24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask a question without notice of the Minister for Primary Industry. Did the Government instruct the Australian Wheat Board, after its first credit wheat sale to China in May last year, that it must obtain approval for credit sales extending beyond a period of six months? As the wheat board’s second credit sale to China in February this year extended over a period of twelve months from the date of the shipment, did the Government give its approval to this second sale?
– The Government did not give any such instruction as that to which the honorable member has referred. I did ask the Australian Wheat Board that if at any time it should desire to give terms in excess of six months we might have an opportunity to comment on the proposal. That is as far as the Government went.
– Will the Prime Minister consider taking the initiative in arranging for a series of visits by all-party delegations of this Parliament to New Zealand and for similar return visits? Does he not agree that such visits could play a valuable part in exploring the possibilities of closer association between the two countries?
– I think that the honorable member’s suggestion is a very interesting one and I will be very glad to consider it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Australian Dairy Produce Board entering into negotiations with a Mr. K. C. Leong, of Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, to pay that gentleman £50,000 in Australian currency in consideration of his terminating a contract with an American organization known as the Beatrice Food Company and making his services available to the board for the formation of the Asia Dairy Development Company Limited with headquarters in Malaya? Is the proposed objective of the Asia Dairy Development Company Limited to develop the processing of dairy products in Asia from Australian raw materials? Is it proposed by the Australian Dairy Produce Board that the capital of the Asia Dairy Development Company Limited will be 100,000 Malayan dollars and that Mr. Leong will be a 50 per cent, shareholder in that company? Does the Australian Dairy Produce Board intend imposing a levy on Australian dairy producers so that it can subscribe its portion of the capital?
– Order! The honorable member’s question is very long.
– I have practically concluded it, Mr. Speaker, and I crave your indulgence. Has Mr. Leong requested the Australian Dairy Produce Board to sponsor his entry into Australia as an immigrant?
- Mr. Speaker, I think the honorable member has some wild flights of imagination about discussions which might have eventuated with Mr. Leong. The Australian Dairy Produce Board has had some discussions with Mr. Leong with a view to trying to obtain some trade from Mr. Leong’s Burma associations, and thereby sell some of our products. The matter involves no capital or expenditure on behalf of the board.
The Australian Dairy Produce Board is negotiating in certain Asian countries with a view to promoting sales of our dairy produce, but there are no commitments of any consequence such as the honorable member suggests. Negotiations are in train with the object of getting more trade for the Australian dairy industry.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. Is it true that a large range of commercial and industrial enterprises, and a great number of trade associations, are examining their activities to ascertain the possibility of adjusting them rapidly to any restrictive trade practices legislative requirements? To assist them in their endeavours and to dispose of recurrent speculation that no such legislation is possible because of legal difficulties, will he consider making a statement on the matter as soon as possible?
– I know nothing of the suggestion which the honorable member advances, that there are people endeavouring to reform their arrangements in anticipation of any legislation. But I have already indicated - indeed it was indicated in the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General - that I would make a public statement in this House during the course of the present sittings, if at all possible - a statement of a kind which would allow the business community to examine the proposals and understand them and, no doubt, make their representations to me about them.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Yesterday he was asked a question concerning differences that are alleged to have arisen between members of the Australian Labour Party at Preston and the central executive of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour Party, and he replied. I ask: Was the Minister’s department aware that the log of claims mentioned in the question was drawn up in accordance with the prescription required by regulations under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act and was for presentation to the Industrial Registrar? Did the central executive of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour Party in any way contravene any of the regulations or any other provisions of the act? If not, in what way does the matter become the concern of the Minister’s department?
- Sir, I think it is a concern of the National Parliament and of the people of Australia when pressure is brought to bear upon elected representatives of the people to compel them to agree to the dictates of an outside organization. It is my concern and it is the concern of the Leader of the Opposition. Sir, if he wishes to live up to some of his electoral pledges you would expect him to take action to ensure that the Australian Labour Party in Victoria does not attempt to force its will on the Preston City Council.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade. What is the present position regarding the United Kingdom and Japanese trade agreements? Are negotiations continuing for their renewal?
– Negotiations for the continuance of the United KingdomAustralia Trade Agreement have been deferred. The agreement should have come up for review in 1961, but negotiations were deferred for obvious reasons associated with the proposal for the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Economic Community. The negotiations will be deferred until some decision is made regarding that matter, and perhaps when the situation is known at that stage the negotiations will be re-opened for the continuance or otherwise of the agreement. As to the Japanese trade agreement, as the honorable member knows, negotiations were under way for some considerable time in relation to a continuation of the agreement. For a number of reasons they were deferred about six months ago, but I expect that they will be recommenced later this year, perhaps at the beginning of the new financial year, and I may be able to give a better picture of the position after that time.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that yesterday marked the opening of equal pay week, which is sponsored simultaneously in all States by the Australian Council of Trade Unions? Will the Prime Minister say whether it is true that, although 32 nations have ratified International Labour Organization convention No. 100 which deals with equal pay for the sexes, Australia has not yet done so? Will he, in order to mark this special occasion, honour Australia’s obligation by encouraging the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator to grant the principle of equal pay for equal work in the Commonwealth Public Service?
– I would be very grateful if the honorable member would put that question on the notice-paper, primarily so that I may check his facts.
– Can the Minister for Supply inform the House to what extent it is intended that the new Mirage III. fighter on order for the Royal Australian Air Force will be constructed in Australia? Will the whole aircraft, or total replacements, eventually be available from Australian sources? Is it intended that there will be an alteration in the engine fitted, as was done in the case of the Sabre manufactured in Australia?
– With a highly sophisticated aircraft like the Mirage III. the percentage of Australian component will necessarily be conditioned by the number of aircraft required. In this particular case it will be only a minor requirement that can be made in Australia so far as the air frame is concerned, although it is expected that 80 per cent, of the engine will be built in Australia. The initial production of the line will contain very largely imported sub-assemblies and, of course, as time goes on the Australian component will rise. We will manufacture in Australia both for the air frame and the engine parts which are most likely to be required in considerable quantities for service, and in this way, of course, the cost of operation will be kept down. We will build in Australia the same French engine as that for which the aircraft was designed, and at the present moment engineering teams from both the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and the Government aircraft factory are in France studying production techniques and so on and I am sure we will be getting into production soon a highly successful aircraft.
– Is the Attorney-General aware that many television sets repossessed on the mainland of Australia and which are from two to four years old are being sold in Tasmania and, I think, in other States, as new sets? Is there any way in which this Government alone, or in conjunction with the States, can stamp out such a racket as this, which has crept into business since the arrival of television? I may mention, Mr. Speaker, that I have concrete evidence of one set being sold three times by a Launceston firm between July, 1960 and February, 1961 at an average price of £139.
– I know nothing of the facts of which the honorable member speaks, but of course the practice of passing off old goods as new is as old as horses.
– What a pity they did not give you away.
– That is a good idea. I have no particular authority in the matter, but as the honorable member has mentioned it to me, when the next meeting of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General is held I will bring it to the notice of the States.
– I preface a question to the Postmaster-General by explaining that the Ferntree Gully township in the electorate of La Trobe is a rapidly developing and expanding business and commercial area. At present, the business and commercial concerns situated within one mile of Ferntree Gully post office receive only one delivery of mail per day. This is made any time between 10 o’clock in the morning and 3.30 in the afternoon, a fact that creates considerable hardship and inconvenience in business circles. Will the Minister see that this rapidly developing area, which is now almost an outer suburb of Melbourne, receives, in future, two deliveries per day and that the first of these is made before midday each day?
– As I have visited the area referred to by the honorable member for La Trobe on several occasions I know that it is a rapidly developing portion of his electorate. I am not at present aware of details of the mail services available to the area but I shall certainly inquire and see whether the request of the honorable member can be met.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade give an estimate of the adverse effect on employment in the slaughtering section and production section of the beef industry if the recommendations of the American National
Cattlemen’s Association to the American Government regarding the importation of beef are adopted? As Queensland is the principal beef exporting State will the Minister, in the interests of that State, press the case with the United States Government for the retention of existing tariff conditions?
– I am not familiar with the complete background of the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Griffith. As this is a very important subject which also concerns the Minister for Primary Industry I will be pleased if the honorable member will place his question on the notice-paper.I shall then get a considered reply for him.
– In addressing a question to the Minister for Primary Industry, I refer to the committee appointed by the Government to inquire into wool marketing at the request of the grazing industry. Now that the committee’s report has been received by the Minister and has been circulated, what procedure will the Government follow in the interests of wool growers?
– The report was circulated, as the Government had promised, as soon as it was received and examined by the Cabinet. Naturally, we would like the organizations to study the report. The Government stands ready to discuss any representations that they might like to make to it.
– I ask the Attorney-
General whether the text of the uniform company law has been completed. If so, will the House be given the advantage of its introduction before the end of these parliamentary sittings so that we shall be able to consider the second-reading speech and study the legislation?
– There is, of course, a model bill. Several of the States have passed legislation in the terms of that bill, with certain immaterial variations to meet local requirements. Whether the uniform company law will be brought into force in the Territories of the Com monwealth by means of legislation introduced in this House or by means of ordinances of the various Territories has not yet been resolved. If it be resolved that legislation should be passed by the Parliament, there will of course be a speech explaining the bill. But if the law should be brought into force by means of ordinances, honorable members who are interested in the subject could obtain copies of the relevant bills from any of the States. When the ordinance is in preparation - if that is the way the law is to be brought into force -I will prepare a suitable memorandum which honorable members can have. That is not in existence at this date.
– Is the Postmaster-General aware that the Post Office of the United States of America provides kerb service mail boxes for motorists, thereby facilitating the posting of mail by drivers on the road and preventing traffic hold-ups caused by a motorist stopping his car in a moving lane of cars in order to post a letter? Will the Minister give consideration to the provision of this type of letter receiver on suitable sites in our larger cities?
– The Postal Department is always glad to investigate new types of services which may improve the service it is already giving. I am not aware of the particular type of service to which the honorable member for Henty has referred, but I will ask officers of my department to provide me with relevant information and I will pass it on to the honorable member as soon as it is received.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is the Minister in a position to reply to a question I asked on 28th March last relative to aircraft on east-west flights landing at Kalgoorlie because of shortage of fuel? Is the Minister aware that on Friday, 30th March, a Viscount aircraft landed at Kalgoorlie when the headwinds were only at the rate of 45 miles an hour? Will he ascertain from the responsible Minister the reason for this landing and emphasize that this problem could be avoided if Electra aircraft were used on the run? This question was addressed in error to the Minister for Air last week and he assured me that it would be referred to the Minister in this chamber representing the Minister for Civil Aviation.
– I shall follow up this matter and let the honorable member have a reply as quickly as possible.
! UNITED NATIONS.
– My question to the Minister for External Affairs refers to a recent announcement that Australia is making an additional contribution to the United Nations to help resolve its financial crisis resulting from the unwillingness of some members - particularly Communist countries - to pay their assessed contributions. Will the Minister inform the House whether any ruling has yet been given by the International Court of Justice on the obligation of member countries to pay their contributions and their liability to lose their vote in the General Assembly if they are in arrears?
International Court of Justice has not yet ruled on this matter. The procedures of that court call for what I might term an argument on paper in the first instance. The parties put in their submissions. Australia’s submission has been settled by myself and has gone into the court. There will follow, probably about May, an opportunity for oral argument to be offered to the court. After that, the court will consider the matter and, in its own time, no doubt will deliver judgment.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Is the right honorable gentleman aware of the recent report of the Royal College of Physicians of London on the relationship between smoking and cancer of the lung, and also of the warning by the Royal Australian College of Physicians of the increasing incidence of lung cancer due to smoking? As a safeguard for the future health of our youth, will the Treasurer prevent indiscriminate advertising of cigarettes by making the cost of advertising them a non-deductible item for taxation purposes? Will the Treasurer also place a sales tax on the advertising of cigarettes?
– The honorable member raises some interesting policy questions which rather get outside the range of normal Treasury decision and advice. Looking at this very interesting and highly controversial matter from the viewpoint of the Treasurer, if there should be a general disposition throughout Australia to give up the smoking of cigarettes, then I am afraid the Treasury will have to look to other sources of revenue to make up the loss of revenue involved.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question that relates to his reply to a question asked by an Opposition member on the subject of uniform company law. Is the House to understand that there will be no exactly complementary law enacted by the Commonwealth and that, despite the fact that uniform company legislation will be passed by the various States, the Commonwealth will merely depend upon ordinances as distinct from an act of parliament? I ask the question in view of the fact that a great many companies are registering and have registered in the Australian Capital Territory.
– I am sure the honorable member will understand that each of the Territories has its legislature which passes ordinances covering a wide field of matters that concern those Territories alone. The State Attorneys-General, in discussing with me a uniform or a model bill, have all understood that the Commonwealth may choose to bring the law into force in the Territories by ordinances of those Territories or by an enactment of this Parliament which will operate only in those Territories; that is to say, by passing a bill which would have the contents of the model bill as a schedule to a mere enacting clause. Even if it were done by the latter method, that is to say, if the law were brought into force by statute here, the amending of it would no doubt be left to the legislatures of the Territories. But the law would be none the less uniform throughout Australia, nor would the Australian Capital Territory escape the effect of it if that law were brought into force by ordinance. It would be just as effective on a uniform basis, and it would be just as effective in controlling any of the matters that I am sure the honorable member has in mind.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact that the metal trades employers’ log for adult training is due to come before the arbitration court. Is it a fact that the employers’ claim aims at bringing about a reduction of 66s. 6d. in the minimum margin for tradesmen’s work and tends to reduce margins generally? Does this also mean an unregulated and haphazard workshop dilution of trades in the industries covered by the metal trades award and a direct assault on the invaluable indentured apprenticeship system? Could the Minister tell the House what is the Government’s attitude to this approach?
– The honorable member’s information is wrong.
– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry relating to war service land settlement. Has the Minister studied the effect of the judgment of the High Court in the case known as Gilbert’s case? What effect, if any, will the judgment have on the option to freehold for war service land settlers who have not yet received final valuations? Has the Commonwealth or the Western Australian Government delayed in any way the issuing of final valuations of many farms for some years after the planned works on these farms have been substantially completed? Will the result be that settlers will be deprived of an equity in their farms due to an increase in land values generally in the time that has elapsed before the issue of a final valuation? Will he see that these valuations are issued without further delay in project areas such as Rocky Gully, Bokarup, Frankland River and Jerramongup?
– I am aware of the judgment in Gilbert’s case. Because of the implications, I would prefer to give a considered reply to the honorable member and I ask him to put his question on the notice-paper. There has been no undue delay in issuing valuations. Indeed, there have been some conferences between the Commonwealth and State governments on valuations. Some are awaiting agreement between the Commonwealth and the States before they are released.
– I desire to ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Is it true that last week-end the Treasurer reprimanded officers of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for their failure to contact him in relation to statements made by the Leader of the Opposition? Is it a fact that on the same week-end the Treasurer reprimanded the commission for broadcasting statements made by Bishop Strong of New Guinea in which the right reverend gentleman criticized the Government’s handling of the West New Guinea dispute? Also, is it a fact that the news item based on Bishop Strong’s statements was used in the 7 p.m. national bulletin on Sunday, but was dropped from the 9 p.m. bulletin?
- Mr. Speaker-
– I have asked the PostmasterGeneral a question.
– I happen to know more about this-
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: The question is directed to the Postmaster-General.
– Order! I think the responsibility for this lies with the Treasurer. I call the Treasurer.
– Mr. Speaker-
– You do not want the facts!
– The Postmaster-General was asked a question in regard to the administration of his department, and the Australian Broadcasting Commission is under the control of the PostmasterGeneral, not of the Treasurer.
– On the point of order, I want to put this-
– Mr. Speaker, I ask for your ruling. Is it a matter for the Post-: master-General to answer?
– I think it is a matter for the Treasurer to answer.
– Then I move -
That the ruling be dissented from. (Mr. Calwell having submitted his objection to the ruling in writing) -
– The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) is entitled to address to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) a question concerning the administration of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. If the matter contained in the question is a reflection on the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), the Treasurer can subsequently by personal explanation or by leave of the House, make a statement. He would be given leave by us to do so. Or he could make his personal explanation in his own right without leave at the end of question time. But the question was directed to the PostmasterGeneral.
– The honorable member for Scullin asked questions in relation to certain matters which the honorable gentleman asserts are facts. He asserts that the Treasurer did interfere with the administration, with the work, of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. He did say, interrogatively, that the Treasurer rang the commission and said certain things to the news editors. The Treasurer said, “ Bishop Strong should not be permitted to make these statements on the air, because what he says is opposite to Government, policy “. He is reported to have said, “ If he is to be reported in criticism of the Government, then I should be interrogated first so that my statement could be put over at the same time “. That may or may not be true, but at least it was reported as having happened, and the honorable member for Scullin was entitled to ask the PostmasterGeneral, “ Did these things happen? “
The Postmaster-General was brushed aside by the Treasurer, who is deputy leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, as if the Australian Country Party did not matter. The Treasurer “was encouraged by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to proceed on his way, and you, Sir, I say with due respect, were in my view intimidated by them to give the ruling that you gave, in order to help the Treasurer out of a difficulty. The very fact that the Treasurer did what he did - the way he rushed to the table - showed that he was the guilty man. It showed that he did interfere, that he did try to suppress the opinion of Bishop Strong, who, for 30 years, has been in New Guinea, who is a very honorable man, who knows the story and who has as much right to criticize this Government or the Australian Labour Party or anybody else as has any other man in Australia.
– Order! I must ask the Leader of the Opposition to come back to the terms of the motion.
– Of course, I know that I have to come back to the terms of the motion. 1 have to keep within the narrow confines, and these other people can wander where they like and do what they like. Yes, I know that. And the PostmasterGeneral, like the bridegroom in Sir Walter Scott’s poem “ Lochinvar “, will say never a word. He will just dangle his bonnet and plume. He will not even rise in his place.
Sir, what is happening now is a travesty of justice. It is a gross abuse of the Standing Orders of this House. Your ruling, Sir, if it is permitted to stand, will be a disgrace to this Parliament, and the rights of honorable members will no longer exist. What the Executive wants done will be done. Ministers are the bosses of the Parliament. You are no more than a cipher in the Parliament, and the Opposition
– Order! The Leader of the Opposition has made a very unparliamentary remark in relation to the Chair, and I must ask him to withdraw. I am not a cipher. I object to that.
– I did not mean it personally, Sir. I withdraw the remark that you are a cipher and say that the Government is trying to make you appear to be a cipher.
– Order! Before we proceed, I would like to say that the practice of the House is that the Minister most responsible for the matter answers the question.
– Mr. Speaker-
-Does the Treasurer wish to speak to a point of order?
– No. I want to speak to the motion. I want to give some facts which strongly support your ruling, Sir. This is a very interesting episode, as I am sure the House will agree when I give honorable members the information which is in my possession, Just before the House met a member of the press gallery approached me and asked me if it was a fact that in speaking-
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Treasurer is now debating the subject-matter of the question that was asked. He is not discussing the motion before the chair, which is that the ruling be dissented from.
– Order! Some latitude was allowed when the Leader of the Opposition was speaking, and I think the Treasurer should be given similar latitude to that which was allowed the Leader of the Opposition.
– I am giving the facts, Sir, which justify, in my view, the ruling that you have given. I was asked by the pressman to whom I referred whether I would confirm a statement made at the press conference held by the Leader of the Opposition after his caucus meeting this morning, to the effect that, in addition to speaking to a representative of the Australian Broadcasting Commission about the statement regarding the business of the House and the intentions of the Government, I had objected to a comment made by Bishop Strong in relation to Government policy concerning West New Guinea. I replied to the pressman, “ That statement is completely untrue. What were the circumstances in which it was made to you? “
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Has this anything whatever to do with your ruling?
– Order! The Treasurer is enjoying the same privileges as were extended to the Leader of the Opposition.
- Mr. Speaker. I say this in relation to your ruling: As I understood it at the time, and as I understood the subsequent elaboration given by you a moment or two ago, your ruling was to the effect that it is the practice of the House to call on the Minister who, in the judgment of the Chair, is most responsible for, or is best informed on, the matter raised. That is the practice of the House, and who could be better informed on this matter than the member of the Government against whom the allegations were made? I give an emphatic denial to the allegation that I at any time made any reference to remarks made by Bishop Strong when speaking to any member of the Australian Broadcasting Commission or, for that matter, to anybody else. In fact, it was not my purpose, when getting in touch with the Australian Broadcasting Commission, to make a complaint. It was my purpose to see that a balanced account, and an accurate account, of arrangements regarding the sittings of this House was placed before the people. I say in fairness to the Australian Broadcasting Commission that when the commission reports controversial matters its normal practice is-
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My point is this: The right honorable gentleman is now answering the series of questions that I asked, and he is not entitled to do so until the motion of the Leader of the Opposition is decided.
– Order! That has already been decided.
– Who made the decision?
– Order! I point out to the House that a great deal of laxity was allowed when the Leader of the Opposition was speaking at the time he made his motion. In the circumstances it is not unreasonable to suggest that the Treasurer should have a similar right.
– The plain facts of this matter are that the Leader of the Opposition has sought to promote in this place what he knows to be an untruth-
– Mr. Speaker, I ask for a withdrawal.
– Order! I am afraid it is parliamentary.
Motion (by Mr. Peters) negatived -
That the right honorable member for Higgins be not further heard.
– The Leader of the Opposition has claimed that the proper course was for you, Mr. Speaker, to call my colleague the Postmaster-General, but he could have had no knowledge of what passed between me and a member of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In any event, I have disposed of that matter by giving this House my assurance, which I hope no one will seek to challenge, that I made no complaint or comment to any member of the Australian Broadcasting Commission about any statement attributed to Bishop Strong. My purpose was to ensure that a balanced account of the position would be given, as is the normal practice of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the question should have been answered by my colleague, the Postmaster-General, and that I would have had an opportunty, if I had been misrepresented, to seek leave of the House to put the record straight. Earlier in this sessional period, when I claimed that I had been grossly misrepresented by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), also by the spreading of statements which the honorable member knew to be untrue, and I sought the leave of the House to correct those statements by way of personal explanation, honorable gentlemen opposite denied me that democratic right. Now the Leader of the Opposition states: “ It does not matter if we circulate these slanders about you to the press gallery and then farm them out over the air. You will have some opportunity to try to catch up with them in your own way in your own time.” That is not good enough for this side of the House, and it is not the kind of conduct that we should expect from the Opposition.
.- I take the opportunity to reply to certain statements made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) a few moments ago. To my know ledge I have made no statements about him in this Parliament which I knew to be untrue. I merely said that he was in Japan when he should have been in this Parliament. I merely said that he was reported as being with King Farouk in Capri when he should have been in this Parliament.
– Order! The honorable member must not continue along that line.
– These are the statements which the Treasurer insinuated I had made knowing them to be untrue. The Treasurer has not denied in this Parliament the statement that on one occasion he was on the Isle of Capri. He has not denied, nor can he deny, that I produced in this Parliament a newspaper cutting which stated that he was in Japan–
– Order! I ask the honorable member to resume his seat. I have allowed a great deal of latitude to the two honorable gentlemen who have spoken so far on the motion. I now ask the honorable member for Grayndler and any honorable members who follow him to confine their remarks to the subject-matter before the chair, which is that the Speaker’s ruling be dissented from.
– I conclude my remarks on this aspect by stating that the Treasurer’s statement that I knew those things to be untrue is not correct. I had good grounds for saying what I did. The Treasurer was allowed a great deal of latitude in his explanation of his attempt to answer a question which had been directed to the Postmaster-General. He stated that the Postmaster-General knew nothing about the matter. In other words, the PostmasterGeneral is completely incompetent because he does not know what is going on in his department. Apparently the only person who is capable of answering questions is the Treasurer. If that is the case, why is the Postmaster-General allowed to remain in charge of the Postal Department? If the Postmaster-General has to rely on the Treasurer, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) or some one else to answer questions which are directed to him, he should not hold his portfolio. Did the Treasurer fear that the Postmaster-General would tell the truth about what was said to the Australian Broadcasting Commission? Did the Treasurer fear that the Postmaster-General would tell the Parliament that the right honorable gentleman did attack Bishop Strong-
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker, The issue before the House is a motion of dissent from your ruling that a Minister who knows sufficient about the subject-matter of a question should reply to it. Merely because a question is directed to a particular Minister does not mean necessarily that that Minister and no other may reply to it. The point raised by the honorable member for Grayndler has nothing to do with the question of whether your ruling is correct. I suggest that the honorable member is completely out of order in continuing along the lines he is following.
– 1 have already pointed out the position to the honorable member for Grayndler. I ask him to co-operate with the Chair and to abide by the spirit of the Standing Orders.
– Some time ago, Mr. Speaker, you sent to honorable members a circular stating the basis on which questions may be founded. Your circular was directed particularly to new members. On the back of the Notice of Question form the following appears: -
The following Rules governing Questions seeking information are contained in Standing Orders Nos. 142 to 151.
Questions may be put to a Minister relating to public affairs with which he is officially connected, to proceedings pending in the House, or to any matter of administration for which he is responsible.
The words to which I direct attention are, “ any matter of administration for which he is responsible “. By what stretch of the imagination and under what standing order can it be claimed that matters relating to the Postmaster-General’s Department - in this case the Australian Broadcasting Commission - come within the scope of the Treasurer’s administration? I believe that the Standing Orders have been stretched beyond the limit on this occasion because undoubtedly the Treasurer only wanted to worm out of what he had said to the people concerned as mentioned in the question asked by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters). It cannot be denied that the Treasurer contravened the Standing Orders endeavouring to reply to the question. He only wanted to cover up something of which he is ashamed, but this brings into the light of day the fact that the Government is standing over the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– Order! The honorable member is now getting out of order.
– This is not the first occasion on which questions relating to the A. B.C. and its administration have been side-stepped by the Government. We had the notable case of the television session called “The Candidates” prior to the last election-
– Order! The honorable member must resume his seat.
– However, Mr. Speaker-
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.
.- Apparently the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) takes the view that now he can embark in this House on a campaign of unfettered slander. Obviously he put up his colleague to ask the question this afternoon
Opposition Members. - Oh!
– You dish it out, now see if you can take it. The Postmaster-General was asked a series of questions which were manifestly based on assumptions, not facts.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. The honorable member said I was engaging in a campaign of unfettered slander. Is that expression parliamentary?
– I ask the honorable member for Moreton to withdraw the words “ unfettered slander “.
