24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. Alan Charles Bird made and subscribed the oath of allegiance as member for the Division of Batman, Victoria.
Debate resumed from 1st March (vide page 434), on motion by Mr. Cockle -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to -
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 advise 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 to assure job opportunities for school leavers;
leave Australian manufacturing industry without 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 “.
Mr. WENTWORTH (Mackellar) [2.331. - I come from enjoying the very pleasant privilege of meeting Miss Australiato the duty, pleasant or not, which is mine, of addressing this House on the motion before us. The first is the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech; the second is the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I do not intend to worry very much about the amendment because I do not think, Sir, that any one can really see the Opposition as an alternative government. I think that it is true to say of the generality of Australian electors that, although they may think there are faults on this, side of the House, they are appalled when they look at the alternative. It would not be possible to support the motion for the amendment without doing the impossible thing and installing in the place of this Government the impossible alternative.
Now, Sir, it is true that a motion of censure, if carried by this House, must obviously involve the resignation of the present Government; but I do not think that we should overlook the sentence in His Excellency’s Speech which refers to the Parliament to which, in the GovernorGeneral’s words, “ all the British peoples look to safeguard their freedom and advance their welfare “. It is not true, of course, that a trivial -motion carried in this House involves the resignation of the Government. I quote from the authoritative book on this subject, Keith’s “Responsible Government in the Dominions”, the 1928 edition, at page 263 as follows: - . . it is not possible, as a normal rule, to adopt the practice by which a defeat of any sort must either be reversed effectively or the Government must resign. The British practice permits of slight reverses being accepted, but it does not allow of the procedure, which is by no means rare in Australian Parliaments, and not unknown elsewhere, under which a Minister may declare that a certain point is essential, and yet the Government is defeated on it and accepts the result.
And stays in office. The 1912 edition expands it much more fully, but .1 have quoted from the 1928 edition. This Parliament does have a certain degree of freedom from ministerial control, and certain unimportant motions, if carried, do not necessarily involve the resignation of the Government. As I say, I have quoted the authoritative treatise on that subject, but constitutional scholars will know that is merely a summary of the well-established practice. It is not true, of course, that defeat in a snap division, by reason of the accidental absence of a member, necessarily involves a government’s resignation. It is not true that the carrying of an unimportant measure or perhaps some small amendment necessarily involves a government’s resignation. This House, in His Excellency’s words, is the safeguard of the freedom of the people because in it their welfare should be sacred. This does not mean that this House has ho will apart from the Cabinet, or that Cabinet must necessarily resign if the House carries a very trivial resolution. I say this not with respect to what the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) may or may not have said recently, but with respect to reports which were put into his mouth by certain newspapers and which have been widely published in the course of the last week or so.
This House can do certain things which do not involve the fate of the Government. It is true that the Government can declare any and every trivial motion to be vital, just as any one could jump off the platform of a railway station in front of the Melbourne express if he no longer wished to live. Nevertheless, according to the Australian practice that I have cited - although I think this is a doubtful point - the resignation of the Government is not necessarily involved even by such a declaration.
But in this censure motion, it is necessarily involved, and I do not think that any responsible person would like to see a position develop in which honorable members opposite would become the government of the country. Whatever criticism may be made by some honorable members on this side of the House - and there has been some - it does not go to the length of thinking of honorable members opposite as an effective alternative government.
The Labour Party claims that this Government has stolen its policy. That claim would . be bard to rebut, because Labour has put forward so many alternative policies that’ whatever the Government did would fit in with one of them. I can remember, for example, that only a little while ago the Opposition opposed proposed machinery under which we could have speedier consideration of tariff matters to protect Australian industries from the influx of imports. This was a wise proposal which the Government made. But Opposition members opposed it! I invite honorable members to look back at the course of that debate. There is scarcely a policy which the Government could adopt and which the Opposition could not claim to be its policy. In point of fact, the policy which the Government has adopted is, I think it can be reasonably said, some reversal of its policy of last year. I believe that to be true, but it is a policy which has been put forward in the Liberal Party more consistently and coherently than it has- been put’ forward by the Opposition.
May I mention a letter dated 8th June, 1961, which I wrote to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I speak for myself, and other members can speak for themselves if they have a similar tale to tell.” At that time, I suggested four points. I suggested that something should be done to control imports. I suggested that if quantitative restrictions were not to be considered it would seem best to indicate to the tariff authority that a request for an emergency tariff under the Government’s legislation should be sympathetically considered and’ generally granted. I spoke on a second point, that of expanding credit. I spoke of the third point, the speed-up of public works, and I believe this to be essential. And I spoke on a fourth point, which was the bringing down of a generous Budget. This letter, as I have said, is dated 8th June, 1961. Am I to make claims iti regard to the fact that this is the origin of the Government’s policy? Most certainly - not! But the Labour Party does not make any kind of case when it says that its own second-hand lucubrations should be considered the genesis of the Government’s present policy. Far from itf The change came from a number of people inside the Government parties.
It is, I think, a good thing, however, that there has been some change of policy. It recognizes the defects in our policies of 1961. They were, I think, the subjection of the internal rate of activity to the requirements of our external balance of payments, I described this some time ago as a policy of burning down a house in order to roast a pig, and this seems to be what it was. We recognize that our long-term policy, which has involved a stop-and-go economy, requires- some shoring up. I shall not speak of this at length, because the clock will be against me. We recognize that the policy of reducing the pace of Australian development, the inflow of migration and the dynamic outlook of the Australian people was a policy with defects. But the present measures which the Government has brought down are good measures.
May I make one criticism of them. It is a very simple criticism. If you want to pull a car out of a bog it is not wise to use an elastic rope because, if you do, nothing happens for a long time and then a great deal happens. It seems to me that the Government has not quite appreciated the necessity for implementing measures which have an immediate rather than a long-term effect. I am not saying we should not have a long-term policy. I hope I have made it clear that I believe we should have a long-term policy. But perhaps the present measures taken by the Government have an insufficient content of immediacy.
We need, and we should get, full employment conditions as soon as possible. I believe that these can best be got - indeed can be got at all - only by some speed-up in the works programme.
I am not impressed by arguments which endeavour to oppose the interests of the private sector of the economy to those of the public sector of the economy. Who gets the orders for the materials? It is the private sector of the economy, even though the materials be used on public works. Where are the wages spent? They are spent in the private sector of the economy. And so it goes on. I believe that pump-priming on a larger scale is now essential, but I believe it should be on a temporary scale. We want to get works which will get people into employment straight away but which do not involve long-term commitments, and therefore do not involve any continuing stresses on the economy which will lead to inflation after private industry has taken up the slack. We want to get private industry to take up the slack and then we will taper off the public works quickly.
For this purpose, I believe, two kinds of works are eminently desirable. First, there are those kinds of work which fall under the control of the Commonwealth Government itself. We have, for example, the housing programme under the War Service Homes Division, and the construction programme for the Postal Department and other departments. These are works which we can undertake and which can be completed, if necessary, within a comparatively short time. With these we can cure unemployment, get private industry moving again and then quickly remove any excess pressure which could lead to demand inflation.
The other kind of works includes semigovernment and similar works throughout the States. I refer particularly to local government works - water and sewerage and things of that character. Every honorable member who looks at his electorate will know of things that could be done there which do not involve long-term commitments. Here, I believe, the Government has been in error, because it went to the Australian Loan Council and the Premiers’ Conference when it was trying to distribute the funds it was using for unemployment relief. I think it was in error, for this reason: If you use that Loan Council mechanism, you cannot turn the tap on and off quickly, and because you cannot turn it off quickly you might be reluctant to turn it on fully at the start. If, instead, we had done something in regard to matching funds, for example, and had had some kind of liaison officer who could work in with each of, the States and select, in consultation with the States, short-term projects which could be used in this way, we could get full employment relatively soon, and we could also get relatively soon a stimulation of private industry - and we would not have long-term commitments hanging round our necks.
It is of no use for the Commonwealth Government to try to abrogate its powers and responsibilities in this matter by saying that these things are a function of the States. As it happens, the credit position and the position of unemployment as a whole are functions of this Government. It has to find a way to use the State machinery most effectively. This is a proposition 1 have put forward for some seven or eight months. I believe still that it could be the correct proposition.
Let me deal now with defence. This is the time when the Government should be stepping up our defence expenditure to a higher level. This is not something which may be turned on and turned off like a tap. When you look at the figures of our defence expenditure in terms of the price level and of our population, you will see that the real value of our defence effort per capita is coming back to the level that obtained in 1948-49, the year before this Government took office from the Chifley Administration. This is not good enough. It does not measure up to the responsibilities which, like it or not, we now have to bear for the safety and survival of the Australian people. This is the time to think of stepping up the defence expenditure to a level which, I am afraid, we must hold permanently unless and until, as we all hope, there is some effective measure of world disarmament which can give us security without defence expenditure.
There are many things I should have liked to mention. I should have liked to say - I hope I shall have the opportunity to do so when the Commonwealth Banks Bill is before the House - that we could be using this period for building up buffer stocks of those commodities which we hope to export. I have in mind particularly iron and steel. With the Australian demand fluctuating, as we know it does and always will, and because we can::ot hope to go into export markets unless we can guarantee some continuity of supplies, it is essential that these industries carry reasonable buffer stocks, but they cannot do so without money. This is the time when we should be helping to finance the carrying of those buffer stocks because not only would this give employment in the interim while we are hoping to take up the unemployment lag, but it would also put all our export industries on a more solid and more reasonable foundation than now exists.
This is the time when we should be directing more Australian capital - not necessarily overseas capital - into the bonanza of our oil-fields. The discovery of oil in commercial quantities is the greatest thing that has happened to Australia since wool was discovered as a profitable commodity. The discovery of oil can alter the whole complexion of our balance of payments position. It can make a tremendous difference to our economy, but we are not at this time doing enough quickly enough. We should be ensuring that our spare resources of labour and equipment are fully employed on this most profitable kind of import replacement - the thing which really means that Australia’s balance of payment difficulties can disappear in the future.
Finally, let me refer to the fact that we are entering the Common Market negotiations. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) may be engaged on them at this moment. This is the time when we should be getting together with New Zealand, when we should be thinking of a closer partnership with that country, and when we should be engaging not merely in behindthescenes negotiations, but in public negotiations directed at public opinion in both Australia and New Zealand. Even in relation to our exports of meat, wool and dairy produce, Australia and New Zealand will do better for each of their peoples if they can present a common front to the rest of the world. When we realize that our markets and those of New Zealand must be expanded if they are to be viable in the face of the Common Market philosophy of Europe, it becomes evident that this is the time for us to get together. As a collateral - not a substitute, but a collateral - to what is being done by the Deputy Prime Minister overseas, we should be thinking of negotiations between Australia and New Zealand to meet problems which are common to both countries.
I do apologize, Sir, to the House for having touched in such a sketchy way on various matters, each of which would take up the full time allotted for this debate if discussed fully.
.- The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is very sure that this Government is going to be defeated in this House, not once but many times. He has, therefore, brought into this chamber a volume from which he hopes the Government can obtain assistance so that, despite every reverse it encounters, no matter how soon the first occurs nor how many follow it, the Government may be able to hang on to office. The honorable member apparently does not wish to face angry people, and the people of this country are entitled to be angry.
Australia is a big business. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself has called it Australia Unlimited, the shareholders being the people of Australia - not some but all of them - and the board of directors the government of the day. Since 1949 the Menzies Government has been the board of directors of the Australian business. What has happened to the business in that period? What has happened to the shareholders? What are the prospects for the future? Australia operates farming, grazing, mining and other primary industries and also secondary industries. These two sections of our economy are interdependent. You cannot have successful farms without successful secondary industries. The growth of farming depends on the number of workers who consume the products of the farms and on the number of factories that process the primary products. The success of the secondary industries depends upon the quantity of goods provided by primary producers for the manufacturers to process. These things, of course, are obvious to all.
In countries that engage solely in primary production the standard of living is low. In this country our standards were relatively low before the growth of secondary industry. The standards of the primary producer and of the worker have improved with the growth of secondary production.
Our industries, however, have interests in other countries as well as in Australia. We trade with other nations, and our overseas trade and our internal trade are also interdependent. The quantity of our exported products determines the extent oil our imports. The level and type of imports determines the level of activity of our secondary industries. What has happened to our industries under this Government? The net value of primary production in 1950 was about £1,100,000,000. In 1960, ten years later, it was about £1,212,000,000. In a period of ten years the value of primary production increased by less than £200,000,000, but during this period the population increased by more than 2,000,000. So the volume of primary production over that period of ten years increased by much less than £100 a head. That increase of less than £100 a head had to feed and clothe the additional population and provide houses, schools, hospitals and all the social amenities. It had to provide the goods that were to be processed in our secondary industries, so that the additional population could obtain employment. Every one will realize that even £100 a head is a small figure and could not provide all the goods and services that were needed.
Why is the increase in primary production so small? In 1947, there were 247,000 farms in Australia. From 1947 until the present time 17,000 ex-servicemen have been put on the land. There should be more than 260,000 farms, but in 1960 there were only 251,000. This represents a decrease of about 10,000 farms in ten years. Not only did the number of farms decrease, in effect, in that period, but there were tens of thousands fewer rural workers in 1960 than there were in 1950.
Secondary production has, of course, increased. It has increased out of all proportion to primary production. The net value of secondary production in 1950, excluding the primary products that were processed by secondary industries, was £884,000,000. In 1960 it was £2,075,000,000- a vast increase. Of course, this meant a vast increase in the demand for the goods to be processed. Where did these goods come from? Some came from our primary industries - but not all. Some came from overseas. Recently I asked the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) what was the value during three years of those products from overseas - that is, the imports essential to the maintenance and expansion of our secondary industries because of our increasing ‘ population, both natural-born and those coming from overseas. He told me that in 1960 we needed £749,000,000 worth of imports to keep our manufacturing industries going at the rate current then. Every expansion means an access of imports from overseas.
The bill that we pay overseas is not merely for the goods that come to this country. We must pay, in addition, for what are known as invisibles. These are freight, insurance, dividends on foreign capital invested in this country, and interest on, and repayment of, loans raised overseas. In 1949-50, when the present Government took office, our bill for invisibles totalled £119,000,000. Invisibles had increased to £403,000,000 in 1959-60 and to £434,000,000 in 1960-61. Every year, the bill for invisibles increases, not just by small amounts, but by vast sums. We have to pay for invisibles out of the proceeds that we receive for our exports before we can buy overseas one pint of oil, one ounce of rubber, any raw cotton, any fertilizers for our primary industries, or any of the raw materials and the manufactured goods that are so essential to our secondary industries. These invisibles, such as dividends on foreign capital, interest on loans, freight and insurance, are ever increasing and have now reached a total of £434,000,000 a year. Manufactured goods represent only about 20 per cent, of our total exports. Can this large sum be paid out of the returns from our exports of primary products? Certainly not!
The present Government has increased the indebtedness of this country to overseas interests by £1,600,000,000 since 1949-50, and that indebtedness continues to increase because the Government borrows more from overseas and allows overseas investors to invest more and more capital in Australia. The greater the dividends and interest payable overseas, the greater is the proportion of the goods made by our secondary industries and the produce of our primary industries that must go overseas in return.
Let me digress for a moment. Oil has recently been discovered at the Moonie field in Queensland. Every one in this country was looking forward to the time when oil would be discovered here. The Governor-
General, in’ his Speech to the Parliament, stated -
The recent discovery of oil at Moonie in Queensland and the progress in oil research in other parts of Australia have owed a great deal not only to the encouragement given by Commonwealth subsidies but also to the outstanding work of the experts in the .Commonwealth Bureau of Mineral Resources.
Our money and our public servants are utilized for the purpose of discovering oil in Queensland. If the discoveries are commercialized we will not have to send overseas for oil. We will’ purchase oil from the oil-fields at Moonie. Practically every penny of profit from that oil will go overseas to the American financial interests which have invested in the Queensland oil-fields. So, irrespective of whether or not we bring oil into this country, and irrespective of whether or not we discover commercially payable oil in Australia, our disabilities will mount, under the policies of this Government. Since the’ present Minister for Trade, and this Government, have been in office our overseas trade deficits have mounted annually until” they have totalled, in about ten years, £1,600,000,000.
– You would like to have the Minister for Trade on your side.
– What can he do? There has not been a table at which he has negotiated at which he has not sold Australia short. We have a trading deficit amounting to over £100,000,000 annually with the United Kingdom. We Have a trading deficit with the United States of America which is increasing as the years go by. What does the Minister for Trade do? Does he go to those countries and say, “You have to reduce your selling to Australia or you have to increase your purchases from us, because we want to establish some kind of equilibrium in our overseas trading operations “? Not at all! He looks round and finds that we have a favourable trading balance with Japan and he negotiates with Japan in order to increase our purchase of goods from that country and reduce our favorable trade balance with it. I am not going to argue that Japan should have sat idly by while Australia did with Japan what the United Kingdom and the United States of America did with this country.
Our trading deficits during the last three years have been more than £100,000,000, more than £200,000,000 and more than £300,000,000. The deficit has been increasing due to the mismanagement of our trading operations with other countries. What did we secure from other nations in return for the intolerable burden that was placed upon the people of this country? For what mess of pottage did the Minister for Trade sell the birthright of the Australian people? I will give some of the details. Our increasing indebtedness to other countries on the other side of the world was made up in the following way: In 1960-61 we imported £686,000 worth of cheese,. £361,000- worth of tinned vegetables and £237:000 worth of pickles. In the last seven months of the year, the latest period for which figure* are available, we imported £242,000 worth of tinned chicken. The value of tinned ham imported during nine months of the year was £316,000. I have not the figure for tinned peaches or tinned ribs of pork. The Minister for Trade can lay claim to having accumulated the highest trading deficits in the history of this country. This Liberal-Country Party Government can boast that, for the first time in our history, fresh fruit, tinned peaches, chicken, ham, pork and vegetables from other countries were on sale in all our large stores, reducing our capacity to buy abroad the goods necessary to our secondary industry.
In a few years hundreds of millions of pounds worth of textiles were imported, damaging our industries. Footwear and made-up clothing were imported in large quantities, so destroying the industries of this country and causing vast overseas deficits. Our trading deficit - and the position of this Government - would have been a great deal worse last year had it not been for the purchase, by countries behind the iron curtain, of about £100,000,000 worth of our commodities in one year. China bought more than £50,000,000 worth of wheat. Russia purchased primary products from us. Czechoslovakia and other countries in the iron curtain bloc purchased wool and wheat from us. The Minister for Trade proclaimed proudly in this chamber that he was in no way responsible for these purchases. He said that, in the case of wheat, the Australian Wheat Board, with out consulting him, had negotiated the sales with the governments of those countries.
I am not concerned with where our produce is sold. I do not say that it is desirable to sell it to China or Japan or Russia. I do say, however, that when we sell goods abroad we should see that we do not take in return goods of twice their value, and pay for them from the proceeds of foreign investments or loans. We should see that we do not receive, in return for our exports, such goods as tinned chicken, meat, made-up clothing materials or textiles which reduce the capacity of our farms, impoverish our farmers, keep our people out of work and lay idle the machinery of our secondary industries.
Mr. Speaker, my time will be up in a few moments. My story is only partly told, but I think I have said enough to show that this is the worst Government in the history of Australia, and that the Minister for Trade is the worst Minister who has administered trade affairs since federation.
– Mr. Speaker, before commenting upon the speech delivered by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), may I congratulate you upon your election to the high office of Speaker of this House, and also upon the great honour that has been bestowed upon you by Her Majesty the Queen. I also congratulate all new members upon their election to this House. I congratulate, too, those of the new members who have delivered their maiden speeches upon the excellence of those speeches.
I shall not attempt to follow what one might properly call the diatribe just delivered by the honorable member for Scullin. Indeed, that would be quite impossible.
– He was entirely wrong.
– That observation is right. He was entirely wrong as is proved by the fact that nobody in Australia, including honorable members opposite, can deny that never in the past twelve years of this country’s history has Australia enjoyed such a high degree of prosperity and such a high degree of development. That, I think, in short, answers everything that the honorable member for Scullin has said.
We are now discussing the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, and the amendment which was proposed by the Opposition. I do not propose to go into the matter in detail, but I do point out that in His Excellency’s Speech the Government indicates that it will strengthen the economy, that it will deal with the unemployment position - which, unfortunately, does exist in Australia to a certain degree - that it will apply a vigorous policy of development, that it will continue with a policy of close association with friendly nations, that it will support the United Nations organization and that it will build up our own defences. I emphasize that in His Excellency’s Speech it is indicated that priority will be given to continuing a policy of close association with friendly nations, of supporting the United Nations organization and of building up our defences. In my opinion, those are the matters which merit highest priority. Yet the Labour Party has not seen fit to make any mention whatever of these matters in its proposed amendment! It has confined the proposal entirely to questions relating to the economy.
Let me deal briefly with the Opposition’s proposal. It is quite true to say that not one of the fifteen points of criticism mentioned in that proposal has any justification whatever in fact. Indeed, the proposal is merely a political article obviously written by somebody else to be read by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). It gives no indication whatever of what a Labour government would do if, by any chance, the proposal were accepted and Labour attained office. The most serious omission of all in my view is the lack of reference to international affairs and defence policy.
Two most important functions of government to which consideration must be given are, first, the defence of our internal economy, which involves social security and the protection of our democratic rights as individuals; and secondly, the protection of our national security, which involves the establishment of sound international relations, together with defence preparation to enable us to take our proper place with those other nations of the world which are dedicated to peace and democratic freedom.
How does Labour face up to these vital issues? In its proposal, the Labour Party deals only with the internal economy. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and other speakers on the Government side have outlined the Government’s approach to this question, I do not propose to say anything more about the economy, other than to ask two questions: First, is it not true to say that the Labour Party is fundamentally committed to a policy of socialism, which involves the nationalization of our principal functions and industries? Secondly, is it not also true to say that Labour’s method of regulating economic fluctuations - what the Labour Party chooses to call stop and go - is by the application of economic controls and direction? Labour’s policy is that every evil should be cured by a system of controls.
– That is not true.
– It is quite true. But the terrifying part of it all is that the Labour Party makes no mention whatever of its attitude towards defence! At this stage, we do not know what Labour’s attitude towards international affairs and national security is, and those are by far the most important matters for consideration by the Australian people at this time. We must remember that Australia is a young country with a population of only 10,250,000. We must remember, too, that we are so situated geographically that more than half of the world’s population lies to the north of us in a number of countries which have only recently acquired their independence. These are very dangerous times for Australia, for it is of the utmost importance to those newly independent countries that they preserve their independence. We are the outpost of Western democracy. We are virtually on the boundary fence between Western democracy and Eastern ideology, and therefore everything that we can do in SouthEast Asia to protect Australia must be done. I put it to the people of Australia that we have only one enemy, only one fear for this nation. That enemy is communism, and the fear is the fear that communism will seep through to Australia.
– You are pulling your own leg.
– That is the attitude of the Opposition - “ You are pulling your own leg”! Can anybody feel complacent about the thought of communism seeping through to the countries north of Australia? I remind honorable members and the people of Australia of the desperate fight that such young nations as Malaya, Indonesia, the Philippines and South Viet Nam are having to preserve their independence at this stage. And I emphasize that the preservation of the independence of those countries stands as the bulwark for the salvation of Australia. Our security depends upon collective defence, and our efforts in South-East Asia must be directed towards that end.
– What about the censure motion?
– The censure motion should have mentioned these matters, but it contains not one word about the Labour Party’s policy on such important issues. This Government is party to three important treaties. First, it is a party to Anzus, which deals with the direct protection of Australia, and to which the United States of America and New Zealand are also parties. Secondly, it is a party with the United Kingdom and New Zealand to Anzam, under which Australian troops are at present stationed in Malaya. Thirdly, it is a party to Seato which, although not an aggressive organization, has amongst its members most of the great nations of the world and many of the countries of South-East Asia. We, depend upon those treaties, and upon our association with the United Nations organization, for our survival. Without those powerful friends, the outlook for Australia would be very bleak.
What has the Labour Party to say about these matters? During the last Budget debate, neither the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) nor the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) saw fit to enter this House and utter one word on behalf of the Labour Party. They left it to such men as the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who is now sitting at the table opposite me, and others to speak for the party. The attitude of the honorable member for Parkes was that these treaties were provocative to our friends of communist China. That was his attitude to it, and just recently we had some indication of policy from the Labour Party when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) announced publicly, over and over again, that if Labour got into power the Labour Party would withdraw our troops from Malaya and base them at Darwin. That is his attitude, and it is dreadful, because it means the tearing up of ali these treaties. It would be strategically very unsound to pull our forces out of South-East Asia and bring them back to the mainland of Australia. A nation of the size of Australia must rely for her security on the principle of collective defence. To withdraw from our commitments in South-East Asia would be to abandon our obligations under our treaties.
