could not freely express ourselves. The opposite is the case; and this is the big difference between members of the Government parties and those of the Labour Party. Labour members are bound to the principles of socialism, and they know it. When they sign their nomination forms they sign a” pledge to obey the rulings of their party’s federal executive. They pledge themselves to the socialization of industry, and they know what will happen to them if they disobey the machine. I recall the occasion a few years ago when Vic. Johnson and Mr. Cyril Chambers got up in this House and criticized the then Leader of the Opposition. What happened to them? Because they got up and said what they honestly believed they were tossed out of the Labour Party. We, on this side of the House, are free to say what we think and are not tossed out of our parties for doing so.
I have in my hand a copy of the constitution and rules pf the Australian Labour Party. What is the structure of that Party? First of all, there is the federal conference, which is the supreme governing body of the party. Next there is the federal executive, which is the managing organization; and thirdly, right down the list, is the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party. It is bound by the decisions of the federal conference and the federal executive, and when it speaks about “ stop and go “ policies the Parliamentary Labour Party should examine its own actions because, when the federal executive says “go” it has to go, and when the executive says “ stop “ it has to stop. That is the Labour Party, this party which we thought might come back revitalized and put a bit of spirit into proceedings in this- House.
The Opposition has put forward fifteen points on which it charges the Government with neglect. As the member for Grayndler has said, they are the fifteen most vital points which honorable members opposite could put forward. If that is all they can find on which to pull the Government to pieces, they have not found very much. Why did they not bring in something about the Government’s foreign policy or defence policy? They have not mentioned either of those things, because opinion in their party is divided on those subjects. Here is this great bird with one right wing and one left wing, which cannot fly because its wings do not flap in unison. Lately we have seen a little bit trimmed off the left wing; but honorable members opposite are frightened to take too much off because they know that if they do the bird simply will not be able to fly at all. That is why honorable members opposite have not spoken on foreign policy.
What did they- say about inflation? Until last year, during every Budget debate and every Address-in-Reply debate, the Leader of the Opposition got up and asked, “ When are you going to put value back into the £1?” Honorable members opposite asked that question time and time again, but on this occasion, because the Government is stabilizing the economy, we hear not one word on that subject from them. We have put value back into the £1. The latest report of the Commonwealth Statistician shows that our currency has held better than that of any other major country in the world during the last eighteen months. That has been due to Government policy, and not to luck. What have members opposite said about the European Common Market, which can be so devastating to our primary industries? Not the slightest thing! What have they said about trade promotion and the development of new markets? Not a thing! Apparently everything in those two fields is right. But they have put up these fifteen starters which they hope will get over the winning line. All I can say is that the one horse that we have put up - the Governor-General’s Speech - is the horse that will come in a winner. Anybody who bets on any one of those fifteen points put up by the Opposition will be lucky if his horse crosses the finishing line.
Let us look closely at point 1 of the censure motion, which claims that the Government no longer possesses the confidence of the Parliament and the nation because its latest proposals - neglect to restore continuous full employment and are totally inadequate to assure job opportunities for school-leavers.
What do honorable gentlemen opposite mean by “ neglect to restore continuous full employment”? Do they mean to say that up to last year we had full employment in this country? Are they referring to the kind of full employment that existed when the Labour Government left office in 1949 - when there were 30,000 to 40,000 unemployed? Do you honorable gentlemen opposite mean by full employment the employment position when the war was on and Curtin was in power, and we had conscription of labour in this country? Is that the kind of full employment they want? Or do they mean that this Government has maintained full employment in Australia for eleven years, and that it is only this year that employment has slackened?
We will restore employment. We are worried about the employment situation, and we believe that the full cycle of economic measures will not be complete until we have brought the unemployment figure back to a very healthy level-down to below 2 per cent. What did the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) mean by full employment? He did not explain. We have heard different ideas about full employment from the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. ‘ Haylen). Mr. Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, gave us his idea of what constitutes full employment when he was addressing the National Citizenship Convention last year. He said -
In 1939 when the war broke out we had 10 per cent, unemployment in this country and we were used to dealing with it on a 10 per cent, basis.
But the ordinary person in Australia now gets awfully frightened if we get up to 2 per cent, unemployment; whereas, in fact, because of our seasonal occupations in Australia, it is necessary to have .about l.S per cent, floating population to deal with the seasonal work.
So what do you mean by full employment? Do you mean 66,000 people registered for jobs? That is what Mr. Monk says is full employment, and he says that 1.5 per cent, of unemployed is necessary to meet seasonal work requirements in Australia. “ Full employment “ is a hard term to analyse. Honorable members know that there is a small number of people in Australia who do not want jobs, but who register for employment in order to qualify for unemployment benefit. Like honorable members opposite, we believe that if a person wants a job it is up to us to create the economic climate that will help him to get a job: That is the very thing we are trying to do. We are bringing in these measures in order to bolster the economy. We are giving an extra £25,000,000 to the States for public works, we are increasing unemployment benefit and instituting additional allowances in that field. We are reducing income tax, we are reducing sales tax on motor cars and we are increasing the maximum loans for war service homes in order to stimulate the building of houses. We are increasing the investment allowance for manufacturing industry to 20 per cent. All those measures are designed to revitalize industry and provide employment. Therefore, point 1 in the censure motion can be dismissed completely. .
Now to point 2, which claims that we have lost the confidence of the Parliament and the nation because our latest proposals - leave Australian Manufacturing industry without adequate protection and the business world without a return of confidence;
Why was the Australian Tariff Board established? It was established so that if an industry wanted protection it could apply to the Tariff Board for it and, if it had a good case, it would get protection. And industries do get protection! This applies to both primary industries and secondary industries, and this procedure has operated for 30 years and more. But you people opposite want the complete protection of import licensing. You want monopoly protection for industry, and no competition. You pay absolutely no consideration to our international obligations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the International Monetary Fund agreement, the World Bank agreement and so on, which provide that a member country has to have minimum impediments to trade. Those things do not mean a thing to you people opposite. Your minds are set on import licensing irrespective of the consequences. I have never heard one member of the Opposition give a good sound reason for import licensing in this country except that it is desirable to give complete protection to industry.
That second point in the motion also claims that the Government no longer possesses the confidence of the Parliament or the nation because its latest proposals leave -
Look at the position of the loan market. The first of two recent loans was oversubscribed by £33,000,000, and the second was over-subscribed by £35,000,000. According to the estimates we shall finish up with an over-subscription of £80,000,000 on our loans. If that does not spell confidence in the Government I do not know what does - and we have raised those loans at a lower rate of interest than obtained last year.
– You conscripted the funds of insurance companies and superannuation companies.
– That is our policy, and it is working. But it is not only insurance companies that have invested in the Government’s loans because they have confidence in the Government’s policy.
Now let us look at some of the other economic indicators - pig iron production, for instance. This reached an all-time record in the months of December and January last. The production of ingot steel also reached an all-time record in those two months - and the steel industry, and other heavy industries, are the very basis of all industry. Electricity production for December and January was also an all-time record. Coal production in November - the latest month for which figures are available - was an all-time record. That is how the country has responded to the Government’s management of its affairs.
Eighteen months ago, when we brought down the November, 1960, economic measures the Sydney stock exchange price index for ordinary shares, which stood at 341 in the preceding August, dropped to 276. There was less confidence in the community. That was when the stock exchange index went down, and when people would not invest in the bond market. Since then, the Sydney stock exchange index for ordinary shares has continued to rise, and to-day’s press quotes the figure at 320, which is almost as high as the figure for August, 1960. So there is confidence in the community. If honorable members opposite would not be such Jeremiahs, such prophets of doom, Australia would move forward. You are calamity-howling - and for what reason? It is because you want to see unemployment and discontent, because only unemployment and discontent would put you on the Treasury bench in this House. We are going to see that you do not get power again. We are going to get unemployment down to the lowest possible figure.
Point 3 of the censure motion claims that the Government no longer possesses the confidence of the Parliament and the nation because its latest proposal’s - adopt only short-term measures which can be readily reversed or abandoned in a further application of its “stop-go “ policies;
What do you people want? Do you want built-in inflation? Do you want us to do nothing more than pump credit into the community? There is no set formula for dealing with economic problems. Even socialist countries cannot have one set policy although they have all the controls that they want. Government fiscal policy has to be regulated from day to day, and measures have to be altered from day to day according to conditions. No provision can be made in advance to meet the psychological, the human factor. The history of the first stock exchanges in Paris and London show that that is so. On the London market, in those old days, the South Sea Bubble burst. Then there was the bursting of the Mississippi Bubble in Paris when, for no apparent reason that anybody could work out, the market suddenly dropped and people decided to sell out. A government cannot control the human element, seasonal conditions or world export and import prices. That is why a government has to moderate and keep moderating its policy from time to time.
As point 4, the Leader of the Opposition claims that the Government has provided no basis for long-term planning of investment, production, employment and balance of overseas payments. What a point! We have basic objectives in this party. We have been sticking to them all along. One basic objective is a high employment rate and the maximum development that the country can afford. We have continued an effective policy of immigration. All the time, we are trying to maintain stability. We will stick to these basic objectives. The basic objectives of the Australian Labour Party are set out in that party’s federal constitution. Paragraph 1 of that document states -
The name of the Party shall be “ The Australian Labour Party”.
Paragraph 2 states -
The Democratic Socialisation of Industry, Production, Distribution and Exchange. . . .
That is the objective of Opposition members. Why are they not honest about it? Why do they not tell the people that? Why sell out at election time and promise not to have any nationalization of industry? I will tell the Opposition why its leader sold out. He made a deal with Warwick Fairfax. He sold his soul to the capitalist press. He broke the pledge which he had made to uphold the federal constitution of the Labour Party. Anything at all to get into power!
What about our overseas balances? Opposition members say that the Government has not protected our overseas balances. Goodness me, let us look at the record! When we introduced our economic measures our overseas reserves amounted to £376,000,000. They now amount to £601,000,000, an increase of £225,000,000. There is the strength of the country. That is the result of our economic measures. That is why the Government has gained the confidence of foreign investors and migrants. That is a performance to be proud of. In the last seven months of the current financial year our trading balance has improved by £131,000,000. That is the best record for many years.
Point 5 in the censure motion of the Leader of the Opposition is that the Government has overlooked family social services which would have a continuing social and economic benefit. This subject really does not need much discussion because, last week, the Opposition was given an opportunity to embarrass the Government by trying to devastate us on the social services legislation.
– You did not put forward one argument to embarrass us. From the December quarter of 1949, when Labour left office, until the December quarter of 1961, the consumer index rose by 91 per cent. Yet age and invalid pensions have risen by 144 per cent. On top of that, the Government has given all the other benefits such as medical, hospital, and pharmaceutical. It has eased taxation and increased insurance allowances. Opposition members should not try to point the finger at us and say that we have not looked after these people. The proportion of national income paid in social service benefits has increased from 4.1 per cent, under the Labour Government to 5.7 per cent, in 1960-61. A much greater proportion of the national income is being spent on social services than ever before.
Point No. 6 of the Leader of the Opposition is that the Government has rejected the unanimous and urgent request of the Premiers for an inquiry into the needs of education. Here is a point that needs to be discussed. Only one Premier asked for an inquiry into the education system at the last Premiers’ Conference. That was Mr. Heffron. At the last Premiers’ Conference every Premier asked the Commonwealth to finance the plan that they put forward foi education in their States. But only Mr. Heffron asked for an inquiry into secondary and primary education. He could not get one other Premier to support him. Opposition members who are interjecting should make sure that they know the facts. This is the true story. The Opposition has moved a motion, hoping to bring down the Government by statements that are completely dishonest. Why do Opposition members not try to get their facts right when they seek to embarrass us? They will not embarrass us.
Point 7 of the Leader of the Opposition’s motion is that the Government has failed to reverse its three increases in interest on housing loans. This is an interesting point. It has nothing to do with the inadequacy of housing - the subject on which we have been attacked for years. Now, the Opposition has changed its approach in order to say that the interest rate is too high. Have we supplied enough houses? Is that why the Opposition has abandoned its previous line of attack? We are supplying more houses than the Labour Party promised to supply in its election policy speech. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) made a strong point this morning in reply to the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who had said that the number of home units completed had decreased from 103,000 to 80,000.
– That is right.
– I agree with you. But in an official booklet issued by the Labour Party during the election campaign it was stated that Labour would maintain a building rate of from 80,000 to 90,000 home units a year. The maximum was 90,000! In the previous year, 103,000 home units had been completed by this Government. That is why the Opposition has changed its outlook. It is not criticizing a lack of housing, now. It is criticizing only the rate of interest that people have to pay.
Point 8 of the censure motion is that the Government has ignored the need to protect wool producers from price manipulation. Does the Labour Party not know that an inquiry has been taking place as a result of which a suggestion will be put to the Government and the industry concerning a marketing scheme? Do Opposition members expect the Government to say what should be done while an inquiry is taking place into the subject? Of course, the Labour Party would do that. But we will not. We want to get suggestions as a result of an inquiry. Then the industry itself will decide what sort of plan to adopt. In 1951 the industry rejected a plan which had been put forward. Now, the position is being re-examined to try to get more up-to-date ideas for presentation to the industry. The Labour Party is so devoid of knowledge of what is happening in primary industry that its members would not know that an inquiry was being held. Unfortunately, the report of the inquiry has taken a while to come out. I think honorable members know that the delay has been due to the unfortunate death of one member of the committee in an aeroplane crash.
Point No. 9 of the amendment is that the Government has given no assurance to the dairy, meat, wheat, sugar, fruit and other primary industries as to what action will be taken in the event of the United Kingdom being admitted to the European Economic Community. That is an interesting point. What assurance do Opposition members expect the Government to give? We do not know what the effects will be. Do honorable members opposite know what they will be? If they do, they did not make any statement during the election campaign as to what they would give the primary producers. They are blowing froth and bubble into the air. They are talking simply to try to get primary producers on their side. What have they done lately? They have refused to say anything definite about giving the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) a pair to enable him to go overseas and take part in discussions. That has been their attitude.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am very pleased to have an opportunity to support the motion of censure so ably proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Before doing so, I take this opportunity to thank the electors of Stirling for once again returning me to this august chamber which I left for a period of three years through no fault of my own. I can assure my electors that I will give them full-time representation while I am a member of this House. I think it was ironical that the present Government was returned to office on the vote of the Communist Party. It was very ironical that the red-baiter in this chamber, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), should have been returned here on the preference votes of the Communist Party. But this is not difficult to understand when we look at the philosophy of the Communist Party. It believes that the only alternative to the capitalist form of government is communism. Consequently, the more chaotic things become, the more chance they have of achieving office. If there are huge numbers of unemployed, if people are living on or below the breadline, and if there is grave discontent in the community, that suits the Communist Party. That is why the educated Communists who are trained in the Communist line would rather give their preference votes to supporters of the Government than to supporters of the Australian Labour Party. They know there is a greater chance of chaotic conditions in the community if this Government remains in office.
– Are you making your maiden speech?
– Yes, I am, and I understand it is the usual custom to listen to a maiden speech in silence. I want to emphasize that the greatest obstacle to communism in Australia is the policy of the Labour Party, because it provides for a better way of life for the people. It provides for full employment, steadily increasing prosperity and rising living standards so that every family will have economic security based on national economic stability. In such circumstances, how could communism hope to flourish? I am certain that the Communist Party must feel that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has let that party down to some extent because the Prime Minister and those who sit behind him have turned a complete somersault.
The .Prime Minister has. adopted quite a number of points from the Labour Party’s policy which he opposed before and during the election campaign. 1 have heard the right honorable . gentleman likened, in this chamber to St. Anthony the Hermit, who refused to do right .because the devil told him to do so. On . this occasion, he has started to do some of the right things, but not to the extent that be should be doing them to provide full employment and implement a policy that would set Australia’s economy back on the right lines. We cannot object to our policy being filched or pinched by the Prime Minister. It is not copyright; but we do claim the right to be able to say that the party which has bitterly opposed that policy certainly should not have the right to implement it. We believe that we should have the right to implement our own policy and at the first opportunity we are looking to the electors to give us the chance to do that.
I was rather surprised to hear the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) say that value had been put back into the £1. He was repeating what the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said only last night. What a ridiculous statement. Does the honorable member feel that he is fooling the electors? In actual fact, the £1 has’ never had less value than it has now. Its purchasing power is 6s. 7d., compared with its pre-war value. These are the people who now claim that they have put value back into the £1.