– I withdraw them and say that the Leader of the Opposition has very casual regard for the truth. The questions were based on two assumptions. The first was that the Treasurer did, in fact, ring the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and the second was that he made a certain complaint. Both those aspects deal with two hypotheses. Were those hypotheses proven? Of course they were not, so the questions were not based upon facts. As I have said, they were based upon assumptions. Is the Postmaster-General to be placed in the position of answering questions that plainly are based upon assumptions if the validity of those assumptions-
– Killen, you are magnificent.
– Go and drown yourself. If it was valid for the honorable member to ask a question based upon assumption, it was equally valid for the honorable member to ask the Postmaster-General a question relating to the Department of Territories. The Leader of the Opposition has wasted the time of this Parliament in a scandalous way this afternoon and should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.
.- Mr. Speaker, I deplore all this heat. All I desired to find out was what was the conception that the Australian Broadcasting Commission had of an alleged statement made to it by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). I desired to know the conception of the commission and not that of the Treasurer. I asked the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) whether he knew what was the commission’s conception of the question asked by the Treasurer. The PostmasterGeneral certainly should have risen in his seat and said, “I will inquire from my officers”. That is all there was to it, and you, Mr. Speaker, must now realize that your ruling was all astray.
.- Mr. Speaker, I submit that it is the practice of this House that the Minister who may be presumed to have a special knowledge of the subject-matter of a question is the Minister to answer it. For example, if an honorable member asks the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) a question in the belief that he is the man concerned with the administration of that matter, when in fact it is a matter for the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), it has been the practice for the Minister for Trade to answer it. I submit that the reason is perfectly clear. Although it is the right of any honorable member to ask a Minister a question it is not the duty of the Minister to reply. A Minister can refuse to reply. Suppose a
Minister is asked a question concerning a matter about which he knows nothing, and he cannot reply. To ask him that question is simply to waste the time of the House. I object to the waste of the time of the House that has already occurred this afternoon.
.- Mr. Speaker, I think there are a couple of unexplored points on the matter before the House. The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), as he said, asked a simple question. He asked whether Bishop Strong had made a statement about New Guinea; whether that statement was read in the 7 o’clock news service of the Australian Broadcasting Commission; whether any communication to the commission had subsequently been made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt); and whether, after that communication, Bishop Strong’s statement was not read in the commission’s 9 o’clock news service. This suggested a relationship between the Treasurer’s telephone call and the withdrawal of Bishop Strong’s statement at 9 o’clock. The honorable member for Scullin wanted to know what was the view of the Australian Broadcasting Commission on this matter; not what was the Treasurer’s version of this conversation which he admits he had with the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but what was the version of the commission.
I submit that, in doing so, the honorable member asked a question which was properly directed to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson), and one which he alone was in a position to answer. He was, in fact, prepared to reply to that question and was moving from his seat when the Treasurer, conscious of the situation in which he had placed himself by ringing the commission after, as he admitted yesterday, he had seen something on television, sought to answer the question. After having seen something on television the Treasurer rang the Australian Broadcasting Commission - he admitted this - and referred to this matter as he now says, in an airy sort of fashion, merely to see that the two sides of the question were put to listeners. I think that what the Treasurer was after was to see that only his side of the question was so placed and not the side being put by Bishop Strong. We have seen that kind of veto exercised in this House before and we have good reason to believe that the Treasurer is very adept at it.
But the point before the House, Sir, is merely whether your ruling is correct. I suggest that the honorable member for Scullin was asking a question which only the Postmaster-General could answer, that is to say, whether the Australian Broadcasting Commission, for which the PostmasterGeneral is responsible, took action to prevent Bishop Strong’s statement being broadcast at 9 p.m., as apparently occurred. This was the matter and I suggest, with respect to your ruling, Sir, that there was only one person in this House who could properly answer that question, and that was the PostmasterGeneral.
.- After that last twisted argument-
– Who said it was twisted?
– I just said so. You are well entitled to your own opinion. I said it was a twisted argument because its whole purpose was to conceal the nature of the question that was put and to twist the nature of the answer that was given. As to the question that was put, we have to judge, and you, Sir, with respect, have to judge questions not according to some form but according to the substance of the matter. In substance this question contained, as questions not uncommonly do, an allegation. The allegation was not against the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). It was against the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). It was an allegation against him, that he had communicated with the Australian Broadcasting Commission
– Which he admitted yesterday.
– This is where I come to the twisting. He said that yesterday, but the allegation was that he had communicated with the Australian Broadcasting Commission - are you afraid of this? - to induce it to suppress some comment made by somebody called Bishop Strong. That, Sir, is not only not admitted; it is completely denied. But that, Sir, was the substance of the question and whoever it was that quoted the rules - I think it was the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) - did very well to point out that a Minister may be asked a question relating to public affairs with which he is officially connected. What the Treasurer of the country says to a representative of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in the City of Melbourne is indeed, in relation to matters of public importance, definitely a matter with which he is closely connected. Nobody could be more closely associated with it than he is.
The whole of this exercise has been designed to smear the Treasurer. I am ashamed of my old friend for having lent himself innocently to this transaction - quite innocently, I know. But let anybody, Sir, who has listened to this discussion to-day ask himself, “ What was the point of the question? “ and the answer will be, “ The point of the question was that the Treasurer had tried to suppress Bishop Strong’s statement on the A.B.C. news service “. That turns out, on the statement of the Treasurer, which no one will doubt, to be completely untrue. Why a Minister, when a question is put on a matter of which he knows everything and nobody else knows anything and which affects him-
– What do you say? The Postmaster-General would not know?
– The PostmasterGeneral does not sit in every A.B.C. office. He does not run a department as you did. He administers his department. He is not the No. 1 snooper. Of course not But I come back to the matter before the House. The point is that the question contained an allegation - in the guise of a question - against the Treasurer. It does no credit to the Opposition that it should seek to conceal the answer or to twist it, as honorable members opposite have been twisting it, in the course of this debate. The Treasurer admits that he rang the A.B.C. He did not need to be asked to admit that. He said that yesterday, before this discussion ever arose. The whole allegation is that the Treasurer rang the A.B.C. about Bishop Strong’s statement and that turns out to be a complete fabrication. I would have thought more of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) if he had expressed regret for the circulation of this statement instead of putting on the rare old show that he put on this afternoon.
.- I think, Mr. Speaker, that the validity of your ruling turns on the words “ officially connected “ - that is to say, on whether the Treasurer is officially connected with this action that we are discussing. The Treasurer has just said that he rang the Australian Broadcasting Commission to ask for a balanced presentation. Any member of this Parliament could ring the Australian Broadcasting Commission and ask for a balanced presentation of something or other, but that does not put the thing within the administration of that member. The Australian Broadcasting Commission is not within the administration of the Treasurer, and the opinion of the Treasurer of an Australian Broadcasting Commission programme, which he privately expressed in a telephone call, unless it was an instruction from the Government which seems unlikely, is something with which the Treasurer is not officially connected. If anything took place as a result of the Treasurer’s representation that comes within the official responsibilities of the Postmaster-General.
.- This matter revolves around Standing Order No. 142, the whole of which I shall read for the benefit of the House, because the Prime Minister has deliberately twisted. As a matter of fact he has done the twist so much in the last few weeks that his clothes are beginning to wear out from the inside. Standing Order No. 142 reads -
Questions may be put to a Minister relating to public affairs with which he is officially connected, to proceedings pending in the House, or to any matter of administration for which he is responsible.
The onus, then, of deciding to whom a question shall be addressed is in the hands of the member who addresses the question and not in the hands of any Minister. It is not for any Minister to take unto himself the responsibility of deciding whether he should answer a question addressed to the Postmaster-General or anybody else. If we are going to allow to develop the kind of position that has developed we will have the Prime Minister not only looking after the portfolio of External Affairs but also the Treasury, the Leadership of the House and every other portfolio or office as well as the Prime Ministership, because he will say: “ I know more about these matters. I am more closely and officially connected with every one of the matters than any of my Ministers is.” In the course of the last two Parliaments the Prime Minister has already demonstrated that he considers that he is sufficiently capable to handle three or four portfolios. So we on this side of the House, instead of having the right to address a question to the Minister we consider to be responsible or the Minister who, we consider, will give us the best answer, will have to address the question, or at least have it answered by, the Prime Minister or one of his little boys sitting behind him - the Attorney-General, the Treasurer or somebody else - who will take the question over from the Minister to whom it is addressed. I feel that there is a real and vital point involved in this motion of dissent from your ruling, Mr. Speaker. If any Minister has a right to take over the answering of a question which is addressed specifically to another Minister by a member of the Opposition you will find that this Parliament will indeed become even more of a one-man band than it has been in the past.
.- I think that the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) has indicated one point in which the Opposition is not right on the mark. He has suggested that who shall answer a question is a matter for decision by the member asking the question. The real point at issue - and I am sure that when honorable members opposite recognize it they will admit it - is that it is the Chair which has reposed in it the authority either to allow a question or to disallow a question and to call upon the Minister who can properly answer, or call upon any Minister it chooses. In this case the Chair, exercising an authority and performing a duty that the Chair has always performed at question time without any challenge to its authority, called upon the Treasurer. It is because you, Mr. Speaker, called upon a particular Minister, and ruled that you did so properly, that the Opposition has moved dissent from your ruling.
– Mr. Speaker did not call the Treasurer.
– The point at issue is the authority of the Chair. We on this side of the House support you, Sir, and say that you quite properly called upon the Treasurer. In supporting your ruling on that matter I would ask honorable members opposite whether the purpose of the question was to elicit information. Let us assume that the purpose of the question was to elicit information. The first point of information, surely, that the questioner would want to elicit would be: Did or did not the Treasurer in fact ring the Australian Broadcasting Commission or any one connected with the Australian Broadcasting Commission? If he did ring the Australian -Broadcasting Commission, what did he say to the Australian Broadcasting Commission and what was the effect of his saying it? Who could give the information on that point which would satisfy the minds of honorable members opposite better than the man himself who rang the Australian Broadcasting Commission and had the conversation?
– That isnaivete.
– The honorable member for Barton accuses me of naivete. If it is naive to make a practice of accepting the word of a fellow member then I am naive. I think it is deplorable that in this House an honorable member should imagine that it is wisdom and worldly sophistication to disbelieve something other members say. This House will get into a sorry state if we assume that any one who answers a question is telling lies and if we get into the mood of assuming that if we ask an honorable member a question we have to disbelieve the answer he gives. Unless we can get this basic faith in each other where will we be? Are we to disbelieve anything that honorable members opposite say, and are they to disbelieve anything we say?
I think that this debate has gone far enough and is doing no credit to the House or to honorable members. The point at issue is simple: Do we uphold the authority of the Chair to specify which Minister shall answer a question? Do we reject the motion, moved by the Leader of the Opposition, of dissent from the ruling, or do we support that motion? We support your ruling, Sir. We say that it is within the authority of the Chair to designate the Minister who shall answer a question, if that question is sincerely and properly asked in order to elicit information. We believe that you did right, Sir, and support your ruling. I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Before that rather lengthy interruption, Mr. Speaker, I was seeking to give the House the facts on the matter raised by the honorable member for Scullin. On Sunday night, when watching the national television news service, 1 heard a statement attributed to the Leader of the Opposition in which he accused the Government of rushing the Parliament into recess. The statement contained sundry comments which I felt unfairly and inaccurately represented the position of the Government. I immediately got in touch with the news section of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and said that I wished to give a statement of facts which I felt would give a balanced picture of that matter. Having done that, Sir, I got in touch with the chief of staff of the Melbourne “ Age “ and the chief of staff of the Melbourne “ Sun “ for the same purpose. In other words, what is being represented now as some rather sinister process on my part was the normal action that a public man might take in his official capacity on behalf of those whom he represented in Parliament.
I want to make it clear that at no stage did I raise with any person in the Australian Broadcasting Commission or anywhere else the question of any statement made by Bishop Strong.
The final point which I think should be raised with the House is that the Leader of the Opposition made reference to this matter himself to a press conference at the end of the caucus meeting. Either he made that reference, Sir, basing his statement on his own assumptions or he made it on information which had reached him from the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I believe he has a responsibility to say what was the basis of his question. As matters stand, an allegation or an accusation rests on a member of the A. B.C. that he supplied information to the Leader of the Opposition. I for one would declare that to be false. I do not believe that has happened at all.
I believe that the honorable gentleman has started this furphy himself and, having done so, has enlisted the services of the member who put the question in order to give it wider circulation.
– I move - [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 18).]
Mr. Chairman, the Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1961, and give effect to the Government’s decisions following receipt of the Tariff Board report on nitrogenous fertilizers. The Government has accepted the Tariff Board’s recommendations for the removal of the temporary duties on sulphate of ammonia, urea and other synthetic nitrogenous fertilizers. The Government has also decided to adopt the recommendation of the Tariff Board for the payment of a bounty of £2 per ton for three years to producers of sulphate of ammonia produced and sold in Australia for use as a fertilizer. A bill to authorize the payment of the bounty from 1st April, 1962, will be brought before the Parliament during the current session.
In formulating its recommendations, the Tariff Board concluded that, whilst the various nitrogenous fertilizers compete in varying degrees with each other, they each have their own particular uses and are by no means fully interchangeable. Also it was clearly desirable that users should have access to all types of nitrogenous fertilizers at the lowest possible cost. The Board, therefore, recommended assistance by bounty to offset the Australian industry’s disability in relation to imported sulphate of ammonia. The removal of the temporary duties on synthetic nitrogenous fertilizers and the introduction of the bounty on sulphate of ammonia should have beneficial effects on prices to users. The Government would expect that the price of sulphate of ammonia, for example, should fall to somewhere near the 1960-61 level.
The Government has decided to ask the Tariff Board to review the question of assistance to the production of nitrogenous fertilizers in Australia prior to the expiration of the three-year bounty period. I commend the proposals to honorable members.
.- I lay on the table of the House a report by the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Ordered to be printed.
Debate resumed from 3rd April (vide page 1252), on motion by Mr. Swartz -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- When the debate was adjourned last night, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) had just concluded what was probably the best contribution that the House had heard to the discussion on this bill. The honorable member exhibited the most profound knowledge of the subject about which he was speaking, and his remarks deserved a great deal of attention. I gave them close attention and found very little in them with which to disagree.
In his comments, the honorable member queried the need for the changes proposed under this bill. I shall query the need for a change also. The honorable member asked whether the deputy chairmen were bringing down recommendations which did not suit the Minister. He inferred that the present set-up was not suiting the Minister and therefore it was the Minister who desired a change. The honorable member also said that in the proposed set-up it appeared that the left hand of the tariff instrument would not know what the right hand was doing. I agree with him entirely. I believe that is exactly what will happen. The honorable member also said that the Government was weakening the morale of the Tariff Board and our confidence in it. I can agree with those remarks also.
The honorable member was very much opposed to quantitative restrictions, and I thought the case he made out was quite sound up to a point. In my opinion, that point was reached when he neglected to mention the need for prices control. The honorable member did not have more than half an hour in which to speak, and 1 suppose that he was unable to deal with much more than he covered, but the fact remains that he did not mention prices control. It seems to me and to other honorable members on this side of the House that until there is prices control it will be impossible to police properly the manner in which manufacturers and importers take advantage of the Australian people.
I want the House to know that Japan, a country with which we have a trade agree ment, has plans and production targets. Japan also budgets for its imports. In Australia, we do neither of these things, and I greatly fear that until such time as we reach the point where we do a great deal more planning than we have been doing, we will continue to dither about in the same way as we have dithered ever since import restrictions were removed by the Government in February, 1960.
This is yet one more bill to amend the Tariff Board Act. The bill had its origin in the Government’s action in abolishing import restrictions in February, 1960. By this time, everybody in Australia is fully aware and, indeed, painfully aware of the consequences of that very drastic action on the Government’s part. Whatever faults there were in the import restriction policy of Australia at that time, import restrictions did provide a means of rapid and effective protection for Australian industries. I do not forget that there were quite a number of complaints from this side of the House about the manner in which the policy of restrictions was being administered in this country, but I thought at the time that whatever faults there may have been in those import restrictions they did at least give a means of rapid and effective protection to Australian industries, and that this Government’s action in drastically removing those restrictions was not the best way of dealing with the situation that confronted Australia at that time.
It must be remembered that Australia is a small nation. It is a young nation with a population of only a little more than 10,000,000. Compared with the North American nations of Canada and the United States of America, or with any of the European powers, industrially Australia is in only a small way. The reason for that is to be found in the fact that she has not yet had time to develop, but, give Australia time, and give her enterprising people adequate and lasting protection, give them the chance they need, and we can really say, “ Watch Australia grow “.
I suggest that the Government yielded to pressures from sources outside Australia, as well as to internal pressures from such importing interests as the great retail stores and chain stores when it first lifted import restrictions. We know that when import restrictions were lifted great profits were made by some retailers and importers who were able to bring into this country large quantities of goods from low-wage countries and sell them here at prices just a little below the prices charged for Australian-made goods. As a matter of fact, had those traders been honest with the Australian people, and had they desired to give the Australian people some benefit from the importation of products from low-wage countries, then, instead of making enormous profits, in some cases at least they would have sold those products at onequarter the prices being charged for Australianmade products and still made a modest profit. These retailers and importers made very fat profits because we had no prices control and the Australian people bought goods made outside Australia because they were a little cheaper. By so doing, they put their own people out of work. And the workers in the countries from which the goods were imported derived little or no benefit from the sale of their products to Australia. Had they derived some benefit from the sale of those goods to Australia at the higher prices, there would not have been such a great protest from this side of the House because the Australian Labour Party, although interested primarily in the welfare of the workers of Australia, is almost equally interested in the welfare of workers everywhere. We like to think that workers, whether they be in Australia or elsewhere, are receiving a fair deal.
It is obvious to all that if our people were ultra-patriotic there would be no need for cumbersome and inhibiting trade agreements or tariff barriers, but the cold hard fact is that if people can buy an article at a lower price they do not stop to think where it comes from or what will be the consequences of their action if they buy it. I care not how many “ Buy Australian-made “ campaigns are conducted in this country, the result will be exactly the same. We know that at the present time the chambers of manufactures in Australia are spending large sums of money trying to persuade the Australian people to buy Australian goods, but their efforts will be largely wasted for the reasons I have just stated. People tend to buy goods which are a little cheaper, either not caring about or failing to appreciate the consequences of what they are doing.
Having once destroyed the safe and sure way of affording protection to Australian industries, the Government is now forced to pay a kind of lip service - and lip service it will prove to be - to those industries by creating special advisory authorities, of which there will be several. These authorities are to advise the Minister. They will replace the deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board who were appointed in 1960 to consider cases where protection is deemed to be urgently necessary. These authorities will receive their references directly from, and they will report directly to, the Minister. Where it is established that imports are causing or are threatening to cause serious damage to a particular industry, the special advisory authority will be able to recommend that any protection shown to be necessary be given by means of either a temporary duty and/ or import restrictions. So, we may have a return of import restrictions. I emphasize that we may have a return of those restrictions.
In his second-reading speech the Minister said -
This would not conflict with the commitments Australia accepts under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
But here we come up against some very interesting facts which are of vital concern to manufacturers and workers in Australia. I propose to quote from the trade agreement entered into between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia in April, 1957. I emphasize the significance of the date - April, 1957. Article 9 of that agreement provides -
The Australian Government undertakes that-
Protection by tariffs shall be afforded only to those industries which are reasonably assured of sound opportunities for success.
The Australian Customs Tariff shall be based on the principle that protective duties shall not exceed such a level as will give the United Kingdom producers full opportunity of reasonable competition on the basis of the relative cost of economical and efficient production, provided that in the application of such principle special consideration may ba given to industries not fully established or to industries essential for defence purposes.
When that agreement was entered into it greatly simplified the making of a further treaty which was to follow in August, 1957. I refer to the trade agreement made at that time between the Commonwealth of Australia and Japan. As will be seen from the document which I hold in my hand, the agreement is not a very lengthy agreement. It was not necessary to have more than a brief document to cover the agreement with Japan because into that agreement were carried most of the provisions contained in the agreement with the United Kingdom Government. In the agreement with Japan was inserted a provision that Japan was to receive most-favoured-nation treatment.
I suggest that the agreement with Japan arose primarily from Australia’s urgent need to find a market for her wool in Japan, and it is interesting to note that although Japan buys such a very large quantity of our wool, she herself consumes 90 per cent, of the wool she imports and processes. It is well worth keeping that fact in mind, although I have had to digress slightly from the debate to mention it.
Irrespective of the opinions expressed by the special advisory authorities about the need for protection of Australian industries, any protection granted will last for only three months. In the meantime, the matter must be referred to the Tariff Board, which may decide to reverse the decision of the special advisory authority. Here I make the point that tariff boards, after all, consist of human beings, and I dare say it is only human for a tariff board when making a report to have in mind the type of government that is in office. If, for example, the Australian Labour Party were in office, with its very strong protectionist policy, I imagine the Tariff Board consisting of human beings would be inclined to bring down reports of a protectionist character. I have the strong feeling, which is shared by business people, that the Tariff Board as at present constituted should be known as the low tariff board.
The Government has bound itself first to the General Agreement on Tariffs and
Trade, secondly to the United Kingdom and thirdly to Japan. According to article 9 of the agreement with- the United Kingdom, our manufacturers must, in the long term, after any temporary protection has expired by effluxion of time, prove that they are giving the United Kingdom producers full opportunity for reasonable competition on the basis of the relative cost of economic and efficient production. When we in Australia appear before the Tariff Board, we are able, being at the source, to give exact figures and exact facts about Australian industries. But how can any Australian manufacturers or group of manufacturers be expected to produce similar and comparable facts about conditions in Great Britain, 13,000 miles away, unless they have a replica in England of the staff employed in Australia? Unless they have the facilities, they will always experience difficulty in presenting a case which, in the opinion of the Tariff Board, would be satisfactory and deserving of sympathetic treatment.
What would be the position of small manufacturers endeavouring to embark on the production of a commodity not previously produced in Australia, if they did not have the facilities that are available to big manufacturers or groups of manufacturers? The big manufacturers and the combinations of manufacturers might easily cope with this demand by the Tariff Board, but I shudder to think of the chance a small manufacturer of some new article would have of establishing himself. He is likely to be crushed within a few months by products made by an overseas manufacturer whose industry has already been fully developed.
We are a protectionist party, and we make no secret of the fact. In a small country of 10,000,000 people with a small home market, we cannot embark upon great mass production and it would be unfair to expect Australians in every circumstance to be able to compete with overseas manufacturers who have had centuries in which to develop. But give the Australian manufacturers time and a chance to grow and they will prove to the world that anything overseas manufacturers can do they can do better.
The 1960 amendment to the Tariff Board Act, which created deputy chairmen, receives an apologetic mention by the Minister. He damns them with faint praise when he says that in general they operated well. As a matter of fact, we regard this system as a failure. Small manufacturers had to form advisory panels. In many instances, they found that this was beyond their means. The advisory panels had to obtain the Minister’s consent before they could go before a deputy chairman, and it still took 30 days to get a decision upon which the Minister would act. In the meantime, overseas manufacturers could, by using fast steamships, get into Australia an abundance of the products from which our manufacturers sought protection. Australian businesses could be and were, in fact, ruined. I think that- in this we can find one of the reasons for the introduction of the bill. It is hoped that under the bill the procedure will be accelerated. The first bill provided for measures that were too slow.
What improvements result from the new measure? The Government declares that it will provide more clearly for the use of quantitative restrictions as a temporary protection, and it lays down certain safeguards on their continuance. All this seems to me to be very much like exchanging Tweedledum for Tweedle-dee. I do not believe that this procedure will greatly accelerate the granting of the protection that Australian manufacturers will from time to time need. The deputy chairmen now are to go back to the Tariff Board and special advisory authorities will step into their shoes. The Minister in his second-reading speech said that the deputy chairmen will then be able to concentrate on normal inquiries of the Tariff Board. The special advisory authorities are to consider the use of temporary quantitative restrictions only after they have considered a temporary duty. Although quantitative restrictions have been mentioned, it seems to me that the emphasis once again is being laid on temporary duties. What manufacturer in his right senses could be happy about that? Even after the temporary duty has been granted, the protection will last for only three months, when the Tariff Board will conduct a further inquiry and may decide against the recommendation of the special advisory authority.
The whole matter remains vague and amorphous. When all is said and done, the Australian manufacturers even then can be assured of only three months protection. Manufacturers need years of certainty that they will not be crushed by the industrial colossi of older and more fully developed nations. A manufacturer with a plant in operation, who wishes to plan ahead, needs to know his prospects not months ahead, but years ahead. He is usually able to assess for two or three years ahead what wages he will pay or the number of hours his employees will be called upon to work. He knows what most of his costs will be, but he never knows what consequences will befall him if the Government changes its mind and the protection diminishes or the protection he needs is not granted.
I predict that this measure will do no more than did the 1960 amendment. The Government is in a dilemma. It must find markets for our wheat and wool in particular, but it is under this measure about to sacrifice Australian manufacturers who, directly or indirectly, provide a great many - not most - of the employment opportunities for the Australian people. The honorable member for Wakefield cited figures. I think he said that something like 30 per cent, of the Australian work force was employed in the factories of Australia. That may be true.
– The figure was 38 per cent
– It was 30 per cent.
– I thought that it was 30 per cent. As a consequence of the employment of 30 per cent, of the work force directly in the factories, a very great number of ancillary workers find employment. I think that there will continue to be a decline in Australian secondary industry and in employment in the absence of guarantees .of adequate protection. I do not see that adequate protection will be given to Australian manufacturers by this Tariff Board Bill. I see the seeds of the Government’s own ultimate destruction in this new palliative which is produced to placate the anger of Australian manufacturers. When all is said and done, the bill is before the House now only because the Government is not satisfied with the level of employment in this country. This measure is an attempt to put back to work people who were the victims of a blanket credit squeeze. The Government’s earlier economic measures were typical of it. It let the rain fall on the just and the unjust.