What does the Leader of the Opposition have in mind? A fortress Australia? Is that his idea? What the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) said in this House in November is as true now as it was then. I will quote his words. He said -
Australia is a small nation with limited resources. The most effective way of ensuring our safety is through association with allies in the collective defence arrangements which have been developed in our area of strategic interest. We, therefore, continue to attach the highest importance in our defence policy and planning to participation in British Commonwealth defence co-operation and in Seato and Anzus. It goes without saying that membership of these arrangements, which give us the benefit of defence in depth from possible aggression, carries complementary responsibilities.
Does the Opposition want this country to welch on these responsibilities? If it does, let honorable members opposite say so. If we were to take such a shameful course, would we ever again stand up to what is expected of us in this part of the world? There is no real threat to the shores of Australia now or in the foreseeable future, but if other nations which are our treaty partners were to follow the lead of Australia, if we were misguided enough to withdraw from the likely theatre of operations, there would soon be a real threat to our mainland and our territories. What the Leader of the Opposition has proposed amounts to tearing up the very treaties upon which our security is based.
Let us look at other quotations from “Hansard” of what other honorable members have said. Let us take the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) for example. On 11th October, 1961, as reported at page 1865 of “Hansard”, be said -
I will not have a bar of the Government’s defence programme.
Then he went on to talk about expenditure on armaments. On the 5th April, 1960, the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) said -
In its defence programme it will be recognized that this Government . . . has deprived the Australian people of some hundreds of millions of pounds which, otherwise, could have been used . . to improve educational facilities and to provide water and sewerage service and housing throughout Australia.
This is the Opposition’s approach to defence. In the Senate, on 12th October, 1961, Senator O’Flaherty said -
I say that having the Australian Regular Army trained in jungle warfare is of no earthly use for defending Australia on Australian soil.
What did the honorable member for Parkes (Mr.” Haylen) say in debate on 5th October, 1961? He said-
The Australian Labour Party’s policy is opposed to entanglement in international agreements.
This, then, is the policy of the Labour Party. Let us take a recent statement by the Leader of the Opposition, in which he advocated declaring war on Indonesia. This is tragic. Who knows what damage it has done to this country? As pointed out by the Minister for Defence, it is nothing short of tragic. We cannot calculate at the present time the damage that has been done; But let us refer to his statement in the “ Age “, of 10th February, 1962. The Leader of the Opposition said-
If Indonesia seeks 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 tha threat must be faced.
There is another angle to this, and Senator Ormonde’s remarks are worth quoting in relation to it. In the “Age”, of 5th January, 1962, he is reported as follows: -
Anything Australia could do in the present crisis would only be delaying the final death agony of the Dutch Empire. But nothing we can do can save West New Guinea for Holland, so why try?
There you have another angle to it. I am quoting these remarks in order to ask the Labour Party what is its policy on the defence of Australia. Let us have it clearly and understand what the Opposition does stand for, because we have to go back over history only a little way to find some extraordinary things. We find, for instance, that just after the last war, when America wanted to spend - I am reliably informed - over 300,000,000 dollars in the establishment of a naval base on Manus Island, the Labour
Government of that time refused to co-operate and allow the base to be established. That was one of the greatest public scandals. As a matter of fact one may say, in all truth, that the course of history might have been altered had we not had then a Labour government in power. These are very important things to remember. There could have been a complete change of the course of history if we had what would amount to 1,200,000,000 dollars, in terms of to-day’s value of money, in a naval base in that part of the world. Can one imagine what a difference that would make at the present time?
Then we have to recall the wharfies* strike daring the period when the Labour Government was in power. It is very interesting to look back over this and read what some men said. At page 1847 of “Hansard” for 26th June, 1946, we find that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), referring to watersiders who refused to toad Dutch ships, said-
But we must not forget that, over a century ago, the Dorchester labourers were transported from England to this country for forming a labour union. To-day those salfsame people are worshipped by honorable members opposite. Years hence, these men, who refused to load the Dutch ships, may be in the same category as tho Dorchester labourers.
Hear this ambiguous statement by the honorable member for Parkes, again referring to the Dutch-Indonesia dispute. On 27th June, 1946, he said -
In my opinion, it is not necessary for us to take sides any more than to take a balanced judgment.
If anybody can work that out for me ho is better than I am. But those are quotations from “ Hansard “, which are very interesting to read. All I have to say is that Labour’s record of defence after the war is something shameful and something shocking. Immediately after the war it allowed the Regular Army to go to pieces. It was allowed to do only housekeeping jobs and to deal with the question of disposals, and so forth. It was allowed to go completely to ruin until it had no effectiveness whatever. The Citizen Military Forces were allowed to run down to the point - I have had it checked on many occasions - where the men who were named on the roll were not even discoverable at the addresses given and were not even posted to the units. It was allowed to drift to a point where it was completely ineffective. That Government dismantled at that time and disposed of extremely valuable equipment and machinery. It has cost us millions of pounds to replace them since then.
Ever since, supporters of- the Australian Labour Party have adopted an attitude of carping criticism. One of the pet questions from honorable members opposite is, “ What have we to . show for the expenditure of £200,000,000 a year on defence7 “ The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) dealt competently with that question.
Let us take a few points in relation to defence. Is it of no account at all that we have more than 200,000 trained and partly trained soldiers ready to go into action? We now have a regular army of more than 21,000 men, compared with under 15,000 in 1949 when we took office. The present .force is organized on a pentropic basis, is trained to the minute and is immediately available to defend Australia or to meet our obligations in this part of the world.
In 1949 the Australian Regular Army was on a brigade group basis, but was manned on a reduced and restricted establishment. The Army then was completely, unprepared. Under this Government’s administration good progress has been made by the Citizen Military Forces, which are now at a peak of efficiency never before achieved in their history. The C.M.F. have been built up from a mere 17,000 to nearly 30,000 men. Moreover, it is also properly organized and equipped, and able to go into operations on an effective basis much more quickly than at any other time in our history. In 1949 the C.M.F. units were at such low strength that, as such, they were quite incapable of being put to effective use. Training under our administration has been more realistic. We have integrated the Australian Regular Army and the Citizen Military Forces in one army, for the first time in our history. Training has been on an increasingly ambitious scale and it is proving very effective.
The Minister for Defence referred to the mobility of our forces, but it is not out of place for me to remind honorable members of the improved mobility of the Army that has been achieved since this Government took office. First, we have our CI 30 aircraft. We also have four L.S.M.’s which are capable of landing on beaches anywhere in Australia or anywhere else that our troops might be engaged. They are capable of carrying five Centurion tanks or the equivalent in soldiers and material. We have almost completed the conversion of H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “ into a troop carrier. We have an Army air arm equipped with helicopters and light aircraft, and we have new arms equal to anything in the field of modern conventional arms possessed by any other country. Therefore we can proudly say that we are prepared to meet our commitments.
I end on this note: Instead of continually harping on economic problems the Australian Labour Party should direct its attention to the more important* problem of the defence of this country and this part of the world. I appeal to the Opposition to state what its defence policy is. I ask honorable members opposite to cease making statements which are damaging to Australia and our security. It is deplorable that the Leader of the Opposition recently made such a statement, which has done incalculable harm to Australia among the friends we need to preserve our security.
.- In opening my remarks, Mr. Speaker, I wish to congratulate you on being re-elected unopposed to your high office. Your reelection was a tribute by honorable members on both sides of the House to your ability and impartiality. I wish also to associate the electors of Brisbane and myself, with the expression of loyalty to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, contained in the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. Her Majesty’s devotion to duty is an inspiration to us all.
I am happy to say of the electors of Brisbane that second only to their loyalty to Her Majesty and this great Commonwealth of Australia is their devotion to the Australian Labour Party. I feel humble in entering this Parliament as the successor to Mr. George Lawson, who represented the Brisbane electorate with credit to himself and to the great advantage of his electors for over 30 years. I know that honorable members on both sides of the House will wish Mr. Lawson and his good wife a long and happy retirement. It is my hope that I shall be able to attain and continue the high standard he set during his long period in public life.
The federal electorate of Brisbane includes the administrative, commercial and industrial heart of the City of Brisbane and the inner residential suburbs on the northern side of the Brisbane River. Its people, in consequence, have been greatly affected by the economic policies of the Commonwealth Government and the unemployment that has followed in their train. The people of Australia look forward to vigorous action by the Commonwealth Government to restore full employment as soon as possible. Honorable members will be fully aware of the urgency of this problem, which applies to all States, and in particular to Queensland.
While it is true, Mr. Speaker, that tragic circumstances have been created for people in all sections of the community, I wish to make a special plea for the middle-aged man who finds great difficulty in obtaining reemployment because he is over 40 years of age. I should like the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) to take into account research which was recently carried out in Canada, the United States of America and Great Britain which has proved that a man in his forties or fifties is more reliable, takes less sick leave and, therefore, has a greater productive capacity than many younger persons. While it is true that the need exists for employment opportunities for all sections of the community it is my plea, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister for Labour and National Service that his department should institute a propaganda campaign to bring home to employers the value of the middleaged man in industry.
I now direct my remarks to support of the censure motion that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), and in particular to the twelfth point, which indicts the Government for its failure to develop northern Australia. Might I say in reply to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) that the security of
Australia does not depend only on military preparedness and armed forces. It depends also on the development of the wide open spaces in northern Australia. It is to this problem that I shall direct my remarks, but it is not to be thought, because I confine my remarks in particular to Queensland, that I am being parochial in this matter. These comments could be applied equally to those portions of Western Australia and the Northern Territory which lie north of the 26th parallel.
Honorable members opposite and, in particular, the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) and the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) have explained to the House that the disabilities being suffered by Queensland to-day are the results of 40 years of socialism. They gave all sorts of examples in an endeavour to prove their point. I was particularly interested in the speech of the honorable member for Mcpherson who, while condemning socialism, gave great praise to the Snowy Mountains scheme. This is probably the best example of a publicly financed developmental scheme in the Commonwealth and, of course, it was initiated by the Chifley Labour Government and opposed by honorable members opposite at the time.
The honorable member for Maranoa took the previous Queensland Labour Government to task for its handling of the Peak Downs scheme. He made the point - and I thought this rather a new economic principle - that’ the scheme failed because the pigs refused to be socialized. These honorable members are quite sincere in their point of view, but their speeches illustrate the Government’s attitude to national development. This is the reason for the backward state of northern Australia after twelve years of Liberal-Country Party rule.
This is a self-confessed free enterprise Government. So far it has been unable to realize that private enterprise by itself can never develop the north. If we refer to public-financed development projects as examples of socialism, what we need is a good deal more socialism in the north of Australia. If a private company invests money in a project which, for some reason or other, is a failure, then credit and praise are given to free enterprise because of its initiative and preparedness to risk capital in the development of the country. For example, before the Second World War, Henry Ford spent something of the order of 60,000,000 dollars in an unsuccessful attempt to create a rubber industry in South America. Whatever the eventual result, this is the kind of thing that honorable members opposite praise as being one of the finest attributes of the capitalist system. With a publicly owned industry or development project any financial loss, or even a modest profit, is condemned as an example of the inefficiency of socialism.
Allow me to direct attention to the Queensland-British Food Corporation project at Peak Downs. This was established by the Hanlon Labour Government in cooperation with the British Government as a means of providing food for Great Britain. I trust that all honorable members appreciate the patriotic motives behind such a project. The area, which has a light rainfall and rich black soil, was covered previously by grass and scrub, and was used for grazing purposes only. The great significance of the Peak Downs project was that it pioneered the growth of grain sorghum in Queensland and incidentally, for the sake of the financial purists, incurred only a small loss to the Queensland Treasury when the properties eventually were sold as the Queensland Government Central Queensland Estates.
Let me cite some figures relating to the production of grain sorghum in Queensland. In 1939-40. at the commencement of the Second World War, we had 4,397 acres under cultivation. By 1954-55, at the termination of the project at Peak Downs, there were 202,532 acres under cultivation, representing an increase of about 198,000 acres. This enormous increase in production, and the prosperity and closer settlement of those portions of the Fitzroy basin concerned, are a lasting reminder of the success of the Peak Downs project. But honorable members opposite remember only the failures.
The lesson we are taught is that there will be seasonal difficulties and reverses, but public enterprise has a major role to play in creating opportunities for development and, incidentally, for private enter prise in the north of Australia. An investment of public capital of hundreds of millions of pounds - perhaps even a thousand million pounds - will be necessary before it can be claimed that this country is making an honest endeavour to develop its north. North of the Tropic of Capricorn we have 40 per cent, of this country’s area and only 4 per cent, of its population. The principal capital needs are associated with the development of the cattle industry, mineral resources, agriculture and the transport requirements of those industries.
The greatest opportunities for secondary industries are associated with the development of mineral resources, and while it is true that our great primary industries provide us with our overseas earnings, it is equally true that they provide only seasonal employment. A healthy balance of secondary industry is needed to restore and maintain full employment in Queensland. AH of these things involve careful, long-range planning and a great deal of Commonwealth financial assistance or, better still, the setting-up of a Commonwealth regional organization to plan the development of the area as a whole.
The present Country-Liberal Party Government in Queensland is still following, by and large, the plans laid down by the Hanlon State Labour Government ten to fifteen years ago. Many of these great projects were commenced years ago and in some cases, even to-day, are only partly completed due to the shortage of capital. Take, for example, irrigation. Over recent years, the present Queensland CountryLiberal Party Government has reduced the expenditure on irrigation to a great extent. Look at the results we have achieved in the Burdekin River scheme. The development envisaged includes a dam storing 6,584,000 acre feet, which would make water available for the irrigation of at least 250,000 acres. This scheme was originated in 1948 and now, after fourteen years, we have an irrigated area of 30,000 acres, some 12i per cent, of the possible under the scheme. In other words, at our present rate of progress it will take 100 years to complete the work. The previous Treasurer and honorable member for McPherson, Sir Arthur Fadden, speaking at Boonah during the 1949 election campaign, promised Commonwealth Government assistance for the Burdekin River project. Now, twelve years later, not one penny of Commonwealth money had been paid to assist this or any other development project in Queensland with the exception of a few pounds which were promised prior to the recent election for the construction of beef roads.
Let me give another example of this Government’s lack of interest in Queensland. The Mareeba-Dimbulah scheme resulted from a report presented in 1952. When completed the scheme will service an area of 40,000 acres of land suitable for agriculture, particularly tobacco growing. Teh years have elapsed, and although in recent years the Queensland Government has concentrated expenditure on this project, until last year, which is the latest year for which figures are available, 82 miles of channel had been constructed representing about 40 per cent. of the completed scheme. So much for irrigation. This treatment of Queensland, at least in the matter of irrigation, is typical of the present Commonwealth Government’s attitude to the development of the north. I invite the Government, which already has seen fit to adopt portion of Labour’s policy enunciated during the recent election campaign, to take over a further portion relating to irrigation. In his policy speech the Leader of the Opposition said -
We will appoint a special Minister for the Northern Territory and for Northern Australia and a special conservation authority on the lines of the Snowy Mountains Authority to carry out the development of the north.
The story of the Mount Isa railway and the long fight by the Queensland Government to obtain funds for the reconstruction of this line is well known to all honorable members. The long delays and the harsh treatment accorded to Queensland in comparison with other States has been a principal cause of antagonism between the Country-Liberal Party Government of Queensland and the Liberal-Country Party Government in Canberra. I believe that this will continue until both Governments fall at the hands of the electors within the next fourteen months.
The Government has to learn that investors will spend their money close to the industrial south-east of this continent, and that the methods which have proved reasonably successful in Victoria and New South Wales have been proved over many years to be completely unsuccessful for the development of the north of Australia. It is true that private enterprise has a large investment in the Mount Isa mining company, the greatest mining enterprise in Australia, but it is true also that on many occasions over the long years of capital investment in Mount Isa with little or no return it was only the sympathetic support of the Queensland State Labour Government that enabled the enterprise to survive. Let us consider how that was done. The Queensland Labour Government assisted the Mount Isa company in two ways, by granting concessional freight rates and by a bank guarantee which tided it over in the days when it was unable to raise further capital. Both in the matter of finance for publicly owned industry, and also for private industry, the Commonwealth Government, holding the nation’s purse strings, is the only government in Australia with the financial capacity to develop the north. As I have already mentioned, the failure of the present Liberal-Country Party Government to do this is one of the principal reasons for the censure motion which has been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition.
I invite the Government to direct its attention to the development of secondary industries in Queensland. We need a steel industry and a heavy chemical industry situated for preference in central Queensland. Several millions of pounds made available in the present financial year will provide only partial and temporary relief from the problem of unemployment. It will not provide a permanent solution. Only a long-range programme soundly based on secondary industry in the north of Queensland will provide a complete and permanent solution to the problem. 1 do not pretend that I have covered the needs of Queensland or of northern Australia in any comprehensive way. They include not only industries but also railways, roads, aerodromes, electricity supplies, opportunities for education at all levels, and the provision of the amenities that people in this day and age have grown to expect. The recent Commonwealth Aid
Roads Agreement showed no appreciation of the special needs pf Queensland and northern Australia. The attitude of the Government is that the status quo of Queensland in relation to the southern States must be preserved. Consider the magnitude of the developmental task. Queensland covers an area of some 667,000 square miles, eight times the size of Victoria or six times that of the United Kingdom. It has an enormous range of soils and mineral resources, rainfall and climate. Most honorable members agree that in terms of natural resources Queensland has the greatest potential of all the States.
The immigration programme has not dealt with us kindly, because most new arrivals, coming as they do from the temperate or cool-temperate areas of Europe, prefer to settle in the cooler portions of this continent. There is a need for a policy of deliberate encouragement of migration to Queensland. I maintain, Mr. Speaker, having had the privilege of travelling extensively in Australia, that the climate range of Queensland provides for all, and that a propaganda campaign is needed to encourage migration to Queensland and the north of Australia.
The history of Queensland is the story of the triumph of the white man in the tropics. The success of the sugar industry in ,our great State destroyed for all time the belief that only by the use of coloured labour could tropical industry be carried on. The problem remains the same as it has throughout the last 100 years - the resources of finance and man-power are insufficient for the development of the tremendous potential of natural resources.
The early lead in industrial development gained by Victoria and New South Wales has made those States more attractive for capital investment than the wide, open spaces of the north. The last twelve years have seen the northern areas of the continent slipping back compared with’ the industrialized south. What is needed is a government that will do away with the status quo and push ahead with the expansion of all portions of our great national heritage. The Australian Labour Party, which originated so many of the great national schemes and projects in the Com monwealth of Australia, which founded the Commonwealth Bank, and which in more recent years, established the Australian National University and initiated such projects as the Snowy Mountains scheme, is now dedicated to carrying into effect the development of the north. Future generations will join with honorable members on this side df the House in their censure of the present Government for its failure to realize the need- and to provide the necessary organization and capital to give security, comfort and full employment to the people of the north of this continent and, by so doing, to-, make a major contribution in terms of “sound economy and national security for all of the people of Australia.
– Please accept my congratulations, Mr. Speaker, on your assumption once again of the high office of Speaker of this House. It is obvious, from the congratulations offered to you in speeches by honorable members on both sides of the House, that the choice of Speaker was a most popular one.
We have listened, to .the GovernorGeneral’s Speech and have appreciated it. We also appreciate the Governor-General himself, first as the representative of Queen Elizabeth II., and, secondly, in his own right because he is a very gallant gentleman.
The debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply allows us an opportunity to speak on many subjects. Let me say at the outset that the Country Party has lost some members since the last election, and we regret our loss very much. We have lost men who were an acquisition to the Parliament and who made a considerable contribution to its prestige. The Liberal Party has also lost valuable members. The Labour Party has many new members, and I offer them my congratulations. I have listened to their speeches and have found them excellent, as have been those of the new members on this side of the Parliament.
Let me say to the new members of this House that although I oppose policies which I think are wrong, I never bring personalties into our debates. I hope that the new members will appreciate this and will reciprocate. I have found that it is quite possible to have a political opponent who is a personal friend. For instance, I am pleased to see the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) once again in his place, because he is one of those whom I regard as a personal friend, even though a political opponent. I do not think he would deny that this is so. I have many personal friends in the Labour Party, but they are all political opponents.
My attitude, however, is rather difficult to sustain on some occasions, and I ask members of the Labour Party to try to cultivate, if they can, the attitude of making personal friends of political opponents. It is not very long since the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) made an attack on me, which, I might add, I answered. I thought the honorable member had turned over a new leaf, but as recently as 28th February he said in this House: -
I ask every honorable member in this Parliament, but especially those honorable members on the Government side who may have some semblance of principle and manhood, for once in their political careers . . .
I do not think that is the kind of statement calculated to engender personal friendship between men who are political enemies, and I ask the honorable member for Lang to try to use more moderate language. I do not think that any member on the Opposition side of the House is of the opinion that every member on this side is devoid of conscience or feeling. Therefore, I suggest, let us choose our words carefully, as they should be chosen in this House.
I listened the other night to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I regard him, of course, as a man who will take every opportunity in the House to defeat his opponent, but who is known by all members of the Government to be quite a friendly gentleman outside the House. As a man we appreciate him. I am not giving away political secrets when I say that, because everybody knows that the Leader of the Opposition is an excellent man. However, we do not agree with his policies. We believe that if they were put into operation they would be detrimental to the Commonwealth of Australia. I took a few notes while the honorable gentleman was delivering his speech on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, in the course of which he moved his amendment, which constituted a motion of censure of the Government. I am quite happy to see the honorable member in the House at the present moment. From the very start of his speech the Leader of the Opposition appeared ill at ease. He has often in this Parliament delighted members with speeches studded with humour, but there was no humour in his recent speech. He read from a prepared script, which he followed very closely. Strange to say, when he got to the end of the script that had been prepared he sat down, although his time had not expired.
I do not think the reading of speeches should be encouraged, because it lends itself to representation by proxy. I was pleased to note that many of the new members of this Parliament made their maiden speeches almost completely without recourse to notes. Whether or not they simply came into the House and delivered their election speeches will be revealed by their future contributions to our debates.
– I told them what to say.
– Whatever happened, their speeches so far have been very good. The Leader of the Opposition moved an amendment which amounted to a motion of censure. It contained, of course, a good number, of different points, and I shall not deal with all of them. I shall, however, say something regarding unemployment. Every person in Australia deplores the fact that there are so many unemployed, but I remind the House that there never has been full employment in this country. There are always some men who are unemployable, I mentioned the fact in this House about twelve months ago that in one week-end at Mildura during the grape-picking season, 120 men were arrested. The number arrested last week-end was down to 82, and this is a step in the right direction. The unemployed are chiefly very good Australians. They are, for the most part, persons who want to engage in good, honest work. They are men who will give a good day’s work for a good day’s pay, and we want to put them back into work. But the members of the Labour Party, and the general public, must realize that there is always a small proportion of unemployable persons and a small proportion of criminals. The criminal class follows the pickers to Mildura. Detectives from the Consorting Squad have been at the railway station and on every occasion have found that men who have gone there pretending to be genuine pickers are in fact criminals of the worst type, international and Australian. So that people will not get the wrong idea let me repeat that most of the unemployed are good Australians who ‘want work.
What is wrong with the community and the economy now? The main trouble is that a lot of people are out of work. If they could be returned to employment the Labour Party would not be able to find anything wrong with the economy, except that we have not adopted socialism. I think that the measures taken by the Government went perhaps too far and caused unemployment, but let us consider what benefit we gained from those measures. Our overseas balances were increased tremendously and the hire-purchase debt was brought down. The advantage to Australia in actual money is well over £300,000,000. If we can get the unemployed back into jobs now, and if we can keep the advantages we have gained, Australia will be the richer.
Some one said that we should have some action. Have we npt had action? Is the grant of £10,000,000 to the States, not as a loan but as a gift, to get people back into employment, not considered to be action? It is said that money speaks all languages and it certainly should create work. Local government bodies and State governments can spend this money in getting men back to work, and once they are back in employment the Labour Party will be able to find little in the Government’s policy that is detrimental to Australia. Our main objective is to get the unemployed back to work.
I would like to rebut one or two suggestions that have been made. My way of starting a speech is generally to rebut certain statements that have been made; but if I rebut too many statements I will not have time to deal with the matters about which I want to speak. Because of lack of time the arguments can be taken only on a broad level. They cannot be dealt with in detail. However, I would like to address one or two comments to some of the new members.
The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cross) said he would like to-be as good a member as Mr. George Lawson was. I hope he will be. He will please me, for one, if he is. I cannot speak for every one, of course. George Lawson was a great man here. He was a good personal friend’ as well as a political opponent. He was an admirable member. The honorable member for Brisbane went on to say that Labour initiated the Snowy Mountains scheme and that we, who were then in Opposition, ignored it. I offer my comments in the most kindly way, because the honorable member has probably been given the wrong information about these matters by older Opposition members. I shall read from “Hansard” of 21st September, 1948, and I ask the House to keep in mind that the legislation was not introduced until 26th May, 1949. I said then-
The first move should be to make a start with the Snowy Mountains scheme.
