24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Prime Minister able to furnish any information about the objectives and the source of finance of the so-called League of Rights, which financed the tour of Britain by the honorable member for Moreton, during which tour he claims to have addressed some 55 meetings, allegedly to explain Australia’s attitude to the Common Market? Has the Australian League of Rights any connexion with either of the Government parties? Did the honorable member for Moreton go overseas with the approval of the Government, and in his addresses did he espouse and support Government policy? Does the Prime Minister consider that the tour by the honorable member for Moreton was of assistance to himself and the Minister for Trade in any way? Finally, does he still think the honorable member for Moreton is magnificent, or would he prefer to “Bury” him?
- Mr. Speaker, I hope I will be allowed to congratulate the honorable member on his obvious return to full health. I am sorry that a good deal of his question by-passed me. The League of Rights - if that is the right term - is not within the jurisdiction of my department, nor has it any association with any party that I know of in this House. I know nothing of its methods of raising money and I know nothing of the arrangements it may make to support people in any particular enterprise they have in mind. The honorable member for Moreton is free, white and twenty-one. He went abroad, on his own judgment, for purposes to which he attached very great importance. That is his responsibility and his business.
– Do you think he did a good job?
– I do not know yet. I have not had an opportunity to talk to him about it.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I point out by way of preface that shipments of manufacturing meat have been arriving on the west coast of the United States of America at uneven intervals. Sometimes shipments arrive together, and at other times the market is bare. I ask whether this disorganized export of meat to the United States of America is causing resentment among the American people and dislocating their marketing arrangements. Has the Minister discussed this matter with the Australian Meat Board? Has the board the power or the influence to organize shipments more efficiently so that deliveries will be spaced more evenly? If it has not, will the Minister consider what action this Parliament could take to assist in getting this meat to the United States at regular intervals?
– The question raised by the honorable member for Macarthur is very important. The regular delivery of our meat to the United States of America is a vital factor in price stability. I have suggested to the Australian Meat Board that it discuss with the exporters the regulating of deliveries so far as that is possible, and the board has acted accordingly. I know that members of the board have had such a discussion with the exporters, but I am not sure that they are getting all the cooperation that they ought to get. Since finality has not been reached in the matter I do not want to say any more now. The Australian Meat Board has power to act in the way I have described, and is now acting on this very important matter.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral been made aware of a statement by Mr. Weingott founder of Kriesler Australasia Proprietary Limited, that the country areas recently coming within television reception range could become the dumping ground for worn out and superseded television sets? Has the Postmaster-General any authority under the Broadcasting and Television Act to prevent the practice of selling as new to the public superseded sets, some of which have been made by manufacturers no longer in business? In view of the need to protect country dwellers who have not the facilities to enable them to compare old and new models, will the Postmaster-General, in consultation with the various State governments, consider the introduction of legislation that will’ minimize, if not stamp out, this most undesirable practice?
- Mr. Speaker, I have seen recently in the press some references to the practice of reconditioning television sets and offering them for re-sale. There is nothing in that practice which in any way offends against normal business practice. If the honorable member is contending that sets which will not give reasonable service are being sold that, of course, is something which 1 believe would carry its own penalty.
The honorable member asks whether I am prepared to consider the introduction of amending legislation, in consultation with the States, to deal with this alleged practice. At this stage I certainly do not consider that the position is one that would warrant such action. I think that, in the main, the competition which takes place between the various firms that are manufacturing and selling television sets, and the ample opportunity which any purchaser has to test out a set before finally acquiring it from the firm, provide a sufficient safeguard.
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade. Is it a fact that shipping freight rates on all cargoes carried between Australia and Great Britain and the Continent will rise by 5 per cent, from 1st September? As the Minister responsible for protecting Australia’s export trade, what action has he taken to protect Australian exporters against the all-too-frequent increases in freight rate charges by the rapacious international shipping cartels?