I am very dissatisfied with this Tariff Board Bill, because I believe that it is intended to deceive. We are exchanging Tweedledum for Tweedledee and in the long term the results will be the same as were the results of the last amendment of the principal act - more unemployment.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, in following the debate on the Tariff Board Bill and the associated measures since it was resumed last evening, I have been rather concerned at what appears to be a lack of appreciation of the salient difference between this group of measures and a normal tariff measure, or, perhaps, a failure to apply correct principles. The main reason for the introduction of this Tariff Board Bill is to stimulate local industry, and particularly local secondary industry, because it is understood that this is the field in which the greatest number of people can expect to obtain employment, notwithstanding the fact that two-thirds of the work force is occupied in rural pursuits, which have not the capacity of the secondary industries to take up the slack in employment. If this were a situation in which we were concerned with a problem of the balance of payments, we would not need to think about quantitative restrictions. If the question were only one of protecting our overseas balances, a 100 per cent, tariff would probably serve the purpose. Such a tariff would not serve in this instance, because the motive behind these measures is to keep down prices by building up our local industries to maximum output and thereby stimulating the economy and enabling it to produce goods at prices competitive with those of comparable goods from overseas.
On this issue I would like to say that my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), in my view, was a little astray last evening when he discussed prices in relation to the limitation of imports. He said that an importer, seeing that he could not increase his sales, because he was unable to import more, would automatically increase his prices to the equivalent of the prices of comparable local products. The honorable member went on to say -
The local manufacturer looks around and sees that the price of the imported product will follow increases in his price, so his price is increased also. The effect of competition in keeping prices down disappears as soon as quantitative restrictions are used . . .
It seems quite patent to me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that we will have here a case of a special authority which will recommend to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) either a temporary duty and quantitative restrictions in conjunction, or purely quantitative restrictions. When that is done, the Minister, in terms of the Tariff Board bill, must forward the matter to the Tariff Board for a full report. Within the limits within which he wishes to impose restrictions, he then approves restrictions. It seems quite logical to me that a manufacturer who has a case being reviewed fully by the board will not play ducks and drakes by raising his price and his margin of profit. He will know quite well that such a course would damage his case before the board. The case might take six, nine or twelve months, or even longer, to be brought to a conclusion. In that respect I suggest that the referral measures envisaged in this legislation will deter local manufacturers from raising prices.
Let me take the matter further. There will be further legislation which will give the Tariff Board authority which it now lacks - authority to implement interim quantitative restrictions. I direct the attention of my friend, the honorable member for Wakefield, to section 15 (1.) of the principal act, which states -
The Minister shall refer to the Board for inquiry and report the following matters: -
any question whether a manufacturer is taking undue advantage of the protection afforded him by the Tariff, and in particular in regard to his -
charging unnecessarily high prices for his goods; or
acting in restraint of trade to the detriment of the public; or
acting in a manner which results in unnecessarily high prices being charged to the consumer for his goods, and shall not take any action in respect of any of those matters until he has received the report of the Board.
I know that it has been alleged that that section has not previously been used. It has not been used, because the board previously did not have power to impose quantitative restrictions. It has not that power now, but we understand that in due course it will have the power.
So I say, in answer to my honorable friend: In the first place, concerning temporary quantitative restrictions, while a case is before the full board for hearing a manufacturer would be a fool to jeopardize his case by playing ducks and drakes with costs and prices. I understand that when the board has power to impose quantitative restrictions as an interim measure, the Department of Trade will, after the board’s report is received, give a warning under section 15 when interim protection is granted. So I think that the honorable member’s fears are not well founded. I must say, in fairness to him, that he said that these interim quantitative restrictions could be justified only by keeping them continually under review. The machinery for that will be available, Sir, and I do not think that we have any worry there.
I also would like to mention in passing that I was a little worried about the honorable member’s references to the sapping of the morale of the board because special authorities instead of additional deputy chairmen are to be appointed. He suggested that this would indicate a lack of confidence in the board and would weaken its morale. I do not see the consequences in that light. Some nineteen months ago, we instituted these emergency hearings within the board before deputy chairmen. That broke away from the traditional procedures of the board under which public hearings were held and long-term investigations made. I believe that the tying of the board to these quick ad hoc hearings breaks away from the traditional procedures. I think the judgments of the board would be far better respected if the authorities asked to recommend emergency action from time to time were not tied administratively to the board itself. I cannot accept the suggestion of my honorable friend that this measure will in any way undermine confidence in the Tariff Board.
In this connexion it is interesting to consider proposed section 18f, in clause 15 of the bill. Let me refer, first of all, to clause 18e, which is concerned with temporary duties. It says that the special authority may recommend a temporary duty at a certain rate, and that the Minister may take action to collect duty at a rate not exceeding the rate recommended by the authority. It appears that the Minister may impose a duty at a lower rate than that recommended, but not a duty at a higher rate. Proposed section 18f(1.) deals with quantitative restrictions, and provides -
There are several interesting aspects of this provision. The first is that, in a case in which the special authority recommends quantitative restrictions, the Minister shall not refer the matter to the Tariff Board for a decision on the renewal or extension or modification of such quantitative restrictions but only for an examination of the necessity to impose duties. The legislation says quite definitely that the special authority shall exhaust every avenue to see whether a duty is appropriate rather than quantitative restrictions. This provision is merely a subterfuge by the draftsman to cover the legal position, because if the Tariff Board has no power to impose quantitative restrictions no reference to such imposition can be made in this bill. The Minister is not restricted in regard to the action be may take. He is not restricted, for instance, to the recommendations made by the special authority.
I believe there are several weaknesses in the machinery that it is proposed to set up. The Minister pointed out some of them in his second-reading speech. He said that the whole of the machinery was at present under review, and that further improvements will be made at the earliest practicable time. There is no doubt, I think, that this is the time for complete modernization of our tariff procedures, particularly in view of the present unsettled trade conditions and the rapidity of changes, which we can expect to be the pattern of the future. One of the weaknesses that I see is contained in the provision that when the Minister receives a recommendation from the special authority he initiates action to have the case investigated by the full Tariff Board, and that after the Minister receives the report from the Tariff Board the temporary protection that has been afforded to the particular industry lapses within three months. It seems to me that this is a weakness, because some cases may be easier to deal with than others. In a particular case the Tariff Board might well send back its report within three months. If the temporary protection involved quantitative restrictions, then those restrictions would remain in force for only the three months period of the investigation, plus the maximum of three months thereafter, making six months in all. Another case might require twelve or fifteen months to investigate. In such a case the industry would enjoy protection for as long as eighteen months.
This seems to me to be a rather haphazard provision. I believe there should be some fixed period within which the Tariff Board should submit a full report to the Minister. I would suggest a period of, perhaps, nine months. We should lay down a fixed time limit and ensure that the Tariff Board has enough staff to enable it to produce reports within the fixed time.
I wish to refer also to the allocation of permits to import, which will be issued under the quantitative restriction system. We have not been told exactly how these permits will be granted. If permits to import are issued and quotas are fixed according to the trading history of the particular importers, then it might be difficult to avoid the necessity to make an assessment on an average base year. I am a little concerned about this, because we have no very satisfactory base years between 1959 and 1961. Import restrictions were in force until February, 1960. They were then removed, but from November, 1960, credit was restricted. It is obvious, therefore, that during the period in question there have been sudden changes from time to time which would make it difficult to decide on a particular year as a satisfactory base.
There are also certain weaknesses in the legislation with regard to safeguards. When import licensing was in force there was, unfortunately, a certain amount of trafficking in licences. We should definitely have some safeguards to ensure that similar abuses cannot creep in under the system of quantitative restrictions. Permits to import should be made not negotiable, and 1 would go so far as to say that in the case of particular items within a goods category interchangeability should be prohibited. These considerations should move us to look for a new method of allocation of quotas. There are quite a number of possible methods, all of which could be investigated. We should be able to devise some method to avoid the evils that were associated with the old system.
Before the special advisory authority decides that it is appropriate to impose an import restriction and before recommending the extent of the restriction he must have, first of all, the best information available as to the Australian demand for the particular commodity and he must know, secondly, the level of Australian production. Having arrived at the short fall which is required to be imported, he must work out the exact amount for himself in tons, pounds or gallons, whichever is applicable, and then make his recommendation to the Minister. Therefore, enough information is obtained during a hearing to enable the application of methods other than those normal under prior import licensing. I would therefore suggest a method based on usage.
This bill has as its main purpose the further implementation of the policy of stimulating the economy which was laid down by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). As such, I cannot understand the Opposition’s somewhat half-hearted acceptance of it because undoubtedly by encouraging local industries to employ labour it should stimulate the economy and restore that prosperity which was checked in November, 1960. This bill has my full support and I commend it to the House.
– The Opposition regards the decision of February, 1960, virtually to dismantle the import licensing machinery as one of the most catastrophic decisions ever taken by this Government. The train of events in Australia consequent upon that action has destroyed full employment which had been regarded as acceptable to all political parties. We have seen a credit squeeze and we have seen a belated attempt by the Government to get our economy back on to a more secure basis. We believe that the measure before us will restore import controls on a very limited but not on a very logical basis. The differences between the attitudes of both sides of the House are highlighted by the statement of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) last night that although he did not like this measure very much, he thought that it was at least a better means of applying import licensing than operated previously. I think that he saw the real danger. His statement appears in “ Hansard “ in these terms -
Any action that gives the board less power and the Department of Trade more power should be regarded with grave suspicion.
He seemed to lean to the point of view that the Tariff Board can do a lot better than we on this side of the House think that it can do. He seemed to be suspicious of any intrusion by the Department of Trade into this nation’s trading activities.
This measure will institute what are called quantitative restrictions - a form of import control - not to protect our balance of payments position but to protect certain branches of Australian industry. We on this side of the House believe that the balance of payments problem, which in essence has not been considered by the Government in this measure, is a much more significant problem than the Government apparently believes. It has reached very dangerous proportions. Even in this morning’s newspaper I read that yesterday Sir John Crawford, addressing himself to a gathering somewhere in Sydney, suggested that in the next few years Australia would have to make very drastic changes in its attitude to export trade, on the one hand, and to the operations of the tariff machinery on the other hand.
We believe that this measure is asking the Tariff Board to do something which the Tariff Board is not really competent to do. At least to that extent I agree with the honorable member for Wakefield. We believe, however, that in the interests of Australia’s future economic development it is necessary to restore import licensing to a considerable degree. We believe that the broad pattern of Australia’s trade is this: If you allow every individual in this country to import anything that he thinks he can sell you will find yourself in great difficulty. But that, at times, seems to be the extent of the patriotism of the chambers of commerce. They are not worried about what is imported so long as it can be sold. We do not regard that as a very suitable pattern for our economic development because we cannot afford to squander our export earnings.
– How would you decide what should be allowed in and what should be kept out?
– I shall come to that in a moment. The honorable member is asking us to make a decision on that matter. He is always very good at edging in a question which, in essence, is not fundamental. He is equally good at dodging such questions when it suits him to do so. As I told him on one occasion, I prefer to make my own speech in my own way.
I am suggesting that if unlimited imports are allowed they will run at a value of between £900,000,000 and £1,000,000,000 a year. In addition, we will have to face a bill for invisibles amounting to something like £250,000,000 a year, making a total of from £1,150,000,000 to £1,250,000,000 a year. On the other side, we are very lucky if our total exports reach the value of £1,000,000,000. Sometimes they can be slightly more but on occasions they can be considerably less. There is a deficiency of the order of £250,000,000 a year which up to date has been made good by the flow into this country of foreign capital. We do not believe that that flow of capital should be allowed to continue. Although in some circumstances foreign capital or foreign assistance may be welcome, it ought not to be allowed to flow indiscriminately. If we are to abate it in any way we must do something to limit the total amount of imports.
I concede that there are various ways in which this may be achieved. I direct the attention of the House to a very interesting paper which was delivered recently in the capital city of South Australia, the State to which the honorable member for Wakefield and the honorable member for Barker belong. It was delivered by Dr. Corden at the Seventh Summer School of Business Administration at the University of Adelaide, on 28th February, 1962. The title of the paper is “A Balance of Payments Problem. Import Replacement and Tariff Policy.” A number of interesting observations are made by Dr. Corden.
– Did he object to import restrictions?
– He did not make an unqualified objection to it. I will read the appropriate portion of the paper if the honorable member allows me time to do so. Dr. Corden writes -
Adding it all up one might arrive at a happy - or precarious - balance in a guess at what the balance of payments at present would look like if we had full employment.
Of course, at the moment we have not full employment and, as the writer points out, at various stages in the past we have relied upon import licensing to reduce the total flow of imports into this country. Subsequently, we have relied upon deflation to cut down the flow of imports by taking money out of the people’s pockets so that they could not spend it either internally or externally. Dr. Corden does not like either of those methods. He writes -
Exports of £940,000,000, private capital inflow of £240,000,000 and a little official borrowing would just pay the visible imports of £950,000,000 and net invisible imports of (say) £240,000,000.
That is the position as I have attempted to sum it up. Dr. Corden says -
The real threat is in the prospects. If imports grow in step with the national product, in five years’ time they would increase by perhaps £190,000,000. Add in growing overseas remittances-
That is, migrants sending money home to their kin who have not come out here - and a proportionate increase in the shipping bill and we find a £250,000,000 rise on the debit side with little prospect of extra export income or capital inflow sufficient to fill the gap. In the case of capital inflow one must even wonder whether an increase, or even a maintenance of the present rate, is in Australia’s long-term interest.
We agree with that proposition. Dr. Corden cites a number of ways in which this problem may be bridged and he mentions the sorts of remedies that can be used. There is devaluation of the currency; and I do not argue in favour of that. I do not think, even in the cause of politics, that the Go vernment wants to devalue the currency at the moment. Dr. Corden writes that we could have import restrictions as we have had them in the past, although he does not favour them. He states -
Secondly - and I address this remark to the friends of import restrictions on the political Left-
Presumably this side of the House - import restrictions could conceivably provide the teeth for some kind of economic planning;
The words “ economic planning “ have become a much cleaner term in the economic jargon - even from conservative mouths - than they were a few years ago. He continues - they could be a way of enforcing certain socially desired goals.
The Government attempted some time ago to plan the level of production of the motor car industry in Australia. That was its socially desired goal, despite the fact that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), who is in charge of the bill, denies that that was so. I ask him again to read what the Treasurer said here some months ago. I will not be sidetracked by him again. The paper continues -
But there fs no more point in teeth without a plan than in plans without teeth.
That is his aside -
If one believes-
As I do - that an element of intelligent planning is desirable one might advocate keeping Hie right to use the teeth in reserve; but I see no point in the use of teeth - that is, in detailed licensing procedures - when there is no coherent Plan or set of principles to guide the issue of licences.
I suggest that the Government has no coherent plan to guide the future of the nation. The measure before us is indicative of the absence of plans. The Government simply picks at little pieces of the problem’ and ignores the realities of it. The Government is faced with this sort of proposition when talking about the tariff. It is easy to talk in airy generalities about this thing, but we are dealing with a highly abstruse and at times highly abstract problem. There are imports of the order of nearly £1,000,000,000, and two very significant items condition a large part of the pattern. We have a large motor car industry, of which something like 30 per cent, still relies on imports despite the so-called 100 per cent. Australian-made car. The cost of those imports is more than £100,000,000. There is a further preemption of our total resources, namely, £100,000,000 in petroleum. So a pretty substantial part of our imports is made essential in the first place.
There are other realities. I have heard the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) suggest that there ought to be in 1962 a similar sort of general examination of the tariff as was made in 1931. I think the general conclusion of that inquiry was that without the tariff certain Australians could have had a higher standard of living than was the case but that probably we would have been supporting only one-half or two-thirds of the same population. The reality we face in 1962 is the necessity to maintain full employment for a population of 10,500,000, which is growing at the rate of 200,000 a year. We can do so only by protecting some of our industries. We believe that because of the insatiable demands by commercial people it is necessary to limit altogether some of the things which can come into this country. That is a rational statement. The exotic examples, such as tinned chickens, have been cited. I admit that in the aggregate the cost of them may be quite trivial, but the cost of thousands of similar items becomes substantial. As the honorable member for Wakefield said last night, it is true that relative to the total number in employment in Australia, manufacturing is providing fewer jobs than before; but it has still to be in the foreseeable future the greatest single provider of employment.
– What do you base that on?
– I simply base it on realities. It is all right to say that over a period the shift will be from primary and secondary industry to tertiary channels; I think that is true, in the final result, but you will not absorb your people into tertiary activity until you have them well based in producing consumer goods in the first instance. Relatively you have fewer people in manufacturing because, as I cited the other evening, you are using machines instead of men - which is a rational enough disposition of resources - but you still do not get these people into the ancillary chan- nels until you have your economy properly based. The only difference with manufacturing is the declining section where you can find employment. That section consists of what one might call big industries in the aggregate - industries like the motor car industry, the chemical industry and the paper and pulp industry which, over the last several years, have absorbed the greatest number of people in employment.
The paper and chemical industries, in particular, have become vulnerable with the relaxation of import controls. Dr. Hedland raises the point that it is pretty difficult to decide in terms of the next five to ten years, what rate of protection ought to be afforded to the chemical industry to allow it to grow to the point where it can face imports and where its production can be more efficient and economic. The argument that is raised about the tariff is that the Australian market is so small that production here cannot be in the same number of units as in other countries and that therefore we cannot compete on a unit to unit basis with those countries. That is one of the reasons why protection is given. But surely there is a fair degree of flexibility in the long run when you come to decide whether 25 per cent, protection should be given rather than 20 per cent, or 30 per cent. Those are matters of delicate judgment which the honorable member for Wakefield seems to prefer to see reside in the Tariff Board rather than in anybody else.
The Tariff Board has pointed out in its reports that ostensibly import licensing was enforced in this country not to protect industry but to protect our balance of payments. It did have the inevitable consequence of giving protection to Australian industry, and the board draws attention in its most recent annual report to that fact. That report states in paragraph 40 -
The year 1960-61 was the first full year since the virtual abolition of import licensing in February, 1960. The removal of import licensing has contributed to an increase in the number of applications for tariff protection. in certain cases the Board refused to recommend protective duties for industries that had developed during the period of import licensing.
That was the view taken by the board - that if an industry had developed under the wing of import licensing, once import licensing was off that industry should not be given protection.
– Oh, no!
– Well, I think at least in some cases. Then the board goes on to note in paragraph 96 of that report -
The Board, in its last Annual Report expressed the view that there was a tendency for consumers to prefer certain overseas goods to locally produced articles of comparable cost and quality.
At least the board, apparently, is prepared to decide in that issue that an imported article is comparable in cost and quality with a locally produced one. I would suggest that if that is the case there is a good reason to put import licensing on that sort of goods. I think that in the long run such things are qualitative as much as they are quantitative - and they are qualitative in the hands of the Tariff Board just as much as they are qualitative in the hands of any other authority. I suggest that you gentlemen on the other side of the House do not face up to the very real problem that Australia is roughly from £200,000,000 to £250,000,000 a year down the drain in its international transactions, and that it is not the job of the Tariff Board to look after that. I would suggest that even the honorable member for Wakefield would agree with that statement.
We on this side of the House say that one way to solve that problem - and this is bound up with the Government’s own avowed intent regarding full employment - is to impose import restrictions at a significant level if need be. J suggest again that one of the reasons why the Government is doing what it is doing - and the method it is using is a hole-and-corner method in the long run - is that when the Government made that catastrophic decision of February 1960 it did not realize that whilst it was easy enough to take import restrictions off it was not easy to put them on again. The reason it was not easy was that Australia had certain commitments with regard to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, to which the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), who represents the Acting Minister for Trade, made a passing reference to-day.
It is time that the Government was a little more frank as to how far the obligation to Gatt limits Australia’s ability to reimpose import restrictions. We find that whilst it is Gatt that queries whether or not import restrictions should be imposed, this is done in conjunction with discussions with the International Monetary Fund. Who makes the decision in the long run? Is it Gatt or is it the International Monetary Fund which decides whether the sort of things envisaged in this measure are legitimate in terms of our contractual obligations to both of those organizations? I do not think that that point has been clarified, and it is time that we had more frankness about it than there has been on this occasion.
This measure comes under the jurisdiction, really, of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), but he is overseas at the moment negotiating with the members of the European Common Market on Australia’s behalf. I think that the sort of headache that the Minister is now suffering from ought to have been apparent some years ago, and action should have been taken then more persistently and perhaps more consistently than is now being taken. We realize that in the absence of the Minister for Trade the Minister for Repatriation, who is in charge of this measure in this House, might not feel disposed to give all the answers that the Minister for Trade himself would give if he were here. However, I repeat that there should be more frankness on the part of the Government as to how far we can move in the direction of restoring import licensing of the order that we had under this Government before.
It is very nice to be able to sneer about the machinery of import licensing and suggest that the Government would not reimpose licensing; but I do not think that anybody imagines that what is going to be done under this measure will resolve Australia’s balance-of-payments problem. In fact, the measure is not intended to do that. All it will do is to bring in a new form of protection for industry, and it seems to us that it is being done in a very haphazard way. It is being done on the basis of three months at a time. There ought at least to be provision for renewals quarterly, once the initial decision has been given. Underneath it all, it is a matter for the Department of Trade rather than for the Tariff Board, and no matter how much the honorable member for Wakefield might sigh about the purity of the relations between those two authorities I think there has to be more co-operation between them. We also have to bring in the Treasury machinery, because it is the Treasury above all which should be concerned with Australia’s balance-of-payments difficulties. If the Minister for Trade is not successful in Europe the problems here will become much more significant in the next twelve or eighteen months or two years. The balanceofpayments difficulty will not become less; unfortunately, the position will probably continue to deteriorate. I know that this will not be the last of the Government’s measures. But I rather fancy that the hand of trade will be a little bit heavier than the hand of the Tariff Board when the changes do come.
.-1 have been listening to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) for 30 minutes, but it has been a little difficult to decide what his prime objective was. He agreed with the bill and yet he tried to find reasons to criticize it. At no time did he emphatically come out with Labour’s policy and say that his party believed in reimposing selective import licensing on a grand scale. He left that question completely on one side and mumbled on about many things such as the need for more employment in Australia; but he did not state how this should be achieved.
– How would the Country Party achieve it?
– I shall deal with that question. I think that the major task of this Government is to try to maintain cost stability, particularly for our export industries but also for industries which have to meet competition from imports. The other prime objective of the Government is to try to maintain a high rate of employment. It has been argued that the objective of this bill is to accomplish some of those things. I think, maybe, it is, but I do have some reservations about the wisdom of the proposal that the special advisory authority be empowered to recommend quantitative restrictions.
I have heard it said, time and time again, that the Australian Country Party is nothing more than a free trade party. I should like to let the House know that probably the earliest objective of the Country Party was to have a tariff board established in Australia. The Country Party takes great pride in claiming that it was responsible for the type of tariff board that we have in Australia - a tariff board which holds open hearings at which the importer and th, local manufacturer both put forward their cases. In reply to those who say that *.e are nothing more than a free trade party I would like to enumerate the agricultural commodities for which the Country Party has managed to get protection over the years. They include sugar, butter, cheese, milk, tobacco, cotton, timber and plywood, meat and poultry, eggs, fish, fresh, dried and canned fruits, fruit juices, onions, potatoes, peas and other vegetables, rice, maize, linseed and linseed oil, peanuts and peanut oil, olives and olive oil, almonds, hops, chicory, bean seed and last, but not to be forgotten, bananas.
We believe that the consumers should have the opportunity of putting a case before the Tariff Board as well as the industry that seeks protection. An independent tribunal such as this provides an open hearing and gives a pretty fair judgment. This is quite contrary to what happened when the Scullin Labour Government was in office in 1929. There was then a complete abuse of the ministerial control over tariffs. The then Minister arbitrarily imposed exorbitant protective duties of up to 55 per cent., British preferential tariff - the lowest in the various degrees of protection. He imposed those tariffs with the special purpose of creating more employment, but they did not have that result because the added cost borne by export industries diminished their ability to sell overseas. As a result of such badly conceived legislation, the Scullin Government was tossed out.
When I hear members of the Opposition saying that we need emergency action and that we need protection to help various industries my mind goes back to 1960 when a bill was introduced to enable the deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board to recommend to the Minister for Trade that emergency protection be given to an industry. I am pleased that some primary industries have had emergency protection. This emergency tariff has given protection to primary products such as onions, beans, citrus fruits, pig meats and peanut oil. So anybody who tries to create the idea that the Australian
Country Party is nothing more than a free trade party is silly. We are not a free trade party. We believe in reasonable tariffs; we believe in a degree of protection.
Some other people have put forward the argument that the Country Party wants absolute protection for primary industries. They say that the sugar, wheat and butter industries, for instance, are protected completely from competition by the exclusion of import of these goods-. I think that there are some very good arguments why that has to be so. These industries have to undergo exhaustive examination of their cost structure in order that their selling prices can be determined. These prices are fixed upon the cost of production in Australia which in turn is determined by the cost of labour, material and other things. Those commodities cannot then be sold at more than the fixed price. It is well to note that we would have no organized, orderly marketing scheme in Australia unless we managed to keep out imports of these commodities.
Another point that is very well worth noting is that Article 11 clause (c) of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade allows member countries to impose import restrictions in order to maintain orderly and organized marketing schemes for agricultural and fishery commodities. The agreement also allows countries to impose import restrictions in order to maintain restrictive planting programmes for the purpose of reducing the production of some agricultural commodities or of getting rid of agricultural surpluses.
While I support some of the remarks of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) on this subject, I do not go as far as he does and say that I oppose the bill wholeheartedly because I think there are possibly cases in which quantitative restrictions may be justified. I have examined that list that has been before the Department of Trade so far. About ten or fifteen industries have gone before the industry panels of the department, asking for protection. I cannot see why they cannot get the necessary protection through the tariff. The one exception is the timber industry.
– That is because it is in your electorate.
– There is not as much of it in my electorate as there is in the elec torate of the honorable member for Cowper. There is a demand for a quantity of Oregon or other softwood timber to come into this country. A quantitative restriction on the importation of these timbers would allow a certain quantity to come in without pushing up building costs. But if the tariff on timber is increased, admittedly building costs must go up.
I have looked at this matter from various aspects, and I think the tariff does not work as we would like it to work in this case. I have looked at some of the chemical industries which believe that quantitative restrictions are needed. In the case of polyvinyl chloride, which is produced by Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited - B. F. Goodrich Australia Proprietary Limited is just coming into the field’ - the manufacturers believe that they cannot meet competition from overseas. They may not be able to do so, but if they can get protection, they can compete.
The Tariff Board report for last year showed that the price of polyvinyl chloride in Australia was well above that in any other country. In Australia, the price of the chemical was 27d. per lb., whereas the next highest, 19.8d., was in the United States of America. The prices in Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom were much lower and, of course, one could cite the cases of other industries where the experience is similar.