The honorable member for Richmond also said that the aim was to get unemployment down to 2 per cent. If honorable members opposite are satisfied with a 2 per cent, pool of unemployed in the community, that is not the way we on this side of the House feel about it. If the honorable member calls that full employment, we can understand why the policies of this Government during the past twelve months have been responsible for creating unemployment to the extent that it exists now. As a matter of fact, the honorable member was trying to analyse what was meant by full employment. Full employment is something near what it. was when this Government took office in December, 1949. At that time only 8 per cent, of the work force was unemployed compared with 3.1 per cent. now. Supporters of the Government now say that 2 per cent, of unemployment is satisfactory to them.
The credit squeeze and the lifting of import restrictions in accordance with the policy of this Government were responsible for hitting the small people. Those measures hit the little man, the family man, the worker, the small farmer and the small businessman. They hit almost everybody but the big business interests. The repercussions have not died down yet and those measures were responsible for the pool of unemployed we have now. According to the registrations, there are 130,000 unemployed but actually the number is closer to 1 80,000 if you take into account all those who did not register the migrants in holding camps who are not considered to be registered unemployed, and the lads and lassies who leave school before they are sixteen and do not register; We also have the part-time workers. So the number of unemployed would be closer to 180,000. It is higher now than it has been at any time since the Second World War.
Actually, this Government has done more harm to the economy than any strike. Even during the coal strike of 1949 when as many workers were out of work because the miners were on strike, - the disastrous effects were not as great as they are under the policies of this Government. This Government would use the penal clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act if a similar state of affairs had been created by a strike. Of course, supporters of the Government get off scot-free except for a few heads that were lopped by the electors at the general elections.
I remind the House what some of those who normally support the Government feel about its economic measures. The honorable member for Richmond said that confidence had been restored. This is what was reported to have been said by Mr. R. W. Harvey, the chief industrial officer of the Commonwealth Sugar Refining Company on 29th January, under the heading “ £180,000,000 Lost in Squeeze “-
The credit squeeze has cost Australia £180,000,000 in loss of production in the eight months from January to August. . . .
Years ago recessions in economic activity were called depressions. To-day they are called “ periods of re-adjustment “.
That is how some of these people who normally support the Government feel about its policies. The Government has failed to carry out the United Nations Charter or the principles of the Commonwealth Bank Act, both of which provide for full employment. The Prime Minister has said that the credit squeeze is over now, but you cannot stop a credit squeeze like turning a tap off- You might be able to start a credit squeeze by turning off credit but things do not become ship-shape straight away simply by releasing credit again. It takes a long time before the nation gets over repercussions such as those of the credit squeeze imposed by this Government.
The Treasurer said that value had been put back into the £1. He said many other things in an attempt to paint a glowing picture of the economy. He has been likened to a black and white artist. When things are black he tries to paint them white, and when they are white, he tries to paint them black. I remember him frequently using figures giving registrations of motor vehicles to show how healthy the economy is. On this occasion he did not use those figures, because they did not support his argument. Let me read to the House portion of an article that appeared in the “Monthly Summary of Australian Conditions “, published by the National Bank-
In the year ended September, 1961, registrations of new motor vehicles totalled 256,200, a decrease of 16.5 per cent, from the 306,700 registered in the previous year . . . When compared with the 1959-60 period, registrations in Queensland declined by about 23 per cent., while reductions of 20 per cent, were recorded in Victoria and South Australia, 14 per cent, in New South Wales, 13 per cent, in Tasmania, and 3 per cent, in Western Australia. As has been the case in recent years, New South Wales and Victoria accounted for two-thirds of the total registrations. Preliminary figures issued for November, 1961, show that new registrations, at 22,800, were 28.5 per cent, lower than a year earlier.
On this occasion the Treasurer wisely refrained from citing these figures.
The Government may have learned a lesson as a result of its disastrous policies. Possibly the lesson has been driven home by the results of the recent election. If a change of heart has occurred on the part of the Government, it is all to the good, but it is very doubtful that this is so. In the past the members of the Government have always held to the belief that to handle the economy effectively it is necessary to have a pool of unemployed. Such pools have been established deliberately in the past, and those responsible have, in many cases, got away with pretty fat dividends. However, if it is intended to depart from that policy of economic savagery, that is also to the good. It would represent a new kind of thinking on the part of the Prime Minister and his Government. It was as recently as last August that the Prime Minister said - I think this has already been quoted in this debate by the Leader of the Opposition, but it will do no harm to quote it again -
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. To achieve this I must be content to annoy thousands.
He certainly annoyed thousands; he annoyed more than 131,000 when he applied the economic policies that have been so disastrous to the community. It was the corns of the little people that were trodden on by the Prime Minister, and they are still smarting from his heavy tread. In order to keep going, families that pinched and sacrificed to put away a little money in savings bank deposits, insurance policies and bonds, have had to use up those savings to meet their every-day expenses.
We on this side of the House want a healthy economy based on consumer purchasing power. This kind of economy can be achieved only with a fully employed labour force receiving decent wages. We believe that our policy, if fully implemented, can bring about the desired results, and if we are given an opportunity to do so, as I feel certain we will be at the next election, we will put that policy into effect, not piecemeal, as it is being put into effect now by the Prime Minister because the election results forced him to do something along these lines, but fully and completely.
While I am on my feet I want to protest about the raw deal that Western Australia is getting in the matter of special grants for the relief of unemployment. I understand that Western Australia is to receive £1,695,000 out of the £25,000,000 to be distributed amongst the States. It is true that unemployment is not at such a high level in Western Australia at present as it is in some of the other States. However, the position has deteriorated in recent weeks. The number of unemployed has increased from 5,800 in December last to 7,500 in January. This now represents 2.6 per cent, of the work force. The level of unemployment is higher than in South Australia and Victoria, although not quite as high as in some of the other States.
In 1956-57, a special grant of £2,000,000 was provided to relieve- unemployment in Western Australia. There were then about 5,000 unemployed in the State, representing about. 1.7 per cent, of the work force. I believe that Western Australia should be given more on this occasion than is at present envisaged. It is true that because of the reverses it suffered in Queensland the Government has been prepared to bribe that State by giving it a bigger allocation. I am not critical of the amount that Queensland received. Good luck to Queensland. But my point is that Western Australia should not be penalized simply because the Government has decided to give a large amount to some other State.
Let me warn the Government, also, that it should be careful in deciding to appease a particular State. It does not necessarily follow that the people of that State will swing over and vote for the Government when the next election comes around. They have been bitten once, and it will be very difficult for the Government to win them back. The Government should be very careful to ensure that a situation does not arise in Western Australia similar to that which arose in Queensland. The people of Western Australia are very patient, but once their blood is aroused anything can happen. There was an occasion when Western Australia proposed to secede from the Commonwealth. I am pleased that it did not. I recall, however, that in the 1943 elections only 38 per cent, of votes in Western Australia were cast for candidates who were followers of the present Prime Minister. That was the occasion on which Labour won every Western Australian seat in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, and there is no reason why the same thing should not occur in the future.
Additional financial assistance is urgently required in Western Australia. A great many developmental works are vitally necessary in that State. A second rural water scheme is urgently required. Last year this Government refused to share the cost of extending the comprehensive water scheme in the central and southern parts of Western Australia. I raised the matter in this House on the second day of this sessional period. The Prime Minister told me that he would give me a reply the following day. I have not yet received that reply. I asked the Prime Minister what the Government intended to do about this second comprehensive water scheme. The Commonwealth provided funds for the first scheme on a £1 for £1 basis. I do not think that this contribution is sufficiently generous. The value of the first scheme has been clearly demonstrated. It has been responsible for an increase in the number of stock carried in the areas in which the scheme operates. It has provided an opportunity for more intensive rural development, and it has assisted in the development of country towns and so furthered the cause of decentralization. That is why we are keen to see more funds made available for the second stage of the comprehensive water plan.
As the House is well aware, the value of exports from Western Australia is greater than the value of imports to that State. If we can increase our agricultural potential we can help Australia’s balance of payments position by stepping-up our exports. I believe that finance for this scheme should be provided by the Commonwealth on a £2 for £1 basis. This is by no means an extravagant claim when one considers the amount of money that is spent on the Snowy Mountains scheme. I do not begrudge the money that has been provided for that scheme, and I refer to it only to show that Western Australia in some respects has been getting a raw deal.
Northern development also needs hurrying along. If we are going to hold the north we must do something quickly to populate it. It is true that something is being done, but this is not sufficient. An authority, similar to the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority, should be set up to control the development of the north. This is a very important matter and I have not the time now to deal with it fully. I mention it as a passing thought for the Government to consider. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was very enthusiastic about the north prior to the election. He went there in 1958 and was very enthusiastic about it. He forgot- about it immediately after the 1958 election, thought about it again prior to the 1961 election and apparently has now forgotten about it. More funds are needed to build roads and ports in the area.
There is another matter I would like to touch on briefly. Mention was made in the Governor-General’s Speech of the standard gauge railway project in Western Australia. We on this side of the House strongly support the building of the line from Kalgoorlie to Kwinana. As a matter of fact, one of the conditions on which Western Australia originally joined the federation was that a standard gauge railway would be provided. I was the chairman of a transport committee of members from this side of the House. We maderecommendations which, together with the recommendations of the Wentworth committee, were accepted and are now being implemented. The delay in starting the job has meant that Western Australia will have to pay a higher rate of interest. Most of the finance provided to South Australia for broadening the gauge in that State was at 3i per cent. Initial amounts for the line from Albury to Melbourne were provided at 5 per cent. Western Australia will have to pay at least 51 per cent., and in addition inflation means that the cost of the proposal has increased.
The total cost of the project is £41,210,000. The Commonwealth is to provide seventeen-twentieths, which is approximately £35,000,000 and the State is to provide three-twentieths, which is roughly £6,000,000. That basis would be acceptable if it were the final basis, but unfortunately that is not so. The agreement provides that Western Australia, from its Consolidated Revenue Fund, must pay back over a period of 50 years three-seventeenths of the £35,000,000 provided by the Commonwealth together with interest at the ruling bond rate. The agreement also provides that the State must pay back to the Commonwealth seven-seventeenths, with interest at the ruling bond rate. The State will pay back approximately £20,000,000 of the Commonwealth’s £35,000,000 over a period of 50 years. The State, therefore, will pay approximately £26,000,000 of the £41,000,000, which is the estimated cost of the project, and the Commonwealth will provide at most £15,000,000 of the total cost.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired. I call the honorable member for Phillip and remind the House that this is the honorable member’s maiden speech.
.- Mr. Speaker, I am conscious of the great privilege that I now enjoy, the privilege of speaking in the Commonwealth Parliament. I should like to commence by congratulating you, Sir, on your re-election to the very high office that you hold. I feel certain that your impartiality and your skill will take proper care of the dignity of the House.
I should like to express, too, my very sincere gratitude to the electors of Phillip who have chosen me as their representative and who have given me the opportunity to contribute to the conduct of the affairs of our nation. It is my earnest desire to make a worthwhile effort for all the people of Australia, to seek justice and fair play and to fight discrimination and inequality of citizenship wherever it may appear. I am especially proud that my electorate covers such an important part of the metropolitan area of Sydney. It includes that strip of the coastline on the Pacific Ocean which stretches from North Bondi to South Coogee and which includes some of the most magnificent and wonderful surf beaches not only of this country but of the entire world.
In this rather unique Australian electorate, which embraces people from all countries, are descendants of many oldestablished Australian families who have made sacrifices and contributions to the progress of this great country. It also includes many people who have found here a haven and a peaceful refuge and who have come from lands in many parts of the world, including countries of oppression and countries where democratic freedom as we know it is not practised. In my electorate there are bands of men who, by their tremendous work in the surf life-saving movement, have set a standard of self-sacrifice and dedication which could well be emulated by many others. These sterling men of the surf life-saving clubs give of their time and energy to patrol the beaches. They save many lives and avert many disasters which otherwise would, beset people who seek the exhilaration of surfing and sunbathing year after year. I had hoped that, the Government would have given them greater recognition and I will press for this as often as I can. I mean greater recognition in a practical sense, by way of increased financial support and other material assistance for these important -organizations and institutions.
There are, too, in my electorate, in common with most areas of Australia, many soldiers’ clubs and sub-branches, and other important self-sacrificing institutions. I am proud that 1 should have been the one chosen by all these people to give voice to their desires in this Parliament and to give practical expression to the things they want not only for themselves but for all the people who live in this country and for those who will follow us - our sons and daughters, and their children and those who will follow them. There are also in my electorate very many great sporting organizations and men and women who have brought lustre to Australia’s great sporting reputation. I hope that from time to time recognition will be given to the tremendous contribution to the Australian way of life made by those who are interested in the pursuit of organized sport in all its phases.
Despite the excitement and exhilaration which I experience because I am in this House as a member of the Parliament for the first time, I must confess that I feel distressed and anxious at the content of the Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General. Instead of embarking upon a policy calculated to remove the present economic recession as soon as possible and bring back a reasonable state of prosperity as an urgent and vital necessity, I believe that the comparatively incomplete policy enunciated by the Governor-General will not have any real effect upon the restoration of stability in this country and will certainly not give the urgent positive stimulus needed so vitally at this time.
There is no doubt that the constructive elements of the Speech were completely borrowed from the election policy presented by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I am not complaining about this. Rather am I stimulated and pleased, and I commend the Government on having recognized the great merit in the election policy speech of the Leader of the Opposition. But even this borrowing was not done properly. Let me give five examples of the way in which the Government blundered when it borrowed from Labour’s policy. First, the Leader of the Opposition promised the restoration of full employment within twelve months with a supplementary budget of £100,000,000. The Government now is ineffectively attempting some re-employment by providing an extra £10,000,000 to the State govern-*: ments. Secondly, the Leader of the Opposition promised to spend extra money on the whole gamut of social services. The Government now is legislating to provide a slight - a very slight - increase in the unemployment dole. Thirdly, the Leader ofthe Opposition promised to provide more funds for housing at low interest rates. Now the Government is providing a little more - about £5,000,000 - and has done nothing to reduce interest rates. Fourthly, the Leader of the Opposition promised to re-impose selective import controls. The Government now is promising some complicated method through the Tariff Board which will not nearly have the desired effect. Fifthly, the Leader of the Opposition promised general sales tax reductions and the abolition of sales tax on foodstuffs. The Government is now reducing sales tax on motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts.
So, in its blundering way, the Government is laboriously, but only in part, borrowing Labour’s policy. What is missing from the Government’s proposed policies, of course, is the injection of a sense of security for the future, which is so urgently required by the people of Australia. We want to know what is the Government’s long-term policy, Sir. What is to happen after June? What is to happen after September? And what is to happen in the years to come?
Mr. Speaker, one finds it quite impossible to comment on these or any other matters in regard to Australia without deprecating the tremendous increase in unemployment that there has been - and it is still increasing alarmingly - and without picturing the very great number of families in Australia which have no breadwinner and which, in fact, have been in that position for a very long time. Labour is pledged to a policy of full employment. The Government now gives lip service to this urgent necessity of full employment, but let us for a moment examine what was said earlier by the Government’s leaders on this very issue. I turn, first, to a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on 29th August, 1961, when the number of workers registered as unemployed was 113,000. I know that this has already been quoted, Mr. Speaker, but it ought to be re-quoted, not only because it is apt, but also because the Government must be reminded of the deficiencies of its leadership and of its inability to understand the present unemployment situation. On 29th August, 1961, when 113,000 workers were registered as unemployed, the Prime Minister said -
At the moment we are fractionally short of full employment.
On 3rd June, 1961, the right honorable gentleman said -
Nobody can get rid of an inflationary boom without treading on somebody’s corns. You can’t do it without hurting somebody. It i9 the duty of the practical statesmen to select the corns and not to be afraid of treading on them. To achieve this I must be content to annoy thousands.
The Prime Minister must be very contented to-day, Sir. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), in a television interview in Brisbane on 30th July, 1961, stated -
We did not anticipate that unemployment would reach these proportions.
What proportions did he expect? At the time of the imposition of the credit restrictions on 15th November, 1960, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), as reported at page 2866 of “ Hansard “, said -
I shall tell the House later of the migrants who have left this country to avoid suffering hurt from the Government’s measures. Migrants have become frightened and worried about what is happening, and they have returned to the countries from which they had come.
