24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade. Will the Minister inform the House whether his department recently conducted an investigation into the restrictive export franchises which overseas companies impose on their Australian affiliates? What was the result of this investigation? Can the right honorable gentleman cite any recent case in which his department has succeeded in having such restrictions lifted?
– I shall prepare for the honorable gentleman the information he seeks, and will supply it to him as soon as it is available.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works a question regarding the future of the Royal Australian Air Force base at Rathmines in New South Wales. Some time ago this base was declared surplus to Commonwealth requirements, and I ask the Minister: Has there been any result from negotiations with the New South Wales Government, local government authorities or any other organization?
– There have been negotiations with the New South Wales Government with the thought in mind that it might want to use the Rathmines base as a going concern; but, unfortunately, the New South Wales Government has no requirement for it, and neither has any local authority. At the moment negotiations are being carried on with other bodies with a view to having the place taken over as a going concern. I am not able to say what stage these negotiations have reached, but the department is making every effort to dispose of the buildings in situ instead of dismantling everything there.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister with reference to the
Country Industries Conference held at Wangaratta last week-end. This is the first conference of its kind, as I am sure the right honorable gentleman will be aware. Is the Prime Minister acquainted with the decision of the conference to ask that a national inquiry be held to find means of securing a more balanced development and distribution of industry and population within Australia? In view of the fact that both Australian Country Party and Australian Labour Party members supported the motion urging such an inquiry in this House last year, will the right honorable gentleman agree to accede to such a request?
– All I know about the conference so far is what I have read in the press. I have no doubt that in due course I will receive direct a communication from the conference containing such resolutions as it passed, and of course I will consider them very seriously.
– I direct to the Treasurer a question concerning the reduction of income tax that took effect in March of this year. Has the Government examined the situation that will arise on 1st July? For instance, is the rebate likely to continue? If it does not continue, is there likely to be a sudden contraction in the spending power of the public?
– I think honorable members are aware of the action taken in relation to tax deductions from pay envelopes, and the consequences which flowed from it. The Government decided in February, as part of its programme of recovery measures, to give a 5 per cent, income tax rebate applicable to the whole of the current financial year. In order that that 5 per cent. rebate could be made effective over the whole of the financial year, it was necessary to make deductions at the rate of 3s. in the £1 - in other words, at the rate of 15 per cent. If this had not been done, more tax than was warranted would have been collected, and there would have been abnormally high refund payments in the period immediately after the end of the financial year.
The Government has not yet considered what its future course of action will be.
That matter would normally be considered in our general budgetary discussions. However, I have had some discussion in the Treasury on the likely effects on economic conditions if the rebate at the rate of 5 per cent, per annum is not continued after 1st July. I do not think there is ground for fears that there will be some sudden reduction in the funds available to the public. I take this view for two reasons. One is that in the months immediately after the end of a financial year substantial refunds are made in the normal course of events. In July of last year, these amounted to £17,000,000, the total for the first three months of the financial year being £55,000,000. Furthermore, many people have not taken advantage of the rebate yet. They have preferred to wait and have a Jump-sum payment made at the end of the financial year. So I think that, regardless of the decision finally taken by the Government, it can be assumed that there will be a continuing stimulus to consumption.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister as head of the Australian Government. I ask him to assure the House that the serious issues arising from the West New Guinea dispute will be considered by the meeting of the Anzus Council. In view of the danger to the peace of this region because of the arms build-up and the reported acts of aggression by Indonesia, will the right honorable gentleman ensure that the Australian point of view is stated to Mr. Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State of the United States of America, with strength and clarity?
– This matter is in the hands of the Minister for External Affairs. The Anzus Council meeting is still on foot and will continue this afternoon. I have no doubt whatever that the Minister, being familiar with the views of the Government and having expressed them on a variety of occasions, will make them quite clear to our distinguished visitor.
– I address a question to the Minister for Immigration. Has he any knowledge of an invitation having been extended to a religious group in Pennsylvania iri the United States of America to migrate to Australia in order to escape compliance with United States laws? In view of the reported beliefs and practices of this group, which is said to object to compulsory education and the payment of social service contributions, among other things - an attitude which does not conform to and is contrary to our Australian way of life - does the Minister consider such an invitation, if it has been issued, to be either wise or desirable?
– I have no knowledge of any invitation such as that mentioned by the honorable gentleman having been extended by any individuals or groups of people in Australia. I can assure him right away that the migration of people such as he alludes to most certainly would not be encouraged by the Department of Immigration. However, in all these matters, each application, once it is made, is considered on its merits. The honorable gentleman has made it quite plain, I think, that these people, who, I understand, are a sect known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, are not meritorious. I can say quite definitely that they are not people of the sort that the Australian Government would seek to attract to our shores.
– I ask the Minister for Territories a question. Has the honorable gentleman’s attention been directed to the expression of disappointment by the ChiefJustice of Papua and New Guinea that there was no provision for bail for those awaiting the result of their appeals against summary convictions arising out of the Buka Island riots last February? Will the Minister ensure that immediate action is taken so that indigenous inhabitants as well as immigrants in the Territory will be entitled to bail on the same conditions as are traditional under English law?
– I can do even better than the honorable gentleman has asked me to do. I do not have to give him an assurance that immediate action will be taken, because I can tell him that action has already been taken. The position is that, apparently as the result of an oversight, and certainly not because of any policy decision, there is no provision under which a person who appeals from a Court of Native Affairs to the Supreme Court can be admitted to bail. There is provision that a person who appeals from the other lower courts can be admitted to bail. As I say, this defect seems to be due to an oversight. The whole of the legislation affecting courts of native affairs is now under revision and will be replaced in due course by a local courts ordinance, and I can assure the honorable member that under that local courts ordinance the position of a native defendant will not be different from that of any other defendant.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. Having in mind recent demonstrations in this country against American nuclear tests in the Pacific is the right honorable gentleman aware of any similar demonstrations in the Soviet Union against Soviet tests?
– Sir, I am not.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact that the improvement claimed by the Government to be taking place in the internal economy has been insufficient to result in gainful employment being available for the tens of thousands of breadwinners who are unemployed in Australia. Does the Minister agree with the publicized statement of Mr. N. Curphey general manager of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, that the Government is “ whistling in the dark “ with regard to unemployment and export trade, and, in particular, “ that unless far greater restorative measures were introduced a great number of young people leaving school would not get jobs “ ? Finally I ask: Is it not a fact that the increase in government employment has been responsible for most of the slight reduction in the number of registered unemployed and that thousands of people are destined to remain unemployed under conditions obtaining as a result of even the best policy that the Government is willing to apply?
- Sir, that was a second-reading speech on what is a pretty delicate and important problem. I think there has been a very marked improvement in the employment situation in the months of February and March, and I expect the improvement will be continued in the month of April. Only a few days ago the Treasurer made a statement on the state of the economy in which he said that we watch this problem from day to day and that if the Government comes to the conclusion that any additional stimulus is needed it will quickly take action. I am sorry that the honorable gentleman has introduced such a contentious note in his reference to this matter, but I think we can truly say that the economy is moving forward and is steadily progressing.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation inform the House to what extent his department maintains contact with outside professional organizations in the medical field to make certain that the latest medical knowledge is available for the treatment of ex-servicemen in repatriation hospitals?
– My department is well aware of the need to keep abreast of developments in medical science and has set up a committee known as the Central Medical Advisory Committee which is doing very good work in that regard. The committee is under the chairmanship of Dr. Langford who is the principal medical officer in the Repatriation Department. My nominee on the committee is Sir Albert Coates who, I am sure, is well known to every one in Australia for his splendid work among prisoners of war. Three other persons on the committee are nominated by the Australasian college of surgeons and physicians and by the Australian Medical Association. In addition to this committee which is doing splendid work in keeping us abreast of modern developments in medical science, we also have the advantage of specialized knowledge in groups of specialist medical officers who. are on the visiting panels of repatriation general hospitals.
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by stating that four weeks ago he was asked whether there was any provision in the Bills of Exchange Act which would prevent banks in Victoria from closing on Saturdays. The right honorable gentleman replied that he would have to refer to the legislation and that when he had done so he would supply an answer to the question. I now ask him whether he has yet referred to the legislation, whether he has supplied the answer to the question and, if so, what the answer was.
– I confess that in the host of matters which have engaged my attention since that date it is possible that this matter has not yet been determined. If that has proved to be the case, I apologize. Immediately after questiontime to-day I shall check to ascertain what stage the matter has reached and whether an answer can be supplied without delay.
– I preface my question to the Prime Minister by stating that Anzacs who participated in the epic Gallipoli campaign are concerned because they cannot be distinguished from other exservicemen who served during 1914 and 1915. There was a proposal to strike a medal in 1918 but owing to opposition by certain sections of the British press and by some members of the British Parliament the medal was never struck. As this is a matter which concerns ex-servicemen of both Australia and New Zealand, will the Prime Minister discuss this matter with the Prime Minister of New Zealand while he is in Canberra so that some recognition can be given to those Anzacs who added such lustre to the historical records of both Australia and New Zealand?
– I will do my best to have a talk with the Prime Minister of New Zealand about this matter. I do not know the time-table arrangement, but if it should make it impracticable to do that - it may - 1 will have this matter discussed’ with my colleagues and then perhaps put myself into communication with the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
– Has the Minister for Immigration any knowledge of the contents of the new Commonwealth Immigrants Act which comes into force in England on 1st July? Can he indicate in what way the act restricts the future movement of Australian citizens to and from the United Kingdom? Will Australians have to pass through British immigration controls? Will they be subjected to a medical examination? Will they be subjected to interrogation about the purpose of their visit to the United Kingdom? Will future British immigrants be subjected to similar treatment . by our immigration authorities?
– I shall answer the last of the honorable member’s series of questions first. It is not our intention to alter our present rules of entry for British immigrants. I hope very much that as the years unfold we shall have more British migrants rather than fewer.
Coming to the more substantive questions which the honorable member has asked, let me say that naturally this subject has been the matter of a good deal of discussion between the British Government and the Australian Government. I think that so far as ordinary visitors to Great Britain are concerned - business people and others going there for a short time, and young men and women going there as students - there will be no impediment to their entry or to their stay in the United Kingdom. The real difficulty will arise in relation to those categories of Australians who wish to go to the United Kingdom with the object of earning their living and of obtaining a job there. The British Government has been quite specific in the procedures which will have to be followed, as perhaps the honorable gentleman may realize. Information has been sent out here and leaflets have been widely distributed setting out that Australians wishing to go to the United Kingdom in search of employment within certain prescribed categories will first of all have to get permission from the United Kingdom Ministry of Labour. Once that permission has been given there will be no impediments, as I understand them, to their entry.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Has he any information to give the House concerning the reports, which appeared at the weekend, of an attack on the life of the Chief of State of the United Arab Republic, President Nasser?
– I confess that I have nothing to add. That may be a very curious expression to use because, according to the afternoon newspapers, he had been shot at and gravely wounded, in the next papers this was doubted, and subsequently there has been a denial. I can throw no extra light on the matter. I strongly suppose that he is alive and kicking and that the early reports represented a certain amount of wishful thinking on the part of somebody.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Can he say how many men will be retrenched this year by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority because of the cutting back of employment owing to climatic conditions? Is the principle of last to come first to go being applied in such retrenchments, particularly in the case of tradesmen? Is any arrangement made by any authority to see that the men who are retrenched are provided with alternative employment, or are these retrenched employees expected to live on the unemployment benefit during the winter months?
– No doubt the overall employment on the Snowy Mountains scheme will be on a very large scale as the new works in the southern sector are undertaken. As regards the precise impact of seasonal conditions, I will pass the honorable member’s question on to my colleague in another place and see that he gets an appropriate answer.
– I direct to the Prime Minister a question which relates to the forthcoming Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ conference. Has it yet been determined whether he will be accompanied by the Minister for Trade or any other senior Minister and, if so, does he believe that suitable parliamentary arrangements can be made for those Ministers?
– I appreciate the honorable member’s interest in this matter but I am not in a position, as yet, to answer any of those questions.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade. Has his attention been drawn to the importation of concentrated citrus fruit juices from California, and the objections of Australian citrus growers to these importations which are being widely publicized in the press, television and radio? Is any action contemplated by his department to restrict these importations in view of the surplus of similar juices in Australia?
– Yes, Mr. Speaker. I regret that I am not completely abreast of the situation. The honorable member for Robertson has been asking me to make some inquiries about it and I have undertaken to familiarize myself with the position and advise those honorable members who are interested at the earliest possible date.
– In addressing a question to the Minister for Trade I refer to recent trade delegations comprising prominent Australian business men seeking markets overseas. Is it a fact, as stated in some quarters, that the full and ultimate value of these delegations is lost through the desire to make immediate sales without provision for a continuity of supply of the goods marketed? If this is so, will the right honorable gentleman make investigations with a view to ensuring the continuing sale of our products?
– I have not heard of the kind of problem to which the honorable member has referred. I shall make inquiries about it, but I have to point out that the Government can do no more than set the stage and encourage those who own products to go abroad, search for markets, set up a sales organization and effect their sales. We cannot, as a Government, undertake to ensure that those who make sales will follow them up. However, it is not an uncommon experience in commerce for exporters to supply a line of goods to a market virtually to try the market out. That does not automatically imply that goods will be made available to sustain sales on that market even if the experiment is successful; but one could assume that a business organization which took the trouble to try out a market in that way would take steps to ensure continuity of supplies. I accept the importance of the point raised by the honorable member and I will concern myself with it.
– Has the Treasurer received representations from the Association of Boards of Independent Schools in Tasmania? Is he aware that the cost of educating a child at secondary school level is £255 a year for a day student and £300 a year for a boarder? In preparing the next Budget will the Government provide increased tax concessions in respect of a taxpayer’s expenditure on education in view of the fact that the allowable deduction has not been altered from £100 since 1957 and also in view of the greatly increased cost of education in independent schools and even in State-controlled schools?
– I have received requests from a number of people and organizations in the general field to which the honorable member has referred pointing out that the costs of education have been rising and urging the Government to increase the tax allowance. I remind the House that it was this Government which introduced the allowance for this purpose, as an innovation in our taxation field. The original deduction has been increased from time to time. I think it was in 1957, as the honorable gentleman said, that the last adjustment was made. This is one of the matters which periodically, at Budget time, receives the consideration of the Government. It will, of course, be considered again in the forthcoming Budget discussions.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation how many wives of totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen are in receipt of pensioner medical entitlement cards at. present. How many are not in receipt of such entitlement cards? What would be the approximate cost of introducing a uniform policy with respect to this matter?
– I am afraid I have not in my mind the details for which the honorable member asks, but I shall certainly obtain the information for him and supply it to him.
Mr. O’CONNOR__ I ask the Minister for Immigration whether he is aware of the published statements of Judge Holden, made in his court yesterday when passing sentence on an immigrant who had been found guilty of a grave criminal offence. Among other things, the judge said that the prisoner was one of 300 immigrants who had been brought from their country of origin, to New Caledonia, and, as a result of their conduct and misdemeanours in New Caledonia, their contract was cancelled and they were given the opportunity of either returning to their country of origin or of going to Australia. Is this a statement of fact?
– Not only the honorable member for Dalley, but one or two other honorable members, including the honorable member for Henty, have spoken to me about this subject; so I am glad that the honorable member for Dalley has raised it this afternoon.
I must say that, having read the newspaper report of this case, it seems that the judge was misinformed by counsel during the proceedings. He was misinformed because Australia has never recruited migrants from New Caledonia, nor have we ever received deportees from that country. But in 1954, a group of 62 Italians who had been employed in a mine some 200 miles or so north of Noumea entered Australia on transit vises on their way back to Italy. As I understand the circumstances, they were being returned to Italy on account of unemployment and local labour conditions in New Caledonia. Of that number who passed through Australia, 44 continued their journey at some time between June and November, 1954. The eighteen others asked if they could remain here, and their request was backed by the Italian Consul-General in Sydney. On 14th January, 1955, my department approved this request, subject to two conditions. The first was that these eighteen Italians met the normal immigration requirements which, I think, every honorable member will concede .was a very important and basic proviso. The second was that each of these eighteen men undertook to remain in essential work in Australia, to which they were directed, for a period of at least two years.
To the best of my knowledge, these men have abided by those conditions. Moreover, in allowing these eighteen men to remain subject to those quite stringent conditions, my department, first of all, at the end of 1954, or some time between 1954 and 1955, checked with the company in Noumea by whom these men had been employed, as to their character and their capacity to work. As a result of the good report which my department received, we allowed eighteen of them - not 300 - to stay here.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether he is aware that there has been some delay in the construction of new accommodation at the Repatriation General Hospital at Hobart. Can the Minister advise me how the work is now progressing as the new facilities are required to cope with the expanding demand for repatriation services in Tasmania?
– The honorable member for Franklin is chairman of the Government members ex-servicemen’s committee, and I should like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to him, and to thic other honorable members on this committee, for the co-operation they have always extended to me, and also for the splendid work they are doing on behalf of ex-servicemen generally. It is a fact that there was some delay in the construction work at the Repatriation General Hospital in Hobart, where extensions are being provided. However, I am pleased to say that my colleague, the Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works, was very active in overcoming the problem that arose, although it was outside the control of either of our departments. I understand now that the first phase of the new work - that is, the provision of a new hospital wing - will be completed at the end of this month. After that, the second phase, which will include a new kitchen block and an administrative block, will be commenced and will be completed, I hope, shortly afterwards.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Army. Has the Government made a decision to send Australian fighting men to South Viet Nam? If so, how many troops does it propose to send? Will the Minister give an undertaking that the House will be given an opportunity to debate the matter before such a step is taken, fraught as it may be with far-reaching consequences and commitments to Australia?
– The honorable member’s question is the first I have ever heard of such a suggestion.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Trade. As many wheatgrowers throughout Australia are very concerned for the future of their industry, I ask: What effect, if any, will the European Common Market have on sales of wheat under the provisions of the International Wheat Agreement?
– I think this is a matter that might be dealt with during the debate on a bill that is at present before the House. I would be glad to be available to discuss the matter during the committee stage.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Territories a question. In the light of Australia’s obligation to promote the political, economic, social and educational advancement of New Guinea, and in view of the fact that, except for education, films on these aspects were produced three years ago, can the Minister inform the House whether the Commonwealth Film Unit will be producing a film on educational development in the Territory of New Guinea comparable with those produced on economic, political and social development?
– We have continuous provision for the production of films, both for the information of the Australian public, to assist us in our recruiting programme, and for screening at the United Nations in support of our delegates. I would not speak explicitly on the programme that is being currently planned. I do have provision on the estimates for the production of further films. I will find out what the detailed programme is and let the honorable member know.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Are the rumours correct that there is a possibility of another Royal tour of Australia in about two years’ time? If this tour is to take place, will the Prime Minister try to arrange for Her Majesty to see some of the areas of Australia, such as Albury, that she did not see on her last visit?
– There is a definite rule, to which I have always subscribed, that any statement at any time about a Royal visit comes from the Palace. I, therefore, have nothing to say one way or the other about the rumours, which I must say I have read with great interest. Although I had not thought in particular of Albury, I can understand exactly why I should.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. In view of the grave decline in the rate of apprenticeship enrolments in recent years, will the Government consider providing incentives for an improvement in the rate by permitting an employer’s expenses in connexion with apprenticeship training and apprenticeship wages to be deducted from his liability for pay-roll tax?
– That proposal has not previously come under notice, but I shall examine it and give the honorable gentleman a reply as soon as I am able.
– Will the Minister for Trade inform the House whether any detailed economic studies have been undertaken of the effect on Australian industries of the establishment of a free trade area between Australia and New Zealand? If so, will the Minister make the information about them available to honorable members? If not, will he have those studies undertaken immediately?
– There have not been any special studies of the matter to which the honorable gentleman has referred, but there is constant consultation between the two countries and indeed, since the visit I paid to New Zealand in August, 1960, there has been an arrangement for recurring consultations at ministerial level as well as consultations at the official level. The objective has been to straighten out any tangles in trading arrangements and to see what opportunity there is to induce a greater flow of trade. For my part, I should think there is very little chance of establishing a free trade area between the two countries in the normal concept of a free trade area, but the honorable member will be interested to know that over a period there has been a progressive improvement, in New Zealand’s favour, in the ratio of trade. In 1950-51 Australia was buying from New Zealand about £3,000,000 worth of goods a year and selling goods worth about £20,000,000 to New Zealand. Each year since then the balance of trade has improved in New Zealand’s favour to a not unimportant degree as a result of efforts by Australia to that end, and last year, according to the last trading figures, we bought from New Zealand goods worth £17,500,000 and sold to New Zealand goods worth £62,000,000. So, the ratio has changed from almost seven to one to about three and one-half to one. We hope that while we will continue to sell more to New Zealand we will also continue to buy from her at an even more ascending ratio.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development supplementary to a question that was asked by the honorable member for Hume. This matter has been the subject of strong trade union representations to me. Will the Minister, as a matter of urgency, ascertain whether a strict form of seniority is being observed in retrenchments on the Snowy Mountains scheme owing to the inclemency of the weather? Will the displaced personnel have preference of employment without loss of continuity of service when the winter season is over? Is a complete, or partial, form of preference to unionists being observed, or is that principle being completely disregarded? Finally, is seniority of service taken into account in retrenchments in order to allow the Snowy Mountains authority to avoid the payment of long service leave benefits?
– As most honorable members know, the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority is a model employer. It also pays some of the highest wages paid in Australia. I would therefore assume that in all these matters it deals with its employees very fairly and equitably. As I said to another honorable member, I shall pass these questions on to my colleague in another place and see that the honorable member for Blaxland gets a detailed answer.
IMMIGRATION. Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES.- My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. Is there any hard and fast rule in the Department of Immigration that no Asian student who is at school shall be absent from Australia during the school holidays for more than a fortnight either to go home or to New Zealand? If not, why has an Asian student been refused three Weeks’ leave - the full school holidays - to visit New Zealand? Why has this student been told that if he does not come back in a fortnight his permit for re-entry to Australia will be in grave danger?
– I shall make inquiries into the case the honorable gentleman has mentioned and will give him the full particulars as soon as I can.
- Mr. Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented. In the issue of the “Sunday Mirror” of 6th May under the caption “ Inside Politics “ there appeared a number of comments by an unidentified author who signs himself “ The Whip “. Under the heading “ Two’s Company “ a paragraph in that newspaper stated -
Mr. Eddie Ward has staunchly defended Senator Amour’s right to the car the Commonwealth took away from him. Ward travelled in it often between Sydney and Canberra.
Mr. Speaker, at no time have I travelled in Senator Amour’s car between Sydney and Canberra or between Canberra and Sydney. This statement is a deliberate lie, and it is maintaining the standard that this newspaper has established since it began publication in Sydney.
Mr.- KING.- Mr. Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented. Yesterday I spoke on the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1961-62. The honorable member who followed me in the debate, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope), said - and I was not listening personally at the time - that I had stated it was the intention of the Government to subsidize the production of superphosphate by £2 a ton. What I actually said was -
I direct the attention of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to the fact that if we were to have a subsidy of £3 a ton on approximately 2,000,000 tons of superphosphate, that would not necessarily mean that we would be £6,000,000 out of pocket.
Then I went on to explain why I held that view.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to the powers, privileges and immunities of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill is to give the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory power to define its privileges, immunities and powers other than its legislative powers. It is the result of a resolution passed by the Legislative Council last year, requesting me to promote and carry in the Commonwealth Parliament legislation to establish the powers of the Legislative Council to compel the attendance of witnesses, their submission to examination, the production of documents, &c, before the council or committees of the council.
The history of the matter is that an elected member of the council brought down in 1960 a bill which purported to define the powers and privileges of the Legislative Council, its committees and members. When this bill was examined by our legal advisers the view was taken that those provisions in the bill which purported to confer powers on the Legislative Council and its committees to compel the attendance of witnesses or the production of documents went beyond the powers conferred on the Legislative Council by the Northern Territory (Administration) Act to make ordinances for the peace, order and good government of the Territory. When this view was made known to the Legislative Council those provisions were deleted. The resulting ordinance simply defined the privileges of the Legislative Council and of its committees and members. It was against this background that the Legislative Council carried the resolution to which I have referred.
The Government considers this request to be a reasonable one and, accordingly, this bill has been introduced. The powers asked for are powers commonly possessed by legislative bodies. Honorable members will be aware that, under the Constitution, this Parliament has power to declare the powers, privileges and immunities of each House and of the members and committees of each House, and the Government considers it to be appropriate to give to the Legislative Council the power which it asks for.
It was thought proper, however, in giving this power to the Legislative Council, to establish appropriate limits to the powers which it could confer on itself. These limits, as set out in the bill now before the House, are, first, that the powers, privileges and immunities so conferred shall not exceed those of the House of Commons and of its members and committees at the time of the establishment of the Commonwealth. Honorable members will recall, again, that the Constitution provides that until this Parliament otherwise declares, its own powers, privileges and immunities shall be those of the House of Commons at the time of the establishment of the Commonwealth.
The second limit on the power conferred upon the Council is that the power is made subject to the other provisions of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act.
This limit means that where this Parliament has, in that act, declared its will in relation to certain matters, the Legislative Council may not make different provisions. For example, section 4ka of the act deals with the circumstances in which a person is disqualified from membership of the council. Clearly, the Legislative Council should not be empowered to make different provisions for the disqualification of members, since this Parliament itself has already made provision to cover that matter.
That is the main substance of the bill, Sir. There is another clause which results from the fact that there is some overlapping of the power which the bill seeks to confer and the power already given to the Legislative Council under section 4t of the act, which provides that the Council may make standing rules or orders with respect to the order and conduct of its business and proceedings. According to the advice of the draftsman, it may be that, under the power proposed to be conferred by this bill, ordinances could be made in respect of matters which would come within the formula “ order and conduct of its business and proceedings “. Therefore, clause 3 of the bill seeks to limit the power to make standing rules and orders by providing that the standing rules and orders so made shall not be inconsistent with the law of the Territory. Thus, under section 4t, as proposed to be amended, the Legislative Council could not make standing rulesand orders which would be inconsistent with an ordinance which the Council itself had made under the power which clause 2 of this bill proposes to confer on the council. I am not quite sure whether that is clear to the House, but, on the advice-
– We are crossing the t’s.
– We are crossing the t’s, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition says. We are doing this in order that there shall be no defect in our own legislation.
I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 1st May (vide page 1759), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Is it the wish of the House that the four bills be discussed together?
There being no objection, that will be done.