One reason why we have to be careful with quantitative restrictions is that this principle does violate the very essence of the international organizations of which Australia is a member such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The one objective of these organizations is freer international trade. Nothing restricts trade more than quantitative restrictions. If honorable members go through the various articles of Gatt, they will see all sorts of provisions against dumping and for countervailing duties to apply. I believe that we can use these things in Australia rather than quantitative restrictions if goods are being dumped. In the case of canned hams, this Government took emergency action by way of a countervailing duty which gave immediate protection to the relevant Australian industry. It was not a quantitative restriction that was necessary but the kind of duty that was imposed, and it has worked very effectively.
We find, too, that under article 19 of Gatt - one about which a great deal has been said - there is provision for quantitative restrictions to be used where local industries are being damaged. This is right, but the article stresses that if a quantitative restriction is to be brought in, Gatt must be informed beforehand or immediately afterwards and the restriction must be only of a temporary nature. I believe that if we are to use quantitative restrictions - and I have accepted that there are cases where this is probably the right thing to do - I do not think such action should become a precedent for this Parliament to make such a provision as a regular thing. We have sent our representatives overseas and argued time and time again before the Gatt organization about the dumping of butter, or wheat, or the subsidization of some other product. We have a good name with the Gatt organization for living up to the various articles of the agreement; but if we bring this measure down it will make most countries more annoyed than anything else because it puts an arbitrary control on the entry of their goods into Australia. It allows only a certain quantity, irrespective of the quality or the price, to enter the country.
– What is your definition of a temporary tariff? For how long should it be imposed?
– I would hope for not more than a year. I would think that that would be sufficient.
– And then what - a permanent tariff?
– I think a tariff could do it. In all cases, we should put on a sufficient tariff to give protection to an industry provided it can show that it will be reasonably efficient.
– That increases the cost structure.
– Quantitative restrictions increase the cost structure. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) quoted a lecture by Professor Corden. The honorable member will see that Professor Corden, in his final analysis, said that quantitative restrictions tended to increase costs and tended towards inflation more than did tariffs. The same argument is borne out in an article by Professor Miloslav Bernasek, Professor of Economics at the Sydney University. In an article in “ The Australian Quarterly “, he writes about quantitative restrictions versus tariffs, and states that his whole argument is in favour of tariffs because of the possibility of the violation of the provisions of Gatt and because quantitative restrictions tend to boost prices more than do tariffs.
I could cite examples of this and the anomalies of quantitative restrictions. First, let us say that Australia is importing five motor cars worth £100 each a year, and we introduce volume control or value control, whichever you like. Four cars would be worth £400. Because of the scarcity factor and because the market demand is for five motor cars, the price of four cars will go up to at least £125 each. That is on the basis of the normal demand, but with the scarcity factor, the price will possibly go up to £150. However, for the purpose of this exercise, let us say the price goes up to £133. Four cars would then cost £532, and each car would cost £133, or £33 more than the official price.
One might ask: Who gets the extra £33 because of the demand that has been caused and the restrictions? There are many channels into which the extra £33 could go. In the first place, it could be the person who got the permit. Through graft or bribery, he might pay a little to the administration to get his permit to import a car. That is where part of the £33 would go.
– Does the honorable member suggest that this is done?
– It has happened. We had trafficking and bribery. That was referred to time and time again in this House and it will happen while there are quantitative restrictions. Secondly, when the administration is incorruptible, who gets the benefit? It is the middle man who got the permit. He will collect the lot. He will not be conscientious and sell a car for £100. He will collect the extra money.
Thirdly, take the case where the administration’ is honest and the middle man is honest or where the Government introduces prices control so that the middle man cannot put up the price. Then the person who actually buys the car for £100, drives off, sees somebody who wants a car and sells it to him, gets the extra £33.
Fourthly, the exporter may see that there is a demand for motor cars in another country. He will say: “ I have been selling motor cars for £100 when the demand price is £133. I will push up my prices.” He can do that where there is volume control but not where there is revenue control. Where there is revenue control, he can set up his own agency in the country and then collect the £33.
Fifthly, let us take the case where the government can sell or auction the licences. This is done in some countries. In that case the government gets part of the £33 and the person who is willing to bid must keep something for himself because he would not bid unless he saw some profit for himself. In that case, he will get part of it.
I am trying to point out that in the case where a government puts on a tariff to dampen down demand, the government gets the whole of the £33. There is no corruption, no bribery and no graft. That is the case where there are a few anomalies.
Take the case of the person who got all four licences to bring in four motor cars. He might say: “There is a lot of money involved. I will take in only two cars and because of the scarcity and the demand, I will probably get £200 each for them.” He will limit the number of cars coming into Australia and get a bigger cop himself. Whatever way we look at quantitative restrictions, we see how anomalies can arise and dubious practices can take place, and I believe that we should keep away from them as much as we possibly can. The important thing to remember about the bill is that it provides that where an industry is in need of emergency protection its position must first be examined to ascertain whether a tariff duty will be satisfactory. It is only after it can be shown that a tariff duty will not be satisfactory that the special advisory authority is asked to consider the matter and perhaps recommend quantitative restrictions. And this is where the House must be very cautious. When the advisory authority recommends quantitative restrictions this House should examine the whole case very closely with a view to satisfying itself that such a course is justified.
Another feature of the bill with which 1 agree is the fact that it takes from the Minister power to impose quantitative restrictions automatically. Under this measure, he must refer the matter to the special advisory authority for study and recommendation. In this way, it does not become a political matter. Under the tariff system, if an industry wants increased protection, the Minister has no power to grant it until after the whole position has been exhaustively examined by the Tariff Board and an increase has been recommended by the board.
– He does not have to accept the recommendation.
– He docs not have to accept the recommendation. That is true, but he cannot impose a tariff unless the matter has first been examined by the Tariff Board. That is the big difference between the present system and that which obtained under the Scullin Government. Under the Scullin Government, protection was given automatically without referring the matter to the Tariff Board, and that is what caused so much ill feeling between the various parties at the time.
– That is what killed Australian industry.
– It is what helped the depression along. I agree with the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) on one point, but I must frankly admit that I cannot see a way of overcoming the problem that arises in connexion with it. Under this measure the authority is given 30 days in which to hold an inquiry and decide whether an industry is in urgent need of protection. I should like to see some means of making the inquiry more open, some means by which those who wish to challenge a request may hear the evidence being given by the applicant. I do not like inquiries of this kind to be conducted in private because those who wish to challenge an application for emergency protection have no opportunity of submitting a case if they do not know the grounds upon which the applicant seeks the protection. Let me emphasize that, although I agree with the honorable member for Wakefield on this point, I do not support the remarks he made about the Minister for Trade. I think they were unnecessary.
We all have agreed that there are cases in which quick protection is needed. We all have agreed that protection is especially necessary when goods are being dumped in Australia but, as I said earlier, I think we can get that protection through our tariffs. If a special case arises to justify quantitative restrictions, then I am prepared to agree to them. I support the bill mainly because it takes from the Minister the responsibility of issuing an order for quantitative restrictions. There were three instances in which quantitative restrictions were automatically granted by the Minister, and perhaps the action taken on those occasions was wise, but I do feel that in future it will be much better to have each case examined very closely by the special authority.
Some honorable members opposite have argued that future expansion and employment in Australia depend on secondary industries. I cannot accept that argument. I know that the rural population has declined, but that does not mean that the people who earn their living in the cities are not enabled by primary industries to enjoy that opportunity. The agricultural population has declined because agriculture has become more mechanized and because more chemicals and more fertilizers are being used. But where do the basic ingredients come from? They come from our local industries. For instance, if a farmer has the money to buy new tractors, or new machinery, or to use more chemicals and more fertilizers, he buys those things from Australian industries. Again, almost every service benefits from the farmers’ prosperity. Transport services and road systems all derive an advantage from the prosperity of primary industry. Do not be carried away with the idea that secondary industries provide all the employment available. The more prosperous primary producers become, the more money they will spend on tractors, fertilizers and other things. Although secondary industries do play an important part, primary industries can play an equally important part if they are enabled to expand and become more productive.
I have tried to point out some of the vicious anomalies that arise under import licensing. I have tried to show that it can breed ill-will between the different countries of the world, particularly those concerned with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, at a time when the world trend is towards freer trade. Time and time again, President Kennedy has been trying to impress upon the people of the United States of America that they have to accept lower tariffs, let alone quantitative restrictions, and the whole purpose of the European Common Market is to break down trade barriers. We cannot live in isolation from the rest of the world. We have to make our trading as flexible as possible in order to compete with other countries. If there must be protection in Australia then let it be given through tariffs, not through quantitative restrictions, and whenever this House receives a recommendation that quantitative restrictions be applied, let it scrutinize the recommendation closely to be sure that this course is justified.
.- I listened very attentively to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), as I always do. He attempted, first, to argue that costs must be kept down. I remind the honorable member that since the party to which he belongs first supported this Government in 1949, costs have risen. We of the Australian Labour Party have offered many constructive suggestions for keeping prices down. During the prices referendum campaign in 1948, our late revered leader warned the Australian people that unless the Commonwealth Government were granted power to control prices we would have the spectacle of the dog chasing its tail. As honorable members know, the people refused to grant the Commonwealth the power requested and the position about which the then Prime Minister warned Australia has existed ever since. Yet members of the Australian Country Party have the audacity to urge that costs be kept down. I repeat that in supporting this Government, that party has been responsible for most of the increases that have taken place in costs of production.
I can remember quoting an article that the honorable member for Richmond published not so long ago in the Lismore press. In that article the honorable member for Richmond said that high wages paid to workers were not responsible for inflation but rather that the high wages being paid to workers were necessary because of the actions of speculators in this country, over the last few years in particular. And this Government has done nothing to control those speculators or to obtain from the people power to control this vicious thing that has caused inflation in Australia. It will not seek the power to control those things which are damaging to primary industry. The Government refused to listen to the advocacy of the late Sir Earle Page and of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) that the Commonwealth be given the powers necessary to control the very things that are causing inflation in this country. I remind the honorable member for Richmond also that the Country Party advocates the decentralization of industry. Its members know only too well that young people leaving school in country towns are unable to find employment in their home towns and must seek work in the cities. And where do they find employment in the cities? Is it with the secondary industries. The secondary industries supply most of the employment opportunities for the younger people in this country. If we are to have centralization of industry, then we must protect our Australian industries to enable them to expand. Australian industries must be protected if they are to provide employment for our young school-leavers and those of our citizens who are now unemployed. The best argument against the objection of the honorable member for Richmond to import controls is the fact that the flood of imports into this country last year led to the credit squeeze and the building up of the greatest army of unemployed seen in Australia since the dark depression days of the 1930’s. Surely that is evidence of the importance of imposing import restrictions.
In February, 1960, when the Government abolished all import controls, many industries were placed in a serious plight. I refer to the paper industry, textile industry, electrical appliances industry, timber industry and so on. Many of them were seriously harmed and some minor industries were irreparably damaged. But after two years the Government has awakened from its coma and now has decided to try to restore these industries to their former condition. In his secondreading speech, the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) said that the bill did not guarantee full protection for Australian industries on a permanent basis. He said -
This bill is the forerunner of the changes which are to be made to carry out the Government’s decision, made clear in earlier announcements by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade, to strengthen and to speed up the protection machinery available to Australian industry against imports. It has been introduced in advance of other measures so that the additional temporary protection - needed in meeting urgent situations facing some industries - may be available as quickly as possible.
In other words, this is just a temporary measure.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) have on numerous occasions in the last six months or so said that in no circumstances would the import licensing system be restored in Australia whilst they were in government. I would like to know how the Government will deal with this quantitative system of import controls without re-introducing import licensing. Let me give an illustration. If ten importers in Australia are importing one line of goods to the value, we will say, of £5,000,000 a year - an average of £500,000 each - and if it is decided to reduce this quota by half, making it £2,500,000, will the quotas of the ten importers be reduced by 50 per cent, or will the Government knock out a few of the ten importers and allow the quotas of the others to remain unaltered - or will applications from other importers for permission to import these goods be refused? Of course, the system of import licensing must be re-introduced! This is just another occasion on which the Prime Minister has made a statement and a few months later has reversed it. If I am wrong in saying this, I would like the Minister for Repatriation, when he speaks on this bill, to explain how a system of quantitative restrictions can work without re-introducing some sort of import licensing.
Although large quantities of tinned foods have been imported, the Australian Country Party has not offered one protest. Tinned chicken, tinned ham, tinned vegetables and other goods have been imported in the past year or two. I have it on good authority that in the last twelve months 5,000 tons of frozen peas have been imported from America. Their value exceeds £1,000,000. Perhaps members of the Australian Country Party do not grow peas in their electorates - they are very parochial - but they are supposed to represent the primary producers. I do not know of any protest that any member of the Country Party has made about the import of these goods. My friend, the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage) has been good enough to give me two telegrams which he received from people who are supposed to be represented by the Country Party. The first telegram reads as follows: -
Citrus growers register emphatic protest on import of Californian citrus juices. Over production of all citrus including juices and concentrates have placed growers in serious financial plight. Please place facts before Minister.
Secretary, Hawkesbury Citrus Growers
The Australian citrus growers now are trying to sell more than 1,000,000 gallons of citrus fruit juices; but this Government is allowing Californian fruit juice to come to this country, although this means that many of our own producers will become bankrupt. The second telegram is as follows: -
Please give urgent support to our representation to Ministers for Primary Industries and Trade re implementation of juice import advisory panel request for restriction of imports of citrus juices. Citrus growers of this district are concerned and alarmed at promotion campaign of Sunkist organization currently being conducted on Australian markets.
The Sunkist organization is an American organization that is advertising extensively on television, on radio and in newspapers. It is selling quite a lot of citrus fruit juice in Australia. But the Government does not make any move to restrict these imports.
The bill now before us does not go far enough. There are many loop-holes in it. I offer no criticism of Sir Frank Meere, who has been selected for the position created by the bill. I know him to be an upright man and I have great confidence in him. I know that he will have the interests of Australian industry at heart. But let me refer to just one loop-hole in the measure. If an application for quantitative import restrictions is made, it will dawdle along for some 30 days. Is there anything to prevent importers from bringing large quantities of the goods in question into the country during those 30 days? Let us not forget that this has been done before. A few years ago, as the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) pointed out, David Jones Limited in some unknown way became aware that import restrictions would be imposed on some goods. It then spent several hundreds of thousands of pounds on imports.
As the honorable member for Richmond pointed out, there are likely to be some lurks or some rackets arising from the imposition of quantitative restrictions. I appeal to the Minister to watch this very carefully. If an application is made to the Tariff Board or to Sir Frank Meere to restrict the import of some goods, the Government should watch closely to prevent other firms from importing sufficient quantities of the goods to last them for several years before the board can act.
Many honorable members on this side of the House have consistently advocated to the Government over the last two years that selective import controls be introduced. During the last election campaign we included in our policy speech that, if we were returned to office, we would immediately re-introduce selective import controls. The Government made no mention of this in its policy speech, and this is another instance in which the Government has adopted Labour’s policy. It knows that the people want import controls and it is stealing another part of Labour’s policy. It does not do this because it believes in import controls; it does so simply because it has been forced into this position by the will of the people.
We of the Australian Labour Party believe that if we are to populate the country, if we are to provide employment for our school-leavers and if we are to continue with our immigration programme, we must look to our secondary industries to provide employment. Fewer people are working on the land now than were working on it prior to World War II. So we must look to the primary industries not necessarily to provide employment but really to provide most of our overseas credits. We must look to the secondary industries to provide employment. If we populate the country, we will be working for the benefit of the Australian Country Party and the people it allegedly represents. Increased population means a bigger home market for primary products. This will bring prosperity to primary industries more quickly than will any other means.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
– Sir, I think that this is a proper opportunity to say something - not, I think, unduly contentious - about the Tariff Board Bill as it fits into the general pattern of overall policy, because there may be some confusions here or there. It may therefore be helpful to indicate how we understand this matter. This is a bill which, if you put it in a short way, is designed to facilitate the imposition of Q.R. - quantitative restrictions on imports - in certain uncommon cases. These are special cases demonstrated by special circumstances. This measure does not represent a reversion to import licensing as we knew it. Import licensing as we knew it, in the broad, inevitably meant what I think most people would call a bureaucratic control, and it had heavy implications of an unscientific second line of tariff protection. That second line of tariff protection was quite unscientific because it covered in a broad sweep so many hundreds of items. I describe it as an unscientific second line of tariff protection because, although my colleague, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), and I time after time endeavoured to make it clear that this was not regarded as a protective device, it perhaps inevitably came to be regarded in that sense, as I think the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) pointed out late this afternoon.
This broad sweep of import licensing was not to be regarded as a protective device. It had two disabilities, to say nothing of the others. One was, as I have said, that it was unscientific, because it covered a wide field, not in a discriminating way. In the second place, it was something that could be imposed by a government through a
Minister without reference to any outside authority or check. My colleague, the Minister for Trade, who, I am sure, would have liked to be here and who, I venture to say, is doing a magnificent job for us overseas, liked this broad sweep no more than I did. In the result, the Government gave thought to it. We considered the problems that are arising, some of them in the short run and some of them, perhaps, in the longer run. We decided, as I announced some time ago, that we would set up machinery involving a reference to an independent adviser to enable import quota restrictions to be imposed, not as a general rule, but in very particular cases in very particular circumstances. In other words, as one honorable member has said in this debate, this is a holding measure introduced in order that we may prevent things from getting worse in certain instances before they become better.
There is one other thing that perhaps ought to be said, Sir, for these things occasionally are overlooked. That is that the restoration of general import licensing which has been advocated here or there could not be justified internationally when our overseas funds are as healthy as they are now, and at a time when it is perhaps the fashion - an undesirable fashion - to pretend that what was announced at the end of 1960 is now abandoned. I remind the House that one of the many great products of the policy then established is that to-day our overseas funds are healthy and our current overseas balances of trade are healthy. These are good things. They are not to be forgotten and certainly not to be apologized for.
What this bill does is to provide for an independent inquiry. I will not pursue the question of the identity of the gentleman who has been appointed to conduct this inquiry, except to say that if there is one matter on which my friends opposite and I can agree entirely it is that Sir Frank Meere is a distinguished, honest civil servant of great experience and, I think, of great objectivity. We wanted an independent inquiry, Sir. That is the first thing. The second thing that we wanted was that there should be in the independent adviser a faculty to recommend quota or quantitative restrictions only in special cases in special circumstances. If I repeat that for the second time, honorable members will realize why I do. We are literally dealing with a very particular set of circumstances which may exist for a year or for two years, but which we hope will not necessarily exist for ever. Therefore, the third essence of the proposal is that quantitative restrictions, if they are recommended and adopted, should be temporary. Honorable members know tom their perusal of the bill what is involved in that.
It has been said, I have no doubt in the best of good faith, that the very presentation of this bill to the Parliament exhibits some want of confidence in the Tariff Board. I want to say on behalf of the Government that that is not true. We are not challenging the Tariff Board. What we realize is that in spite of the measures that we have taken in the past to increase the personnel and the services of the board the pressure on that body still remains enormous. I reject the idea, which has been given some circulation, that the board has slowed down and is not dealing with matters as quickly as it used to deal with them. If I had time, I could cite figures to demonstrate how untrue that idea is. The Tariff Board is a very great authority, and we stand in great debt to it. It has a reputation, not only in this country, but around the world, for integrity and objectivity, and nothing that we propose in this bill is designed to weaken its authority, or to give even the vaguest hint that we might want to be without it. That idea is not true.
When you are dealing with temporary matters for which a pressure comes suddenly - a pressure that you hope will not continue to exist indefinitely in the future - there is an unanswerable case for taking uncommon measures. If we had stood still and said, “ Oh, well, leave it to the Tariff Board; we will do nothing about it “, we would properly be accused of leaving some industries or some sections of industry to be murdered by a sudden spate of overseas competition. Perhaps one of the best illustrations of this is that my friend, the honorable member for Richmond, when saying something at slight variance from what had been said by my thoughtful and able friend, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), said, “ Well, there arc cases in which quantita tive restrictions may be desirable “. He instanced timber. Well, I can understand that. Somebody else, somewhere else in the House, might have instanced paper. The honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) might very well be heard to say, “What about paper?” Somebody else might instance chemicals of certain kinds. Somebody else might instance glass of certain types. The truth is that not one of us can have within his own knowledge a complete survey of all the industries. But when you get down to brass tacks you will find that there are a few industries - not too many; this is not of universal application - or sections of industries in which the sudden impact of competition from overseas calls for unusual measures, not in the long run but in the short run. That is one of the reasons for this bill.
I wonder, Sir, whether I might pause at that point to direct attention - I am not the first to do it - to one aspect of the European Common Market negotiations which has, I think, been continually overlooked. It is quite true that at this time my colleague, the Minister for Trade - who, in spite of all the silly tittle-tattle that I hear, is a great defender of Australian industry - has immediately before him problems of our rural industries and of our export industries, questions such as what is going to happen to wheat, what is going to happen to butter, what is going to happen to dried fruits and canned fruits and many other commodities. But we can very easily overlook the fact that one of the great forces moving the United Kingdom in the direction of the European Common Market-
– Is the United States.
– No. I will make my own speeches, if you don’t mind. They usually turn out a little better that way. One of the great forces moving the United Kingdom in the direction of the Common Market - we know this from what has been put to us - is the fact that inside the European Common Market there will be, for the great industrial manufacturing countries, an extended home market. Nobody can fail to understand the position of a British Minister, sitting in Whitehall and saying, “We have a home market of 50,000,000 people, but inside the European Common Market wc will have a home market, with internal free trade, of 250,000,000 people “. As everybody knows, that was one of the main reasons why the six European countries got together, beginning with the Schumann plan for steel, and then developing a wider association. They saw at once that if they could get this home market, something roughly corresponding to the almost fabulous home market of the United States of America, they might expect to produce more cheaply and therefore sell more cheaply. What has been overlooked, to some extent, is that British entry into the European Common Market, if and when it comes, while presenting an obvious challenge to our primary export industries, will also represent a powerful challenge to Australian manufacturing industries. It will mean that the producers of manufactured goods in European countries, including, for this purpose, the United Kingdom, will be in a powerful competitive position in our own market. So, not for the first time, we have to bear in mind that we are all involved in this matter. The manufacturer is at risk because of the Common Market; the farmer is at risk because of the Common Market. Therefore it is rather foolish - certainly unnecessary - to revive at this stage some of the old battles between protection and free trade which were waged before any of us thought of coming into Parliament.
All these considerations show clearly that we have immense interests in common, and they show to me and to my colleagues that we neglect any of those interests at our peril. In other words, we must take steps to ensure the continuity and growth of manufacturing. We will be imperilled if we fail to take steps to avoid building up the costs of our export primary industries to a point at which those industries will be priced out of a market which is vital to our future.
So, Sir, this is not a conflict in the orthodox sense. This is a great opportunity for showing a unity of approach to these matters. When I hear certain attempts being made to drive a wedge between parties on this side of the House, I say to myself: “This is all nonsense. We are all on the same side in this matter. We may have opinions which vary a little in degree, but certainly not opinions which differ in deep principle.”
Now, Sir, I do not want to involve myself - having already used a little more than half my allotted time - in detailed and technical arguments as to whether a quantitative restriction, carefully selected, loads costs in Australia or reduces them. I have listened with great respect to arguments which suggest that a quantitative restriction will load costs more than a high tariff. All I want to say at this stage is that I am unable to subscribe to that view.
– You are an innocent abroad.
– I am not. I am an innocent at home. I wonder whether my distinguished friend, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), means that he is quite satisfied that a quantitative restriction will increase costs in Australia. If he does, I am a little puzzled as to why he is supporting the bill. Perhaps I am not so innocent as he thinks. But, Sir, I just offer my own view that there will be cases in which the imposition of a quantitative restriction will reduce the risk of having costs and prices rise in Australia.
– That is right.
– Now he says that is right! Previously he said I was an innocent abroad. Anyhow, my friend agrees with me that it is right. One of the beauties of this piece of legislation is that it is a temporary proposal. It will be, as I shall explain further later, merged into longerterm legislation, and if my own view happens to be wrong - not for the first time-
– You are thinking of matters different from those I am thinking of. Anyhow, if my view happens to be wrong, we will have ample opportunity to examine it when we are discussing the longer-term legislation. In short, if I may adopt the phrase used by one honorable member, this is a holding measure.
The next thing I want to say is that we attach enormous importance to stabilizing costs in Australia. If any item of policy pursued by us loads the costs of production of the major export industries of Australia, then it will deliver a crippling blow at the Australian economy.
– Everything you have done since 1949 has had exactly that result.
– I heard you; now you listen to me, dear boy. I heard one of your heelers make that statement this afternoon. .11 I am doing now is what I am allowed to do - offering my own views, on behalf of the Government on this matter. We believe that one of the central principles of economic policy is that we must not put the export industries at risk. The task is far from completed as yet, because my distinguished colleague, the Minister for Trade, is still abroad fighting our battles. We are preparing a further Tariff Board measure. As I and others have made clear in public statements, we propose to weave quota restrictions into the general Tariff Board fabric for use in selected cases where a tariff is not the appropriate remedy. I do not need to tell honorable members that this is not simple. This is not something you can run up overnight on a typewriter. This requires a great deal of thought, and I am determined that before we do anything my colleague, the Minister for Trade, will have the fullest opportunity to offer his views.
In the general armament of the Tariff Board we will include the capacity to impose a quota restriction where the board is of opinion that no normal tariff procedure will be appropriate to the case.
– There is no provision in this bill to do that.
– I am referring to the bill which, unless I am bitterly disappointed, will be presented to the House in the Budget session.
All this means that we are examining the underlying problems of the economy. The greatest problem of the economy is to reconcile a few matters, each of which is magnificently important in its own fashion but each of which may have to be modified a little in the interests of accommodating the lot. Let me re-state shortly the problems that we have: First of all, we must build up our population by natural increase and by substantial migration. This, I think, is a national objective to which all honorable members subscribe. Secondly, we must achieve and maintain full employment for that increasing population.
Opposition Members. - Oh, nol
– In stating these factors I am unmoved by the professional unemployment mongers on the other side of the House. They will all be absent on sick leave when we find that there are no unemployed in Australia because, like Othello, their occupation will be gone indeed. Thirdly, we must support actively and continuously the growth of manufacturing industry which I say categorically is vital to the absorption and employment of our increased population. That does not mean that I am ignoring the tertiary or service industries. I know that they have just as big a part to play as have primary and secondary industries, but the truth is that if you look at employment and increasing population in Australia you must look first, in modern circumstances, at what is happening in the manufacturing field. Therefore, we are all for it. Our clear policy is to support actively the growth of manufacturing industry. Fourthly, we must develop the basic resources of the nation. Government expenditure, sometimes rather sneered at by people, is the vital foundation of industrial development and of population increase.