On 16th November, 1960, in this House, as. reported in “ Hansard “ at page 2889, dealing with the credit restrictions, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) declared -
I think it would take far more than the action we outlined last night to produce a situation in which there would be an unemployment problem in this country.
The Prime Minister, speaking at a Liberal Party of Australia rally in the Sydney Town Hall on 7th August, 1961, said-
I am more experienced at dealing with the economy of Australia than any theorist.
Whenever I have expressed a view of the economy, it is one that has stemmed from my own experience and judgment, a view which I am prepared to stand up for.
Despite all these assurances, despite all the emphatic statements of these so-called experts, the number of persons registered as unemployed, according to figures supplied by the Department of Labour and National Service, was more than 130,000 at the end of January of this year. What will the figure be next month? Nobody knows. I hope it will be lower. I fervently pray that many breadwinners who are now out of work will be taking home a pay envelope from to-morow on. But I fear that, unless the Government makes a more vigorous effort and takes bolder and more positive steps, the figure will be greater and at the end of this month more and more families will have no pay envelope to enable them to buy necessary commodities.
Mr. Speaker, Labour has a fundamental principle in these matters which concerns the obligation of the citizen to the nation and that of the nation to the citizen. We believe that the citizen should obey the laws of the country, that he should pay taxes, that he should fight in time of war and that he should be steadfast in time of peace. We believe that the nation, in return, is under an obligation to. the citizen to see that work is provided for him when he requires it and that, in return for that work, he is paid sufficient to enable him and his family to live at a reasonable standard of comfort and security. This Government stands indicted for having neglected to observe this important principle. We need a vigorous, farreaching stimulus with permanent economic restoration in view. We need confidence and trust. I believe that the Government’s present policies will serve only to continue hopeless desperation and will not even temporarily renew the normal courageous, pioneering and enterprising spirit of the typical Australian.
One of the great factors which must build up the Australian way of life in Australia itself as an important nation in this area of the world - as this country will eventually become, despite the present Government - is the continuation of an inspiring programme of immigration. For many years, I have publicly, proudly and physically supported a programme which was introduced by the present Leader of the Opposition, who was the first Minister for Immigration in this country. That programme presented a. great stimulus to the life of this country and I have always supported it. It has resulted in the introduction to Australia of people who, I believe, will make a reasonable and satisfactory contribution to the building up of Australia. I have been responsible, personally, and in organizations to which I belong, for the introduction and integration of many thousands of people who, together with their families, have already become good Australians. Since the end of the Second World War, migrants have helped in many ways to raise Australia’s stature, and have helped to make this an exciting country.
I am confident that in SO years’ time or thereabouts, when the history of Australia in this period is written, this will be recorded as the most important formative period in the young adulthood of Australia as a nation. But now, because of the effects of this Government’s policies, migrants are leaving Australia in large numbers and our immigration intake is dwindling. Recent figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician giving the net intake of arrivals in excess of departures for the last two quarters of 1961, show the position to be most disturbing. In the third quarter of 1961, from 1st July to 30th September, 26,974 people arrived in Australia to take up permanent residence here and 16,159 departed for long-term or permanent residence overseas. This means that the net intake for that quarter was only 10,815. In the fourth quarter of 1961, from 1st October to 31st December, the net intake was 10,865. Yet the net intake for the first two quarters of 1961 totalled more than 23,000. This situation is even more upsetting when one realizes that the correct inference to be drawn from the great number of departures is that people are leaving Australia because of their mistrust and distress at the difficult conditions which prevail here as a direct result of the present Government’s chang- ing economic policies, which show a complete disregard of the welfare of the people of this country. Mr. Speaker, can one blame a husband and father living in a country in Europe who, thinking of finding a new life for himself and- his family, turns down Australia as the future haven of peace and security, when almost all the publicity that has emanated from this country in the past year has spoken of economic recession and growing unemployment and loss of confidence?
Newcomers to Australia have made a great contribution to the Australian way of life. They have brought with them the cultures of the old world. These have mixed with the traditions of those who, like myself, were born here or those who have lived here for many years, and there has slowly grown up a natural indigenous entity in all our cultures - in art, music, literature and the sciences. This is helping to build Australia’s traditions and set the pattern for the Australia of to-morrow.
Sitting suspended from 5.54 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was saying that the newcomers to Australia had made a great contribution to the Australian way of life, and that, together with those of us who were born here, or who have lived here for many years, they have developed so greatly in the arts, sciences and all the cultures that the future holds great promise for Australia. The newcomers have brought many new industries, many new arts, and many new crafts which are all contributing to Australia’s economy. Very many things have changed in the last decade or two. We have become more sophisticated; we have lost our insularity. Yes, even our ways of eating have changed. In every metropolis and in many country towns we can find restaurants selling all types of foodstuffs of many national origins. Twenty years or so ago, Australians ate either grilled steak, fried fish and chips or steak and kidney pie. To-day, we are served most colourful foods - spaghetti bolognaise, Hungarian goulash, weiner schnitzel and expresso coffee. All of this has made Australia more picturesque, more exciting, more cosmopolitan and more vibrant; but to-day we are losing the opportunity to expand further and to learn more because of the lag in the flow of migrants with, ail their .potential, and. this only because the Government’s economic policies ha-v.e brought chaos and near depression, thus .-frightening, indeed .forcing, many newcomers away.. I should like to say that .1 have .the greatest respect and admiration for the magnificent work that has been done by the Department of Immigration for sp many years. The present lag has nothing to dp with the Department of Immigration. Every member of the .Parliament .must accept r.e,sponsibility for those migrants who are leav-ing this country.
Mr. Speaker, I am very concerned, too, at the plight of so many of our aged people in Australia who can find nothing to hope for in the present aims of this Government. It seems that to-day it is almost a crime to grow old and have no kith or kin. To live in loneliness and solitude, and to have to try to exist .on the pension now .payable is almost an impossibility. Every decent thinking person iri .this country would be aghast if he were to .examine the plight of pensioners who try to live on the present age or widows pension, or on social .service benefits. This miserly age pension is expected to cover the cost of neat and to provide foodstuffs and clothing for mcn and women who receive no help from elsewhere. Each member of Parliament here who has visited electors in their homes, and who has seen people who are in receipt of a pension, must freely admit the depressed and miserable conditions in which these aged citizens find themselves. Mr, Speaker, one would .indeed have to be hard of heart if be were not moved .by the plight of these people, some of them very great pioneers and fighters for this country who to-day live in degradation and despair without hope for the future. I had hoped- -and J. will press for it - that there would be some alteration in the treatment pf such people and that .there would be an increase in the pension payable to them,
I believe that a pension is not a charity but a matter of right for those who have made their contribution, and who have accepted the responsibility of citizenship. In their old age, they should be provided for properly and their care should bie the accepted responsibility of a sensible government. The Housing Commission of New South Wales, in common with other State government instrumentalities, :is building housing units for aged people. The Com monwealth Aged Persons Homes Act provides that when a charitable or church organization builds accommodation for old people, a Commonwealth subsidy of £2 shall .be paid for every £1 collected for this purpose by the institution. This subsidy has been very valuable. It has allowed many worthwhile organizations to make splendid accommodation available to a number of aged persons in necessitous circumstances; but, of course, it is quite impossible for these organizations to collect enough money to provide for all those who require a place of residence. The Housing Commission of New South Wales has built more than 700 of these units, and other States have done similar work. All the six State governments of Australia.- .and :fo.ur of them are Libera] governments-have made requests to the Prime Minister that a similar subsidy be paid to the housing authorities in each State and to local governing bodies so that these needs of .the elderly citizens can be satisfied far more expeditiously and urgently. So far, the Government has refused all of these requests and I hope that in the near future the Aged Persons Homes Act will be widened to make it possible for such subsidies to be paid to State and semigovernmental organizations .as well as to trade unions.
Education is another matter which should receive greater attention from this Government. We arp all aware of the deficiencies which exist in the Australian education system. Everybody is aware that there is great overcrowding in classrooms, that there are many sub-standard school buildings and that there is a grave shortage of teachers. We know, too, that the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Heffron, approached this Government on behalf of every State Minister for Education in Australia and asked that a special comprehensive committee be appointed :tr inquire into primary, secondary and technical education in consultation with the States. One would think that this Govern*ment would readily agree to the setting up of such a committee to ascertain just what the situation is in regard to education in atd the States -and would accept it as »’ national problem. But the Prime Minister and the members of his -government hays refused to agree to the setting <up of such committee, it is my earnest .hope that wiser counsels will prevail and that this Government, and all the people of Australia, will consider the education of our young and of our youth one of the most important problems that could face any government in any country in the world.
Mr. Speaker, it is my earnest and sincere intention, while I am a member of this Parliament, to stand steadfast in fighting for the preservation of the Australian way of life. I intend to be vigilant against discrimination based on race, colour, or creed. I will do my utmost to help to remove the inequalities of citizenship which face so many people in this country because of age, ill health, war service or any other situation, inequalities which can injure the rights of those who have a proper and a just claim for fair treatment from the citizens and from the government of the Commonwealth.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister making his speech without limitation of time.
– I think I should like to begin by complimenting the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld), who has just sat down, on his maiden speech. He will not be surprised to find that there are some passages in it with which I do not agree, but I did think that he should be complimented on the way in which he put it.
This is a very important debate. It is a new Parliament, and it is a very narrowly divided Parliament. Whatever division occurs in this House will be a close division. Therefore, I propose to address myself to the first challenge which has been very properly made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), at an early stage, to the continued existence of the Government. I do not quarrel with that at all. That is exactly the course that I would have taken myself in his place, because it is of great moment, not only to Parliament, but to the people of Australia that the broad position of the Government in this Parliament should be determined at the earliest possible moment.
Having said that, I am bound to confess that the speech made by my honorable friend, the Leader of the Opposition - and it was far-reaching - and the amendment that he has moved do not seem to me to be closely related. In the course of his speech he mentioned a few of the points in the amendment but certainly not all of them. I do not complain about that, because within the limits of any decent time allowable in Parliament, it is not possible to cover too wide a field. But the difference between the speech and the amendment was, I thought, worthy of passing comment, as we say occasionally in this House. One might almost have thought that they had been drafted by different people.
I propose, in what I have to say to-night, to deal with matters of substance or, at any rate, with a sufficient number of matters of substance to fit within the reasonable compass of one speech. I begin by saying that we are not here, I imagine, to fight the last election. I have had an enormous number of elections in my time and I have sweated up and down the country in the course of them. When they are over I do not want to have to fight them again. I hope that I may be forgiven this rather charming human weakness.
We are not here to fight the last election. That has been fought and there has been a sensational result, whether you look at it from the Government’s point of view or the Opposition’s point of view. But what we are here to determine is whether in this new Parliament, on the Governor-General’s Speech and on our recently announced economic measures, we deserve the censure of this House. It is the censure of this House that is being sought, not a rehash of a general election. On that kind of issue the onus is on the Opposition, and the attack is properly made by the Leader of the Opposition. As I will demonstrate before I conclude, he has not made up his mind about the grounds of his attack or the principles upon which he attacks. Everything that he said in the course of his speech - I pay tribute to his durability, because he has said something every day since polling day - can be understood only if it is remembered that he is deeply influenced by his rich and powerful friends in the well-known FairfaxHendersonCalwell axis. It is rather an agreeable thought that the prince of socialists, even though he has voluntarily abdicated that position for three years, should now find himself in such sweet communion with the rich. All the old battles that he has had have been forgotten temporarily.
My friend and colleague, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), made some references to this. They were rather unkind, I thought, but certainly they were much enjoyed by people here. But all those old battles are now forgotten. I might almost say to my colleague, “ Pray do not disturb the peace; these are forgotten*’. “The Old Curiosity Shop” and Charles Dickens are forgotten. Indeed, “ The Old Curiosity Shop “ with its immortal description of Mr. Quilp has been, in effect, burned by the common hangman. Dear Arthur and Dear Rupert now see each other in a kindlier light. All passion is spent. There is a new unity ticket. They are united by the contemplation of a common enemy. Of course, it is in that capacity, as well as in the trifling capacity of being the Prime Minister, that I address the House to-night. I am the common enemy.
The process of re-adjustment has had its painful moments but it has been concluded, I am happy to record, in a gentlemanly way. On their part, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ masters publicly committed themselves to the view that though being professed anti-socialists, they would sooner support a true-blue socialist government than a Liberal Government which they accused of some socialist practices. This is an exercise in logic which, I am sure, will engage the study of people in the philosophy schools of the universities for years to come.
At a certain stage some one - 1 think it was one of my colleagues - very rudely said that there must have been some contract between the socialist leader and the capitalist “ Sydney Morning Herald “. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ masters rejected this. They even went to the dangerous length of writing a special article on their political .principles - and that had all the charm of novelty. In the course of this article - I copied” their very words which is what they seldom do to mine - they said -
There .could -be no contract with Labour unless the “Herald”-
That is the “ Sydney Morning Herald “.. the Labour paper - were prepared to subscribe ‘to .the platform of the Labour Party.; .and this, as .every one must know, is out of the question.
Surely this was a statement of profundity and piety. “ For us to subscribe ‘to ‘the policy of the Labour Parry is out of the question.” Of course, it takes two to .make a bargain. When I read that statement I recalled at once that, after all, the Leader of the Opposition had done his part because in his policy speech he had said :that :if elected he would forget all about the socialist objective - the policy of the Labour Party - for three years. His very words were -
We promise not to raise the question of nationalization during the lifetime of the Twentyfourth Parliament.
I believe I .am right in saying that this is the Twenty-fourth Parliament. So there we are. The “Herald” said, “We could never support Labour because we object to its policy “. The Leader of the Labour Party said, “ Pray forget it, dear boy, because we will forget about our policy for three years “. On this happy note of harmony the business went on. A kind’ of entente cordiale was then established and, the Government obviously having suffered heavy losses -.at the election, as I .publicly and freely confessed, my distinguished friend, the Leader of the Opposition became excited and made strange statements daily.
On the economic question which he has selected for this censure amendment there is a >most curious sequence of events to which I want to direct the attention of the Parliament. On 7th February this year I issued a -statement containing the -Cabinet’s decisions on a variety of matters to which I shall refer later in detail. They included payments to the States ‘in the form of ‘grants which are not repayable, borrowing by semi-government and local government bodies, unemployment benefits, income tax rebates, motor vehicle sales ‘tax, war service homes loans, ‘housing loans hy savings banks, ‘Commonwealth works, investment allowances, quantitative restrictions on imports, and Development Bank capital. This was a wide range of matters on which I made a statement following very close Cabinet ‘discussion and after a long series of conferences with properly interested people in various sections of Australia. The first comment made by my friend the Leader of the Opposition - he rushed in at once to make it - was that the Government’s announcement disclosed no basic change in policy. I ask honorable members to remember this. There is no basic change in policy, and this gets the headlines. It is a quick comment; but a day later, no doubt enriched by advice in the appropriate quarter, he switched his ground. He said that we had reversed our policy. That is a pretty good performance, is it not, for a man to say one day that it is the same policy and, in reference to the same statement, to say 24 hours later that you have reversed the policy? He said we had now adopted his policy - and indeed my jesting friend, the member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), repeated this, and somebody else I heard this afternoon repeated it - that we have stolen Labour’s policy. But so that he should not go too far in that direction he said we had done it ‘too late.
That was the second edition. There was the authorized version and the revised version, and this must be the new one because on Tuesday last in this Parliament he turned around again and set out to prove not that we had stolen Labour’s policy but that our proposals were worthless. It is a little bit hard on his followers, mixed though they be, to tell them that Labour’s policy is worthless. Really, this comes a little hard, does it not? I sympathized with my friends opposite when he said it - “ Our proposals are worthless “. He is in a dilemma, of course, which is no novel experience. He cannot say that we have adopted his policy because he has condemned every proposition put forward in my statement of 7th February with which he dealt in the course of his speech. If honorable members will just check for themselves they will see how completely right that is.