– There has been a longstanding arrangement which was introduced first, I think, by the Scullin Government and which was never altered until two or three years ago, under which the Australian shipper interests - which seems to be the term used for exporters - negotiated with the overseas shipping conferences for an agreement in respect of the freights to be paid. On occasions the Department of Trade aided the exporters. There was a particular instance in 1955, when the Department of Trade was invited to aid the exporters in their negotiations, and it did so with considerable success. A little later all the exporting interests decided that they wanted to handle these negotiations without any government aid. The Government had no view on that matter. It was the exporters’ own business. What the Government did suggest to them was that if they were to take this course they ought to be as effectively organized as possible to conduct their own case. We helped them to a better organization. We gave them financial support to establish this organization. Since that time - I think since 1956 - the group of exporter interests, which includes representatives of the great primary industries, the statutory marketing boards and other bodies, has conducted its own negotiations.
– I address a question to the Minister for Repatriation. The Minister will recall that some time ago I asked him whether facilities for occupational therapy could be made available for patients in repatriation wards at the Goodna Mental Hospital. I ask him now whether any progress has been made. Can he tell us to what extent occupational therapy is used in repatriation wards throughout Australia?
– I am pleased to say that since the honorable member raised this question in the House last, the construction work at the Wacol ward area of the Brisbane Mental Hospital has been completed, and the building is now being occupied for the purpose for which it was intended. Occupational therapy, as honorable members are probably aware, forms a very important part of treatment of mental illness, and great emphasis is being placed on it these days. The Repatriation Department is concentrating its efforts on occupational therapy in all the repatriation wards in mental hospitals throughout Australia. In the annexe at Wacol the building itself, as I have said, is being occupied, but the old furniture and facilities are still being used. As funds become available in the new financial year we will provide new furniture and equipment and will be able to do first-class work. I should like to pay a tribute to all the State Departments of
Health throughout Australia, not only the Queensland department, for the great assistance they have given us by providing facilities and co-operating with us to the fullest extent.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister, who is the chairman of the Commonwealth Literary Fund. Why has there been a persistent refusal to agree to requests for a grant of £250 to a literary magazine called “ Overland “, when grants of from £100 to £250 have been made to all other literary magazines, the editors of which have applied for such grants? Is there any truth in the oft-repeated allegation of Mr. Murray Smith, the editor of this magazine, that grants have been refused because of personal bias on the part of the Prime Minister? The magazine “ Quadrant “ is definitely rightwing, and one could in justice say that “ Overland “ is Australian left-wing, so I ask the Prime Minister whether he entertains any political bias in this matter. If the magazine is being judged on literary standards, I ask the right honorable gentleman whether, as the leader of the Commonwealth Literary Fund, he is using Canberra literary standards. If so, the only comment must be, “ Oh God, Oh Montreal! “
– I am sure that the Commonwealth Literary Fund endeavours to maintain a literary standard somewhat higher than that of the honorable member for Parkes. I am the chairman of this fund, which receives advice from a board of distinguished writers. Decisions are taken by us as a committee. It is not for me to discuss anybody’s reasons for any decision. If it were, I might as well conduct the meetings of the fund in public.
– I preface a question to the Prime Minister by pointing out that it is generally acknowledged that after the war uranium was made available from Australia for the benefit of certain of our allies under conditions which were mutually acceptable. Is the Prime Minister aware that, for some time, there has been an undercurrent of feeling that Australia is not now receiving full value for the uranium that it is selling? Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether definitely known and surveyed quantities of uranium sufficient to ensure our national existence have been reserved? Is there any valid reason, now that Australia has apparently to pay heavily for everything she gets, why the nation should not be told whether it is receiving full value for uranium now sold to the world?
– I will be glad to refer this question to my colleague, the Minister for National Development, and obtain an answer from him.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Parkes. In determining grants for literary magazines, have the trustees of the fund disregarded the advice of the advisory committee in respect of the magazine, “ Overland “, but accepted the advice of the advisory committee in respect of the other magazine, “ Quadrant “, which the honorable member mentioned?
– I cannot answer questions about what advice was received from the literary board and given to the literary fund without disclosing the discussions of both bodies. This would be grossly improper. It would be very difficult to get people to serve on such a board if what they said in the course of their examination were made public. Really, we want to get the best advice we can from them and make the best judgment we can about it. I remind the honorable member that the Opposition itself is represented on the fund, and is therefore able to exercise its own influence on whatever decisions are taken.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Territories whether progress is being made at the rice farming area of Humpty Doo in the Northern Territory. Is it intended to practice at Humpty Doo itself the methods evolved in the course of the successful experiments that have been carried out at the Upper Adelaide River experimental station?