I was advocating more irrigation in the Murray Valley. I went on to say -
All reports of the latter scheme-
That is the Snowy Mountains scheme - however are simply shelved, and undue delay is taking place.
I said this nine months before the legislation was introduced. If we ignored this scheme, how is it that those remarks of mine appear in “ Hansard “ ? We were in fact most interested in the scheme. Labour more or less laid the foundation, but this Government came into office within twelve months of the introduction of the legislation and since then has spent millions of pounds on this scheme which Labour refers te now as a socialist undertaking. The waters of the Snowy will not be used by socialists or in a socialist way-
– How do you know?
– I mean they will not be used in that way unless the socialists are in office. While this Government is in office they will be used by free men, and the electricity generated in the scheme will be used by free men. Under socialism men would not be free. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), when he was Deputy Leader of the Opposition, said -
Let us have eight years of Labour government and we will change the face of Australia.
I hear some Opposition members saying, “ Hear, hear “. Yes, Labour would change Australia in the way that all down-trodden countries throughout the world have been changed. We would not have the freedom we now enjoy if Labour were in office. The Leader of the Opposition also said -
Let us have control of the banks and we will control the people.
Does the Opposition think for one moment that this Government wants to control the people? Certainly not! It is- a free enterprise government that desires the people to control the economy, as they do so admirably. There is very little talk now about the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Opposition members have ceased to speak about this company since they have realized that very many people all over Australia are shareholders in this great project.
I will deal with other speeches made by new members. After all, it is of no use trying to instruct the old members; they will make the same old speech, come hell or high water.
– You are indulging in some dirty innuendoes.
– I include you in my comment. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) said -
We did advocate the return to Australia of the garrison that we presently have in Malaya.
Opposition members would think that he should not have said that, because Labour does not want people to know now that it advocated the return of this garrison. This was a great plank in its platform. But Opposition members have now quietened down and say nothing about it. The honorable member continued -
May I say, Mr. Speaker, that the main motive for that was that we did not wish to make a contribution to the next Burma Railway. We had a lot more men up there when the last war broke out than we have now. That is where they finished. Some of us discovered it to our cost.
That is tremendously true. But the reason the men were sent there from Australia was not to engage in another Burma railway episode, but to prevent it. They went to Malaya to fight the murdering Communist terrorists in the jungle. While they were engaged in this fighting some mem bers of the Opposition - not all, but those on its extreme left - were clamouring for the return of the very men who were fighting the Communist enemy so that the community would retain its liberty, freedom and honour. I do not think the honorable member for Capricornia has looked very deeply into this matter. Let me try to even things up for him, and say that I agree wholeheartedly with one of his remarks. He said -
If you give people a stake in that country-
Meaning Australia - they will be the people who will seethat nobody takes it from us.
That is the point. The people must be given a stake in their own country. What stake would the socialists give to the people? None! What stake has this Government given to the people? It has given them the greatest opportunity to secure a stake in the country for themselves. Labour says that a policy of free enterprise means that all the goods would go into fewer hands. I recently read an article which said -
To-day, the rewards of profit and enterprise are shared by the many instead of the few. The old capitalism has become “ People’s Capitalism “.
Every one enjoys the benefits that mean so much to Australia. The honorable member for Lawson made a statement in the House to which I wish to refer. I will read from “Hansard” so that there will be no mistake about it. The honorable member said -
I challenge honorable members opposite who are interjecting to name any country of comparable size and population that has made the progress Australia has made in the last decade.
The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), who followed the honorable member, misinterpreted what had been said by him and put it this way - - He asked whether the Opposition could name any country which had made greater progress than Australia has made in the last twelve years.
The words “ of comparable size and population”, which he left out, made all the difference.
– So what!
– “ So what! “ says the honorable member for Lalor, but the honorable member for Lang named the United Kingdom and West Germany and said that they and practically all the European countries had made greater progress than Australia has made in the last twelve years. Every one knows that those countries have not a 40-hour working week. Workers in those countries work long hours. Some of those countries have almost slave-labour conditions. The honorable member for Lawson was talking about countries with conditions comparable to those in Australia. The honorable member for Lang went on to ask, in effect, “ Can you name any country that has made less progress than Australia has made? “ Surely to goodness Opposition members can be more loyal to Australia than that! There is no occasion for them to say that this country has made less progress than comparable countries have made. They should not try to disparage this country just because they do not agree with the Government’s policy or because they want to get into office. After all, we all are Australians and, although we may not always agree, let us stand together in recognition of our country’s deeds.
– The people of this country have had enough of you. You have to get out of office.
– The people have returned me with a pretty good majority, as the honorable member knows. Indeed, he said so.
I note that there are some new men sitting on the Opposition front bench, among them the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), who has been asking in his speeches for so many things to be done that Australia could not raise the many millions of pounds required in the next 50 years. However, immediately he attained the front bench, he became a little more quiet in his demands, because, if the Australian Labour Party gets into office, he might be asked to do something to implement these things for which he asks. Opposition members are saying that if there is another federal general election Labour will be returned to office.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– They all agree on that. But what did the honorable member for Macquarie say? He said -
The Government’s proposals are but poor patches in the fabric of our economy. They are short-term proposals and they will not last very long. In fact, 1 am certain that the Government does not expect them to last very long. All it wants to do is to keep the ship of state afloat until the next general election. God help the people of Australia thereafter!
Earlier in the same speech, the honorable member had stated that Labour would be in office after the next general election, and all Opposition members agreed that that was so when I put it to them. All Opposition members agree that Labour will be in office after the next general election, but, as I have pointed out, the honorable member for Macquarie said, in effect, “God help the people of Australia when Labour gets into office “. That is what he said, Mr. Speaker. It is in “ Hansard “ for the world to read. I especially put the question to the Opposition to get the confirmation of honorable members opposite that Labour, in their view, will be in office after the next election. Opposition members generally think that it will, and the honorable member for Macquarie thinks so.
– You think so, too.
-I do not think so. However, even if I did think so, I would say that I hoped Labour would give the people of Australia as good a deal as possible under the system which it favours.
The honorable member for Macquarie said also -
I only hope that a member of the Country Party-
The Country Party hurts him terribly - will rise to attempt to defend the Government’s failure to deal with monopolies and the operation of wool pies, and for its failure to implement the recommendations contained in the report of the dairy industry committee of inquiry. Has this Government refused to act becausethe honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) and others within the Government parties have a different point of view?
Fancy the honorable member for Macquarie adding an additional point to the fifteen points on which the Leader of the Opposition based his amendment, which, as we all know, constitutes a motion of censure! The honorable member for Macquarie wishes to add yet another ground which he describes as the failure of the Government to implement the recommendations contained in the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry. Does he want the Government to end the subsidy? Apparently he does.
– You know only too well that he does not.
– Why does he not say so, then? That is the question that we must ask. I am getting very tired of the veiled threat by certain members of the Australian Labour Party to the wheat stabilization scheme.
– The honorable member is a pious humbug.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Lalor to restrain himself.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), on notice, asked a question, which reads in part -
Is it a fact that the Wheat Stabilization Fund is now insolvent; if so, to what extent will it be necessary to subsidize the fund from Commonwealth revenues to enable obligations to growers under the existing agreement to be met?
First of all, the fund is not insolvent. This continuing veiled threat to the wheat stabilization scheme at a time when we are trying to renew it is not appreciated. The fact of the matter is that the contributions paid by the growers under the existing legislation, which will end after the next harvest, are exhausted, but, under that legislation, the Government will pay in money to keep the Wheat Prices Stabilization Fund solvent. The situation is like that of a businessman or farmer who can borrow on guarantee when his cash runs out. Although his cash has run out, he is not insolvent. Opposition members are only trying to stir up the taxpayers by trying to find out how much money will be needed and saying all the time, “ Why should we subsidize the primary producers? “ All I can say is that, even if the Government has to contribute something to help the wheat-growers, its contribution will be very insignificant by comparison with the amount that the wheatgrowers have contributed to the Australian economy over the years when they have sold wheat on the Australian market at prices lower than they could have obtained in overseas markets.
I was hoping somebody would say something about skeleton weed, but Opposition members are very quiet on that subject. In the journal, “Stock and Land”, of 14th February, 1962, there is a report that £20,000 a year will have to be spent on the eradication and control of skeleton weed, diminishing later to £15,000 a year, and that £14,000 a year is to be spent on research into the weed, chiefly by governments, but also by other instrumentalities. However, when a person fights for something that will help production in this country, we hear the same sort of cry all the time from Opposition members. When I was fighting for the use of myxomatosis in a campaign against the rabbit plague, I was met by Opposition members all the time with the cry, “ Rabbits! “. Eventually, myxomatosis was tried in the very area that I suggested and there it had its first success. Whenever I put up a fight for the dried vine fruits industry, I am met by Opposition members with the cry, “ Dried fruits again! “
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I claim that the honorable member for Mallee misrepresented my remarks. He stated that I had said, in effect, “ God help the people of Australia after the next election! “ He went on to say that I had stated earlier in the same speech in this House last Wednesday that I was certain that a Labour Government would be formed after the next general election. Although that view may be shared by honorable gentlemen in this chamber generally, it was not expressed by me in the course of that speech. I did refer to the economic problems facing- this country and to the fact that the Government is merely patching the economy sufficiently to get it by. “ Sufficient unto the next election is the evil thereof” was the point made by me.
.- Mr. Speaker, may I first of all offer you my congratulations on being once again elected to your high and important post. Like General MacArthur returning to the Philippines, I have returned to this Parliament - on this occasion to stay. I believe that in doing so, I have achieved something that no other parliamentarian in the history of politics in this country has ever accomplished. This will be my third maiden speech in this Parliament. I was first elected in 1943 when this nation was fighting for ifs very survival in a war. I was again elected in 1946. In 1949 I was narrowly defeated by a -handful of votes. I regained the seat in 1951 and retained it in 1954. In 1955 I was again narrowly defeated, and again in 1958. On 9th December, 1961, I regained the seat once again for the Australian Labour Party and, as I said, I am here to stay.
Mr. Speaker, the only new thing to me in this chamber is the fourteen new faces that I see on this side of the House. These men helped to bring about the defeat of three Ministers and twelve Government back-benchers in one of the greatest political land-slides in the history of this country, when a government majority of 32 was reduced to a majority of one on the floor of this House. At the last general election Labour secured 2,511,046 votes, or 304,326 votes more than the combined total of 2,206,720 votes for the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party.
There are two things which the Menzies Government has given us during its twelve years of office. First, Sir, it has given us a record number of unemployed. The registered number of unemployed is 131,500, but I do not believe that that figure represents the true position. Secondly, the Government has given us a record number of bankruptcies since 1928, totalling 2,004.
– The figure is 2,000.
– It is 2,004. I hope and trust that the day of reckoning will soon arrive when this Government will be once, again called upon to give an account of its stewardship. After a decade in office the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), with his well known arrogant and contemptuous style has the audacity to talk glibly of building for the future. He proudly boasted in his policy speech that he led a party of vision. How true! The Prime Minister’s whole record is studded with promises and visions that never came true.
I ask members of Parliament and the people of Australia to think hard. Can they remember one act of outstanding statesmanship by this visionary leader? Compare his lack of practical achievement with the record of Labour leaders. It was a Labour government that gave Australia such outstanding achievements as the Commonwealth Bank, which was established in the face of the opposition of vested interests as represented by the Prime Minister, ls there one Australian who fails to realize that our economic security and national progress depend on the Labour-established Commonwealth Bank? A Labour government established organized marketing and subsidies for our rural industries upon which our overseas credit and our trading are based. A Labour government pioneered age and invalid pensions, which have brought some measure of security to the sick and aged. A Labour government established the maternity allowance and the child endowment which is of such great benefit to parents raising Australian families.
It was a Labour government which established the Royal Australian Navy, which played a glorious role, Sir, in the protection of this continent in the dark days from 1939 to 1945 when the Japs were on our threshold. A Labour government took over from the helpless Menzies Government in 1941. A continuation of the Menzies Government’s ineptitude would undoubtedly have resulted in the bombing of our cities. A Labour Government galvanized the nation into a stupendous war effort which ultimately saved it from the devastation of invasion. Later, a Labour government sponsored an immigration scheme which brought to this country thousands of new Australians who are now rearing Australian families. A Labour government gave Australia a system of arbitration and conciliation courts which has enabled the worker to secure some measure of justice. It was a Labour government that supported the Snowy Mountains scheme, which has provided employment for thousands of workers. It was a Labour government that built the Trans-Australian railway across the Nullarbor Plain. It was a Labour government which established Trans-Australia Airlines, which has set the standard of service and safety for commercial flying in Australia. A Labour government established the Australian Broadcasting Commission. A Labour government established the Australian National University.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, Labour has a proud record of achievement for the comparatively few years during which !t occupied the treasury bench. Had we been given the opportunity on 9th December last we would have tackled the ills of to-day and we would have built for the future. The Fisher Labour Government carried out every promise it gave to the electors. The Curtin Labour Government successfully organized the nation for defence. The Chifley Labour Government managed the post-war reconstruction period that put Australia on the high road to prosperity and gave full employment. The Calwell Labour Government will take up the broken threads from this discredited Menzies Government, and will restore efficient management to the affairs of Australia. It will stimulate national development, assure full employment and control the greed of monopolistic capitalism. It will help the family unit, the sick and the aged. It will ensure that the voice of Australia in international affairs will be based on humanitarian feelings fm less fortunate people, particularly those in Asia. A Labour Government will removenot only the possibility, but the fear, of war.
Sir, in moving his amendment to the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) spoke about two characteristics of the Government’s policy. He showed that they were inevitable and he showed also that the Government was inefficient. I am going to show that these two characteristics have also been very costly to the Australian people. It is no exaggeration to say that the recent slump initiated by the Government will cost this country about £600,000,000 in lost production before we get back to anything like full employment. Let me put it this way: In 1960, the gross national product was worth about £7,100,000,000. In 1961, it was about the same. Yet, in the four years between 1955-56 and 1959-60, the average annual increase in the gross national product was only something between 3) per cent, and 4 per cent., in real terms. Therefore, if full employment had been maintained, the value of the gross national product should have risen by about £300,000,000 to £7.400,000,000 by 1961. Instead of rising, however, it remained stationary, so that in effect Australia lost £300,000,000 which should have been produced in this country. Again, in 1962, if we had full employment, the gross national product should rise by at least another £300,000,000. Of course, it will not because there will not be anything like full employment this year, and it is probable that we shall not have full employmerit next year if Australia is so unfortunate as to have a Liberal government then.
But even if we assume for purposes of illustration that the Government will succeed in restoring full employment by early 1963 - and I certainly do not concede that it will -Australia will have lost £600,000,000 in production as a direct result of the futile, ill-conceived and ill-judged economic policies of this Government. In human terms, this means that all our. people are being robbed, for the time being at least, of the benefits of the rising living standards that they have every right to expect in this day and age. It means, too, that the nation is so much less able to carry the burden of social service benefits. This is a gigantic waste of production, an avoidable waste, and an avoidable loss to our people. And this has all been inflicted on Australia by the inefficient and ill-advised policies of this Government.
Because we of the Labour Party realize these facts, and because the people of Australia indicated clearly at the last election that they also realized them, the Opposition in this Parliament has submitted this no confidence motion. Three clauses in the amendment moved by my leader highlight the plight of the primary producer under the present Government. The proposed amendment points out that the Government has ignored the need to protect wool producers from price manipulation, that the Government has given 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, and that the Government has failed to restore a fertilizer subsidy to strengthen our primary industries.
What has been the situation of the Australian farmer under this Government? While the farmers have made strenuous and highly successful efforts to increase production, their incomes are falling sharply. Tn the last year of the Chifley Government’s term, farm incomes in Australia totalled £426,000,000. In 1960-61, they totalled £467,000,000. This represents an increase of only £41,000,000 over a period of galloping inflation. Taking the official consumer price index as a basis, £100 to-day is worth only £53 based on the 1949 value of money. This means that last year’s farm income has a purchasing, power of only £245,000,000 based on 1949 values. In other words, the farmers who received £426,000,000 in 1949 received only an effective £245,000,000 in 1961. Putting it another way, the farm income of 1949 would be worth £911,000,000, based on to-day’s values, as against the £467,000,000 which the farmers actually received in 1960-61.
Because the party of which I have the honour to be a member is a national party, it is profoundly concerned with the condition of the primary producer and the industries in which he earns his living, and through which he contributes so much of the wealth of this nation. Our opponents like to pretend that we are interested only in the well-being of those who live in the great cities. The truth, is that we are interested in the well-being of all Australians everywhere. The Labour Party recognizes that unless our primary industries are prosperous the nation itself cannot be truly prosperous and the Labour Party has backed this knowledge with deeds. The measure of security which the farmer enjoys to-day is almost entirely due to legislation put on the statute-books of the Commonwealth by Labour governments. Why, the best Minister for Agriculture this Commonwealth has ever had still sits in this House to-day! I refer, of course, to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). For thirteen years, the wheat-growers of Australia have marketed their wheat under the Commonwealth-State wheat legislation which is now in its third successive fiveyear period. This plan was originated in 1948 by the Chifley Labour Government, and I am proud to be one of those who voted for that legislation. Without this plan, the external factors of wheat surpluses and extremely variable prices would have been used as a weapon by local and overseas manipulators to depress prices shockingly. The plan has enabled 90,000 Australian wheat-growers to sell as one unit and secure maximum prices infinitely better than would otherwise have been the case. The Australian Labour Party is proud of the success of this plan.
The same Chifley Labour Government introduced the first five-year guaranteed cost-of-production legislation for the dairying industry. Faced with problems in the dairying industry, the Menzies Government set up a committee of inquiry in an attempt to avoid responsibility. That attempt blew up in the Government’s face. The Government still refuses to state whether it accepts in whole or in part the recommendations of the committee which it appointed over two years ago. The result has been that the industry has been left in a state of doubt and uncertainty as to its future. Thus, we get to the heart of the matter - the difference between Labour governments and Liberal and so-called Country Party governments so far as the man on the land is concerned. Labour aims at giving the farmer the greatest possible measure of security whereas, under this Government, the farmer lives in a state of doubt and uncertainty. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition refers to the failure of the Government to restore the fertilizer subsidy and to strengthen primary industry: You will remember, Sir, that the Chifley Government paid the subsidy on superphosphate and the Menzies Government abolished it. During the election campaign the Australian Labour Party promised to restore the subsidy at the rate of £3 per ton on superphosphate and a related amount on mixed and other types of fertilizers including trace elements because this would help farm development, promote increased production of a wide range of export produce and assist to build the farming strength necessary to cope with adverse marketing conditions.
I have referred to some of the work of past Labour governments. As member for the electorate of Hume it is fitting that I should recall a project which is not only of great importance in my electorate but also of tremendous value to the entire Commonwealth. I am referring, of course, to the great Snowy Mountains scheme, which is now half-way to completion. I remember the Parliament which voted for the establishment of that project and the Australian Labour Party has every right to be proud of the steps it took to start what is undoubtedly the greatest developmental work in the history of this nation. We will be all the richer for it, but there are members opposite who tend to forget, first, which government was really responsible for the initiation of the scheme and, secondly, the credit due to Joseph Benedict Chifley and the then Minister for Works, Mr. Nelson Lemmon. The Australian Labour Party has produced such men of vision in abundance and will continue to do so, because it is the party of the people. The Australian Labour Party will remain great as long as the people of Australia remain great.
I would like now to have something to say on the importance of road construction in this country. It should be the fundamental purpose of every government, irrespective of its political colour, to look into this matter of road construction. I believe that every penny paid in petrol tax should be spent on road improvement. In my opinion, the first thing required in any Australian road policy is that the total proceeds of the petrol tax should be handed over to the States for road construction and reconstruction. At the present time the Federal Government keeps several millions of pounds of the petrol tax and converts it into general revenue. If the States received the total proceeds of the petrol tax-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, the historical or perhaps I might say the hysterica] member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) has just given us his version of the Labour Party’s history, which would rival Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in its extravagance and imagination. I would like to return to some of the realities of life and join with the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) in the challenge he threw out to the Opposition on the questions of defence and foreign affairs. Last Thursday in particular- and also on other days - I felt that the Government back-benchers tore the no-confidence motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) into a lot of little pieces, so that nothing remains except a few of those pieces in the waste-paper basket which the cleaners forgot to remove. If the Leader of the Opposition had been sincere in bis attack, he would have moved a substantive motion and would not have relied on the old idea of moving an amendment to the AddressinReply.
The amendment itself seemed more like a list of questions placed on the noticepaper by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and its real, or sole, merit seemed to lie in the fact that it exceeded in length the flamboyant and fallacious quest for knowledge of either of those two members.
I, like the Minister for the Army, would like to inquire what has happened to the dramatic January appearance of the Leader of the Opposition in the role of Captain Long John Silver, seeking to land on Treasure Island - or in this case the treasury bench - with a cutlass in his teeth and a revolver in each hand. “ Nothing for war “, yells the buccaneer, “ and little for defence “.
– “Yo ho ho!”
– “ And a bottle of rum “. Now the Leader of the Opposition appears in an entirely different role, almost as a supplicant, dressed in a thing of shreds and patches, sewn together by members of his team in order to cover the nakedness of his attack. I congratulate the Government on having called his bluff on this almost spurious amendment and I propose, therefore, to concentrate largely on the Address-in-Reply for the rest of my time. But, first of all, I reiterate - in case it should be misunderstood - that I, like all other members of this Parliament, realize the vital importance of social and economic security. Every one of us rightly realizes that it is important, for the simple reason that the livelihood of our people depends on sound economic and social security.
May I again remind honorable members that without national security economic security and social security are worth, if not nothing, then very, very little. All of us, as I said before, want to ban the bomb and get agreement on controlled disarmament, so that at least a goodly proportion of the money now spent on defence may be turned to constructive rather than destructive projects. But in the world of to-day, with the dictators of Russia and red China continuing to pursue their policy of world conquest, unfortunately we have to meet the challenge of power politics. It must be met and defeated if we are to stop aggression in its tracks.
Last year, during the Address-in-Reply debate, I said that 1961 was going to be a year of crisis. And, if we look back, it was - in the Caribbean, Seato, Nepal, Laos Viet Nam, Berlin, Algeria, Angola, the Congo, the United Nations itself, and in the resumption of nuclear testing by Russia in order to try to terrorize the congress of socalled neutrals at Belgrade. Finally, we must realize that all the weapons of the cold war - 1 call them “ the three T’s “, trade and aid, the tactics of the strategic lie, forged documents purporting to the secret decisions of the cabinets of democratic and other nations, and finally, the one I mentioned before - terror - have been increasing in volume all the time. Twice in my lifetime Australians have not failed to respond to the call of their leaders once they knew what were the problems that they had to face. I am sure all of us agree that they would do it again; but how can they understand that Australia has grown to adult nationhood, and that 1962 is not 1912, or even 1932, when we in this Parliament rarely debated these international problems. I have heard it said - not in this House but outside - that we are not competent to discuss international affairs in detail. All I can say in reply is that if that is so we should not be members of this Parliament.
How can the average citizen really understand these problems when nearly always they are dealt with in this House from the point of view of party political advantage, and Australia’s security often comes a very bad second? Are we, as Australians and a prosperous nation, failing to shoulder our responsibilities through the besetting and unrecognized sins of ineptitude, laziness, ignorance and selfishness? Are we trusting to luck? I feel that, to a certain extent, we are guilty of all these things. That is why I wrote on 4th January and repeat now -
Never at any period of her history has Australia been more threatened with isolation in the Southwest Pacific, if not with something far worse, and never have Australians been less prepared to face the international intricacies and problems crowding in upon them. Never have the people been told so little on so many vital problems in our international relations. How long do we intend to go on drifting from crisis to crisis and then attempting to deal with them hour by hour.
If this is true - and I believe it is, or it has been for the past six years or more - is there no possibility of a bi-partisan policy in this House at least on fundamentals, if not on details, in the face of the rapidly deteriorating situation in South-East Asia? I believe that an ever-increasing number of Australians is becoming more and more alarmed at the situations which are occurring, particularly since the problem of West New Guinea arose, and are demanding act/on - not hysterical flapping like the demand for the withdrawal of one Australian regiment from Malaya to Darwin, but strong, wise, resolute and well-thought-out action on a sound basis to meet the increasing activities of the Communists in Asia and Oceania. All Australians will support the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) enthusiastically in his statement -
Australia desires to promote and maintain the friendliest relations with the people of Indonesia.
But I cannot feel that it helps Australia to play down the West New Guinea flare-up and say, as the Government did at the end of December, that there was no emergency or, as was stated on 5th January -
There is no evidence whatever of any present threat to Australia or to any Australian territorial interest in the West New Guinea dispute.