We must try to do all these things while encouraging the export industries which, in the most literal sense, are vital to our international trade and solvency. At our national peril we must not cost them out of their markets. This seems so clear that 1 could hardly imagine any one would deny it. How are we to do that? In our recent announcements we have indicated several ways. The first is to keep down rural costs by measures designed to increase the efficiency of rural industries. I have only to refer to the work done in scientific research and in extension, in which so many of my friends are so deeply interested, to make it clear that from our point of view the first great thing to be done for the primary industries is to help them to produce in a quantity and at a cost level which will defend them against other increases in the Australian economy.
The second way by which we hope to achieve our objective - I emphasize this point because occasionally it is overlooked - is by measures calculated to increase the efficiency of local manufacturing and so enable the local manufacturer to keep his costs and prices within proper limits. Whatever is done, whether by way of investment allowance or in any other way to help the local manufacturer to keep his costs within bounds, has a direct bearing upon the ultimate costs of the rural producer who cannot pass on his additional costs but has to bear them. Concluding on this aspect, let me say that one way in which we can help the Australian manufacturer to keep his costs within bounds, apart altogether from granting investment allowances, is by making it possible for him to secure a share of the Australian market which will enable him to spread his overhead costs over the largest possible number of units.
We might look occasionally at the rest of the world to see what has happened in modern industrial history. What does it show in relation to America and modern Germany? It shows that lower costs and greater export markets are the product of a large sustained and assured home market. There is a lesson to be learned from all this. Why should we deny to our own great manufacturing industries - I am not talking about casual fly-by-night enterprises - the very thing which has made their rivals in the world powerful and has enabled them to put such pressure on our business as to require heavy tariffs to provide protection? These are all matters which have to be taken into account. Perhaps I have gone a little wider in my remarks than one or two rulings that 1 have heard might have permitted.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– That is right; but still I have done it. I wanted to put this matter in the picture. First, I wanted to make it clear that we have the liveliest interest in protecting the production costs of the primary industries because without them this country is finished. Secondly, we have the liveliest interest in maintaining a vast increase of population and therefore a vast increase, among other things, of manufacturing enterprise on proper terms. Really, one of the great problems of statesmanship in Australia to-day is not to engage in a lot of slang-whanging in these matters but to see how you can reconcile these matters to the greatest possible extent. It is for all those reasons that this is a bill to set up a temporary machine to deal with a temporary problem, so that we will not have the whole thing run away from us before we get to the point of establishing permanent machinery and a permanent body to deal with it.
.- Mr. Speaker, we have had an unusual visit by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). He intervened in this debate to-night completely unannounced and when the proceedings are not being broadcast. For the Prime Minister to intervene in this debate shows that he must be worried about the defection of a few of his followers who have spoken on this bill. One of them, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), said last night, “ I oppose this bill, but I will not vote against it”. The Prime Minister has spoken in the debate to-night, I believe, to put his team on the track - his track of course, the Liberal track.
The Prime Minister said that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) was doing a magnificent job overseas. But the honorable member for Wakefield last night spoke about the Minister for Trade rushing around Europe. He said -
The Minister for Trade, with all his splendid eloquence, is now in Europe thundering against the wicked Europeans who do exactly what he and the Government intended to do.
The honorable member was speaking very sarcastically. He differs entirely from the Prime Minister in his opinion of what the Minister for Trade is doing overseas. The Prime Minister spoke of this bill as a holding measure and I guess that from the Government’s point of view that is perfectly true. He also spoke of the independent inquiry he had set up with the facility to recommend a quantitative restriction in special circumstances, and this may last for two years. I submit that this is a definite departure in principle within the Tariff Board. The board has no power to bring in quantitative restrictions, yet this bill provides for that very thing. It does so by setting up a special advisory authority with the power to recommend quantitative restrictions.
The Prime Minister also said that quantitative restrictions, if recommended and adopted, should be temporary. Last night and to-day we have been trying to get the Government to say what it means by a temporary tariff restriction. This afternoon the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) spoke of temporary being a year’s duration. What the word “ temporary “ really means is very nebulous. I think that the industries concerned in Australia would very much like a definition of the word “ temporary “. The Prime Minister also referred to-night to those people who said this bill showed lack of confidence in the Tariff Board. He said: “This is not so. The pressure on this board is enormous.” But the honorable member for Wakefield last night had this to say about the Tariff Board -
I submit that by getting in an outside expert the Government weakens the morale of the Tariff Board and weakens our confidence in the board.
Obviously the Prime Minister listened to the honorable member’s speech last night and came into the House to-night to answer it and make sure that no other honorable members on his side of the House would defect. We admired the honorable member’s courage last night - I want to make that quite clear - but I do not know what political party will have him next. He repudiated the Liberal attitude entirely in his speech last night and therefore the Liberals cannot accept him without a great deal of friction. We cannot accept him, because he asked last night, “ What is the good of voting against the bill if the effect is to put in a Labour government which will bring in selective import controls? “ So where does he belong? He is a member without a party.
– A very exclusive order!
– A very exclusive order indeed. So the Prime Minister to-night, not very strongly or vigorously, defended the Tariff Board against such attacks and said that this bill will not weaken the authority of the board. We too hope it will not. The Prime Minister also said that the sudden impact of imports on Australian manufactures called for unusual measures. The Government certainly left it dreadfully late to bring in unusual measures to correct the situation caused in Australia by the lifting of import controls and the credit squeeze in 1960. Here we are, well into 1962 and the Prime Minister has just now approved a bill which he calls a measure to deal with the unusual situation, lt is years too late! Manufacturing industry in Australia to-day is in a very precarious position because of the imports that are coming into Australia without restriction. The Prime Minister to-night spoke of unusual measures but is not prepared to go the whole distance and say, “ Right. We will bring in import controls.” It is the businesslike way, and the clean, definite and decisive way to deal with the situation. So the Prime Minister brings in a half measure, half-way between the normal Tariff Board function and the selective import controls which we espouse. This measure is a stopgap, half-way kind of bill to establish a special authority or, in fact, several special authorities.
The Prime Minister mentioned Sir Frank Meere, but he cannot bc the chairman of every one of the special authorities, surely! We are to have several of them and there will be other chairmen. Although we know the calibre of Sir Frank Meere we do not know the calibre of the other gentlemen who will be running the other special authorities to be set up under this act.
The Prime Minister said, “ I cannot decide whether quantitative restrictions will increase costs in Australia or not”. This is the 64-dolIar question. The Prime Minister, the key man of the country, is unable to give this Parliament or the nation an answer to this question to-night. I have been waiting eagerly for it, because the honorable member for Richmond this afternoon was absolutely definite on the point that quantitative restrictions would increase the costs of primary producers throughout Australia. The Prime Minister said, “ I doubt it very much “. He said he thought it would lower costs in some respects. We have had two voices in the Government’s ranks this afternoon. The Prime Minister, the top man, does not know the answer to the question, but a back-bencher says that quantitative restrictions will increase costs. We want to know the answer. Who is pulling the wool over whose eyes about this matter of increased costs?
To make its argument good the Government is prepared to tell this story about quantitative restrictions increasing costs. But there is no proof that they do. The Government has given no proof whatever, and I am prepared to have an open mind on the question until I have proof that they increase costs. I think the Government is dragging in this story to support its own argument. The Prime Minister still cannot answer the question. The Prime Minister also said, “ We put enormous importance on stabilizing the economy “. Gracious me, how often we have heard those things.
– And after thirteen years, too.
– Yes, and after thirteen years he is still talking about stabilizing the economy. I should have thought that he would never have used those words again.
– Do you not think he has wrecked the economy, not stabilized it?
– Yes, that is right, and the results of the last general election in December proved that the people thought so too. These were very hollow words for the Prime Minister to be uttering in his thirteenth year of undivided rule in this country. We have mountains of evidence to show that this Government’s failure to control costs has been one of its greatest weaknesses over the years. What hollow words we have heard to-night.
The Prime Minister said, using a good old colloquialism, “ The primary producer must increase his efficiency “. If he had heard the complaints of 100 farmers at a public meeting at Ulverstone, in Tasmania, last Monday week he would not have used those words, because one of the main criticisms at that meeting was expressed in the words, “ We are sick and tired of politicians telling us to increase efficiency “. I am right with the farmers there. And to-night we had the Prime Minister muttering the same old phrase. If those farmers had been here to hear him talking like that they would have hitched him on the first tree available.
The Prime Minister also said, “ We have to keep costs down to the farmers “. This is kindergarten stuff. In this Parliament we have been talking this for thirteen years. And how do we keep costs down? How do we tackle the problem? It is the Government and not the Opposition which is in office, and it is up to the Government to find the answer to this vital problem of costs of farmers. Why, the cost level of the farmers to-day is the highest since 1949, and the Prime Minister is still talking about keeping costs down and about the farmers increasing their efficiency! The Prime Minister also said that efficiency in manufacturing must be maintained. Of course it must, if our manufacturing industries are to remain in effective competition with efficient manufacturing industries overseas.
The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) reminded me while the Prime Minister was speaking that he should do something about increasing grants to the States for education purposes, and so lift the efficiency of manufacturing industries through technical education. We are miles behind Russia in scientific and technical know-how, and we are going to stay miles behind unless this Government gets out of its “ no more funds for education “ attitude.
I have spent all this time trying to reply to the Prime Minister, and now I have a few other thoughts to express on this matter. I did not start off with the intention of throwing the right honorable gentleman out of the ring, because he is too heavy, but I think that even if he is the Prime Minister he has to face criticisms of such statements as we heard from him to-night.
What is the reason for this legislation which, as I said before, is anything up to sixteen months too late? Is it a sign of panic in the Government’s ranks over the massive run-down of our economy last year which was due to two factors? The first of these was the unprecedented credit squeeze and the second was the unrestricted flow of imports. Will the legislation speed up the decisions of the Tariff Board in relation to protection for our manufacturing industries? Will the appointment of a special advisory authority add to bureaucracy or reduce it? Will the new authority be flexible enough? Is too much power still vested in the Minister? Will there be frustrating overlapping between the special authority and the Tariff Board? I feel that that could happen.
Clause IS is the key clause of the bill. It outlines the inquiries and reports to be made by the special advisory authority. Honestly, Mr. Speaker, it would take a Philadelphia lawyer to work out who is going to report to whom, who is going to start the reporting, when a matter is going to be reported back to the Minister, and what the Minister will do with the report. I have not time to read out the clause, but I will deal with it at the committee stage, and I leave it to the people outside to see if they can work it out.
It appears that the authority will be making the initial inquiries into a request for tariff protection for a certain industry. In other words, this would precede any inquiry by the Tariff Board itself. If the authority agrees that a temporary duty is necessary it must also state what the rate of duty shall be. If the authority decides that a temporary restriction of imports of those goods is desirable it must indicate in its report the extent to which the protection should be provided. The Minister then receives the report and the suggestions from the authority, and refers them to the Tariff Board for further inquiry. But the Minister is given power to take action to implement the decision of the authority. He can authorize a customs duty to be levied on the goods, but such duty must not continue beyond a period of three months from the date on which the Minister receives the final report of the board. He may also take action to restrict imports. Provision is made in clause 15 that the Minister must table the relevant reports in the House of Representatives.
Looking through this wilderness of words it would appear that a matter could be clogged up by the further reference of the authority’s decision to the Tariff Board, which evidently could accept the authority’s decision or reject it - reject it, after all the work that had been done by the authority. But the Minister, on top of all this, then has the right to veto the final Tariff Board decision.
With all the other work being carried out by the Tariff Board concurrent with the meetings of the advisory authority I cannot see where a great speed-up in reaching decisions will result from the measure. One advantage, however, could accrue. An advisory authority for each industry that is affected by imports could be established and these authorities could relieve the Tariff Board of a great amount of preliminary inquiry. I think that it would be necessary for each advisory authority to concentrate on one industry and not be used for other industries. An authority could then become completely conversant with the background, the problems and the wishes of the industry to which it was assigned. For instance, the textile industry could have an advisory authority dealing with textiles alone. If this were done a speed-up in ultimate decisions might result.
A government has two very powerful weapons in its hands, and both can be used to affect the economy enormously, decisively and even drastically. The first is the financial weapon. We had that used during the credit squeeze, so we have seen what can be done with that weapon. The second is the tariff. We have had grim experience of the Government’s use of one or the other of those weapons - or both simultaneously - to change the climate of the Australian economy to suit the pattern of the Government’s own political philosophy. Because the economy, principally on the secondary industry level, has been adversely affected by unrestricted imports, obviously the tariff weapon must be used to correct the situation. The Labour Party therefore gives this bill its blessing, but with serious reservations as to its flexibility, its decisiveness and its hopes for success.
Another matter I want to mention concerns both primary and secondary industry. I congratulate the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) on his speech last night, at the end of which he stressed the inter-dependence of primary and secondary industries. We hear a lot of ridiculous talk in this Parliament disparaging secondary industry as against primary industry and the other way around. This is utterly ridiculous. It is a conflict completely without beginning and end, and with no sense to it. There is absolute inter-dependence between primary industry on the one hand and the secondary industry on the other. Therefore, legislation must be designed to strike a proper balance between primary and secondary industry. The honorable member for Scullin mentioned this vital point. Farmers naturally fear that the overprotection of secondary industry will permit an increase of their costs.
I think that the primary producers have to decide what they want, and I have a primary-producing electorate. The division of Wilmot is half of Tasmania and there arc 21 different kinds of agriculture in that electorate. One has to be a sort of Jack.ofalltrades in order to understand something about those 21 different kinds of agriculture. I put it to the farmers that they have to make up their minds what they really want. They cannot have their cake and eat it too. Do they want full employment or do they want large-scale unemployment? Do they want a solid, reliable home market in Australia ensured by full employment, consuming, as at present, SO per cent, of their products, with the remainder being exported? Or do they want a home market reduced in consumption power by large-scale unemployment?
The present unemployment has been caused partly by the credit squeeze and partly by unrestricted imports. If the farmer wants full employment and unemployment is present in the economy he should welcome its reduction. When unemployment is partly caused through unrestricted imports cutting into Australian manufacturing industry, with lower prices and so forcing men out of work, something must be done about it and every farmer should be interested.
It is obvious that primary producers cannot afford to be 100 per cent, freetraders. What about the importation of primary products? What do the farmers think about that? The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) and the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage) mentioned that although there were 1,000,000 gallons of citrus juice unsold in Australia to-day, the Government was still permitting the importation of citrus juice from California. Other primary products are coming into Australia. How can the farmer be a 100 per cent, free-trader? He cannot possibly be. There must be import restrictions to stop the importation of primary products if primary industry producing those products is to survive.
– A total of 5,000 tons of green peas was brought into Australia in the last twelve months.
– That is right. This affects my State because we grow thousands of acres of green peas for canning. It is axiomatic that loss of factory employment in Australia, running into ten of thousands of people, means a drastic fall in the con sumption of farm products on the home market.
The sixty-four dollar question concerns the effect of the Common Market on our exports. At the present time, the farmer is enjoying an export market which absorbs 80 per cent, of his production. If what Sir John Crawford said yesterday in Hobart is right, there is a great danger that our exports will be reduced, especially to the Western world. In this morning’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ the following article appears: -
The way Australia was glossing over the effects of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market had shocked him, Sir John Crawford said to-day . . . “Let us have no nonsense that our exports will not be seriously affected,” he said . . .
At present Australia had a two shillings a cwt preference in Britain for sugar and was protected by the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement guaranteeing prices, he said. This would be replaced by an 80 per cent external tariff and variable levies and embargoes if Britain joined the Common Market In the case of butter, the 15s a cwt preference would be replaced by a 24 per cent external tariff - which Denmark would not have to pay. If Australia tried to compete by cutting prices, “ on went an embargo,” Sir John said.
Australia at present was guaranteed a sale of 28,000,000 bushels of wheat but this would be replaced by variable levies and embargoes if Britain became a Common Market member. “We will sell wheat to Europe only to the extent that Europe wants wheat no matter how competitive we “ are, Sir John said.
That is a terrific statement. Sir John Crawford ought to know something about the matter.
A Sydney economist, Dr. Harold F. Bell, was reported in the same paper as saying -
Markets apparently in jeopardy were worth £170,000,000 a year or about 18 per cent, of Australia’s total export trade.
If our total primary production exports fall below 80 per cent., only two other fields can absorb the loss. The first is the home market, which now absorbs 50 per cent, of primary production and which would have to be boosted. The second is new markets in Asia and South America which would have to be further explored.
If the final decisions of the Common Market cut exports of primary products by 10 per cent, or 20 per cent, it will be in the farmers’ vital interest to support every legitimate Government measure to maintain full employment in Australia and so increase the capacity of the Australian home market to absorb more than the 50 per cent, it now takes. Farmers at a meeting at Ulverstone a fortnight ago did not mention full employment as a factor in relation to costs. Why are costs so important to farmers in these days? The farmers at the meeting that I have mentioned were having a crack at the Federal Government. They said that costs were their greatest bugbear. They also said that farmers were earning only 2 per cent, on their capital. One farmer, Colonel Ian Cameron, said -
This Federal Government is paying more attention to manufacturers than to primary producers.
Between 1950 and 1954 agricultural costs rose by 23 per cent, in Australia. In Canada they rose 8 per cent, and in European countries 3 per cent.
Why are farmers affected so much by the vagaries of the cost structure in secondary industry? This has not always been so. One reason is massive mechanization by primary producers. This has led to a second reason - over-capitalization on many farms with some machinery being used on only two or three days or two or three weeks of the year. To-day’s farmer is also an engineer, businessman and scientist. He is dependent on the factory for equipment and machinery and he must learn how to handle it. Thus he is more closely related to secondary industry than ever before. That is why cost increases in our factories immediately hit our farmers. Unlike the manufacturer and the retailer, and like the wage-earner and salary worker, the farmer cannot pass his costs on. The farmer has to sit and take it. He is at the end of the line. Therefore if the prices which the farmer obtains for his products go down and costs remain the same he is in dire trouble. He is caught in a great pincer movement. That is what is happening now. 1 firmly believe, therefore, that it is the Government’s job to strike a just balance between free trade and protection. Total free trade is impossible in this modern, complicated world. So is total protection. It is therefore the Tariff Board’s responsibility, with Government backing, to strike this necessary balance between primary and secondary industries - the one more interested in free trade, the other more interested in protection.
I plead to-night for the timber industry in Tasmania and on the mainland and for the paper industry which has been waiting for an answer to its problem for two years. It still has not an answer and it is going down hill all the time. We have 30,000,000 super, feet of hardwood timber piled up in Tasmania which cannot be sold. We have the competition of cheap timber from Malaya, Borneo, Japan and other countries. This Government has done nothing for two solid years to reduce that competition from overseas. Consequently 600 men have left the industry in Tasmania permanently. If the industry is rebuilt, 600 men will be found somewhere else and trained to work in the timber industry. The paper industry, too, has been suffering very much from overseas competition. Here is, therefore, a great field in which these advisory committees can work. I hope that some answer will be found to the basic problem that we have outlined. The Australian Labour Party believes in selective import controls as the most effective and fairest method in the long run.
.- Members of the Australian Labour Party have indicated that they propose to support the bill. The reasons do not matter much. The important fact is that they are supporting the bill and the Government’s action on it. I do not propose to reply to many of the fatuous statements that were made by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) with the exception of one that I recall very clearly. Early in his speech, he said that the Government was wrecking the economy of the country. I do not know whether the honorable member has read the latest journal of the Institute of Public Affairs. It proves with hard facts that the reverse is happening. I direct the attention of the House to one particular conclusion that was reached by the institute after it had made a survey of present conditions compared with those before the Second World War. It states -
For those who lived through the pre-war decade, the magnitude of the changes in outlook and attitudes in this country is hard to grasp.
Then the institute goes on in great detail to give facts and figures of the changes that have taken place over the past twenty years. I commend the journal to the honorable member for Wilmot for his perusal and consideration. I want to devote the rest of my time to a few observations on tariff matters generally and to the bill before the House. Honorable members will recall that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) said in his second-reading speech that the bill was the forerunner of changes designed to strengthen and speed up the protection machinery available to Australian industry against imports. I take it that this measure should be considered in a context of wider changes. In those circumstances, I propose to address myself to two or three matters of principle which tend to appear in tariff matters and are demonstrated very clearly in the bill before the House.
First there is the great question of general policy. Australia is not a high tariff country by world standards. Indeed, its ranking at present is in the medium group. This may be considered surprising in view of the very strenuous pressures exerted in favour of starting secondary industry in Australia at any cost, and more particularly, when one notes the countries which precede Australia as high tariff countries - Japan, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada and France and the countries within the European Common Market. When you consider that all these countries have much higher tariffs than Australia has, you realize, Mr. Speaker, that we are still in the medium group.
I think all honorable members will agree that this moderation in tariff policy reflects out pitching of protection practice against our need to earn from exports of primary products. Indeed, Australian governments for many years have had little room to manoeuvre in their tariff wielding and this brings me to one point I wish to make. In view of the current development of world trade and regional arrangements, we must face up to the fact that the tariff is, if anything, going to be a less effective weapon in the future than it has been for either the protection of industry or the trimming of trade balances.
It is notable that almost all of the world’s industrial and trading nations, while bargaining tariffs away on the one hand, are turning to quota controls more and more on the other hand. Only this week we saw an example of this in Japan which is one of the great trading nations of the world. Therefore, I regard as inevitable the fact that this bill gives some provision for a system of quantitative control. I agree that this present form is an emergency action only, but without being oversombre about it, I have no hesitation in forecasting that quota control in some form will increase in importance as an instrument of trade policy. I certainly express the hope that it will be possible to keep quantitative control in the emergency-use-only category, but I do so without great conviction.
To some extent, a country gets the trade policy that it deserves. Nobody in his right mind would deny that all forms of restriction or barrier - tariffs, duties, quotas or what have you - are bad from an ideal point of view. We turned to protection in the first place to get industry started, and now we have a community which demands the type of conditions that develop under protection. Thus, according to a recent survey by the International Labour Organization, the normal hours of work in Australia are the lowest of all countries surveyed except Indonesia which is now endeavouring to take sole control of West New Guinea. According to the same survey, the number of hours paid for but not worked in Australian industry is just twice what it is in the United States of America. These are facets of the whole truth that behind a protectionist wall, we have built up a high-cost economy. Given the proposition that our costs are to remain, then we must indeed look well to our tariff walls. Therefore, I say I regard the legislative recognition of the quantitative principle as an inevitable consequence of our economic structure.
It is to be noted that proposed new section 18f of the Tariff Board Act, which enables the Minister to impose import restrictions where recommended, states nothing more than just that. In other words, the administration of these temporary restrictions, once authorized, is to be left solely in the Minister’s hands in a quite unqualified way. Clearly, this is to be another of those areas in Commonwealth administration in which a code of departmental practice develops. I feel safe in prophesying that many people in industry will find that it will be important to come to an understanding of that departmental code. This will be set up, of course, outside this House and without benefit of effective review by us.
I recall that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) referred to this question last night, but I remind him that it was the Australian Labour Party and the Scullin Labour Government which first introduced into Australia import restrictions. This gave us a taste of what they could be and the difficulties that arise from them. Therefore, it could be said critically that when the Minister recommended the bill to us in this form, he was asking this Parliament to make yet another extension of the power of administration, this time in a sensitive area, without any real system of parliamentary oversight.
The Associated Chambers of Manufactures are very anxious to see this form of legislation introduced, but I remind them that there are difficulties which could arise in such a system. This leads one, naturally, to a further aspect of the bill which is not altogether acceptable. I refer to the provision of proposed section 18b in clause 15, by which the special authority is empowered to conduct his inquiry into an emergency situation “ in such manner as he thinks fit “. While not excluding public inquiry, this provision clearly implies private proceedings. There is no doubt that in thus sidestepping the need of a public hearing, with all the procedural complications that go with it, the Government has in mind the short-term nature of the inquiry’s outcome. In effect, the action implied in this bill creates, to use an expression coined by the Minister, a fire brigade, and the first principle of fire fighting is to get to the fire while some of the house is still standing; otherwise there is not much point in a brigade turning out at all. The decision taken by the special authority, therefore, is taken behind closed doors in a strictly limited way with, I presume, the very best of intentions, but I wonder whether this is quite good enough. I dislike this idea of having a special inquiry into something behind closed doors. I think it is a very dangerous precedent. Besides this, the Minister has explained how departmental machinery will be used to ensure that all interested parties are informed of all applications for emergency tariffs or quotas. The Government, as the body responsible for carrying out these proposed powers, will, no doubt, ensure that this notice reaches all concerned in good time.
It is also provided, in proposed section 18f, that a copy of the special authority’s report shall be tabled promptly in this House. About this provision I express some unease. In his speech, the Minister commented that it was not expected that such reports would be detailed. These words of the Minister could mean anything, or they could mean nothing at all. I should like to make it clear that I think that the reports should give this Parliament sufficient detail to enable a lay judgment to be made of the ambit of the report, the grounds of the recommendation and the nature of the submission protesting the decision. I think, further, that it should be recognized by the Government that wisdom and justice require that the closed door inquiry in fields of vital public policy shall go no further than is proposed in this bill. It is one thing to accept the idea that quantitative control is necessary on the short term - I even think, as I indicated, that it may well be inevitable on longer terms - but it is another thing altogether to be jockeyed into accepting private inquiry in the public domain unless it is absolutely essential. And it is nothing like a reassurance - I am sure that it will be understood that no personal reflection is intended - to point to the standing or the calibre of those individuals. Public affairs are public affairs, and when doors are closed some confidence starts to ebb away. The Australian people have always shown their dislike of this kind of inquiry.
In his introductory remarks, the Minister referred to earlier legislation empowering the Tariff Board to take emergency action, and he said that the arrangements made then had, in general, operated well. I should like to be able to share the Minister’s belief in this regard, but the general picture I get from other sources in the community is the fact that Tariff Board is far too ponderous for that type of operation. Indeed, I think we all understand that we are being asked to pass the present bill largely for that reason. As the tempo of events in world trade increases, this ponderous quality about our tariff administration becomes more and more dangerous. There are already reports that an industry that makes a submission under one set of circumstances finds itself very differently placed before the matter comes to full hearing because of the sheer effluxion of time, to say nothing of the cost to the applicant in preparing submissions.