.- Mr. Speaker, the four measures which we are now discussing relate to one of Australia’s most important and most valuable primary industries - the dairying industry. I think that, in order to discuss them adequately, I. should first recount a few historical facts. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who introduced these four bills, sits in a position similar to that which I occupied in 1947 and 1948, when a good deal was attempted, and, indeed, achieved, to improve the lot of an industry which, up to that time, may perhaps have been justly and properly described as the Cinderella of Australian primary industries. I know this industry very well, because I have been engaged in it. Indeed, I was engaged in it in the dreadful period following the depression of the years from 1929 to 1934.
– So was I.
– The Minister says that he, also, was engaged in this industry at that time. The situation of the industry then was positively shocking, Sir. Yet, most remarkably, if one looks at the statistics of the output of butter and other dairy products in Australia, one finds that the volume of production in 1935 was an alltime record, unless the situation as shown by statistics in the years immediately behind us has changed. But that record volume of production in 1935 was no true indication of the prosperity of the industry at the time. The plain fact is that unemployment in Australia had risen to a shocking level. Even in 1935, about 20 per cent, of our employable population was unemployed. The sons and daughters of dairy-farmers, irrespective of whether they were equipped by nature to become professors, doctors, lawyers, mechanics or artisans, had no alternative to remaining on the farm and continuing to milk the cows.
– And irrespective of whether they were equipped to become members of Parliament.
– I was an ex-member of a parliament then.
I actually produced milk for which I received 4id. a gallon collected at my gate for delivery to the metropolitan milk market.
– Did the honorable member really produce it himself?
– Well, the cows produced it with my assistance. That price did not give me anything like an adequate return.
As time went on, the position of the dairying industry did not improve substantially. With the outbreak of the Second World War, the Menzies Government of the day contracted to supply the major part of our output of primary products to the United Kingdom. From then on through the war and, indeed, the post-war years, right up to 1955, we enjoyed fairly remunerative contracts with the United Kingdom. They were so good that even after 1951-52 the return from them was substantially greater than the cost of production ascertained in 1947.
Under a scheme introduced in 1948, which was based on that ascertained cost of production, payments in excess of the established cost of production were paid into a stabilization fund in order to provide a nest egg out of which to make payments to the producers in times when adversity struck this country, causing the prices that we received overseas for our butter, cheese and other dairy products to fall below the ascertained cost of production. This Government has enjoyed the advantage of having distributed, or having legitimized the distribution of, the moneys available in that stabilization fund.
After the cessation of hostilities representatives of the industry made requests that the dairy farmers and their employees should never again be placed in what was equivalent to a slave position, and in about 1947 the Government appointed a committee to inquire into the cost of production of butter and cheese in Australia. In due course this committee, representative of the producers, the Treasury and the Prices Commission, presented a report to the government of the day. It had ascertained that the cost of production of a pound of butter in 1947 was about 2s. Hd. However, the committee was loaded with a majority of producers’ representatives and - I will be quite frank about this - the Commonwealth Government realized that it had a responsibility to the people of Australia if it was to guarantee a price to the producers. After some re-examination of the side-line production of the farmers that government decided that for the first year of operation of a guaranteed prices scheme to work for five years the price payable to producers should be 2s. per lb. I speak from memory when citing these figures. The representatives of the dairy farmers, the late Mr. Howey and many others, such as Mr. Gibson, expressed the opinion that this decision inaugurated for the Australian dairy farmers a new era of prosperity.
We had, of course, some problems in the early stages of the scheme. We were still legislating in Australia under war-time powers, and we were able to estimate very effectively the cost of the products at the butter factory end and at the cheese factory end. As time went on we realized that if guaranteed price schemes were to be effective, and if the guaranteed price was not to be decreased by speculation indulged in by people outside the rural industry itself, it would be necessary to have some control over prices in Australia. We then presented referendum proposals to the people but, on the advice of the Minister and his colleagues, the people rejected the proposal for price fixing powers to be given to the Commonwealth.
In about 1948 or 1949 we were faced with a recommendation from an authority that we had set up, known as the Joint Dairying Industry Advisory Committee. The committee reported that during a period of twelve months the cost of production of butter had increased by some pence per lb. We then had to approach the State govern ments, Labour and Liberal alike, and suggest to them that as we no longer had war-time powers, and consequently had no control over profiteering, it was up to the State governments to increase the price of butter so that the Commonwealth Government would not have to pay subsidies at, perhaps, too high a rate. An argument developed before the time of the 1949 election - and I want to be completely factual about this - between some of the State governments and the Commonwealth administration. Finally, because we thought we should not resolve the position conclusively until the people had spoken at the election, we made a tentative increase in the payments to producers equivalent to the recommended price increase.
In the 1949 election we suffered defeat and the present Government took office. It had some troubles with the State governments, but eventually the matter was adjusted and the found cost of production was paid to the butter and cheese producers. In the Parliaments of Australia we were indicted for not honouring our guarantees, and for doing all sorts of evil and wicked things. Now, as I have said, the wheel has turned full circle. The predecessor of the present Minister was much more vicious than the honorable gentleman who now administers the portfolio, and although we appreciate a forceful statement of a case I must say that he raved and ranted in this Parliament for years about the horrible treatment by the Labour Government of the dairy farmers of this country. However, for a period of about three years - the unexpired portion of the first five-year guarantee period - the Government made arrangements with the State governments, not without some difficulty, which involved the lifting of prices to the consumer and the payment of some subsidy. On one occasion while the argument raged with the State governments the subsidy rose to as much as ls. Id. per lb. I suppose that at that time - and even to-day - you could not find any butter and cheese consumer in Australia who could tell you exactly to what extent the price of the product he consumed was being reduced because of subsidies paid by the Commonwealth Government.
Eventually the subsidy fell to lOd. per lb., and from then until now it has oscillated from 6d. to 7d. to Sd. to lOd. and has generally fluctuated between those figures. The bounty system had become accepted as an assistance system to help this particularly valuable industry and also, and in particular, to assist the great consuming public of Australia. It is obvious that in the absence of any bounty the dairying industry itself would be entitled to increase its price exfactory door to the consumer to a level that would ensure the farmers receiving at least an adequate amount to cover the cost of production.
Time went on and the first five-year guarantee period came to an end. I remind the Parliament that the guarantee covered the total found cost of production as ascertained by the Joint Dairying Industry Advisory Committee. Then into this House came the present Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who was then Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. With a fanfare of trumpets he introduced a measure in 1952 - I have a copy of it here - to continue a guaranteed cost of production system for the dairying industry. However, instead of guaranteeing the whole of the cost of production it guaranteed an amount equal to the value of the whole of the Australian consumption plus 20 per cent, of that amount. That was the maximum amount covered by the legislation. Then, appreciating some of the difficulties with which it was confronted, the Government decided to abolish the Joint Dairying Industry Advisory Committee and to set up a new body called the Dairy Industry Investigation Committee.
Of course the significance of the change lay in the difference between the functions of the committee that the Labour Government had appointed and those of the new committee. Whereas the Labour Government’s committee had been charged with the responsibility of ascertaining and reporting on any change in cost of production from year to year the new committee, having available to it through the Bureau of Agricultural Economics the found actual cost of production, was charged with the responsibility of recommending to the Government, after it had considered the effect of any price increase to the consumer; export prices and some other factors, the amount that the Government should actually pay to the butter and cheese producers.
In effect, it set up a buffer, an excuse mechanism to justify the Government’s departing from the principle that the whole of the cost of production of the dairy farmers should be paid to them.
I have a copy of the 1952 legislation before me. The preamble to this legislation, the Dairying Industry Act 1952, contains a very interesting paragraph on page 2 -
And whereas the Governments of the States have agreed, with a view to ensuring the guaranteed return, that the maximum prices fixed, under the laws of the States relating to prices, for sales of butter or cheese otherwise than by the proprietor of a butter factory or cheese factory will be based on a price from time to time determined by the Minister of State for Commerce and Agriculture of the Commonwealth as the appropriate price for the sale, for consumption in Australia, of butter or cheese, as the case may be, by proprietors of butter factories or cheese factories and have further agreed to endeavour to have legislation passed by the Parliaments of the States to impose a legal obligation on the appropriate authorities of the States to give effect to that agreement:
There was at least a mention in the legislation of an agreement with the respective State governments to ensure stabilization of the industry and at least for the whole scheme to have some relationship to the cost of production, because the understanding between the Commonwealth and State Ministers was to continue the very essence of the guaranteed price scheme as introduced by the Labour Administration. That happened in 1952. But let us look at the price position. Despite the very hostile criticism of the basis on which the original cost formula had been founded in relation to managerial expenses and payment to workers in the industry, and despite some generous allowance which had been fixed by the then Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, if you look at the figures from 1 952 onwards you will find that increasingly there has been a reduction in the actual returns to the dairy farmers based on their found cost of production.
Let me read some of the figures. In 1952-53, the ascertained cost of production was 49.29d., but the actual return to the dairy farmer at the end of the season was 47.07d. ITe was down 2d. on the actual found cost of production. In 1953-54, the found cost of production was 49d. and the actual return 47.9d. In 1954-55, cost of production was 49.22d. and return to the farmer 46.58d. In 1955-56, cost of production was 49.27d. and return to the farmer 45.47d. In 1956-57, the last year of the five-year term, the cost of production was 49.49d. and return to the farmer 45.5 Id. In the following year, 1957-58, the cost of production was 51.13d. and return to the farmer 44.5d. So for the five years during which this Government’s plan operated the farmer’s position drifted from bad to worse. And the Opposition of the day criticized the Labour Administration. In the five years of Labour’s plan and the succeeding three years of the first Menzies Ministry, the farmer did not drop back, but the drift began in the third year of the scheme introduced by the then Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
Let me point out that in the relevant bill all reference to the previous measure, which had a preamble dealing with the intention of the legislation, was deleted. The 1957 act completely repealed the previous legislation, but there was a reference to an agreement with the States because the Minister had announced in 1957, after meetings of the Australian Agricultural Council, that he had reached agreement with the State governments that they would not interfere with the price recommended by the J.D.I.A.C.
– There is still price fixing in certain States.
– Yes. Clause 10 of the 1957 legislation is in these terms -
If at any time the Minister is satisfied that the maximum prices fixed, under the laws of a State relating to prices, for sales of butter or cheese otherwise than by the proprietor of a factory are not based on a price from time to time determined by the Minister as the appropriate price for the sale, for consumption in Australia, of butter or cheese, as the case may be, by proprietors of factories, the Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette, declare that the bounties payable under this Act are suspended.
This measure was nothing more or less than a provision for the payment of a bounty on butter and cheese at a rate not specified.
Now let us move to 1962. The present scheme expires next June so we have before us legislation to continue the plan in relation to butter and cheese for another five years. What do we find now? There is a complete abandonment of all guaranteed price systems and a complete neglect or lack of recognition of the found cost of production of butter as ascertained by the competent authority. If you look back over the past five years of the relationship between the return to the dairy farmer and the ascertained cost of production - I do not want to weary the House with figures - you will find that the farmer’s position has continued to go from bad to worse. The Minister who previously criticized the Labour Administration, and me in particular, now is walking out on the dairy farmers in their hour of greatest need.
– Will you submit a counter proposal?
– The honorable member may have his say later. I have indicated the Government’s proposal in all its naked inadequacy. There is no reference to any desire or intention of the Government to take any action by which during the next five years - the farmers’ hour of greatest need - the farmers will be assured of a price anywhere near the ascertained cost of production. Let me tell the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) who has interjected - the dairy farmers in his electorate will be interested in this - that the responsibility rests on him and on other supporters of the Government. I am merely adopting the attitude that the Minister adopted when Labour was in office, but I am not being so unfair as to criticize the legislation to the extent that he criticized Labour’s proposals.
Let us ascertain how seriously the position has drifted. In 1960-61, the found cost of production of butter - this figure was arrived at by the Government’s advisers who no doubt are competent - was 54.19d. but the J.D.I.A.C, because a rope had been put around its neck before it made a recommendation, had to consider certain factors before suggesting the price that should be charged to the public.
– This is a much more liberalized formula than operated in Labour’s day.
– Fancy talking about a liberalized formula when the found cost of production in 1960-61 was 54.19d. and the J.D.I.A.C. recommendation was 44.19d., a difference of lOd. a lb. The actual return to the farmer last year was 43. 5d. The difference between the operation of Labour’s scheme in the initial stages some ten years ago and the Government’s proposal is apparent. The Opposition of the day was most vigorous in its criticism, and all honorable members know that criticism is always healthy. Under Labour’s administration, in the first year of the scheme’s operation the most that the farmers were down was Hd. a lb. To-day they are down lOd. a lb. on the required price and lid. a lb. in fact. No wonder the dairying industry is perturbed! No wonder this Government panicked before the last election - a good measure of time before, it is true. Seeing itself in serious difficulty with this industry the Government appointed a Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry with Mr. McCarthy - probably one of Australia’s most efficient investigators - as chairman. The committee brought down a magnificent report, as far as the compilation of facts and figures is concerned. But then the Ministry, having received an adverse and politically dangerous set of recommendations from the committee, ran away.
We made no bones whatever about our attitude. Immediately the committee’s report was issued, my colleague, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), condemned the recommendations in no uncertain terms. The committee’s recommendations then lay dormant. When introducing this bill, the Minister simply said that it provides that the Government shall pay a bounty to the dairy industry for the period of the next five years. No figure is specified in the legislation. I do not criticize the Minister for that.
– The figure is given in my second-reading speech.
– That is so. I want to be quite fair. Other bills of similar nature have not contained a fixed amount. But this bounty bill - it is nothing more nor less - provides for the appropriation of a sum of money to be paid, per medium of a bounty, to the industry. The Minister has informed Parliament that the bounty will not be less than £13,500,000 in each of the next five years. That is a nice sum of money. Whatever happens to the industry as the result of the Common Market or anything else, and irrespective of the cost of production figure, the bill enables the Minister to determine an interim price. The interim price is not stated in figures or in a formula which would permit variations from time to time. Of course the price can be varied. All the Minister announced was that for the 1962-63 season, now approaching, there would be an interim price. Would you call it a guaranteed price to the industry?
– It is an underwriting.
– It is the equivalent of a guaranteed price. That is to say that if the realizations from exports and local consumption do not reach a certain figure the Government is undertaking to see that the industry will get that return. And what is that return? It is 40d. per lb.! The Minister and his party criticized a Labour administration because it was lid. light on the found cost-of-production figure, notwithstanding the fact that the industry at that time was delighted with the bill.
This legislation does not specify the 40d. The figure is 40d. this year and it might be 30d. next year. I remind the House that 40d. per lb. is 3d. under the actual realization this year and 14.19d. per lb. less than the ascertained cost of production for next year. Yet the Government has the effrontery to describe these measures as stabilizing legislation for the Australian dairying industry! There is no stabilization about it. There is no reference in the Minister’s second-reading speech or in the measure to any negotiations or to any hopes for the industry. The Minister told us that the Ministry had determined that, in future, the industry itself would decide the price ex factory door, and that is the price which will be charged to the public.
The Government claims that these measures are the outcome of satisfactory negotiations with the respective State governments. At least this Parliament is entitled to know the exact type of negotiations that took place in the Australian Agricultural Council between the respective State Ministers for Agriculture. We are entitled to know exactly what was agreed on and whether everybody was satisfied. The Government should demonstrate to this House that the measure will be of benefit to the industry. Dairying costs have sky-rocketed from 2s. per lb. in 1947 to 54.19d. per lb. to-day. It is fantastic. There could be no better example of inflation or of the problem that confronts us in relation to Britain’s proposed entry into the Common Market.
As an escape from this situation many so-called wise people and perhaps many earnest people have interpreted the recommendations of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry as being mainly concentrated on the efficiency, or rather lack of efficiency, of the Australian dairy industry. Certainly no committee of inquiry could examine and report on any industry unless it examined - as the Tariff Board invariably does - its efficiency. People who do not understand the Australian dairy industry - they include some members of this Parliament and perhaps even the Minister himself - are impressed by the committee’s report and have taken the attitude that this industry’s troubles are due to its inefficiency. But are they? I am prepared to take any member of this Parliament into any representative engineering shop or factory in any secondary industry, and to demonstrate that even in industries that are protected by a tariff there is a greater degree of inefficiency than that which it is alleged occurs in the dairying industry of Australia.
There is a proposal to transfer out of the dairy industry a number of farmers who milk fewer than a specified number of cows. With all due respect to Mr. McCarthy and the other learned members of his committee, I say that any dairy herd producing less than 8,000 lb. of butter fat per annum-
– That is the potential.
– Yes. It is suggested that such dairy farmers could be compensated and put out of the industry; that if this were done the butter bounty would gradually disappear and the funds could be used to help these people out. Has this Government or this Parliament ever taken into consideration for a moment that there is a considerable number of people in his industry who do not necessarily depend entirely on their income from milking cows? A farmer may run a herd of twenty cows which, as the sole source of income, would be inadequate, because at least 40 are necessary. But frequently such people engage in other farming activities, such as raising pigs or poultry. Some of them may provide a transport service to the community by taking cattle, sheep and other livestock to the market. The dairying activity of these people does not adversely affect the cost of production findings any more than does the activity of the farmers who operate at a very low cost of production. The cost finding authorities lop off the very low cost producers who are the most efficient- perhaps being assisted by great capital accumulation - and they lop off the chap with perhaps twenty cows, as well as some of the inefficient producers. The cost of production is ascertained from people who are reasonably efficient and so’ in reality the man with the small herd does not affect the situation at all. He is hardly considered in the compilation of the figures.
The report of the committee of inquiry into the dairying industry has some valuable recommendations. What I am concerned with, and what the industry is concerned with, is the inadequacy of this particular proposal. In effect, a scheme which could give the dairy industry of Australia the greatest security that it has ever enjoyed has been completely dumped. I suppose that the Government is panicking a bit because it is already paying a bounty of £13,500,000. There is a suggestion that production by the industry tends to rise too rapidly. Dairy industry statistics show that production has varied from about 160,000 tons per annum to, on one or two occasions, 200,000 tons per annum. We are consuming between 50,000 and 60,000 tons per annum in Australia. All the time, there is a drift - which ought to be encouraged - into processed milks.
In addition, an outlet is being sought in new sorts of dairy products. I applaud the committee’s suggestion that that outlet should be explored. I think that there is an element of truth in the fear on the part of the industry that if prices rise too high there will be a diminution in the quantity of butter consumed. The Minister for Primary Industry has denied that that factor has been responsible for the drift that has taken place from butter and cheese manufacture to the manufacture of other products. He is right to some extent; but it is also true that the population of this country is very rapidly increasing. If the Australian
Dairy Produce Board continues along the lines that it has initiated in its advertising and propaganda and in its scientific and other types of work, and if the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the State departments of agriculture get to work, then on two scores this country may find within ten years that there will be an acute shortage of butter and cheese for consumption by our own population. That could happen if production did not increase and if the number of people engaged in the industry did not rise.
I am not appalled in any way by the present situation. It may grow worse, temporarily, under the European Common Market proposals if they are agreed to. But, from time to time, there have been suggestions that restrictions should be placed on production in an existent industry. I think there is a case, sometimes, for governments to advise people not to rush into an industry which is not in a very good export position. This may be so in the case of canned fruits or dried fruits. But I think that history proves, particularly in relation to wheat, that whenever an industry appears to be in a depressed condition something turns up. 1 read a comment many years ago by the Broomhall organization, the great English wheat experts, on world wheat surpluses which seemed to present a desperate state of affairs. It was stated that, over a period of ten years, world wheat supplies tended to equate demand. Two years ago it looked as though we might be overwhelmed by mountains of wheat in Australia, but a drought in red China resulted in almost our entire surplus disappearing overnight. Italy, which was an exporter of wheat some years ago, this year imported substantial quantities of Australian wheat. What applies to sales of wheat has applied to the dairy industry over the years and will apply to it again. In 1957 and 1958, when there was a drought in. Australia, the Commonwealth was on ihe verge of importing butter from New Zealand. Some precipitate exports of butter pom Australia might have been a factor in that situation. So no government should get the idea that the dairy industry is going to be a liability either to the government or the people of Australia.
– I have not suggested that.
– I am not saying that you have, but some people are actuated by that viewpoint. This position will clarify itself. New export markets will be found. Japan is showing a taste for butter. The Chinese may do the same. I do not know. The standard of living to the north of this country is improving. There may be a much better future for this industry than a lot of people think. No government, least of all this Government, has any justification for doing what the Government is doing now.
The relevant figures demonstrate very clearly the value of the old concept of a price guaranteed either by the States or, if they will not agree to do it, by the Commonweath. The Ministry of which I was a member was not immune to difficulties in dealing with State governments in regard to the question of prices and subsidies. But the people responsible for making the position most difficult between the State governments, who controlled the production of factories, and the Commonwealth Government in relation to schemes for great primary industries were the people who are now in this Government. This was so, first, in relation to price fixation. Secondly, the present Government appointed a committee to inquire into the Constitution. With one minor reservation every one of the Government’s six representatives on that committee recommended strongly that the Constitution be amended to give the Commonwealth marketing powers. What did the Government do? Nothing! It is dead from the feet up. The committee was an all-party committee for the purpose of getting all parties together on the problem. The Labour Party co-operated wholeheartedly. All Labour representatives on the committee recommended the granting of power to the Commonwealth, concurrent with the States, over the organized marketing of primary products.
– Labour governments would not increase the prices in the States.
– That is right. They had a responsibility to the consumers, but the responsibility for destroying price fixation rests fairly and squarely on this Government. The Government must also accept responsibility for denying to this Parliament, which is more concerned with exports than the State parliaments are, the constitutional powers which were recommended by the committee to which I have referred.
– I do not want price fixation.
– No. But you like price guarantees for your wheat. You like price stabilization- for your sugar, and you like price fixation for your sugar products in Queensland. It is no good trying to put that babble over on me. Your Government introduced legislation to-day - and the Labour Party supported it - for the renewal of the agreement between the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government. In order to do what? In order to fix prices for the consumers of Australia. What is the good of babbling that nonsense to me and saying that you do not want price fixation.
Let us look at the constitution of the dairy industry. In the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry is a comment in regard to the precarious position of the industry in relation to the existing organized scheme which the industry itself has built up.
I have dealt extensively with the position regarding the first bill before the House. As we are taking the two bills together, let me examine the second. This is to provide a bounty for another section of the industry - the processed milk section, which is growing and which I hope will grow further. I do no know how much more time I have in which to speak.
– You have one and a half minutes.
– I have one and a half minutes to go and I still have three measures with which to deal. All that I shall say is that the Labour Opposition supports this bill. We cannot have a situation in which, due to low export prices for processed milk, such as condensed milk, certain factories which take large quantities of milk for processing may have to close and butter and cheese factories may have to produce for export at a losing price. I have very strong reservations about this bill, and I would not support it if it were not for the fact that some co-operative organizations are involved, because one of the major beneficiaries will be the Nestle Company (Australia) Limited, an international company established in this country. It was established first in either Holland or Switzerland and it has subsidiary companies all over the world. In the postwar period, when the export market for processed milk products was very good that company would not play ball; it would not join in with the butter and cheese industries. Oh, no! It wanted all the cake Now, when its position is bad and when the other industries are to obtain subsidies, it wants its cut. We support all four measures before the Parliament.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- At the outset, I thank the Minister for this group of four bills relating to the dairying industry. I think it is a complete answer to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) to point out that what the Menzies Government is doing by these four bills is giving the industry everything for which it asked. In other words, they represent 100 per cent, agreement to the industry’s requests. I am sorry that, in the charming yarn that he had with us, the honorable member for Lalor was inclined to have little digs at our policy. It was most unfair of him, but I think it is sufficient to say that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) should be proud of the fact that the leaders of the industry in Australia - and some of them are very distinguished men - are delighted with what is being done at this very anxious time. I think Government supporters as a whole, too, are pleased with this solution of the problems confronting the industry. As chairman of the Government members’ food and agriculture committee, I want to tell the Minister that the committee is” unanimously behind him in what he has done. It is interesting to note, too, that despite all that he has said, the honorable member for Lalor agrees with what is being done. If I might say so, the policy he espoused during the election campaign was that the Labour Party would give a subsidy of £13,500,000.
– Guarantee it.
– We said, “ At least “.
– One Opposition member says, “Guarantee it”, and another says, “ At least “. Let us get this clearly in print in “ Hansard “ so that it will not be distorted.
– What are you reading from?
– From the Labour Party’s policy just before the 1961 elections. It reads -
A Labour Government will . . . extend the plan . . . and apply subsidy at not less than £l3i million subject only to any reduction made practicable by any export price increases.
But what happens? The price increased from 247s. to the present 286s. and that must mean that under Labour’s policy the subsidy would be reduced. Therefore, there is no guarantee, and the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) can tell the people of Grafton that the guarantee goes under the proviso which the Labour Party has included in its policy. The industry is pleased with what we are doing, and when it is pleased, that really means something because this is a solid, stable industry. Again, the six States are involved here. With all their knowledge, and with all their experience - and they have a tremendous amount of experience - the leaders of the industry have asked for these things, and it is to the credit of the Minister and the Menzies Government that the industry’s requests have been granted in toto. 1 shall deal with the new departures shortly.
The honorable member for Lalor said something about what the Labour Party had done. Let us examine some of the things that party has done. During the immediate post-war years, we had price fixing in Australia. A gentleman named Professor Copland was Commissioner of Prices. The dairy industry went to Professor Copland with a well-founded request for a price rise. I think that took place on 1st September, 1945. The war had just ended. An increase in price was not granted and it will be remembered that the commissioner said, “ With the men coming back from the front there will be plenty of labour, and you will have good seasons “. Let me quote what happened to prices while the Labour Government was in office. In 1939, the price of butter in Sydney was ls. 7d. per lb. By 1945, at the end of the war, it had gone up by Id. to ls. 8d. per lb. The Labour Government actually gave the industry an increase of one penny in eight years. But let me point out what happened to margarine. During that same period, the price of margarine went up by 3d. per lb. and, in a few short years, it doubled while the dairying industry had to struggle along with an increase of only Id. per lb. from ~1945 to 1947.
In 1947, the industry again went to Mr. Chifley’s Commissioner of Prices and said, in effect, “ You told us we were going to have plenty of labour, plenty of wire netting and plenty of fertilizer and that we were going to have good seasons. But it did not turn out that way. We have had two of the worst years in history, and we are asking for a rise now.” This industry, which is now being granted everything for which it asked, applied at that time for an increase based on what the commissioner had said. His reply was, “ No, I will not give you a price rise”. The honorable member for Lalor traced a little of the industry’s history, and perhaps I may be permitted to tell a little of what happened in connexion with prices. When the industry made that application in 1947, the commissioner said, “ I will not give you a price rise because all your representations are based on two bad seasons “. On the earlier occasion, he would1 not grant a rise. He said to the industry, “ You are going to have two good seasons, so I could not give you a price rise “. When the industry went to him in 1947, two years later, and said, “ We would like a price rise now. Here is the actual cost of production about which we have heard so much “, he said, “ No, I cannot give you a price rise because your representations are based on false premises; they are based on two dry years “. Incalculable damage was done to the dairy industry by that decision because on that occasion the industry had a great opportunity to capitalize itself, to install some new machinery and to do something to make up for the tremendous wastage that had taken place.