I will illustrate it. He attacked our tax cut. He will not have it. He says it is loaded in favour of the rich. So that is wrong. That is not Labour policy. He finds the added money for the States and for local government and semi-governmental bodies, a total of £25,000,000 in four months, grossly inadequate. And unlike the
Premiers who came here to receive it he doubts - and I again quote his words - “ Whether there will be any increase in the rate of spending on public works at all “. Every Premier who came here, of whatever party, was able to say, “ This will enable us to put a lot of things into operation and give a lot of employment “. But the Leader of the Opposition, whose profession it is to .live on unemployment, gloomily says that it will not make any difference at all.
Then we turn to the investment allowance. 1 hope that the manufacturers of Australia were paying proper attention to what he said last Tuesday, because he rejects the investment allowance. On what grounds? Because it is a hand-out - his very words - to the large manufacturers whose employees apparently do not matter. This is a handout to the large manufacturers. An investment allowance, a novelty in Australia designed to enable manufacturers to re-equip themselves on modern lines and thereby keep down their unit costs and go into the competitive world. This is thrown out. It is just a hand-out to the large manufacturers. He found that our added provision for unemployment benefits, particularly for the family man, was miserable, although I take leave to recall to the memory of all people concerned that this is one matter about which he said exactly nothing in his policy speech. So we did not steal that from him. But we did it, and it is miserable.
He attacked the quota restrictions or quantitative restrictions for sections of industry particularly affected in their employment by imports, as proof of sectional pressure by big companies. References have been made time after time by all the people who came to see us, and by many honorable members, to the particular problems -of the timber industry and sections of the textile industry, or whatever it might be. Everybody is familiar with the short list of industries particularly affected, and when we propose to have a scheme which will enable a prompt decision to be made - a holding decision - which will affect these industries, this is rejected and despised by the Leader of the Opposition and the Labour Party as a mere concession to sectional pressure foy big companies. I wonder how many Labour members in this House genuinely subscribe to that.
And then, to take the only other example that I have time to mention, he says we are leaving the motor vehicle industry to flounder and languish. In the course of his whole speech I was waiting for the authentic Calwell touch, and this was one of the few - allowing this industry to flounder and languish. Does he complain about our decision already put into operation about sales tax on motor vehicles? I would have thought that at any rate he might have found something good to be said about a policy which, he began a month ago to say, we had stolen from the Labour Party. But on this occasion, no - “ floundering and languishing “. The facts, over the next few months, will demonstrate the absurdity of that comment, as I have no doubt. This astonishing reversal of form would seem to me to represent a blind and blundering Opposition guided by no principle and uninformed by any understanding of the nation’s true economic problems, and yet, interesting as I hope that story is, that is not the whole story.
We must look at what is not in the amendment. Since polling day the most vigorous and filibustering efforts of my journalistic friends of the “ Sydney Morning Herald” group have been directed to attacking what they are pleased to call the appeasement policies of this Government in relation to West New Guinea. And when they did this fantastic thing the Leader of the Opposition took the opportunity, as I will show, of joining in. Yet, Sir, this matter - an appeasement policy, a policy condemned by the Leader of the Opposition if by no other member of it - finds no mention in the no-confidence motion. These things, which were the very Ark of the Covenant three weeks ago, are now rejected. They find no place in the no-confidence amendment; and that is a very remarkable thing because, let me remind the House and the people, if the election had turned out differently the Labour Party’s foreign policy, as expressed by its leader, would now be operating. Now our nearest neighbours, Dutch New Guinea and Indonesia, are and have been for many years at variance over territorial claims to the sovereignty of West New Guinea. We are not a party principal in that matter, but we are deeply interested as a neighbour. We are interested in the peace of this part of the world, and our position has been repeatedly stated over many years. I do not want to weary the House unduly by repetition, but this policy - this approach of ours - was re-stated as recently as 12th January of this year by myself, after a full examination by the Government. In effect, we said - let me put it quite shortly - that the dispute about West New Guinea should be settled peacefully and not under threat or duress; that we have been repeatedly assured by Indonesian leaders that force would not be employed; that we have a right to expect the honouring of these assurances; and that, should the Netherlands and Indonesia come to a free agreement - a free agreement - we would respect that agreement; that we are deeply attached to the attainment by under-developed peoples, including those of West New Guinea, after adequate and helpful preparation, of the right to choose their own future. We have said that this is the policy we are pursuing in Papua and the Australian Trust Territory of New Guinea; that the policy which we apply in Papua and New Guinea is based upon our great sense of moral responsibility for the welfare of the people to whom we stand in a special relationship; that we are not a colonial power in the old sense. We do not seek to exploit. Our aim is to create and develop the capacity of independent selfgovernment.
So far, Sir, it would be surprising to be told that the Australian Labour Party disagrees with this. If we are to be told that, let them stand up before this debate ends, and say it.
To take it further: Suppose - and I take it no further than to say “ suppose “ - Indonesia made war on West New Guinea, and suppose the United Nations took no action, either because of the veto in the Security Council or because the Assembly did not have the requisite majority; and suppose it was not known whether Great Britain and the United States would act militarily against armed intervention by Indonesia. What should Australia do? The answer was clear, I thought, in the statement that I made on 12th January. I said three things - and I just summarize them.
First, we will discharge our prime responsibility for- the security of Australia, its territories;, and its people;, secondly.,, inr matters affecting. West’ New Guinea we- will act! in close consultation with the great free powers, particularly Great Britain and the United States of America; thirdly, we will constantly, maintain in the United Nations, and with, our particular friends, the basic principle that the peaceful settlement of disputes is the. central, theme and the supreme mission of the United Nations. Does Labour quarrel with these views? Does anybody on. the other side quarrel with these views?
Now, Sir, before I go further I want to dispose of the ludicrous and ignorant suggestion made by the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ on 30th January - and; since then, faithfully repeated by the Leader of the Opposition. It said -
The truth is-
This is their idea, of truth - that no Australian initiative over New Guinea has ever been pressed in the highest places of U.S. Administration.
It is wonderful with what boldness people talk when they do not know, because the facts are - as they could have discovered by the simplest of inquiries - to confine myself to the last twelve months, and as honorable members know, this unhappy business has gone on for years - that scarcely a day has gone by without cabled exchanges on these matters between the Department of External Affairs in Canberra and the Australian Embassy for discussion with the Government of the United States in Washington… Our Ambassador has had prolonged and’ close and specific discussions on. these, matters at least six times in the last twelve months with the Secretary of State, Mr. Dean Rusk. The present Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) has had discussions with the American Charge d’ Affaires in. Canberra and I, myself - not to put too fine a point upon it - had long, discussions on this matter with President. Kennedy himself and with Mr. Rusk. Yet we are told that our views have not been, put forward.
So, Sir, I come back to the Labour attitude. I had a press interview on 21st December. It was after the great day, as the boys will remember. In that interview on 21st December, 1961, I re-stated our
West New Guinea policy along the lines, that: I have just summarized to the House: On the following day - this is going back a little: in time - the Leader of the Opposition and I were both taken to task by this warlike Sydney journal. Having made the usual rather dyslogistic reference to myself - I warrant they will misspell that word - this journal went on to say -
Mc.. Calwell is just as unhelpful.
All he can suggest, after much preaching against sin, is that the question be settled in the U.N. If the U.N. sends a force to intervene, he says., Australia “ should provide its complement “.
Then the paper goes on, after that rather agreeably sensible remark, and says -
What if the United Nations does not send a force?
This is the crucial question. He ignores it. So does Mr. Menzies.
You see. If that means anything - and one must not unduly attribute sense to some of those blurbs - it means that if the United Nations fails to send a force to which Australia contributes Australia must provide the force by itself. If it does not mean that it is sillier than usual.
On 1st January, 1962 - coming up to modern times now - the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ came back to the matter. It said -
What is required from the Government at this critical time is something more. In the interests of peace, and of future relations between Australia, and Indonesia, the Indonesian Government should be left in no doubt that Australia is not prepared to stand idly by if President Soekarno carries out his threats.
Now, Sir, may I interrupt myself to remind the House, if I do not trespass too much on the occasion, that this great journal, aided by my friend opposite, had devoted a great deal of time last year to telling me I was too anxious to be friends with Great Britain and the United States, and that I ought to be cultivating the Asian nations. Do honorable members recall that? I think they do. Now, of course, they attack me because I do not want to go to war with Asia. This is a very odd reversal of form, because they know - if they know anything - that every mainland Asian country supports the1 Indonesian- claim. They know that.
On 4th January, 1962, the Leader of the Opposition, in order to pour oil on the troubled waters, made a violent personal attack on President Soekarno, with side references to Hitler and this and that. This did not improve our relations with that country. Later came the great conversion. Saul on the road to Damascus, if I may speak with all reverence, was not in it. This was the great conversion. Disciplined by his newspaper backers, the Leader of the Opposition came out loud and clear. On 10th February, there was a great front-page story in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ - reproduced at some more moderate length in some other papers - headed -
CALWELL DEFINES A.L.P. POLICY ON NEW GUINEA DISPUTE.
I read the statement with great interest. I woke up. I said, “Hal This is it.” I read it with surprise. Without boasting, 1 want to say that I have had the number of words in it calculated. There were 2,855 of them and every one was in this journal. The newspaper report commenced in this fashion on the front page -
In a dramatic statement to-day, the Leader of the Federal Opposition, Mr. A. A. Calwell, defined the Labour Party’s attitude to the West New Guinea crisis. He said, “ If Indonesia seeks to deny the principles of the United Nations Charter and to use force to create a potential threat to Australia’s security, then I say, with all due regard to the gravity of the situation, that the threat must be faced.
What did this mean? That was a fair question. I wanted to know the answer. Therefore, naturally, I raised the matter in a public statement. I said -
What does this mean? If it means that Australia should be ready and willing to protect its own territories i.e. Australian New Guinea and Papua the answer is that I said so in plain terms in my statement of Government policy on January 12th - a statement which stands.
If his statement means that an Australian government should convey in relevant quarters its views against aggression and in favour of selfdetermination, the answer is that my own Government has done so on very many occasions . . .
If Mr. Calwell’s statement means that, without any regard to what might be the attitude or action of these great powers, Australia should, in the event of armed Indonesian aggression against Dutch New Guinea, declare war against Indonesia, it is clearly crazy and irresponsible.
Those were fair questions. The answer to them, of course, is a motion of no confidence in which the New Guinea issue does not even receive a mention - not a word. The ship of war, as one might say, has sunk with all hands.
I should like to take the rest of my time: in dealing with another aspect of this matter. I have dealt with what is not in the motion. I want to say a few more words about what is in the motion. I said quite a bit about it earlier, but I am now coming back, to it. I want to say something, quite briefly, about the true nature of the Government’seconomic policy and the reasons why changes of tactics are not to be taken aschanges of strategy. Our policies have, over a long term of years, produced notable results for Australia. Honorable members may now feel themselves rather whipped up over this matter, but may I assure them that the people of Australia felt that notable results had been achieved because, in 1951, 1954, 1955 and 1958, they said so emphatically. I admit freely and agreeably that when they said so in 1961 they did it with what Gilbert would have called “ modified rapture “. I give you that.
We have stood and we stand for national growth and economic stability. Our opponents appear to believe that you can have one or the other, but not both. This is a dangerous fallacy. I hope it will be understood by the people as a dangerous fallacy. It may very well be necessary, under special circumstances, to accept calculated risks for the sake of growth. We have just been dealing with some of those circumstances. But, as a continuing permanent policy, stability can never be abandoned. Stability, Sir, does not mean and can never be allowed to mean, stagnation. National and industrial growth require imports of people to which eloquent references were made by the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld), and imports, primarily of producers’ goods. To achieve such imports and to grow - and these are both of immense importance - we must export. To export either primary products or manufactured goods we must prevent our costs from rising. The Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party are the only parties in the federal Parliament which have shown and will continue to show an awareness of the central problem of high production costs.
Our principles apply to both sides of industry. There is no mystery about this. The maintenance of primary exports is essential to our international solvency, yet these cannot be maintained if costs rise faster than prices. The development of manufactures is essential for population growth. But manufacturing efficiency must go up and costs kept down if manufacturing is not to be a burden upon the farmer and push his costs up. This, in the simplest possible terms, is the analysis that we make of these matters.
Now, Sir, that is why the present stability ot the consumer price index is so valuable. This has been referred to before and I need not repeat it, but it is significant and remarkable. Our broad economic strategy, therefore, is this: To keep up with pressures -on population by migration - that is population growth; to develop the resources of Australia as speedily as possible - that is resources growth; to encourage productivity and efficiency in primary and secondary industry; and to do these things in such a way as to restrain inflation, maintain our balance of trade and payments and employ our people and physical resources to the full. Within this strategy our tactics, of course, must be flexible.’ Our recent announcements illustrate this approach. I can do no more than take a few examples because, already I have been longer than I intended to be.
Our 1960-61 policies, let us agree, bit too deeply into manufacturing and, therefore, into employment. To correct this without recreating inflationary boom conditions - a point of the greatest possible importance - means had to be devised which were temporary or non-recurring. There are, for example, the non-repayable loans that we have made to the States over the last four months of this financial year, amounting to £10,000,000 - non-repayable and nonrecurring. They achieve their object and we are all happy. They exhaust themselves and leave us to start the next year in a normal fashion.
So the means devised had to be, where feasible, temporary or non-recurring. They also had to be capable of quickly providing employment, such as, for example, semigovernment and local government borrowings. Nobody came before us in the course of our discussions without saying that that was one of the quickest ways of getting people to work. As you know, a great deal was done on this matter at the meeting of the Australian Loan Council.
Then there was housing aid, particularly where it could be put to work quickly, as we were assured by the States it could and would be done. Then there were other means to be devised. Take the third category - ‘those likely to encourage spending at the consumer end, thus, of course, aiding both production and confidence. An example of that is the income tax rebate for 1961-62. Honorable members will see how all these things are related to a specific problem - not an unlimited problem but a specific and limited problem - in order to get rid of some by-products without creating new problems.
Another category was calculated to aid the production and efficiency of manufacturers and, therefore, their capacity to employ people, without resorting to general import licensing, which I would think few people would want to see come back with all its arbitrary and bureaucratic characteristics. For that reason, we put forward - though the Leader of the Opposition does not like it - a specific proposal that a very highly respected special consultant should, after inquiry and report, recommend quota restrictions in special cases and not for an unlimited period of time.
The other aspect of the same point is investment allowances. I have said something about this aspect. Does anybody in Australia with a sense of responsibility for the future suppose that we could go on with a great immigration programme, building up our population and manufacturing industries, unless we could find our place with manufactured goods in the markets of the world? How do you suppose we are going to find our place in the markets of the world if our cost level is non-competitive? How do you make the cost level competitive? You do so by taking every conceivable opportunity to facilitate the reequipment of factories with the most modern plant; and investment allowances are specifically and powerfully designed for this purpose. On the other side of industry that is too frequently forgotten by those who are not interested in costs - and I refer to the primary industries - we look for measures calculated to aid rural development and production. That is why we have put forward in this category of provisions the express provision for increased capital for the Development Bank.
Each of these propositions and examples comes squarely within our economic strategy. There is no contradiction and there is no abandonment. We all seek, of course, to learn from our experience, unless we are fools, and to make adjustments when and where they are needed. We should properly stand condemned if we stood flatfooted, not responsive to new circumstances or losing sight of the great objective that we keep constantly before us - the full and effective use of all our resources in a growing nation.
.- The Government’s economic policies have had two gratifying results: First, they have brought a numerous and strong accession to the membership of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party, and all members of the House who have spoken have congratulated those recruits on the matter contained in their maiden speeches and .the1 manner in which they were delivered; secondly, because there was a great, hut not a sufficient number of recruits, you, Mr. Speaker, were re-elected without opposition to your high office, and we all congratulate you on that.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies; started ais speech by examining for about ten minutes what he called the FairfaxHendersonCalwell axis. The Prime Minister is so out of touch with public opinion in the Commonwealth as a whole that he attributed his electoral defeat to the activities of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. The greatest change of seats took place in Queensland. The only morning and evening metropolitan newspapers in that State are controlled by the one company, and both newspapers supported not the Australian Labour Party but the Prime Minister. Then, two seats were won in Western Australia. In that State the only metropolitan newspapers are controlled by the .one company and they also supported not the Labour Party but the Menzies Government. Again in South Australia and in Tasmania, more people voted for the Australian Labour .Party candidates than for all other candidates combined. In .those States, the metropolitan and (provincial newspapers supported ,not the Labour Party but the Menzies’ Government.