In this year, when men like John Glenn orbit the earth, I find it hard to believe that human ingenuity has become so bogged down in detail that we cannot do better with our Tariff Board and still administer public justice. We should be able to do better than we are doing. The preservation of confidence in the tariff system is, I believe, quite important because, if Australian industry loses confidence in the administration of the tariff system doubts and hesitations must arise and contribute to a delay in our industrial development.
The Government’s indication that a review of tariff administration is already going on is very welcome. I urge the Minister to bring this inquiry to finality, and to make a full statement as soon as possible because the problem of tariff administration is inexplicably linked with this bill. Any good fire underwriter will tell us that the best thing to do about fires is to prevent them from happening. I am prepared to accept the emergency organization now to be created, but I would accept it with much more enthusiasm if I did not have some suspicion that it is really a palliative for a condition that may not be as chronic as we are led to believe it to be. I support the bill and trust that it will have a speedy passage through the House.
.- The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), in expressing his thoughts on the bill, certainly allowed himself a great deal of latitude in connexion with the matters to which he objects. He commenced his speech by suggesting that although the members of the Australian Labour Party were supporting the bill they had attached certain conditions to their acceptance of it. He then proceeded to do the very same thing himself. At the beginning of his speech, he said that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) had accused the Government of wrecking the economy. Then, startling as it sounds, the honorable member for Isaacs suggested that the very reverse was the case, as though every one in this House does not know that there are 112,000 unemployed in this country who are prepared to tell the honorable member for Isaacs and all his colleagues that the economy has been wrecked, that they are suffering depression, hardship, destitution, unemployment, worry and anxiety because of the Government’s actions with respect to the economy.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) disturbed and upset me very greatly because I did not see much merit in the bill at any time. The only virtue I did see in the bill was that it made provision for the introduction of selective import controls. The Government can call them Q.R. or Q.C. or anything else it likes, but the fact is that the bill provides for the introduction of selective import controls. I was somewhat pleased when I read the bill, because I realized it was in keeping with the continuous programme of the Government to borrow from Labour’s policy some of its proposals to inject a stimulus into the economy. But as usual the Government muddled its thinking and instead of acepting the suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in his policy speech to introduce selective import controls, it decided to emasculate the proposal.
The Prime Minister went on to say - and this is what disturbed me - that this provision will be rarely used. He said, in fact, that it will be used only as a result of some sudden impact on some industry. Everybody in the country, not only members of Parliament, realizes that many industries have been wrecked for two years or more since import controls were removed. The effect of the removal of controls did not have a sudden impact on the Government, because it takes two years or so for any difficulties experienced in the community to permeate through to the Government and to reach the august personage of the Prime Minister. Many constituents of Government supporters have been complaining to their representatives. Almost every member on the Government side has a factory in his electorate or has constituents who are employed in industry. These people have been seriously affected by the destructive policies of the Government. In a few moments I shall describe some industries that have been seriously and deleteriously affected by imports. Every time an industry is affected in this way it is not only the employer or the employee who is hurt; the whole economy is affected. If that is not helping to wreck the economy, I do not know what is.
– What did those industries do before import restrictions were lifted?
– I will give the Minister some instruction on that matter in just a few moments.
I had to agree for once with something the Prime Minister said. He said that exports and low costs depend on a large and sustained home market. That is where we commence - with the home market. A factory produces a certain article. It looks to see what the market is and decides that its turnover could be of a certain amount. It bases its costs of production on this survey. While home consumption grows and is strengthened, costs can be kept low. But once people are put out of work, home consumption declines and costs rise because the turnover is lower. That is quite natural, and I agree for once with the Prime Minister. But why are we not trying to ensure the survival of our factories? Why are we not striving to ensure that secondary industries as well as primary industries will survive? If both secondary and primary industries survive in the general economy, we will all receive the benefit of reduced costs and greater turnover. This will then put us in the position of being able to export on favorable terms.
The Prime Minister has turned a complete revolution in the statements he has made, although he tried to-night to deny that he had done so. He came here to-night really to answer the honorable members for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and Richmond (Mr. Anthony). He came here to-night because he found dissension in his own party and he wanted to get these members back on side. He denied that he had made any change in his policy and he denied that he was reneguing on his statement last year that import controls would not be reintroduced. The honorable member for Isaacs was quite clear about this; of course, it is a re-imposition of import controls. The Prime Minister will now have to come back once again to bring the honorable member for Isaacs back on side. The honorable member said that these import controls would not be of a temporary nature, that they would not be short-term but would be long-term measures. No doubt the Prime Minister will come back and explain that away in order to get the honorable member for Isaacs back on side with him.
It seems to me that Government supporters are not aware of what has happened in Australia. The Second World War brought about a complete change in Australian industries. Secondary industries were built up. There were great urgencies at the time. Those men who for one reason or another did not join the armed services, worked in most difficult circumstances together with the owners of factories to produce goods that had never been produced here before but were needed then. They worked diligently and well. They were encouraged by the Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments to do this and they did it, sometimes with great sacrifice. As a result of this, Australia became industrially sophisticated overnight. There are some who say that we became sophisticated far too quickly, but if it had not been for the Second World War we would not have grown so quickly and we would not have produced so many different types of goods.
We have to deal with a situation in which we have a large work force in secondary industries. With an immigration programme, with an increased birth-rate and with our general situation, we have continued to build up very great secondary industries. We have produced many new goods, and newcomers from overseas have helped Australians to build new industries. These industries must be protected and we must consider what is the best way of protecting them. It is my belief and the belief of members of my party that we can protect them best by the imposition of selective import controls.
The Tariff Board came into being to protect Australian industries, and in many ways it has done a good job. But the honorable member for Isaacs said it was ponderous. It takes much detailed work to present a case to the Tariff Board. Many small industries have no opportunity to do this because they cannot meet the cost involved. The Tariff Board certainly takes a long time to reach a decision. I have in my hand the board’s report on nitrogenous fertilizers. It reached me to-day and when I looked at it I found that on 26th September, 1960, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) referred the question to the Tariff Board. The secretary of the Tariff Board sent the report to the Minister on 13th March, 1962. That is a delay of eighteen months.
– Did you say 1962?
– I said 1962. The Minister for Trade referred the matter to the Board on 26th September, 1960. It took eighteen months to furnish the report. The final recommendations of the board were that a bounty at the rate of £2 a ton be paid to producers of sulphate of ammonia produced and sold in Australia for use as fertilizer, that the total bounty payable not exceed £225,000 in any one year, that the bounty be paid for a period of three years and so on. So, the delay of eighteen months cost the producers of sulphate of ammonia £337,500.
The Tariff Board has become ponderous and difficult. It cannot possibly give protection to industries that require protection when it takes so long to reach a decision. If it can give protection, why is it that so many industries are in such a bad state? They are in this state because they have not obtained the protection and help that should have been given by the Government.
It is quite clear that in order to sell overseas we must buy. It is quite clear that we cannot import if we do not export. But the fact is that every article imported that could be satisfactorily manufactured here at a competitive price creates unemployment in Australia. If we can manufacture an article satisfactorily here and sell it in sufficient quantities at a competitive price, the importation of such an article creates some unemployment. That is why I believe in selective import controls. The honorable members for Wakefield and Richmond, in the very small, powerless and unfortunate revolution they incited against the Prime Minister and the Government, were very concerned that quantitative import controls would raise the price of goods in Australia.
– The Prime Minister did not agree with that.
– That is so. Every industry in Australia that is not a monopoly or a cartel has a great deal of competition in the manufacture of its goods. It does not matter at what lines and in which fields you look. You will find dozens and even hundreds of factories engaged in producing the same kind of product. There is more competition now and there will be no rising of prices because of import controls. Each manufacturer, fighting for his very existence and his economic future, will try to outdo the others in seeking a large volume of sales. And the best known way of increasing sales volume is to reduce prices as low as possible.
– That is not happening, anyway.
– I shall tell the honorable member why not in some instances.
I turn now to monopolies and cartels. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, know that we on this side of the House have been asking the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) for months past about the Government’s proposed legislation on monopolies and restrictive trade practices. Long before this Parliament came into being, members of the Australian Labour Party were asking the Attorney-General, “Where is the bill on monopolies and restrictive trade practices that you promised? “. If there is a rise in the prices of goods controlled by monopolies, the responsibility lies at the door of the Government, which had an opportunity to do something and should have done something a long time ago. The country is crying out for action because of all the take-overs in industry and the manipulations by big businesses which are trying to get more and more of industry into their own hands.
Action against monopolies and restrictive trade practices is necessary if we are really to obtain full employment and if the statement on full employment made by the Prime Minister is not to be mere lip service, as we know it really is. After all, he and the members of his Government and the other members of the Government parties are personally and individually responsible for supporting a policy which brought unemployment in this country to a level of 131,000 in January and 112,900 at the present time. If the Prime Minister had been prepared and determined to follow a policy of full employment, the things that ought to be done would have been done a long time ago, once the Government had found itself on the wrong path. We heard the right honorable gentleman say this evening that sometimes he was wrong. Even that was an admission, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Having found he was wrong, why has he not taken proper steps to remedy the situation? Why docs he not look at the unemployment in industry? Why do not the members of the Government worry about the individual industries in Australia generally and particularly in their own electorates? Every one of them must have one, two or three factories of various kinds in his electorate that are suffering at the present time.
Many factories are still working short time. Even in what the honorable member for Isaacs describes as the opposite of a wrecked economy, there are factories all over Australia working short time, or at least with a complete absence of the overtime that they had worked for many years. These things are happening because of this Government’s repressive policies. It is not prepared to face the real situation in regard to protection for secondary industries. Even the primary industries are affected.
I have a list of imports which I shall read in a moment or two, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It lists many different commodities brought into Australia. I have picked only a few. All the Australian producers of similar goods are affected by the Government’s policies - by the hesitating policies of the Prime Minister, who says, “ We will use this machinery for protection only as a last resort and only when there is a sudden impact on Australian industry “. Two years after some industries were seriously affected by the impact of the Government’s policies, the Government has still not begun to use any machinery to protect those industries.
I have here a list of the total value of imports of finished consumer goods in recent years. You will note, Sir, that I am dealing only with finished consumer goods. This is because I want to relate my argument only to goods completely manufactured overseas. The list is as follows: -
You will notice the increase in the period after the Government had removed import controls.
I turn now to some of the things that were imported in the financial year 1960-61. I emphasize that I have chosen to list only some things because of their particular interest for the general public in Australia. Here is the list -
This is the sort of thing that was happening at a time when the Prime Minister opened a £1,000,000 advertising campaign to encourage people to buy Australian goods.
– What year was this?
– It was 1960-61. The next item on the list is -
In the period from 1st July, 1961, to 28th February, 1962, imports of green peas totalled £1,007,365.
– Where did they come from mostly?
– Mostly from the United States of America as a result of a glut there. The Americans used Australia as a dumping ground for these peas, and this Government allowed them to do so. The list of imports in 1960-61 continues -
Those are some of the cigarettes that cause lung cancer! The list goes on -
Every one of those commodities is manufactured in Australia.
– What is the total?
– Wait a minute. I have more to come yet. In 1959-60 £11,200,000 worth of wearing apparel was imported. In 1960-61 the total was £15,200,000. The factory which makes Pelaco shirts is one of the oldest shirt factories in this country. You and I, Mr. Deputy Speaker, are probably about the same age, and no doubt you can remember, as I can, as a boy seeing posters advertising these shirts and depicting a black man wearing a long-tailed white shirt. That factory has been working no more than four days a week for seven months. The Marco factory at Crow’s Nest in Sydney has been working only four days a week in their coat department.
In the twelve months ended 30th June, 1961, we imported £468,000 worth of buttons; £960,000 worth of footwear; £767,000 worth of hosiery; £1,500,000 worth of knitted goods; £1,500,000 worth of gloves; £1,300,000 worth of hats and caps; and £1,200,000 worth of men’s and women’s clothing. Where is the man in Australia who is not satisfied to wear a suit made in Australia? Where are the people in this country who are not satisfied to wear a pair of Australian-made shoes? I have been overseas on many occasions and have been unable to find in other countries wearing apparel of the quality, style and type made in Australia. I have never bought a suit, a pair of shoes or a pair of socks overseas, because I believe that goods made in Australia are better and sell at better prices. Imports of all these things are allowed by this Government. Indeed, it encourages these imports. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, heard the Prime Minister say this evening, “We will use this only on the rarest possible occasions”. That means that he wants to continue to let all these goods in.
I want to read now an advertisement that appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 21st March, 1962. It is in these terms -
HONG KONG Tailor requires an Australian Business House who would procure orders for the manufacture in Hong Kong of hand made suiting for men, women and children and car coats. Please contact DAYLITE (H.K.) COMPANY of 66, Section 2, Dist. 1, Pomen Village, Honenstein HONG KONG.
What are we coming to when we have a tailor in Hong Kong looking for an agent in Australia to measure people and send the measurements to Hong Kong so that suits may be sent back here? Perhaps they will be sent to honorable members on the Government side of the House who are members of the Australian Country Party and who feel that a suit manufactured overseas has a snob value.
I have talked about simple things, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I could have brought in a list of goods that would have taken hours to read, but I brought only a list of simple things that honorable members on this side of the House or even on the other side would use themselves - that is, if there are on the Government side any honorable members who would sometimes use a hammer or a spanner at home. The long list of imports includes, as you have heard, lollies, chocolates, biscuits, green peas, articles that we eat or wear and others that we normally use from day to day.
– What about exports?
– I said at the beginning of my speech that I agree that we have to sell if we want to buy. The watch that I am wearing was made in Switzerland. We have no worthwhile watch-making industry in Australia. In order to survive, we have to buy and we have to sell, but let us discriminate. Let us make sure that the things we buy are things that do not disrupt Australian industry and cause unemployment. Let us ensure that when we buy goods we do not force our own industries to the wall. Let us make certain that we do business in the countries in which we sell, but that we buy the things that will help our economy. There are probably fifteen or twenty or perhaps 30 factories in Australia making biscuits. You would have to be very hard to please, Mr. Deputy Speaker - and I know you are a man of very simple tastes - if you were not satisfied with a nice sweet biscuit or soda biscuit made by one of our well-known firms.
I want to say something else while I am dealing with foodstuffs. We in Australia are very careful of the way our foodstuffs are produced. All the Health Ministers in the various States and in the Commonwealth sphere are very diligent in making sure that our food is properly and hygienically prepared. They make quite sure there is no chance of spreading disease through prepared foodstuffs. But what do we know of foodstuffs imported from overseas? It is true that imported foodstuffs are subject to inspection by customs officials and health authorities at the point of entry into Australia, but have these officials and authorities seen meat being canned in Bulgaria, for instance? 1 do not say that meat is canned in Bulgaria under dirty conditions, but I personally would not be satisfied with it. This Government is allowing importers to bring in foodstuffs from any part of the world.
Let us consider sporting goods. The firms of Slazengers, Spaldings and others spend thousands of pounds in advertising their locally made sporting equipment, yet we find that £124,000 worth of golf balls were imported. Australian manufacturers of sporting equipment sponsor trips by our own professional golfers to all parts of the world, in an effort to ensure that our sporting goods are adequately advertised, and that we have an opportunity to build up an export market in these goods. At the same time this Government is undermining their efforts by allowing £124,000 worth of golf balls to come in. I repeat: Let us bring in goods that do not affect Australian industry.
– Name some of them that are affected.
– If the honorable member wants an answer to his question, all he has to do is do what I did - go downstairs to the papers room and do a little research into what is being imported. Let me say something else, too, Mr. Deputy Speaker: The volume of our imports would be even greater but for the fact that importers lack confidence. They lack confidence because the Government has caused their confidence to slip away. That is why the Government is able to boast that during the last three months the volume of imports has been reduced. If the Government expects credit for the reduction in the volume of imports, let it carry the matter to its logica] conclusion and put everybody out of work so that there will be no imports at all. Let us instil confidence into the economic community, but let us discriminate in selecting our imports. In this way without increasing the overall volume of imports we could help to stimulate Australian industry and increase employment in certain industries by giving them the proper protection that can be afforded by selective import controls.
.- The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld), whom I again have the good fortune to follow in a debate, started his speech by submitting an argument based on an outworn proposition that has been debated in this House on previous occasions and knocked to smithereens. The honorable member spoke of the Government’s economic policy. I was rather interested in the list of imports cited by the honorable member, which he said had been brought into this country under our existing arrangements during the last eighteen months or so. Let me remind honorable members opposite of what was said this afternoon by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). The honorable member referred to the tragedy that followed the introduction of prohibitive arbitrary tariffs by the Scullin Government. There was a suggestion from the Opposition of that time that the introduction of those tariffs was wrong, but the Scullin Government introduced very high protective tariffs, and this was the primary cause of the depression of the 1930’s.
Let me remind honorable members of what occurred in those days. The Government of that time was following a policy of protection. We had protection for our secondary industries, but not for the primary industries. In order to protect certain manufactured goods very high tariffs were imposed on products imported from Belgium and France. One of the items involved was glassware. I heard glass mentioned in the course of this debate to-day. When those tariffs were imposed, Belgium and France immediately raised prohibitive tariff barriers against our wheat and coarse grains. Those countries were at that time the major importers of our coarse grains. As a result, Australia found itself without markets for its primary products. Let our primary producers bear this in mind. When the farmers at that time found themselves unable to dispose of their products they could not meet their costs of production. Always remember that the farmers are paid for their products long after the goods are produced. When they found themselves in that position, they were unable to purchase goods, and, as a consequence, there was widespread unemployment in our factories and other industrial undertakings. This was a secondary effect of a policy that should not have been adopted in the first place.
The honorable member for Phillip referred to our fiscal policy, but unfortunately he was not bright enough to realize the full implication of what he said. The honorable member said that our fiscal policy and tariff policy have an effect on the whole of the economy of this country. This is quite so, but our fiscal policy has its major effect on our export industries. I am very much tempted to suggest that the attitude exhibited by the honorable member for Phillip represents a viewpoint typical of members of the Labour Party. Honorable members opposite frequently give the impression that the only section of the community about which they are concerned is that which is depending on the industries operating in the suburbs and the cities, the industries that afford employment for the people upon whom the members of the Labour Party rely for votes which put them in this Parliament.
– Do not bring party politics into it.
– I am not bringing party politics in; I am replying to a speech that was based on party politics. Honorable members opposite fail to realize that the economic policy of this country has a major effect on the primary industries of Australia, which are the industries that must be carefully considered, and which are carefully studied by members on the Government side of the House. We realize the importance of secondary industries, but unless the producers of our export wealth have the money to buy, what the dickens is the use of making a large volume of manufactured goods? The honorable member for Phillip said, “ Let us make surpluses “. I could not agree with him more. Let us make surpluses. What will we do with our surpluses? Where will we sell them? What chance have we to sell our manufactured surpluses at Australian prices in overseas markets? This just cannot happen. It is all very well to say that we should have surpluses, but the country would be flooded with them. We must be able to buy goods from other countries and to sell our goods at competitive prices. The countries which buy our goods expect to pay for them, at least in some degree, by exporting to us. The quantity or the value of imports, considered by itself, is not a convincing argument. If we imported a quantity of biscuits, which was a disproportionate percentage of our own production of biscuits, then there might be some reason for accepting the honorable member’s argument. But our factories have not been disrupted.
It was stated during the course of the debate that the Country Party is a free trade party.
– There is no doubt about that.
– I have never yet found in any parliament in which I have been any honorable member who has the lamentable ignorance of the honorable member for Grayndler. He is to be pitied, and I can only say that my heart is overflowing with pity for him. We have heard charges that the Country Party is a free trade party. It is as well that we look at the historic background of the policy of protection in Australia and the part which the Country Party and the Labour Party have played in it. Honorable members opposite apparently want to talk about this on a party basis but I prefer to deal with it on a non-political basis.
Australia’s fiscal policy has been determined on a national and not a party basis. Party politics do not enter into it, although, obviously, there will be differences 6i opinion between some honorable members. Basically, this country has a protectionist policy. Through force of circumstances and for the preservation of the industries which it was protecting, the Country Party was a free trade party in the initial stages, but once the national policy became one of protection the Country Party in its wisdom realized that it bad to adapt its own policy to the circumstances. Heaven forbid that this party should be like the Labour Party which remains pledged to certain things which were decided upon 40 or 50 years ago. Its ideas are completely outmoded, out of touch with public opinion and out of touch with the circumstances. The Country Party in its wisdom decided to accept the national policy of protection. But it also decided that the industries which then provided an even greater proportion of this country’s wealth than they do now had to have a measure of protection also. That measure of protection was sought through subsidies, bounties and home consumption prices. In return, the primary producers made tremendous sacrifices. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) can tell honorable members of the tremendous contribution which the wheat growers of this country made in return for the measure of protection which they received. Their contribution amounted to something like £200,000,000.
The primary producers have continued to suffer from the effects of our protectionist policy. The reason for that is that one control immediately brings on another control. That is the unfortunate part of a system of controls. Our troubles started with the introduction of price control and the pressure for more trade protection. [Quorum formed.] Apart from the normal measure of protection which operated prior to the war, during the war and in the postwar period, we had a system of price control which in effect was a guarantee to the manufacturers of a margin of profit. In addition, during the war and in the immediate post-war years a system of price fixation for services and goods supplied was arranged for those engaged on contracts. This was called the cost-plus system. Unfortunately - I say this deliberately - our secondary industries have not got rid of the cost-plus complex. Every day the primary producer is told that he must endeavour to reduce his costs to meet existing prices. He has to become more efficient and he has to produce more. But this is not said to those who have the power to pass higher costs on to the producer.
I am afraid that the system under which our tariff operates is merely a continuation of this cost-plus system. There was a time when trade was really competitive and when those engaged in industry, finding themselves faced with high charges had to devise v/C/f ->nd means to absorb those charges. They had i-> do it to survive. But in the post-war yean> that has not happened. Instead of attempting ‘o absorb the charges and avoid a rise in iL” prices of their goods or services they immediately raise the prices. If it is a local product they go to the Tariff Board and say their costs have increased and that they must bc provided with protection. They say they must have more protection to enable them to carry on, and so on ad infinitum. Only the primary producer, on the lower rungs of the ladder, is unable to apply this costplus principle which is being applied throughout industry. There is no genuine competition because of the protection which is accorded to industry. I hope that this new tariff authority will be charged with securing an assurance from those seeking protection that there will be no price rise as the result of the granting of protection. I understand from my reading of the Minister’s speech that the authority will seek such an assurance from those who apply for protection whether through protective duties or quantitative restrictions.
I am not satisfied and I do not think any primary producer in this country will be satisfied unless an assurance such as I have mentioned is given. We want an assurance that the industry concerned will seek ways and means of reducing its costs so that it can be kept on a competitive basis. There must be not only an assurance that there will be no rise in costs as a result of protection, but also an assurance that the industry concerned will seek ways and means to reduce its costs in order to make its prices competitive.
Reference has been made, during the debate this afternoon, to the effect of the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Common Market. Frankly, I am of the opinion that it is inevitable that England will enter the Common Market, and this country faces a tremendous problem as a result of that. It is not only a governmental problem; it concerns all our industries, both primary and secondary. We have to do some rethinking and reorienting, because Britain’s entry into the Common Market will upset the whole of Australia’s trading relations. For that reason it is not only the primary producers but also all the other export industries that are worried about the effect of Britain’s entry into the Common Market. People in secondary industry who hope to maintain their factories and see continuing employment have to worry to an even greater extent, because they will be perhaps even more vitally affected than the primary producers will be.
The Prime Minister referred to the opinion that lower costs of production could be achieved by industries in the Common Market countries. If that happens, what are we going to do? Will we increase our tariffs further in order to meet competition from cheaper goods from overseas and price ourselves completely out of the world’s markets? The only markets available to us are low-price markets in Asian countries. How can we compete in them when we want protection to cover our high costs? How can we increase sales of our primary products and the products of our secondary production? I appeal to our industries to rid themselves of this cost-plus complex, regain the old competitive spirit and have real competition, as they did when costs had to be absorbed in order that prices could be lowered so that the consumers could purchase the goods.
When introducing the legislation the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) said -
All parties directly interested-
I emphasize the words “ directly interested “ - will, as before, be notified of requests for temporary protection and have an opportunity to submit views and information for consideration.
Up until now the Tariff Board - I hope the new special advisory authority will operate on a new basis - has looked on the parties interested as being the manufacturers and importers. The consumer has not been invited to give evidence. Neither the consumers nor buyers of capital goods nor the users of consumer goods have been invited to give evidence on the effect of an increased tariff on their operations or the cost of living. I hope that those “ directly interested “ will include representatives of the consumers. I am concerned that representatives from primary producers’ organizations - they are consumers of local manufacture to a large extent and are most affected by our fiscal policy - should be given the opportunity to state their views and submit evidence on the effect that either an increased duty or a prohibition of imports - even though it is a quantitative restriction - will have on them and their operations, or on the cost of production, the sale of their goods overseas and the return of overseas earnings to this country. That is the important sector.
Look at the evidence and submissions given before Tariff Board inquiries. The board invites the manufacturers and importers to give evidence. Even the Minister referred to manufacturers and importers as the ones mostly affected. I want manufacturers, importers and consumers to be put on an equal basis in making representations to the authority and to the Tariff Board. This is necessary so that the consumers will have opportunity to express their points of view on the drastic effect any alteration in tariffs could have on them.
– Have any primary producers’ organizations asked for this opportunity?
– They have repeatedly asked for their point of view to be considered by the Tariff Board. There have been occasions when the primary producers’ representatives have appeared before the Tariff Board. However, that has only been on occasions when the matter before the board was something such as agricultural machinery, directly concerning the primary producers. There are so many products which have an ultimate effect - as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) will agree - upon the costs which are passed on to the primary producers. All costs eventually are passed on to them. I repeat what I have previously said in this House, that all the wealth of this country, whether it be wheat, wool, minerals, oil or timber, comes from the soil. But that is the only real wealth, and all costs must eventually go to that point. Therefore, if we want to produce that wealth, at a profit to those engaged in its production sufficient to encourage them to continue to expand and strengthen our national economy, not only have we to encourage these people to continue their operations but we have also to make sure that their costs are not such as to kill their industry. From that aspect it is important that we get consumer representation on this authority - and the consumer representation I have in mind is representation of primary producers.