– In rice growing in the Northern Territory there are two parallel activities. There are four farmers who are shareholders in a company which is engaging in commercial farming. They are, to some extent, the inheritors of the early work done by Territory Rice Limited. Ante-dating that, but now working parallel to it, is a research station conducted on behalf of the administration of the Northern Territory by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. It is carrying out extensive rice-growing experiments on a wide variety of matters. The results of those experiments will be made available, not only to the administration, but also to any one who at present engages or may in future engage in rice growing.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that Ampol Petroleum Limited has recently constructed an oil tank vessel with the aid of a Commonwealth Government subsidy. Has the attention of the right honorable gentleman been directed to a press report stating that this company intended to engage an Asian crew for its new tanker? If the Ampol Petroleum Company has constructed this tanker with the aid of Australian taxpayers’ money, will the Government take steps to ensure that only Australians are employed as crew?
– This matter has been brought to my attention on a number of occasions by the Seamen’s Union and members of this House, and I should like to make the position quite clear. When the tanker was built at Whyalla, the question of the payment of a subsidy by the Commonwealth Government arose. The construction of the vessel at that time was a matter of necessity for the ship-building industry. Ampol Petroleum Limited accepted the tender at considerable loss to itself, but construction of the tanker at the time was for the good of Australia and the benefit of those engaged in the ship-building industry. It was simply a good arrangement to meet the circumstances that then existed, and it was one that reflected credit on the Government and the company.
The ship is registered overseas and is engaged in the transport of oil to Australia.
Had it been stipulated, when the arrangement was being made, that the tanker should be registered anywhere else than where it is registered now, obviously the negotiations for the contract would have broken down. Therefore, I think the procedure was the correct one. The company is entitled to register the tanker where it is registered now as the ship is engaged in overseas trade, and I do not expect that anything else will be done by the company.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Would the right honorable gentleman be able - without divulging confidences - to allow the House to know something of the long delays that have occurred in giving any subsidy to the magazine “ Quadrant “ from the Commonwealth Literary Fund? Is it true that the opposition to the subsidy for “ Quadrant “ was based very largely on the allegation that “ Quadrant “ was a magazine devoted partly to opposition to communism, and therefore was not a proper magazine to subsidize? Is there any record of any member of the Opposition supporting a subsidy for “ Quadrant “, or did the fact that “ Quadrant “ was anti-Communist debar the Opposition from giving any assistance whatever?
– Mr. Speaker, it is well known that the magazine “ Quadrant “ did not receive a subsidy for some time. That decision, taken from time to time, followed upon a very full discussion of all literary magazines then on view. As for any reasons or argument, I can only repeat what I have said already: I am not prepared to have the operations of the Commonwealth Literary Fund and the Advisory Board conducted in public. That, I am sure every one will realize, is a perfectly proper thing.
– Will the Minister for Territories state whether he has been informed of the efforts being made by a Sydney group to start a meatworks at Katherine in the Northern Territory? As it is the considered opinion of all sections that the erection of such a works is of the utmost importance to the cattle industry in that part of Australia because it will provide a market as well as create an industry in the town of Katherine, will the Minister assist the group to the maximum possible extent to get started? Has the Minister noted comments recently by the Administrator of the Northern Territory, the Honorable R. Nott, that a whispering campaign is being conducted in the north with a view to preventing the group from entering the trade?
– I am not in a position to make any comment about the allegation that there is a whispering campaign. I know nothing of it.
Some time ago a group of people interested in establishing a meat works at Katherine in the Northern Territory informed me personally and my department of its plans. Immediately, my department and the Administration of the Northern Territory gave every, assistance they could to these people in obtaining suitable land and in obtaining information and assurances iD regard to the supply of water, electricity and other facilities. The officers of both the Administration and the department entered into discussions with them to help them develop their plans.
Associated with their plans was the question of the establishment of a cold store at Darwin. Again on that point we have been quite helpful, I think, to them. The point to which we come is that a cold store could be established at Darwin if there were an assurance of a sufficient supply of carcases to warrant the establishment of a cold store. Obviously, no government could properly expend public money on providing a cold store in the expectation that there might be material to go into it, but if the need for a cold store at Darwin does exist, the Government will undertake to provide one.