I remind honorable members that this industry is a patriotic one, that there were an enormous number of enlistments from it. During the war, men were away, it was impossible to get machinery, wire netting or other materials, and the industry was dealt a terrible blow. I do not think the industry will forget what the Labour Party did to it between 1945 and 1949. It is of no use whatever coming here with complicated figures about costs of production and realizations, which are dependent upon export returns. That will not do the Labour Party any good at all. With the introduction of these bills, the industry realizes who its real friends are. Once again I compliment the Minister for Primary Industry. I tell him that I, personally, am delighted, that the Government members committee is delighted, and that the dairying industry is very pleased indeed, because dairy products will be among those which will be confronted with extreme difficulties in the next five years. Indeed, these difficulties will be so great that the Common Market countries themselves would not be able to resolve them. Perhaps I shall be permitted to deal with that aspect in a moment.
We hear much in this House about the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, and I should like to deal with it for a moment. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) was moved to have a crack at this report. It will be remembered that the industry was greatly alarmed and voicing all sorts of fears because of what the report contained. It will be remembered, too, that I said that I did not think the recommendations would be implemented. I should like here to express what I think are some of the views held by the industry after having the opportunity to peruse the report. The industry believes that the report contains nothing that it had not been abundantly aware of for many years; and its attitude to the subsidy was very emphatically declared at the time of its introduction in the early 1940’s. At that stage, the member for Cowper, the Right Honorable Sir Earle Page, induced the Cabinet to start subsidies. The dairy industry said, “ It will be a terrible day when we must rely on a political football, as this subsidy will be “.
The leaders of the industry did not want the subsidy. It had to be sold to them and would not have been sold to them if it had not been for the shock of the Japanese war and all that happened in the north. The industry agreed to the subsidy. It was then a small subsidy of about £2,000,000. It has grown to such an extent and has so entrenched in the industry’s costs and capitalization that a dreadful situation would be created if it were taken away in ordinary times. The situation would become much worse if it were removed when the impact of the European Common Market were being felt. It would be utter madness to remove it. That is one of the recommendations in the report, and I want to make that quite clear.
Many people talk about this industry. There are quacks and crack-pots; there are cranks, economists and political philosophers. All of them read something and then make a decision. I shall deal with some of them in a moment. Their opinions should not be set against the opinions of the leaders of the industry, who are skilled and experienced, who have been through the mill, and who know the personalities and the traps involved. These crack-pots and economists are dangerous. Let me deal with the economists in this way: If they had been with Captain Phillip when he came to Australia, he would have sailed away after a week here and left it all for La Perouse. There is not a doubt about that. They would have said that this country would not pay.
There is no real appreciation or recognition in the report of the many problems associated with the difficult adjustment process demanded of the industry by the current changing economic circumstances, industrial expansion and mechanization and the changing patterns of world trade and dietary habits, all of which complicate the process. The adjustment is taking place and I would like to deal with it when I have an opportunity to do so. The rate of adjustment is, however, conditioned by the many social, economic and political factors which apply throughout the whole economy as well as in the dairy industry. Let us look at the relationship of the industry to the economy. The industry is an integral part of the economy and is one of our basic industries. About 250,000 people get their bread and butter from it; 112,000 people are employed in the industry and about 11,000 in the factories. These people earn more than £200,000,000 a year. They keep the milking machine factories and the tractor factories working, and they put money into the pay packets of those who support honorable members opposite. If you strike a blow at the dairy industry, the whole economy will crumble, and will do so quickly. You interfere with the dairy industry at your peril. The quacks who are critical of the fat value of dairy products are interfering with the normal diet of the community and are also interfering with their own pay packets.
Adjustment is necessary not only in production but also in manufacturing, marketing and distribution, and it is the complete integration and co-ordination of these adjustment processes which at present concern the leaders of the dairy industry. They have made it quite clear that the report of the committee fails to give any balanced overall lead to them in this complicated and difficult task. The Dairy Produce Board is giving a practical demonstration of an industry seeking to solve its own destiny in terms of the research and promotion programmes which are being undertaken within the limits of the resources available to the board at present.
I am proud to say - and I crave the indulgence of the House to say it - that research is being carried out in my own electorate at Badgery’s Creek and Camden. The Dairy Research Foundation, which has raised £80,000 from the industry in three years, is doing work that is just as spectacular in providing food for the people as research in other fields is. 1 suppose for a moment we can talk in this place about the ordinary business of living instead of speaking about sputniks, fall-out and nuclear bombs. In the ordinary business of living, the improvement in techniques - that is, the increase of efficiency - in the industry is just as spectacular and just as remarkable as is anything we have seen in physics. I refer to the work of Mr. Geddes, who is lowering the costs of production through irrigation and providing all-the-year-round food for cattle, and the work of Dr. Whittlestone, who is an expert carrying out research into milking machine techniques. The improvements that are taking place are remarkable.
– Is this happening in your electorate?
– Yes, and I invite honorable members who are interested to come and see this work. It is of a very high order indeed.
I should like to deal now with promotion. Promotion is being paid for solely by the industry from the levies that are provided in the bill. We hear nothing of this from the Australian Labour Party. The charming gentleman who spoke referred only to the past. Let us speak about the future for a moment, because this is important. The Dairy Produce Board is itself carrying out work with Asian experts so that its processed milk products will find a ready market in Asia without offending the religious susceptibilities which are so tremendously important there. I have a picture in my mind of impoverished Indians, clad probably in rags, shuffling up to a milk bar to pay for reconstituted milk in the same way as people in Sydney pay for a malted milk - and that is a good price. The value of the protein in reconstituted milk is highly prized by Asians, and there is a magnificent market there.
– They would pay a month’s wages for it.
– That is so. We have seen Indians shuffling up in their rags to a so-called milk bar for reconstituted milk. Under this bill, in a new departure, a bounty will be paid to the suppliers of processed milk. Milk will be available from our dairy industry for the vast market in Asia, particularly in India, where the sacred cow is paramount.
The dairy industry, of course, has a surplus. Some people do not have a surplus. I think we know about Communist China, where people are starving to death. The Australian dairy industry has a surplus and this is a compliment to its efficiency. It can produce enough for the people of Australia, although their dietary habits are changing, and still have an enormous surplus to send overseas. It sent 80,000 tons of products overseas, but this has now been cut to 66,000 tons by the quota imposed in Great Britain. The dairy industry is capable of developing a market in Asia and of feeding some of the people there, so giving them a chance to find a place in the sun.
The Dairy Produce Board has demonstrated its ability to give a lead to the industry in its national advertising programme, which has itself drawn much favorable attention to the industry’s products and the contribution they make to the national economy and national diet. Objective surveys have already given some of the board’s advertising the highest rating ever recorded in Australia for colour press advertisements. A more practical demonstration of the effectiveness of the board’s advertising lies in the fact that butter’s share of the total fat market throughout Australia is to-day greater than it was twelve months ago. I would like some of the quacks and some of the anonymous medical experts to put that in their pipes and smoke it. It is a fact that there is a wholesome diet available in the electorates of honorable members. Here again, the Australian Labour Party failed. It went to the election in 1949 when butter rationing was in force. Who did it hit? Not the people who could go to a cafe, but Labour’s own supporters. They were the mine workers and the steel workers, the men - and their children too - who had to have their lunches cut. So the A.L.P. went to the election with a deplorable plan for butter rationing. After the defeat of the Labour Government butter rationing was taken off immediately.
– You are a humbug.
– I am glad that the honorable member for Lalor is heated. He should be ashamed of that sort of exhibition. The board has a guaranteed programme involving all State departments as well as other research groups like the universities and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. This research includes problems on the dairy farm, in the factories and in marketing distribution. The board has taken the initiative in the complete integration of all research into dairy manufacturing problems in Australia with the full support and approval of all the research groups in Australia interested in this type of approach.
We are under attack because of the subsidies. The Labour Party promised one, but put in the proviso which meant that it could not carry out the proposal. I have a list of the subsidies provided in other parts of the world. These have been discussed in the course of negotiations on the European Common Market, and what is going on in every other country is fantastic. Of course, the point at issue - whether there should be a subsidy or not - is answered by the fact that the subsidy in Australia is easily the lowest paid in any country of any significance.
In the United Kingdom the dairy industry gets assistance totalling £160,000,000 a year in Australian currency, or more than £3 a head of population. The subsidy in New Zealand is enormous, and it is paid from the industry fund. In the United States of America government outlay for price support operations in 1962 is estimated at 523,000,000 dollars or, in Australian currency, £234,500,000, which is equivalent to about £1 10s. a head of population, in addition to other assistance in the form of fertilizer subsidies and so on. The total subsidy in New Zealand on butter, milk and eggs last year amounted to £13,450,000 in Australian currency.
In the countries of the European Economic Community prices are fixed by the respective governments. The funds are provided in France by Interlait and by F.O.R.M.A., which are government agencies covering dairy produce markets. Their funds in 1961 were estimated at 500,000,000 new francs, or £46,000,000 Australian1. The price of butter there is 50 per cent, higher than it is in Australia. That applies also in West Germany, where the total agricultural aid for 1961 was 1,600,000,000 deutsche marks, or £181,800,000 Australian. So it goes on. We find enormous subsidies and enormous prices in those countries which are interested in preserving the most basic industry of the whole economy - the dairy industry. The people engaged in the dairy industry are the people without whom we can do nothing.
Another attack is being made on the dairy industry on the question of diet. I should like to quote from some world authorities. I call to mind Dr. Paul Dudley White, who came to Australia to talk about heart diseases. I also recall the statements of Dr. Petherbridge, who unfortunately has passed away. He was a noted pediatrician who dedicated his life to the health and welfare of children. His main theme was that high quality dairy products were the most important factor in child welfare. Dr. Petherbridge was associated with Dr. Truby
King, the Karitane movement and the child welfare movement in New South Wales, which is equal to anything in the world of its kind.
The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) introduced the Child Welfare Bill in the New South Wales Parliament in my presence, and I am proud of the fact. Dr. Petherbridge read a letter that he had written to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, but which was not published for reasons of which honorable members are probably aware. In that letter he said -
Down through the Ages, Nature has developed a food called milk, for all mammalian young, including the young of human beings.
Milk, this ideal, easily assimilated, fluid food contains three chief food elements that have overlapping functions. The proteins (the curd of the milk) are mainly for the building and repair of body tissues. The carbohydrates (the milk sugar) mainly for supplying energy. The fats (cream or milk fat) mainly for providing body warmth.
But milk fat, or butter, has many other important uses. Butter is attractive to the taste, is often craved for, and is satisfying to the appetite.
That applies particularly to those anonymous medical men who attack it. We had a test at Camden the other day. We held a dinner and invited to it university men who were attacking butter. We put high bowls of cream in front of them and we have never seen cream disappear so fast. This attack on dairy products is only a line they are peddling, and of course it is quackery and charlatanism of the worst type. Dr. Petherbridge’s letter continued -
Having been designed by Nature for a food, the chemical nature of butter-fat makes it very like the fat of human milk, that also was developed by Nature as a food for the human young.
Dr. Petherbridge made the point that when people try to alter the normal diet of a vigorous country like Australia they might, be doing irreparable damage. I believe they are doing that, because milk, butter, cheese and the other products of the dairy Industry are important in diet. It has been said that there is a relationship between heart disease and butter fat. That has often been said in this House. In New Zealand, the consumption of dairy products has been going up by leaps and bounds since the Second World War. Consumption of whole milk has risen from 220 pints to 328 pints in 1959-60 and consumption of butter nas risen from 42.8 lb. a head to 43.3 lb. - the highest rate in the world. Consumption of all types of dairy products has risen, but despite this enormous consumption of dairy products the incidence of heart disease in New Zealand is going down. One might as well say to a man, “ You are drinking too much whisky and soda and will have to cut down “ and he might reply, “ All right, I will cut out the soda “.
One professor, instead of taking out figures on the relationship between heart disease and butter, concentrated on the relationship between heart disease and income tax and found that heart disease went up with the taxes. In other words, there is a closer relationship between heart disease and income tax than there is between heart disease and butter. The fact is that heart disease is the result of tension, too little exercise, too much overindulgence, good living and prosperity. The United States of America has the highest incidence of heart disease in the world, far higher than any other country.
What are the facts about fat intake there? It is the lowest in the world, amounting to a little over 8 lb. of butter and 9 lb. of margarine a head. We have in Australia an Australian Newspaper Council. This council is reported to have banned advertisements dealing with heart disease. In other words, those advertisements are improper and create a scare arising from a theory that is not proven and does damage to our diet. We should encourage use of the dietary foods that we have, and should also appreciate and understand that changes in diet are coming about. If there is a change in the nature of work, and people are sitting down all day, there is a change in diet. Men who are working with a pick and shovel need rich food, and they will demand and get rich food even if somebody tries to ration butter. The industry itself, knowing what it has to face and understanding the changes that might have to be made, is grateful that the Government has come to. the party as it has done. In return, the industry is determined, by its own efforts and assisted by the Government, to increase its efficiency. It is doing this particularly with the aid of the animal husbandry section of the University of Sydney. I am not going to admit that the industry is inefficient, because, knowing the wide range of conditions from Atherton to Albany, one knows there are all sorts of variations. In some places dairymen have additional ways of earning a living. In the long run this industry will be one of which Australia will be proud, and it will make a big contribution to the Australian economy.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, after hearing the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) holding forth about the dairying industry, one could not be blamed for being under the impression that the Messiah of the dairying industry had spoken and that henceforth the industry would have no more troubles. After listening to the honorable member, one would have thought that we were now in the promised land. We can imagine him in a sylvan setting, sporting a pair of wings and a little flute, trotting about in a fig leaf and trying to play a sylvan symphony. The real situation, after twelve years of administration by this Government, is very different from the situation depicted by the honorable member.
The fact is, Sir, that the difficulties of the dairying industry have not been surmounted. If we heeded what the honorable member said, we would be under the impression that all the difficulties of the industry had been surmounted and that the pinnacle of success had been achieved. If this were so, what reason could the Government have for introducing these four bills? These four measures are introduced precisely for the reason that the dairying industry faces difficulties to-day. I am very much interested in these difficulties. If the industry really is confronted by no difficulties, as the honorable member for Macarthur and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) would have us believe, an analysis of the statistics relating to the industry in this country and in other parts of the world apparently conveys a misconception, because those statistics do not show the industry in this country in a very satisfactory light. Indeed, they seem to me to indicate that this Government possibly has not made so wholehearted an effort as it should have made to develop the dairying industry in this country and put it on a prosperous basis which will enable the farmers to persevere.
Let as have a look at the opening gambit in the dissertation that the Minister delivered to us in his second-reading speech on the Dairying Industry Bill 1962. He began -
Since the Menzies Government came into office over twelve years ago, the Australian dairy industry has experienced a considerable degree of security and prosperity which can be attributed in no small measure to the successive stabilization plans administered by the Government.
He patted the Government and himself on the back because of this. If there is so much security in the industry and the dairy farmers have so much confidence in it under this Government’s administration, perhaps the Minister can explain why more than 1,100 farmers have left the industry in Queensland alone in the last twelve years.
The Minister, in the preamble to his speech, continued -
There is no question as to the marked progress the industry has made in the past decade. For example, butter production has increased in the meantime by over 15 per cent., while the total annual income of the industry has almost doubled.
Superficially, these are very impressive statements. But, if we analyse the situation, we find that the facts are not so impressive.
There should be some relationship between the increase in the production of the dairying industry and the increase in Australia’s population. The Minister pointed out that butter production has increased by more than 15 per cent, in the last twelve years. What he neglected to say was that Australia’s population has risen from 7,000,000 to 10,500,000 in the same period - an increase of 50 per cent. The Minister pointed out that the total annual income of the dairying industry has nearly doubled over the last twelve years, but he neglected to mention that the cost of living has doubled over the same period.
If we look at the figures for farm income, the situation is very clearly exposed. The statistics reveal an increase in farm income, but the purchasing power of the farmers’ incomes has deteriorated. In 1949, farm income totalled £426,000,000. Last year, it totalled £467,000,000, an increase of a mere £41,000,000. If the figure for last year is reduced to 1949 values, £53 being worth in real terms as much in 1949 as £100 is worth to-day, we find that farm income last year was worth only £425,000,000 at 1949 values. On the other hand, if farm income for 1949 is adjusted to the values of last year, we find that the income of 1949 was worth £911,000,000 at last year’s values, which is a great deal more than the actual farm income of £467,000,000 for last year.
This is the sort of situation that the present Government has produced. The fact of the matter is, Sir, that the dairying industry is confronted with very serious problems. If they can be overcome, we may be able to put the industry in a position in which it will no longer need the butter bounty. Make no mistake about it: I do not criticize the payment of that bounty at the present time. It is necessary. The dairy farmers themselves agree that it is necessary. Honorable gentlemen opposite who are interested in rural affairs will admit, if they are completely honest and completely sincere, that the dairy farmers would prefer to be in a position in which they would no longer find it necessary to accept this charity - this hand-out - from the Government. They would like to be self-supporting.
Incidentally, the Government’s proposal to pay bounty totalling £13,500,000 a year for five years is a direct negation of the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, in which the Government was rather interested until the general election had taken place. No doubt, the farmers have breathed a sigh of relief on realizing that the election had achieved many things in addition to giving the Australian Labour Party an increased number of representatives in this House. The election forced the Government to alter its outlook on the dairying industry and to undertake to pay bounty totalling £13,500,000 a year for the next five years. I seriously submit to the House that the amount of bounty proposed shows the Government’s lack of appreciation of what may very well happen in the foreseeable future. There may arise a situation in which the Government will have to reconsider the amount which it proposes to appropriate for the dairy bounty. If the Government does not adopt a flexible policy and allow a certain amount of tolerance to permit either upward or downward movements, and particularly upward movements in the level of bounty, it may place the dairying industry in a position in which it will have problems much more serious than are those with which it is confronted now.
One of the most serious problems that the industry faces to-day concerns the home market. The Minister said - the downward consumption trend has been due principally to a change in dietary habits and has not been caused by the butter price being too high.
This is not correct. I am prepared to debate this matter with the Minister. The people engaged in the dairying industry have said that they believe that if they could bring down the price of butter on the home market they would be in a far more prosperous position and the industry would be far more stable, because the home market represents the best outlet for the sale of their product.
The decline in butter consumption is not due to a change in the people’s preferences or dietary habits. The fact is that many people are using margarine because it is so much cheaper than butter is. If the Minister does not believe that the preference for margarine is increasing, I shall cite him some figures. In 1938-39, butter consumption was 32.9 lb. a head of the population. In 1961-62, consumption had come down to 26 lb. a head - a decrease of about 19 per cent. On the other hand, the consumption of margarine, which had been 4.9 lb. a head in 1938-39, increased to 9.2 lb. a head in 1961-62 - an increase of about 88 per cent. The fact is that competition by margarine has forced the dairying industry into its present predicament.
Earlier, we heard the honorable member for Macarthur making wild claims to the effect that only a slight increase in the price of butter had been allowed but a large increase in the price of margarine had been permitted. I suggest that if the price of margarine were even higher, butter would be in a better competitive position. However, the best solution to the problem would be to bring down the price of butter. At present, the price of 1 lb. of butter represents 4.28 per cent, of the weekly basic wage. In 1936, it represented 6.64 per cent. In terms of purchasing power, then, the proportion of the weekly basic wage represented by the cost of 1 lb. of butter is 2.36 per cent. less. Why is this?
This brings us to a problem discussed earlier this afternoon by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). The Government saw fit to abolish the system of prices control, and that development is the crux of the problem which confronts the dairying industry and other primary industries to-day. The abandonment of prices control has made it impossible for producers to keep their costs of production down. Those costs have got beyond their control. Primary producers are forced to pay exorbitant prices for various implements that they have to use in the dairying industry, and if honorable members opposite were sincere in their expressed concern for the primary producers this is a matter that they would take up. Why do they not do something to. prevent the exploitation of the primary producer, who has to pay £10 or £15 more for certain components of implements, when purchasing them separately, as spare parts, than he would if he bought them as parts of whole units? Take a milking machine as an example. A pump for such a machine costs £43 when it is part of a whole unit, but £53 when it is purchased’ as a separate spare part.
Consider also the quality of the materials being foisted on primary producers. Corrugated galvanized iron is a case in point. A producer is lucky if he gets ten years of life out of the galvanized iron that is offered for sale to-day. There is no durability in materials now on sale, particularly when one considers the quality of the materials turned out twelve or fifteen or more years ago. Materials of the cheapest possible quality are foisted on countrymen to-day at prices which will bring the highest profits. Barbed wire is another example of the poor quality material now being offered for sale. It has about four barbs to a chain and it is of very poor quality. It is quite ineffective for keeping animals away from the fence, and it rusts in a very short time.
– That shows how much you know about the subject - four barbs to the chain!
– Well, it was a slight exaggeration. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) has probably never heard of hyperbole, which is a figure of speech. In any case I am pleased to have been able to rouse him from his rustic slumber in the corner.
If one accepted the views expressed by the honorable member for Macarthur, one would gain the impression that this Government had performed wonders in improving our export markets. But when one analyses the relevant figures one gains a somewhat different impression. In actual fact this country has lost ground in the United Kingdom market during the last twenty years. In 1938 Australian exports of butter to the United Kingdom represented 18.9 per cent, of the total amount of butter imported by that country. New Zealand’s share of the market was then 27.2 per cent, and Europe’s share was 51.9 per cent. In 1958 Australia’s proportion of the United Kingdom market had slipped back to 11.6 per cent., New Zealand’s had nearly doubled, having risen to 40.2 per cent., while Europe’s share had gone back slightly to 46.4 per cent. In 1938 Australia exported to the United Kingdom 8.1 per cent, of that country’s total imports of cheese. In 1958 the proportion had dropped to 5.5 per cent.
These changes have occurred during the reign of the present Government, which tries to establish itself as the saviour of the dairy industry. The fact is that the gentleman now sitting at the table - the honorable member for Lalor - did more for the dairying industry than this Government has ever done. Prosperity in rural industries, and particularly in the dairy industry, has declined considerably since the period when the Labour Government was in office, and I remind the House that the Labour Government had to battle through the trials and tribulations that beset us because of the war and the aftermath of the war, and still was able to maintain a decent standard of prosperity for primary producers.
One can readily gauge how the prosperity of the rural communities has deteriorated in the past twelve years by visiting a country town on a Saturday night. I have lived in country towns for a good part of my life. I can remember how one would see, twelve years ago, long lines of relatively new motor cars in the streets of country towns on Saturday nights. One does not see such large numbers of new cars now, because the farmers have found that they are not nearly so prosperous under this Liberal-Country Party Administration.
One way in which the Government could stimulate primary industry, and the dairy industry in particular, would be by increasing the home consumption of primary products, particularly milk and butter. Our consumption per head of these products is considerably less than that of other countries. Before the war consumption of milk in New Zealand amounted to 220 pints per head of population each year. In Australia the consumption was 187.2 pints per head. By 1958-59 consumption in New Zealand had increased to 324.2 pints and in Australia to only 225.6 pints. In 1959-60 New Zealand’s consumption had risen to 328 pints per head per day, while consumption in Australia was only 228.8 pints per head. In New Zealand the consumption of milk amounts to almost a pint per head per day, but in Australia it is only about half a pint. There we see the possibility of lifting the consumption of milk on our home market.
We hear all this talk of building up our overseas markets, particularly in the United Kingdom, and I agree that those markets are, conceivably, in peril. I do not say it is a waste cf time to try to preserve them, but I believe there is a lack of appreciation of the true situation. We have a great opportunity to increase our market here at home. This is only too apparent when we realize that we are consuming, per head of population, only half as much milk as is consumed in New Zealand. We have in this country a much greater volume of industry in which milk is used than New Zealand has, and it is difficult to understand why our consumption of milk should be so much below that of New Zealand.
Consider the figures relating to the consumption of butter. Consumption of this commodity in Australia is considerably below the per capita consumption in Denmark and in New Zealand, and it is only slightly greater than that of the United Kingdom. Denmark consumer, 29.8 lb. of butter per head per year, New Zealand 43.3 lb. and Australia only 25.9 lb. Consumption of cheese in Denmark is three times as great as in Australia. Denmark uses 16.3 lb. of cheese per head per year, New Zealand 6.6 lb., while Australia lags behind with 5.2 lb. All these figures show that one of our best opportunities is right here on our home market. The Government should be prepared to inaugurate a national scheme for developing the home market so as to encourage people to consume more of our dairy products.
There are certain suggestions I would like to put to the Government which it could adopt if it sincerely wished to place the dairying industry on a more substantial footing than it is on to-day. It is not of much use to export to the United Kingdom about £135,000,000 worth of butter during a ten-year period if our dairying industry subsidy over the same period amounts to £134,000,000. This is what has happened during the last ten years, and it has left the nation with a return of only about £1,000,000. It is obvious that the situation is serious and that we should do something to improve it.
I agree with the statement made by the honorable member for Macarthur earlier in his speech that the dairy industry is an integral part of the economic structure of the nation. If we have a serious breakdown in that industry the people in the cities will suffer as a result, because they are dependent in large measure for their employment on the security and prosperity of the primary industries. This becomes quite obvious in time of drought. The effects of drought conditions are felt not only in the rural communities but also in all other parts of the nation. This interdependence of the two main divisions of industry works both ways, of course. Any serious recession in secondary industry must afreet the welfare of the rural communities. Primary and secondary industries are dependent on one another, and each must take a constructive interest in the welfare of the other.
One of the most serious blights which attacks primary industry, and the dairy industry in particular, is drought. It would be reasonable for the Government to establish a fodder and grain reserve in rural areas where these reserves could be used to advantage. The Government should investigate this proposition, and, if it considers that it would be of benefit to primary industry, the Government immediately should take steps to see that it is implemented.
The Government also should assist the dairy farmer, and primary industry generally, by extending the services of the Commonwealth Development Bank. Incidentally, it is part of Labour policy to extend the bank’s activities so that primary producers may obtain loans at an interest rate of about 3 per cent. It is a notorious fact that the interest rates now being charged by the bank are at the usurious level of over 7 per cent. The interest rate should be reduced so that primary industry may be placed on a better foundation. In addition, possibly the bank could assume the responsibility of establishing an advisory board for the benefit of primary producers who desire to obtain a loan. This advisory board could comprise specialists who would be able to advise primary producers on means of obtaining the best advantage from the loan.