This dispute is only one link in a chain which is being drawn right across our western exits and entrances. However, as the Minister has promised to initiate a discussion in the near future on the problem of West New Guinea I shall reserve any further comments on our quandary in that area until the debate takes place in the House. The Government is also to be congratulated on its part in arranging a meeting of the members of Anzus in Canberra in May. Three years have passed since the last meeting, and events have moved alarmingly since then. As Mr. Denis Warner wrote last week in the Melbourne “ Herald “-
It is agreeable to see ANZUS brought out of the pigeon-holes and dusted off to serve, in a sense, as a substitute for the moth-eaten remains of SEATO.
One might also add that the “ paper tiger “, as Peking Radio classed the South-East Asia Treaty Organization, hardly exists, since the silverfish seem to have had a feed on it.
Let us examine the first page of the Governor-General’s “Speech in the light of the international scene in Asia. Does it really help Australians to face our future problems by offering them an opium pipe of pious hope which cannot produce anything but unrealistic dreams, followed by a headache when the smoker awakens to reality? The Governor-General stated in his Speech–
My advisers believe that the security of Australia depends upon reliance on three central principles of international policy.
The first is that we should be faithful and contributing members of the United Nations, upholding the principles of the Charter. Australia’s voice will always be raised in support of the peaceful settlement, on a just basis, of international disputes.
Nobody will quarrel with this objective. Everybody favours the support that this Government has given to the United Nations on behalf of Australia; but I should have thought it would have been wise to warn Australia that the reds are endeavouring to run the United Nations or wreck it. It would have been advisable to draw attention to the warnings issued by the American Minister to the United Nations, Mr. Adlai Stevenson and the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Home at the end of last year on what is happening at the United Nations. These two statesmen both warned that the double standard of ethics and principles being applied to European democracies vis-a-vis others was a grave danger to the success of the United Nations as an instrument for peace and progress. The Governor-General’s Speech continued -
The second is that we should cultivate and maintain, friendly and helpful relations with our neighbours, . . .
These are ideals with which nobody will quarrel. Every one will support them. His Excellency continued -
The third is that, to guard against resort to war by those who reject these principles, Australia should have powerful and friendly mutual association with those nations which are best equipped to defend a free peace.
If we want to cultivate “ friendly mutual association “, Australia, with the highest average standard of living in the world, must cease trying to get its defence on the cheap compared with other nations. We must stop expecting others to carry a large portion of our share of responsibility. We must stop being brave only behind closed diplomatic doors. Surely it is time Australia took her place as a member of the team. We should not be content to stay on the sidelines as a barracker or a fan. Only last week in the House of Commons a Conservative member compared the percentage of our expenditure on defence with that of Great Britain. His comparisons were not very flattering to us.
I am afraid that when the Anzus meeting is held we must be prepared to be told that we cannot take America for granted. When I came through the United States of America, in August last year, I found young Americans prepared to do two years’ service, not grudgingly or critically, but as a duty to their country. On arriving home I felt that we were not playing our part. The Governor-General’s Speech stated that his advisers- support the establishment by negotiation of a free, independent and neutral Laos.
Does the Government - or do members of this Parliament - really think that this is possible? Is that all there is to be said about the position in Laos? I know that the Geneva conference has been trying for six or eight months to bring this about. Does not the Pathet Lao already control at least two-thirds, if not four-fifths, of Laos and keep open the Ho-Chi-minh trail so that 20,000 guerrillas and larger formations can come down and harass South Vietnam to such an extent that only three provinces are considered safe? Therefore, we must ask ourselves this question: Is a free, neutral and independent Laos possible, or is this not the standard routine for a Communist take-over?
Robert S. Elegant, who has been in Asia for a long time and is a very well-known American columnist, and who is, I consider, one of the four outstanding columnists who write on Asia, recently took Walter Lippmann, the doyen of American columnists, to task for his advocacy of neutralism as a solution for Laos. Writing in an American magazine last September, he said -
If no other policy than neutralization of South East Asian nations is possible, then it would be more honest intellectually, if more distressing emotionally, for him to say flatly that the United Slates must surrender South-East Asia.
In case anybody should think that this is a pet hobbyhorse of mine I will quote what the Prime Minister said on his return from the Seato conference one year ago -
If Laos passes into Communist hands, where docs the process end? There are grim thoughts in this for Australia.
Is there nothing more than one short sentence of wishful thinking in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech with reference to these “ grim thoughts “? The Prime Minister continued -
But we- . referring to the members of Seato - affirmed that should there continue to be an active military attempt- to obtain control of Laos, members of Seato are prepared collectively and in the terms of the treaty to take whatever action may be appropriate in the circumstances. But it is necessary to say that if unhappily collective Seato action is forced upon us, we will need to act together or find Seato weakened and destroyed.
Has there not continued to be an active milittary attempt to obtain control of Laos, and has not collective action been impossible with Seato? Yet, in his Speech the Governor-General said that the Government advisers -
I wonder whether the Prime Minister really believes as he has said, that Seato is an umbrella under which other nations can shelter, because if that is so 1 would suggest - I think that is the legal term - that the umbrella is made of polythene plastic and, therefore, like similarly constructed hoses in the Victorian bushfires, it has melted in the heat of the brushfire wars in Laos and South Viet Nam-. Seato has been weakened almost- to the point of destruction, and the sooner we recognize that fact the better. How can we hope to get agreement on a neutral Laos when we find that the Reds have broken every, one of the 53 agreements that have been made since Yalta and Potsdam?
Yet, some members on the other side of the Parliament are continuously advocating a reduction in our defence expenditure, and there are members on this side of the Parliament who are saying that there is no threat to Australia. We have paid too little atten tion to the smoke clouds on our north-west horizon although they have been increasing in intensity. We have hoped that some one else would put out the international red flames, or perhaps, with luck, there would be a change of wind. We seem to have left our responsibilities and decisions to Britain who, with France, has too many problems elsewhere to be really interested, and too many obligations to be able to give any assistance in this area anyway. Time is fast running out, and Australia must take on her shoulders her share of these responsibilities, in which not only our freedom and happiness are concerned, but the freedom and happiness of other people as well.
Our defence vote must be increased considerably. As all honorable members know I. think we should have at least twelve months’ continuous national service training with proper rehabilitation benefits for trainees such as low rates of interest on housing loans, free university or technical college courses and things of that nature. Coincidentally, of course, it would be a great help to our unemployment problem and to our economy at present if national service training were reinstituted; not that I would ever recommend that you cure your economic ills by defence expenditure, but in this case it is coincidental.
– It is a bad principle.
– It is a bad principle, but as I have said, it is coincidental. It just happens that at the present time it might be of some assisance.
A conference should be held with other South-East Asian nations and America to ascertain what action is desirable and possible to guarantee security for South-East Asian nations from Communist infiltration, subversion and aggression. Economic aid is useless without security, but it must be stepped up both in quantity and quality. If Seato is to continue, it should be reorganized without Britain and France as member nations. France is too involved elsewhere and Britain cannot afford to offend France, whose support she needs to get into the Common Market.
The European Common Market is having other effects than economic in this part of the world. The Government already has been successful in providing other markets in South-East Asia, b.ut what would happen if they were to go behind the bamboo curtain? Already 12 per cent, of our exports go behind the bamboo and iron curtains. The Communists can and will turn off this trade like a tap just as they did in Finland in 1937 and in Japan in 1958 if they want to force some political decision upon us. If we are to carry on with that trade we must have a plan by which, if the Communists should suddenly cut off trade with us for political reasons we shall be able to take the necessary steps to deal with the situation.
These are some of the problems that Australia has to face in this year, 1962. We must not allow them to stand over. We must face them as probabilities. Brave words are not enough. As the old Japanese proverb states, “ Honour does not move sideways like a crab “. I am afraid we have been going a little sideways and only very slowly forward. Therefore, even though the situation may be dangerous and difficult, as yet I do not think it is desperate. If we cease to worship the idols of the market place, and if we stand up to our duties and responsibilities in the international sphere, I believe we shall be able to play our part in keeping other people free and helping them to increase their standards of living. The effort will be a long haul, and a strong one because, unfortunately, as a result of Australia’s long post-war era of prosperity, at the present time we are both unfit and untrained.
– Order! I call the honorable member for Bowman and remind honorable members that this is a maiden speech.
– First, I should like to congratulate you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on your election to your high office and I should like you to convey to Mr. Speaker my congratulations on his election to his high office. Before I was elected to this House I had heard reports of the fairness and impartiality of Mr. Speaker. What I have seen in this House during my brief presence here has confirmed these reports. However, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall not wish you or Mr. Speaker a long term of office, because I feel sure that in the very near future the Government will be thrown out of office, neck and crop, by the people of Australia.
In the present circumstances, and having regard to the way in which the Government is behaving, it cannot last for very long.
I have been amazed, in listening to the debate, at the manner in which the arguments of the Australian Labour Party have been treated by Government supporters. They have not yet learned the lesson that the people of Australia gave to them on 9th December. They are still giving the impression that they believe that the people of Australia were not aware of what they were doing on 9th December. That attitude has been evident since the commencement of the last election campaign.
Various statements made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and his supporters have tended to create in the minds of the people an impression that everything the Menzies Government did was right and should not be questioned by the people. The proposals put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) were described by Mr. Menzies and his followers as inflationary and irresponsible. It was said that they had been put forward by the leader of a party which did not know what it was doing. I say that for this expressed attitude the Menzies Government stands condemned in the eyes of the people, because it has virtually told the people that they were a lot of fools. This attitude is apparent even to-day. The members of the Government say that what they call their corrective measures are merely temporary, but I suggest that if it is left to this Government they will turn out to be permanently temporary.
Mr. Speaker, I have had the honour to be elected to represent the electorate of Bowman. It is an electorate that carries a proud Labour name, and I feel that it would be the wish of the people of Bowman that I join with my colleagues in the Labour Party in supporting the amendment which represents a motion of censure of the Government. It is of no use for honorable members who occupy the Government benches to accuse us of being destructionists. I heard certain honorable members opposite ask: “ What are you censuring us for? What have we done wrong? “ Well, Mr. Speaker, in Australia to-day there is a firm consensus of opinion throughout all sections of the community that the Government has done wrong. Are the people who hold that view wrong, or is the infallible Menzies Government wrong? I say the Menzies Government is wrong.
In this country to-day 131,000 persons are unemployed. In many cases those persons are supporting families. What does this all add up to? It adds up to the fact that many hundreds of thousands of people are suffering as a direct result of the credit squeeze of the Menzies Government. When the Labour Party, through the policy speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition, proposed certain remedies, the Menzies Government replied that these things could not be done. However, since the Australian people expressed the view that they could be done, and showed that they were prepared to support the Labour Party in doing them, the Prime Minister and his supporters decided to pinch little bits of the Labour Party’s policy. This, they say, will cure the ills of this sick nation of ours. The palliative prescribed by the Prime Minister will not in any way cure the ills of this country. It may alleviate the distress that is felt, just as a dose of powder may relieve a tummyache for a while without getting to the root of the trouble.
The blame for all the economic difficulties in which Australia finds itself to-day can be laid fairly and squarely at the door of the Menzies Government, because of its lack of foresight and its failure to plan for the future. Never at any time has this Government had a planned economy. It has adopted stop-and-go economic policies which it says are necessary because when one is going too fast one may not be able to apply the brakes in time to prevent hitting something. But these stop-and-go policies have resulted in a situation in which 131,000 Australians, at a conservative estimate, are unemployed. These policies have hit Australian industry severely.
I suggest that our economic crisis started in February, 1960, when the Government abolished all import controls. As a result of this measure, cheap goods from foreign countries flooded the Australian market. In many cases these goods came from cheaplabour countries with low standards of living. Australian manufacturers and workers could not hope to compete with these imports, and the result was that the Menzies Government applied its third credit squeeze in ten years.
The Government says that the present situation is only temporary. I can well understand, Mr. Speaker, the trepidation with which the members of the Government face the future, because it must be horrible to be a member of a party without a future. This Government, of course, has no future, because the future lies with the Australian Labour Party. It is a party that has always been aware of the needs of the people. It is an honorable party and one which I am proud to represent, despite what honorable members opposite may think.
I heard the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) making a plea for honorable members on this side of the House - and he may also have included those on the Government side- not to indulge in personal attacks. Well, that suits me, and I think it will suit all members of the Australian Labour Party. However, it appears that for years the supporters of the Government, in their arrogance, have been making attacks on members who sit on this side of the House. They became arrogant in their strength. They had a majority of 32 in the House and they rode roughshod over the Opposition. To-day, however, the position is quite different, and they are now asking us not to play the game too rough. Well, if they want the game rough we will give it to them rough.
I am not greatly impressed by the remarks of the honorable member for Mallee, because I have never at any time engaged in personal attacks against my political opponents. I believe, however, that if we think something is right, and if we think the members of the Government are wrong, it is our duty to attack them both in this chamber and outside on the hustings. Whenever we have the opportunity we will attack this Government, because we believe that the people of Australia no longer want tory governments in this country. The people made this quite clear once again last Saturday. Last week, Government supporters were forecasting the results of the elections in New South Wales and South Australia, and I really believe they thought the Liberal-Country parties were going to win in those two States. This merely goes to show how ignorant they are of the political climate. The political winds are blowing against the tory governments of to-day, because the people realize that they cannot govern in the best interests of the nation when they are tied to their masters of big business and monopoly capitalism. The Australian Labour Party is a truly representative party. It is representative of all sections of the Australian community. We do not represent big business. We represent each and every person in Australia who is prepared to contribute something of benefit to the economy of the country, to contribute productively towards Australia’s progress and prosperity. This is something that the tory governments have never been able to do, because they have never acted in the interests of the majority of the people, but only in the interests of the monopolists, the vested financial interests, the bankers and the like. Therefore, we cannot expect decent government from the Liberal Party and Australian Country Party, because it is not in their interests to provide a decent standard of living for all people.
Some honorable members on the other side of the House have said that the Australian Labour Party is not interested in the defence of Australia. Of course, this is another of the methods adopted by the Government to try to instil into the minds of the people the fear that if Labour were returned to office it would forgo our defence. I ask honorable members to cast their minds back some twenty years, when the Australian Labour Party took over the reins of office and steered Australia through those difficult years when we were threatened with invasion from the north. What was Australia’s state of preparedness at that time? I can see some honorable members opposite smirking. Of course, when they are cornered they are unable to find any adequate answer. This may be a maiden speech, but as far as I am concerned honorable members may interject if they want to do so.
What I have said nails the lie as far as defence is concerned. During the last war the Australian Labour Party conducted the affairs of the country in a manner that won the admiration of all peoples throughout the world. The policy of the non-Labour Government at the time war broke out was business as usual. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who was also Prime Minister at that time, did not want to stop business. He wanted the vested interests to continue to make profits and it took a Labour Government led by John Curtin - a great man - to say to all Australians, “This must be an all-in effort”.
The attitude of this Government is the same as the attitude of the Government that was in office at the outbreak of the war. The first people hit by the credit squeeze were the little people, the working men. The big men are able to withstand measures such as these. A similar position obtains throughout industry. The small industries have been hardest hit, although they provide most of the jobs available to Australians. One industry in Queensland, which is engaged in the manufacture of musical drums, is having great difficulty in carrying on,, because the Government allows the unrestricted import of drum3. The Brisbane firm was not given an opportunity to tender for the supply of drums to the Army. Tenders were not called in Queensland. This shows how little interested the Government is in Queensland.
Queensland has been hit by the Government’s policies more seriously than have the other States. Queensland is less developed than other States and covers a vast area. It is in urgent need of development, but the Government has not given to the less developed States the encouragement that they need. I have read tho speeches made by former Queensland members in this House, but over the years they did not raise their voices to protest at the treatment meted out by their own Government to Queensland. That is why they are not here now. They spent most of their time sneering at the Labour Party. The people of Queensland did not appreciate these tactics and rejected nine former members, two of them Ministers.
Honorable members on the other side of the House ask why we have moved this censure motion. The Government can be censured on many grounds. We in Queensland believe that we have been sadly neglected. We have seen the gradual takeover by overseas interests of Queensland assets. The profits to be derived from the Weipa bauxite deposits will go overseas. Instead of this happening the Government should assist the State to develop, but most Government supporters from Queensland do not encourage it to give this assistance.
I should like to mention the position of local government authorities in Queensland. 1 have in mind particularly the Brisbane City Council. Brisbane is the third largest city in the world under one administration. lt- covers an area of 375 square miles, and many . of its problems are peculiar to . it. The Commonwealth does not pay rates on premises occupied by its departments within the City of Brisbane, and this has caused concern to the council. Unless a property is occupied by a trading department the Commonwealth Government does not pay general rates. In the case of capital cities this is grossly unfair, in that large Commonwealth central offices are established and require the same service and maintenance of roads, footpaths and so on as do privately owned properties.
If the Commonwealth paid general, water and sewerage rates on the same basis as private occupiers do, the Brisbane City Council would receive £130,660 per annum more than it does under the method adopted by the Commonwealth Government. This would help considerably in the financing of sewerage works, which are very necessary in Brisbane. Brisbane probably has a greater need for development in this way than has any other capital city. lt is grossly underdeveloped because of its size. The Government should, therefore, consider paying rates in respect of its city properties within the area administered by the Brisbane City Council. I do not blame this Government entirely, because this position has obtained for many years. However, I ask the Government to consider paying rates on its properties.
The unemployment relief funds, about which we have heard so much in the last few weeks, have been granted by the Government as one of its temporary measures. The Commonwealth arrangement with the local government bodies through the State governments has been described as a confidence trick and as passing the buck for the relief of unemployment. There is a popular misconception in the minds of the people that the Commonwealth Government has granted moneys to local government bodies. But this is not so. All the Commonwealth has done is to allow local government bodies to raise additional moneys. It has indeed passed the buck, because the ratepayers will have to repay the loan and the interest on it.
In addition to this, local government bodies will face a serious position after the end of June. None of the money will be left. What will they do? Must they dismiss all those employed under this scheme or will the Commonwealth Government make another grant to maintain this employment? The Brisbane City Council is authorized to raise additional loan funds to employ approximately 350 men, the extra loan authorization being sufficient only to finance the works to 30th June next. Major works commenced under this programme will have to be discontinued on 30th June next unless some early announcement of the Commonwealth’s proposals for the next financial year is made. So we ask the Federal Government to consider announcing its future policy on these measures. Are these temporary measures to be continued, or are the people who have been absorbed in employment temporarily under the arrangement with the Commonwealth to be put out of work again at the end of June?
There are many other things affecting the Brisbane City Council, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The petrol tax paid to the States by the Federal Government is in many instances not sufficient to allow for the development df roads leading out of the city. The city authorities are responsible for the building of many of these roads, but the city council does not get sufficient funds for the job, because it is not regarded as being eligible for a grant under the Commonwealth aid roads scheme for these roads, many of which link the city with primary-producing areas nearby. This is something which will have to be looked into. It presents the Brisbane City Council with a great problem. If we are to develop these roads and the nearby primary-producing areas and to provide ready access to markets for the produce of those areas - produce which, in any event, has to be channelled through the city - the Federal Government will have to consider this matter specially. The return to the States for the development of roads of all the petrol tax levied by the Commonwealth in the various States was part of the policy of the Australian Labour Party before the last general election and is still part of Labour’s policy.
In conclusion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to say that I believe that the future of Australia lies in the Australian Labour Party taking control of the treasury bench in this House. I believe that, given the opportunity - I am sure that the time when we shall be given it is not far off - we shall go to the people again and see the end of the Menzies Government. This Government will be followed by a Labour Government which will govern in the best interests of Australia and will return Australia to an era of progress and prosperity once again.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I offer you my congratulations on being elected once again as our Chairman of Committees, and I shall be grateful if you will convey to Mr. Speaker my congratulations on his election once more to that high office. I congratulate, also, the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. Comber), who has just delivered his maiden speech. It was good to hear him remind us of the man in whose memory his electorate has been named. I am sure that the honorable gentleman will be among the first to admit, putting aside considerations of party politics, that his predecessor as member for Bowman established a record in some ways in the kind of representation that he gave to his constituents. I wish the present honorable member well in his efforts to reach that standard.
One who takes part in this debate at this juncture, Sir, has to select from among the many things that one would like to say those that are more appropriate to the closing stages of the debate. As we all know, the House is debating the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech, to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has moved an amendment which he intends to be a motion of censure and which has been accepted as such by the Government. The motion was launched by the honorable gentleman last Tuesday with drama, and it had good advance publicity. He commenced by reading to us his fifteen-point amendment, but then something happened to his speech. The realization of this was received by Government supporters with relief and,
I know, by Opposition members with consternation.
No doubt, one of the reasons for the failure of the Leader of the Opposition’s speech was that, with his fifteen points, the honorable gentleman attacked on too wide a front and failed to press on with advantage on most of his points. As I listened to his discussion of the points which he selected for special treatment, I was reminded of Macaulay’s description of a politician of one type, which I should like to quote in part. It goes as follows: -
Unfortunately for the Leader of the Opposition, his speech failed in its mission for both listeners and readers. So, without a strong lead, the Opposition’s attack on the Government has languished, and the Government, by means of powerful speeches by both Ministers and private members on this side of the House, has counter-attacked and turned the debate into a censure of the Opposition itself.
– Do not kid yourself!
– If the honorable member will wait a moment, I shall give him proof. 1 believe that the main reason for the Leader of the Opposition’s speech not being successful is that the honorable gentleman omitted to mention so many of what I shall term the inescapable facts of the situation that Australia faces to-day. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will no doubt recall that in the armed services during the war - especially in the Army, as I know - when an appreciation of a situation had to be made, the first thing to do was to assess the factors affecting the situation. After that had been done, the method of attack was decided on. In this instance, we have certain inescapable facts affecting the situation in which Australia stands to-day. These form a background to any policy that is to be adopted.
I fear that in presenting this motion of censure, the Leader of the Opposition has ignored quite a number of the inescapable facts of our situation. We, as a people, are involved to a very great extent in the big problems of the Asian countries. I refer particularly to the problems facing SouthEast Asia and the Indian sub-continent. The Australia of the last 170 years or so was born as a child of the British system and has grown up until recently under the protection of the Royal Navy. With the decline in the influence of the British system in the areas of Asia which I have mentioned, Australia has had to change its methods of ensuring its security and its survival. That is why we have found it necessary in the last decade to do a number of things. We have found it necessary to put into operation quickly plans for national development. We have found it necessary to enlarge the immigration programme. We have had to seek new and expanding markets for our exports. We have had to enter into mutual defence arrangements with our friends and our neighbours.
– How smug can we get!
– I remind the honorable member that the Australian Labour Party apparently realized the situation at the end of World War II. Unfortunately, dominated by Treasury thinking, under the influence of socialist planners, the Labour Government ignored the situation and with dire results which Australia had to experience and which we remember very well. I shall itemize some of them for the honorable gentleman in a few moments. The speech of the Leader of the Opposition in support of his censure motion barely mentions any of this. I remind the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage) of this: at the end of World War II. Australia had a wonderful opportunity. She emerged with the material potential of a great power. What happened?
– Labour was defeated.
– Yes. It was defeated in 1949. I shall deal with that point in a moment. It is one of the great tragedies that these opportunities were lost to us through a Labour socialist government, which was defeated in 1949 as the honor-
able member has said. Australian industries had great opportunities in Asian markets, which badly needed our manufactured goods, our textiles, our tools, our machinery, our steel and, indeed, our food. As peace was restored Australia seemed set for a new era of expansion. Three years later those opportunities had been largely lost. There were industrial disturbances on the coalfields. The Chifley Labour Government even found it necessary to put troops on the coal-fields to restore order. There were industrial disturbances in transport and the heavy industries while the Labour socialists were in power. As a big exporter of food Australia had a great opportunity and, indeed, a responsibility to supply markets to the near north to which I have referred. The farmers of Australia responded well, as the honorable member for Mitchell knows full well. Unfortunately, they were neglected by his fellow-socialists, especially in regard to their requirements of manpower and new equipment.
Alongside these problems was the socialist drive for more leisure. Let it not be thought that I am speaking against the desire for fewer working hours and more leisure at a reasonable time; but, when our competitiors were working 48, 50 and 52 hours a week, that was not the time for us to seek more leisure, because we wanted to make progress in very competitive world markets. The result of the Labour Government’s policy, as we know, was the start of the inflationary spiral and an increase in the costs of production. These increasing costs came at a time when we should have been seeking Australia’s share of these new markets. We were not successful in this because our prices were too high.
– I will answer the honorable gentleman later on. The reason for our failure in export markets was that our prices were too high at that time for the very competitive markets in which we had to engage.