The honorable member and the House will, of course, realize that this is a private investment and a private venture. It is not the sort of situation which, within the philosophy of the Government, would involve the contribution of government funds to the actual industrial operation. However, short of that, the Government is doing everything it can to assist the planning of the investors and to provide such local facilities as land, water, electricity and transport.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Army. As the Minister will be aware, there is concern regarding the future of rifle clubs in Australia. I therefore ask: For how long is it expected that an adequate supply of effective .303 ammunition will be available to rifle clubs? Is it the intention of the Government to make the F.N. rifle available for purchase at a concessional price by authorized members of recognized rifle clubs?
– The honorable member may know that under an arrangement made in 1959, a free issue of ammunition was made to rifle clubs and a further quantity of ammunition was made available for purchase at a low price. Quantities of this ammunition were to be available to rifle clubs until 1965, and I have no reason to believe that the ammunition will not be available up to and including that time. As far as the F.N. rifle is concerned, the Australian association of rifle clubs has stated that it intends to continue with the use of the .303 rifle for rifle club purposes. No question has arisen officially in relation to the use of, or the change to, the F.N. rifle.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Will he examine the conditions that applied to the sale recently of leases for business sites in the shopping centre of the Canberra suburb of Campbell? Will he also examine the results of that sale and their effect on the control and tenure of shops in the area? Will he then consider the conditions to be applied to the sale of business leases in the proposed shopping centres at Deakin and Red Hill? Will he take whatever action he can to ensure that individual purchasers may secure single sites on which they may build their own shops and not be forced into the position of becoming tenants of finance companies?
– I will be happy to have a look at this problem.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. Is he able to tell the House when the so-called Committee of Seventeen set up by resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in the 16th session to deal with the decolonialization - I apologize for using the word - of dependent territories is likely to deal with the cases of the Australian dependent territories?
– I cannot give the House any firm indication when the committee referred to is likely to turn its attention to Australian territories or to Oceania generally. However, we can expect that the committee will deal with these matters in what may be termed the fairly near future.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. As it is quite obvious that investors are not interested in seeking licences to operate commercial television stations in country areas of Western Australia, will the Minister give the agents of Adler translators permission to erect a trial unit on Mount Bakewell? If not, will he say whether other types of translators are being examined with a view to their possible use in relaying television programmes to country areas of Western Australia? If no consideration is being given to the use of translators, how does the Minister now propose to extend television to areas such as Geraldton, Merredin and Kalgoorlie?
– The provision of television services in the areas referred to by the honorable member has been raised on other occasions. A member of another place is interested in the use of Adler translators, and recently the honorable member for Moore spoke to me about them. A problem associated with this matter is the choice of suitable sites. Until sites are finally chosen it is idle to indulge in conjecture about the type of service that will be obtained. The use of Adler translators and other types of translators has been the subject of inquiry by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I have a certain amount of technical information on the subject, and shall be happy to make it available to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie if he so desires.
– I ask the Attorney-General whether he is able to give the House any details of the background and finances of the Communist school of subversion at Minto, New South Wales. Will the Attorney-General make inquiries about the school’s curriculum and the number of qualifying students who have gone to Moscow or Peking for higher studies in the ways of denying democratic rights to the Australian people? Will the AttorneyGeneral advise the House at a later date of the result of his inquiries?
– I have a good deal of knowledge about the school referred to. If the honorable member will place his question on the notice-paper I will furnish him with an answer.
– My question, which I address to the Minister for Primary Industry, is along the lines of a question asked yesterday by the honorable member for Barker. It deals with the disabilities of soldier settlers on Kangaroo Island. Is it a fact that four weeks ago the South Australian Government sent Mr. Seaman, the Under-Treasurer, and an officer of the Department of Agriculture to Canberra in order to press the claims of soldier settlers on Kangaroo Island? Does that action by the South Australian Government mean that the representations made by the honorable member for Barker up to that time had been unsuccessful? Is the Minister aware that only when it became known that dissatisfied soldier settlers had formed a branch of the Australian Labour Party in order to seek redress for their serious disabilities was the South Australian Government moved to take strong action in the matter?