The Government will refer matters to the authority and the authority is to be left untrammelled to carry out its duties as it thinks fit. That is only proper and it is in accordance, after all is said and done, with the thinking of the people on this side of the House. The less bureaucracy, the less government direction, the less government control, the less Dedman-failed shirts we have, the better for this country. An honorable member now interjecting was evidently not here when I said earlier that one control breeds another control. That is the reason for one of the problems that this country is facing now. Controls were introduced by the Labour Government, and then we had control growing upon control. Every now and again I get the suspicion that the Labour Party is thinking along the old lines - that the first thing to do is to distribute a scarcity and then you must have controls. The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) was talking along those lines. We think differently. We believe in plenty, and in plenty of opportunity for everybody.
There is one other matter to which I want to refer - that is, the kind of licence to be issued under the legislation, and the method of issuance. There can be no doubt - and I know that you will agree with me, Mr. Deputy Speaker - that during the time when import restrictions operated previously the scheme teemed with rackets.
– Then why did you keep it for eight years?
– I could tell you, but I have only two minutes left now. It was nothing but a system of rackets. My honorable friend from Richmond (Mr. Anthony), I think, referred to the fact that it added tremendously to costs. So it did. I am not in love with quantitative restrictions or any other kind of restrictions of imports, but there may be times when some such measure is necessary. This may ba such a time, because the controls will be selective. An overall import restriction policy would, I think, lead to a repetition of the tragedy of the years we have come through. A policy of that kind caused inflation, increased costs and led to the existence of rackets. I think it will be the responsibility of the authority, as an independent authority, to devise a system which will avoid the making of profit from the permit or licence that is issued. I hope that when a quantitative control is introduced - and apparently it will be introduced only on very selective lines - it will be on a permit basis, in the sense that the quantity permitted to be imported will be related to the quantity which the producer or manufacturer produces here in Australia. If, for instance, somebody wants a quantitative control we will say, “ How much is the import affecting your market? “
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I have listened with some attention to the remarks of the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie). My summing up of his speech is that he, like other members of the Australian Country Party, would desire to have two bob each way on this bill. The honorable gentleman’s remarks were rather interesting and were indicative of the attitude of the Australian Country Party to such measures as this. If members of that party had their way they would have a total embargo placed upon imports which might adversely affect primary industry. When it comes to secondary industry, the story is different.
– They are all walking out now. They cannot take it.
– Yes. I would say that they are most concerned with affairs overseas. They are most concerned about the message that has been sent back by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), a man with whom I am very sympathetic in relation to his mission in Europe. That mission is to try to save this country from the shambles that this Government has allowed it to descend into because of its apathy, despite the warnings that it had about the imminence of Britain’s entering the European Common Market. The Government has been given these warnings since as far back as 1957. At the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference in New Delhi I had discussions with a man who later became Chancellor of the Exchequer in the United Kingdom Government - Mr. Heathcoat Amory. He warned delegates at that conference that the Australian Government was complacent about the impact of Britain’s certain entry to the European Common Market. What do we see to-day? We see the Minister for Trade frantically touring the world trying to retrieve the position, although the Government has had since 1957 to do something about it.
Members of the Country Party are displaying their nervousness in this debate because they realize that they can be the lambs that have been led to the slaughter. They realize they can be the victims of the Government’s apathy and their own apathy in not taking a more active interest in what was happening overseas. I say again that I sympathize with the Minister for Trade in bis quest throughout the countries of the world in an effort to pull Australia out of the mess. The message from him which was published in to-day’s press is that the European countries are leading Australia right to the very precipice. They are willing, when they get Australia there, to push it right over the edge - and the Australian Country Party or the primary producers will face extinction.
I listened with interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld). He covered quite a range of subjects. He mentioned such imports as corsets and brassieres. On that note, I can feel quite unrestricted in my remarks tonight. On a more serious note, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I want to say that two of the most salient points that have been made in this debate in the last two days were made in the remarks of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth). The honorable member for Wakefield said quite definitely that he was opposed to the measures which the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) introduced. I think that the honorable member for Wakefield had the courage of his convictions and was expressing to this House some thoughts which the majority of the Government supporters would have but would not be prepared to admit to having. The honorable member for Isaacs stated that he was very suspicious of this bill, thus confirming information that was given to me during the week-end by representatives of the textile and furnishing trades, and the timber industries. They were very suspicious of the bill, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
The speech of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), who introduced the Tariff Board Bill, convinced me that it is designed to give industry some relief with one hand and take it away with another. After the tumult and the shouting has died down, we will be back to where we started. As I represent one of the biggest industrial electorates in Victoria, when this bill was introduced I discussed the measure with a number of people who represent large industries in my electorate which have been adversely affected by the lifting of import restrictions and by the credit squeeze. In addition to having those discussions, I was telephoned by a number of people. Those discussions and telephone calls left no doubt in my mind that industrialists are not happy about the measure. Some representatives stated quite openly that the measure is only a horse of a different colour to the previous one. I believe that, too. Others said that their objection was that there was nothing positive about the move and that, as a consequence, it would not engender any confidence for the future. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and the honorable member for Isaacs have emphasized this. There is a substantial body of opinion that only a return to selective import licensing will engender confidence in industry and commerce and provide the urge to restore full employment, including the employment of children who have left school. That is the opinion of most big industrial leaders in my electorate.
The losses sustained by the lifting of import restrictions and by the imposition of the credit squeeze have left their mark on the minds of the victims of those mistakes. The wounds that were inflicted upon them are not yet healed. Their attitude of suspicion and mistrust, in the words of the honorable member for Isaacs, is easy to understand and I say quite definitely that it is not likely to be easily overcome. People to whom I have spoken have asked why this destruction was necessary. They say, “ Are we to build again our wrecked industries only to see them tottering from the impact of bad government legislation in the not too distant future? “ That question represents the attitude of people who have suffered the impact of the lifting of import restrictions and of the Government’s credit squeeze.
One can have some regard for this feeling of insecurity when reading the opening remarks of the Minister for Repatriation when he introduced the bill. The Minister said -
It is designed to give the necessary legislative authority for the operation of the expanded temporary protection machinery that the Government intends to make available to industry. When the Government introduced legislation in 1960 to provide machinery for temporary duties, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) explained the necessity for procedures to allow quick action where it appeared that imports could endanger local industry.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, my reply to that statement is that if the measures which were introduced in 1960 were designed for quick action I would hate to see measures which this Government considered would produce slow action. The only thing about the 1960 legislation which was quick was the way in which it destroyed industry - particularly secondary industry. The Minister went on to say, referring to the Minister for Trade -
He mentioned, on that occasion, that conditions in international trading could change so rapidly the Government must have machinery available to enable speedy action to be taken to safeguard industries, primary and secondary, which are vulnerable to sudden unforeseeable competition from overseas suppliers. The principle involved In providing urgent temporary protection where Warranted has been generally accepted both among local interests and in international trade agreements such as, for example, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
I think it would be opportune to say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the Minister for Trade knew the conditions applicable to international trading prior to the lifting of import restrictions. If we accept this as a fact, it makes the decision of this Government to lift import restrictions more amazing than ever. Under these circumstances, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I agree entirely with the views of the persons whom I contacted and the people who telephoned me. I say quite definitely that temporary measures are not enough. In their words, positive measures are the only answer to their problem. I cannot agree with the statement that this measure has been generally accepted among local interests. Any statement of that nature is far from the truth. International traders would certainly accept the bill since they have been the chief beneficiaries of the Government’s measures and what care they if this Government fiddles? They gorge themselves on the mistakes of the Government and Australians are compelled to tighten their belts.
I say once again, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that local interests do not accept this measure as a cure-all for their governmentinflicted troubles. Their attitude and the attitude of the Opposition is, first and foremost, that the international traders should be making submissions for the entry of their goods into this country. Australian manufacturers should not have to go, cap in hand, to the Government and plead for their very existence against this competition from overseas. How can they have any confidence? How can they trust the policies of this Government? How can they plan for the future when such conflicting statements are made? Again, I refer to “ Hansard “ which has reported the Minister as follows: -
The modifications on urgent protection proposed in this bill are procedural and do not involve any change of fundamental nature. They will, however, provide more clearly for the use of quantitative restrictions as a temporary protection measure and lay down certain safeguards on their continuance.
In answer to that, let me say that if there is no change of a fundamental nature why is there a need for temporary measures? If these measures are only of a temporary nature they cannot restore the confidence of manufacturers and industrialists. The memory that people have of their treatment in the past - particularly the past two years - is anything but pleasant and they will not be tricked by being given a dose of the same medicine under another label.
We have been told that the special authority will receive references from and report to the Minister for Trade. In the light of the present situation, the Minister for Trade has quite a job in front of him. But we are also told, as reported in “ Hansard “-
The number of cases is expected to fluctuate widely, and in order to obtain advice as quickly as possible, a number of authorities may be set up at any time and for any duration.
As a member of the Opposition, I think the people are entitled to know who will be the members of these authorities. What are their qualifications? What is the cost involved in these inquiries and in the setting up of these authorities? As has been said by supporters of the Government, it leads one to ask: Why do we need the Tariff Board? If these special advisory authorities have to be set up, where is the need for the Tariff Board? Has not the Government any confidence in the board? That question has been asked by supporters of the Government. Looking back over past performances and statements by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), I find that the Prime Minister, referring to his Government, said -
We do not want to impede or obstruct industry.
Honorable members will remember that statement. The Treasurer said -
We want all to share in the gains of progress.
Those statements make it appear that the introduction of this measure is one of the greatest political contradictions of modern times. Regardless of the great loss of production and unemployment that the lifting of import restrictions and the credit squeeze have caused, the Government is still absolutely indecisive. The Minister has told us, as reported in “ Hansard “ -
The Government has always recognized that, in special circumstances, quantitative restrictions could be necessary as a measure of protection, either combined with, or as an alternative to, protective tariffs.
This is an extraordinary statement when one takes into consideration all the damage that has been done to industry in Australia, the man in the street and primary producers. The Minister can fortify the country in these circumstances only by saying, in reference to quantitative restrictions, that they could be necessary. This statement is lacking any positive or worthwhile approach that would restore confidence. Confidence will be restored only when this Government recognizes the absolute need for the restoration of selective import restrictions.
This country cannot function on a temporary basis. Forward planning on every aspect concerning national welfare is needed. We must have planning that gives encouragement to budget for the future. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) is finding this type of planning and protection paramount in those countries where he is discussing the predicaments of the countries concerned in relation to Great Britain’s entry into the European Common Market.
With reference to import restrictions, I believe that some of the criticism that has been levelled at imported timbers is unwarranted. For example, Oregon and red pine have been coming into this country as long as I can remember and I have worked in the timber trade for years. Frankly, I do not know what we would have done without them. Red pine is not so extensively used these days, but there was a time when all the skirting, the architraves, doors, door jambs and window sashes were made of Oregon and red pine. Most of the weatherboards and the flooring were of baltic pine. Kiln-dried Australian hardwoods have largely supplanted these timbers and their use to-day is very small indeed for the type of merchandise and building I have mentioned.
The timber millers and merchants were hurt far more seriously by the credit squeeze than by the lifting of import restrictions. One of the vagaries of our hardwoods is that for building purposes they must be used partly green. It is true that millers who had cut large stocks of scantlings and building timbers were caught in the house-building slump resulting from the credit squeeze, and they now face the loss of these stocks due to the fact that the timbers have become too dry to use. This situation has arisen, as I have said, not from the lifting of import restrictions but almost entirely because of the credit squeeze.
Tt ls the desire of the timber industry that a board be appointed consisting of representatives of all branches of the timber trade under the chairmanship of a member of the Department of Trade. The industry believes that in such a board it would have a body that could discuss its problems intelligently. Such a board would have a knowledge of the industry and the hearing of cases put to it would be expedited.
The problem of the textile industry is of far greater magnitude. It is interesting to note that the textile and clothing industries employ 175,000 workers in 8,500 mills and factories throughout Australia. They pay out in wages and salaries £120,000,000 annually and have an annual production valued at £450,000,000. Yet the textile industry is regarded by the banks as a bad risk. It only requires some economic recession or a credit squeeze to cause the banks to close down on such industries; yet, because of the lifting of import restrictions, the textile industry had to withstand the impact of imports valued at £100,000,000 in the year ended 30th June, 1961. Is it any wonder that this industry found it had to accept the assurances of this Government?
The furniture trade has similar problems. Mention has been made to-day of embargoes. I have made my own inquiries and have found that these things are correct. The overseas price structures have been deliberately designed to undercut local manufacturers. When they have reduced prices to try to meet competition from overseas, those who have been sending furniture to Australia have deliberately brought their prices down lower. This is the sort of protection that the Government has given to secondary industries. This statement is confirmed by a survey by the Institute of Public Affairs as reported in the Melbourne “ Herald “ of 30th March. The Institute of Public Affairs stated -
Employment has fallen in metal-working factories (down 35,000), textile and clothing factories (down 12,000), building and construction (down 11,000), saw mills, furniture factories (down 7,000), retail trade and commerce (down 9,000).
The industries I have mentioned have been the victims of the flood of imports. They are in need of more than temporary measures. In fact, I go so far as to say that the secondary industries of Australia need a new deal. They say they do not want to be shackled to an agricultural economy all the time. There is a great need to give these people some incentive to enter the field the agricultural interests have entered - the export field. I am proud to say that the great textile industry in my electorate has shown its initiative. It has gone out into the highways and byways of the world and is now selling blankets and all sorts of textile goods, in competition with Japan, in Japan, in Lebanon and in other countries. If the secondary industries can be removed from the domination they have suffered over the years from Great Britain, and from the domination of an agricultural economy, they can compete with the secondary industries of other countries of the world and can rescue Australia from the effects of Great Britain’s entry into the European Common Market. The need of our secondary industries is for positive measures, not temporary measures. What is needed is a realization by this Government of what this country can do. Government members have been free with announcements about what the country can do, but the Government has done very little to demonstrate to other countries of the world just what we can do. The concern that is being expressed at the present time as to the problems and dangers that Britain’s entry into the European Common Market present to this country, the development needed in our secondary industries to provide exports, the need to preserve and increase our primary industries and meet the urgent demand for national development, demand measures far more positive than those outlined in the bill. I think future events will vindicate the criticism that has been levelled against setting up a special advisory authority to override the Tariff Board.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Malcolm Fraser) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Equal Pay for Sexes - Communism - Statement by Public Servant - Conciliation and Arbitration.
Motion (by Mr. Swartz) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- This week is National Equal Pay Week, and I should like to make some comments in connexion with that very important matter. This Government has not ratified Convention No. 100 that was adopted by the International Labour Organization and which provides for equal remuneration for men and women doing work of equal value. Article 1 of that convention reads* -
The term “equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of equal value “ refers to rates of remuneration established without discrimination based on sex.
There are 80 member countries of the International Labour Organization, and Australia has been one of the member countries since 1919. It is recognized that the member states of the International Labour Organization have a moral obligation to ratify the decisions of the organization. In 1958, the Australian Council of Trade Unions held a special national conference in Sydney, which was attended by 98 representatives of unions and organizations. At approximately the same time, an equal pay seminar was held at the Trades Hall in Sydney. The biennial conference of the Australian Council of Trade Unions had several propositions before it. I shall quote one or two of them to show the attitude of some of the organizations represented there. For instance, the New South Wales Teachers Federation asked -
That the Australian Council of Trade Unions, together with all affiliated unions, again approach the Australian Government, urging its immediate implementation of International Labour Organization convention no. 100 and recommendation 90 on equal remuneration end International Labour Organization convention 111 and recommendation 111 on discrimination by -
granting equal pay and equal opportunity unequivocally to its own employees; and
taking steps to promote public understand ing of the question and in so doing adopt, as a guide, the principles laid down in the New Zealand legislation.
Another item before the conference was that State branches of the Labour Party, together with affiliated unions, approach State governments to bring down legislation providing that every wage-fixing authority, when fixing the salary or wage of employees, shall have regard to the principle that differentiations based on sex in the scale of salary or wages shall be eliminated. The conference called upon all State branches and affiliated unions to continue an unrelenting campaign to bring about the removal of discrimination against women in employment. There were many other proposals, all framed in a similar manner, urging that immediate attention be given to the question of having the International Labour Organization’s decisions implemented. It was pointed out that the principle of equal pay could be applied by means of national laws and regulations, legally established or recognized machinery for wage determination, collective agreements between employers and workers or by a combination of all those various means.
In 1958, representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions presented a petition to the then Minister for Labour and National Service. The petition was signed by 62,000 electors and asked that legislation be passed to implement this decision of the International Labour Organization. But the petition was just ignored; nothing was done about it. When the present Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was Minister for Labour and National Service, he attended a meeting of the International Labour Organization in 1957 as the Australian Government’s delegate. He was elected chairman of that conference and, during his term as chairman, he appealed to the representatives of the member countries to give effect to all I.L.O. decisions. But when he returned to Australia and representations to that effect were made to the Government of which he was a member, he did nothing about them. As a matter of fact, the attitude of the Australian Government towards ratification of I.L.O. conventions has been criticized by that body.
I notice from to-day’s “ West Australian “ that a protest was forwarded to the Prime Minister by the State president of the Women’s Service Guilds. The following telegram was sent to the Prime Minister: -
The Women’s Service Guilds of Western Australia strongly protest against the action of the Federal Government in instructing its representative at the United Nations Status of Women Commission meeting on March 23 to vote against a motion calling on all governments to ratify an equal pay convention to implement equal pay recommendation and to apply consistently the principle of equal pay.
It would seem that the Government’s representatives adopt one attitude when attending conferences of the I.L.O. and an entirely different attitude when it comes to implementing the decisions of that body. The Government can take little pride in that.
I shall deal now with the position in the States. In New South Wales, equal pay legislation is on the statute-book and, as the House knows, it is gradually being implemented as unions establish that their female members are doing work of equal value to that done by male employees. In Victoria, some categories of female workers receive equal rates but there are very many of them who do not. Incidentally, school teachers do not receive equal rates. In Queensland, the Australian Labour Party has promised that this reform will be introduced when it forms a government, which should be early next year. I understand that a similar promise has been made by the Australian Labour Party in South Australia. With the present political situation there, the Labour Party could form a government at any time.
In Western Australia, equal pay provisions operate for quite a number of female employees. For instance, female journalists receive the same pay as do male journalists, and so do pharmacists, physiotherapists, laboratory technicians, x-ray staff, barmaids and policewomen. In other sections of industry, equal margins have been obtained for teachers, librarians and others. The leader of the State Parliamentary Labour Party ha9 promised that legislation to provide for equal pay for the sexes will be introduced when Labour forms a government in that State. Unfortunately, this did not happen at the recent election, so the females who are at present doing work of a value equal to that done by males will have to wait for some time before this necessary reform is introduced. I am advised that in Tasmania legislation to adopt this necessary reform is to be introduced.
Australia is, of course, behind other countries in the adoption of equal pay for work of equal value. Thirty-two countries have equal pay provisions in their constitutions; thirty-four have ratified the convention to which I have referred; thirty-eight have equal pay legislation-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to draw the attention of the House to an attempt by Communists to infiltrate the Public Service Association of New South Wales and to address an appeal to the Government in relation to this matter. The Public Service Association of New South Wales is a most respectable body. It is a responsible body which includes in its ranks, for example, representatives of the New South Wales Police Force. About twelve years ago, it adopted a rule, which is now incorporated as rule 40, in the following terms: -
No Communist or member of a subversive organization shall be admitted to or permitted to retain membership or office in the Public Service Association of New South Wales.
About the middle of 1957, a man named Steve Cooper became a member of the association. Late in 1960, he was appointed as a clerical officer on the staff of the association. His appointment was attended with some rather unusual features. For example, his sponsors made certain that they should enlist the sympathy and support of certain people in the association who were very much opposed to communism and did not know anything about this individual.
Late in 1961, information came to Mr. Hook, the president of the association, that Mr. Steve Cooper was in fact a Communist. I do not know the nature of this information and I do not know where it came from, but I think it is undoubtedly true because of published articles stretching back over many years which stand in Communist journals under the signature of this same Steve Cooper. I refer, for example, to “Challenge”, the journal of the Eureka Youth League of 11th March, 1954, 18th May, 1955, and the November number of 1955. I have not time to read them, but they are here for the inspection of honorable members. They will see from the trend of the articles that we are undoubtedly dealing with a Communist agent who is described in the journal of the Eureka
Youth League for November, 1955, as “Challenge Feature Writer”.
He was quite prolific in his contributions to Communist journals. I find under his by-line in the “Tribune” of 15th June, 1960 - only quite recently - an article which could be taken to be innocent had it been written by a person who was not a regular Communist. However, knowing that it is written by a person who has been involved in this web, one sees it as part of the Communist plot to break down our defences in the Pacific area. It is innocently entitled, “ Facts on the Re-arming of Japan “. In point of fact, it is directed towards sabotaging any anti-Communist force in the Pacific area, and the Communists are our enemies in the Pacific area. I have no doubt, therefore, that the information in the hands of the president of the Public Service Association of New South Wales was correct and that he was dealing with a Communist, although I do not know the source of his information or its nature. On the evidence of the published material, which is here on the desk for the inspection of honorable members who care to see it, there is no doubt we are dealing with a Communist agent in the person of Steve Cooper..
When the president of the association obtained his information, he very rightly suspended this person on the grounds of rule 40, which I have quoted. The matter came before the council of the association. I shall not give the detail of the various shifts in the matter. Sufficient for it to be said that it was referred to the judicial committee, a motion of dismissal was carried, was rescinded and finally Mr. Cooper resigned. But what happened in the course of this is perhaps worth noting. Mr. Cooper indignantly said that he had been framed, that he had nothing to do with communism, that this was victimization, that it had been arranged by some Catholics, or something of that kind. Immediately, he started the normal smear tactics used by Communists to cover their tracks.
On 11th December, he sent to the association a statutory declaration in the following terms: -
Further to my letter of 9th December, 1961, to the President, I wish to declare that I am not a member of the Communist Party, and that I was not a member of the Communist Party at or subsequent to the date on which I joined the Public Service Association, nor was I a member at or subsequent to the date on which I became an employee of the Public Service Association.
I do not know whether it could be proved that this declaration is perjury. I do not know the techniques of these matters, but undoubtedly, whatever the technical position may be, that declaration is perjury in substance.
The council of the association asked for a declaration in a somewhat different form. This Mr. Cooper refused to give and he refused to answer questions. This all happened in the course of the proceedings in the association to which I have referred. The matter does not end there, of course, because the Communists have grouped their forces and are intending to make a further attack on the association, whose annual meeting will, I think, occur in Sydney next week. The nature of this attack can be seen from a couple of circulars which have been distributed widely throughout this association and copies of which are in my hands and are available for the information of honorable members if they wish to see them. These are typical Communist circulars. They are the kind of stuff which is put out by the Communists as a cover-up story in defence of one of their members. “ Freedom is assailed by these tactics “, they say. There is a technicality about rule 72 which is invoked. There is all the normal apparatus of communism.
I am not saying, Sir, that the people who support Mr. Cooper in this association are necessarily Communists - very far from it. I believe that most of the people who support Mr. Cooper are doing so in ignorance of what he is and what he stands for. I believe that most of those people - perhaps not all of them - are supporting him in good faith without knowing his background and without knowing, whatever the technicalities of it, of his association with the Communist Party of Australia as shown in its journals. He has been guilty of substantial - perhaps not technical, but substantialperjury in the statutory declaration which he signed and gave to the association. The Communist attack is being pressed forward with a demand for the repeal of rule 40.
These things happen, as honorable members know, in the press of politics where people are vying for position and looking for allies. Certain factions are taking advantage of this in order to try to get rule 40 expunged from the rule book and the association therefore opened to Communist infiltration on a much wider scale. They want to take away the bar to Communist infiltration. They want to keep up the fiction that the Communist Party is a normal political party. They say that the debarring of Communists is a denial of freedom. Can anything be more absurd? The Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia has recently taken - and very rightly - the stand that the Australian Communist Party is not a normal political party. It is a subversive organization.
My next remark I make without definite proof, and I shall therefore be a little circumspect and not name or involve anybody: It is said that Mr. Cooper has been going about boasting of his affiliations with the Australian Labour Party. It is said that in 1961 he served on the electoral committee of a present Labour member of this House-
– -Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, so far as I could gather, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has been engaging in a piece of character assassination under privilege^ - a typical exhibition of frothing at the mouth. Since I do not know the facts of the case, I shall not deal with them, except to say that, on the honorable member’s reputation in this House, no one could be any surer of the facts after he had spoken than one was before.
The matter which I raise has relation to what I think is an important democratic parliamentary principle, Mr. Speaker. The principle is that permanent public servants should stand aside from issues of policy in their official capacities. I have seen considerable evidence that this important rule is being breached increasingly in recent years. I know that, in some ways, it is difficult to draw the line. It is difficult to draw the line where you have, for example, an information bureau or where you have a publicity section of a department. Very often is is difficult to draw the line between what is direct intervention in issues of policy by permanent public servants in their official capacities and what is merely a correct performance of their duties as publicity officers for the departments wilh which they are concerned.
The case which I bring to-night to the attention of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) relates to a direct intervention in a matter of policy by an assistant secretary of the Department of Immigration in a public address, first of all defending the white Australia policy, secondly, criticizing the opponents of that policy, and thirdly, urging people to stand firm against those who argue that there should be some leniency or some exception from the accepted immigration policy in particular cases. With the merits of what the gentleman had to say I have very little quarrel indeed. With most of what he had to say I would be in agreement and so would most of the members of this House. But I think that this makes it all the more important, where the issue is one on which the minority which has a perfect right to express its view is a comparatively small minority, that permanent public servants should not be employed by Ministers to peddle the policy.
The circumstances which I wish to relate concern an address given in my electorate by, as I have said, an assistant secretary of the Department of Immigration - an address of which an official report was given, I understand, to the newspapers in my electorate. That official report is verbatim and extends over a couple of columns. I do not want to go through the various things which this gentleman said, but it is important to note that he argued that the white Australia policy was primarily a racial policy. That, perhaps, is an unfortunate statement to be made by any one in defence of our immigration policy, and particularly by a permanent public servant.
Secondly, the gentleman described those who disagree with the existing policy as members of pressure groups, most of whom were well-meaning and had the best of motives, but who were seeking to achieve their ends, as he said, by different ways. He then proceeded to answer the arguments which they put forward. Interestingly enough, in the course of his defence, he declared that if this were a truly Christian world governed by the Christian ethic there would be no place in it for the white Australia policy. That again, is a statement which some of us may think would be better not made, and certainly would be better not made by a permanent official of the Australian civil service, because of the unfortunate way in which it could be interpreted abroad.