These were the causes of much of the unpopular measures which this Government had to undertake as a result of the planning of the Labour socialists who were defeated in 1949. I fully admit that, as a result of these measures, some people were hurt financially. It was obvious that if the measures were to be effective some people would have to be hurt. The great object and design was to take the measures as quickly as possible so that the least number of people would be hurt and so that there would not be a great debacle, which would have happened if these trends had been allowed to run free. Fortunately, in general terms the measures have been successful. I remind the honorable member for Mitchell and his colleagues that, as a result of these measures, prices for a wide range of goods have become stable. No longer do we hear the Labour socialists asking when the Government is going to put value back into the £1. The decline in the value of the £1 was started by the Labour socialists.
The sale of our goods on overseas markets is now increasing. Industrial disputes have become less. The defence forces have been made strong. Overseas investors show confidence in Australia’s development and future. The amount of national development within Australia during the last decade has been dramatic indeed. Our high standard of living has been maintained and there have been increases in social service benefits. All these things have happened during the twelve years of the Menzies Government. These happy circumstances have been made possible by this Government’s policy. Against this background of achievement the Leader of the Opposition has charged the Government with having lost the confidence “>f the country because its measures -
And he censured the Government for implementing a stop-and-go policy.
Fortunately, although our policies are flexible, our objectives for Australian development and security have been constant. It is the Leader of the Opposition who is the great exponent of stop and go. He is, by his own confession, a stop-and-go socialist.. He told us during the election campaign that, if elected as leader of a government, he would not introduce any socialist policies during the lifetime of this Parliament. Yet every honorable gentleman opposite is pledged to the socialist objective for Australia. No man opposite denies -that. This brings me to what I believe surprises most about the motion of the Leader of the Opposition - the things he left out. Apart from his socialist policy,, to which I have just referred, he omitted from his censure motion any reference to foreign policy and the defence of Australia.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was referring to the background of this censure motion against the Government which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has submitted by way of his proposed amendment. I had pointed out several things and, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall summarize them. I said that the measures that have.been taken by this Government have been most successful. Fortunately, speaking in general terms, that is completely true. I pointed to the fact that prices have become stable on a wide range of goods. I said that the decline in the value of the £1 which was started by the Labour socialist regime has stopped, that our overseas balances have returned to a healthy level, that the sale of goods on overseas markets is increasing, that industrial disputes have become fewer, that the defences of Australia have been made stronger, that overseas investors show confidence in Australia and our future, and that the amount of development that has taken place in the last decade has indeed been dramatic. Alongside this we have been able to maintain our standard of living and, with that, social service benefits have been increased. All these things have happened during the twelve years of office of the Menzies Government.
I pointed to the fact that, in his criticism of us, the Leader of the Opposition said that we were not fit to govern this country, that we had provided no basis for long-term planning in our policies of investment, production, employment and balance of overseas payments, and that he censured us for implementing a stop-and-go policy. I think the Leader of the Opposition is the greatest exponent of stop and go because, as you know, Mr. Speaker, every honorable member opposite is pledged to the objective of socialism throughout Australia. Yet the Leader of the Opposition said in ‘his policy speech that if he were elected, together with his party, he would not introduce any form of socialism during the lifetime of this Parliament! Does that mean that for the time being socialism has stopped so far as the Opposition is concerned? Will it go again after three years? Where does the Labour Party stand on this matter? I ask that because every honorable member opposite has signed a pledge that he will promote socialism throughout Australia. The things that surprise me most about the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition are those which he left out. Apart from his socialist policy, which he omitted, he made no reference whatsoever to the Labour Party’s foreign policy or what it has in mind for the true defence of Australia. This, I think, is quite extraordinary. The Opposition’s proposal is supposed to be a motion censuring the Government, and the two most important matters relating to Ausralia’s security are omitted from it! Until the honorable gentleman delivered his speech, we were being reminded constantly that the Labour Party supported the policy as enunciated in what we refer to these days as the Hobart conference. We know that honorable members opposite cannot agree about what should be done in connexion with the West New Guinea problem. That is common knowledge. Is their leader’s silence an indication of a stop-and-go policy in connexion with external affairs? How does their external affairs policy fit in with their decision to withdraw troops from Malaya and abandon the South-East Asia Treaty Organization as a military organization? There are several interjections from honorable members opposite, and I shall try to answer them in general. It is well known that for many years - and it was announced again in the policy of the socialist Labour Party - that if elected, a Labour government would withdraw our troops from the strategic South-East Asian reserve, those troops who are presently stationed in Malaya together with troops from the United Kingdom and New Zealand at the request and with the permission of the Malayan Government to form a nonCommunist defensive ring for this part of the world. The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith, who is interjecting, knows full well that his leader said that he would not support Seato in its present form, that he would abandon it as a military organization and would use it only for purposes of cultural exchange. Of what help would that be to the defence of Australia? Honorable members in this place and the people of Australia know only too well of the path that leads from the Malayan Peninsula down towards the Australian mainland. The appreciation of this situation is to confine the enemy within his present bounds. Sir, through you, I say to the honorable member that there is only one enemy and he has to be confined, as far as that can possibly be done, within his present bounds. Therefore, it is essential that, with the cooperation of our allies, we keep those troops in their places.
I was speaking about some of the inescapable facts. There is one more to which I should like to refer. It is this: The power of the Labour Party rests primarily on the trade unions. The unions have an immediate influence on Labour’s policy. The Communists endeavour to infiltrate into the unions. Herein can be seen the reason why the Labour Party is often divided on its foreign policy. Because groups of disciplined Communists gained control of some unions and the Labour Party was unable to handle the problem, this Government introduced its secret ballot legislation to protect the individual unionist. And it has been successful. Last week, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) announced that less time had been lost in industrial disputes in 1961 than for many years. This proves how successful the legislation has been. The Government is working in co-operation with the rank and file members of the trade union movement. All these things I have been saying add up to the fact that the Government does in fact represent a full crosssection of the Australian community.
In his maiden speech this afternoon, upon which I complimented him, the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. Comber) said that in his opinion the Labour Party was representative of the Australian community. I hope that I have proved from the remarks I have addressed to the House to-day that that is not true; that this Government truly represents a full cross-section of the community, and that it is not possible for a government that has had a record term in office to be continually announcing new policies. That, indeed, would be a stopandgo government. We have a continuing policy for the good of Australia, and that continuing policy will be maintained.
.- Mr. Speaker, may I say how pleased I am to join you, my parliamentary colleagues on this side and honorable members on the Government side in this, the Twenty-fourth Parliament of Australia. The electorate I represent may be only a small part of Australia, but the people I represent have twin problems. They are perhaps not only twins in nature but brothers in politics for they relate to life, as most of our problems do. They live very close to the earth. The resources of Australia, Mr. Speaker, are many and varied. Perhaps their exploitation may be said to be complex and almost abstract, yet it seems to me that at present there is so much wrong that could easily be made right if we moved away from the economic system which seems to present to us these days a yo-yo-like system of living.
Mr. Speaker and honorable members of the House, 1 would like now to bring forward the practical story, without the facets and angles that sometimes make it confusing, of the good earth - the story of the 40,000 people who live in the electorate of Cowper, which I have the honour to represent. They are descended mainly from the pioneers, the people who earned their living with the axe, brushhook or adze in the early days. Since federation they have been represented in this House by Country Party representatives. During that time we find a set of circumstances which is perhaps extraordinary in this country of ours, because although the population of Australia is growing, the population of this electorate has remained static.
As an instance I quote the figures for enrolment in my electorate. In 1958 there were 500 more people on the roll there than there were in 1961. That suggests to me - and I think to other members of the House - that there is something wrong there when the population of Australia has increased so greatly in the post-war years. Yet this area is rich in many things and I will now talk about some of the industries which could be there, but are not.
First, I will deal with the timber industry. This is a pioneering industry. If is one that attracted the timber-getters to that area in the early days and subsequently the mills were established which produced the building materials to supply the towns and cities of New South Wales for a century or more. Yet throughout Australia the timber industry is in difficulties. It employs some 60,000 people and £138,000,000 worth of timber is produced each year, but at the same time we find, in any State in Australia, a great number of the mills closed down. In the last five months, to be specific, the cut fell by 55,000,000 feet, in New South Wales alone; or, to put it in another way, the forestry people collected some £240,000 less in. royalties than they did previously, and I am quoting only the figures relative to New South Wales. This was obviously the result of some cause, when we realize that the timber industry has always been the barometer by which the economy of Austrafia can be measured.
After all, this is an industry which commences with the man who takes his axe into the forest and fells the timber, which is put into a home or used for the building of furniture or something of that kind. If we counted the allied industries we would find there are many of them. In dealing with this subject I wish to refer to the man who sells the petrol needed for transport, he who sells the stores that are required or who produces the machinery for the mills or the tools for the carpenter, the plumber or the electrician, or who manufactures the hardware that goes into the home. All of these people are allied with the timber industry, and that is why I say it is important to Australia’s economy. Now, I shall quote a few figures. During the period from July to December, 1961, the fall-off in home building in New South Wales was something like 20 per cent., despite the fact that there was an increase of 39 per cent, in government building. I repeat that the overall figure for that period was minus 20 per cent, when compared with that of the previous period. This was due not only to the credit squeeze but also to the importation of timber.
During that period supplies of timber flowed into this country. I am not unmindful of one important factor- that we have to import some timber. We are short of softwoods, but nevertheless we must be fair and reasonable in this matter. From the building point of view our timbers cannot compete with oregon in respect of lightness, ease of handling and nailing and so on. Although our own hardwoods do just as good a job, contractors naturally like the timber that is lighter and easier to work. That is why our own timber, normally used in home building, was not used and millions of pounds worth of it is at grass to-day waiting to be sold. The unrestricted inflow of softwood timber had a disastrous effect on Australian timber interests. On the north coast of New South Wales and in the northwestern area one union organizer has something like 1,000 people fewer on his books than was the case eighteen months ago. That is quite a lot of people in a comparatively sparsely populated area, and I think it is about time something was said and done about these people who, as I said before, were pioneers in this Australian industry. It is necessary to have some imports of this kind, but they should be balanced against what is produced here and what can be used. That is only fair and reasonable to this industry which has such a big effect on the economy of our country.
Veneer is another important product and, in fact, some 75 per cent, of our veneer is produced in Queensland. There are about six veneer mills, in the northern part of New South Wales, which have been stopping and’ going - opening for a few weeks and stopping again - and that is bad for the economy of this country. They get an order and work for a while and then close down again. These half-dozen mills have had a very definite hurdle to surmount, and 1 refer to competition from imported Japanese plywood. After all, these people are entitled to a living because they make this product from our native timber. They are the same people who, not so long ago, were fighting against the Japanese. It is not so long ago that the Japanese were eating our boys, but now, through the importation of Japanese timber, our men are being starved. I feel that the position is such as to necessitate the imposition of a complete embargo on the importation of this product from Japan. We are in a position where we can produce enough of this commodity to meet the demands of our internal market.
Since I have mentioned the pioneers and their timber getting, I shall follow that with the next development in the coastal area of the electorate of Cowper. That was the dairy industry, which has managed to struggle on, in spite of the fact that, as an industry, it has, in the main, supported Liberal-Country Party governments. In fact, I think it would be rare to find one of those who follow this pursuit who would have any other politics.
It is a dying industry. It has been subjected to many difficulties. It might be argued that the climate in my area is not suitable, yet an enormous quantity of milk and butter is produced. If it had not been for the subsidy which has been so vital to this industry, quite a few of the producers would have gone out of business despite the growing population.
These producers have been subjected to other difficulties, principally floods. The flood plains have proved to be possibly the most fertile land along the coast, and naturally they have attracted the dairyfarmers. Usually they are mixed farmers who produce other products besides milk, butter and cream. Flooding in itself is a difficulty, although the New South Wales Government has attacked the problem in a most helpful way and has developed through the county councils various flood mitigation schemes. Although two-thirds of the cost of these schemes is met by the State Government the industry, because of its parlous condition, has difficulty in finding the other one-third. These schemes would cost not more than £6,000,000 or £7,000,000, and the additional amount that might be provided by the Commonwealth Government would not be great. The Clarence scheme would cost about £5,000,000 expended over twenty years.
The products from the dairy farms have met with marketing difficulties simply because we do not seem to be able to handle this side of the business. The central market for products other than butter and milk is in the metropolitan areas, and they bring prices which might be considered good by the man who buys them. However, I am not prepared to discuss the system in detail, because I have no answer to it. I merely emphasize that because of floods and uncertain markets this branch of primary industry has suffered tremendous losses over the years.
Reverting to the flood problem, I would say that in the Clarence Valley alone in ona period of five years about £750,000 has been lost to the milk industry. The farms affected are put out of production for six to nine months because the cows dry off and remain that way for this period. In addition, the, crops are affected. In recent times, the co-operative organizations have been more or less re-established. They have battled on for years despite difficulties. I heard a supporter of the Government refer earlier to restrictive trade practices, and it struck me that the dairying industry is one industry that has had some difficulties in that connexion. I could cite the Cooperative Dairy Association of Raleigh. This organization established a rather large factory at Raleigh and commenced producing dried milk of excellent quality. It was marketed through the chain stores and sold for possibly 3s. less than Nestles, a similar type of dried milk. Previously there was an arrangement between the two companies, which are not far apart, under which the milk was gathered on a rationalized scheme. Instead of one cart collecting two or three cans the milk was taken to a common depot, and collected. This saved the Co-operative Dairy Association £45,000 a year. Incidentally, this organization paid more for the milk than its competitor.
We have heard a lot about decentralization, and the milk industry is one that lends itself to this. The subsidiary company which was serving the two companies I have mentioned was dissolved and now it appears that the C.D.A. will go to the wall because of the extra cost placed on the farmers who will have to supply milk to one company under conditions different from those employed by the co-operative.
A big factor in costs in the area between Newcastle and Brisbane is the lack of ports. A port is being established on the Clarence River, but the programme is slow because only a certain amount of money is available each year under the public works programme. There is a tremendous loss of milk because it is not exported. To export profitably it is necessary to have a direct shipping service. Other products, such as timber, are forgotten because there are no port facilities.
The Opposition has been charged with not having mentioned defence. An important factor in defence is the provision, of shipping and ports. We all know what happened in the Ruhr when Germany was practically paralysed by bombing.” We must keep in” mind that two-thirds of the population of New South Wales is gathered in the Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong area. Napoleon said that an army marches on its stomach, and the area I represent produces food that helps to keep an army going. If we disperse our population to some degree and encourage the people to go into these areas we will be doing something to protect Australia. It cannot be protected while present conditions exist. Much industry could be developed in this area, but it is affected’ by what are considered to be good business practices. It is the law of the jungle in business, and I suggest that the Development Bank could look into these matters.
A brewery was started on the north coast some time ago, but it met with tremendous competition and had to import all its materials except sugar. The strange fact about that is that it was cheaper to buy sugar from Sydney than to buy it at the factory 30 miles away from the brewery, and that is another trade practice I find difficult to understand. If we are not prepared to do something to provide cheap money through the Development Bank to the producers, the local government authorities and State governments, and if we are not prepared to offer freight concessions, good roads and ports’ for the export trade, we will not get anywhere in this area.
I am a third generation Australian. I have lived all my life on the north coast of New South Wales. I am very proud to represent the people in the .Cowper electorate because I believe that Australia is a wonderful country, and as an Australian I expect the Government to govern my country as all Australians would wish it to be governed.
– I join with members of the Opposition in congratulating the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) on his maiden speech. He has kept us interested for 20 minutes by letting us know the problems of the Cowper electorate, and by telling us something of the difficulties which confront the timber and dairying industries, and of the need for the development of our ports. We congratulate him, and hope that while he is here he will make many similar contributions to the one which he has made to-night.
We are debating an Opposition motion of no confidence in the Government. Honorable members and the people who are listening to the broadcast of the proceedings of this place can look at a motion of no confidence in two ways. It can be regarded in a negative way, the way adopted by the Opposition, which has stated why, in its opinion, the House should censure the Government. The Opposition claims that we should divide on this question, and that when the votes are counted the number against the Government should be greater than the number for the Government. Then there is a positive way of expressing our position indicating the reasons why the Australian people will give continued support to the Menzies Government, not only in the immediate future but in the long term as well.
Dealing first with the negative approach, the Opposition presented its case in two ways. First, there was a series of recommendations for legislative or administrative changes, fifteen in all. Not a single reason was given why the Labour Party believed that those changes should be made. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) also read a speech, which was prepared, if I may use his own words, by some intellectuals or quasi-intellectuals, setting out in complicated and technical language the reasons why there should be a vote of no confidence in the Government. The extraordinary thing about it is that if you follow the reasoning contained in the speech prepared by the technical people - the quasi-intellectuals - you will come to totally different conclusions from those reached by the parliamentary executive of the Labour Party, which itself gave no reasons to support its recommendations, and you would make a totally different set of policy declarations from those which the Opposition put to us.
It is difficult to know which approach one should consider, but I suppose it is wise to look at the reasoned arguments of the Leader of the Opposition because if those reasoned arguments fail then the motion of no confidence must fail. What are the two objections to the Government’s policy which have been stated by the Leader of the Opposition? Before dealing with them could I mention first what the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said? The Prime Minister has stated that we shall reduce personal income tax by 5 per cent., and that that will increase disposable income by £30,000,000 during the next four months.
– What are you talking about?
– I am speaking about the Opposition motion of no confidence, and it is quite clear that you did not know what your own leader was speaking about. Secondly, the Prime Minister has said that we shall increase the spending power of the States and local government authorities by £25,000,000.
The Leader of the Opposition has argued in a pretty detailed way that those amounts will not be sufficient to stimulate employment or to achieve the Government’s announced objectives. Let us look at the argument about whether there will bean extra £30,000,000 of disposable income because of the 5 per cent. reduction of income tax. The argument of the Leader of the Opposition is based on several grounds. First, he said that if you look at the revenue and income tax returns for the first six months of this financial year you will come to the conclusion that because we have not collected 50 per cent. of the total expected returns of gross revenue we can expect a lower return in total and, as we shall have a lower return, the 5 per cent. reduction in income tax will add to the spending power of the community only about £20,000,000, not the £30,000,000 the Government has estimated. This argument is based on the belief of the Leader of the Opposition that because we have not received one-half of the estimated revenue in the first six months we shall not be able to remit as much tax as the Prime Minister has stated. No one on the opposite side of the House who has any knowledge of budgetary methods could possibly claim that because you do not receive one-half of your return in the first six months of the year you cannot expect to receive the full return in the total period of twelve months.
– I shall tell you why if you will be patient. Every intelligent member of this place knows that the bulk of the collections take place in the last three months of the year; that they are not spread equally over the twelve months. Thus, there is no reason whatever for thinking that the disposable income will be less than the £30,000,000 mentioned by the Prime Minister.
The Leader of the Opposition then went on to say that even if the £30,000,000- not £20,000,000 objective- was achieved, much of it would be saved. Here the Leader of the Opposition falls into another error, because at least two-thirds of the amount will be the product of pay-as-you-earn taxation. Those who pay as they earn are notoriously good spenders, and there is good reason to believe that the money will be spent. Further, as the balance will be in the form of a lump remission of provisional tax, there is certainly a high expectation of expenditure from this source also. Therefore, on that ground alone the first argument of the Leader of the Opposition fails.
I should make another point with regard to this aspect of his speech. The Leader of the Opposition forgot that this £30,000,000 will be made available during the next four months of the year. That means that the money, instead of being spent in twelve monthly instalments, will be spent at three times that rate, because the whole of that disposable income will be available for spending between now and 30th June. So, as I have said, the first argument on which the Leader of the Opposition has based his case for a vote of no confidence fails.
– You are the only one who is convinced.
– You have to learn to take it just as every one else has to learn. You and your colleagues were skiting about what you could do. You had your chance and you failed.’
The second argument is this: As the Prime Minister has said, the Government has made £25,000,000 available to the States for housing and public works. The Leader of the Opposition has claimed that this will not lead to an increase in employment, but will mean merely that we shall sustain the present rate of expenditure on public works.
Let us analyse that argument, because this is the second one that he put forward, and if this argument fails then the Opposition’s censure motion automatically fails as well.
What were his reasons? They were these: Last year, the Commonwealth Government approved works and housing expenditure by the States amounting to £240,000,000, which is £10,000,000 greater than the amount for the preceding year. Now the Opposition argues that because the States spent at an accelerated rate during the first six months, and overspent their allocation by about £12,500,000, the present allocation of an additional £15,000,000, as well as the £10,000,000 increase on last year’s allocation, will enable the States only to keep up with their present rate of expenditure and, consequently, no contribution will be made towards solving the employment problem in this country.
Well, Sir, there are two arguments here. First of all, the Leader of the Opposition left out of his calculations the fact that not only have we provided £15,000,000 for housing and works programmes, but we have also provided an additional £10,000,000 which is free to the States, has not to be repaid and can be spent as the State governments think desirable.. Most of that money has been allotted to the States in which the problem of unemployment is greatest. It is not a matter, therefore, of giving only £15,000,000, which will suffice to continue at the minimum the present rate of spending on works and housing; there is also an additional £10,000,000 which, if spent sensibly, can noticeably and effectively add to the volume of employment available in this country. On those two grounds, therefore, the argument of the Leader of the Opposition fails.
I have heard members of the Opposition say, “ What does all this mean? “ True, it was a trivial argument, but I remind honorable members opposite who are trying to interject that it was put forward by their own leader. If they care to say that the argument is trivial, then I agree with them. It is not a real basis on which a want of confidence should be framed. There is only one decision which this House can make, and that is to chuck out the amendment.
But, as I have said, there is a positive way of looking at the matter, and I personally believe that it is the. positive way that is the most important. It is for us to prove - and I think we can prove it to the satisfaction of the Australian community and this House - that what the Government has done is right and is deserving of full support.
– Are you aiming at full employment?
– Yes; I will come to full employment in a moment. Let me come now to the positive angles of our policy. First, I should make it clear that we as a government have stated that we believe that the level of unemployment is too high.
– Oh, you do!
– It is all very well for you people opposite to say, in effect, “I told you so”; you should learn to be good near-winners as well as losers. Secondly, we have stated positively that we believe the economy should receive a boost, and we are giving that boost by the means that I have mentioned - an increase in the amount available for the housing and works programmes, and a reduction of taxation. Thirdly, Sir, we know that the retail trade, apart from the food industries, also needs a boost. We have made these statements, and I personally have no wish to engage in justification of what I or any other member of the Government has said in the past. We have admitted that the economy needs a boost, and that boost is in fact being provided.
Now, Sir, there are long- and short-term problems to be looked at. Let me take the short-term problems first. To put this matter into perspective, I would like the House, and those people outside the House who are listening, to realize that what the Government is doing now represents the fourth of a series of measures taken over a period of time, and, as the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has pointed out to-day, these measures have a cumulative effect.
– Too right!
– When they do take effect it can be over a wide field and at an accelerated pace. So there is always a problem facing the Government of knowing just when to act and the extent of the stimulus that should be given. This is one of the critical problems of a government - knowing just how far to go and when to act. We have adopted the policy of tailoring our programmes to suit what we regard as the needs of the particular month or the particular year in which we are living. So, Sir, in January last year such measures were taken by the Government as a reduction in the rate of sales tax on motor vehicles and a boost to the housing programme. Later action was taken to eliminate practically all restrictions on the use of credit. Still later, action was taken to boost public works expenditure throughout the States, on great -national projects, by between £60,000,000 and £70,000,000. Then the Budget was brought down. We budgeted for a deficit. We expected that this would relieve some of the pressures on employment that were already developing. Now we have the fourth series of measures taken by the Government. I do not want to recount them other than to say that they involve a reduction of taxation and a stepping-up of public works programmes.
What are the favorable signs in the short run?
– That is what I expected you would say, because your eyes and your ears are closed. But let us look at some of the favorable signs appearing during the last few days. As you know, Mr. Speaker, we had some misgivings about what was happening in the motor vehicle and component parts industries. On Friday it was announced by Mr. Harlow Gage, of General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited, that during February his company’s sales had increased by 37 per cent. over the preceding month. Sales of the Ford Motor Company of Australia Proprietary Limited increased in the same month by 24 per cent. These figures must have a most heartening effect on the people who manufacture motor vehicle components and, in fact, on all those firms which depend on the motor vehicle industry for continued development. Mr. Harlow Gage has also announced that not only does he see in this a return to prosperity, but also that since January General MotorsHolden’s Proprietary Limited has put on an additional 1,010 men.
– Butunemployment rose.
– Unemployment is not rising.
– It rose by 15,000.
– And if you will content yourself for a little while you will find that it will drop very substantially. So you see, Mr. Speaker, that in this industry there has been a marked improvement.
Let me turn now to the steel industry. On Friday a spokesman for the steel industry announced that orders for this six months were expected to be a good deal larger than those for the preceding six months. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has announced that its policy for this year involves spending £55,000,000 in the steel industry. I touch on only one other section of industry, the textile industry, in which the numbers employed rose last month by 700 or 800.