The system of agricultural colleges also should be extended. In Queensland we have the Gatton Agricultural College, but that is the only college of its kind in the State. This is an excellent facility for the rural community. Such colleges should be established throughout Australia at numerous focal points so that the primary producers could obtain advice and actually see work being performed. This would be of great advantage to them because they would be able to apply the knowledge so gained -to their own properties. Another suggestion worthy of investigation is that seminars, which farmers would be able to attend, should be held for specific purposes. Our universities conduct seminars during holiday periods so that external students may obtain some practical lecturing experience. Industrial organizations hold seminars for tradesmen so that they can be brought up to date in the latest methods. The Holden and Ford motor companies conduct these seminars which exemplify my suggestion. Why not conduct seminars at which the dairy farmer and primary producers generally could obtain the latest information and see practical demonstrations of innovations in primary industry?
The honorable member for Macarthur talked about exploiting markets in the East. Although that is a very praiseworthy suggestion, I do not think it is completely feasible. The people in places like India have such a depressed standard of living that it seems highly improbable that they would be able to afford to buy our products at the prices at which we produce them. At the other extreme, I know from personal experience that exporting butter to Japan was not a completely profitable proposition because Japan insisted upon a butter-fat content of 93.3 per cent, and that no neutralizers were to be used. The butter fat was to be completely pure. Exporting butter to Japan was not a workable proposition. If such high standards are set we cannot possibly expect immediately to replace our United Kingdom market with a market in Japan. I repeat that our best market exists at home. If the Government made sufficient money available for the promotion of an intensive campaign designed to encourage people to consume more of our primary products, particularly raw milk, our primary industries would benefit more than they would by seeking overseas markets.
I conclude by asking: If the dairy industry is on such a prosperous basis under this Government’s administration, why are the wives and families of dairy farmers compelled to work on the farm to make a living? The dairy farmer’s family does not enjoy this at all. They are entitled to the dignity of family life just as much as is the man in the city, but because of the depressed standard of living which has been forced on them by this Government which, in the first place, abolished prices control - thus placing them at such a serious disadvantage - and then allowed galloping inflation to get out of hand the farmer’s return for his productive output has been very small. As the honorable member for Lalor stated, the Opposition supports this bill with certain reservations and certainly with strong criticism of the manner in which the Government has administered this matter during the past twelve years.
.- Since coming to office in 1949 this Government has administered very ably its firm policy of ensuring the stability of the dairying industry. The arrangements which were made by former Labour governments were extended after consultation with the industry, as has always been done, and our dairy farmers have benefited greatly. This bill introduces the third of the five-year stabilization schemes which have brought stability, security and prosperity to the industry. Since 1949, the dairying industry has been subsidized to the extent of £180,000,000, a very considerable portion of which, in the form of a consumer subsidy, has benefited the purchasers of butter. Stabilization and equalization are of the utmost importance to the industry, and they are maintained in the proposed scheme. During the past ten years the arrangements have been designed to give producers a return which was related to an assessed cost of production. Let me correct here and now a statement made by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) in his speech. The cost of production is only an assessed cost. He seemed to think that it is the actual cost of production. In fact, it has been used only as a basis on which to work, and it is assessed from year to year. The actual return is made up by taking a lump-sum bounty, the ex-factory home-consumption price and the average price received for exports. The total proceeds are pooled and producers’ returns are equalized through the individual factories to which they have sent their cream.
The first charge against the subsidy has been the amount needed to bridge the gap which has always existed between the assessed cost of production and the actual return from exports, which equals 20 per cent, of home consumption. Last year this accounted for a considerable amount of the subsidy and, in fact, worked out at 2s. 6d. per lb. But having equalized the return from exports the balance of the subsidy, which was some £5,750,000 last year, was applied to local sales as a consumer’s subsidy. This amounted to 5£d. per lb. These are the kind of things the industry has taken into consideration when it has been giving advice on what the domestic price should be. Over the last few years it has
Wen prepared to accept a loss of 7d. or 9d. per lb. on the assessed cost of production rather than force up the retail price. Because of the long period of low export prices the difference between the assessed cost of production and the return on total production last year looks like being about ls. per lb.
It has been suggested that a lower retail price would encourage sales. Here is one point on which the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) was completely wrong just as he was wrong in other statements which he made, but I have selected this remark particularly because he seemed to think that the price of butter had been fixed in relation to the basic wage. That is not so. In fact, the nominal weekly wage paid to-day buys more pounds of butter than it has bought at any time since 1951. The rise in the price of butter has not corresponded with increases in the basic wage since the end of the war. The reason for a drop of something like 6 lb. a head in the consumption of butter in Australia over the last ten years or a little less is not that the price of butter is too high. The Minister pointed this out. The fall in consumption is due to dietary changes. The price of butter has been kept well within the purchasing power of consumers. The industry is, of course, taking all the steps it can to correct this drop in consumption by undertaking schemes for promotion. It is levying itself something like £250,000 a year and the Australian Dairy Produce Board is co-operating with the State milk boards and with everybody else who is interested in bringing home to the people of Australia the importance of dairy products in the raising of healthy families. I do not need to add to this.
The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) stressed the great importance of dairy products in building up the health of children. We can point to the efforts of Japan, particularly, in raising standards of physique by encouraging people to eat healthy dairy products. One of our great hopes is the expanding Japanese market, not for butter, because the Japanese are not used to eating butter, but for other dairy products. The Japanese appreciate that butter is not the only dairy product and that the protein products are very valuable. If we, too, realized that, the whole industry would be better off.
Another aspect of this industry which some of my colleagues may not appreciate fully is the part that it plays in the Australian economy and in the earning of over* seas credits. The total investment in this industry is something like £700,000,000 and the average annual value of production is close to £200,000,000. There are 5,000,000 dairy cattle in this country and they must be worth at least £150,000,000. There are 65,000 dairy-farmers, who employ 110,000 persons. Then we have also 10,000 or 11,000 people employed in butter factories as well as countless other people throughout the cities who derive a lot of their security of employment from the products of the dairying industry. More important than this is the fact that throughout the whole of Australia, and particularly in the wide coastal areas, whole communities have become established and have continued to flourish, based on the dairying industry which started them off. Their local economy is based on dairying and the prosperity of the country towns, which are struggling with rising costs imposed on them by city suppliers, depends on the continued stability of the dairy industry.
Honorable members opposite, including the honorable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), who talked about the exploitation of country people, have done much, lately, to advocate a 35-hour week. There could be nothing more calculated to increase rural costs and to make it impossible for many country communities to carry on satisfactorily than the introduction of a 35-hour week.
– The same thing was said about the 40-hour week.
– It should not be forgotten that the dairy industry provides annually something like £40,000,000 in overseas earnings. We need those credits, particularly now that our imports are starting to rise again after the reduction effected by the credit squeeze. We will need every £1 we can get in export earnings to pay for the surge that is coming in the near future, unless restraint is imposed on imports in favour of Australian secondary industry. This bill continues the provisions of the two previous five-year schemes. But there are some quite important variations which I think we should note. First, the subsidy itself is to continue, but instead of the previous uncertainty in the yearly allocation, the Minister has announced that it will continue at the rate of £13,500,000 for each of the five years of the plan. The subsidy has, in fact, been £13,500,000 each year for the last six years, but the industry has never before had an assurance for more than one year ahead.
Secondly, the payment of a fixed sum, as has become the practice, has changed the whole concept of a guaranteed price for home consumption plus 20 per cent.
The honorable member for Lalor did not seem to appreciate that he has not kept himself up to date with the thinking of the dairy industry. The same return will be available to the industry, but it will be arrived at by adding the bounty to the returns from the home market and exports. Equalization is not affected in any way, but the complication of calculating the guaranteed return and the overall return is removed. After all, the overall return is the only thing which matters. Having accepted the responsibility for making the decision on the return to producers, the industry now accepts the responsibility of determining the domestic price of butter and cheese. Up till now the Minister has accepted the advice of the industry in this matter and so there is, in fact, very little difference. But it does seem fair that the industry should be prepared to carry out its own arrangements.
Another variation is that the old method of assessing a theoretic cost of production figure is to be dropped. It has served its purpose well in giving a basis for the fixing of prices, but to-day more attention is being paid to marketing and merchandizing. Much misunderstanding will be overcome by the adoption of the new method suggested by the industry, which is to set up a dairy cost index committee, made up of representatives from the equalization committee, the Dairy Produce Board and the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation to determine, in consultation with the Division of Agricultural Economics, as has always been the case, the cost movements. An index relating movements on a percentage basis in pence per lb. will be compiled.
Another change is that the principle of an underwritten guarantee of equalization values is now included for the full period of the plan, instead of the present basis of a year-to-year decision. The actual amount wa be decided each year. For the coming year it will be 40d. a lb., as it has been over the past four years. The important thing is that the interim payment can be kept at a reasonable level at the beginning of the year, but that proprietary companies will be able to pay a higher price to producers, while co-operatives can reach their maximum in the final clear-up at the end of the year.
Finally, a new principle in defining the rate of bounty is introduced. There is a rather fearsome-looking formula, but it arrives at the same results as we have been used to. The necessity for it is the introduction of a new process of making butter oil. In this phase the factory at Drouin, in the electorate of McMillan - one of the most progressive butter factories in Australia - will be one of the major pioneers. The position, quite briefly, is that the rate of bounty on each 1 cwt. of butter will be worked out on butterfat values by taking the sum of the butterfat content of that 1 cwt. of butter, multiplying by the total amount of the bounty, and dividing by the butterfat content of the total production of butter for the whole year. This may sound complicated. It looks complicated on paper, but all the factories and producer organizations will welcome the change from commercial butter calculation to butter fat calculation in which factory returns are expressed and which are more clearly understood by suppliers. It also removes any irregularity now experienced by factories producing high fat content butters. This has had disabilities under the old system.
Summed up, the new provisions of the plan remove all the points of uncertainty that were inherent in previous plans. The industry can have a lot more confidence in its future than it had at the beginning of previous agreements. The points of uncertainty as to continuity of the proposals are removed, and the industry can determine its own future. Under a separate bill the Government has proposed to provide funds for the payment of a rebate to processed milk manufacturers on purchases of butter fat. It is reasonable to suggest that more of our exported dairy products should be in the form of processed milks than in butter form. The new markets that we are seeking in Asia are more likely to accept these milk products than to learn to use a product such as butter which has never been part of their diet. Milk, in some form, is known in every country and will be accepted. India, which has been mentioned as being too poor to buy these things has a considerable milk industry of its own. The fact that the Indians use buffalo milk does not alter the fact that they are used to buying this precious fluid, and they would be very happy to get our reconsti tuted milk in order to expand a section of their economy.
In Australia we have some very good factories for the processing of milk. Some of the world’s leading suppliers have entered this industry in Australia. They have been exporting considerable quantities of their product but they now find that it is very difficult to compete with overseas prices under existing labour conditions in Australia. They are in trouble, particularly, from competition by New Zealand and Holland. They are also in trouble because local reconstitution plants, particularly in Malaya, have made it very difficult for them to be fully competitive. As an example, I should like to cite a recent case in which a tender was called for 400,000 cases of condensed milk. For an Australian supplier to be competitive a rebate equivalent to ls. per lb. of butter-fat was necessary. This involved a sum of £76,000. Naturally, no factory could stand a loss of profit to that extent. As the order would be worth £860,000 in export earnings, and 800 tons of butter would be removed from an already over-supplied London market, ample ground’s exist for the provision of some assistance to secure such orders. We did not get this one.
For some time now the Australian Dairy Produce Board has been trying to help processed milk exporters by making a rebate from their own Dairy Industry Stabilization Fund. The figure at which the board has arrived, after a somewhat complicated formula relating to butter oil export returns and the final equalization rate, has been 92s. a cwt. I understand that this has been helpful in securing several orders, but it has been too low in many cases. It has enabled several factories to continue to handle processed milk for export. These have been factories which could very easily have ceased to manufacture altogether, with disastrous results to the districts in which they are situated.
This bill, introducing a bounty for this particular form of dairy export, is to run for only one year. I take it that it is an experiment to see how it goes, but I am a little perturbed to find that the Government is asking the people concerned to accept losses in order to keep going, because the amount of bounty available will be about £60 a ton - the existing bounty on butter-fat. I am afraid that we are adopting the policy of just a little bit, too late, because the quantity involved is 5,800 tons and the bounty which is necessary being somewhere near £100 a ton, it would require an additional £580,000. The amount that we would need is really £550,000.
The assistance to processed milk factories is designed to help right through the industry and to assist the butter producers themselves. It will, of course, help the manufacturers also, because they will be able to pay for the butter-fat values of the milk in competition with butter factories which collect the bounty. If by this method we can drain off some of the surplus butter with which we are so often embarrassed - an embarrassment which may become worse with the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market - we will do much to maintain the level of return to producers.
Every 1,000 tons of butter that can be kept out of the equalization scheme will build up the return to producers by 10id. a cwt. If we could sell processed milk in the form of condensed or evaporated milk, full cream milk, malted milk, or instant milk to the extent of 20,000 tons of butter fat equivalent, the return on butter would improve by 2d. a lb. This would be a very great improvement and would be very much appreciated. In addition, it might be possible to edge up export prices. Instant milk, incidentally, is one of the products pioneered by the butter factories in McMillan which have given a lead to the dairy industry in many respects.
With regard to the Dairy Produce Export Charge Bill I need only to record the fact that the moneys from this charge are to cover the administrative expenses of the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Board. The board is our overseas marketing authority. It now has a very much greater responsibility and it is required to operate on a wider scale. It must employ experts in many fields - in marketing and advertising for example. It must have more funds to carry out its very valuable role of getting us new markets and holding them.
The honorable member for Lalor seemed to think that this new scheme abandoned some of the benefits that the industry has enjoyed. In fact, this new scheme gives a much more liberal working basis. In past schemes the industry did not know until just before the beginning of each year where it stood in relation to bounties, underwriting, prices or returns. With the new arrangement, the industry has all these things within its own control. I am certain that it will find the new basis a most satisfactory one.
.- After having studied the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry for - eighteen months, the Government now submits to us a bill which proposes to implement only a very small part of that committee’s recommendations. We of the Labour Party thought that the report had been pigeonholed for good, and at this stage I pay tribute to the framers of that report although we do not agree with many of their recommendations as to how this industry may be rescued from or relieved of any uncertainty with regard to the future. The wealth of information contained in the report is a great tribute to the hard work done by those who comprised the committee, and the document should be valued by all who are interested in the dairy industry because it covers such a wide range of matters affecting the industry. In fact, I do not think the committee failed to investigate thoroughly any one of the ramifications of the industry.
The main point about the bill before us is that it discloses that the Government has decided” to pay a subsidy of £13,500,000 for each of the next five years. This is in direct opposition to recommendation 3 contained on page 115 of the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry which recommends the payment of £13,500,000 up to and including the year 1964-65 and then a reduction each year until the figure drops to £2,000,000 in 1969-70. When a summary of the committee’s findings first appeared in the press we felt that this was an outrageous recommendation, having regard to the difficult circumstances in which the industry was placed, and we felt even more disturbed at the suggestion after the curtain had been lifted from the Common Market negotiations. So that honorable members might know something of the history of this subsidy, I point out that the amount paid in 1952-53 was £15,300,000. By 1955-56 it bad dropped to £14,600,000, and in 1958-59 it declined still further to £13,600,000. It has been fairly stable at approximately £13,500,000 since 1956-57. It is now proposed to continue paying at this rate for the next five years. The Labour Party’s policy with relation to the dairy subsidy is in line with what the Government proposes under this bill. It represents an important improvement that
Will enable the dairy farmer to plan for the future. It will encourage in him a certain amount of confidence to face the very uncertain five years ahead.
During the course of his second-reading speech, the Minister failed to make any reference to what might happen to this industry as a result of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market and the application of European customs duties - for that is what it will mean - to dairy products in the future. I am quite convinced that the days of “ if “ are over so far as Britain’s entry to the European Common Market is concerned. In my view, the only question now is when she will enter that market on terms that will be laid down by the Common Market countries. I feel we can say right now, that, right from the time the United Kingdom enters the European Common Market officially, the dairy industry will be very seriously affected. This bill contains no provision for an increase of the subsidy in two or three years’ time should the industry be badly hit by the operation of the European Common Market. And this is one of the industries which are most vulnerable to the effects of the operation of the Common Market. Sir John Crawford, Director of the Research School of Pacific Studies at the Australian National University, spoke on the Common Market at Hobart on 3rd April last, and the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ reports him as having said on that occasion -
Nation Warned of “ Gloss “ Over Danger to Trade.
The way Australia was glossing over the effects of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market had shocked him Sir John Crawford sa/d.
Let us have no nonsense that our exports will not be seriously affected.
He went on to refer to sugar and other products. This is what he said about butter -
In the case of butter, the 15/- 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.
That is a most important and alarming statement and it should give those who are inclined to be optimistic about the effects of the European Common Market on the dairy industry some food for serious thought. Actually, export trade to the value of £170,000,000 is being jeopardized by the setting up of the European Common Market, and that £170,000,000 represents 18 per cent, of Australia’s total export trade.
I should like the Minister to take particular note of what I am saying, for he never seems to have time to read our speeches later. I emphasize now that the failure to provide for any future deterioration in the dairy industry is one of the bill’s greatest weaknesses. For instance, there is no provision for a rise or fall in the subsidy of £13,500,000. This figure is to remain stable for the next five years. I should like the Minister to answer one question. What guarantee have the farmers that this Government will increase the subsidy if that should be found necessary to save the industry from disaster at any time during the course of the next five years?
– You would not write into the bill an assumption that we could fail at this stage. That could only weaken our negotiating position.
– But I would have thought that you would have looked at this question.
– You have an honest government here that will face up to such eventualities.
– That will be the day! The dairy industry has no guarantee at all that this Government will do any such thing. If the Labour Party were in office - and it will do this if it becomes the Government before the expiry of this five-year subsidy plan - it would give direct subsidies to those primary industries worst affected by the Common Market operations. That is our guarantee. The Minister’s whole speech smacked of complacency towards the important issue of the European Common Market and its likely effects on our primary industries in the next two or three years.
I come dow to a discussion of what the industry must have if it is to survive. First, it must have stability of prices. That should be the main purpose of a measure of this nature. We must have no return to the old hit and miss days, the days of good prices and bad prices, the days when some men went out of the industry bankrupt whilst others who were able to survive a bad year were able to carry on. We now have stabilization and equalization plans. We now have a guaranteed price of 40d. per lb., and we have subsidies, all of which are designed to stabilize the industry. Because of these plans and guarantees, the dairy industry is one of the most stable of our primary industries. In 1950-51, equalization payments amounted to 82s. 4d. per cwt. or 13d. per lb. In 1958-59, they were 64s. lid. per cwt. or 6id. per lb. These are the latest figures available. The payments have declined over the past eight or nine years. Even so, the industry is one of the most stable, and it is up to the Government, the Parliament and the States - they have a part to play - to maintain that stability and to make it even stronger.
The stability of costs, however, is a factor over which the Parliament has almost no control. Even State Parliaments have very little control over it and can contribute to this stability only by controlling freights and matters of that kind. There is no stability of costs at the moment, and this is causing grave concern to the industry. Whenever dairy farmers meet together in conference or speak privately, it is clear that they are worrying about the cost factor. I sometimes remind them that in 1948 they had a chance to stabilize costs and wages throughout Australia, but they refused to accept it. They have never recovered from the loss of the referendum that was held then, and they never will recover until another referendum is held and passed. What can we think of a country that for more than 60 years has had a constitution that does not confer on the Parliament the power to control costs and wages in times of crisis? That is all we want. The industry is now caught in this startling cost rise, and many dairy farmers wish they had voted for the referendum in 1948 instead of against it, as they were asked to do by Sir Arthur Fadden, who was leader of the Australian Country Party, and the Prime Minister (Mr.
Menzies), who travelled around the country scaring people away from price control. They are the guilty men. Costs have not been stabilized and cannot be stabilized without power to control prices.
The next need of the industry is markets, both at home and abroad. I shall say something about the home market in a moment. We are experiencing great difficulty in maintaining our markets, and every honorable member who has spoken has stressed this. I do not intend to make more than a passing reference to it. The industry must now look towards Asia, South America and even Africa for markets. Markets for Australian butter and milk products must be sought in every country. The honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) mentioned that Asian people would be more likely to seek processed milk products than butter. That is, of course, perfectly correct and I said, by way of interjection, that that has been the trend in recent years. Sales of processed milk products have increased but sales of butter have declined slightly.
The Dairy Produce Board followed a very sensible course recently. I do not know whether a director of marketing has yet been appointed but I know that 50 persons applied for the position when the board called for applicants. A director will be appointed, if he has not yet been appointed, and I congratulate the board for deciding to make such an appointment. The finding and developing of markets is important for the industry.
The industry must also be efficient to survive. I do not want to stress this factor too much, because dairy farmers become most annoyed when we speak of efficiency. I speak of it only in the sense that, according to the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, some dairy farmers are not efficient and they are suffering. Efficiency depends on management and good business methods as well as on hard work. The report intimated that the vast majority of Australian dairy farmers are efficient, and I hope that the number of efficient farmers will increase.
I want next to mention the dangerous trends that are developing in the industry. The first is the decline in the consumption of butter per head. This is amply brought out in the committee’s report at page 51. Consumption of butter dropped from 34.6 lbs. per head per annum in 1942-43 to 25.8 lbs. in 1958-59. That is a considerable drop. Strange to say, the figures show a slight relation between the increased price of butter to the public and the decreased consumption of butter. I believe that the increased price of butter definitely lowered the consumption of butter per head. The decline of consumption is also dealt with at pages 15 and 16 of the committee’s report. At page 15, the committee reported -
Throughout the enquiry many people connected with the industry deplored the fact that consumption of butter in Australia per head of population was declining each year. Various reasons were given. The increase in butter prices and the competition from margarine were blamed. It was also suggested that perhaps because of the influx of migrants in the postwar years the public’s taste was moving away from butter. In any case the impression was given that the future of the industry hung entirely upon butter consumption and that it was prejudiced by the present trend.
At page 16, the committee dealt with the estimated quantity of milk and milk products available for consumption in Australia. Butter consumption declined from an average of 32.9 lbs. per head before the war to 27.8 lbs. in 1957-58 This is one of the danger signals to the industry. My own opinion is that the health authorities who recently criticized butter because of its possible effects on the arteries definitely contributed to the decline in the consumption of butter. The suggested effect of cigarette smoking on the lungs has had a similar result. On reading statements by experienced health authorities, many people reduced their consumption of cigarettes. The same psychological reaction would follow suggestions that the consumption of butter harmed the arteries. This is another reason for the decline in the consumption of butter.
The next dangerous development is the United Kingdom’s introduction of an import quota. This now stands at 62,000 tons a year. The imposition of a quota has resulted from the over-supply of butter on world markets and has limited Australia’s opportunities to sell butter. 1 wish to refer next to the handing over to the industry itself of the determination of domestic prices for butter and cheese. In the past this has been the responsibility of the Commonwealth by arrangement with the States and always, of course, with the advice of the industry. But this could be a safeguard that has been removed, and its absence could be dangerous. However, as against any move by the industry to increase the domestic price of butter and cheese to the consumer we have the vital fact that consumption of butter is declining in Australia. The industry certainly would not lose sight of this vital factor. Its very existence depends more on consumption than on the price of its product. Markets are the first consideration. Without markets, prices become irrelevant, and the home market cannot be ignored. I feel that the industry has enough responsibility, although it has been given this new power. Any increase in the price of butter to the consumer could have a disastrous effect in view of the declining consumption of butter.
The figures relating to the total utilization of milk in Australia are interesting, and they are contained at page 37 of the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry. In 1958-59 the total quantity of milk produced in Australia was 1,370,000,000 gallons. An analysis of the utilization of this milk shows that 65.8 per cent, went into butter, 6.8 per cent, into cheese, 5.5 cent, into condensery products and 21.9 per cent, was used for other purposes, principally as liquid milk for domestic purposes. The interesting point is that before the Second World War 79.5 per cent, of the total production of milk went into butter compared with 65.8 per cent, now. That is a big decline, and it shows the trend in the people’s taste. Before the war 4.2 per cent, of the milk went into cheese compared with 6.8 per cent, now-r-a slight increase. Before the war 2.4 per cent, of the whole milk produced went into condensery products compared with 5.5 per cent. now.
The most significant increase is in the figures relating to “ other purposes “, including liquid milk for domestic use. Before the Second World War 13.9 per cent, pf total production was used in that way, and now the figure is 21.9 per cent. So the trend is towards the consumption of ;less butter, more cheese, more condensery products and more whole milk. Before the war the consumption of whole milk was significantly low.
The next danger to the industry is in the high cost of machinery which was mentioned by the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden). Reference is made to this matter at page 31 of the Report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry which states -
The high cost of machinery was brought frequently to the Committee’s notice. These complaints did not refer only to large plant such as pick-up hay balers, forage harvesters, &c. It was pointed out that the price of a 100-gallon (separator had gone up from around £80 in 1948 Ito about £120 in 1960, whilst during the same period the price of a tractor of about 22 horsepower has increased from £750 to £900-£ 1,100 and that of a milking machine (9-in. pump - four units), from about £180 to £330.
However the Committee was also frequently informed that in addition to original costs, those of machinery repairs and spare parts are giving grave concern. The Committee had evidence that the cost of many spare parts was so high as to present a problem to the industry. Farmers also complained of delays in the supply of spare parts, which can prove very costly during vital farming operations.
These are factors over which the Government has very little control, but they present a danger to the industry. The importance of the industry is known to every one. Australia carries approximately 3,500,000 cows and produces 300,000,000 gallons of liquid milk for home consumption. The net value of primary production in Australia amounted to £944,000,000 in 1958-59, made up as follows: -
The value of dairy industry products at £146,000,000 represents 4.9 per cent, of the total net value of production in Australia, which includes factory production as well as primary production. The total value of dairy production is 15.4 per cent, of the net value of rural production in Australia. There are 366 dairy products factories altogether, of which 229 are butter factories, and of these 180 are co-operative and 49 privately owned.
The dairy industry has a marked influence on closer settlement and on the need for public utilities in country areas. It is the greatest decentralized industry. Wherever there is dairying there are tightly packed settlements and progressive towns. It is a great thing to have 366 dairy products factories distributed throughout the country. From that point of view alone this industry is of great value to Australia. Its influence is also felt in connexion with mixed farming. It is a small man’s industry and is of paramount importance to the Australian economy.
I wish to refer now to another matter which is mentioned at page 37 of the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, which states that persons employed in the industry total 9,323 males and 1,547 females. Their wages total almost £10,000,000. There are other items of importance in the report but I have not time to comment on them.