In the final part of his address, this gentleman, who, I am sure, is a very excellent and valuable servant of the department, proceeded to do something which I think was particularly unfortunate. He proceeded to put up a case in advance against those who argue on broad grounds that exception should be made in particular circumstances in the application of the present policy, saying that their views were put forward, not on grounds of reason, but on grounds of false sentimentality.
I do not blame the officer concerned at all, because I am certain that he must have been acting with full ministerial knowledge and direction. The points which concern me, and on which I would like some information from the Minister for Immigration are these: Was this an isolated case? Is this a general procedure which is being followed by the Minister? Are various officers of the department being sent into various electorates in Australia to advocate the particular policies in regard to immigration which this Government advocates? If this was an isolated case, or if the happening was accidental, will the Minister give the House some assurance that this procedure will not be repeated? If this resulted from a deliberate action on the part of the Minister, which I can scarcely believe, then I simply say to the House that it is a very serious departure from a most important British parliamentary and democratic principle, namely, that permanent public servants in their official capacity should not be asked, required or allowed to take sides on issues of public policy.
I would add only that this report makes it plain that the gentleman in question was not speaking in his private capacity, but that he had been sent by the Department of Immigration to give this address in this place in my electorate.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) was courteous enough to let me know some moments ago that he might raise this matter in the House to-night. Therefore, in the short time that was available to me I had some inquiries made concerning the subject of his complaint. I would like to say at the outset that there was no electoral significance whatsoever in the address that an officer of my department gave. I assure the honorable gentleman and the House that the last thing that would occur to me, to the head of my department or, I am sure, to any officer of my department, would be to go into the electorate of any honorable member of this House, making, on the initiative solely of the particular officer concerned, speeches on high policy, defending Government policy and attacking minority groups, however small, which might be opposed to Government policy. The policy in question, I might add, is one which has, as I said in a reply to a question yesterday, been supported ever since federation by both sides of this Parliament.
The circumstances of the Assistant Secretary’s address, as I understand the case, were these: At the town of Bombala, I think, in the honorable member’s electorate, there was held a regional congress of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia.
– Oh! A little crack at the Commos too, I suppose.
– I am surprised at the honorable member’s interjection. As a member of the Returned Servicemen’s League, as are many other honorable members of this House, I would applaud the holding of a regional congress by the league. We in this country have cause to be grateful to the R.S.L. for its broad national outlook on international affairs.
– And it is strictly nonpolitical.
– As the honorable gentleman says, it is a strictly non-political body. This regional congress took place in the electorate of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, and my department was asked to send a senior officer to explain what was called, in outmoded language, the white Australian policy, but which we now call Australia’s restricted immigration policy.
– Who called it the white Australia policy?
– Well, he was entitled to his own interpretation, as an individual, but that is not the Government’s term, nor has it been for a great many years. Indeed, I remember a previous and distinguished Minister for External Affairs, years ago in this chamber, long before I had the honour to be a Minister, most strenuously denying that we used that term any more, because it is opprobrious to many of our neighbours in Asia. However, the R.S.L. asked my department to send a senior officer to give an address on our restricted immigration policy. As a result of that invitation - not, mark you, on the initiative of either me or any one in my department - an officer was sent. The gentleman in question is a man of considerable capacity and wide overseas experience By virtue of his position in the department he was well qualified to give this address.
To set the matter straight, and to allay the fears of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, I think I should again emphasize the point that my officer did not attend this congress on his own initiative, but on the invitation of the R.S.L. We accepted the invitation to send an officer to address the congress on a subject which 1 think the House will agree is of very wide public interest in this country. We should bear in mind that the R.S.L. itself has, right from its inception, to the best of my knowledge, strongly supported this restricted immigration policy - a policy followed not only by this Government but also by the Opposition when it was in power.
I know that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro puts his case to-night from high motives, and no doubt with very good intentions, but I do not think he has any real reason to suspect impropriety on the part of a quite highly placed public servant. Still less has he any reason to suspect any sinister motive on the part either of myself or of the Government.
.- Last night, in the debate on the Tariff Board Bill, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) named me as a person who had a hatred of Australian manufacturers. This, of course, is quite untrue. For half a century I have been an ardent advocate of the advancement of manufacturing industry in Australia. But, white I recognize the right of the honorable member for Mackellar to make such an accusation, I name the honorable member to-night as the degenerate member who, in this House, under cover of privilege, had the effrontery to name some citizen as a Communist. This was much worst than his offence against me. I have never heard of the citizen in question and know nothing about him. I do not know whether he is a Communist or not. I do think, however, that the honorable member for Mackellar is degenerate in that he accuses people, under privilege, of being Communists without producing any proof.
I rise to-night mainly to support the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb). The honorable member, almost unnoticed to-night, brought to the attention of the Parliament the need for the Government to give effect to the principles of the International Labour Organization convention regarding equal pay for the sexes. For too long this Parliament and the Government of the day have evaded their responsibilities in this matter. Let me say that this subject is not unrelated to the matter raised by the honorable member for Mackellar, because for as long as a conservative government of this country lags behind public opinion, not only in Australia but also in other parts of the world, concerning recognition of the principle of equal pay for the sexes, then so long does it encourage communism. Incidentally, of course, it also substantially advances the cause of the Labour Party, and to this I have no objection. However, let me suggest that Government supporters clean their own dirty stables first and recognize the rights of women in industry to the same conditions ais those that apply to men.
When I say that the Government encourages the advance of communism in Australia, let me say that it is obviously true that probably the only women in Australia who receive the same conditions with regard to wages as men doing the same work are members of the most militant unions in Australia. Let me give some illustrations. Women who are tram conductors enjoy equal pay and equal rights with men. Women employed on the Victorian railways also enjoy equal pay with men. They do so by virtue of the fact that the leadership of the Australian Railways Union and the tramway employees union is a militant leadership which the honorable member for Mackellar would brand, without exception, as a Communist leadership. It is this sort of success which leads in this country to a glorification of Communist policy. If honorable members opposite, who are so glib with their accusations of communism, practised a decent democratic policy, and advocated and supported the human rights confirmed by the International Labour Organization, to that extent they would dampen down the advance of communism in Australia.
Most honorable members opposite, as members of this Parliament, enjoy the services in their offices of young, or indeed in some cases elderly, women as private secretaries. Yet they sit quietly by and deprive their secretaries of the equivalent remuneration that a man would receive if he occupied the position. How long are they going to sit by and deprive their private secretaries of the rates of pay that males would receive if they were working in that capacity? The whole thing is an anachronism. It is indeed an encouragement to communism because it is an undeniable fact that in this country the people who have obtained male rates for women are the militant trade union leaders. When is this Government going to come to its senses? I am looking at the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), as I say that. When is it going to yield gracefully and democratically to women in industry and commerce the right to the same rates of pay and the same conditions of labour as are granted to males in this country?
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim that he has been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honorable member for Lalor said that I named people as Communists without putting forward any proof. That is entirely contrary to the facts. In this instance I did produce proof, and I have here proof with regard to Mr. Steve Cooper. The honorable member also said something about hatred. Maybe the love in his voice is disguised, but he is the man who said he had no hatred for Communists.
.- It is generally believed by most Australians that a political party behaves somewhat differently when in Opposition from the way it behaves when it is the Government. I have taken some consolation from this fact. During the short time I have been in the House I have been dismayed at the behaviour of the members of the party opposite. To-day we had the exhibition of this party, en bloc, casting a slanderous smear on the integrity of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). During the last half hour we have heard the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) make statements by way of interjection, when the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) was speaking, that the Returned Servicemen’s League is politically biased. The honorable member for Lalor and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) championed men-
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! The honorable member will have the opportunity to make a personal explanation later.
– We have just heard the honorable member for Lalor championing two men, Mr. O’Shea and Mr. Brown, the secretaries of . the tramway employees union and the Australian Railways Union respectively in Victoria, both of whom are self-confessed Communists. We have heard this stalwart of the front bench of the Labour Party championing these people. Can I be blamed for saying that I am dismayed sometimes at the behaviour of the party opposite. I do take some consolation from the thought that it might well behave differently if by some tragedy it happened to occupy the Government benches.
A recent action by the Australian Labour Party has left me with some very disturbing thoughts as to whether we, or more importantly the Australian people, can afford any longer the luxury of believing that the Australian Labour Party is in any way a responsible body. I refer to an incident, small in its immediate ramifications, but of which the deeper significance is enormous. I refer to something that is happening in the very pleasant metropolitan suburb of Preston, which is so ably represented in this chamber by the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay). Several months ago the Municipal Employees Union filed a log of claims which contained, among other things, a claim for a 35-hour week and an increase in salaries and wages by up to 50 per cent. The court has not yet granted this claim.
Despite this, about seven municipal councils in Melbourne, all of them dominated by members of the Labour Party, and no doubt at the prodding of the central executive of the Australian Labour Party, imposed the conditions of the log of claims on their respective municipalities. However, the municipality of Preston held out. The nine Labour councillors of the twelve councillors of this municipality took the view that in accordance with their oath to serve the ratepayers of Preston they would await the decision of the court and not be compelled by outside influence. But the Victorian executive of the Australian Labour Party was not to be denied. On 26th March of this year it sent a letter directing the nine members of the Preston Municipal Council to accept the log within fourteen days. The councillors were told that if they did not do so they would risk expulsion from the Labour Party.
One could say a lot about this matter purely from a municipal point of view. One could inquire into the effect of this action on the ratepayers of Preston. The estimated cost to the Preston Municipal Council is approximately £12,000, which would represent an amount of lis. to 15s. per ratepayer per year. One could inquire into the propriety of councillors of those municipalities who accepted the dictates of this outside body and relate their act to their oath to serve primarily in the interests of ratepayers. One could request the Minister for Local Government in Victoria to inquire whether a privilege had been abused, and whether because of this act the offices of these councillors should not be declared vacant.
We should also inquire about the effect on neighbouring councils and the disruption of harmony which this action must necessarily cause. But, important as these things are, there is a much more basic ramification of this problem. The action of the Australian Labour Party has a definite State-wide implication and eventually can, and I submit will, have national and international repercussions as far as Australia is concerned1. I challenge the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), and the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), the alleged expert on industrial affairs in the Labour Party, whose sincerity I accept absolutely. I challenge the party opposite, which presumes to reflect the image of a responsible government, to declare its attitude on this action of the central executive of the Australian Labour Party in Victoria.
Am I wrong in assuming that if a set of working conditions, particularly a shorter working week, exists in one municipality, it must automatically spread to other councils? Am I wrong in assuming that if such a standard is accepted in one industry in a State, it will automatically apply to every industry in that State, and will eventually apply on a national basis? Running through Australia’s economic history like the thread of Ariadne is the lesson that once a set of basic working conditions has been accepted by one State or by one industry it becomes woven quickly into the fabric of the national economy.
Need I do more than mention the significance to Australia at the present time of a universally applied 35-hour working week? As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said this evening, our export industries in the most literal sense are vital to our solvency and we ignore the implications of increases in our cost structure at our peril. Yet we see here a State branch of the Australian Labour Party openly and blatantly acting against the very principles upon which local government is founded, against the whole foundation of our arbitration system, and directly against the interests of our nation.
In view of the statement of the Leader of the Opposition during the election campaign that no elected member of the Labour Party is subject to outside domination, I now challenge the honorable gentleman to say in clear and unmistakea’ble language whether he approves this action of the Victorian executive of the Labour Party to which he also is subject. By what process of reasoning does he imagine that if he were the Prime Minister and his party occupied the treasury bench he would not be equally vulnerable to these irresponsible and dictatorial orders from this sinister outside body?
– I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr. Speaker. Although I do not resent the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) - I rather pity him - he accused me of making some remarks in relation to the Returned Servicemen’s League. Neither by interjection nor in my speech did I mention the Returned Servicemen’s League. It so happens that I am a member of the league of 42 years’ standing. Be that as it may, I never mentioned it to-night. Then the honorable member accused me of mentioning and applauding Mr. Clarrie O’Shea of the tramways union and Mr. Brown of the Australian Railways Union. I never mentioned the name of either gentleman. All I said was that militant unions such as the Australian Railways Union and the tramways union had succeeded in obtaining equal pay for equal work. It is well known that the executive of both unions is dominated by members of the Australian’ Labour Party, not by members of the Communist Party. The honorable member should be more accurate and more just in his statements in this Parliament. He should have the decency to withdraw his remarks, but he is not man enough to do so. He lacks manhood.
.- Ordinarily I believe that it is not a good thing to fall for provocation, but some things have been said in this House both yesterday and to-day regarding a situation in the Darebin electorate which, to say the least, are wide of the truth. Yesterday the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) asked a question of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) in the course of which he suggested that the Victorian central executive of the Australian Labour Party had taken certain action. He then asked -
If this is so, does it represent another clever tactical move by the Labour Party to destroy our arbitration and conciliation system?
The Minister, although not saying so directly, certainly implied in his answer that he approved the suggestion contained in the question. He adopted similar tactics to-day when he was asked whether the Victorian central executive had contravened in any way any of the regulations or requirements of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. He simply skirted the question. It ill becomes either the Minister or the honorable member for Higinbotham to interfere in industrial negotiations while they are proceeding in accordance with the requirements of the act.
– What negotiations?
– I happen to know more about the negotiations than you will ever know. I have had over twenty years’ experience in dealing with industrial matters and I know that although frequently parties to a dispute appear to be inflexible in their attitude, it is seldom that an amicable solution cannot be found if the disputants will agree to sit down and negotiate. That is the very basis of the conciliation provisions of the act. I know that those things happen. I know also that there are always agents, like Mr. Bolte, for instance, and the honorable member for Higinbotham, who will come in at the instigation of those whom they represent and try to break up the negotiations that are proceeding. The log of claims in this instance was framed in accordance with the regulations.
– Have you read it?
– I have read it, and it is in accordance with the prescription laid down for a log of claims to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. If the honorable member for Isaacs has read it he will support me. So we have the situation which often occurs in these industrial matters, as the honorable member knows, where the. parties find themselves deadlocked. The honorable member would do better to suggest the timehonoured way of settling the dispute rather than to listen to half a story. When employers submit a log to the court they suggest that the working hours be increased to 48 or 50 a week so that they will have scope within which to argue. Similarly, when a union submits a log it asks for working hours to be reduced to 35 a week.
It is completely and utterly false to say that the Victorian central executive ever sent any one a letter couched in the terms suggested by the honorable member. I have seen the letter. All the men referred to are good friends of mine. If any dispute arises between members of the Australian Labour Party in the Darebin electorate and the Victorian central executive we are able to settle it politically among ourselves without the assistance of any Minister or Government supporter. The Minister has mentioned the Local Government Act, a State act. How often have we heard Ministers say, when matters relating to such subjects as education and hospital treatment have been raised in this House, that they are State matters? Yet, here we have a matter which it is admitted comes under the Local Government Act, a State act, if it comes under any act. But, of course, it suits the supporters of the Government to try to worsen a difficult position. I say that they are wrong in doing so.
The matters that are in dispute, and I know them, are not such that they could n t comfortably be resolved between the parties in the time-honoured manner which has always been followed, in accordance with the provisions of an act which the Minister for Labour and National Service seeks to administer. This matter has nothing to do with federal legislation or federal jurisdiction, although it would have done so had an agreement been presented. So far as the Minister’s department is concerned, agreements have been concluded and submitted to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The Minister nods his head. He knows that that is so. Those agreements have been knocked back, despite the fact that employers and employees have agreed on the terms. However, this agreement will be submitted.
Why raise here questions concerning local government matters? Why enter, in a provocative manner, into an industrial dispute which is at a very critical stage? The honorable member even suggested that there would be international repercussions.
I do not know whether it is a matter that ought to be referred to the United Nations. Is that what the honorable member suggests? Does he say that a matter concerning a local municipal council could have international repercussions? I say to him again that the people of Preston and the electors of Darebin are quite capable of dealing with their own affairs and with matters affecting either the Municipal Employees Association or the central executive of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour Party, and of settling them amicably. They will settle them without regard to issues that are raised either here or at the United Nations.
.- This matter of the log which has been delivered by the Municipal Employees Association of Victoria is an old story. Mr. Divers, at present a member of the Parliament of Victoria, was formerly secretary of the Municipal Employees Association, and many years ago he conceived the idea that by the use of political pressure municipal councils could be forced to agree to logs. Mr. Divers recognized the fact that because the union members were largely unskilled there would be great difficulty in obtaining from the arbitral commission the kind of conditions that they wanted to have included in the log, so he went to the State executive of the Australian Labour Party and said: “ We can put pressure on the councils in all the municipalities to make them “ - the Labour-controlled councils - “give the conditions asked for in the log. After they have been given, we can then force all other councils in Victoria to provide the same conditions.”
When Mr. Divers got to the State executive he ran up against two great obstacles in the persons of Jack Cain and Dinny Lovegrove. The interesting thing is that Lovegrove is now Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the State Parliament and Divers also is a member of that Parliament. It is not surprising that the Labour Party in the Victorian Parliament is as badly in disagreement as is the Opposition in this Parliament, because these old scores go back many years.
The principal obstacle to this idea was Cain, then Premier of Victoria. Cain said to the State executive: “Don’t you ever demand anything of me. If you wish to, you can request me to do things, but the day when the State executive of the A.L.P. demands anything from me there will be complete calamity in the Labour Party in Victoria.” So it was that Cain, by the strength of his personality, kept the State executive of the Labour Party at bay.
That was not so, of course, in Queensland. In that State, Gair saw the same situation arise, when the State executive demanded that he legislate for the provision of three weeks’ annual leave. It was that very issue which brought about the collapse of the Labour Government in Queensland. If the Victorian executive is able to issue commands which have to be obeyed by members of the Labour Party in municipalities, that will extend to the State Government and also to the Federal Government. I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) does not relish the idea of being Prime Minister of this country and having an outside body - a State executive or the federal executive of the party - issuing commands to him which he is powerless to oppose. That is the whole principle of this matter.
Of course, these things can happen in Victoria because the Labour Party executive in that State is very left wing. One finds it difficult to bridle one’s description of how far its sympathies run to the left. It is only in Victoria, therefore, that this kind of thing happens. It does not happen in New South Wales. Directives have been issued, but so far Mr. Heffron has had the courage to stand up to the left-wing element, but how long that will last, I do not know. It is true that he collapsed on the three weeks’ annual leave issue, and now that is in the State legislation and probably will have an overall prescription. But because of the character of the State executive in Victoria, another very important issue arises. That is the resurgence of communism within the trade union movement in those areas where there is a less sophisticated approach.
There have been some striking victories against the Communists in the trade unions. One of the most striking, of course, was the victory by Fitzgibbon in the Waterside Workers Federation. But make no mistake about this; Fitzgibbon is a prisoner within his own union. Fitzgibbon managed to get through the Waterside Workers Federation executive a recommendation on a pensions scheme. He then took it to the next body of the Waterside Workers Federation and his recommendation was tossed over because the resurgence of communism within that union is at a less sophisticated level. Honorable members opposite say that that is rubbish. The infiltration is at the less sophisticated level, at the shop committee level. If honorable members opposite say rubbish to that, they should be very careful, because the Australian Council of Trade Unions regards this as one of the greatest threats to the whole trade union movement.
There is, of course, no legal justification at all for area committees, but as far as shop committees are concerned, the A.C.T.U. has laid down their charter. I have here a copy of it, if honorable members opposite want to read it. The charter sets out the functions and the limitations of shop committees. On 26th March, 1962, only a few days ago, the A.C.T.U. at its executive meeting in Melbourne passed a resolution, three paragraphs of which I shall read to indicate the dangerous situation which has emerged. The resolution states -
This Executive views with concern reports from
Victoria and New South Wales indicating that industrial agreements recently agreed upon have been repeatedly broken by sections of workers without reference to the A.C.T.U., the Labour Councils, or even individual unions parties to the agreement … In some cases breaches of agreements are arising from an excess of authority of Shop Committees and action by Area Committees and other forms of organization not approved by the A.C.T.U. or Trades and Labour Councils. This is perhaps the most important paragraph of the resolution -
That is, the executive of the A.C.T.U. - therefore calls upon all unionists to assist to preserve the integrity and solidarity of the trade union movement by recognizing only those forms of trade union organization that have been approved by the A.C.T.U. or Trades and Labour Councils, and to work for the improvement of the workers’ standards only through the official trade union organization.
I give an example of the way in which this operates. In the oil industry there is an arrangement whereby the representatives of unions employed in the various ramifications of the industry depart from their award conditions and negotiate an industry agreement through the aegis of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. It is provided in the agreement that there will be no stoppage when there is a dispute, and a separate disputes resolution mechanism is also provided for. In the Victorian oil industry there is a man who was a Communist leader of a trade union and was kicked out by the rank and file by the use of the secret ballot legislation. He found his way to the Geelong-Altona area and there organized a departure from this industry agreement. There was a stoppage in defiance of the agreement, and this man - the former Communist trade union secretary - who is now a member of the Miscellaneous Workers Union, openly boasts that by coming to these less sophisticated levels he will become State secretary of his union within two years. Here is the great danger - the resurgence of Communist influence in the unions in the less sophisticated areas: That is the concern of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, as well it might be. And well might it be the concern of the whole of Australia.
– Mr. Speaker, I want to say only a few words. The speech of the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) is interesting. It was the voice of the honorable member for Bruce, but the draft of the speech was supplied to him by Senator McManus in King’s Hall five minutes ago.
Motion (by Mr. Swartz) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.57 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Trade has supplied the following information: - 1 and 2-
ark. - Mr. Clark is a returned soldier of World War I., and has the degree of Bachelor of Commerce of the University of Tasmania. He joined the Department of Customs and Excise in 1926 and at the time of his appointment to the Tariff Board occupied the position of Assistant Comptroller-General, Department of Trade and Customs. He had extensive overseas experience between 1944 and 1954 as a member and/or leader of various Australian trade delegations to international conferences.
Mr. H. F. B. Heyes. ; Mr. Heyes has been an officer of the Commonwealth Public Service since 1914. He served in the first Australian Imperial Force from 1916 to 1919. All his public service has been in the fields of tariffs and trade. At the time of his appointment to the Tariff Board he occupied the position of First Assistant ComptrollerGeneral, Department of Trade and Customs, and had previously acted for a short period as Comptroller-General. He had been a member and/or leader of various Australian delegations to overseas trade and tariff discussions.
Mr. G. F. Gill.; Mr. Gill served in the R.A.A.F. 1942-1945. He is a Fellow of the Australian Insurance Institute. Prior to his appointment to the Tariff Board Mr. Gill was secretary of the Australian Metal Industries Association, Melbourne, from 1953 to 1958. He was a member of the Royal Exchange Assurance Company, from 1925-1931 - advocate for the Western Australian Employers’ Federation 1931-1942 - member of the Western Australian Arbitration Court 1946-1949 - secretary, Western Australian Employers’ Federation 1949-1953.
Mr. R. Boyer. ; Mr. Boyer is a returned serviceman of the 1939-1945 war and holds degrees in Arts (Economics) from Sydney and Oxford universities. At the time of his appointment to the Tariff Board he was manager and part owner of a pastoral property in Queensland.
Mr. J. R. Murray. ; Prior to his appointment to the Tariff Board Mr. Murray was a former secretary of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. He was closely associated with the problems that faced the automotive industry in the immediate post-war years. He joined the chamber in 1944 after serving with the A.I.F. for two years.
Mr. S. J. Cossar. ; Prior to his appointment to the Tariff Board Mr. Cossar was engaged in farming at Jerilderie, New South Wales. He had been closely associated with several primary industry organizations, and has wide experience in primary industry generally. He was for many years associated with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Mr. E. J. L. Tucker; Mr. Tucker has had wide experience in the insurance and accounting field. He was a vice-president of the Victorian Division of the Australian Society of Accountants and chairman of the Australian Decimal Currency Council. He was for ten years head of the Division of Statistics and Research of the Council of Fire and Accident Underwriters of Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade, upon notice -
z. - The Acting Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
During the twelve months ended 27th March, 1962, 87 references were made to the Tariff Board, as follows: -
In addition to completing its inquiries and reports on 46 of the 87 references made in the twelve months ended 27th March, 1962, the board has also furnished 30 reports arising out of earlier references, making in all 76 reports for the twelve months.
d asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Trade has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: - 1 and 2. Controls have operated on the export of scrap iron and steel since 1940. The controls have as their objective the ensuring of adequate supplies of scrap to the foundries and steel mills. There are similar controls in many of the steelproducing countries of the world. Australian export policy is reviewed six-monthly in the light of the demand for, and the availability of, scrap.
The details of scrap control for the period January to June, 1962, are as follows: -
With regard to export policy for the period commencing July, 1962, preliminary steps have been taken by the Department of Trade to call a conference of all Interested parties, I.e., the users and the suppliers, with a view to obtaining advice and assistance in connexion with the formulation of future export policy.
i asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
All licences issued for the export of ferrous scrap metal result from compliance with certain laid-down conditions made known to the scrap collecting industry. Export licences are issued for-
son asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Trade has supplied the following information: -
The main differences between the present formula and the recommended new formula are -
Under the existing agreement, Australian interests could become liable to meet substantial costs for the lay-up of ships required for the Australian trade.
m asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Can and will he name any non-self-governing territory other than the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in which some residents have, but no indigenous inhabitant has, a direct vote for tha legislature?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
Health Act, in addition to being required to comply with all relative State laws including company and friendly society legislation. 2 and 3. Organizations registered under the National Health Act are subject to terms and conditions imposed by the Minister for Health and designed to safeguard the interests of contributors. Changes in registered organizations’ rules, including benefits and contributions, which affect the rights of contributors or the financial stability of the organizations’ medical benefits funds are inoperative unless approved by the Minister. Each registered organization is required by the National Health Act to submit annually to the DirectorGeneral of Health financial statements and statistical returns and to permit officers of the Department of Health to have access to the records, books and accounts of the oganization A continuing audit is maintained on payment of Commonwealth benefits by registered organizations.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
These figures include those pensioners who, although eligible, have not chosen to enrol in the service as well as those excluded by the Pensioner Medical Service means test. Separate figures for age, widow and invalid pensioners are not available.
y asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The honorable member’s question seeks an announcement of government policy and I think he will appreciate on reflection that the answer to a question is not an appropriate medium for this purpose.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 April 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620404_reps_24_hor35/>.