As to employment in the short run let me mention two matters. The first is that in the Commonwealth Employment Service of my department job notifications are being received at the rate of more than 10,000 a week, and we are placing more than 7,200 people in employment every week. We have been doing this for some weeks past. Secondly, I can tell the House that during January there was an exceptional rise in the number of wage and salary earners in the industries that the department regularly surveys. So there are signs in the short run of returning confidence. There are signs, Sir, if you wanted such signs, that the economy is expanding and is providing an increased number of jobs for our people.
What of the long run? Let me mention, first, the investment allowance of 20 per cent. that has also been mentioned by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). That allowance was granted for the purpose of permitting our industries to buy machinery and, when allowing for depreciation, to provide for an additional amount, being 20 per cent. in excess of the cost of the equipment, as well as the amount represented by depreciation itself. This not only allows the industries to have extra funds for spending on equipment; it also provides an opportunity for efficiency, and it gives us a chance not only to compete in international markets but also to reduce the cost of the things that we produce in this country.
We will also provide - and a bill will be brought before the House soon for this purpose - that quantitative restrictions may be recommended to the Government by a special authority or the Tariff Board in respect of those industries which, if I may use the term again, are sensitive to international competition and must receive protection, either by tariff or quantitative restriction or both, in the long-term interests of the growth of this country. To all this must be added the policy directions made last year when we provided the money for the development of the Mr Isa railway, the construction of beef roads, the conversion to diesel locomotion of the railway in South Australia, the conversion to standard gauge of railway lines in Western Australia and the construction of coal ports in New South Wales. This is opening opportunities. It is providing the conditions in which private enterprise can prosper and in which we expect to find increasing job opportunities for our growing population, particularly for the young people of the community.
As Minister for Labour and National Service I think it appropriate that I should finish on the note of the future prospects for employment. I have said before, and I repeat now, that I believe a total of 131,000 persons registered for employment is too high - I know it is. But if I can read the signs that are now before me, such as the trend in the number of recipients of unemployment benefits, the fact that we are placing 7,200 employees in jobs each week, and the fact that last month we had an exceptional increase in the number of wage and salary earners, I can say in clear and unequivocal words that the figures for February will show a fall in unemployment greater than any fall in any other February since the Commonwealth Employment Service records were first published. The next highest figure was in 1953, when we had a reduction of 10,500. I am certain that the reductions inFebruary of this year will be substantially greater than that.
I mentionthe month of February alone because that is the month with which we are dealing. I have given this picture’ about an increase in employment;I think I can go one stage further: I personally believe that when the figures become available in about ten days time we will find that the reduction will be the greatest we have had in any month with the possible exception of the month immediately following the termination of the coal strike in 1949.
I sum up on this basis: I have said that the motion of the Opposition should fail because it cannot be sustained on logical or sensible grounds. I have pointed out the short-term prospects for employment and the short-term prospects for improvement in the economy. I have also stated what we hope to achieve in the long run. There is one other factor that we need now, and that is co-operation from the trade unions and from management, and co-operation as between the State and Federal governments. Given that and given a reasonable degree of common sense from the Opposition and, if I may state it, less continuous and carping criticism, the prospects for the future are good. The House will be able to judge how to treat the motion of the Opposition. I repeat that we should chuck it out and record a vote of confidence in the Menzies Government.’
.- HadI not been present while the Minister for Labour and . National Service (Mr. McMahon) was speaking, I would not have believed that he was debating a censure motion upon which the life of his Government depended. A senior Minister, as he is, should not talk such utter nonsense, fit only for the Dorcas class of the Ashfield school, where he comes from.
– Do not say that.
– I do not mean the ragged school. I was speaking in a general sense. It is a’ sign of weakness that the Minister would not discuss the matter of unemployment at length. It is no wonder that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) interjected, although he normally does not do so, and told the Minister to get on to the question of unemployment. But, of course, the Minister did not. In his long and tortuous speech he spent only five minutes onemployment. He took the short run and the longrun,buthe did not leave the ground. He has never been in flight on this question. The House must realize that when the voteis takenon this motion the best the Government can hope for is a majority of one. What a nattering speech was made by the Minister, nonetheless, on this major problem of unemployment!
We put the surrender terms to the Government, and I have them here in my hand. This is a complete list of the unemployment figures from January, . 1956, to January, 1962, but the Minister runs away from them. He is running under this argument. He said: “ We have four anaesthetics we apply to industry. If the first one does not kill the patient, the second may revive him. If the third is applied in the proper circumstances, the patient may live; and then we have the fourth.” He picked up a piece of newspaper and said that more cars were being sold, anyway. But people want jobs and want to get back to Australian standards of living. The Minister has not the courage to debate this matter with us and has now left the chamber after making his footling speech. I think it was the worst speech I have ever heard him make.
This is our indictment of the Government. We are discussing a motion of censure and not merely talking at an afternoon tea party. In January, 1956, the number of registered unemployed was 30,661 and the number receiving the dole was 4,742. As we skitter down the months we can see just how the problem has grown. The Minister weaved in and out of this problem and did everything except deal with it. The figures show that unemployment increased until 131,496 were registered in January, 1962. What sort of an explanation did we get in this House relevant to this matter? None at all! We had some economic poppycock from the Minister, but he did not understand it himself. It made me think of the essays I had read on Einstein’s theory of relativity. It was easier to understand them than to follow the Minister’s reasoning on unemployment. We have the appalling picture of 131,496 registered for emloyment and 56,755 on the dole in January, 1962. That is why the Government is in a parlous position. It has no remedy for the unemployment problem.
I had hoped the Minister for Labour and National Service would- have stayed in the chamber. I had intended to give ‘him a sort of quiz. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson), who is now at the table, has control of quiz sessions so I will “ask- him to take the place of the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask the PostmasterGeneral to state a month and I will then give him the unemployment figures for that month. He should then be thoroughly ashamed.
– If I think of a figure, you will double it, will you?
– If he will not do that, I will give him the figures myself. They range from 31,517 in June, 1956, to 131,496 in January of this year. These figures are a damning indictment of the Government and they are our terms of surrender. Unless the Government can do something to rectify the situation, it ought to get out. This is the essence of the problem. It is of no use the Minister for Labour and National Service trying. to give us a second-grade lesson in economics; we want to know about work for the people. The Government cannot answer our assertions. With the concurrence of honorable members, I include the following figures in “ Hansard “ -
Let us have a look at how the Minister has deserted the House and not given it an answer to our motion of censure. . Unemployment has increased from 31,000 registered in 1956 to .131,000 registered in 1962, and the situation is getting worse. We have always had the same approach from the Minister, and I have taken the’ trouble to refer to his statements and to ascertain the degree of unemployment on the day he made the statement. The Minister must stand up to this position. He has made many statements, but some are too footling to record. I have chosen those that are more or less relevant and more or less intelligent. On 15th ‘November, 1960, he said -
If people are wise they can avoid suffering.
He was referring to unemployment. On that day, 43,313 people were not wise. They did not avoid suffering. There were 11,738 on the dole and they did not avoid suffering. Have you ever heard such nonsense from a responsible Minister, who says, “ If people are wise they can avoid suffering “ ? If people are. wise, they will avoid the Minister, who represents the Lowe electorate, for ever in that electorate, where his majority, because of his ineptitude, has fallen from 7,000 to 700. I am his next-door neighbour in the neighbouring constituency. I am a most uncomfortable and a niggling neighbour, - and he knows that. So that is the position we are in.
On 26th April, 1961, the Minister was most vociferous. Indeed; I am often annoyed by the statements that he makes which seem to me to have no substance. On 26th April of last year, he said -
Our policies are working out much as expected. We have achieved good results.
Let us now have a look at the good results. There were 89,367 people without jobs of any sort and 35,025 on the dole. Yet he said -
We have achieved good results.
Was there ever anything more scandalous and more contemptuous of the suffering people than that sort of nonsense is? Then, of course, having obtained a draught of confidence from somewhere, on 7th July, 1961, the Minister said -
The confidence of business is continuing to build up.
Another build-up like that and we all shall be out of work. That was a completely ridiculous statement. On the day that the Minister raised the trumpet and said, “ Hosanna in the .highest! The confidence of business is- continuing to build up”, as I found by my painful research at the weekend, there were 1 13,439 people unemployed. and 57,154 on the dole. The Minister then became emboldened like the little fellow in the fairy tale who used to swat flies and then say, “ I have killed seven “. The Minister reduced his unemployment by a small figure and came again. On 30th November, 1961, he said that he was sure employment would continue to improve. Echo answered, “ When? “ The figures as at that date, which I extracted as part of my Sunday chore, showed that there were 100,057 out of work and 47,541 on the dole. The Minister, still using for publicity the statistics for which he is famous - this is the sad one - on 8th December, 1961, the night before the election, said, as we all remember -
Young people, leaving school would all find jobs.
That is the greatest line of all. That is the most scandalous thing that has been done in politics for a very long time. The Minister knew that, on the formula created by the Department of Labour and National Service, that was an impossibility, because work for adults depends upon the juniors and the apprentices. I need not tell the House that. I have tried, in discussions with officers of various unions over the week-end, to get at the correct figure. With all these evasions and contradictions, it is very hard to get the simple fact of how many children leaving school have a job. It is difficult to run it to earth. We believe that 60,000 children left school in December, and 38,000 of them are unemployed. Is that not a valid reason for us to fight the Government in this House and censure it? When are we to get any answers to these questions? That is the thing that we want to know. The Postmaster-General, who comes from Queensland, of course, has been struck dumb since 9th December. He cannot, answer anything - not even the telephone. So we have to get an answer from somewhere else.
I am completely sick of the stupidity of the Government in this matter. What happened when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) participated1 in this debate after the censure motion grounded on fifteen points had been moved by the Leader of the Opposition’ (Mr. Calwell)? The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) saw ‘ something nasty in’ the woodshed on Thursday evening last as ail honorable members recall. The Government went into a panic and the Prime Minister did not bother to debate the censure motion any more. Whenever he is trapped, he becomes a ham actor. I have been trying to get him into Actors and Announcers Equity Association of Australia for a long time. I am a member of that organization, not as an actor, but as a script writer, as you, Sir, will realize. The right honorable gentleman would be an acquisition. On Thursday last, he did not say any more about the censure motion. He started to talk about the tragic differences between himself and a powerful friend in Sydney.
I wrote these few words, which I hope. Mr. Speaker, you will treat as copious notes. The Prime Minister, on these occasions, loves to ham it up. When he does, I enjoy him immensely. On Thursday night, he was superb. I have seen some briliant performances, but this was a three-star night. It was good theatre, but it was terrible politics. He decided to play Hamlet. He walked the gloomy battlements of his political humiliation, communing with his ghosts. He saw them everywhere, particularly on the editorial board and in the management of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. All honorable members remember how the right honorable gentleman saw the ghosts of his majorities go past one by one screaming with the banshee wail of lost souls, lost seats and lost opportunities. He was hunted and haunted. Then, continuing to ham Hamlet, he descended into the famous graveyard scene, accompanied by his two grave-diggers, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick). When they dug up the skeleton of the Liberal Party of Australia, the Prime Minister took the skull in his hands and said, “ Alas, poor Warwick! I knew him well! “ I have never heard the like of it in my long career in this Parliament.
Then the Prime Minister said something else which was terribly significant. He said that he would repair the economy. My answer is, “ With what? “ The right honorable gentleman has lost three Ministers. They have lost their seats, and the rest of the Ministry have lost their senses. So where will the Prime Minister look for his help? Will he look, for instance, to the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) - Moreton the Magnificent - to help him in his task? The honorable member for Moreton has now become known as the ancient mariner in this House, because, hanging around his neck, like the albatross round the neck of the ancient mariner, are the 139 Communist preference votes that returned him. He wears them as a decoration so long as he sits in this House. What a classic judgment on him, because, if ever there was a red-baiter in this place it is the honorable member for Moreton. He who has always cried “ Stinking fish “ will always have the smell around him.
Where will the Government look for assistance? Will it look to the two paper tigers? We heard them earlier to-day. I refer to the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honormember for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). They are the red-eyed revolutionaries of the notice-paper. We hear them always saying that they are going to do something or other. They are always running about trying to frighten the press and to frighten us with talk in the corridors about a spill coming because they are going to do as they have threatened. But they never do anything. They are magnificent on paper, but in action they are cream puffs. We have seen again to-day the kind of inaction of which they are capable when they have an opportunity to do something for the Australian people. They always avoid the issue. However, I admit that they look good on paper.
– What do-
– If the honorable member will stop talking about Laos, I shall tell him what I think of these paper tigers. They are forever watching for their turn, which never comes. They hide behind the forms and orders of the House, and, from this prickly defence in depth, they never dare to apply the match in their paper war. If the Prime Minister is looking for strength,
I say to him in all kindliness: “Not there, my child, not there. There is no strength for you on that side “. Those honorable members are said to be the boys who will pull the Government down. I have no belief in that. They are only pulling their own legs. That is the situation. So the Prime Minister, in despair, in the heat of the debate on this censure motion, and in fear of its strength, looks to his Ministers. They all have dossiers and documentation. Was there ever anything so weak, as what they said about unemployment during the election campaign? I just took a brief extract, but there is plenty of copy for anybody else who would like to look back in the files for it. Here is what I found. The Minister for External Affairs, who is also Attorney-General, is a precise gentleman, a man of law, who weighs every word to see what is its weight and what is its value, made this goof on the air that would shock a kid. He went on television in Brisbane and, in answer to a smart question by an equally smart journalist, the honorable gentleman, as he sat back gracefully, said -
Unemployment is greater than we wished for.
– Not greater than the Opposition wished for.
– The honorable member, too, longs for this, and I shall deal with him in a moment. “ Webster’s Dictionary “ states that “ wish “ means “ to long for, crave, desire “. Does the Minister for External Affairs long for, crave and desire unemployment? He is a proper drunkard if he craves for unemployment in that way. However, that is what he said. The Treasurer, over nuts and coffee at a dinner of businessmen in Sydney, had something to say about the matter. Perhaps somebody had been winking at him over the good wine. I have no objection to that, but surely, politically speaking, the claret must have run when he made this statement -
When this is over-
That means unemployment - you will get more production with fewer men.
What a horrible admission! The Government should be censured on that statement alone. They did not get more production.
All they got was less business and less profit.
The final one was the ineffable statement of the bachelor member for Lowe (Mr. McMahon), who is also the Minister for
Unemployment. What did he say? We all heard him and were astonished. We went out and had a refresher. In replying, I think, to the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), he said that the basic wagecould support many more than a man and his wife and child. Those, of course, were the most famous of famous last words. As I have said, the Minister’s majority fell from 7,000 to 700.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) was so terrified in this debate that he bolted. His speech last Thursday was the best clearance of hurdles that I have seen since the late lamented Moss Trooper was retired to the stud. The reason he galloped in this way was that there are a lot of new Australian Labour Party members who know as much about the dairying industry and other things as the honorable member for Richmond. He was gone! If the Prime Minister is looking for him he will have to go to the wild Monaro where the wild ponies go, because he cleared out in a complete panic. Everybody noticed it. When he interjects he must remember that he galloped off the scene and we will remove him more permanently at the end of the time.
There is such a lot to be said about unemployment. The official figure for unemployment is 131,000. Members of the Opposition believe that the Government’s figures are cooked. We believe that the Government’s formula is wrong. We believe that there are between 150,000 and 200,000 unemployed. I challenge the Government to explain the position if it can. What is the Government going to do about the unemployed? If the present figure increases by 100,000 the Government will never cure unemployment. You, the Government, should understand that this is a short-range job which the Opposition can do in association with the trade unions. We know that we have to have some planning - the planning of Chifley and Roosevelt, intelligent men faced with the same problem. But you will drag us into an unemployment situation almost as terrible as that in the United States of America and Canada. In the United States of America 6,000,000 unemployed, standing on the sidelines, are getting what is called a “ stand-by wage “ because of automation. It is so urgent and imperative that we should get this stupid, futile Government off the treasury bench in order to cope with unemployment. Opposition members are asking only for a chance to deal with this temporary unemployment, which has been created by the bad management of the Government. But looming ahead is a most considerable and terrible problem. I believe that the machine age - this creation of science - is something to which all of us need to give attention. Even the war between the ideologies may be submerged under the terrible struggle to get men to work. There is already a library of books on this subject throughout the world. It deals with the story of the age of abundance - the problem of plenty, the problem of maldistribution! We know that all these things are coming, but we say to the Government, on the question of unemployment, “This is where you have made a terrible mistake”.
When the Labour Government takes office it will have to make some dramatic changes. I think that we should consider the question of the accountability of high public servants. Where do they stand in this matter? Do they always escape? They submit plans - plan number one, plan number two, plan number three and plan number four - and when the Minister is exhausted they submit their own plan and get away with it. There is a contract of accountability in morality to which we should see. I am in favour of the American system of “ one out all out “. I should like to see it take place. You can trust most public servants, I suppose, but it is a big slide to the dynamism they are going to get from us after the sleepy time stuff they have been doing for twelve years under the Liberals.
There is a big question raised in regard to that and in regard to unemployment. Some move on short-term unemployment is imperative. If we delay too long in dragging the reluctant Government to the country honorable members opposite will not be able to deal with this problem. That is not politics. That is hard, sober fact. Government supporters sheer away from the words “ planned economy “. They talk utter nonsense about plans and systems..
What are plans and systems except a bit of economic jargon? What is the good of having a balance of £560,000,000 overseas if you have kids out of work? How would members opposite feel if their youngsters were unemployed, especially if they themselves thirty years ago, had ducked out in the mornings and run their fingers down the columns of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ to see if there was a job vacant. Our youngsters who are unemployed to-day are doing the same thing. This brings to mind the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The Government has betrayed the. servicemen, after all the fine promises it has made to them. Now we may say of the children of the servicemen -
The young, young children, O my brothers
They are weeping bitterly
In the kingdom of the others
In the country of the free.
We want to have a look at that situation. All the mothers who talked to me on this subject during the election campaign were deeply concerned. They said, “We have given our children a good education and trained them and thrown them on the labour market “. Already they have a depression complex and psychologically they have been wounded. The Government did this out of sheer stupidity.
When the Prime Minister pontificates at the table he says that we have a balance of £560,000,000 overseas. That means nothing. What is the balance of employment right here in Australia? Where are the work opportunities, not only for adult workers, but for children? If you cannot answer these questions there is no validity in your claims. You have not answered the Opposition’s questions. You ham it. You run away from these questions. The Minister said nothing about unemployment. As I said, he left the ground only occasionally. We are disgusted with the job that you have done. You have not faced up to those facts, which the public has told the Opposition to drive home to you. You have no answer to what happened in New South Wales last Saturday. So, in the classic words of Oliver Cromwell, who is not exactly a hero of mine, I say to you - Go! For the love of God go! It is not fit that you should sit here any longer! You should now give place to better men.
– Mr. Speaker, we have just listened to an address from the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) of a type to which we have become very accustomed in this chamber. We all know that the honorable member for Parkes has a glib facility for expressing himself. We know, too, that he can be very superficially entertaining. He is, as he has demonstrated to-night, very often more concerned with obtaining the cheap, easy, empty laugh than with presenting serious debate. To-night, in the main, he has been normally unconvincing. He has applied himself mainly to a criticism of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and to some discussion on the unemployment problem. Well, Sir, I could not help thinking of two or three things as he made his remarks. It is not very long ago since the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, on returning from a trip overseas, said that when he mentioned in various circles overseas that there was below 3 per cent, of unemployment in Australia his statement was met with amazement by those who heard it. They said that that was a remarkably small figure. I do not like to be personal, but 1 cannot help remembering that the honorable member for Parkes, who has just been criticizing the Minister for Labour and National Service, said some time ago in this House, when Labour was in government, that 5 per cent, was a normal, reasonable figure for unemployment.
Of the remarks that the honorable member made to-night one struck me as particularly significant. I think I should stress it. I believe I heard him aright when he was speaking of this Government going out of office. He referred to the American system under which, when there was a change of government, it was a case of “ one out, all out “. In other words, the majority of those in the public service go out when the government of their colour goes out. What an amazing statement that is to make in a country such as this! What does it mean to the members of the Public Service? We should see that that statement by a responsible member of the Labour Opposition is given prominence se that our friends in the Public Service, who serve both sides of this House with complete impartiality, may know exactly what is the real attitude of honorable members opposite. What a dreadful thing it is to say that! The one thing that has impressed me in all my years of association with public servants is the tradition which they have established - a tradition of giving loyal service to whatever party happens to be in power at a particular time, irrespective of their own political convictions. It is a dreadful thing to tell those people now, “ When we come in we will tip out all those who are not with us “.
The honorable member for Parkes dealt with unemployment. I want to refer to quite a few other things in the few minutes at my disposal to-night, but I will make one or two comments on the unemployment situation. No one denies that at the present time the unemployment figure is higher than it has been for many years. In fact, it is higher now than it has been since the last Labour Government was in office. It was much higher then than it is now. Do not let that be forgotten. But there is another factor which must be realized, and which is acknowledged by every independent critic or independent investigator who knows what he is talking about. It is that the present level of unemployment in Australia would be much higher than it is had it not been for the corrective measures taken by this Government in November of last year. The present unemployment does not flow from those measures, as many honorable members opposite claim it does. In fact, this position had started to develop before those corrective measures were taken. It started to arise as a result of various undesirable practices that were developing in private industry. It had commenced to develop and it was beginning to snowball. We, recognizing that fact, took measures to correct it. Naturally, those measures did not take effect immediately and, as has been stated, since the election there has been an increase in unemployment. But, as the Minister for Labour and National Service stated emphatically, the top of the wave has been reached and, as a result of the measures we have taken recently, unemployment will decline. Although I said a few minutes ago that the position in Australia compares very favorably with that in other countries, do not let it be believed that I, or any one else on this side of the House, feel in any way complacent about the unemployment situation. It’ is well known now that, following discussions with various bodies representing all grades of industry, a series of remedial measures was announced by this Government.
Let us have a look at those measures for a minute or two. We are charged with not doing anything. The first measure to which I wish to refer is the non-repayable grant of £10,000,000 to the States for the purpose of developing employment-giving activities. .It is an indication of this Government’s intentions that that £10,000,000 has been allocated to the States, not on any accepted formula, but on the basis of the employment needs of particular States. That is why my own State of Queensland, in which the percentage of unemployment is worst, is receiving a higher percentage of the £10,000,000 grant.
Let me say here that I think every one should pay tribute to all the Premiers who met our representatives - the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) - on the way in which they more or less collaborated with the Commonwealth Government, fell into line with our. proposal’s and accepted them. Some of those States which thought they were not being treated very well accepted -the proposals finally without question and are setting out to implement them in order to help this Government to relieve the unemployment situation.
Let me remind honorable members of the extra £7,500,000 that is being made available for housing during this financial year and the authorization of the borrowing of a further £7,500,000 by semigovernmental bodies and local authorities. Those three items alone total £25,000,000. Of course, there are many other measures which we are implementing in this drive to relieve unemployment. I shall not deal with them all in detail, but I briefly remind honorable members of. the increase from £2,750 to £3,500 in the maximum advance for a war service home. That is designed to assist the home-building and timber industries, which have been badly hit in some places. I remind honorable members, too, of the increase in . unemployment benefits, which was discussed in this House only a’ few ‘days ago. I remind them as well of the .5 per cent, reduction in income, tax. All these things are designed to develop greater confidence and greater spending* in one way or another. Then there has been “a reduction of the sales tax on motor cars and other vehicles. We have granted a 20 per cent, investment allowance to encourage private industry - the various firms and manufacturing instrumentalities - to improve its factories and so on in order that there may be an increase in production and employment.
I said a few moments ago that we are very pleased to find that the States are co-operating in this matter. I know that in my own State of Queensland - and my friends on this side know that it is so in their States - everything is being done to utilize this extra money to the fullest and best advantage. We say that these measures will bear fruit very rapidly. We have made it known to the State governments that it is the intention of the Commonwealth Government that these extra moneys which have been made available - shall . be put into commission immediately and shall bring results as rapidly as possible.
Let me say briefly that it is not only in the private sphere, in the State sphere or in the semi-governmental sphere that we are encouraging expenditure. We are doing it also in our own Government instrumentalities. I will not mention them all, but I point out that for the balance of this financial year my own department has been given a further £1,000,000 to spend, thus helping to relieve unemployment. That will provide employment for close on another 2,000 people in Australia when it is expended in various ways. Already - it is only a few weeks since we set out on this move - 569 extra employees have been engaged by the Post Office alone. That is just a start. It is difficult, at present to estimate the amount of indirect employment that will result from the work we have given to contractors and providers of equipment, but we anticipate that another 500 will be employed there. The associated industries will be able to employ another 950. In connexion with work being done for the Post Office by the department administered by my colleague, the Minister for Works (Mr. Freeth) requisitions have been placed for 789 minor jobs-. On minor works under the control of my department, we have authorized an additional 843 jobs. That is the way in which’ we are operating in our own departments. I have’ no doubt that, to a lesser extent, the same drive is being made in departments- such as Supply and Defence.