On this occasion, the Prime Minister is complaining because, for the first time since the 1943 general election, the “ Sydney
Morning Herald “ supported the Australian Labour Party. At the intervening six general elections and another election for the House of Representatives as well as another for the Senate, the “Sydney Morning Herald “ supported the parties led by the right honorable gentleman. The Prime Minister’s complaint is that the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ has the only newspaper management in Australia which ‘Cannot be corrupted by a knighthood or seduced by the prospect of one. I have heard that thic right honorable gentleman himself has tried some seduction with the management of that newspaper.
On this occasion, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ thought that the Labour Party’s policies would get things going again and that the Liberal Party’s policies, as then enunciated, would fail to get things going again. Now, the Government itself admits that its then policies would not have got things going again. The Government now agrees substantially with the view put up at the election by the Australian Labour Party and by the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ is the only metropolitan newspaper in Australia which gives equal space and equal prominence to both sides in politics.
Then, Sir, the Prime Minister spent the next ten minutes analysing the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition two nights ago. The Prime Minister took only two nights instead of his usual seven to sweat on it. First, he dealt with the things it contained and, of course, he twisted them. The only way in which the Prime Minister is completely contemporary is in his capacity to do the twist.
The Prime. Minister stated that we had said that the Government’s policies were worthless, and that in another breath we said that they were the Labour Party’s policies. What we said, Mr. Speaker, was that although the Government’s policies had all been lifted from the Labour Party, only some of our policies had been selected, and that our problems would not be satisfactorily solved until they had all been adopted.
Secondly, the Prime Minister said that we opposed the tax cuts. We have not opposed, and will not be opposing, the tax cuts. We did point out, however, that a fairer and more effective method of increasing purchasing power and production, and of relieving unemployment, would be to spend .as much in increasing social service payments as the Government is now prepared to forgo in taxes.
Thirdly, the Prime Minister said that we had contended that the State grants were inadequate, and that no increase in employment would result from them. What we did say was this: The increases in State grants now announced would merely permit the States to carry on their existing scale of operations. The Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bolte, said when these grants were announced that there could not be any spectacular gains in Government employment until after June–that is, until the next financial year - as a result of these announced grants. He said, “ If we hold the fort until then we will be doing well “.
Fourthly, the Prime Minister said that we rejected the investment allowance. We did not. As a matter of fact, we proposed the principle, he has lifted it from us, and we will support it.
Fifthly, the Prime Minister said that the unemployment benefits were criticized by us, and that there had been nothing in our policy speech about those benefits. That is not correct. The scale of unemployment benefits which we proposed was announced in October, and only on last Tuesday afternoon every member of the Government parties, including, if I remember correctly, the Prime Minister himself, voted against the scale which we had proposed in October and which the people endorsed at the election in December.
Next, he said that we were criticizing the proposal for import quotas as being a measure purely to oblige special interests. What we said was that the rational, the effective and the proven way of controlling imports was by restoring import licensing, the sudden abolition of which two years ago had .prompted the severe restrictive measures in the third horror budget of one and a half years ago.
Finally, the Prime Minister criticized our attitude to the motor vehicle industry. What we said in this connexion was that the motor vehicle industry, the ‘housing programme and the immigration programme had on three occasions been the principal victims of the successive Menzies horror budgets, and that in respect of these matters there was still no target and no guarantee as to how the companies concerned would fare in the future.
Let me give the House a few facts to show clearly the fecklessness of the Menzies Government in its treatment of the motor industry. In 1956, a few months before the horror budget was announced, the right honorable gentleman opened a new factory for the Standard motor vehicle organization. A few months before the 1960 horror budget he opened a new factory for the Ford Motor Company of Australia Proprietary Limited. At each ceremony he applauded the faith the companies were showing in Australia’s future and the contribution they were making to our industrial production and skills. At the time of the ceremonies the motor industry was known to be producing at a rate which, in the following Budgets, the Government stigmatized as wasteful and excessive. By imposing taxes and denying credit the Menzies Government suddenly cut sales from 30 per cent, to 50 per cent. - and it had cut them by over 50 per cent, after the first horror budget was introduced in 1951. This was a policy of sheer repudiation. The Prime Minister was personally involved in this act of bad faith. It would have saved a colossal loss in men, equipment and investment if the Government had conceived and imparted a scale of permissible or desirable internal sales over a span of years.
The experience of the motor industry - and I have outlined it particularly because the motor industry is the largest in Australia in terms of equipment, employment and investment - is similar to the experience of thousands of companies and firms throughout Australia. In fact, firms, partnerships and family businesses, as well as the businesses run by individuals, have been more severely affected than the motor industry because they have had to depend on bank credit. They cannot get materials and remittances from overseas, and whereas activity in -the motor industry has been reduced by a third, or two-fifths, or one-half, these firms in many cases have been put out of business altogether.
Then -the Prime Minister launched into an -extensive ‘excursus on West New Guinea. He said that this matter had not been mentioned in the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition - and it was not. It was not mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech, except for one sentence in four closely printed double-column pages of “ Hansard “. In eight columns of print half the size of the ordinary “ Hansard “ print, there was just one sentence on West New Guinea. The position we have reached in respect of West New Guinea serves to remind us that the Prime Minister has never pursued policies overseas that have improved1 Australia’s political or economic standing. Until three years ago the matter of self-determination or of trusteeship for this territory was never mentioned by the Prime Minister or by his predecessors in the portfolio of External Affairs. It was not mentioned by them in this House or in the United Nations. This subject had arisen three times in the United Nations, there had been a visit to Australia three years ago by the Indonesian Foreign Minister and, of course, there had been a visit by the Prime Minister to Indonesia just over two years ago.
The only moral argument concerning West New Guinea was that of trusteeship or self-determination. It is an argument which particularly appeals to this side of the House because our constant endeavour is to look after those who are least able to look after themselves, whether in our country or some other country. But, Sir, for its first ten years the Menzies Government was bogged down completely, and in the last two years principally in the arid, unconvincing argument concerning sovereignty. Even at this time the Government is still severely handicapped by its views in this connexion. The Prime Minister still refers to the western part of the island as Dutch New Guinea. The issue is not whether it should be Dutch; the question is whether these people should be helped to the stage when they can determine their own future.
Australia has, for more than 40 years, accepted from the League of Nations and from the United Nations the proposition that the people in the eastern part of the island were not yet fit to govern themselves. In all logic, the same kind of argument should apply to the western part of the island, and that proposition has never been put by the Prime Minister, by his two predecessors or by his part-time successor. Let me make all allowances; his successor is too preoccupied with stalling the restrictive practices legislation, and enlarging the immunities of corporations and restricting the freedom of individuals. But if we are going to recall statements that have been made, what about the statement that he made to the Melbourne newspapers, the “ Age “, the “Sun” and the “Herald”? The representative of one of the newspapers thought it was off the record, the representative of a second newspaper thought it was just background. At any rate, it indicated a change of policy. True, the Prime Minister made a statement, but the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) made two statements, and our representatives at the United Nations were briefed to make yet other statements. I have looked through the policy speech made by the Prime Minister last November, and I find not one reference in it to New Guinea. There were, however, such references in our policy speech, and also in the policy statements that preceded it.
My leader, in some memorable phrases used before the election on the external affairs standing of the Prime Minister, said that the right honorable gentleman had been mauled in Manhattan, scuttled in Suez and derided in Delhi. If, Sir, he had guessed on subsequent diplomatic defeats in regard to West New Guinea and the European Common Market, he could have added that the Prime Minister was jeered at in Djakarta, wiped off in Whitehall and brushed off in Brussels. The only consolation the right honorable gentleman has is that he has been praised in Pretoria and lauded in Lisbon. The whole purpose of this excursus justifies the comment made by Mr. Nehru, the senior Commonwealth Prime Minister, who of course manages at a general election to get back with a comfortable majority after more than twelve years. On the one occasion that our Prime Minister bestrode the United Nations rostrum, Mr. Nehru said -
The Australian Prime Minister has tried to cover up the main issue with a jumble of words.
Let us then return to the main issue. I have noticed during this debate that some honorable members - the Prime Minister has done so before to-night - have said that the last horror budget succeeded in many respects. They said that we have now balanced our overseas reserves, that we have now reached price stability, that we have now filled our loans, and that our banks are now extremely liquid. All these four things happened after the first and the second horror budgets. There is no question that the Prime Minister can win that sort of victory at the cost of nearly 200,000 people fruitlessly seeking jobs now. He wins this victory every four and a half years. He can stop some evils at a cost, but he never wins the war.
In respect of the overseas trade balances, 1 point out that only hi three years have we in fact spent no more on other people’s products and services than we have earned by selling our own, and they were the years just after the three horror budgets. Over the last ten years, the overall period of the horror budgets, we have in fact spent £1,600,000,000 more than we have earned. We reached price stability after the three horror budgets, but over the term of office of the Prime Minister our prices have doubled. Between 1953 and 1960, our prices increased by 20 per cent.; prices in Canada, the United States of America and Germany increased by only half that amount and in Italy and Japan by threequarters of that amount. We have raised loans now as we did after the first two horror budgets. They are the only sound investment at the time of horror budgets or in their aftermath. Now, as just after the previous two horror budgets, the peak of bank liquidity has been reached.
All these things can be achieved; but at what cost? It so happens that this year 130,000 people are registered for jobs and at least 170,000 are unsuccessfully seeking them in general. During this year the work force will increase by 90,000 or 100,000. In this very year, we have the confluence of the ‘greatest number of unemployed since the ‘thirties and the greatest number of school-leavers in history. Within a year, we will need 250,000 jobs. During the 1950’s, our average increase in employment was 44,000 a year. The Prime Minister did not mention this. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) at the time of the election assured parents that young people leaving school in the next twelve months would all find jobs. There will have to be twice as many jobs found in this year as were found in the three years he has been the Minister.
The Australian public no longer trusts this Government’s judgment or its word. Its judgment was astray and its words before the election have now been betrayed, lt has adopted such of Labour’s policies as can be quickly reversed. The Labour Party appreciates that the Government has now clearly admitted that it mishandled the economy and misinformed the electors. But has it changed its stop-and-go policy? The economy has been told to go again, but that is an aspect of the same stop-and-igo policy. A change in the seasons does not mean a change in the climate. This Government may not remain in office for another year. Sir Philip McBride had something to say on this. He is the Government’s outside boss, a man who packs a much greater political punch outside Parliament than he ever did in it and whose views are communicated to and accepted by the Prime Minister. He said that it is beyond human endurance to carry on with a majority of one. If, however, the Government remains in office another year, it will again apply the brakes and we will be back in the stop position.
As long as there is a Menzies Government, the question is not whether there will be a fourth horror budget, but when it will be. The present measures, with some small exceptions, show that despite the green light at the moment, the Government has carefully prepared its retreat so that it can quickly flash the red light on again. The concessions in income and sales tax, the grants to the States and the relaxations in credit can all be quickly withdrawn if necessary. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has circulated some speakers’ notes in which he says that the Labour Party’s remaining proposals were unacceptable because they would have resulted in adding a considerable permanent burden to the Budget, much of it consisting of additional expenditure which, once introduced, could not be withdrawn. The Government is obviously preparing, in the midst of these “ go “ measures, for consequential “ stop “ measures. The recent “ stop “ will cost the country £600,000,000 in lost production before the end of this year. It is time, therefore, that the Government told industry of its intentions not only over the next four months but over the next four years.
The Prime Minister said that the first objective of the Government was to promote migration.. Yet in the; second-half of: last year.,, the number of long-term and permanent departures was the greatest since the immigration programme began. The excess of arrivals over departures was the lowest since’ mid:-i9.53 and- lower even than in mid1958. The nationals whom we. subsidize to come here are the very migrants who are leaving in> greatest numbers. Departures in January o£ this year were one-quarter greater than those in January, 1961, and twice as many as those in January, I960. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) has. tha unenviable task of the Danaides; he is. trying to fill a vessel with a hole in the bottom. He blames the Treasurer and Prime Minister for pulling out the plug.
The only way to avoid these stop and go policies is to plan some way ahead. The Government should plan some years ahead instead of some months, lt should abandon the idea of supplementary budgets and take business into its confidence ahead of measures instead of afterwards. Every business plans ahead and every individual plans ahead. Every government in the world does this, except our Government Even the Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer in the United Kingdom said he is not afraid of the word “ planning “. The Kennedy administration is not afraid of it. Every government in the European Common Market implements it. Thence comes their prosperity and their steady growth. Nowhere is it more necessary to plan than with our overseas trade. The Prime Minister, of course, is not going overseas on the matter of the Common Market now; he has had too many rebuffs. One can recall that two and a half years ago the Chancellor of West Germany told him that Great Britain would have to joint t the Common Market. We ali remember how this man of experience, our head of state, told Dr. Adenauer that his impressions were, erroneous though no doubt honestly entertained. Our Prime Minister was very gracious bud not very perspicacious.
– That is quite untrue.
– I quote from “Hansard”, Sir. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) now has an opportunity to prove himself for the last time in the safeguarding’ of our overseas trade affairs. It is quite plain that the Australian people*. had: to wait for. this Government to. adopt some, crf Labour’s policies, to get the economy going-.. The Australian people are now waiting for a Labour government to keep it going.
.- Mr. Speaker, may I join with other honorable members in congratulating’ you. on the dual honour that yow have received - first, your recognition by Her Majesty the Queen’ by the conferring of a knighthood, and then your election again to occupy the chair of this House. May I join with other honorable members also, in congratulating the new members, of this place on their maiden speeches. Having made my own maiden speech here not long ago, J appreciate what an ordeal the occasion’ is. I am sure that the new members who have recently endured that ordeal are glad to have H behind them.
I must say at the outset that I am confused, astonished and, indeed, shocked at what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) had’ to say. I am confused by his lack of logic. I am astonished at his cowardice. And I am shocked by his effrontery and impertinence. May I explain what I mean, Sir. First, we have heard once again the extraordinary statement that the Australian Labour Party takes the view that the Government is still stealing Labour policy. I remind the House that we have now witnessed the fourth switch by spokesman for the Labour Party. The day after the Government’s measures were announced, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said that they were no good and that therehad been no change in the Government’s policy. The next day, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) reminded us, the honorable gentleman said that those proposals were Labour policy. Then we heard the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition last Tuesday- evening. If he did not take up 40 minutes of. the. time of this House in trying to explain why the Government’s measures will fail, I am at a loss to know what he was talking about. I thought that he tried to make it palpably clear that he disagreed with these measures. Now, after the challenge- this evening by the Prime Minister,, the Deputy ‘Leader of the Opposition makes the fourth switch- and says that- we are still stealing Labour policy. Is it any wonder that I and other honorable members on this side of the House are confused?
Let me now tell the House why I am astonished’ at and shocked by the remarks made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. It would not have been unreasonable, Mr. Speaker, to have expected him to precede the Prime Minister in this debate. He knew full well that the Prime Minister was to speak this evening. This amendment, which constitutes a motion of censure, being virtually a challenge to the Government thrown down by the Opposition, one would have expected the challenger to throw down the gauntlet in front of the head of the Government this evening. But no! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition decided to follow the Prime Minister, no doubt having in mind previous humiliating defeats at the right honorable gentleman’s hands. That is as it may be, Sir. The Prime Minister preceded the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and threw down before him, as the second most senior Opposition member, a formidable challenge. In the name of all Australia, because of the conflicting statements that had been made by the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister threw down a challenge to the Australian Labour Party to define its attitude to the West New Guinea issue.