Last night a meeting of the Ulverstone branch of the Tasmanian Farmers’ Federation was held. It seems that moves are afoot in Tasmania to expand the margarine manufacturing industry. The chairman of the State Dairy Commodity Committee of the Federation, Mr. T. Frampton, said at that meeting that a senior representative of a firm which manufactured margarine was in Tasmania, accompanied by a senator, who was unnamed, to examine business prospects. Mr. Frampton’s statement was reported as follows: -
With the dairy industry’s future uncertain because of the United Kingdom restriction of butter imports, the importance of the home market has increased tremendously.
New South Wales was drafting legislation to curb these practices and it was expected that approaches would be made to other States to obtain new fields of operation. It was hoped the State Government would not fall for any approach by this firm no matter how attractive the inducement to grant a margarine manufacturing quota.
Any move to issue a quota to another company to manufacture margarine in Tasmania would be most detrimental to the dairying industry and’ would be resisted by the dairying section of the T.F.F.
With that I concur. There is one way in which this industry might improve its home market, and that is by extending the free milk scheme to provide milk for school children aged thirteen, fourteen and fifteen years. This is not done now. The Southern Dairymen’s Association of Tasmania has made representations to this end and the proposal has much to commend it. If we extended milk distribution in the schools to those three new age groups there would be a tremendous increase in milk consumption.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 9.35 p.m.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, may I say, first, that I feel rather at a disadvantage in having to follow Mr. Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State of the United States of America, who addressed us at the parliamentary dinner which we have just attended.
I believe that the Australian Labour Party’s criticism of the bills that we are now considering is based on one thing - the belief of the members of that party in prices control, or price-fixing. This afternoon, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) all mentioned their belief in prices control. I think they should remember that the dairying industry, through the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalization Committee Limited, has much more effective control over prices than any statutory price-control authority could exercise. That committee has fixed prices and no factory will sell butter and cheese at less than those prices. Under prices control, as the Australian Labour Party thinks of it, only maximum prices would be fixed and any factories that wanted to force prices down would be able to do so.
We had from the honorable member for Oxley this afternoon a sample of the knowledge of primary industries possessed by members of the Australian Labour Party. The honorable member remarked in the course of his oration that, as far as he knew, barbed wire had only four barbs to the chain. That sort of remark makes me feel very much sympathy for the honorable member for Lalor, who, I am sure, has quite a battle in the caucus room of the Labour Party when he tries to convince his colleagues that something good should be done for the primary industries. The honorable member for Oxley certainly showed that he lacked practical knowledge of the problems of the primary industries. He may sit on a barb one day and find out just what barbed wire is like.
In various journals, there has been a good deal of criticism of the Government’s deci sion to continue support for the dairy industry. Furthermore, in this place I have heard some criticism of the Government because it is prepared to support the industry for the next five years with a bounty totalling £13,500,000 a year. The only fair way to consider the question of the need for a bounty is to examine the situation in different butter-producing countries of the Western world. I have gone to the trouble of doing so, and I find that every butterproducing country in the Western world provides some form of price support for its dairy industry. In some instances, this support is hidden and, in others, it is quite open, as we claim is the support given to the Australian industry. As I have said, over the next five years that support will amount to £13,500,000 a year.
As I wish to save time, I shall not go into details concerning all the countries that I have listed. Let me take Denmark first. Under the Land Improvement Act, loans are made to farmers for improvement, with exemption from repayments for the first two years, and after that repayments which are very easy for the farmers to meet. They can get credit from co-operatives which specialize in long-term loans. Under the Dairy Produce Domestic Sales Act, the home price is fixed at a reasonable level and a levy is imposed on sales on the home market to equalize the return on expert sales with that from domestic sales.
– That is the same as is done in Australia.
– That is exactly the same as is done in Australia, as the honorable member has said.
In Sweden, prices received by producers have been raised by special contributions from the State budget. Austria has similar arrangements. I should like one or two honorable members, particularly, to take notice of these facts. Arrangements to support the industry are made also in Belgium, France, Germany and Iceland. In Iceland, we have an example of a special subsidy for remote producers. Perhaps one would not expect Iceland to have a dairy industry, but it has.
Italy provides a hidden subsidy by subsidizing fertilizers up to 35 per cent, and also by subsidizing fuel. Luxembourg and the
Netherlands provide a direct subsidy from the State budget when necessary. Norway also, provides subsidies to its producers. Switzerland provides subsidies to help sales on the home and the export markets. In Canada, price support for butter cost 3,409,000 dollars in 1959-60. In the United States of America, price support for the dairy farmers cost 76,600,000 dollars in 1958.
New Zealand is a country which has occasionally been pointed to by members of the Australian Labour Party. I recall hearing the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) citing that country’s dairy industry. It is very interesting to note, first, that no margarine is permitted in New Zealand. That is a wise restriction. In New Zealand there is a board which is very similar to that which operates in Australia. It is called the New Zealand. Dairy Produce Board. The farmers have a guaranteed price of 32d. sterling per lb. butterfat. This price is guaranteed by the government and met by the Reserve Bank, which has paid over £12,000,000 to the industry during the past season. The New Zealand dairy industry prefers to call this a system of long-term credits, but it is obviously just a hidden subsidy, because with the way in which sales in export markets have decreased there is not much chance of the New Zealand dairy farmers returning to the banks the amount of £12,000,000 that they have received during the past seasons.
What effects have all these subsidies on export sales? Obviously the only winners can be those countries that are importing butter, and Great Britain is the country that gets the best of all possible worlds all the time. I believe that the butterproducing countries of the world should get together to try to establish a base price and that we should not have the various countries fixing their prices with the aid of subsidies so that Britain can obtain the benefit of dumping, which is just about what happens at the present time.
The subsidy in Australia has been accepted over the years. It has an effect on the Australian industry. It has kept the consumer price at a reasonable level. Even the committee of inquiry conceded that the subsidy is of some value to the industry. It said in its report -
Both the industry and consumers have obtained some advantage from the bounty.
Those who have spoken against the subsidy have tried to make a point about marginal producers. In this connexion the committee of inquiry said -
The committee considers that the struggling end of the industry will continue to need some form of assistance.
It is obvious that if we cut out the subsidy some marginal producers will drop out, but equally obviously a new set of marginal producers will spring up. That is something that we must keep in mind. In other words, we must try to decide what level of assistance we will give to support the industry over a long term, and let the industry find its economic level itself - as it will do. The subsidy is becoming quite historical, and therefore the economic ends of the industry will find themselves.
What is the value of the producer to the economy? This is something that is very hard to decide. The industry has an income-earning capacity, but I have not heard any member on either side of the House trying to estimate what value these producers are to the economy. As I say, it is very difficult to estimate. The com?mittee of inquiry said -
The committee believes that if a comparison could be made of the performance of the Australian industry that lies between the latitudes 34 degrees south and 47 degrees south, approximately the same area in southern New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, the efficiency of the Australian industry would not be far behind that of New Zealand.
So it is quite obvious that the efficiency of the industry is not in question, except perhaps in northern Queensland. I have some figures here which show that there is no doubt that some areas in which the industry is carried on do need assistance. One place for which figures are given is Kalbar. I do not even know where Kalbar is, and I will probably offend somebody by saying so. I am told now that it is in the Mcpherson electorate. I have figures here obtained from a test made with two groups of farms in the area. With the high group it was found that only 187 lbs. could be produced, while in the low group only 92 lbs. could be produced. It is quite obvious that that area needs some form of assistance, and the Government will have to step in and offer long-term credits to allow those farmers to get into some other form of industry. The farmers know whether their farms are good enough to produce dairy products at satisfactory costs, or whether they should engage in some other form of primary industry. They have more brains than some honorable members opposite who are trying to interject.
– Who are you to wipe people off the land?
– I am not trying to wipe people off the land. All I am saying is that they may need assistance from the Government if they have to get out of dairying and into some other form of primary industry. The honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) would not know anything about this matter.
One armchair critic who has had a lot to say about the dairy industry, and to whom I take particular exception, is a Mr. M. L. Parker. I do not know anything about him except that he claims to be a research worker in agricultural economics in the University of Western Australia. He has made this broad statement -
The Australian dairy industry is economically unstable. Its organization has little to commend it.
That is absolute rubbish. The article in which that statement appeared was published in a certain journal, and I am quite sure that it would never have been printed but for the fact that Mr. Parker happens to be a co-editor of the journal. It is an insult to the 600,000 persons involved in the dairy industry.
I read the report of Professors Downing and Karmel with interest. Thank goodness, their contribution to a consideration of the problems of the dairy industry seemed to have more brains behind it than that of Mr. Parker. I do not agree with their suggested solutions, because I do not believe they are practicable.
– What do you believe?
– I will tell you in a moment. It is ridiculous to suggest that the dairy industry should accept less protection when every other industry is running to the Tariff Board seeking increased protection. Just think of the uproar that would result if Professors Karmel and Downing examined and reported on some of our secondary industries. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) told us that in the artificial fibre industry the amount of protection is equivalent to £1,600 for every person employed in the industry. Let us consider the amount of the dairy industry subsidy. Spread over 133,507 farms the subsidy amounts to £101 per farm.
I read also the report of Messrs. Edwards and Drane. They offered a constructive approach to the industry with their suggested quota system, but I cannot believe that their proposal to put all farms on quotas for home market and export market would promote good management and efficient farming. The rewards would not go to the man who was most efficient and the best manager. A display of efficiency would give a farmer an increased quota in the less profitable export market.
Promotion is the key to the success of the dairy industry, as it is in the wool industry and many other industries. In New Zealand 46.4 gallons of milk are consumed each year per head of population, while the comparable figure for Australia is only 28.5 gallons.
– How much beer do they drink?
– Wc drink 22.6 gallons of beer per head, and there is no promotion of beer sales. And I remind honorable members that beer costs 3s. lOd. a bottle, while milk is delivered to the door for 10)d. a bottle. The answer is obviously in promotion, and I am pleased to see that the promotion levy will increase from id. to id. a lb., although the full amount of the increase will not be called for immediately.
I went through the expenses of the dairy produce fund as shown in the annual report, and I noticed that the total amount of money available was £129,854 for the year. Out of this the salaries of staff and general expenses amounted to £103,000. This left £25,000 to be spent on promotion, through advertising, trade missions and other avenues of promotion. It is obvious that only 25 per cent, of the money raised for promotion is being spent on promotion. I am not offering that comment as a criticism of the board; it simply happens to be one of the facts of life. However, I feel that with the introduction of the increased levy and the machinery now in operation, we can expect great things from dairy promotion in the years ahead.
I would like to see the industry conduct a survey of the eating habits and economic circumstances of the people in countries that could be possible buyers of our dairy products. The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage) last night said that the Government should strive for new markets. He may be interested to know that in 1948-49 we were selling butter to a mere 27 countries, while we are now selling it to 87 countries. That is quite a large increase. A typical example of the success of promotion was the £15,300 spent in Japan in 1960-61 on cheese. No money had been spent on promotion prior to that time. Sales in February, 1962, were 300 per cent, greater than were sales in February, 1961. That kind of promotion has a long-term rather than a short-term benefit.
The trade ship “Straat Banka” visited Ceylon. As a result of that visit sales in February, 1962, were 100 per cent, greater than were sales in February, 1961. That is the kind of benefit to be obtained by promotion. I believe that promotion is one of the solutions to the problems resulting from Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community. After reading a report of the visit of a trade mission to the Mediterranean ports and the Middle East, which have a population of many millions, I noticed that we managed to sell only 222 tons of butter to those areas in 1960-61. I contacted Mr. Warren McDonald, who led the trade mission, and in reply to my questions on this matter he stated -
The development of . . . export markets in the Middle East depended on direct, refrigerated shipping.
Something must be done for the butter industry, and I believe that free enterprise will deliver the goods.
Let us consider now United Kingdom butter supplies. In 1960, all Commonwealth countries supplied the United Kingdom with 214,000 tons of butter, compared with 194,000 tons from all foreign countries. In that year, Australia supplied 58,000 tons as compared with Denmark’s 98,000 tons. It is obvious that Great Britain has not been leaning over backwards to buy our products. I congratulate the Australian Dairy Board on its work with recombined milk plants in Malaya, Singapore, and the Philippines. This work has been financed out of the stabilization fund, but I do not know the actual figures because they are not available. Sales have increased as a result of this excellent work. Our sales of butter to the Philippines increased from 81 tons in 1959-60 to 330 tons in 1960-61. That is the answer to the misery howlers of the Opposition who are crying out that we should find new markets.
I should like to comment now on the margarine industry. I am very grateful to the Association of National Margarine Manufacturers of Australia for sending me a well-documented, well-presented and highly expensive booklet. Now I shall destroy the association’s own evidence. It has referred in the booklet to the industry’s importance in the Australian economy, and it has mentioned that £10,000,000 has been invested in the industry. According to the 59th edition of “Facts and Figures”, £750,000,000 is invested in the dairy industry. These things must be kept in their proper perspective. The margarine manufacturers’ association states that 1,200 persons are engaged in the industry. According to “ Facts and Figures “, 600,000 persons are involved in the dairy industry. We cannot allow this cancerous margarine in-, dustry to cause any grave concern at any stage to the dairy industry. In the booklet the association makes great play on the value of the margarine industry to the man on the land, and it has great pleasure in stating that £3,500,000 has been returned to the man on the land for the products used in the manufacture of margarine. According to “ Facts and Figures “, £146,000,000 has been earned directly by the dairy industry.
The association also states that the extent of competition between butter and table margarine has been exaggerated greatly, and very happily it has provided a table of statistics to prove its point. This table indicates that in Western Germany 17.2 lb. of butter per head were sold as against 24.9 lb. of margarine. In other words, in Western
Germany margarine enjoys a decidedly advantageous position compared with butter because there is no control in that country over margarine. In Norway 8.4 lb. of butter per head were sold as compared with 53.1 lb. of margarine. Again, in Norway, there is no control over margarine. In the booklet the margarine manufacturers have stated that margarine will not affect the butter industry. In Australia 25.9 lb. of butter per head were sold compared with 8.9 lb. of margarine. If I had my way, I would increase the sales tax on margarine.
Apparently the margarine manufacturers do not agree with one another. The Table Margarine Manufacturers Association does not agree with the statements made by the Association of National Margarine Manufacturers. This is supported by paragraph 556 of the August, I960, report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry which is in these terms -
The Table Margarine Manufacturers Association whose members manufacture only table margarine, thought that if margarine production were unrestricted, aggressive methods of marketing and advertising by large companies would increase the demand and sale of table margarine and result in a very short period of time in a rise in consumption of table margarine in Australia. . . .
There is the answer. The manufacturers destroy their own arguments with such inaccurate statements.
– Let us talk about health.
– The honorable member for Indi has raised an interesting point. The margarine manufacturers claim that margarine is better for a person’s health than is butter.
– Dr. Cameron said that, too.
– Dr. Cameron did not. He was mis-reported. I should like to read a statement made by a famous American nutritionist who is much more famous than honorable members opposite have any chance of ever being. He wrote a book called, “ Good Health and Common Sense “, which was published in 1961. If honorable members opposite listen to the extracts which I shall read their health may benefit. This nutritionist said -
An excess of wrong oils, or inferior food oils such as margarine, in the blood stream, serves to undermine the balance of health.
In another part of the book he said -
Wrong oils cause the presence of excessive amounts of cholesterol in the blood. This is one of the factors leading to the onset of coronary disease.
Then he went on to say -
Margarine does not contain iodine. Butter does. Iodine will cause the accumulation of cholesterol in cancer to break down, thus contributing to recovery.
These are important basic factors and I should like honorable members to take serious note of them. The Government has shown courage and confidence in the dairy industry by the assistance which has been given to it. I have very much pleasure in supporting the bill.
.- 1 commiserate with the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) on having to speak after honorable members have wined and dined and listened to such notables as the Prime Minister of New Zealand and the American Secretary of State, Mr. Dean Rusk. However, I feel a little aggrieved at his commentary on dairy farmers in the Kalbar district. As the Commonwealth Government makes a grant of £250,000 to assist the dairy industry, as well as paying it a bounty, and as the Victorian dairy farmers are so successful, I suggest that the Victorian farmers make a proportion of their grant available to their counterparts in the Kalbar district, in which only assistance in field research can be of any value. The Kalbar district is adjacent to the Fassifern valley, which would contain some of the most successful dairy farms in Queensland.
The honorable member criticized the Australian Labour Party. Let me remind him that the Queensland Labour Government was the first State government to assist the dairy industry by establishing a butter marketing board in 1932. Since control of the industry has been handed over to the Commonwealth Government, the Queensland dairy farmers have slipped back. No less a person than the late Mr. Jim Plunkett, formerly a Country Party member in the Queensland Parliament, whose dairy farm at Beaudesert is now a boys’ home, paid tribute to the Australian Labour Party for the assistance that it had given to the dairy industry in Queensland over the years. The Dairying Industry Assistance Act was passed in 1942 and subsidies were paid on a seasonal basis up to 1st April, 1946. No Commonwealth subsidy has been paid on the manufacture of processed milk since 30th June, 1952. It is pleasing to lee that further assistance for the industry, to the extent of £350,000, is now contemplated in the Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill.
If we have any criticism to make of the bill it is that the bounty is fixed at £13,500,000 a year for five years. We do not know to what extent the industry will need assistance over the next five years. Previous speakers have mentioned the possible effect on the industry of loss of markets through Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community. I feel that it would be more in keeping if, instead of the bounty being fixed for a period of five years, it was subject to review, taking into consideration conditions as they exist at the time.
The dairying industry is very important to many country areas because it is a decentralized industry. While, through mechanization, the demand for labour required in the industry has fallen off, in numerous country centres the butter factory and cheese factory give employment to many people. The purpose of the £13,500,000 bounty is to allow dairy products to be sold to the Australian consumer and on the overseas market at a price sufficient to ensure to the producer a return somewhere near the cost of production. This cost, formerly fixed by the Dairy Industry Investigation Committee, is now determined by the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry. The bounty is to be equivalent on a butter fat basis to the final butter fat bounty for the next year.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) said it was impossible to forecast the future of the dairy industry. In the circumstances, I would feel -happier if the amount of the bounty was subject to review. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) mentioned the variation between the present cost of production and the return to the producer. He pointed out that while the Government guarantees a return of 40d. per lb. to the producer, this could mean a loss of ls. 3d. per lb. As the price to the retailer on the Australian market is to be fixed by the industry, the Government has absolved itself of any responsibility in the fixation of the price to the Australian consumer. Should the overseas market fall and the industry feel that to ensure the same cost of production return to the producer some action should be taken, the Government will be able to absolve itself of any responsibility for a further price increase to the Australian consumer.
The Minister said that the fall in consumption of butter in Australia was due to a change in dietary habits, but I believe that, the fall in demand for butter on the Australian home market has been due to the economic position of the wage-earners of Australia over the past few years. The Minister said that experts in market research who have investigated the reasons for the decline in butter consumption in Australia are convinced that the downward trend has been due principally to a change in dietary habits. That could very well be, and I agree with the Minister that the decline has not been caused by the price of butter being too high. But I would add that the change in dietary habits has been caused by the reduction in income of the wage-earners of Australia and the decrease in - employment, which has meant that housewives, instead of providing butter for the family table as they normally would prefer to do, have had to turn to the cheaper product, margarine. That is the reason for the change in dietary habits.
Another change in dietary habits in this country is shown by cheese consumption figures. It is pleasing to note that the consumption of cheese in Australia has increased. It is also pleasing to note that in the last couple of years exports of cheese have increased. I believe that one of the prime reasons for the increase in the consumption of cheese in Australia is the reduced incomes of the people. They are not able to afford as much meat, so they turn to the cheaper product, cheese, which has been proved by people overseas to have a nutrient value equal to that of meat. We find, also, that the influx of new Australians into this country has meant a greater demand for cheese. If you walk into the chain stores in the major cities of Australia you will find great “ fooditoriums “, as I think they are called, which contain a fantastic array of cheeses from all parts of the world; but you will be hard pressed to find among them one Australian cheese. I believe that the home market for cheese could be exploited much more by further advertising. It has been suggested that there is a possibility of breakdown in the existing equalization arrangements, in that, some butter and cheese factories, because of their location, are able to find a substantial local market for their products and could be influenced to cease their payments to the equalization scheme. Members on both sides of this House recognize the value of the equalization scheme under which manufacturers of butter and cheese, irrespective of whether their product is sold overseas or locally, pay into the equalization fund. This scheme works to the benefit of all.
The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) commented on the fact that in Queensland many dairy farmers have left the industry. That is true, and it has happened in the Wide Bay electorate. In some instances dairying land has been sold to adjoining farmers and turned over to grazing. In other cases the dairy farmer buys land adjoining his own and turns to grazing and agriculture. In the more fertile areas we have seen dairy farmers selling their herds and turning to the growing of peanuts. As the Minister for Primary Industry well knows, peanut oil is used largely in the manufacture of margarine so that, in effect, these dairy farmers have simply changed horses. Due to the policy of this Government and its failure to place suitable restrictions on the importation of peanut oil and other oils many of these farmers are beginning to wonder whether their second choice was the right one. I hope that the dairy industry will regain some of its former stability in the very near future. Here is one instance in which the dairy farmers have realized that margarine is offering them competition and they have decided that they have the ground, they have the ability, and they should have the market to participate in some of the profits that can be gained from this alternative industry.
I cannot help but comment on a remark which was made by the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) earlier this evening. He mentioned butter rationing in 1949 and accused the Australian Labour
Party of failing to do the right thing by the dairy industry. This was a most unjust criticism. The honorable member completely disregarded the fact that at that time we had special ships taking food to Britain. There was complete co-operation throughout the whole of industry to supply food for Britain. Waterside workers were prepared to work week-ends in order to make sure that-
– That would be the day!
– That was the day. Those waterside workers worked endlessly to see that food ships for Britain were not delayed. What did we find? We found that, in many cases, the food ships were not going to Britain at all, but were going somewhere else. However, the incentive did exist to load food for Britain. The people of Australia generally responded to the need to get food to Britain. I doubt whether there was a person in Australia who was dissatisfied with butter rationing, meat rationing or any other rationing if he thought that as a result of rationing here the people of the United Kingdom, who had made great sacrifices in the Battle of Britain, would not be denied three square meals a day. I feel that the criticism of the honorable member for Macarthur was wholly unfair.
I think that these four bills to assist the dairying industry - the Dairying Industry Bill, the Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill, the Dairy Produce Export Charge Bill and the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill - will provide a measure of assistance to the industry. The Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill will give particular assistance to overseas sales of processed milk. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) mentioned the amount of assistance given to the dairy industry in other countries. It is true that very few butterexporting countries do not subsidize their industry. Australia has, perhaps, the lowest consumption of margarine in the world compared with its consumption of butter. The honorable member for Gippsland should have gone on to say that in those countries that give us our severest competition in the sale of butter in the United Kingdom, - countries like Holland and Denmark - the consumption of butter per head of population is much lower than it is in Australia, and the consumption of margarine per head of population is much higher.
It is necessary that assistance be given to the Australian industry. I speak as a member of the Australian Labour Party which gave great assistance to the dairy industry in Queensland. When the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture he arranged for assistance to be given to the dairy industry which it had not been given previously, and which, to be fair, has been continued by this Government, although on a reduced scale. As a member of the Australian Labour Party I am pleased to support this measure for the benefit of the industry and the good of the Australian people.
– Owing to the need for the extension of the five-year agreement covering the dairy industry the Parliament is faced with the responsibility of adopting new legislation, the effect of which would be to continue the operation of the stabilization and equalization features of this very important industry. I should like at the outset, as a representative of the very productive dairy industry in the electorate of Corangamite, to express my appreciation to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and the Government for the introduction of the legislation before the House. I also appreciated the statements in the Minister’s speech on certain matters not actually included in the legislation.
In view of the nature of the debate to-night it is quite obvious that not only the Government but also members of the Opposition realize the necessity for this type of legislation. In fact, I believe that we are all agreed on it. During the last six or nine months two quite important influences have affected stabilization in the dairy industry and the general conduct of the industry. First, there was the publication of the now well-known report of the committee of inquiry into the dairy industry which created quite a lot of consternation in the minds of producers, irrespective of their circumstances. Secondly, was the more important and, as far as Australia was concerned, more vital influence of the prospective entry of the United Kingdom into the
European Economic Community. In conjunction with this there is a sense of disquiet arising from the fact, that there has been a tendency towards a falling off in local consumption of butter and milk products. Possibly this was due to changes of diet habits. I do not know. But obviously competition has been creeping in from various types of spreads which compete with butter, particularly margarine. The lesson that we learn from this decline in local consumption is that it is necessary to diversify our dairy products and also to develop markets overseas.
The European Economic Community must have a direct impact on the sale of Australian dairy products overseas. It is quite obvious that, in place of the British preferential tariff in the United Kingdom market, we would face an adverse tariff in the European Common Market if the United Kingdom entered that organization. We would have to compete with the dairy products of the Netherlands and Denmark. More important is the possibility of Denmark’s later entry into the European Economic Community. So the Government, quite rightly, has taken the attitude that this is not the time for radical changes.
During the course of this debate we have dealt with the various measures that the Government has adopted. It has decided to continue the bounty of £13,500,000. It has decided to underwrite the agreement for the interim payment which I think was very well received by the industry when it was introduced in 1958. Thirdly, it has decided that, on this occasion, instead of the Government’s being responsible for the fixation annually of the local price ex-factory it will hand this responsibility over to the industry. Those three features are more or less common to the new scheme and the previous scheme, but the latest scheme also has new features which are of interest to this House. The first is that the butter fat product - not necessarily butter alone - is to be included in the allocation of the bounty. I think that this is quite important, due to the definition in clause 4 in the Dairying Industry Bill a part of which reads as follows: - “ butter “ means butter produced from cow’s milk or from cream derived from cow’s milk, and includes butter fat products …
Second, a novel point is the fact that due to this allocation of bounty on butter fat, not on butter produced, it will be possible for factories which produce a premium type of butter to take advantage of the bounty so that they will be able to produce a higher grade of butter without any loss to their own production system. The third feature of this series of bills which I think extremely valuable is the Government’s undertaking to assist, by a form of bounty, to the extent of £350,000, the manufacturers of processed milk products which we hope will be available for export, thus increasing Australia’s export potential. Competition from overseas in the market for these particular products has been particularly hot during the last few years. I think it comes mainly from the subsidized primary industries of the Netherlands. At the same time, it is a valuable means of disposing of butter fat from Australia which, if it were thrown back into the common pool to be sold as butter in the losing market of the United Kingdom, or wherever it is to be sold - I think it would be mainly in the United Kingdom - would obviously present a problem for the general dairying economy.