– I know that the honorable member for Adelaide and the honorable member for Hindmarsh went to Kangaroo Island with a view to forming a branch of the Australian Labour Party there. They probably are responsible for a certain amount of the agitation on this matter. War service land settlement will continue until it is brought to finality between the Commonwealth and State Governments. The South Australian Director of Lands has been to Canberra for discussions on this matter and, as I told the honorable member for Barker yesterday, final arrangements have still not been made. These things take a lot of working out and much calculation has to be done. The Commonwealth Government has always been sympathetically disposed in this matter, as I am sure the South Australian Government has been, and we shall maintain that attitude towards war service land settlers in South Australia.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Trade a question without notice. Is renewal of the trade agreement between Australia and Japan being considered? Will the right honorable gentleman comment on the possibility of enlarging the market in Japan for Australian primary products such as wheat, coarse grains and meat?
– The Japanese Trade Agreement was firm for three years with an arrangement that it could continue beyond that period. The original terms of the agreement have continued to the present time, and the duty-free entry of Australian wool to Japan has been firmly arranged, in a particular exchange of letters, to continue until, I think, 30th September of this year. Before that date, the matter will be further discussed. In the course of the discussions, Australia, naturally, will raise the general question of trade opportunities with Japan. The honorable member may rest assured that close attention is being given to this very important matter.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. Does he agree that, in statements about the European Common Market made by the Government in the Parliament and elsewhere, the Government has confined itself solely to bargaining to retain trade preferences in Europe? Does the right honorable gentleman intend to inform the House to-night or at any other time what the Government intends to do if these preferences are lost, or does he wish to go to the Commonwealth Prime
Ministers’ conference with a blank cheque, free to do anything or nothing, as he chooses?
– I will go to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ conference, if I am still Prime Minister, as Prime Minister with all the responsibilities that attach to that office. To-night, I will make a statement on a number of aspects of this problem. Apart from that, I remind the honorable member that, in the first statement that I made in this House on the European Common Market, in August of last year, I explained at some length the measures that had been taken for some years past to expand alternative markets for Australia.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I refer to his recent visits to Western Australia to inspect personally the Kalgoorlie-Kwinana rail standardization scheme. Will he inform the House of his assessment of the progress of this work to date?
– I was extremely impressed by the work that has been done already and the rapidity with which the Western Australian Government has called tenders and let contracts. Tenders for earthmoving contracts and the supply of some rails have been called, and some contracts for the supply of rails have been let as well. Even in these preliminary stages, we can already see the benefits that will accrue from having a standard-gauge railway between Kwinana, Fremantle and Kalgoorlie. The undertaking is in the preliminary stages now, and no direct assessment can be made. No work has been completed, but the contracts have been let.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. When the report of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation was tabled last August, recommending changes of the law to prevent taxation evasion, did the Treasurer say that legislation would be brought down to prevent exploitation of superannuation funds, family partnerships, trusts, alienation of income, and so on? If he did, when will the Government honor this promise?
– I have made two particular statements on this matter in the House, apart from answering questions on it from time to time. As recently as yesterday I gave an answer which conveyed my assessment of the position at this time. I can assure the honorable gentleman that none of us, either in the Treasury or in the office of the Commissioner of Taxation, has been idle this year in discharging the responsibility of his post. Having regard to the other matters that had to be dealt with this year, we have given as much time as we could to this important but complicated problem I tried to convey some idea of the magnitude of the task which the committee of inquiry set us in its recommendations. I regret to say that at this stage I am unable to give any precise indication about when the legislation will be introduced.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. Did the Minister announce last May that there would soon be a substantial increase in the milling of timber in New Guinea? Will the timber be milled by private enterprise or by the Government? When and where is it expected that the timber will be marketed?
– The method of working forests in Papua and New Guinea is that the Forests Department surveys and assesses existing timber stands and makes its judgment on two points. One is whether the forest concerned should be kept as perpetual forest and the other is whether it is a forest of poorer quality that can bc cleared and the land made available for agriculture. According to a decision whether an area is to be perpetual forest or whether the trees are to be cut out for the purpose of freeing the land for agriculture, so the area is put up for tender with conditions. It is put up for tender so that private enterprise may work it, a royalty being paid to the Administration.