As a parent, a member of this House and the representative of a constituency in which many of the next generation of adults reside, I hoped that the present Opposition, which, if it could win a victory and carry its motion of censure, could become the government of the country, would at least have the honesty to declare its policy on this fundamental issue which vitally affects our relations with 1,500,000,000 of our predetermined neighbours in Asia. But what did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition do? He shirked the issue with some flowery phrases. Not only did he completely avoid it, but also, knowing full well the damage that his leader’s statements had done to Australia in the eyes of Asia, he had the effrontery to attack the Prime Minister with the allegation that the right honorable gentleman had damaged Australia’s relations in international affairs. “No man in this country, now living or now dead, has done more to lift the prestige and the public image of Australia in international eyes than the Prime Minister has done. So I say that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition displayed effrontery, impertinence and, indeed, cowardice in shirking this issue once the challenge had been thrown down before him. I shall return to this matter briefly later. ‘
As I have said, we are now dealing with an amendment which constitutes a motion of censure. Prima facie, it is of great significance in this House, because an Opposition victory on this amendment would put Opposition members on this side of the, House as a government. To comprehend fully the seriousness of this debate, one has to analyse the background to this motion of censure. It dates back to the time, a week after the general election, when the Leader of the Opposition became quite hysterical at the prospect that his long-held ambition to become Prime Minister of Australia was about to be realized. His hysteria deepened when he realized that he had been denied this honour by the Government’s victory by a narrow majority. However, this did not stop the honorable gentleman from making statements continually in print and on the radio and television. Indeed, Sir, he was irrepressible. He obliged the press at every turn. As a supporter of this Government, I thought that, had I been a member of the Labour Party at that stage, I would have been worried that the leader of that party was overplaying his hand very badly. I was proud, as a Government supporter, at the contrasting dignity and sportsmanship displayed by our leader .at that time.
We then heard the announcement that early in the first week of the session this attack on the Government would be made. But anti-climax followed. It was announced that the attack would be postponed. That announcement was followed by a process which I can describe now only as a softening-up process, which took place in the first week of ths session, supposedly for the purpose of keeping us in suspense. Well, we are engaged in politics, and we look forward to a fairly vigorous approach on the part of t-he
Opposition. But what did we see? We saw me spectacle of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) attacking the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) in a cowardly fashion and making scurrilous and disgusting charges, knowing full well that the Minister could not reply because he had already spoken in the debate in which those charges were made. Then we heard the self-confessed clown of the Opposition, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), deliver a speech which I, even in my short time here, have heard three times. That speech may have gone over well at a football club smoke social late in the evening when threequarters of those present were in an advanced stage of inebriation, but I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that from where I sat it appeared to do no credit to the National Parliament at a time of national tension.
Next, to make matters worse, we heard the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who is not noted for his tact in talking about matters relating to our Territory of Papua and New Guinea, make an almost unbelievable attack on the fine men who administer that Territory so courageously for Australia. “ Nitwits “ was the term that the honorable member applied to them. He implied that Australian officials in Papua and New Guinea had been guilty of cruelty and inhumanity. Doubtless he derived some satisfaction from the knowledge that he was suitably reported in the red China press.
While this softening-up process was going on, we saw the redoubtable champion of red China, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), lounging in his seat in this chamber reading a book which, appropriately for him, was bound with a red cover. Occasionally, he nonchantly rose, without even looking round the chamber, and directed the attention of the Chair to the state of the House. All this was part of the softening-up process. ‘, Then, finally, the big day was at hand and along came the piece de resistance - the actual motion of censure launched by the Leader of the Opposition. We on this side of the House, not being politically naive, wondered what the basis of his motion would be. We all know his superb liaison with the press, and we had read in the press some time beforehand this statement -
Mr. Calwell is energetically preparing to try to censure the Government as soon as Parliament meets for its changing views on the future of New Guinea.
So we could not be blamed for expecting him to attack the Government on the issue of West New Guinea. But, when we saw the now celebrated fifteen points listed in his amendment to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, we found that the subject of West New Guinea was conspicuous by its absence. We draw three possible conclusions from this. The first is that this aspiring Prime Minister is a regiment of one in his own party on this issue. The second conclusion we draw is that the party opposite which wants to govern this country and which is now asking the House to vote it into office is so divided on this issue that it cannot come to a decision. The third possible and terrifying conclusion is that honorable members opposite support the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition but for political reasons and in a cowardly manner, refuse to declare themselves. In my humble capacity as a back-bencher I now challenge the next Labour speaker to define the Labour Party’s attitude towards this question upon which our very survival may well depend.
Let me return to the fifteen points which have been mentioned. I know honorable members opposite want me to move away from this particular issue as quickly as possible. To decide whether these fifteen points are sincere, one might well direct his attention to the first five because the others are repetitive, if not facetious. Points 1 to 5 refer to economic questions. The point is whether the particular economic situation in which we find ourselves to-day demands the censure of the Government. In examining any economic situation, we must look at the components of economic stability, of which I submit there are six. I shall examine each of them quickly to see whether on any one of them this Government is deserving of censure. The first relates to overseas balances. To-day our overseas balances stand at £601,000,000 and we also have drawing rights on the International Monetary Fund amounting to £130,000,000. Our overseas balances are healthier than they have been for years. Does this particular component demand censure of the Government? The second component is the price structure. That is more stable now than it has been for years.
Does this stability in the price structure and the consumer index harm the working man, the housewife or the pensioner of whom the Labour Party is the selfappointed champion? Does this particular component demand censure of the Government?
If we can find no call for censure in the first two points, let us move to the third point - the balance of trade. In each of the last seven months, we have shown a net trading profit. Our exports have exceeded our imports, and our imports are decreasing as a result of the measures taken by the Government. Oil has now been proven to exist in commercial quantities. This is due to a large extent to the wise action taken by the Government in the past. I take this opportunity to remind the House that on not a few but many occasions in this House and in another place the granting of subsidies for oil research was opposed by members of the Labour Party on rather spurious grounds.
I come now to the fourth point - the state of the loan market. Fifty-five million pounds has been raised in this country at the very healthy rate of 5 per cent, during the last few months. I wonder what other country in the world could raise money at this particular stage at that rate? Does this particular component demand a censure of the Government? I notice that the Opposition remains silent in connexion with four of the six component parts of the state of the economy. The fifth is internal demand. There are healthy indications of an early return of vigour and business confidence. Let me give one example - the motor vehicle, industry which the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) made a pitiful attempt to prove was in a bad state. Statistics for January show the number of registrations to be 19,000, an all-time monthly high for Australia for this industry. Does this demand a censure of the Government?
I come now to the last point - ‘the employment situation. I say again that we should examine this question without emotion. Mention of employment and unemployment has a strange effect on the logic of honorable members opposite. It seems to have the same effect on them as alcohol or narcotics would have on other reasonable creatures. At the very mention of employment or unemployment, reason and logic fade away and are replaced by imbalanced and reckless judgment. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), who is usually a reasonable sort of fellow, got a frightening leer on his face the other day when discussing unemployment and prophesying that the number of unemployed would increase considerably in the next few months. Indeed, his leer was so frightening that it reminded me of Hamlet who, when in the graveyard, asked -
Has this fellow no feeling in his business that he sings at grave-making?
Let us look at the facts. There are now 131,000 unemployed of an estimated total work force of 4,200,000 in Australia. That represents just over 3 per cent. There is not one man on this side of the House who does not want to see that figure reduced considerably in the near future. One could well ask the question which has been asked by the constantly interjecting honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), who is now out of his seat - Are we sincere in these words? After all, words mean nothing. Deeds are what count. In answer, I ask the House to examine twelve years of this Government’s record of full employment. Honorable members opposite will then be able to decide whether we are sincere about all this.
We have rewritten many text-books on the question of full employment. What do they say? First, let me mention Marx, who may be an authority acceptable to some honorable members opposite. He declares that in a democratic society there must be a pool of unemployed. Lord Keynes says the same thing. Lord Beveridge said in 1944 that 3 per cent, was a conservative rather than an unduly hopeful aim to set for the average unemployment rate of the future under conditions of full employment. The report of the technical committee of the National Resources Planning Board on sectional work and relief policy in America stated that from 5 per cent, to 8 per cent, unemployment was the irreducible minimum indicated by experts. But this Government has not been persuaded or influenced at all by these so-called experts, because it has had the unemployment figure in this country down below 2 per cent, for the greater part of the period of its office. So I submit there is no need for us to prove our sincerity in this particular aspect.
I return to the present situation. The January figures are such as to cause us some concern, and action has been taken about them; but we must remember that the figures for January are usually high, for several reasons. Not the least of those reasons is the fact that in that month there are only two and a half working weeks in which industry can absorb the people offering themselves for employment. Again, in that month we have an enormous number of school leavers. Indeed, 42,000 youths have thrown themselves on the work force since November, 1961. Then, top, the notorious and well-known seasonal influences apply in January. 1 have no doubt that the February figures will be as displeasing to honorable members opposite as they will be pleasing to honorable members on this side. I submit that the sixth component, therefore, does not warrant censure of the Government by this House.
Let me devote the remainder of my time to a point which I believe to be vital to this whole question. Since the 1930’s, economic knowledge has advanced considerably. Gone is the philosophy of allowing a boom to generate, to ride out the boom and then to go down into the catastrophic troughs with the inevitable bust depression afterwards. Since then, better facilities for diagnosis and better instruments for the treatment, have been established; but these are useless unless they are in the hands of a government as courageous as this one which is prepared to use them no matter how politically unpopular they may be. I do not accept the phrase, “ stop-go “ which has been coined by the Opposition. It is merely used by the Opposition in its usual way of exaggerating a particular condition by specious arguments. If the Opposition means that this Government wilfully directs industry and the economy to caution at times and to go ahead at others, I willingly admit that is our policy. If we did not do this as a government, then, surely we would be irresponsible. 1 ask honorable members to visualize a hypothetical case, no matter how ridiculous it may appear to be. Visualize the Leader of the Opposition in a yacht on Port Phillip
Bay trying to get from one side of the bay to the other. Let us imagine that he has taken along the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) for entertainment, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) to add colour and literary style to the expedition, and the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) for passionate conversation along the lines he displayed in the House last night. There you have this group. Now I ask the Leader of the Opposition -whether he would necessarily pursue a straight course all the time if he were at the tiller of this yacht? Would he necessarily maintain the same speed? Would he never trim his sails to suit the different wind direction or the different moods of the sea? If he were as inflexible in his handling of this yacht as he expects us to be in the pursuit of our policies, we would have the spectacle of the boom on this yacht being lowered on this precious quartet, resulting in a very wet Leader of the Opposition.
May I conclude with this thought: We have this problem before us. We are proud of the economic stability of this country which is a tribute to the Government and the Treasurer. But this does not mean that we should not aim at a counsel of perfection and try to improve the present position. One might well ask how the events of the past two years could have been improved. Is it possible that this small degree of unemployment which we now have could have been reduced in any way? We could ask ourselves whether some of the measures which have been applied - with which I agree entirely in principle - ‘have been applied too harshly, too softly, too soon or too late. These are questions which need to be answered. They deserve the attention of every member of this House.
Having regard to the way in which the economic situation is progressing and the way in which the responsibilities of government have increased, I believe it is inevitable that an economic advisory council will be established to set up some point of contact between Cabinet, the Ministry and the economy. J envisage a kind of economic brains trust on which might be seated an industrialist, a primary producer, a retailer, a trade unionist, a banker, an economist and a senior Treasury official, all of whom would act as an observation post, with ears to hear and with eyes to see the fluctuations for which they have been trained throughout their careers. This kind of body would confirm the information that the Treasurer receives from his conventional sources, which are accurate, sound and fine; but I believe that by harnessing men of undoubted integrity and of proven ability to assist the Government we would establish a liaison with industry and a closer contact with the economy generally. I should have liked to develop this suggestion but I must leave it now for those interested to ponder, criticize and comment upon’.
I ask. the Mouse to give this censure motion the treatment that it deserves - a resounding defeat which in effect would be a justly deserved censure motion, on a facetious, incompetent and irresponsible Opposition.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lucock).
I call the honorable member for Oxley and remind honorable members that this is another maiden speech.
.- In the absence of the Speaker, I should like you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to convey to him my congratulations on his knighthood and on his re-election to the position of Speaker. Obviously, the ability which he has shown in the past and the stature* which he has given to this House have contributed much to the honours which have been conferred upon him.
For me it is an honour to stand in this historic chamber as the elected representative of the people who reside in the Oxley electorate. This is truly a great privilege, but the greatest of all honours is to be here as a. member of the Australian Labour Party. The Australian Labour Party is the only political party in Australia to-day which can claim to be truly national in character and outlook. It is the only political party which pursues policies designed for the greatest good for the majority of the people: The Australian Labour Party does not seek to pander to the dictates of the powerful minority groups and affluent sections of society whose interests so often are detrimental to the majority of Australians. That is the crux of the problem which confronts Australia to-day - the fact that the Commonwealth. Government is pandering to the dictates of pressure groupsoutside this place and is- not considering the interests of the people.
In view of the fact that the Government, which because Of its actions has the country in a turmoil, is under censure I was rather surprised to hear the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) challenge me to outline the Labour Party’s policy in relation to New Guinea. In the first place, if the honorable gentleman had been listening he would have heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) outline very fully our point of view on this question. Although I did not notice him, he could quite easily have been a casualty, as were a couple of the rebel members of the Liberal Party who were seen to be asleep during the Prime Minister’s address - no doubt seduced to sleep by the deep, sonorous tones in which he said much but conveyed little.
The significant fact which has come out of this debate since the censure motion was proposed by the Leader of the Opposition is that the Government, instead of trying to explain to the people the reason for its failure to do what it should have done, instead of endeavouring to erect a defence for its inadequate policies, and instead of telling the people why so much suffering has been forced upon them, has resorted to the rather deceitful and devious dodge employed by members df the legal fraternity who, When they have ho defence to offer for a client, resort to a personal attack upon the public defender who in this case is the Leader of the Opposition.
When the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) commenced his address on Tuesday night last after hearing my leader’s speech he spoke of ghosts walking in this chamber. I can believe him because of his nervous manner and jerky delivery. He has been placed somewhat in the position of the Dickensian character Scrooge who saw the three apparitions, representing his past, present and future. Scrooge was fortunate. He had an alternative future which he could choose if he mended his ways. But the Treasurer and the members of the Government have no alternative future. They have seen the apparition of the past conjured up by the words of our leader, a past of failures and ignoble endeavours to establish a persevering economic policy for this nation. They have seen the present panic measures of toolittle being done too late. They have seen the inevitable return to office of the Australian Labour Party which will put this country again on the road to prosperity from which unfortunately it has deviated as a result of this Government’s policies.
The Treasurer referred to a motor car . drive as though there were some similarity between driving a motor car and managing our economy. He advanced a very specious argument which was completely devoid of any factual basis. He spoke of driving in the car towards a goal and having to stop and start for the flow of traffic, just as the Government’s policies have stopped and started so regularly. The flow of traffic is beyond the control of the motor car driver, but the turbulence and the ebb and flow of the side issues which have crept into the economic policies of this country are within the control of a competent government. The Treasurer exposed his failure by drawing this false analogy. We noted, during the course of this debate, the manner in which supporters of the Government have endeavoured to re-direct the attack on the Australian Labour Party. They delve into the past in an endeavour to deceive the people into believing that our party stands up for considerable censure. But their excursions here are to no avail for their own past is a damning indictment of themselves. One thing which they continually bring to the notice of the people per medium of the air is the unemployment position of 1949, which was created out of an industrial upheaval and not by Government policy, as the unemployment of to-day is created.
Members of the Government must be aware that unemployment to-day stands at 3.1 per cent, of the work force, according to Commonwealth statistics which I took the trouble to check, while unemployment in 1949 was 2 per cent. But if they wish to go back into the past and’ delve among the cobwebs to see what they can drag out to discredit the Australian Labour Party Opposition, it is equally fair for us to go back into the past. If we go back to the time when members of a Liberal-Country Party government were last in power, in 1939, we find that unemployment then had reached the figure of 9.7 per cent., and the fact is that had it not been for the intervention of the war, which absorbed many unemployed, unemployment would have exceeded 11 per cent., because indeed that figure was reached at one stage. One honorable member opposite, in an endeavour to discredit and disparage the Australian Labour Party, said that our party had been in power for not more than seventeen years. That may be correct. But for how long has this Liberal-Country Party Government been in power? ‘ It has been in office for not more than twelve years and this must be a record for the unhappily wedded Government parties, because pre-war they were unable to stay together long enough to establish a stable government. We saw how their parties fell away and were reformed on a number of occasions. The manner in which they readily threw their principles and policies overboard has been capably indicated by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who has been subject to so much criticism by honorable members opposite. Obviously the barbs he inflicts on honorable members are so severe as to embarrass them. He pointed out that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) who, until the last election always stated that it would be a sin to accept support from a Communist Party member, is here to-day as a result of the support of the Communist Party.