I want to pass on now to make the point that there is one thing that has amazed me about the debate on this censure proposal. The Leader of the Opposition has proposed to censure the Government by way of an amendment to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. That is a very serious matter, and we have treated it as such. The Leader of the Opposition submitted no detailed support for the fifteen charges which he laid, and, as has already been mentioned, he carefully left out any reference to defence and to Indonesia - with which he had been hammering us previously, and apparently about which he has been hammered himself. After the Prime Minister had announced that this censure motion was to be treated in the acknowledged fashion, and that it would take precedence over all other business, we found that, with very few exceptions, the members of the Opposition who were responsible for the censure motion did not apply themselves to it at all. They got back to the old parish pump handle. Any one listening to three out of every four of the Labour speakers would not have known that the Government was under censure at all. That is an amazing factor. On the other hand our own Government members, without exception, have stood up and put to one side for the time being this opportunity to talk about their own electorates. They have come out with both arms swinging, fighting the Opposition’s censure motion, not defensively, but in a way which, I am sure, has demonstrated to the people of Australia the shallowness and the falsity of the charges against us.
We are to-night in the concluding stages of the debate on this censure motion, so I cannot deal with every detail of the fifteen charges made against us by the Opposition. Let me take just a few of them. Strangely enough, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) charged the Government with’ ignoring the need to protect the woolgrowers and with failing to give any assurance to various primary industries. He instanced wheat, sugar, beef and dairying. If there was any act of ignoring, it was on the part of the Leader of the Opposition, because he was ignoring not only our record in the assistance we have given to the primary industries, but also our announced intentions with regard to them.
Let us take the wool industry, for example. Has the Leader of the Opposition forgotten that it was our own Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who, after the last war, preserved, under great pressure from overseas, the auction system for wool? If he has forgotten that, the wool industry has not. Has he forgotten that not so long ago, as the result of some pressure from various wool organizations for a further investigation of marketing problems, the Government, following our established practice in such matters, appointed a top level committee for the investigation of these problems, in order to allow the various organizations in the wool industry the opportunity to present their case so that the Government and the industry could have a thoroughly documented report on this matter? That is the way in which we have operated - the development of an independent authoritythis particular one being under the chairmanship of Sir Roslyn Philp, a Supreme Court judge from Queensland. I am sure the wool industry generally will treat with some degree of levity the suggestion, by the Leader of the Opposition, that it has had no assistance from this Government.
The same thing applies to dairying. I listened with interest and respect to the reasoned speech of the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) in which he dealt with this industry. Of course, the dairy industry has been passing through difficult times but, following our policy, we some time ago established a committee to go into the whole economy of the industry and some time ago we received its report. My colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has made our attitude in this matter quite plain. That report recommended a certain departure from the methods by which we had previously assisted the industry and we refused to adopt those recommendations. The Minister, after discussions with the bodies representing the industry and with the State Ministers for Agriculture, has almost completed his proposal for a further five years’ guarantee for the industry.
May I also be permitted to remind honorable members that in the period from 1949 to 1960-61 this Government has been responsible for paying to the dairy industry a subsidy totalling £182,500,000. If that does -not indicate the extent to which this Government is prepared to go in helping this industry, I do not know what does.
The Leader of the Opposition also referred to wheat and made an astonishing charge. He said that the Government had failed to provide adequate support for and give an assurance of stability to the wheat industry. He must have forgotten that in the last two years, under the wheat stabilization plan, this Government has contributed to the stability of the industry an amount totalling about £12,000,000 and that the Minister is now moving and has under negotiation with representatives of the industry a further five-year stabilization plan. And as the result of our previous record the industry is quite assured that it will receive very fair treatment from this Government.
What amazed me particularly, in this - challenge against our support for primary industry, was the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition that the sugar industry had received no assurance of stability from this Government. He made that statement within a few weeks of the announcement by my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, that, following receipt of the McCarthy report, the Government refused to adopt certain recommendations, regarding the formula for determining the price of sugar, which would have brought about a ‘reduction in the price of refined sugar in Australia. Yet the Leader of the Opposition charges us With neglect of this industry. I think he completely forgets that since we came to power in 1949, as the result of applications from the industry from time to time, supported by the Queensland Government, we have increased the retail price of refined sugar from 4id. to lid. per lb., while at the same time the amount of sugar which can be bought for- the basic wage now, com pared with the basic wage of 1915, ‘has about doubled So there has been no hardship inflicted on the consumers.
– Did you say 1915? .
– Yes, 1915. But the most specious charge that was levelled against us by the Leader of the Opposition was when he said that the Government had given no assurance to our primary industries in the event of the United Kingdom being admitted to the European Common Market. Just fancy a statement like that being made at that time, when the Opposition was refusing a pair to the Minister for Trade to enable faim to go overseas and discuss all these big problems which are ahead of us in connexion with Great Britain’s entry into the Common Market-
Opposition Members. - We did not refuse a pair.
– At that stage- I repeat - a pair was being refused and it was only last Thursday night, when the right honorable gentleman was on the eve of being forced to decide that he could not go, that as the result of the pressure of opinion generally the Opposition said: “ All right. We will give you a pair.” In those circumstances, how can this statement referring to the United Kingdom being admitted to the European Common Market be given any credence? It is a hollow sham.
There has also been the charge that we have failed to provide for the development of northern Australia. I am afraid I will not have time to deal with this charge effectively, but here, again, the Leader of the Opposition is ignoring the facts of life. Let us look at them. I remind him that we have done a great deal for development in northern Australia, particularly in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. There has been a great amount expended on roads. I see my friends from Queensland smiling, but- let me remind them that only recently we made available, quite apart from previous grants given for beef roads, a further amount of £5,000,000, of which £4,350,000 was a free grant without any matching amount at all. A great deal has also been done in Western Australia as the result of the sound representations by bur friends over there, following which proposals put forward by the State have been agreed to, to -he carried out over several years, under, which works -in the north, which are essential for the development of the northern part of Western Australia, are being undertaken.. Among the approved projects are the Wyndham jetty, the Napier-Broome Bay investigations, the Ord River diversion dam and the deep water port , at Black Rocks. Were those proposals submitted while there was a Labour government in Western Australia? In relation to these items alone, £2,380,000 has been allocated to Western Australia. This year, £500,000 has been spent on Western Australian roads. These, briefly, are some of the things we have been doing.
In Queensland, we have made a loan of £20,000,000 to the Queensland Government for the Mount Isa railway. I want to make it clear that this money has been made available under the terms put up to us by the Queensland Government in the first place. When the Queensland Government failed to obtain a loan overseas we said, “ Very well, this proposal is so sound that we will act as your bankers and make the money available “. This money did not come out of tax reimbursements or other normal methods of finance. It was provided because we were determined that the project would be proceeded with, and we provided the money on better terms than the State Government had expected to get it from overseas.
Now I. turn my attention to oil. This Government has done a great deal through the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) and his department to determine deposits of coal and iron ore. The Minister for National Development has firmly believed for years that we would find oil in Australia. There has been intense investigation, and much information has been given to private enterprise from a survey by the Bureau of Mineral Resources. The: Government has spent some £6,000,000 to assist and encourage boring for oil. As a result, oil has been found in Queensland. I do not say that we, the Commonwealth Government, found the oil. It has been found as the result of the operations of a number of interested people. But I do say that had it not been for the great encouragement given to private industry by this Government in the way -of information and financial assistance, oil probably would not have been found for a long time.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- May I congratulate you, Sir, on assuming office as the Speaker of the Twenty-fourth Parliament. Already it appears to me, as a new member of this Parliament, that you have a capacity to control debate, a ready perception and, undoubtedly, the respect of both sides of this House. I also offer my congratulations to the new members on the Government side. If I may say so - certainly not in a critical sense and, I hope, with due humility - each has acquitted himself remarkably well. Although I do not agree with them as to the content of their speeches I applaud them for the able manner in which they have placed their material before the House. To those new members whom I have joined on this side of the House let me say what a pleasure and a delight it is to be in this great Labour family. I feel privileged to be among them.
I represent what might perhaps be termed the most residential of all Labour electorates in Australia. To those who do not know metropolitan Sydney I might explain that I represent the suburbs of Drummoyne, Abbotsford, Five Dock, Haberfield, Ashfield, Croydon, a small portion of Burwood and Summer Hill North. In those areas there is very little industry. The industry that is there comprises largely Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, which is well known as a large manufacturer of electronics, Peek Frean (Australia) Proprietary Limited and Crompton Parkinson (Australia) Proprietary Limited. By and large my electorate is composed of people who are the salt of the earth - good, home-loving Australians. There is a fair sprinkling of professional men and a very handsome proportion of skilled tradesmen and white collar workers. I am particularly proud to represent them in this House as the successor to a very honorable gentleman, Mr. Fred Osborne.
I conceive it my duty as a member of this National Parliament not to put any sectional viewpoint before the House. I am privileged to represent the people of Evans, and I feel that they would not want me to put forward any narrow point of view. Therefore, while I am a member of this
House it shall be my intention - and I hope I can live up to this aspiration - to place before the House a truly national point of view so far as my own conscience dictates. I shall put before this House the philosophy of the Australian Labour Party as I understand it - a philosophy to which I am devoted and a party to which I am dedicated. Over the years this great party has been traduced by honorable members on the Government side of the House, I am sorry to say. For twelve years or so now, attempts have been made to link the great Australian Labour Party with communism. I think that is quite a perfidious thing to do. I do not know whether honorable members realize that in acting this way they were following a line which was quite ignobly commenced by Dr. Goebbels in Germany and was carried on in the Western democracies by the late Senator McCarthy. I should like to think that during the currency of this Parliament there will be no such repetition of what has gone on in the past years.
The Australian Labour Party is a very healthy organism. We members of the party detest communism. I personally abhor it because of its Godless content. I am mindful of what is contained in the preamble to the Australian Constitution. These are the words that I have in mind -
To me, that connotes that the Commonwealth of Australia was meant to be a Christian nation. I personally shall always fight for freedom of religion as well as for the other freedoms which are so basic to our society. The glory of the Australian Labour Party is the diversity of the interests it represents. It is from the thesis and antithesis of caucus debate and discussion that Labour policy flows. Here, Sir, is the very core of Labour. Here is where we diverge from the sectional point of view put forward by the coalition Government on the benches opposite me.
It is well to remember that the Government has a following of the minority of the Australian people. It is a government that is doomed to disaster. The federal president of the Liberal Party of Australia has said that the Government will not last three years. While I am speaking of the federal president .of the Liberal Party, Sir
Philip McBride, let me remind the Government of the - oft-repeated gibe against, my party. - It-is. often said that we are dictated to by interests’- outside the Labour- Party. - :Let me remind honorable members of “ the recent candidates’ ..session on the national television stations in which all candidates of all parties were invited to participate. At the behest of the federal president of the Liberal Party outside not a single Liberal member went on television throughout Australia. There is another example I could place before the House. After the election the federal president dictated to the Government parliamentary parties what they were to do to salvage their lost prestige.
I have spoken of my own and the Labour Party’s abhorrence and detestation of communism. We of the Labour Party have helped to contain the spread of communism. But what has the Government done? Any sane, thinking person knows that the present unemployment in Australia contains the very seeds of communism, which thrives on poverty and unemployment. I say that communism, about which we hear so much, really is encouraged by the Government’s present policies. You have only to look at the stark plight of the 131,500 unemployed Australians to-day and think of the handout - the dole - which they receive. This House passed a measure last week which gave a breadwinner £4 2s. 6d., his wife £3 and each child 15s. a week. No matter what the members of this House may think of that measure, that handout is just not good enough, particularly when you consider that I and every backbencher of this House receives an allowance of £4 a day while in Canberra and that members of the Cabinet receive £10 a day living allowance. To my mind, that is not socialjustice, and I lodge my protest.
Unemployment in Australia is a cancer^a government-induced cancer^- in the body of this nation. It has been brought about, purposely by the policies which have been adopted by the Government and it is eating into the vitals of our way of life. Let me read to the House an extract from a booklet which was published by the Australian Red Cross Society - which no one can claim to be a political body - in October, 1961.. It: is in these terms-
The Society’s social workers have been most concerned to witness . a drift’ to poverty for numbers’ of men’ and ‘women and, at the same time, a marked increase in the calls on; the services of the Welfare Department for. the giving of money to meet the .basic needs of life–for rent, food .and clothing!
But need for material assistance of this kind is not the only problem for people who have little income. Loss of status within his own circle of family and friends, loss of security and, to some extent, freedom, are very real problems, too, which can be equally damaging to a man who has been accustomed to supporting his family and now cannot do so. We are now witnessing the spectable of frightened men and women who are unable to find work because none is available. In Red Cross, the social workers are looking with alarm at the deteriorating effect on human beings of extended periods of inadequate and irregular income, due to slack economic conditions.
That booklet was published in October, 1961, when the number of unemployed was about 96,600. To-day the number is approximately 131,500, so just imagine how apt the Red Cross statement is in the light of present-day circumstances. I commend the booklet to the Government.
Arising out of unemployment, which is sadly devastating this country, is a question to which the Government should pay attention. It is a question to which any incoming Labour government most certainly will pay attention. I refer to automation, which is a term I have heard misused by speakers on different occasions. The New South Wales Government has shown a little foresight. In that State an inquiry is proceeding into automation under the commissionership of Mr. Justice Richards. Any Commonwealth government should set up a similar inquiry. Let me refer to the terms of the New South Wales investigation. They are -
To investigate and report upon . . . recent mechanization or other technological changes in industrial processes and . . . the effect of the adoption of any one or more of these technological changes on (a) employment or unemployment, (b) the transfer of labour within industry.
That is an urgent question which involves the training or retraining of men, a reduced Working week arid a more benign approach to labour, not only by employers but also, I concede, by employees. This Government seems able to give only passing attention to ad hoc matters. Every measure which has come before this House in the couple of weeks that I have been here has been purely of a stop-gap nature - something that has not been planned to give overall benefit to the community.
If the Government had any real feeling for the welfare of Australians it would implement, amongst other things, a decent social service programme by increasing child endowment. I do not think that the mothers of Australia will bank any money which they receive as child endowment. Likewise, age pensioners will not bank any money which is given them by way of an increase. It is common sense that all recipients of social service benefits will spend the money they receive, thus creating, as it were, a chain reaction at the manufacturing, retail and consumer levels of our economy.
Last week the Government introduced a bill providing for the capital of the Com* monwealth Development Bank to be increased by, I think, £5,000,000. I think this is the third occasion on which the capital of that bank has been increased. But £5,000,000 is not sufficient. To-day we must assist both primary and manufacturing industries. I recall reading in this morning’s paper that industries in this country are working at what is gauged to be about 60 per cent, of their productive capacity. Therefore, more than £5,000,000- however good that may be, and we of the Labour Party applaud it - is required.
More money should be channelled into housing. Nowadays young people requiring loans have to pay what I regard as an iniquitous rate of interest - at least 7 per cent, and in many cases 8 and 9 per cent. We of the Labour Party consider that 3i per cent, is adequate. The present procedure of making money available for housing loans leaves a lot to be desired. Too many people are enriching themselves at the expense of the borrower. In the legal profession alone, many people are becoming rich on conveyancing costs. I do not profess to be espousing Labour policy particularly when I say that the overhead administration costs of building societies are far too high. What I and many of my colleagues in the Labour Party would like to see is direct loans from insurance companies and banks, thereby cutting out the middle men who are waxing fat at the expense of the borrowers in our community.
In what is very euphemistically referred to by members of the Government as a free enterprise economy, I should like to see a little more free enterprise in the real sense of the word. I am referring now to hire purchase. I should say that in a free enterprise economy the Commonwealth Bank should be allowed to engage in a little free enterprise competition with its favoured brothers, the free enterprise banks. If it did, by this very method of free enterprise it would reduce the prevailing interest rates payable in respect of hire purchase, which I am afraid are now almost bordering on the usurious.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is apposite that I refer to the State elections held in New South Wales and South Australia last Saturday. In the gerrymandered electorates of South Australia the Labour Party returned a vote which represented about 56 per cent, of the total electorate. In New South Wales we had what I think I can safely say was a great victory, almost of landslide proportions. I submit that those results represented an indictment particularly of the economic policies being pursued by this Federal Liberal Party-Country Party coalition.
I feel that this Australia of ours is destined to play a very great role in the southern parts of the world. I should like to see Australians show a greater love for their country. I know that they do love their country. This is particularly manifest on, say, Anzac Day, but it is not so apparent on, say, Anniversary Day. What I should like the Government to do, and what 1 should like my own party to do, is to encourage, perhaps through the Commonwealth Office of Education, which, after the Labour Party comes to power, will be the Commonwealth Department of Education - tours by Australian schoolchildren to this national capital, in which are accumulated the treasures of our history, in the various archives and monuments that exist in this wonderful place.
One other matter that has struck me quite forcibly in the couple of weeks I have been here is the large number of members of the executive arm of government who are stationed in this House. I do not think that this is to be encouraged. In principle I think there should be a physical separation as well as a theoretical separation. We have the theoretical separation, I grant, but we certainly have not the physical separation in this House. The place seems to be a hive of government executive officers. I should like to urge any incoming Labour government to rid itself, as far as possible, of these officers of the executive side of government.
Finally, I should like to say how priviliged I am to be here. I hope that during my incumbency of the seat of Evans 1 will place before this House an Australian view on all questions. I feel sure that when the vote is put to the House to-night honorable members will be expressing an Australian point of view if they vote in favour of the amendment proposed by the leader of our party. I hope, therefore, that we will all be good Australians here, and I say quite confidently that through the agency of the Australian Labour Party, which very shortly will take over the reins of government, we will most certainly advance Australia fair.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, allow me, if I may, to add my congratulations to those of honorable members who have preceded me, to the new members who have come to this House, and particularly to those who have faced the ordeal of making a maiden speech in this place. Included particularly amongst those honorable members whom I congratulate is the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Monaghan), who has just concluded his speech. The fact that he is a member of my own profession does not endear him any the less to me.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, we are just about at the end of a debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, to which an amendment was moved which was intended to be, and was accepted as, a motion of censure of the Government. No doubt the amendment had two purposes. The first was to test the House, using the term in its euphemistic sense, meaning, to probe and see whether this side of the House is solid and loyal to the Government. Well, to that the Opposition will have an answer in a very few moments. It will find that this side of the House is solid and loyal to the Government, notwithstanding a great number of mendacious and inventive statements that have been flying about. The House will find that those on this side are prepared, as of their own choice, to support the policies of the Government, which they think to be right and sufficient to the occasion. Therefore, so far as the endeavour : to test the House is qoncerned, the amendment will suffer a certain fate. The second purpose, of course, is to criticize the recently-announced policies of the Government and to suggest that those of the Opposition, if they can be discovered, are preferable.
Coming as late as this into the debate, Mr. Deputy Speaker, there is probably little new that I can say. However, I want to put a couple of points of view to the House and to those who listen to our debates. Those views may be of some use, and I will put them in terms as simple and as uncomplicated as I can make them. Before I proceed any further may I say - and I am sure that those who have listened to this debate will join me in this view - that the course of the debate has demonstrated, by the vigour, intelligence and quality of the speeches from this side of the House, that those who occupy the Government benches have a very good grip on the problems of the nation at this time and have intelligent solutions to suggest.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) offered fifteen points of criticism in a speech the text of which was fairly unco-ordinated. The fifteen points are really unrelated. Nobody could find a golden thread of meaning in them, no matter how hard he tried. The speech delivered by the honorable gentleman did nothing to coordinate those points. There were many phrases used, often disparate, which did not lead anywhere. The important question to ask in relation to this amendment is this: Did it give us any clue as to the policy of the Opposition in respect of any of. the matters on which criticism was offered?
There were many references in the amendment to omissions on the part of the Government, but surely part of the function of an amendment in the form of a censure motion is to proffer a policy in substitution. Other speakers have referred to the omissions from the criticisms. In this respect they have mentioned West New Guinea, foreign policy, defence and other matters. It is not my purpose to dwell on those. As to West New Guinea, the House will, I hope, have anopportunity in the course of a few days to debate that subject. Then honorable members opposite will not be able to sit silent. They will have a chance to tell the Australian people what really is the Labour view on West New Guinea. I do not propose to go into the matter at this stage. As far as defence is concerned, other honorable members, more eloquently than I, have shown how hollow is the Labour Party’s view.
There is one matter mentioned in this list of fifteen points which comes within my particular responsiblity, and I want to make some reference to it. It is said in the “ fifteenth point that there has been a postponement of legislation on restrictive trade practices.
– You have not even started!
– It is very easy for a fellow with no ideas, or with only a few, to talk a lot about this subject, but the more one knows about it the more difficult the proposition becomes and the more difficult is the devising of remedies. Some restrictive practices are bad, and there are some about which two views may be held. Others may possibly have some justification. My department, and I, in company with the State Attorneys-General, have been for many months continuously doing the difficult task of first ascertaining what the practices are, and of then sorting them out and devising remedies.
– Have you the constitutional power to deal with this subject?
– The honorable member asks whether we have the power. I took a particular course to ensure that there would be a useful law, one that could not be shot down for want of power. That is why I have taken time to deal with the State Attorneys-General and to get their collaboration. In that I look to be successful.
The course mentioned in the Speech of the Governor-General is not by way of postponement, but by way of acceleration. If honorable members pause to think for a moment they will realize that this is so. With the limited drafting facilities we have, the chances of producing a bill in this session, bearing in mind the complicated nature of this subject, are very remote. The Government has, therefore, adopted a course that will enable those who are interested to discuss the proposals. A public statement will be made in this House so that the scheme will go into the public domain and we will have the benefit of various views. As the House has found me on other occasions, I will be sufficiently flexible to ensure that what ultimately comes out in legislation is suitable to the occasion, bearing in mind all the knowledge we may then have. So far from there being any postponement, we have indeed accelerated the time at which there could be public discussion of this very difficult subject.
Now let me come to the economic matters that have been so much debated during these past days. The Government is accused from time to time of not following a policy of growth for Australia; but the very truth is that the Government has never deviated a hair’s breadth from a policy of growth. The Government knows, as does every man of good sense, that when a person lives beyond his means he ceases to grow. In November, 1960, the nation was spending 23s. for every 20s. it earned. How long does growth continue when that is the fact? The nation was asked to live Within its means for a time, and that meant dislocation. Of course it did! But the dislocation was greater than it need have been. I said so, and I have been twitted with this by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who thinks that a bit of clever clowning in this House takes the part of serious debate.
I have said on every occasion that the trough of unemployment need not have been so great. I join with the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Monaghan) in saying that the plight of an unemployed man is difficult to” conceive for those who have not been through it. Some of us lived through the depression, I would have the honorable members know, and we know something of what unemployment means. We do not need any lectures from Opposition members about the disabilities suffered by the unemployed. But any person who knowingly assists to make the trough of unemployment deeper has a severe responsibility, and that is the responsibility of the Opposition. Thousands of men and their families are suffering to-day because of the Opposition.
I was very amused and somewhat instructed in listening to the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding), who has some business experience. He told us that when the measures were imposed in 1960 the worst effects .were to be seen through the lack of confidence in the future. He said -
I say advisedly that this lack of confidence was brought about principally because people did not know how long the Government’s measures would last. . . 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.
Who tried to frighten the employed man into believing that he would be unemployed next week? Not the Government! The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) went on television to reassure people and to say that these were temporary measures. But the Leader of the Opposition and honorable members opposite who glory in unemployment deliberately deepened the trough. At this moment, we have a community bulging with money, with untold work to be done and with unused capacity in factories. The economy does not get going because the community lacks confidence and because we still have in this very House those who are trying to keep the people in jobs frightened about the future. They have so far succeeded. They have frightened even the manufacturers. The Leader of the Opposition knows that this is so. In odd moments he betrays some knowledge of this. He said -
Restoring and then increasing the level of consumption spending is the key to a quick return to full employment and rising production.
Who is preventing a return to consumption spending? The man who is trying to frighten those now in work! Those in employment have buttoned up and are not spending as they should. That is the difficulty of this moment.
An Opposition that had real care for people and that really had humanity would be assisting the Government in its efforts to restore confidence. The Opposition cannot point to a single act that it has performed to restore confidence in the community. It has gloried in unemployment and has kept on trying.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lucock). Order! There is too much noise in the
House. I direct the attention of Opposition members to the Standing Orders. For particular reasons the Chair does not want to take certain action, but if honorable members will not obey the Chair I will have to act.