At this stage, I would like to say a few words about the justification for the payment of a subsidy to the dairy industry. We have heard from both sides of the House fairly positive evidence that dairying in our rural areas is one of the most valuable industries in not only bringing about the settlement of people on the land but also promoting diversification of commercial activities in our country areas. By that, I mean the establishment of butter factories with the commercial people round those factories as well as the commercial operations of people who are directly engaged in the dairy industry. I suggest that in those areas where it is carried on, dairying is the most valuable form of decentralization; and we should give due regard to that fact when we are considering the vast amount of assistance accorded secondary industries in Australia through government action and through the Tariff Board. To those who are inclined to criticize this subsidy as some sort of hand-out to the dairy farmer, I say that due consideration should be given to the important part that the dairy industry plays in the rural economy of Australia. I say that, having due regard for the fact that it has been suggested that in certain areas the dairy industry is conducted on uneconomic lines. This was suggested in the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry.
I feel that everybody is in agreement with the bill and therefore it is unnecessary for me to carry the argument any further. I shall close on the note that in the past we have had very important people connected with the dairy industry. We have important people connected with it now, and I hope we shall continue to have important people connected with it in the future. I should like to pay a personal tribute to the late Chris Sheehy, one of the former leaders of the industry, who played an important part not only in assisting to establish the stabilization scheme but in the exploration of overseas markets for Australian butter and dairy products generally. He made a magnificent contribution to the Australian dairy industry. I give his successor, Mr. Eric Roberts, a man who has long been connected with the dairy industry, my good wishes for the future in carrying out this most important role that he has undertaken.
.- I rise to take part in this very important debate not because I represent a butter-producing area but because I represent the electorate of Griffith, which includes the areas of South Brisbane, Woolloongabba, Bulimba and West End, all of which are very closely settled areas within the City of Brisbane. I represent not producers but consumers, and I wish to speak to-night on behalf of the declining number of consumers of butter. The Australian consumer is the particular individual involved in the operations of this bill. Much has been said about what this and various other Governments have done over a long period to help the industry but, as a consumer, I know that the price of butter has risen astronomically in recent years. I know that when the Chifley Government was in office, when my friend, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who is now sitting at the table, was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, the price of butter to the consumer in Australia was ls. Hid. per lb. I know also that at the present time, just a few years after that period, the price of butter is 4s. Hid. per lb. That is a fantastic increase.
Many honorable members on the Government side, members of the Australian Country Party in particular, have been at great pains to tell this House and the electors of the reasons for the decline in the consumption of butter and of the methods that should be adopted to increase the consumption of this most important primary product. But, for some political reason, they have all skilfully avoided stating the real reason for the decline in the consumption of butter. Some members on the Government side - fortunately very few of them - could challenge my right to speak with authority on this matter. I was born in a pronounced dairying area. In my youth, I went to western Queensland and lived a sad and hard life under arduous conditions. I then went to the City of Brisbane and lived in an area, which I now represent, under conditions that are quite different from those in the west. I therefore feel that I am competent as one who is fully aware of the difficulties experienced by the producers of butter as well as those suffered by my fellows in the electorate of Griffith at the present time.
While I was at primary school, I was an expert at testing the quality of butter fat. That was part of the education I received at the primary school in Queensland. I therefore hope that honorable members will realize that although I represent an electorate which is situated in the heart of the City of Brisbane, I am competent to speak as an unbiased individual on this most important issue facing us at this very late hour to-night. Certainly in my own opinion I am competent to do so, and I hope that other honorable members will agree with me in that respect. As I have said, I think all honorable members are concerned about the decline in the consumption of butter in Australia. This decline is tragic. Butter is a most important commodity in the diet of the Australian people.
– And it is delicious.
– I agree with the honorable member, lt is safe to say that the ability of the Australian athlete, the ability of the Australian soldier who served in two world wars, and that of those serving in various other spheres is due to the fact that they have had the advantage of in cluding this most important primary commodity in their diet. I would hope that all honorable members are aware of this most important fact. Unfortunately, inroads have been made on the very important dairy industry. The electorate of Griffith comprises those areas in the heart of the City of Brisbane, and I do not profess to be an apostle of the Queensland primary producers. However, I am most sympathetic towards them and appreciate the problems that face them. I leave the advocacy of their case to competent members on this side of the House, such as the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen). I want to speak as a consumer of butter and on behalf of the 42,000 consumers of butter in the division of Griffith.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has been unjustly accused of speaking glibly by the most responsible journalistic organ in Australia, the “ Sydney Morning Herald”. The Minister has not spoken glibly at all; he has spoken most sincerely. He put forward a case on behalf of the primary producers and justified the way in which this matter has been dealt with.
– That is where he went astray.
– I agree that he has gone astray, but he has gone astray because of his sincerity and we must not criticize him on that point. Whilst not opposing the bill, I want to make one or two observations which I hope will be of some value. I am aware of the fact that during that unfortunate period for the Australian people when I was absent from the Parliament, a report on the dairy industry was submitted to the Minister. Although the Government asked for an inquiry into this industry, it has not been prepared to accept the findings of the committee it appointed. I believe that the findings of the committee should have been implemented. After all, the committee consisted of most responsible and independent individuals. There is no need for me to mention their names to you, Mr. Speaker, because you know them, as do the few members who are in the House at the moment. You know their importance, their sincerity and their integrity.
– Only two Country Party members are here.
– Yes, I am aware that only two members of the Country Party are present to listen to what I have to say in this most important debate. Several points in the report of the committee of inquiry should have been heeded, but unfortunately they have been completely disregarded. The Government seems to be following an unfortunate tendency. It appoints committees of inquiry to investigate most important aspects of the Australian way of life and if the findings of the independent tribunal are politically distasteful to the Government, it is prepared to jettison the whole report. I think 1 can speak with safety at the moment, and 1 would say that the evil hand of the Country Party - I use the word “ evil “ not in its full sense - is showing itself in the decisions taken by the Government in this instance, because the findings of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry have been to some extent disregarded.
I want to make some observations on the industry, despite my limited knowledge of it. 1 speak .as a consumer and, I might say, as one who is consuming less. Many people regard butter as a commodity that has a tendency to enlarge the girth of individuals, both male and female. I am to some extent conscious of this evil effect on myself, and I am trying to remedy the situation. The consumption of butter has declined, not for the reason I have given, but because of the increased charge that is being made for it. Several factors contribute to the cost of butter. First, there is the inflationary tendency in the economy for which the Government must take complete responsibility - reluctantly, of course.
– That is only one of its sins.
– Let me mention just some of its sins. If 1 were to refer to the sins of the Government against the dairy industry, one by one, I would not be able, in the half hour available to me, to mention them all. I want to mention only one or two of the terrible sins committed by these people who regard themselves as the advocates of the rights of the farmers. 1 can cast my mind back several years in the political history of Queensland. 1 have no doubt that the two Queensland members of the Country Party who are in the House now may also be able to do so. The dairy industry is heavily burdened - is leadweighted, as it were - by the penalties imposed on it by certain individuals and companies. The dairy industry is badly represented in all our parliaments, both Commonwealth and State, and is, therefore, at a grave disadvantage. I cast my mind back to the days of that iniquitous government in Queensland led by the brilliant - if you so regard him - Country Party member, Mr. Arthur Moore. One of his supporters was Mr. Charles Jamieson, who was the member for Lockyer. Mr. Jamieson was also the chairman of the Queensland Dairymen’s Organization. He held this important position during that disastrous period when the depression was at its worst. The Government led by Mr. Moore was expelled and that brilliant Scotsman, Mr. Forgan Smith, became Premier. Because of complaints made to him by farmers throughout the length and breadth of the magnificent and extensive State of Queensland, he established a commission to inquire into what was called the payment of secret commissions to members of the Queensland Dairymen’s Organization.
– Who did that?
– Forgan Smith, the Labour Premier of Queensland. He was a brilliant statesman and will long be remembered by the citizens of Queensland. It was found that Mr. Charles Jamieson, the Country Party member for Lockyer and leader of the Queensland Dairymen’s Organization, had been accepting secret commissions at the expense of the dairy farmers. Of course, he was ashamed and he withdrew from the electorate and was not prepared to stand again for election. The Minister for Primary Industry in this place is the soul of honour and would not be a party to such a state of affairs.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker. What has the slandering of some individual in Queensland over events that took place in the 1930’s to do with the bill before the House? Perhaps the honorable member ought to slander Mr. Theodore and Mr. McCormack.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Griffith to relate his remarks to the bill.
– I shall do so, Mr. Speaker. Not only do I bow to your ruling but I agree entirely. I want to follow the Standing Orders, but I made this reference in passing. I completely dissociated the present Minister for Primary Industry from that matter. I regard him as the soul of honour. Having made that observation-
– Why not say something about Mr. Gair and his legislation?
– I should be quite happy to do so, but I am sure that Mr. Speaker would not be prepared to allow me to speak about Mr. Gair’s behaviour, much as I would like to. For goodness’ sake, prevent me from doing that.
– To what party did Mr. Jamieson belong?
– I hoped, Mr. Speaker, that you would restrain even the enthusiastic members of my own party from leading me astray. I represent the principal margarineproducing area in Australia and I wish to make some comments on that matter.
– Are any peanuts used in the production of margarine there?
– No, this is a beefproducing area. Meat production is associated with the production of margarine.
– It is pushing butter out.
– That is unfortunate, but there must be a reason for it. I insist that the Australian consumers must be allowed to eat whatever they like. It is completely in opposition to the sentiments expressed in the brilliant speech that was made by Mr. Dean Rusk to-night that we should insist on forcing butter down the throats of the consumers when they would prefer to eat margarine. I do not want to make any observations about quality, but I would say that the consumption of margarine is increasing for economic reasons. The price of butter is far too high. Why? The present Government is culpable for this terrific sin against the Australian people. In terms of the time that he has held his portfolio the present Minister for Primary Industry is a novice, but he must take some of the blame for what has taken place, although he is not entirely culpable.
The report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry shows that production of margarine has been increasing for some time. In 1940 production of margarine totalled 3,700 tons. It had risen to 15,900 tons in 1955 and production for the current year will be 16,000 tons although the production of margarine is restricted by the various State governments.
– Rightly so.
– I do not agree. I am an apostle of liberty. I believe in the freedom of the individual to do what he wants to do. I do not think any government should say to a man, “You will eat roast beef whether you like it or not “, or “ You must eat butter “. Everybody should be at liberty to eat what he chooses, and we should stand for the liberty of the individual.
There are several reasons why the price of butter has risen to its present high level. The committee of inquiry, a responsible body, made several important points on this question. Under the administration of this Government the cost of land has risen to fantastic levels, particularly in Queensland, where it has been found that the dairying industry is most inefficient. Apparently the Government has not been prepared to accept the findings of this committee in relation to States such as Queensland.
Now the dairying industry is facing real issues. The Prime Minister of New Zealand, who is a guest of ours at present, has said that the dairying industry in New Zealand is in a parlous condition just as it is in Australia. It is regarded more or less as a foregone conclusion - and I believe that it is definite - that the United Kingdom will join the European Common Market. That country is our principal consumer of dairy products. An honorable member said earlier - I believe it was a member of the Country Party - that if the United Kingdom joined the European Common Market Australian butter, which now has free entry to the United Kingdom, would be penalized by a tariff of 24 per cent. New Zealand is in the same position.
The outlook is most tragic because in some Australian States the dairying industry is not economic. It is reasonably economic in Victoria, which is a closely settled State, but that is not the position in the northern part of New South Wales. In the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales the industry is too highly capitalized. It is also not a sound economic industry in Queensland.
I think that we should pay some attention to an article which appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 4th May, 1962, headed “ Dangerous Shelving of Dairying Plan “. While I am not prepared to use the harshly critical words levelled at the Minister for Primary Industry in this editorial, because I am a charitable, kindly individual, I think that we should heed some of the observations made in this leading journal. The leading article mentions this important document, the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, which has been published by the Government at considerable expense. The newspaper states, also, that the measures which we are debating this evening will make for healthy profits for almost all the dairy-farmers in Victoria, but that farmers in the northern part of New South Wales, including the Northern Rivers district, and in Queensland, will not be so well served.
Speaking as a consumer, Mr. Speaker, I consider that we have to take some notice of this leading article, which has not been published for base political reasons. Heaven forbid that any one would accuse the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of ever doing such a thing! I believe that that is an upright Australian journal with a sound outlook which favours the development and promotes the welfare of this Commonwealth. I am sure that its views have been printed only after the most careful consideration. I shall not read the leading article to the House. I think that many members of the Parliament have read it, and I hope that those who have not already done so will have recourse to the newspaper files in the Parliamentary Library and will read it for themselves.
There are many evils associated with the dairy industry, and they should be removed. First, there is the inflationary effect of the high cost of land. In various parts of Australia, the cost of land has been inflated unduly, and this Government has done nothing to remedy the situation.
– Does the honorable member mind my quoting him as the authority of the Australian Labour Party? What I want to know is whether he is speaking for the Labour Party when he says these things.
- Mr. Speaker, I am merely quoting the views expressed by the body which the Minister, for whom I have the utmost respect, appointed to inquire and advise him on this most important matter. I am trying to make reasoned observations on this important issue. As I said earlier, I speak as a consumer of dairy products. I speak on behalf of the consumers generally, and I am trying to get the Minister and, through him, the Government, to agree that there are certain evils associated with the dairy industry and that they should be remedied. If they were remedied, the consumption of butter would be greater and the industry throughout the Commonwealth would be in a more equitable and stable position.
I do not wish this matter to be treated as a joke. It hurts me to say this, Mr. Speaker: The Minister, apparently, believes that I am making a personal attack on him. That is not the case.
– I am not worrying about that. The honorable member is saying that the Government should have accepted the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry.
– I am speaking as a consumer and an Australian. I want to see this industry placed on a stable basis. I know that for many years it has been regarded as a family industry. Indeed, it has been more or less an industry of slavery. But we have now got away from that outlook.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, ordinarily I would not address the House on a rural subject. I agree with most of what the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) has said. I was prompted to take part in this debate when I read paragraph 835 at page 79 of the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, which states -
Mr. Malcolm Fraser, M.P., contended that when seeking a solution of present problems, it should be borne in mind that the industry does not need to be an exporting one; . . ,
I have no doubt that the gentleman concerned had in mind the fact that the industry need not be an exporting one if the consumers in this country were properly consuited and advised of the benefits that would accrue to them if they consumed more of the products of the dairy industry.
I know of no industry that is so painstaking in its attempts, through its accredited representatives in Parliament, to insult its most important consumers. In my view, the most important consumers, in the home market anyhow, are in general the small people and especially the workers. To-day, we have seen the so-called representatives of the dairy-farmers - I refer particularly to the few members of the Australian Country Party who are present - continually attacking the Australian Labour Party, which, whether we like it or not, happens to represent the trade unionists and the working people generally, who comprise the great bulk of the Australian consumers of the products of the dairy industry. Members of the Country Party never miss an opportunity to attack those who, for the present, anyhow, happen to be the best customers of the industry.
We on this side of the House do not want the present situation in the dairy industry to continue, any more than members of the Australian Country Party want it to continue. We do not want a situation in which the consumption of dairy products per head of the Australian population is lower than the consumption per head in New Zealand, where there is a consumer subsidy. Let me put it to members of the Country Party this way: Consumers have a very big stake in the dairy industry. But that stake is not to be found in its alleged value in relation to our overseas balances. Many statistics are given in the report of the committee of inquiry, and I do not think it can be denied that the statistics set down there show quite clearly that over a period of ten years, during which our exports of butter earned £136,000,000, we paid £13,500,000 a year, or a total of £135,000,000, in bounty to our butter producers.
Honorable members have read the report of the committee and they all know the precarious position that the industry is in. Economists have described it. However, economists are not humanists. I know that because I have appeared in the former Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in proceedings in which economists made about work in other industries observations similar to those which they have made about work in the dairy industry. After all, the dairy-farmers are workers.
– And how!
– And how, as the honorable member says. That is certainly so with some of them. The economists say that the £135,000,000 expended on bounty over ten years could have been better devoted to other purposes, which would have brought a greater return.
– You are-
– I do not raise something unproductive like race horses, which ought to be banned.
– You are-
– Oh, go back to the stud!
Because we have spent a total of £135,000,000 on bounty over a period of ten years, our butter exports have returned us a net amount of only £1,000,000 to add to our overseas balances over that period. That is the picture of the dairy industry painted by the economists.
Honorable members who have read the report know that the best economists that could be produced presented evidence to the committee. Evidence was given by Professor Downing, Professor Karmel and the best agricultural economists that could be found. Evidence was given on 34 days in Canberra alone. The committee visited more than 4,000 farms. It expressed its opinion, and you know what it said. It said, “ Cut out the subsidy completely.” Does anybody disagree with that? It said, “ Lift the quantitative restrictions on margarine.” But honorable members know what the committee said.
I listened last night to members of the Government saying that they had not known that the United Kingdom was going to enter the Common Market. When we are dealing with the dairy industry we should bear this in mind. Government spokesmen said, “ We did not know that
Great Britain was going to join the Common Market until Duncan Sandys came out here.”
– But you would know, wouldn’t you?
– I did know. Let me tell you this: This is a classic example of the fact that you people never know anything that is going to happen. You know only when it actually happens. If you did not know what was happening in the dairy industry over the last ten years then you will never know anything. During those ten years we have seen inquiry after inquiry conducted. Let me tell you why I know something about this industry and its problems. In late 1929 and the early 1930’s I was engaged in clearing my own location, felling trees, splitting my fence posts, digging holes, stringing the wire on the fences and clearing my pastures, and subsequently I tried to live off the few lousy cows I had been able to buy with a loan from the bank. I did not inherit a nice little farm, as some of you folk did. I did it the hard way. So I know something about this industry. In 1931 there was an inquiry into the economic condition of the industry, conducted by Sir James Mitchell, afterwards known as Moo-cow Mitchell. At that royal commission I gave evidence on behalf of the farmers. I was the first secretary of the Rosa Brook Dairy Farmers’ Union. I was asked what could be done with the area, and I said that the area was not economic and that it should be abandoned. Now I find that this latest committee has discovered what I knew, and gave evidence about, in 1931. The fact is, of course, that the Government has known of these things for a long time, and has done nothing about them.
I support the legislation that the Government has introduced, because I have no alternative; but I say that it offers nothing to the dairy industry. There are some in the industry who are in more fortunate areas and who are fortunately situated, and who can make a go of it. But there are others who have been encouraged - and encouraged by governments - to remain in the industry in areas in which there is no possible hope of success. That cannot be denied, and members of the Country Party know that it is true. Now it appears that honorable members opposite, and especially the members of the Country Party, the socalled representatives of the dairy-farmers, are content to accept this measure as a five-year pay-off. What does the Government say? It says, “ These people may vote against us. Let us give them this £13,500,000.”. In 1942, when the subsidy was introduced, it amounted to more than £13,500,000 is now worth. Now, even with the cloud of the Common Market hovering over them, the dairy-farmers are to get no more. This is all the Government offers them.
I say this to the members of the Country Party: If you really had the interests of the dairy farmers at heart you would say to the Government, “This is not good enough “. After all, it simply means a continuance of the miserable pittance that has been given in the past to the worst sections of the industry. If some people in the industry have to go, they will have to go, but we say that they must be properly rehabilitated, and not left to rot as the coalminers were and the unemployed are. Honorable members opposite know that the position of these people will not improve, particularly in the light of the threat of Great Britain’s entry into the Common Market. If the members of the Country Party were faithful and true to those whom they claim to represent they would dismiss this Government, if only for this reason. One honorable member said last night that now the dairy-farmers will know who their friends are. He never spoke truer words. They know now who their friends are.
The Government has adopted certain of the recommendations made by the committee. One of them concerns the fixing of prices to the consumer. In the past there has been a gentlemen’s agreement with regard to fixing prices to the consumer, but it was never soundly based because it was no more than a gentlemen’s agreement. It is interesting to note also, as the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said, that the committee gave attention to some of the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee, and actually quoted portions of the report of that committee. It suggests that the Commonwealth Government should take steps - by referendum, of course - to acquire control because, if the Commonwealth Government does not, no one ever will. But the Commonwealth Government does not want to take the helm. But as for handing over price fixing to the industry itself, that is all right. God bless private enterprise! The Government would have no hesitation in doing that. I have in mind 1953, I think it was, when the price of butter fat on the London market began to slump. What did the dairy-farmers’ organizations do? Incidentally, the committee states that there is an extraordinary number of organizations representing dairy-farmers, but I shall let that matter pass. The organizations went to the Cain Labour Government in Victoria immediately prices overseas began to fall and said, “ We want higher prices for our butter fat or we will slay our heifers “.
– Who said that?
– The dairy-farmers’ organizations who formed a deputation to John Cain, the Premier of Victoria. It is just as though the seamen went to the shipowners and said, “ Unless you give us an increase we will scuttle our ships “. At least John Cain stood up to the dairyfarmers and they did not carry out their threat. I merely mention that to show the confidence I have that in the future the industry will have control over prices. I say to the industry, “ Do not allow those persons who control the organizations ever again to do what they tried to do to the Cain Government in Victoria “. It is historical that as prices rise consumption decreases. There is no dispute about that. Those honorable members who have taken the trouble to read the report know that to be true.
Other recommendations, some of which would be of benefit to the industry, were made. I believe that those persons who conducted the inquiry and those persons who submitted evidence were all wellintentioned and were acting for the good of the industry, at least in their view. But politically the report did not suit the Government which finally decided that the matter was altogether too hot to handle and that it would fob off the industry with a subsidy of £13,500,000 for the next few years.
– What do you suggest?
– It is not my duty to suggest anything, but if we were given the opportunity we would implement a certain programme for the industry, and the honorable member with his colleagues in the Country Party would vote against it. At present the Country Party has nothing to complain about because I propose to support the lousy measure now before us which gives the dairy-farmers nothing and which was suggested and introduced by the Country Party. For ten years the Country Party has betrayed its trust to those whom it alleges it represents. It is worthy of note that the committee suggests that the trouble in the dairy industry commenced in 1952 when the subsidy ceased to be a consumer subsidy and became a producer subsidy. All through those ten years the industry went into decline, yet members of the Country Party sat, as they sit now, stunned and stolid like oxen.
.- I do not like to give advice but I suggest to those Opposition members who have dairymen in their electorates that they do not allow the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) and the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay) to visit their electorates otherwise the dairymen will really get to know what Labour stands for so far as the dairy industry is concerned. We have heard two typical Labour speeches, one from the honorable member for Griffith, who does not have a dairy farm in his electorate but has a margarine factory, and the other from the honorable member for Darebin who admitted that he could not make a go of dairying. I suggest that those honorable members talk about some other subject. The speech of the honorable member for Griffith was in the nature of a mixed grill. He more or less stated that the prowess of our athletes was due to the health-giving quality of butter. I agree with him. There has been a campaign against butter, emphasizing its association with heart disease; but I believe that heart disease can be attributed with as much justification to the fact, as is evidenced by the great number of motor cars now on the roads, that people are taking less exercise to-day than they did previously and thus are not burning up certain deposits in the bloodstream.
The honorable member for Griffith mentioned the high cost of butter in Australia. There are only two large countries in the world where butter is cheaper than it is in Australia. In Belgium, which is probably one of the highest cost countries, butter sells at 6s. per lb. In France it sells at 6s. 9d. per lb., in Germany at 6s. 4d. per lb., in the United States of America at 5s. Id. per lb., in Canada at 5s. 4d. per lb., in Ireland at 5s. 2d. per lb., and in Australia at 4s. 5d. per lb. In Denmark it costs 4s. 2d. per lb., and in New Zealand it is cheaper still. Obviously we can be really proud of the low price of our butter.
There have been many suggestions that the dairy industry in Queensland is inefficient. That charge is without foundation. I am grateful to the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) who stood up for the Kalbar district which is in my electorate. Obviously he knows something of that area in which there are very efficient farmers. In Queensland we have many disabilities which other parts of Australia do not suffer. In the first place, we do not have the benefit of pastures which have been so heavily and so successfully sown in the southern parts of Australia where climatic conditions and rainfall are so much more favorable than they are in Queensland. In addition the southern States have the benefit of superphosphate. In a sense they enjoy a subsidy which the Queensland dairy-farmers do not have. Dairy-farmers in Victoria and, to some extent, in New South Wales, have the benefit of a subsidy on superphosphate, whereas conditions in Queensland do not permit the economic use of superphosphate. In fact, only 1 per cent, of the superphosphate used in Australia is used in Queensland. In addition, the cattle tick costs our industry £2,700,000 a year. I think the cattle tick extends to some areas of New South Wales. Nevertheless, despite all these disadvantages, we have efficient dairyfarmers in Queensland. They have to be efficient or they will go out of business.
There has been talk about the supposedly high cost of butter. I should like to mention some figures in relation to this. The retail price of butter in 1936 was ls. 7d. per lb. For the average family of five, upon which the basic wage is calculated, the estimated average consumption of 3.075 lb. of butter a week would have cost 4s. lid. a week or 6.64 per cent, of the basic wage. To-day, a similar family pays 15s. a week or 5.28 per cent, of the basic wage for butter. This is a decrease of more than 1 per cent. So no one can say that the cost of butter is greater for a family to-day than it was then.
I do not want to keep the House long at this late hour but there is one thing about which I am very concerned. It is not the responsibility of the Government, because after all this bill is supported by the dairy industry itself and the policy of the Government - and particularly of the Australian Country Party - is not to jam down the necks of the primary producers the sort of marketing system we think they should have. There is a need for the dairy industry to deal with the conditions that exist under the Milk Board of New South Wales. Coming as I do from Queensland, which suffers from serious disabilities in regard to costs, climate, and so on - problems to which we will finally find the answer - I find it strange that New South Wales should have the highest milk price to the consumer in Australia, and consequently the lowest per capita consumption of milk in Australia. I have here some figures to illustrate that. In Brisbane, which has the cheapest retail price of milk in Australia, milk costs 72d. per gallon, while in Sydney it costs 92d. a gallon. In Brisbane the daily per capita consumption of milk is .75 pints, while in Sydney it is .59 pints. It must be realized that although Sydney has the opportunity to get cheap supplies of milk dairy farms are being supported in the metropolitan area. Why that should come about I do not know. I know that the north coast of New South Wales - there are plenty of spokesmen here for that area - could supply Sydney with very much cheaper milk. This does not concern New South Wales only. It concerns the whole of Australia and the whole of the dairy industry, because Sydney is a city of 2,000,000 people.
I have calculated that if the price of milk in Sydney were the same as it is in Brisbane and the per capita consumption rose to equal that of Brisbane, an extra 40,000 gallons of milk would be sold daily in Sydney. This would mean an extra 14,000,000 gallons a year. The result would be that less butter would have to be exported and the less butler we export the higher is the return to the dairies. That is something which the industry should take into consideration. It seems utterly ridiculous that this very high price for milk should exist in Sydney.