The chaotic economic climate which afflicts the nation to-day exists in every State, particularly Queensland, the State from which I come - the State which inflicted the greatest losses among candidates of the Government parties in an endeavour to return a constructive government which would look after the interests of the country and its people. If we went round the federal electorates of Queensland one by one we would find problems particular to each electorate and general to all as a result of the Government’s destructive policies. In the electorate of Oxley, which I have the great honour to represent, we find that Ipswich, which is possibly the largest industrial centre in the State outside the capital city, and which has a population of only 40,000 people, has nearly 500 persons registered for unemployment benefits. From my own knowledge of the huge number of people who call on me daily seeking employment and the large number of jobless people with whom I come in contact, I would conservatively estimate the number of unemployed in Ipswich to be 800. Today, unemployment is a serious malady which afflicts this country, particularly in centres like Ipswich.
I have here two notebooks, one completely full and the other half -full, of names of people seeking work - youngsters who have just completed their schooling and have gone out into the world to seek their destiny, bright-eyed and eager-faced, many of them with excellent junior passes and a number of them with first-class senior passes. What opportunity does this Government offer them? Their lot at present is the dole and the soup kitchen line. These conditions are being revived; and the sin of it is that many young people who seek apprenticeships to-day will be too old to obtain them eighteen months or two years hence, the period which this reactionary Government conservatively considers to be the minimum period that will elapse before its policy will produce a reasonable rate of economic development.
We have, also in Ipswich a particular problem in the coal-mining industry, and in this respect the Federal Government is also greatly remiss. In 1951, there were 3,119 employees on the books of the Queensland Colliery Employees Union and in 1961 there were only 2,481, a reduction of 638. Yet, when we compare the figures of production, we find that whereas 2,474,000 tons of coal were produced in 1951, in 1961, with a reduction of 638 men during the intervening period, production has shot up to 2,661,000 tons, an increase, per head, per year of 279.33 tons. This position has resulted from the introduction of automation in the industry. The Queensland Colliery Employees Union, in common with the miners’ federation throughout Australia, does not wish progress to be halted. In fact, it welcomes progress and realizes that if the nation is to develop we must have progress; but at the same time the men who through their sweat and back-breaking toil at the coal face created the huge profits which enabled the coal-owners to purchase the extremely expensive equipment for automation and placed them in the position in which they are to-day, are entitled to some consideration and should not callously be cast into the slaughter yard of unemployment which the Federal Government has created.
Perhaps the situation would not be so severe if it were not for the fact that this Liberal-Country Party Government has created the present large pool of unemployed with the result that these men and their wives and families now have to go on the dole. This Government should pay heed to the call of the miners’ union for a 35-hour week. During the course of the debate an honorable member opposite criticized vociferously the proposal for a 35-hour week in industry. But there is a definite argument for the introduction of a 35-hour week in the coal-mining industry because fewer employees are now gaining a greater return of coal for the employers. They are earning greater profits for the employers. Therefore a 35-hour week is justified. In the interests of the security of employment of these men and the prosperity of the area in which they live and of the nation a 35-hour week is imperative. So, too, is national control of the mines, as proposed by the mining unions. What has the Federal Government done towards the proposal of the miners’ federation that plant should be established for the processing of by-products from coal? In 1955, the miners’ federation carried out research into the value of commodities being imported into Australia which were capable of being processed here from coal. Is not the Government aware that the result of this research revealed that such commodities to the value of £70,000,000 came into Australia every year? I have no doubt the figure would be higher to-day. Those commodities coming here from abroad were capable of being processed from coal if factories to produce these by-products were established. What a marvellous saving this would be to our always strained overseas balances which have been under such pressures since the Liberal-Country Party Government has been in office. And what an insult the importation of these commodities was to the men in the coal-mining industry and to Australia generally to find that the majority of these goods from the United States are processed as petro-chemicals.
Closely allied to the coal-mining industry in Queensland are the Queensland railways. This area of which I am speaking, Ipswich, depends for its livelihood, firstly on the coal-mining industry and secondly and equally importantly on the railways. It could very well be said, and I have no doubt that it will be said by Government supporters: Of what interest are State railways to the Federal Government? Members of this Government have on innumerable occasions brought before the House the necessity for defence preparedness. What greater contribution was made to the defence of Australia from the civilian point of view than was made by the rolling-stock and the carrying capability of the railways during the last war? If honorable members opposite- have been sincere about the imperativeness of: defence preparedness they should introduce plans to prevent a continuance of the present situation in Queensland in regard, to railways, particularly the situation in. the Ipswich area. At the time that the Liberal-Country Party Government took over in Queensland the State Labour Government had commenced to- produce profits on the railways and had begun to introduce improvements in the system. Within a short time of the Liberal-Country Party Government’s taking over we saw numerous retrenchments in the railways service. These are continuing. We have seen and continueto see railway tracks being torn- up, and they are too expensive to replace. If this situa-don continues the outlook, for the City of Ipswich is very bleak indeed because if these men employed by the Queensland Department of Railways and men employed in the mining industry are forced into the unemployment pool in Ipswich, where will they go to seek employment? Employment opportunities in Ipswich are limited to those two industries, and the outlook in that city is very grim indeed unless the Commonwealth Government takes some positive steps to offset this serious and unhappy situation, because Ipswich could become a ghost town within a reasonably short time, as has been instanced in some of the large cities in the coal-mining areas of New South Wales. There is: plenty of support for the call to establish another industry in Ipswich, particularly a steel, industry. There are sufficient coal and water there and plentiful means of transportation of commodities to and. from the area are readily available. The people of Ipswich, with a tradition in technical and trades work, are only too happy to have another industry and, in fact look forward to the establishment of another industry in the area so that unemployment will not become a curse and a threat to the people there and so that the City of Ipswich will not become atrophied.
Important as the City of Ipswich is, equally important is the surrounding country in the area. In the electorate of Oxley there is a. large rural area which takes in dairying, beef raising, agriculture, and timber production, and each of these industries has problems which, in the main, have grown out of the regressive policies of the Queensland Liberal-Country Party Government, lt is rather hypocritical for members of the Australian Country Party on the opposite side of this House to make no contribution to the solution of this matter. One of the greatest complaints of the people engaged in the dairy industry is the high cost structure, and we know only too well how honorable members opposite endeavour to afflict the working class with the responsibility for this. They do so by claiming that the wage structure is too high. The fallacy of this statement has been adequately exposed in the past by no less an authority than Sir Douglas Copland, who pointed out that the purchasing power of the working man’s wages has decreased and that the facts are that the true cause of the high cost structure for the man in primary industry is not the purchasing power of the working man’s wages. Rather is it the exploitative plundering interests and motives of the middle man. Let us take as an example the cost of pumps supplied for milking purposes. Is the Government aware that to purchase a pump complete with motor and unit costs the dairyman something like £43? But if the pump is purchased separately the price immediately jumps to £53. The position is the same with other commodities that the countryman needs. If he buys them separately instead of buying the total unit he has to pay more. The quality of the materials supplied to the countryman is poor although he pays top prices. He gets barbed wire that is scarcely strong enough to tickle the hides of the beasts that brush past it.
Men in the primary industries - in the dairy industry and the beef industry, for instance - are perturbed by the failure of the Government opposite to put some permanent halt on the importation of hides because these men employed in rural industry feel, and very justifiably, that there is a very definite threat of foot and mouth disease being introduced into this country as the result of the importation of hides. This matter has been raised with the Government before and the fears of the countrymen there have been ridiculed. The Government says that Australian quarantine laws are far too stringent and effective to permit this to happen. If those laws are so good, how was it that they permitted the introduction of swine fever which is taking such a toll of pig herds in this country? Speaking of pigs in relation to the high cost structure, the primary producer is being exploited and held to ransom in Queensland. Pig producers receive about ls. to ls. 8d. per lb. for their pigs and the meat is retailed in the stores at 5s. to 6s. per lb. Somebody is enjoying a very handsome profit. Beef prices have fallen by up to £6 10s. a hundred, without any indication that the prices charged in butchers’ shops would fall. A short time ago criticism of those prices in the daily press, which resulted from public pressures, brought an infinitesimal reduction in prices, but they very quickly jumped again and a higher profit margin was established.
Now I turn to the timber industry. The Commonwealth Government has failed dismally in relation to this industry. Some eighteen months after the introduction of the credit squeeze, timber mills in the Brisbane Valley are still closed down and show no signs of re-opening. Often men employed in these mills and the timber cutters have to go to isolated areas to pursue their employment and have no prospect of leaving there for some time. Surely these men in the timber mills and out cutting in the country, living in isolation for days on end, are entitled to some return for their contribution towards the development of this country under pioneering circumstances.
These are only a few of the criticisms which the public - and I as one of the mouthpieces of the public - level at this Government. These are criticisms which the public as a whole direct wholeheartedly against the Government. That is why the public looks to the Labour Party to pursue this motion of censure which has been so capably moved by our leader. It is up to the Government to establish, to the satisfaction of the people of Australia, that it is not guilty of the indictment levelled by our leader. To date, it has failed to do so. Honorable members opposite have tried to cloud the issues at stake. I should like honorable members opposite who speak in this debate from now on to answer, one by one, each of those indictments presented by our leader, and to explain each one to the satisfaction of the people of Australia. But I know that they cannot do so.
.- First, I should like to ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to extend my congratulations to Mr. Speaker on his re-election to his office and also on the high honour that Her Majesty the Queen has conferred on him. May I, as a Western Australian, extend my congratulations to the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) on his selection as a member of the executive of his party. I hope that he will be able to bring to bear on some of the older members of the executive the sober judgment of which we know he is capable. I hope that he will be able to secure acceptance of the moderate point of view which we prefer in Western Australia.
I made some inquiries in regard to my speech to-night and I learnt that one cannot be a maiden twice. So, I shall move on to what we are debating at the moment which is the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, in which we convey to the Governor-General a message of loyalty and thank him for having delivered his message to us. It was a very good message, about which members of the Labour Party have said very little in this debate. They have said very little about it because the Leader of the Opposition, instead of allowing his followers to bring to the notice of the Government the peculiar requirements of their own State, district or electorate, as is the usual custom, has moved a censure motion. ‘ f <?”,”]
Perhaps the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who is interjecting, if he listened to me, could help me because the Opposition is asking us to vote with it. To get us to do that, honorable members opposite must convince us that they are right. I want to know where we are going with this censure motion. First of alL Labour members have said that they condemn the Government for having filched, thieved or stolen the Labour Party’s policy as announced at the last general election. Is that what the Opposition proposes to condemn the Government for? Must I vote for the censure motion on. that account?
First, Opposition members say that the Government has taken the policy which the Labour Party announced during the last election campaign, but in their next breath they say that the Government’s measures are not satisfactory. Where do they stand? Is it any wonder that the electors would not return a Labour government? Is it any wonder that the electors made sure that there would be a majority on this side of the House?
The next thing that I want to know is this: Why have not all members of the Labour Party supported this censure motion? One of the strongest speakers on the Labour side in condemnation of the Government is usually the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). There is a man who could handle a censure motion and who has done so before. Yet I have studied his speech and I cannot find in it anything about the censure motion. He sits on the Opposition front bench. He is a man who might be able to convince me, but he has said nothing at all about the censure motion. Many other members of the Opposition have done the same thing.
Another point on which I seek information from the Labour Party is this: It is true that at the end of 1960 we had to introduce certain economic measures which the Labour Party now says harmed the commercial community. The people who, condemned the Government for those measures were the big business people and the so-called capitalists. Where does the Labour Party stand on this matter? By attacking the Government’s measures, it has been supporting the businessmen and the capitalists. It has been supporting the people whom it is supposed to be against.
Lest honorable members opposite get the wrong idea, let me say that in my view the Labour Party should have condemned, as 1 do now, the people who resisted, wilfully and unnecessarily, the economic policies introduced by the Government in 1960 to steady the. economy of this country. Instead of that, what did these business people do? They resorted to quite unnecessary retrenchments of staff and to goodness knows what else. This was quite unnecessary. But there was not a word about that from members of the Labour Party. Their attitude was dictated by purely political reasons. They saw an opportunity to make the Go vernment unpopular. Never mind about the fellows who were out of work! So they took political advantage of the situation.
I am sorry that the Leader of the Opposition is not present because I wanted to say something about him. When the Labour Party has an opportunity to sabotage the economy of this country it will do so, regardless of the cost. My mind goes back to a period before 1949 when this country was in a chronic state, largely because of controls and restrictions under the Labour Government. There were shortages everywhere. Black marketing was the rule.
– There were no tails on men’s shirts.
– That is so. We had the Dedman tailless shirt. When the Menzies Government came to power the black marketing was stopped. Controls were removed and there was more production. Within twelve or eighteen months the country had reached a state of galloping prosperity - what my friends opposite call “ inflation “. [Quorum formed.]
I thank the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) for calling a quroum and bringing another two or three Opposition members into the House. We do not see them in the chamber very often; so when a quorum is called, some of them make an appearance and we know the Australian Labour Party is represented here. I was talking about the conditions which prevailed in 1951-52, which was a time of prospertiy. The country was flooded with money. Production could not keep pace with the demand. There was over-full employment and no talk of unemployment. We could not get an adequate work force.
To balance the economy and stop inflation, the Government appealed to the people to save their money. It warned them that: restrictive measures would have to be taken unless they acted reasonably. In such a time of national need, one would expect every member of this Parliament to be aware of his responsibilities to the nation. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) was then Deputy Leader of the Opposition and what did he do? He went to Adelaide and attended a meeting of workers. Instead of appealing to them to act reasonably in the circumstances, he said in effect, “Spend all you can while you can. This will embarrass the MenziesFadden Government.” He ignored the fact that such a course might ruin the country. He and his party have been saboteurs of the national economy solely for political reasons. That was the support that the Government obtained from the Opposition. That is the sort of thing that goes on in the Labour Party. We get no co-operation from it.
I wish to speak now on the subject of unemployment. The previous speaker, the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden), began his maiden speech by deploring personal references to other honorable members. He said it very sanctimoniously, and then he proceeded to do what he asked everybody else not to do. As he was delivering his maiden speech, he had the traditional protection accorded a new member in such circumstances. I congratulate him upon a highly provocative speech, but warn him that he will not get away with it under similar conditions in future.
The honorable member referred to unemployment and then spoke about a 35-hour week for the workers. I remind members of the Opposition that the introduction of the shorter week we have now has contributed substantially to unemployment. Of course, the Opposition does not agree with me; but that is a fact. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) will agree that in Western Australia the Building Workers’ Industrial Union is policing and picketing week-end work. Men who already have a full week’s work are depriving others, who are out of work, of employment. These men do not care whether their fellows are on the breadline so long as they can get extra work at overtime rates. If honorable members opposite get a still shorter working week, there will be more unemployment because there will be too many people who will try to get two or three jobs.
The Opposition’s constant reference to 130,000 unemployed being registered for work leaves me quite unsatisfied. I made a check of the position, and any Commonwealth Employment Office will confirm the fact that it has registered for work wives whose husbands are working. The number of genuine workers, the breadwinners, who are seeking jobs is much less than 130,000. Anybody who allows his wife to take a job while he is working deprives a breadwinner of a job, and the numbers of registered unemployed are thus inflated. I would like the Opposition to cite the true figures and not fictitious figures. Then we would know where we stood.
I was interested to hear the statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) that the Governor-General’s Speech did not contain any reference to the West New Guinea issue. He referred to the fact that the “ Hansard “ report contained a reference to this subject of only two or three lines. The honorable gentleman advanced that as an excuse why no reference was made to New Guinea in the Opposition’s censure motion. I suggest to the honorable gentleman that he study the separately printed copy of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. Surely a man of the honorable member’s mental capacity can comprehend that all but two paragraphs on the first page of that copy refer to West New Guinea. If he cannot do so, he should have his head read. In the small paragraph that he has picked out, New Guinea is mentioned specifically; but apparently the honorable gentleman cannot comprehend the fact that practically the whole of the first page of the Speech relates to the tremendous importance that is attached to the West New Guinea issue. If he cannot understand’ that, he is not qualified to occupy the position of Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– Why not allow us to choose our own grounds of censure instead of yours?
– But they should be substantial grounds for censure. The honorable member might not have been in the chamber when I started my speech by asking some questions. I asked on what grounds we were being censured. First, it was said that we pinched or filched the Labour Party’s policy at the recent election. Then in the next breath we were censured because that policy was not good enough. Where is the censure? I am asking the honorable gentleman to enlighten me.