– I quite understand that this hurts the Opposition. It would like to drown out my words in the microphone before me so that those outside who listen would not have the benefit of my remarks. The Opposition has not done anything to help people out of their troubles. The Government has taken certain measures; every one knows what they are. They have been taken cautiously, because” every one of good sense knows that the balance between full employment - when bodies are bought between different jobs, and when costs rise and efficiency falls - and even the present state of unemployment is pretty fine. A change in the balance does not take long. If there was confidence in this community, there could be over-full employment round the corner in almost a jiffy. Naturally, a government must be cautious. This Government has taken measures, but we are chided because they are of a shortterm nature. We are chided because they are reversible. We are chided because they do not necessarily have to be renewed. In this situation no one of good sense would do anything else. The only thing the Opposition ever can talk about is spending money. It never thinks of the great problems of the nation.
Let me, in the few minutes that I have left, turn to another important thing that must be said. The problem is not a problem of unemployment, you know. It is a problem of employment. The way in which we are to provide jobs for our young people and our migrants is pretty clear. The solution is the expansion of secondary industry, which means, inevitably, an increase in exports of manufactured goods. Do we ever find in the words of a member of the Opposition a recognition of this problem- a recognition that the thing that this country must do is confine its manufacturing costs and increase its efficiency if it is to sell on the world’s markets in a world in which freer trade is the order of the day? I am ! talking, not of coddled trade, but of freer, trade.
Opposition members talk a lot about the effects of the European Common Market on primary industry. The effects on primary industry may not be so great as perhaps we fear, but the effects on the international prices of manufactured goods will be considerable. When the Germans have 250,000,000 people in their home base, the prices of exported manufactured goods will drop. When the British, if they go into the Common Market, have 250,000,000 people inside a customs ring to -sell to before they export, the prices of manufactured goods will drop. Those are the people with whom Australia must compete. Unless we win export markets, we shall not succeed and we shall not expand. Does the Australian Labour Party realize this?
Members of the Labour Party talk always about spending more money and increasing taxation. The Leader of the Opposition, in the election campaign, said that, first of all, Labour would reduce consumer taxes and increase income tax. A consumer tax does not add to the cost of production, but income tax does. In one sentence, the honorable gentleman showed that he did not understand what is this nation’s great need. Then he said that, within the range of income tax, Labour would impose more tax on companies and less on individuals. If you increase company taxes rather than the taxes paid by individuals, of course, you increase production costs. These things show the extent of the Opposition’s knowledge of the real problems. When have I heard a Leader of the Opposition preaching efficiency of labour? When have I at any stage heard an Opposition member say that the country’s future lies in its capacity to sell goods cheaply abroad? Yet we shall succeed only by selling our goods abroad.
There is another indication of how little the Opposition understands the problem. The Government has proposed an investment allowance for industry. On this matter, the Governor-General, in his speech, said -
Means must be devised to assist efficiency and to reduce unit costs. This will help manufacturers to meet import competition at home and to enter export markets.
What man of good sense does not know that an investment allowance will greatly contribute to the capacity of the industries of this country to keep plants up to date and to manufacture goods more cheaply? But what did the Leader of the Opposition say? Typically Labour in his reaction, he said -
Against a miserable increase of about £2,000,000 a year in unemployment benefits for the people who have been thrown out of work by the Government’s policies, the Prime Minister brings down an investment allowance which will save the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited alone at least that amount in a full year.
This is the sort of jealous attitude which treats one section of the community as being at war with another. This is the sort of attitude adopted by those who fail to see that we are one people. We all are in this together. You cannot break down a great company and deprive it of profit, without damaging others because companies that do not make profits do not employ workers. You cannot make the costs of a company greater than they need be and not harm the men who work in its plants. When has the Australian Labour Party at any stage risen above these divisive views? It tries only to divide us. When does it preach that we all are one people, that we all are inter-dependent? Let no one have any misunderstanding about this: If we do not succeed in selling manufactured goods on the world’s markets at prices that can match those of other nations, we shall not grow, and if we do not grow, we shall not hold this country for very long.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I am content to close on this note: The amendment has been presented by a group which has nothing to say about the greatest problem and the greatest challenge to the Australian people. I say finally, that we come of good pioneering stock.
– The Minister has not that all on his own.
– I do not say that the honorable member is not of good pioneering stock, but I do say that the Opposition does not recognize Australia’s real problems and that it makes no attempt to help the country at this time to get over the disabilities of 1960. It makes no attempt to stir the people to confident buying. Once confident buying starts, employment will increase. Let me say to those who are unemployed: Do not listen to the argument that unemployment is caused by those who sit on this side of the House. Let us remember that every man who cries gloom puts a man out of work.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has asked me to reply to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) on the question of the pair granted to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). I cannot disclose the terms of the letter that the Leader of the Opposition received from the Deputy Prime Minister. It is three and one-third pages in length and it sets out his itinerary. The Minister approached the Opposition for the first time on 1st March. The Leader of the Opposition replied and he received his answer on the same day. The Opposition’s answer was given in a letter in these terms -
My Dear Minister,
Thank you for your letter of even date in which you outlined your plans for your forthcoming trip overseas.
I have consulted my colleagues and our unanimous ‘decision is that we should grant you a pair from the time you leave Australia until you return.
ARTHUR A. CALWELL.
There is nothing more to the matter than that. The, executive of the Parliamentary Labour Party was completely unanimous in agreeing that the pair be granted. I do not propose to deal with the matter any further except to say that it has been very seriously misrepresented.
The Australian Labour Party believes that the cardinal aim of economic policy is full employment. At no stage in this debate has the Government stated that its cardinal aim is full employment. If a government declares that its aim is full employment, it puts itself under a tremendous discipline, because such a declaration strikes home to the public immediately and a government which makes it has to honour it. Full employment is not something which is greatly difficult to achieve, as I propose to demonstrate by reference to the country that is our nearest neighbour. From the Labour Party’s point of view, unemployment is morally wrong and should never be accepted as normal. What is being described as our excessive concern about unemployment is due to our determination that this community shall not be brainwashed into accepting unemployment as normal, because unemployment is not necessary.
Full employment is possible within the framework of the Government’s own economic philosophy. The Government of New Zealand has the same general freeenterprise outlook as the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. At the present time New Zealand has 323 unemployed and 9,410 registered jobs. Its rate of unemployment is .04 per cent. The rate of unemployment in Australia is 3.1 per cent. Putting the position in more intelligible terms, for every 10,000 people in the work force of New Zealand there are four unemployed. For every 10,000 people in the work force of Australia there are 310 unemployed. The rate of unemployment in this country is Hi times greater than the rate in New Zealand. To put it in another way, if New Zealand had our rate of unemployment, its unemployed would number, not 323, but 25,000. Our unemployed, if we had New Zealand’s rate of unemployment, would number 1,697 instead of 131,500.
– That is because people are coming here from New Zealand.
– The Prime Minister of New Zealand has just said that Australians have been coming into his country in thousands. If the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) ever looked at the advertisements for jobs he would see advertisements from New Zealand firms offering to pay the fares of Australians to go and work in New Zealand. I do not wonder at the honorable member finding this a very serious contrast. The day before the last general election there were 96,000 unemployed in Australia. According to the latest figures there were 131,000 at the end of January. That means that the number of unemployed has been rising by about 15,000 a month, or approximately SOO a day. The daily rise in unemploy ment in Australia, according to the latest figures that the Government has. given us, exceeds the sum total of unemployment in New Zealand. “ .
New Zealand has, in an aggravated form, all of our problems of uncertainty in relation to the Common Market. It has a less developed structure than Australia in secondary industry. Of course, in stating the problems which it feels this country will have in future should the United Kingdom enter the Common Market, the Government never mentions to us one of the most striking aspects of its trade policy. This has been the Government’s failure to get an adequate share of the United Kingdom market while the United Kingdom is not in the Common Market. Over the last six years our trade deficit with ‘ the United Kingdom has been £462,000,000 - an average deficit of £77,000,000 a year. In the last financial year we bought £118,000,000 more of goods from the United Kingdom than the United Kingdom bought from us. So, without the United Kingdom being in the Common Market, the Government has not been able to use the pressure of our great surplus purchases from that country to induce it to buy from us.
From 1952 to 1960 this Government chose, in the words of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), to ensure that the country lived within its income. It used the method of import controls. .But import controls did not actually ensure that we lived within our income, because the Government had a colossal borrowing programme which, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) pointed out, amounted to £1,600,000,000 in .a period of ten years. The Government lifted import controls while it was still borrowing abroad. Not all the forensic skill of the AttorneyGeneral has explained why the Government allowed in a flood of imports when it could not pay for goods which were already being imported.
The Government chose to lift import controls. As a consequence, 3 flood of goods came into the country. Then it had to choose a method of checking this flood. It could have reimposed import controls. The Prime Minister discarded that suggestion as “ bureaucracy “, but -he did not explain why it was rejected. He- only pinned a label on it. Instead of imposing import controls the Government made another choice. It said that the car industry was one serious cause of the heavy flood of imports. It decided to increase sales tax on cars from 161 to 40 per cent. It chose the credit squeeze as a means of dampening down the purchasing power of the Australian community. Not the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), and not anybody on the Government side, has explained to us why a 40 per cent, sales tax on cars was considered by the Government to be the most efficient way of checking the flood of imports of car components. Look at how inefficient it was as an instrument! The increase in sales tax from 161 per cent, to 40 per cent, stopped the car industry in its tracks. At that time the components of thousands of cars had already been imported into the community. Those thousands of cars stood, already manufactured, on acres of land around the Ford and General Motors’ factories. When the Government imposed the 40 per cent, sales tax it could not prevent the importation of all the car components which had already come into the country. All that the Government did was to prevent the cars from being sold.
Had the Government chosen the alternative method of re-imposing import controls and cutting down the quota of car components the cars which were standing outside the factories would have gone on selling and the industry would have had a period of warning. Its sales would have continued and it could have made an adjustment to meet the coming import controls. By cutting straight down with its sales tax impositions the Government ensured the maximum dislocation of the car industry. When the Government chose a credit squeeze instead of import controls it chose to have a queue of unemployed, whose incomes had been annihilated, as a means of reducing foreign purchases, instead of choosing to have a queue of businessmen waiting for import licences.
Everybody agrees that import controls offer administrative difficulties. Under import controls there are queues of business men waiting for import licences. We on this side of the House would rather have queues of businessmen waiting for import licences than a queue of unemployed waiting for jobs.
Why did the Government revert to this policy? From 1926 to 1941 Australia had a remarkably stable currency. This country, in its federal history, has never seen a long period of stable currency which did not coexist with mass unemployment, because if hundreds of thousands of people have no incomes they do not compete in buying and prices are kept down. So, for fifteen years, from 1926 to 1941, the Australian currency was remarkably stable. But no government confronted with a Labour Opposition - not in New Zealand and not in the United Kingdom - has chosen the way of mass unemployment. In the United States of America, where the difference between the Democrats and Republicans is merely a difference of emphasis, and in Canada where the difference between the Conservatives and Liberals is merely a difference of emphasis, they do risk mass unemployment. But New Zealand has never risked it when confronted by a Labour Opposition, and neither has the United Kingdom. The interesting question is why it was chosen by the Commonwealth Government.
I want to assure new members that last October we did not hear this repentance and this criticism of unemployment from Ministers. The basic assumption of the Government - and it is a true assumption-‘ is that while the Democratic Labour Party can get 500,000 votes there cannot be a swing that could put in Labour as an alternative government. Therefore, the Government risked a certain measure of unemployment. But it has had a bad fright. The Government is beginning to suspect that the thinking of the electorate may even swamp right over the ideological issue, as it has done in New South Wales, if there is mass unemployment. So there is a reversal. Do not tell us it is not a reversal. There is a reversal of money policy. Sales tax on cars came down from 40 per cent, to 30 per cent, and now it has come down to 22i per cent. All these comments upon the nature of the needs of the family have come from the Minister, but they are not matched, of course, by any action in relation to child endowment.. Why. has the Government chosen a flat rate, reduction of taxation as its method .of augmenting purchasing power? Not a soul on the Government side has explained to Us why the Government has chosen to give .more money to a single man than to a family man on the same income. That is what this flat rate tax reduction does. It gives more money back to the single man than to the married man. Why did not the Government choose, for a period of time, to . increase the allowances in respect pf a wife and children? In that way it would have put purchasing power, represented by tax remissions, into the hands of those who have the greatest need to consume.
I do not want to make an attack on the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), but I honestly believe that the Minister is .dragging the Government down by the bows. Some one said we were clawing for political power. If we wanted political power, we would merely have to sit and watch the Minister for Labour and National Service behave. as he does. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cross), in his maiden speech this afternoon, asked the Minister, as other, honorable members had repeatedly asked earlier, to turn his department- into a social instrument. It is the most discourteous department that I have had to deal with-, but I do not propose to say anything further on that. Every Department of Labour in other parts of the world considers that it has a responsibility for the thinking of the nation. It tries to educate employers on the points raised by the honorable member for Brisbane^ - on special family problems and on the fact that in his ‘forties a man attains his greatest productivity, has greater needs, has a lower accident rate and has greater stability in a job. The belief of Australian employers that a man is too old at 40 is an illusion. The Minister never answers our questions on this subject. We get this treatment the whole time. We raise the matter during an adjournment debate, with the Minister sitting in his place, and he does not answer. .1 do not know whether honorable members on the Government side can justify that. He is a Minister of the Crown. The question’ is raised with him, with no personal insult, and we just have to accept the position that he manifests - :that, it is a field in which his thinking is limited.. One can make all sorts of speculations as to why it is, but he certainly”, does not seem to be interested in family questions.
When the first rise in unemployment took place after the elections, the Minister told us that that was normal at such a time - that it was only the young people” leaving school. Just imagine the implications of the word “ only “ to a married man! I think the Minister tried to dazzle us with his head to-night. I honestly think he has a heart. If he tried to dazzle us with his heart power, instead of failing to dazzle us’ with his head power, and if he led with his heart in some of these problems. he would transform the situation in this country.
Honorable members opposite have told us how keen they are on foreign capital. One of the factors causing the nonappearance of foreign capital in Australia is the low level of technical education of the Australian community. The Premiers, or, if the Government wants to argue about it, the Premier of New South Wales-I understand he had the backing of the other Premiers - asked for an investigation of ‘education in Australia. This Commonwealth Government has moved on the university level of education, and I believe it should make a move now in the direction of setting up in every State capital of Australia, and in other centres that might be appropriate, an institute equivalent to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. That would lift the standard of technical education in this country. The Government talks about plans for improving the productivity of Australian workers. I say it should put a bit of capital into their families by way of child endowment and a bit of capital into their training by way of heavy grants for technical education. We would then see a lift in the kind of skills that are necessary. We need a mass of investment in general “ education and technical education.’ The Government has taken from Galbraith, the modern economist, the idea of using sales tax as a device for diverting consumption, the theory being that to put- a sales tax on luxuries diverts consumption somewhere else. The Government has preached on that, but in “The Affluent Society” Galbraith goes on to say that investment in education is one of the most important fields of investment you can go into from an economic point of view. It is that second step which the Government does not seem to be able to take.
There are certain lessons to be derived from the recent activities of the Government. The Attorney-General has spoken in very feeling terms about Australia. Australia is described in the Constitution as an indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom. One of the tragic things about the Government is that it fails to realize the immensity of this indissoluble Federal Commonwealth. If we superimposed this country on Europe, the tip of Cape York Peninsula would be in the Swedish Arctic Circle and Tasmania would be in the Sudan, south of Egypt, but this Government has tried to impose upon it one credit policy. It said that industry in Sydney and Melbourne was booming, so the same credit restriction was imposed on Queensland, which was labouring under the impact of the worst drought it had had for 60 years. There is a blind application of a uniform credit policy right throughout the Commonwealth. It makes you realize that the Treasury, more than almost any other Commonwealth department, is confined to Canberra. What is the good of preaching all around the Commonwealth about how our problem is to increase exports and reduce imports. In the last financial year, Western Australia exported £159,000,000 worth of goods abroad and imported from abroad only £55,000,000 worth of goods. Our exports were treble our imports, yet the same credit squeeze was applied to Western Australia as was applied to New South Wales and Victoria. From Western Australia the eastern States bought only £38,000,000 worth of goods, and we bought from them £122,000,000 worth. Our trade is balanced internationally. We pay the eastern States, if you like, in a triangular manner, through Tokyo and London. Yet the credit policy that is applied in Western Australia is that which is applied throughout the Commonwealth, just as though a boom condition of industry in Western Australia was mopping up imports. I think one of the first essential lessons the Government should learn is that it should cut out this business of a uniform credit policy. If it proposes to use that method again, it should be more selective about where the policy is to apply.
In the course of this debate, we have been attacked on the subject of our attitude to overseas investment, and I come back to that issue again. We say that the test of whether overseas investment should be encouraged or not is physical. In my electorate, as the Postmaster-General knows, the Commonwealth has some 100 acres of land for an instrumentality. It bought that land some years ago for £7 an acre. It could now sell the land for £3,000 an acre. I admit that it is for use by an instrumentality and was not bought for re-sale, but I mention that to illustrate the rise in land values. Should we rejoice if a lot of foreign capital comes to L. J. Hooker, enabling him to buy up masses of land and hold them while their value appreciates like that, thus making it harder for people to buy land? Is investment in land speculation something we should rejoice about as bringing in foreign capital? Of course it is not. If an Australian enterprise is bought out by somebody with masses of money from abroad, giving rise to a necessity to remit dividends abroad, no new physical thing or no new firm is created in Australia. Are we to rejoice in that sort of capital importation? Clearly we are not! We supported the Government last year when it borrowed 42,000,000 dollars to buy seven Boeings, but we did that because by no stretch of the imagination could any one envisage the manufacture of Boeings in Australia and because, in the foreign currency they will earn, those Boeings will pay their way. We regarded that as a reasonable investment. We say that if foreign capital brings with it new skills and new know-how and establishes a new physical asset in Australia, it is to be welcomed. On that basis the General Motors-Holden’s organization was welcomed by the Labour Government in 1948.
I want to return to certain misrepresentations made by the Postmaster-General and the Treasurer. The Treasurer spokeabout the unemployment position when Labour was in office. The highest number of people on the dole certainly was under Labour in July, 1949. The number of persons unemployed was 118,000, but that was the number for only one month. In August, 1949, the number was 10,000 and in September of that year only 1,000 persons were unemployed. That is how quickly the unemployment situation was corrected. The unemployment was not brought about as an act of government policy. It was caused by dislocation resulting from the strike of the coal-miners. But the unemployment that has dragged on for the past eighteen months, ranging from 60,000 persons to 131,000 persons, was created deliberately by the credit squeeze and therefore proceeds deliberately from the Government’s economic policy. The present situation is in a category quite different from that which obtained in 1949.
We on this side of the chamber say that the taxation reductions that the Government proposes to introduce are unfair. I do not know where the Treasurer gets the idea that income tax is an easier tax to pass on that is sales tax. Income tax is taken from income after it is earned. Sales tax operates like a medieval toll. The further goods travel the greater is their freight component and the greater is the sales tax calculated on top of that freight component. Sales tax is a regressive tax. It has no merit unless it is deliberately used as a device to divert the pattern of consumption. I think the Government has misused sales tax in. that sense.
The Government has been angry with the Opposition because it has not included in itscensure any reference to foreign policy. After all, an Opposition chooses its grounds of censure. We have been told that we should remember-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) be so added.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker- Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Presentation of Address-in-Reply.
– I shall ascertain when it will be convenient for His Excellency the Governor-General to receive the Address-in-Reply and will notify honorable members accordingly.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to-
That the House will, at the next-sitting, resolve itself into a committee to consider the Supply to be granted to Her Majesty.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent an Income Tax Resolution being moved in the Committee of Ways and Means and motions being moved for the introduction and first and second reading of an Income Tax and Social Services Contribution (Provisional Tax) Bill.
I might explain that this procedure is for the convenience of honorable members opposite. The introductory speeches are quite short. I regret having to introduce the measures at this time, but I think this procedure will facilitate their consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative, with the concurrence of an absolute majority of the members of the House.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
– I move -
Rebate of tax payable by persons other than companies.
That a person liable to pay tax ascertained by reference to section six or seven of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Act 1961 be entitled in his assessment to a rebate of an amount equal to one-twentieth of the amount of tax that he would otherwise be liable to pay under the provisions of that Act preceding section eight before deducting any other rebate or any credit to which he is entitled.
Elimination of pence.
– (1.) That the provisions of this paragraph apply in relation to -
the amount of the tax that a person would be liable to pay under the provisions of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Act 1961 preceding section ten of that Act before deducting any rebate or credit to which be is entitled; and
the amount of the rebate of tax under the provision passed to give effect to paragraph 1 of this Resolution. (2.) That where an amount in relation to which this paragraph applies is an amount of pounds, shillings and pence or shillings and pence -
if the pence do not exceed six - the amount shall be deemed to be reduced by the amount of the pence; and
if the pence exceed six - the amount shall be deemed to be increased by treating the pence as One shilling.
By this resolution, it is proposed , to give effect to the Government’s recent decision to provide a rebate of 5 per cent. of the personal income tax and social services contribution payable on incomes of the current income year 1961-62. Honorable members will observe that the resolution provides for the rebate to- be based upon the amount of tax payable before the allowance of any other rebate or credit. I should explain that this is necessary to ensure that there is no impairment of the value to taxpayers of other rebates and credits to which they may be entitled - in particular the rebate of 2s. for each £1 of interest on Commonwealth loans included in taxable income. The primary effect of the rebate will be to increase by approximately £30,000,000 the disposable income in the hands of the community during the balance of this financial year.
In the case of salary and wage earners, the additional purchasing power will be available because smaller tax instalment deductions have operated from 1st March. So that the reduction in tax instalments over the last four months of this financial year will reflect the full year effect of the 5 per cent. . rebate, the instalments deducted on and from 1st March are approximately 15 per cent. lower than those deducted prior to that date. Provisional tax in respect of 1961-62 incomes is also to be reduced so as to reflect the 5 per cent. rebate. A separate measure will be introduced to. authorize this reduction -and to enable refunds to be made where provisional tax has already been paid without allowance for the rebate.
Although the rebate will increase disposable income by £30,000,000 during the current financial year the cost to revenue up to 30th June next will be £25,000,000. This difference arises because tax instalments deducted by group employers in one month are not remitted to the Commissioner of Taxation until the succeeding month. Deductions made by these employers during June this year will take into account the 5 per cent, rebate of tax and there will be a corresponding increase in the amounts of salary and wages actually paid to employees during that month. The effect will, however, be felt by the revenue in July - in the next financial year - when remittances by the group employers for June tax instalments will be £5,000,000 less than if the rebate of 5 per cent, had not been allowed
The resolution is submitted for the consideration of the committee.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That leave bc given to bring in a bill for an act relating to Income Tax.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Mr. HAROLD HOLT (HigginsTreasurer) 111.8]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill, ‘ which is complementary to a measure proposing a rebate of 5 per cent, of the personal income tax payable on incomes of the 1961-62 income year, contains a number of technical provisions designed to effect a corresponding reduction in the provisional tax payable in respect of income of that year. Under existing provisions of the law, provisional tax payable in respect of income of the 1961-62 year is, in the generality of cases, equal to the tax assessed on income of the preceding year 1960-61. A 5 per cent, rebate was not, however, authorized for that year and, in consequence, the present provisions of the law require provisional tax for 1961-62 to be calculated without the allowance of the rebate of 5 per cent, now proposed. The bill now before the House will provide that the 5 per cent, rebate is to be taken into account in ascertaining the provisional tax for that year.
In notices of assessment currently issuing the provisional tax shown makes allowance for the 5 per cent, rebate, but many notices of assessment had already issued before the Government decided upon the allowance of the rebate. In order to provide authority for a reduction of the provisional tax already notified it is proposed that .the provisions of this bill shall be deemed to have come into operation on 30th October, 1961, which is the date on which the Royal Assent was given to legislation declaring the income tax rates for the current financial year. As notifications of 1961-62 provisional tax were not issued before that date, the provision will enable the Commissioner of Taxation to recalculate provisional tax in these cases and notification of the reduced amount payable will be given to the persons concerned.
In a small number of cases provisional tax in respect of the 1961-62 income has already been paid. Re-calculation of this provisional tax will be authorized and, when this bil) becomes law, existing taxation provisions will authorise a refund of the excess payments that have been made. A provision, included in clause 6 of the bill, will enable a person exercising his right to self-assess provisional tax in respect of bis 1961-62 income to have the proposed 5 per cent, rebate taken into account. Briefly, the bill will enable the 5 per cent, rebate to be reflected at the earliest possible date in the amounts payable as provisional tax.
I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Message received from the Senate intimating that the following senators had been appointed members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts: - Senator Benn, Senator McKellar and Senator Wedgwood.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Harold Holt) read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed - .
That the House do now adjourn.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put-.
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority .. 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 March 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620306_reps_24_hor34/>.