The return to the producer for whole milk is far more than double the return for butterfat and why the butter producer should have to accept a lower return is very hard to understand. After all, to produce butter involves considerable work. The milk is separated, the cream taken to the factory to be churned, and the butter is treated, wrapped and packed, yet on an average over the whole of Australia, the butter producer gets only half what the liquid milk producer gets. That is an altogether wrong approach, but again I think it is a question for the industry itself and not for this Government to decide.
I congratulate the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) on this legislation and I congratulate the Government on its support for the dairy industry. After listening to honorable members opposite, I believe that if Labour had been in power over the last twelve years, we would not now have a dairy industry, because we must remember that the only two States in which margarine is manufactured to any great extent have a long history of Labour government. Of the 16,000 tons of margarine manufactured each year in Australia, Queensland and New South Wales are responsible for almost the lot. Do not let any one forget that the Labour Party stands for increased production of margarine.
– It is singularly appropriate that we should return to-night to debating this dairy industry legislation after having been lectured to some order by our distinguished and welcome American guest. I thought it very kindly of him to take such trouble to lay down the law for the Australian people to-night in so many matters. Momentarily it seemed to me that we must already be the fifty-first state of the United States of America. But I was glad to recall that we are still a free and independent people. We are accustomed to hearing the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) refer to our rich and powerful friends. It seems to me that we must add the word “ candid “ and refer to our rich, powerful and candid friends; for our guest surely left none of us in any doubt as to what we are due to get in our approaches for consideration for the dairy industry and other primary industries from the countries of the Common Market.
The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) may dream his dreams, build his arguments, fly to every capital and send his negotiators to every chancelry: but it appears that our rich and powerful and candid friend has already made the decision and that it is thumbs down to consideration for Australia’s exports in the European Common Market. The warning to the dairy industry is grim and clear.
We are all delighted to welcome and honour our distinguished American visitor, but I could wish to be free of the uneasy feeling that I formed to-night that somewhere the impression exists that we are willing to be quick to take instruction on this or any other matter of national policy. We may be grateful to our rich and powerful and candid friends, but I have gained the idea somewhere that there is need for us to make it clear that we are still a sovereign and independent nation.
We have just heard the honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) engaging in the favourite pastime of members of the Country Party, that is, condemning the price of a primary product as being too high - absurdly high, as he described it - and demanding that it should be lower. It seems extraordinary indeed that people can come into this Parliament purporting to be representatives of the farmers and yet stand up in this place only to condemn the interests of the farmers and the prices sought by them for their products. Never do they raise their voices to condemn or criticize the prices which farmers have to pay for the products that they buy. Incidentally, the Country Party member for McPherson was not even correct in the price that he quoted for butter. It is sold for 4s. lid., per lb. in Canberra at least, not for 4s. 5d. per lb. as said by the honorable member.
This bill is welcome to the dairy industry, I am sure, for one reason and for one reason only: It marks a rejection of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry’s recommendation for abolition of the subsidy by progressive stages over ten years. What a source of remorse it ought to be to members of the Australian Country Party that none of them, from the moment that that report was produced, made any attempt over the remaining eighteen months to raise his voice in protest against that recommendation! Nor did they make any endeavour to persuade this Government to reject the recommendation.
I was very glad to hear the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) at last recant his stand in this matter. Now that the issue is decided and the Government has rejected the recommendation to do away with the butter subsidy, the honorable member for Macarthur, at last and over-late, stands up in his place and says what a dreadful thing it would have been if that recommendation had been put into practice. But when there was a need for him to speak on behalf of butter producers, and a need for all members of the Country Party to take some stand on behalf of the farmers whom they are supposed to represent, not one of them raised his voice in this Parliament.
The dairy industry to-day is not suffering from the implementation of that recommendation of the inquiry committee for one reason only. That reason, of course, the Minister well knows. It was the general election result and the general election result only which caused the Government to have a change of heart in this matter. Whereas the representatives of the Country Party, of whom he is one, would not previously rise in their place and publicly condemn the committee’s proposal, many of them are no longer in their places in this Parliament and able so to speak. Their places have been filled by representatives of the Australian Labour Party who can speak for the dairy industry with a true appreciation of its interests and its importance.
– Your own party is divided, judging from the speeches that have been made this evening.
– My party is not in the least divided. I heard the honorable member for Mcpherson say that we would be unwise to take the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay) into any dairying electorate. I would be very proud to have the honorable member for Darebin in my electorate. I am certain that if he spoke to the dairy farmers of the Bega Valley in the way in which he spoke to the House to-night he would receive enthusiastic support, because they know that a very great deal of what he said is the very heart and truth of this matter. But I would advise Government supporters not to take the honorable member for McPherson into any electorate in the milk zone of New South Wales, because clearly he is not in favour of a reasonable price for the milk industry. To-night, speaking as a representative of the Australian Country Party, he declared the price received by the New South Wales dairy-farmer to be absurdly high.
The bill before the House provides for a bounty for the butter producer for the next five years. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has informed us that the bounty will be paid at the rate of £13,500,000 in each year. This bill, therefore, marks the final stage of the destruction, which has taken place, step by step, of the edifice of protection which was built for the butter producer by the Labour Government. With this piece of legislation that protection has finally been swept away in these two senses: There is no longer even any pretence of providing the guaranteed found cost of production to the butter producer; and there is no longer any assurance of a price arrangement which will enable him to- receive a just return for his efforts.
It is most curious, not only to myself but, I suppose, to many people, that those who are most vociferous in upholding the right of the Australian worker, the Australian manufacturer and the Australian city dweller to an Australian standard of living are either strangely silent concerning an Australian standard of living for the Australian farmer, or actually in opposition to it. It is amazing to me that people will quite cheerfully, and without a word of complaint, pay three times as much for a transistor radio in Australia as it would cost in Singapore, or twice as much for a suit of clothes in Australia as it would cost in Hong Kong, or two and a half times as much for a motor car in Australia as it would cost in Detroit, because they believe that those engaged in the relevant industries are entitled to an Australian standard of living; yet they demand that Australian butter should be sold to them at the price at which it is sold on the world market. This appears to me to be ludicrously illogical.
The decline which is taking place in many small country towns and villages throughout Australia to-day is surely a warning sign to us to do something to redress the balance and to give to the Australian country dweller and the Australian primary producer at least some of the rights and standards and amenities which are taken for granted by the occupants of the six great sprawling capital cities of this country. In many parts of the Eden-Monaro electorate you can go into small towns and villages and find that the overwhelming proportion of the population consists of middle-aged and old people. The young people are simply no longer living there. There is no opportunity there for them to obtain a living. There is certainly no inducement for them to stay there from the point of view of amenities or social life or the ordinary enjoyments which they can obtain in the cities. This, of course, is an extraordinarily bad position, and it is rendered worse by the fact that the representatives of country electorates have to fight even to maintain some of the inadequate mail or telephone services which have existed for the previous 50 or 60 years.
Everywhere throughout the countryside there is this evidence of decline and decay. As I have said, it is a tragic position. The people remaining in these communities are compelled to fight tooth and nail even to maintain the facilities which their grandfathers and great-grandfathers enjoyed. Every month one finds some proposal to reduce the mail service from five times a week to three times a week, to close up some telephone office, or to do a great many other things which reduce the standard of living and the opportunity for ordinary social intercourse and communication of people who are still endeavouring to battle it out in country towns.
I have heard it said by people who are city dwellers that their only interest in butter is to obtain it at a lower price, that they have no other interest in the butter industry than to ensure that they do not pay any more for butter than is paid by the housewife in the London shops. And they act as though the blame for the present price of butter, and the blame for the fact that the Commonwealth Treasury is required to provide £13,500,000 each year as a subsidy for this industry rests with the dairy-farmers of Australia. This, of course, is completely absurd. The dairy farmer is in no way responsible for the increased costs which his industry has had to face in the last twelve years. He has been in no way responsible for inflation. Unfortunately he is largely represented by a political party which makes no attempt on his behalf to control the factors which continually increase the price and cost of very product and commodity that he has to buy, and he is unable to control them. Therefore, he is as much entitled as is any other citizen of the Australian community to be recompensed for the increased costs that he has to bear.
It is a most extraordinary fact, that while, so far as I know, with one or two exceptions, special provision exists to ensure that every manufacturer of every other product obtains at least the cost of his production and that proper standards of wages are taken into account for every other worker, yet here to-night we are facing a position in which we are proposing to provide £13,500,000 in subsidy for the butter industry for each of the next five years; and we are claiming that we are doing a magnificent thing for the industry, that what we are doing will more than satisfy the leaders of the industry. But the fact remains that the price which the dairy farmer now receives, and will continue to receive for the next five years, will be lOd. per lb. below his actual cost of production if he is to be enabled to enjoy ordinary decent Australian living standards.
The history of the butter industry in the last few years was traced this afternoon by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), and I think it will be admitted by every honorable member who has a knowledge of these things that, up till the outbreak of World War II., the butter producer was really living in a completely depressed industry. In the late 1930’s, he was lucky to be receiving 9d. or lOd. per lb. for the butter that he produced. The edifice of protection for the butter industry was created entirely by the Labour Government, and the creation of it was criticized and opposed by the members of the Australian Country Party, who were then sitting in Opposition. During the years in which the Labour Government was in office, with the exception of one, the butter producer obtained the found actual cost of his production. The only year which was an exception to that rule was 1949 when it could be, and was, argued by the then Opposition that the producer was receiving lid. per lb. less than the found cost of production. Very bitter attacks were launched by members of the Country Party against the Chifley Government because, they alleged, the Government was paying the butter producer lid. per lb less than the found cost of production in that year. Yet we have complete silence from those members now when, over the last six years in particular, year by year, the difference between the found cost of production and the actual price paid to the producer has steadily grown until to-day, on actual figures, the producer is receiving, as honorable members in the Country Party corner will know, lOd. per lb. less than the found cost of production.
Lip service only having been paid to the principle of the found cost of production over the last few years, it has now disappeared altogether. From now on, the industry is to receive £13,500,000 a year as a maximum, irrespective of what its costs of production are. There is no provision for any annual adjustment of the rates.
– Some of your colleagues think that should be eliminated, if we are to judge from their speeches to-night.
– I would like to know what you think. I do not accept this attitude of the Country Party-
– Some of your colleagues think it should be eliminated.
– The honorable member thinks the subsidy should be eliminated; I am shocked to hear it.
– I said that some of your colleagues think it should be eliminated. I think it should be maintained.
– The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) says he believes that the present rate of subsidy should be maintained. Does he not believe that this industry, like every other industry, is entitled to an annual review of its costs and to have the subsidy and the price reviewed and altered in accordance with what is shown by the annual review of costs?
– Do not be hypocritical about it. That is not your party’s policy. You do not intend to pay one penny more yourselves.
– If I might answer the Minister for Primary Industry, who said the other day that the Bega Valley produced no butter, I would say that he has shown again, by his latest interjection, his complete ignorance in this matter. Let me quote to him the official policy of the Labour Party. We undertook to pay an annual subsidy of not less than £13,500,000 a year. That was a minimum guarantee by the Labour Party, and the Minister completely distorts the position. He says that we proposed to limit assistance to the industry to £13,500,000 a year. On the contrary, we made two stipulations. The first was that the minimum of £13,500,000 would be subject to alterations in prices overseas so that if, by any chance, the price became an economic one and covered the cost of production, we would not be in the position of being required to pay the subsidy on top of the found cost of production. That was the only stipulation that we made in that respect. But we made another special stipulation which the Minister will surely remember when I remind him of it. For this and other industries facing the problems created by the Common Market, we undertook to provide special additional subsidies to enable them to pass through the transition period while they were establishing themselves in new markets in other parts of the world. In addition to that - and this was of tremendous importance - I remind the Minister that we offered the dairy industry a fertilizer subsidy of £3 a ton. Being reminded of these things, I am sure that the Minister will agree that the policy of the Labour Party was far more liberal than the policy of the Liberal Government.
– How does that affect the dairy industry?
– I do not understand that interjection.
– No, you do not.
– I certainly do not. Labour’s policy would be of far greater value to the dairy industry than this Government’s policy is.
As we have already said, we do not oppose the bill. It does something for the butter producer, but it does not do nearly enough. The chief effect of the bill is to take away from the dairy industry the final vestiges of the system of protection built for it by the Labour Government. I say that because the bill does two things. It takes away the annual review of the dairy farmer’s production costs and limits him to £13,500,000 no matter how much inflation in the next five years may further increase those costs. It also takes away from him the guaranteed Australian price for his products that the Labour Government gave to him.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Kelly) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to raise to-night a number of matters that I have not been allowed to raise because of the attitude of the Government. Let me at the outset place on record my disagreement with the policy of the Government which, during this sessional period, has continually gagged debates and endeavoured to stifle criticism by private members of the Parliament. Since this Parliament assembled, I have been gagged during the adjournment debate on, I think, five or six occasions. To-night at eight minutes to 12 o’clock we are given the opportunity to discuss matters that may be of interest to us. If the Government is not afraid of criticism, why does it not from time to time give private members the opportunity to discuss matters on the motion for the adjournment of the House from, say, 9.30 or 10 o’clock at night? Why have we to wait until the middle of the night to bring forward matters that are vital and important to our electorates? The fact is that the Government is still smarting from the defeat inflicted on it by the electors last December, and it desires to stop members of the Opposition from expressing themselves on matters that they wish to raise.
I have risen in the House on several occasions. On each occasion I have been gagged. Many times, the Government, after entering into agreement with the Opposition, through the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), has with the utmost contempt disregarded the agreement and moved the gag, so curtailing the opportunities to speak that are available to honorable members on this side of the House. Government supporters have remained seated and watched this happen. They have made no effort to give Opposition members an opportunity to speak. To-night, because the Government thought that no honorable member would seek to speak, it moved the adjournment of a debate at almost midnight. In the election last December, the Government finished with a minority of votes of 317,000. In addition, it lost a record number of seats for one election. It was startled out of its complacency by the reaction of the electorates to its incompetence. But what is the position to-day? We see Government supporters arrogantly continuing on their way, paying scant respect to Opposition members who received the majority of votes at the election.
We see Ministers running away from their responsibilities to the Parliament. They do not enter an adjournment debate to answer the criticisms of Opposition members. The gag is moved now more frequently, perhaps, than it was moved when the Government had a majority of 32 in this House. Again and again, the Government has refused to allow Opposition members to express their opinions on matters of importance. One of the rights that have been filched from members of the Parliament is the right of private members to express themselves. In all matters of debate, the minimum time is allowed by the Government to honorable members to express themselves. The Government knows of the criticism that we on this side of the House would level at it.
To-night we have seen only a sprinkling of Government supporters in the House. Only one or two members of the Australian Country Party have been present and only one of them has been awake.
But the one that has been awake does not know what the debate is all about. Government supporters have the utmost contempt for the decorum of the Parliament and for the rights of private members to speak and to offer criticism in debate. The attitude and policies of the Government should be brought to light. What is the position since the Government was elected last December? More than 100,000 people are still unemployed. The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie), who is interjecting and who is very voluble on a lot of tinpot matters, never raises his voice to speak on behalf of the countless thousands of people who are still unemployed under a Government that refuses to make any constructive effort to provide employment for the people.
To-night we have been discussing the dairy industry,, but very few members of the Country Party have been present in the House. They could not care less about the welfare of the people associated with the industry. The Liberal Party benches are practically empty. The few Ministers who are here do not know the true facts of the matter or what it is all about. The Minister for Primary Industry, when he moved the adjournment of the House, thought that the motion would be agreed to and that there would be no criticism of the Government. To-night, I ask the Government to say what it is doing about the unemployment situation. Why is it that under this Government to-day more than 100,000 men and women are unable to obtain work? Why is the Government not giving effect to policies that would put these men and women in employment? What policy can the Government put forward that would restore the confidence of the people in an Administration that has created this state of affairs? It is all very well to bring people to this country for great international conferences in an effort to cover up the Government’s incompetence.
The true facts are that the Government tries to stifle criticism. It has refused to allow criticism of its economic policies, but to-day more than 100,000 men and women are unable to obtain work. I would like to hear the honorable member for Moore give us his solution to this problem. He does not seem to care about these matters, as long as he has a seat in the Parliament and is temporarily employed himself. I would like to know what members of the Liberal Party think of these matters. Sitting on the treasury bench is one of the economists of the Government. When we look at him we can understand why the country is in so much trouble. What has the Minister for Air (Mr. Bury) to say about the economic policies of the Government? The Government’s policies have caused untold suffering to many thousands of people. What solution to the problem can the Minister for Air offer? How would he provide work for these thousands of people? What stimulus has been given to industry in this country since the Government came to office last December? What incentive has been given to the people to produce and to expand and develop the industries in which they work? What effort has been made to provide avenues of work for the Australian people? This Government has done nothing. It is devoid of constructive policy and has no sincere intention of giving effect to worth-while policies.
These are matters on which we would like to hear reports from the government of the day. I would like to see Government supporters rise during the adjournment debate and defend the policies of the Government. But we know full well that they have no confidence in the present Administration. Reports suggest that there is some dissatisfaction with the leadership of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), that to-day many members on the Government side of the House silently pay lip service to his policies, knowing full well that they will ultimately prove to be destructive for them individually and for the nation generally. That is why to-day debate is curtailed. We are unable to express our views on matters of interest to the public except when the Government decides to allow us to do so.
In my electorate, many thousands of people are unemployed because of the policies which received the support of the honorable member for Moore and other honorable members opposite. Many thousands of people in my electorate are unable to obtain work because the Government has destroyed the confidence of the people and the employing capacity of the nation. Why does not the Government give to the States the money that the States need to undertake developmental works? Why is not something done by the Government to provide employment for the people in my electorate and in other parts of Australia? I would like to know why the Government does not give effect to policies that will maintain the stability of the Australian industries in my electorate. There are people in my electorate who cannot get an opportunity to work because these industries have been practically destroyed by the import and export policies of the Government.
– Your electorate needs a new member.
– To look at the honorable member for Moore one would not think that the Australian Labour Party would be silly enough to give him its preferences. He was out of the last Parliament because the Labour Party gave its preferences against him, and I do not know what prompted it to reverse its decision. The previous member for Moore rarely sat in this Parliament. He showed tremendous wisdom compared with the voluble member who now represents that electorate and who makes no real contribution to the debates.
The matters that come before this Parliament give no indication of any improvement in the economic situation. Consider the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) who is mumbling to himself some sort of interjection. He is rarely in the Parliament. If he had not had to introduce a bill relating to the dairy industry we would not have known that he was a member of the Parliament. When the Minister came into the House to-night I almost had to be introduced to him; he is here so seldom. He treats the Parliament with contempt. He puts up a Dorothy Dix question, answers it improperly, brings in dairy industry bill, interjects on other honorable members, and otherwise we would hardly know that he is about.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The other day at question (une I asked the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) what progress had been made towards providing a site for the national television station in Canberra. In reply the Minister told me that he had recently visited the site on the top of Black Mountain and was satisfied that the erection of a studio was proceeding satisfactorily. This answer alarms me a little, because it indicates that the Postmaster-General is unaware of the facts. I take this opportunity of bringing them to his attention.
The studio is not to be erected on the top of Black Mountain but is to be built in the city area of Canberra. So far as I know, no site has yet been allocated for that studio. The national television station in Canberra is due to begin televising in December and, on the information available to me, even if a site were provided now, it would not be possible for that studio to be in operation until the end of 1963. This means that for the first twelve months of national television in the national capital it will be impossible to originate any programme here. It will be possible only to provide programmes which have been relayed from Sydney or Melbourne. It will be impossible, for example, to provide a local news session or any other of the services which a district deserves from the district television station.
I therefore ask the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who is at the table, to mention this matter to the PostmasterGeneral so that he may make some investigation to find out what is the cause of this extraordinary situation.
– I shall do so.
– Thank you. It appears that there is some lack of coordination between the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the National Capital Development Commission in Canberra. The National Capital Development Commission has done very good work in many ways, but I think it would be entirely wrong for it to take the attitude that it would not provide a site for a national television studio in Canberra until the A.B.C. consented to, and set a date for, the transfer of the whole A.B.C. head-quarters to the national capital. I should like to see the A.B.C. head-quarters transferred to Canberra in due course, but I think this is a matter outside the province of the National Capital Development Commission. If any argument of this kind is proceeding between the two bodies, and this is resulting in the people of Canberra and surrounding districts being deprived of the opportunity to see locally originated television programmes, I think it is a matter for direct and urgent Government attention.
.- First, I wish to endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) entirely, but I feel that the position in his electorate is not as acute as it is in Hunter. There is a large army of unemployed there, and the Government is still unable to solve the problem. I approached the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) last year before the House went into recess in the hope that he would provide in the Budget for a tax concession to mine workers who have to travel approximately 70 miles a day to employment that has been obtained, by those fortunate enough, in the industries at Newcastle and other places.
The House will soon be going into recess and I shall not again have an opportunity in the present sessional period to ask the Government to consider sympathetically my request that these unfortunate mine workers be granted a tax concession to offset the travelling expenses they incur. These men have spent the greater part of their lives in the coal industry. They have been retrenched through the actions of coal monopolists who have shut down mines because they have been unable to secure the profits they would like to get. I hope the Government will grant an annual tax concession of at least £50 or £100 to these men. After paying their subscriptions to the mine pensioners’ superannuation fund and approximately £2 a week to travel to work, as well as a subscription to a medical fund, these men have only about £12 a week, on the average, for the maintenance of their wives and children.
I wish to pass now to an important matter concerning the amalgamation of the two police forces in the Australian Capital Territory. I refer to the Australian Capital Territory Police Force and the Commonwealth Police Force. I understand that the Government has been considering this amalgamation for some time, and it would be in the interests of the community generally if it would reach a conclusion soon and act in a commonsense and practical way. Many honorable members know that
I had considerable experience in the police force of New South Wales before coming to this Parliament. I fully support the amalgamation of the Territory Police and the Commonwealth Police Force. It is mere common sense, because in this small Territory we have two Commissioners of Police, and each is paid a salary from the Commonwealth Treasury. The Commonwealth Police Act was passed in 1957, and it seems to me that the Government has been dilatory in not making this obvious move earlier. The Government is now talking about it. When will it act?
In this Territory, Mr. Speaker, we find that some 85 members of the Commonwealth Police Force are actively engaged in police duty around the establishments of Commonwealth departments, on patrol duty and on plain-clothes duty, while we have about 95 members of the Australian Capital Territory Police Force engaged on local duty in uniform and in plain clothes. At the moment, they are kept quite separate administratively and operationally, and probably crime is not being cleared up and property is not being recovered because one body does not let the other know what it is doing.
I shall give you a few examples, Mr. Speaker, and I shall illustrate, from my experience in these matters, how this talkedabout amalgamation could benefit the taxpayers and this Government if the Government would move in the matter. The Commonwealth police have vehicles continually patrolling about Commonwealth offices in the Australian Capital Territory. They are primarily concerned at present with what goes on in Commonwealth establishments and with offences against Commonwealth law. Their vehicles are fitted with two-way radio, as one might expect, but the astonishing thing is that the radios in one set of vehicles work on one wavelength and those in the other set of vehicles work on another wave-length. This is the sort of thing that the Government permits, and has permitted for some time. The result, of course, is that the Commonwealth police do not receive messages supplying the registration numbers of stolen cars or the descriptions of persons who are wanted by the Australian Capital Territory police. And the converse, I suppose, is true also.
What happens? The Commonwealth police, on their patrols, could be driving past stolen vehicles and walking past wanted men in the streets, thus giving wanted criminals a sense of security and more encouragement. Every one in this House is well aware of the shocking crime that occurred here not so long ago when the life of a very decent young woman named Beverley Keys was taken. In the circumstances that I have mentioned, criminals are free to continue their depredations.
When a big fete is held in the grounds of Government House and thousands of visitors congregate, the Commonwealth police, 1 understand-
– What about Common.wealth pensions?
– If one can judge by the way the honorable member is going on, he should have been on a pension years ago.
I understand that the Commonwealth Police Force provides police to patrol within the grounds of Government House and among the stalls and the people on the occasion of a fete. But, just outside the gate, the Australian Capital Territory police supervise the parking of cars in rows. So two police forces in this small Territory are used to control crowds and supervise activities at gatherings such as these, but their duties are separated at the gates of Government House. The same sort of situation arises when a Royal visit occurs or when a visit by the head of a foreign State is arranged in the Australian Capital Territory. The Commonwealth police provide the personal bodyguard and police the grounds of Government House and the precincts of other Commonwealth establishments and the Australian Capital Territory police patrol the public highways. I seem to recall that a contingent of Commonwealth Police was stationed outside this building when the cortege passed by on the occasion of the funeral of the late Viscount Dunrossil. There is a great deal of overlapping, and there is much likelihood of inefficiency in the fields in which this overlapping occurs.
I could recount other circumstances which I know from my own experience, would certainly result from this unnecessary state of affairs in the policing of the Australian Capital Territory. Perhaps 1 may mention just one more.
– What about the-
– Order! The honorable member for Moreton is out of his place.
– I shall tell on the honorable member if he is not careful.
I have mentioned the fact that there are plain-clothes police in both the Commonwealth Police Force and the Australian Capital Territory Police Force. It is safe to assume that thefts of property, both private and Commonwealth, are reported to each force for investigation - some to the Australian Capital Territory police and some to the Commonwealth police. If a suspect moves from one establishment to another and a different set of investigators from a different force follows up the inquiries, obviously this weakness in the police organization assists the culprit to avoid detection. What is required ,of course, is a strong, close-knit organization with an efficient modus operandi section.
I think that I have demonstrated quite clearly, from a practical point of view, the absolute need for the amalgamation of these two forces, Mr. Speaker.
– This view is not shared by the Australian Capital Territory Police Association, I understand.
– The view may not be shared by that body, Sir, but it is based on my experience and on common sense. Police associations are not always right. Often, in situations such as I have described, the smaller force - in this instance, the Australian Capital Territory Police Force - entertains fears about its future in the event of an amalgamation taking place. That kind of fear is usually that conditions will suffer. I believe that that fear is predominant in the mind of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser). But I can see only an uplift in prestige for the Australian Capital Territory police as a result of an amalgamation of the two forces.
At the moment, this body is purely a parochial one, with duties limited to the Australian Capital Territory. It has a ceiling establishment of about 95, and this means that promotion is slow. The service of members of this force is restricted absolutely to the Australian Capital Territory. The Commonwealth Police Force, on the other hand, has an overall establishment of about 650 men, spread throughout the Commonwealth, with main offices in each State, lt is the national force of the Commonwealth, and I know from my own experience that it is the channel of communication in overseas matters which are handled through the Department of External Affairs. With the general use of jet aircraft, foreign extradition proceedings are becoming more frequent, and the national, or Commonwealth, police are becoming more and more concerned with these matters.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.Mr. Speaker, this evening we attended a parliamentary dinner given, as everybody knows, for the Prime Minister of New Zealand and the Secretary of State of the United States of America. The Secretary of State occupies an important position in the world. His position is especially important in relation to Australia, because every facet of the policies of the United States is extremely important to us. There are areas of thought in which we disagree. I am sure that the United States would expect us to disagree in some matters. But there are other areas of thought, relating to the dignity and freedom of man and the preservation of our way of life, in which the people of the United States and we would expect to agree.