– Is it right to have 130,000 unemployed?
– I ask the honorable gentleman to answer my question. I have already asked the Labour Party to tell me why it constantly resorts to sabotage. Why are we being censured? If the Labour
Party’s policy was good enough for the Opposition, why is it wrong for us to apply it? If it is wrong for us, why is it not wrong for the Opposition? I want to be convinced. You want my vote - well, convince me. Answer my questions. What is wrong with this Government doing the things that you say you intended to do? That is the stand I adopt. I simply say to the honorable member for Fremantle that I want enlightenment. *
– Do you. want our second preferences at the next election?
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh was not here when I said that he had made no mention whatsoever of the censure motion when he spoke in this debate. He said not a word about it. He evidently does not believe in it, because he is not supporting it.
– Put a bit of ginger into it!
– You need to put a bit of ginger into it. If you believe in this censure motion you should have said so. You should not have let it go by the board as you have done. We might understand a back-bencher on the Opposition side making no reference to it, but here we have the honorable member for Hindmarsh, one of the leaders of the Parliamentary Labour Party. I suppose he has been as close as any of his colleagues to leadership of the party. At any rate, he is one of the mainstays of the Labour Party, and he has made no reference whatsoever in his speech to this censure motion. Are we to suppose that he does not believe in it? He has not said what is wrong with our adopting policies that were allegedly enunciated originally by the Labour Party. After all, what is wrong with our following those policies. Are we to be condemned for it? In the light of what I have had to say I think the honorable member for Hindmarsh should come and vote on this side of the House. He obviously does not like this censure motion, or the allegations on which it is based.
I have used up most of my time in dealwith this censure motion. I am still unconvinced about it, and I want some enlightenment. Honorable members opposite have a good, deal of time left hi which to enlighten me and to answer my questions. If there is no substance in the motion - and. there, is. none’ so fax as I can see - then I deeply deplore the fact that in dealing with it I have foregone the opportunity to deal with a number of matters of importance to my State. However, I will have further opportunities in the future. I am not saying at the moment what my attitude will finally be towards this motion, but I think I am entitled to tell the House where I stand on it at this moment.
.- Let me, first of all, tender to you, Mr. Speaker, my congratulations on your re-election to this very high and honorable position in the Parliament. I hope, Sir, that as long as your party is in the majority in the Parliament you will remain the Speaker. Without reflecting on others who have held the position, I consider that you have been the best Speaker that the Parliament has had during all the time that I have been here. I say that notwithstanding the fact that on one memorable occasion you handled me roughly and ejected me from the chamber. However, I probably deserved that treatment.
To the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply I tender my congratulations on their speeches. To all. the sixteen new members on the Opposition side of the House I also tender my congratulations. Not since I. first came to this Parliament has there been such a large number of new members entering the House at one time. Never have I heard - and. this goes also for the smaller number of new members on the Government side - maiden speeches of better quality and displaying, sounder common sense.
As to the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie), I had hoped that after three years in. the wilderness he would have returned with more sense than he demonstrated when, he was here previously. I have been sadly disillusioned. His facetious- and even comic references to his likelihood of voting with the Labour Party can be dismissed at once. He is a dyed-in-the-wool old tory, and a member of the most radical tory party that has ever graced a parliament in this country.
During the course of this debate great stress has been laid, naturally,, on the problem of. unemployment. Members of the Opposition have stressed it particularly, because widespread, unemployment is-, in my view,, one of the worst economic disasters that can. befalt civilized people,, particularly in a democracy. The honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) expressed surprise that we should be so deeply interested. Well, if the Labour movement of this country, industrial and political, was not greatly interested in unemployment it would be surprising. The honorable member must know, as I know, looking down the long corridors of time, that the demand for full employment arose originally among the trade unions. The unions at that time demanded what they called the right to work. First and foremost in the charter of every industrial organization was the demand for the right to work. As the trade unions gave birth to the Australian Labour Party this demand for the right to work became known as a policy of full employment. That has been the Labour Party’s policy ever since, and it has been accepted reluctantly by the opponents of Labour for as long as I can remember. The Australian Country Party, of course, has been one of the strongest opponents of the policy of full employment. To illustrate the Country Party’s opposition to the full employment policy, let me quote portion of an article that appeared in the Ballarat “Courier” of 13th March, 1949, in which Mr. L. A. MacLeod, president of the Ballarat Country Party District Council, is reported to have said - the country would not get back to normal until there were 11 men applying for one man’s job.
The article continued -
He (Mr. MacLeod) did not want to see a return to depression, but he thought the present situation was not fairly balanced. “There was never a greater need for the Country Party than there is to-day “, declared Mr. Anderson (a Country Party delegate).
That is the outlook of the Country Party, and that is the philosophy that is likewise espoused by other conservative elements in this country, although not advocated so strongly in the political sphere, because they realize that the public conscience has been aroused by the Labour movement. .
Full employment was first advocated strongly in this country by the Labour movement, and the final attainment of full employment has been one of the most impressive feathers in the Australian Labour Party’s cap. I well remember that before the outbreak of the last war the level of unemployment in this fair land of ours was at 1 1 per cent, of the work force. As late as 1941 the right honorable R. G.
Menzies, addressing a public meeting in the town hall, said that when the war broke out there were 260,000 people unemployed in Australia, and that this number had been reduced by about 100,000. The Government of this country has been in the hands of the Tories for about ten or twelve years up to and including the time when the right honorable gentleman made that statement, and they could not do better than face the outbreak of war with 260,000 people unemployed.
We find to-day that for twelve years a Liberal-Country Party government has been occupying the treasury bench. It has been in office during some very prosperous years when overseas prices for our exported commodities were very high. Yet we find ourselves to-day with no fewer than 131,000 registered unemployed. Let me remind the House that thousands and thousands of unemployed men and women never register for employment. They depend upon their own devices and initiative. They roam the industrial suburbs and business offices of our great cities seeking employment, and there is no record of them whatsoever.
I remind honorable members, too, that the record of Labour governments in the field of employment has been unsurpassed. We have always been conscious of the fact that there will inevitably be a very small number of people who, because of seasonal occupations and for other reasons, will be, for some weeks and sometimes for some months, without employment. We originated unemployment benefits for unemployed persons and their families, which have now been accepted by the reactionaries opposite, and even increased by them under pressure from this side of the Parliament. Is it any wonder we are interested in full employment? When we tackled the banking institutions we realized that they perhaps more than any others controlled the problem of full employment. In the preamble to the legislation we introduced, we placed the responsibility on the Commonwealth Bank to so operate the monetary and banking system of the country as to render the maximum service towards the fulfilment of a full employment policy.
We sent Dr. Evatt to the United Nations in 1945 with instructions that he was to endeavour to have inserted in the United
Nations Charter a clause calling on all signatory nations to do all they could to implement a policy of full employment. While Labour held office, it gave effect to that policy and when it left office in 1949, the registered unemployed numbered about 900, which was the lowest level that had ever been reached. The incompetents on the other side of the House have remained in office by red-baiting, by producing Petrov and other humbugs. The Government has been able to deceive the people and remain in office, but it is now being found out. Because of its associations, the Government is unable to implement a policy of full employment.
Let us look at some of the basic causes of unemployment. I believe that every person unable to work because of age, sickness or other disability, should be provided for in a civilized community, but I believe also that all mentally and physically fit persons should be given employment and allowed to support themselves. Since this Government has been in office, a section of the population has grown up without ever having produced one penn’orth of wealth, although these people have been mentally and physically fit and able to work. The Government and its supporters have exploited every section of the community most shamefully. All newspapers carry advertisements offering 9 per cent, 10 per cent., 10i per cent., 7 per cent, and 8 per cent, on investments. What government in its sound senses would allow that to happen? Money is attracted by this means for various purposes, many of them speculative, while the semi-public institutions cannot raise money even at 5* per cent. The Government is unable to cope with this situation because its friends are affected.
Honorable members opposite should look at the way prices have risen, instead of complaining all the time about wageearners. Let me give some idea of the Government’s attitude. Under the headline “ Margins rise ‘ a court blunder ‘ “, a newspaper carried a report of comments made by the Minister for Air (Mr. Bury), who now assists the Treasurer. This is the attitude not only of the Minister for Air but also of the Government. The only evil the Government can see is the wage-earner who might obtain a wage increase from the arbitration court or whose hours of work may be reduced. This is what this new Minister is reported as having said some time ago -
The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission had made “ a blunder towards inflation “ by granting the 28 per cent, margins increase last November, the Liberal M.H.R. for Wentworth, Mr. Bury, said to-day.
He said members of the Commission would not have granted the increases if they had known the full implications of what they were doing.
I think without exception the members of the commission were appointed by this Government. However, the Government did not trust them to give an impartial decision and deal out justice on claims made by the workers. The Minister for Air is also reported as having said -
The commission comprises a few men basically not qualified to make the kind of decision they are now making.
– Are they?
– Of course they are. They are more qualified in this field than is the Minister; wage claims are their speciality. The Minister was addressing a luncheon at St. Andrew’s Cathedral and is reported as having said further that -
Australian governments were more scared of small pockets of unemployment than the rapid rise in prices and wages.
Wages and salaries were rising out of proportion to the true rise in Australian productivity.
People’s life savings were being proportionally eroded and stolen from them by the process of inflation.
Inflation was a severe threat to Australia’s professional and middle classes.
Inflation also was a very real threat to the man on the land, while industrial workers and speculators don’t suffer so badly.
He said not a word about the evil of high interest rates, the ramifications of combines and the ill effects of mergers. Let us look at what is happening while the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) has been fiddling around for two or three years on a study of restrictive trade practices. We read the other day that Elder Smith and Company Limited and I think the New Zealand Loan-
– No, Goldsbrough Mort and Company Limited.
– Thank you. Elder Smith and Company Limited and Goldsbrough Mort and Company Limited are merging and also Dalgety and Company Limited and another company-
– The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company Limited.
– Yes. They are four of the major stock and station agents and firms dealing with primary producers. They are all linked with the banks and with industrial and mining companies and are associated with insurance companies. Is the merging of these companies for their good or for the good of the primary producers? Let us see what is happening with artificial fertilizers. In my youth we had Cumming Smith, Nobel and Federated Fertilisers. They merged and became Commonwealth Fertilisers. Within the last month or two, they have been swallowed up by Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited. Who will pay the penalty? The primary producers willi Honorable members opposite have had a lot to say about the welfare of the primary producers, but the failure of the Government to control the economy has caused much trouble to the primary producers.
As a result of the activities of speculators and those who charge high interest rates, no wage-earner can buy a block of land anywhere in the outer industrial areas of Melbourne for less than £1,200 or £1,500. The workers eventually have to go to the Arbitration Court and ask for more money. Any increase granted here is passed on through the wholesalers and retailers whose prices are not controlled, and then it is passed on again to the primary producers who are supposed to be represented by members of the Australian Country Party. The next step in the evil chain is that the primary producers producing butter, wheat, sugar, eggs and all the other commodities cannot meet competition in overseas markets on an even basis. Let us look again at what the Minister for Air said some time ago. I want members of the Australian Country Party to listen to this because they always complain about shortages under a Labour administration, without taking into account all’ that was happening in the aftermath of a war. A newspaper carried the following report: -
Mr. Bury said that between 1948 and 1957 the increase in retail prices was 98 per cent, in Australia, as against 50 per cent, in the United Kingdom, 26 per cent, in Canada, 52 per cent, in New Zealand and 18 per cent, in the United States States.
According to the economists, it then cost 7s. Id. to produce a bushel of wheat and 2s. 2d. to produce a pound of butter. Today, its costs about 15s. lOd. to produce a bushel of wheat, much of which is sold at 13s. 6d. a bushel overseas. It costs 4s. 8d. to produce a pound of butter, which is being sold for 3s. a pound overseas. Australia is confronted with the dangers that will flow from the Common Market and the Government may very soon have to subsidize primary producers or we will have no export income worth mentioning. For that reason, the Australian Labour Party stated in its policy speech that it would adopt one of the most satisfactory means of fortifying the primary industries in this country and, as from 1st January of this year, would pay £3 10s. a ton on superphosphate, and related amounts on other kinds of artificial fertilizer.
– That would only give inflation another push along.
– It is a sound economic proposition which has been supported by no less an authority than Mr. Simpson, Chairman of the Closer Settlement Commission in Victoria. Long before the Labour Party included this proposal in its policy, Sir John Crawford, formerly Secretary of the Department of Trade and now a professor at the Australian National University, stated that this was one of the best means of encouraging primary production and helping primary producers to survive when economic conditions were very difficult for them.
I know that this Government is perturbed about the European Common Market. The Opposition has agreed to grant a pair to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who is to go abroad to see what he can do on Australia’s behalf on this issue. All I can say is that if the Minister is not more successful on this occasion than he has been in the great majority of the missions that he has undertaken abroad in the last twelve years on a variety of matters, he will not do any good at all for Australia. That is my reaction to his proposed trip. Nevertheless, the Opposition is prepared to grant him a pair so that he may go.
– What about the Labour Government’s sale of wheat to New Zealand?
– The honorable member would not understand it even if he were told all about it. If he likes to ask the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) to hand him the file on that subject, he will have my blessing. If the honorable member studied that file he ought to be well educated on this matter. No primary producer in Australia lost one penny piece over the sale of wheat to New Zealand. Doubtless, the honorable member will reply that the taxpayers paid. They did, because the government of the day gave justice to the wheat-growers of this country.
Let me now tell the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) something which perhaps has not been revealed before. In 1948, the Labour Government sold to the United Kingdom Government 80,000,000 bushels of wheat over which the Australian Government had power of acquisition and for the disposal of which it was responsible. The Labour Government ignored the advice of the Australian Wheat Board about the terms on which that wheat ought to be sold, and sold it at more advantageous terms. As a result, the net return was £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 more than would have been obtained on the Wheat Board’s terms. Perhaps the honorable member for Barker will ask the Minister for Primary Industry to show him the departmental files on that matter. I do not mind if the honorable member sees them.
Let us now look at some of this nonsense that Government supporters talk about the past and about what governments have done to the primary producers. I think my friend the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) gave a very poorly attended House some bankruptcy figures yesterday. Let Government supporters ponder these figures and talk about Australia being better off now than ever before, if they like. In the financial year 1949-50- -that in which the Labour Government went out of office - there were 333 bankruptcies. In 1950-51, there were only 308. At that time, this Government was still getting the benefit of the golden age under the Chifley Labour Government. From 1950-51 onwards, the number of bankruptcies steadily increased. There were 798 in 1955-56 and 1,200 in 1956-57. The number has progressively increased since, and the latest return - that for 1960-61- lists 2,004. There has been an increase of about 600 per cent, since the days of the Labour Government, when this country was. under planned management which was. sound, sensible, solid and fair to all. sections, of the community.
In 1949, only four years after the end of the war, during which the Labour Government had been confronted with many difficulties, and only four years after more than 1,000,000 men, many of whom had been out of productive work for nearly eight years, had been returned to productive work in civilian life, the Menzies Government inherited hardly any difficulties. Why do not honorable members opposite grow up and talk sense instead of prattling to the teenagers of this country about imaginary disabilities most of which never existed? Even the few difficulties that the Menzies Government inherited in 1949 could have been remedied by no one during the time that the Labour Government had at its disposal to deal with them. I leave that matter there.
There is no hope for the worker, the retailer, the .average business man or the manufacturer in Australia so long as the tory forces now dominating this country are allowed to remain in office. I heard the honorable member for Moore grizzling about the 35-hour working week. Only the other day I attended in my electorate the opening of a modern factory that had cost £1,500,000 and was intended to employ only 60 men in the production of a commodity which, 25 years ago, would have required 600 men for the same volume of output in the same time. How does the Government suggest that it can take up the slack if it does not progressively allow the hours of labour in this country to be reduced? The predecessors of the present Government parties opposed the 44-hour week. This Government and its supporters still criticize the 40-hour week and they will criticize every other progressive development that is introduced in the interests of the people of this country. Honorable members opposite never move forwards, onwards and upwards. They are dead from the feet up. There isno hope for the people of Australia while this Government remains in office. Therefore, I enthusiastically support the amendment that was so ably proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell).
Debate (on motion by Mr. Wentworth)adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 March 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620301_reps_24_hor34/>.