I am sure that this evening’s dinner will live in the memory of all who attended it. After a number of introductory speeches, we heard an address by Mr. Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State of the United States of America. I believe that that speech in its entirety should have been listened to avidly by all members of the Parliament, and, indeed, by everybody in the Commonwealth of Australia. I think that the concluding part of Dean Rusk’s speech, when he apparently departed from his prepared text and let the thoughts of Dean Rusk emerge, was particularly important to us. lt gave us some measure of the man. It gave us some measure of the thinking at the top levels in the formulation of United States policy. I found the speech very reassuring. 1 gained from it confidence in the future of Australia and its people and in future co-operation between this nation and the United States. As a result of this speech, Mr. Speaker, I feel some certainty that what we are aiming at is right, because it has the accord of people who have applied their minds to the same problems to which we have applied our minds.
For these reasons, I felt very sorry for Opposition members, who could feel nothing but bewilderment, because they did not know how to react to the speech and because some of them could not understand. They were bewildered because they realized that the very issues concerned are the things on which the Australian Labour Party is about to break itself asunder and some of them refused even to clap the speaker. Honorable members opposite are well aware of the disagreements that have occurred in the executive of the Parliamentary Labour Party. It was most unfortunate that the executive disagreed on policy on nuclear armaments in relation to Australia. It is reliably reported to us that Senator Kennelly, who is a member of the executive, said, “ All we can do is trust in God “. But the other members of the executive had a better solution than trusting in God: They referred the matter to the federal executive of the Australian Labour Party.
At this time, the Australian community is entitled to know where the Labour Party stands on this issue. If the Australian community spoke with a unified voice, I am sure, it would lay down the challenge to the Labour Party in these terms: Let every member of the Australian Labour Party declare where he stands on this issue. Does he stand for the abandonment of the integrity of this country, or does he stand for the preservation of this Australian democracy? I feel that every member of the Labour Party should be able to stand up in this House and say, “ Errors have been made by one power bloc and by another power bloc, but this is a day in May, and as from this day in May let us disregard those errors of the past and let us think of the great objective that we should all have foremost in our minds - disarmament and the cessation of nuclear tests “.
I look at all the honorable members on th. other side of the House, and particularly at the galahs who nod their grey heads, and I ask myself how many of them will say, “As from this point I stand for the cessation of nuclear tests, and I agree that the only way in which we can be sure that nuclear tests have been discontinued universally is by ensuring that everybody will know that they have ceased”? Of course, in order to know that nuclear tests have been discontinued we must have some capacity to look inside other countries. How many people on the other side of the House will say that they want a cessation of nuclear tests and that they agree that in order to achieve such a cessation there must be a degree of inspection of other countries? How many of them will say this?
The tragedy is that honorable members on the other side of the House will look for some escape. They will look here, there, and everywhere, rather than face the problem that will arise from the fact that if they say there must be a degree of inspection they will run completely counter to the Soviet line. It is for them to declare themselves. If they are realists, if they have the interests of this country at heart, if they have the interests of the population of Australia, the freedom of man and the preservation of our democratic system at heart, then they will say, “ Let us have a complete cessation of nuclear tests, and let us agree that there must be some degree of inspection “. They must also accept the proposition that if this cessation of nuclear tests cannot be achieved Australia must be armed with the weapons of retaliation.
The Labour Party may trust in God and, desirable as that trust may be, is it not a little unfair to put your trust in God when you are not prepared to do something yourself? The policy which apparently has been adopted by the Labour Party was adopted, I suggest, on the casting vote of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). If this is not so, then let the honorable gentleman get up and say so. Let the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) give his views. He remained seated while everybody else stood and applauded the United States Secretary of State.
– I am not to be regimented by you or anybody else on your side of the House.
– No, you exercised your own free will and you remained seated. You were not prepared to extend the courtesy which so many of those who sit behind you extended. That is the tragedy of the thing. All these people who claim to be able to form an alternative government are bewildered because those who pretend to lead them have not the capacity to lead what we would like to believe would be a dynamic Labour government.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I should like to make a personal explanation, Mr. Speaker. I did not fail in any way in the duty of courtesy that I owed to the guest at our dinner to-night. I gave him all the courtesies which were his due, and I was very glad indeed to be in his presence. But, while I am on the point, let me make it plain that I do not choose to stand simply because the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) expects me to stand. Nor would I sit because the honorable member expected me to sit.
– The honorable member may not debate the matter.
– Well, he was accusing me, Sir, of having been discourteous in remaining seated. This statement by the honorable member is untrue. I reserve my right to do as I please. They did not rise for the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and although the honorable member for Bruce chose to rise for some other guest 1 contend that I am free to do as 1 think is right in the circumstances. I will not take my dictation or my lesson in manners from him; I think he would be a very bad instructor.
– It will be a sorry day for this country when people are regimented in displaying courtesies to visitors, no matter who those visitors may be. This is not the subject on which I intended to speak, but I must say that it occurs to me as, I am sure, it has occurred to many other people, that it is a great pity that the United States of America has decided to recommence nuclear tests. I am quite prepared - and I make no bones about it - to say where I stand on this subject. I am quite sure that every other member of the Labour Party is equally willing to say where he stands. If the Labour Party decides to deal with this subject in a mature and considered manner then that is the Labour Party’s prerogative and privilege. The Labour Party wants to be sure where it stands when it makes a decision on such an important matter, and its decision will not necessarily be a conformist decision, depending on what other countries think about the subject.
I repeat, however, that I believe that the United States of America lost a great opportunity in this instance to say, even in the face of the resumption of nuclear tests by Russia, “We will desist from continuing tests. We have witnessed the resumption of tests by Russia, which we think is unfortunate, but we are still prepared to give other countries one more opportunity to realize the magnitude of the damage they can do to the world.” It is my modest opinion that in the face of such a challenge it would have been almost impossible for any country to inaugurate a third series of tests. However, that opportunity has been forgone.
I rose to-night to speak about the preparation of the forthcoming Budget. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) will be inundated with requests for provisions to be made in the Budget. However, I do not believe that all honorable members on both sides of the Parliament would not be prepared to agree to the requests made by civilian widows. I remind the House that an A class civilian widow with one dependent child gets the paltry allowance of £5 10s. a week. I hope that my comments are being heard by the Treasurer and those in close contact with him. Although he will have many requests, I do make this appeal on behalf of these unfortunate women. A widow may have a child of fourteen or fifteen years of age, still going to school and still needing all the things that are required by a child going to school, but she gets no more than the £5 10s. which is allowed as an A class widow’s pension. We should remember that two elderly persons, in many cases with not nearly the same demands made on them, receive £10 10s. a week, subject of course to a similar means test as is applicable to the civilian widow. Yet a civilian widow with one child of up to sixteen years of age receives only £5 10s. a week, or 5s. more than a pensioner! It is true that a widow, if she can work and if employment is available to her, is allowed to earn £3 10s. a week for herself and 10s. for each child; but there are many widows who are not able to do this, yet have three or four dependent children. Imagine the feelings of a widow who, after working to earn £3 10s. for herself and 10s. for each child, has to come home to the cold atmosphere of a home from which she recently lost her husband!
To summarize, a civilian widow with five dependent children can receive in total £5 10s. in pension, plus permissible earnings of £3 10s., plus 10s. for each child other than the first. That means that such a widow is not receiving an amount as high as the basic wage. It is difficult enough to imagine a widow with five children being able to go out to work, far less having to provide for them and for herself from less than the basic wage. Usually a widow has had no warning of the fate that is to befall her and so has not an opportunity to provide for herself. She may be in middle life or even early life and she is confronted with the need to pay rent, or to pay off a home, in which event she has to meet the same rates and other charges as had to be paid when her husband was alive and was able to contribute to the cost. These are sad cases and I appeal to the Government to give consideration to my request. The provision restricting a widow’s earnings to £3 10s. a week plus 10s. for each additional child has not been changed for a number of years. We all acknowledge that the costs of practically every item in the land have risen in recent years, but unfortunate widows with dependent children have not been compensated for the increased cost of living. Only in the case of an only child or, if there are more than one child, in the case of the last child does the widow receive a continuation of her A class pension until that child reaches eighteen years of age, provided he or she is a full-time student. To-day it is commonplace for youngsters to aspire to continue at school to sixteen or seventeen years of age, but the civilian widow is given no assistance in that circumstance. When the one child that I mentioned reaches the age of sixteen, if he is not a full-time student the widow receives only the princely sum of £4 12s. 6d. a week, which is less than what the age pensioner receives. The age pensioner receives £5 5s. a week. Treating the matter in a nonpolitical way, it is clear that in the economic climate of to-day it is very difficult for a widow in middle life or in the 50 to 60 years age group to have the opportunity to earn even the sparse amount of £3 10s., which is permissible. On behalf of these widows I appeal to the Government. I am sure my appeal falls on sympathetic ears. Surely we are not cold-hearted. Surely we recognize that these women have enough to suffer from the loss of the breadwinner of the family. It would not cost the Commonwealth Treasury very much to give adequate sustenance to them. Is it good enough for us to provide a pension of £5 10s. a week for a widow with one child growing up and making all the demands of a growing child in the way of clothing, schooling, sports and recreation?
– After listening to the honorable member for Bruce I feel that another member on the Government side of the House should pay a tribute to the expressions made by the Secretary of State of the United States of America to-night on the occasion of the dinner held in his honour and that of the Prime Minister of New Zealand. There is not the slightest doubt that Dean Rusk expressed the ideals of a great many Australians in a way that reached the hearts of many members of this House. On behalf of the people whom I represent here, I wish to say that we are extremely grateful to Dean Rusk and to the American people for their expressions of co-operation and further assistance to us. I think many people in Australia feel to-day as did the late John Curtin, who as war-time Prime Minister, said -
Notwithstanding our traditional kinship with Great Britain we look to America for help.
One would have expected the Labour Party unanimously to follow the same line, and to join with us in exercising our gratitude to the Americans. We have heard of the “ Ban the Bomb “ campaign people - those who are against nuclear armaments - sitting on the steps of American embassies throughout the world. Little attempt is made by” them to sit on the steps of Khrushchev’s Communist embassies. These things are always aimed at the Americans and never at the Communists. It was very disquieten.ing at the dinner to-night. I did not see the honorable member for Eden-Monaro sit down when he should have stood up but I could see a number of Labour members murmuring against Dean Rusk. If one looks at the expressions now on the faces of members on the Oppostion side of the House, it is clear that some members of the Labour Party feel considerable disquiet over this matter. At least the Leader of the Opposition - and I honour him for it - paid a fine tribute to Dean Rusk and the American people. We agree with him and applaud the way in which he did it, but some members of his party - I regret that some of them are new members of this House - murmured in disagreement with Dean Rusk. To me such a thing is unthinkable. I believe most of us agree with the Leader of the Opposition and with the late John Curtin.
– You had better come over to this side
– I hope that some members of the Opposition agreed with what Dean Rusk said and that they will remember his words and not do the things they did to-night. To behave in the way certain Labour members did to-night was not only discourteous but also disloyal to Anzus.
– Be specific.
– I know that you are upset. I can see that by your demeanour.
– Order! The honorable member must direct his remarks to the Chair.
– We think we know the attitude the Deputy Leader of the Opposition adopted on these matters, so if he has not the guts to do the right thing by his country and by the position which he occupies, let him stay out of this. We deplore what some members of the Labour Party did to-night. Every one of us agrees with what Mr. Dean Rusk had to say. We honoured him and we thanked him. We thanked America for her co-operation and we thanked the American taxpayer - Mr. Dean Rusk made this clear - for accepting his share in providing the defence of the free world. Let us accept our share, and let us have the co-operation of all members of the Labour Party and not just a few of them.
.What is this country coming to when a member of this Parliament thinks that we are being disloyal for not being in complete agreement with a member of the government of another country? It is our right to disagree with honorable members opposite. Supporters of the Government agree with that. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself stands in this place and is challenged on his foreign policies. There is nothing disloyal about that. But when the Secretary of State of the United States of America makes a statement apparently we must accept it completely and wholeheartedly. What kind of rubbish is that? Mr. Dean Rusk himself would not agree with that kind of philosophy. But that is not the reason why I have risen to speak. 1 was shocked and surprised this evening at the action of members of the Liberal Party. 1 am not concerned whether people have to be courteous or whether there is some law about clapping and applauding, but when people clap certain statements or actions 1 believe they do so through an absence of morality or a lack of appreciation of the fact that they represent the people of Australia. I refer specifically to the statement by Mr. Dean Rusk about the resumption of nuclear tests by America. I have letters in my files from people who have protested against the testing of nuclear weapons in letters to the United States Embassy and to the Soviet Embassy. The United States Ambassador deplored and regretted that nuclear tests had to be resumed. The Soviet Ambassador also deplored it and said that his Government had resumed testing with an aching heart. As far as I know, every responsible person deplores and regrets the action that has been taken; but members of the Liberal Party in Australia clap and applaud it. This may well be a cause for regret and for a little heart-searching, but surely it is not a cause for enthusiasm and applause by supporters of the Government of Australia.
I believe, and I hope that the people of Australia will concur, that what was done to-night when this simple announcement was made was ample demonstration of the fact that the Liberal Party of Australia has completely lost all sense of morality and concern for posterity and humanity. I shall take every opportunity to tell the people in the electorates of Bruce and Macarthur - the electorate of Bruce is close enough to where I live to enable me to do something about this - what their elected representatives did in relation to this challenge to humanity. Responsible people regard the resumption of nuclear testing as a matter to be deplored and condemned, but the honorable member for Bruce applauded the announcement. He was enthusiastic about the resumption of nuclear tests.
– Not only are you wrong; you are also dishonest.
– I saw you applaud, as did all of your colleagues. You challenged us for not clapping. I know that the people in my electorate, and I believe the people of Australia generally, support me wholeheartedly in this. A few hundred people visited me some weeks ago and only ten or fifteen failed to sign a petition immediately they were challenged. The people of Australia feel strongly about this. The people in the electorate of the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp), who is now interjecting, will find out quick and lively where he stands on this challenge to morality and responsibility.
– Why don’t you resign as the member for Wills and contest the electorate of Higinbotham?
– If we are issuing challenges, why don’t you resign from the electorate of Bruce and try yourself in the electorate of Wills? I will do my duty by my electorate which is to see that it is represented here with the kind of voice which I hope the people will continue to support as they have done to date. I will do my duty by the people of the electorates of Bruce and Higinbotham by letting them know where their representatives stand on what is probably the greatest moral issue facing this age. You may make a decision on strategy or politics in relation to nuclear testing, but the people who applaud it with enthusiasm are unworthy to represent Australia.
.- The threat of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) to go into the electorates of Bruce and Higinbotham will not fool any one. The honorable member is becoming well known in Victoria for the things that he supports, for the places at which he appears, for the submissions which he makes and for the actions which he takes supposedly for the betterment of mankind. His speech to-night was ill-considered. The suggestion that members of the Liberal Party clapped because there had been a resumption of nuclear testing is ridiculous and is not worthy of argument. However, the suggestion seems to follow the policy pattern of those whom the honorable member for Wills seems to prefer to those who are acting on behalf of the free world. We read in the Communist newspapers, and in others, that the honorable member for Wills and another honorable member were at the May Day procession and that they judged the best float and awarded the prize. We were not particularly surprised to learn who won the prize. It is disgraceful that when matters of such importance as the resumption of nuclear tests are raised in this House an honorable member should rise in his place, as did the honorable member for Wills, and distort something which is of the utmost importance to the world, both to those countries behind the iron curtain and those which constitute the free world.
I should like to believe that the honorable member for Wills was genuine and sincere. 1 should like to feel that in his heart he honestly believes that we would achieve something if the Western world did not go ahead with these tests. Surely world politics at present are nothing more than a game of chess. It is interesting to note that honorable members opposite laugh at this matter, but I think most honorable members agree that it is one of importance. Surely we are honoring an agreement, lt is a complete fallacy to suggest otherwise. If the Western world agreed, as it has agreed, not to proceed with nuclear experiments provided the Soviet agreed to do likewise, I do not know what more could be done. But seemingly the honorable member for Wills wants the free world to cease the experiments and to accept the word of the iron curtain countries that they will do likewise although they have proved in the past that they will not honour their agreements.
Does the honorable member believe that the men, women and children of Australia will be safe on his say-so if the free world fails to match the comparative strength of the iron curtain countries? I do not think that the majority of honorable members in his own party in all honesty believe that for one moment. When honorable members come to this House and are prepared to surrender the security of their people for something which is entirely fictitious and for something about which no sincerity ever has been shown in the past, their statements should receive the closest scrutiny. I have an affection for the honorable member for Wills, because it is possible for one on the right to have affection for one on the left. 1 think the honorable member should give a little more thought to the effects of the suggestion which he has made. As a Labour man he could well remind himself of what Mr. Gaitskell, the leader of the United Kingdom Labour Party, said in Glasgow. 1 understand that there is an affinity between members of the Labour Party throughout the Commonwealth, but there seems to be very little affinity between the great Labour Party of the United Kingdom and the Labour Party of Australia at the moment. An honorable member opposite says, “ Hear, hear “. Let us not compare the standard of members of the United Kingdom Labour Party with that of the majority of members of the Australian Labour Party.
In the United Kingdom there are, in both the Conservative and Labour parties, people who are acting on behalf of their country and their countrymen. They have a common policy. Perhaps that is so because they have had to undergo greater stress and strain than we in this country have faced. Perhaps they realize that things can happen to them much more quickly than they can in this part of the world. I suggest to the honorable member for Wills that it is a long time since he had an effective say in events in the Army. I know that he has given some considerable time to the Army, but he should review his opinions, because if he continues with his present outlook, some of the things he mentioned may not turn out as he thinks they will. There are many woolly-minded men in many countries who have found to their regret, when the balloon has burst, that they have been used, because of their woolly-mindedness, to obtain an objective. They have been dispensed with very early in the piece once a coup has occurred.
. > - 1 deplore the conduct and the speeches of honorable members on the Government side of the chamber to-night. I should have thought that the dinner to Mr. Dean Rusk had been an immense social success. As a member of the Australian Labour Party, I certainly enjoyed it. I also enjoyed, and applauded, the speeches, although I may not have agreed with every word that was spoken. I have no doubt that Mr. Rusk was completely genuine in what he said. I was impressed by his humility. His training as a lawyer may have shone through at times, but I do not get the impression that he was speaking with his tongue in his cheek.
It is in extremely bad taste for the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), who is a colleague of mine in this House, to bring up this subject. Judging by the speeches of honorable members opposite, one would think that they were the only people in this Parliament who were patriotic and loyal. Let me tell them that the members of the Labour Party are as intensely loyal and as intensely patriotic as anybody on the Government side. It ill becomes Government supporters to cast aspersions on the loyalty of members of the Labour Party, and I object to their doing so.
The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) said that new members on the Labour side of the chamber had not stood up to-night. I do not know whether or not that is so, but I certainly did. There is too much smearing of the Labour Party. There is also too much of this nosy parker attitude on the part of Government supporters and too much wondering about what goes on in our party room. According to statements that I read in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ last week, quite a few things have been going on in the Government party rooms, too, particularly in relation to financial policy. I recall reading in that newspaper that the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) and one or two other Government supporters were involved in a disagreement over the amount of money that should be spent on defence. We of the Labour Party, either through oversight or because of good manners, have refrained from criticizing the Government on that score. We do not try to nose into the business of the Government parties.
The remarks that have been made to-night by honorable members opposite have rather spoilt a very enjoyable social event. It seems to me that the attitude of honorable members opposite is largely rooted in McCarthyism. They are fearful because of the tenuous majority which the Government parties now have in this chamber, and they are all the time trying to find out what is going on in the Labour Party. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) is as loyal as anybody in this Parliament. I have no doubt that we of the Labour Party genuinely desire peace and disarmament in the world as much as, if not more than, anybody on the Government side, but we are realistic enough to appreciate that the United States of America certainly has its viewpoint. So far as I am concerned, the Americans can carry out their tests, because one has to be a realist. You cannot live in a fool’s paradise.
– You are.
– I am not living in a fool’s paradise. Make no mistake about that. I have a pretty real appreciation of what is going on in relation to the testing of atomic weapons. I am rather surprised that supporters of the Government have shown what I consider to be bad manners, at the least, in raising this subject to-night, when our distinguished guest is hardly outside the doors of Parliament House.
I was particularly proud of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to-night. If I may say so, he showed a knowledge of American history that undoubtedly astounded the United Stales Charge^ d’Affaires. I noticed that he displayed a good deal of interest in what the Leader of the Opposition hr.d to say. Perhaps he did not know that our leader has American roots. If I am not misinformed, his grandfather was an American. Therefore, we probably have a closer affinity with the United States of America than have the supporters of the Government. I do not wish to continue this debate any longer. I merely wanted to put the record right, because the. are far too many overtones of patronage in the speeches of Government supporters. The Government, although it was humiliated at the polls, is certainly not humble now, but its day of reckoning is not far off.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.57 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What rate of interest is payable upon the loan made by the Commonwealth to the Queensland Government to enable that Government to rebuild and modernize the railway from Collinsville to Mount Isa?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
As provided in clause 7 of the agreement of 27th September, 1961, between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland approved by Act No. 92 of 1961, the rale of interest is 5½ per centum per annum.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Securities on issue in Australia and overseas on behalf of the Commonwealth and State Governments (“national debt”) at 31st December, 1949, and at 31st December, 1961, were as follows: -
b asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
What is the (a) nature and (b) cost of repairs and alterations being carried out at post offices in Enmore, Dulwich Hill, Summer Hill, Lewisham, Marrickville and Erskineville during the present financial year?
– The answer to the honorable members question is as follows: -
Alterations and additions are being carried out to the Marrickville post office building at a cost of £17,830. They will provide improved staff amenity accommodation and increased space for mail sorting activities. No building work is planned for the Enmore, Dulwich Hill, Summer Hill or Erskineville post office buildings, while the Lewisham post office is conducted on a non-official basis in privately owned premises, the maintenance of which is the responsibility of the owner.
s asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
g asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows:: -
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
a asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
What is the estimated cost of establishing each of the country national television stations, as proposed in the third phase of television development, in the following locations: - Canberra, NewcastleHunter River, Illawarra area, Richmond- Tweed Heads area, Central Tablelands area, Ballarat, Bendigo-La Trobe Valley, Goulburn Valley, Darling Downs, Rockhampton area, Townsville and NorthEastern Tasmania?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The estimated capital cost of establishing ea”ch of the country national television stations is -
s asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Royal Australian Navy.
Mr. Hansen a’ked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Do I rightly understand from his answer to the question which I placed on the notice-paper on 12th April, that certain modifications are being made in the United Kingdom to the six Ton class minesweepers being procured for the Royal Australian Navy?
If so - (a) what is the actual cost of these modifications; (b) will the cost of these modifications be met by the Australian Government; and (c) why was it not possible for this work to be carried out in Australia?
h. - The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following information: -
England. Other alterations, such as air conditioning for crew’s comfort, needed to be installed before the ships were sailed to Australia. It was clearly better to do all the modifications at once and take delivery of a ship ready for use than to take delivery of ships on which only part modification had been done and send them to dock for further modification - and lose the use of them for defence- on their arrival in Australia.
son asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
m asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
How many teachers (a) were teaching in Administration schools in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea a year ago; and (b) are teaching in them at the present time?
– The reply to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Will the Minister examine the possibility of placing liver injections on the free list?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
No drug or medicinal preparation can be made available as a pharmaceutical benefit without a recommendation to that effect by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. This committee is the expert committee established under the National Health Act to advise the Minister on the drugs and medicinal preparations it considers should be made available as pharmaceutical benefits. The committee has considered on a number of occasions the question of placing liver injections on the list of pharmaceutical benefits. However, it has not seen fit to recommend the inclusion of this preparation in the list of benefits.
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Is he able to say which private hospitals or convalescent homes in New South Wales are without the services of (a) a full-time medical practitioner or (b) a full-time registered nurse?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
No details are held as to which private hospitals or convalescent homes in New South Wales are without the services of a full-time medical practitioner. However, it is understood that all private hospitals or convalescent homes in New South Wales have available the services of at least one full-time registered nurse. The regulations under the Private Hospitals Act of New South Wales provide that the nursing staff ot a private hospital or convalescent home shall be sufficient in number to fully perform nursing duties necessary for the proper care of patients. The Private Hospitals Act of New South Wales provides that the manager of a private hospital or convalescent home shall be - (a) a legally qualified medical practitioner; or (b) a registered nurse; or (c) a person approved by the Board of Health.
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
On what dates and to what extent have steps been taken to implement the recommendations of the National Health and Medical Research Council on 23rd May, 1957, that-
Tobacco smoking and in particular cigarette smoking is definitely a contributory factor in the production of cancer of the lung, the incidence of which is increasing and is highest in those who smoke most heavily;
States should commence publicity cam paigns (i) to warn non-smokers against acquiring the habit of smoking and (ii) to induce habitual smokers to cease smoking or to reduce consumption; and
The Commonwealth Government should give consideration to setting up a body representing the Commonwealth Departments of Health and Primary Industry, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the tobacco industry to inquire into and make recommendations upon measures to reduce the risk confronting tobacco smokers?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
Several States have given publicity to the dangers of smoking. The propaganda has been directed mainly towards the upper grades of primary school children, through the Education Departments in co-operation with the State Health Departments.
It is understood that State health education authorities are due to meet in Brisbane on 15th May and that propaganda directed towards the dangers associated with smoking is to be discussed.
Some discussions have taken place between the departments concerned and the tobacco industry wilh regard to this problem, but no formal body has been set up. However, the proposal will be reconsidered at the next meeting of the National Health and Medical Research Council, which will be held this month in Adelaide.
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
What is the name and location of each hospital in New South Wales approved under the provisions of the National Health Act?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
There are currently 267 public hospitals and 476 private hospitals in New South Wales approved under the provisions of the National Health Act for purposes of Commonwealth hospital benefits. In view of the length of the list of these hospitals I have arranged for the Minister for Health to supply a copy direct to the honorable member.
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
How many evictions from war service homes have taken place in each quarter of the last two years?
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
The number of ejectments from war service homes in each State during the periods set out in the question are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 May 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620509_reps_24_hor35/>.