Marketing would depend entirely on the nature of the timber being worked. If it were an enormous stand in perpetual forest, presumably a plywood mill or a mill producing other types of timber would be established and markets would be sought in all parts of the world. If it were a more limited operation, it is possible that a smaller mill for cutting timber for local consumption would be put up. I think a short answer to the honorable member’s question is that from time to time the Forests Department of the Territory will advertise various forest areas for public tender.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I refer to a recent decision of the Queensland Sugar Board not to ship bagged sugar through the port of Urangan, despite earlier assurances by both the board chairman and the Queensland State Treasurer that 1962 would see a record shipment of sugar from that port. Since waterside workers were induced to stand by through months of unemployment in order to make themselves available for the 1962 sugar season, will the Minister reconsider his decision and give special consideration to assisting those men, who are now unemployed, to transfer with their families to other ports where they can obtain employment at their chosen calling?
– The matter referred to by the honorable gentleman has already been taken up with me by Mr. Fitzgibbon, the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation. I have informed him that a number of people, particularly the foremen, have been placed in employment, and that the number of men now out of employment and registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service is small. 1 have informed him also that the department is doing its best to place these people in employment, either in the sugar industry or in other industries in Queensland. The Government has taken up with the Queensland Government itself the question of making special arrangements for these people because of the promise that was mentioned in the question addressed to me.
– I lay on the table of the House a report on linoleum by a Special Advisory Authority.
The authority’s recommendation that no urgent action be taken has been accepted by the Government. The question of the industry’s normal protective needs has been referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report.
Ordered to be printed.
Question proposed -
That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair.
.- I rise to oppose most definitely any suggestion that you leave the chair, Mr. Speaker. I wish to call the attention of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) to the proposed siting of the television transmitter to serve the central agricultural areas of Western Australia. The proposal is to construct it in the Northam- York area, and I understand that the tentative site is at a place called Needling Hills. I hope I am not needling the Minister in this regard. I propose to read a letter from the Merredin Shire Council. This letter is typical of many letters that I have received from local government authorities in the eastern wheat belt area. These letters show the alarm that is felt about the proposed siting of the television station at Needling Hills. Many people believe that a station there would not adequately serve people to the east and could result in unnecessary overlapping in the area to the west of Needling Hills, which is already receiving a service from the transmitters in Perth. The letter from the Merredin Shire Council reads: -
My Council . . . wishes to express to you its profound dissatisfaction with the proposal to site the new Station so near to Perth as in the vicinity of York and Northam.
It is stated that there are technical difficulties and objections to bringing the station further east. My Council is not concerned with technical objections.
I do not know what the council does when it receives technical objections from technical advisers in connexion with the tech nical matters that come within its ambit. The letter continues -
It has no knowledge of the technicalities of these projects. What it is concerned about is securing a service for the people of this area which produces such a large quantity of those primary products which are the backbone of Australia’s overseas exports.
It seems apparent to my council that the only concern is for the mass populations of the great cities and that no consideration whatever is to be given to the people of the country districts. Such an attitude will only arouse further indignation amongst the people of these areas. My council together with other councils in the Eastern Wheatbelt requires that further action be taken and that some satisfaction be afforded to these areas in regard to the allocation of TV stations and the reception of TV programmes.
I can quite see that to be the case, particularly, when I refer to the report of the Royal Commission on Television. I quote from page 63, paragraph 322, of the report, as follows: -
On the evidence, it would appear to be clear that, for some considerable time, the benefits of television will be enjoyed chiefly by viewers resident in, or adjacent to, the capital cities and other large centres of population. This conclusion is as inescapable as it is socially unfortunate.. Television, whilst it remains an exclusive city amenity, may adversely affect our national development policy, especially in relation to our primary production, as it will further accentuate the appeal of the city, particularly to the younger generation, and thus render more difficult the task of keeping an adequate share of the country’s labour force in rural areas. For this reason, despite the practical difficulties to be overcome, we regard the early extension of television services to country areas as a matter of prime importance.
I am not a technician, but in order to assure the people of these districts that the best possible site to serve the maximum number of people has been selected, I ask the Minister whether he will be prepared to undertake personally to review the recommendation which is being made for the siting of this proposed station. In order that I may give this assurance to the people I ask him whether he will give us detailed reasons for the selection of the proposed site and why the station cannot be erected further east, or in the Cunderdin area, to serve people further to the east and north-east. I ask the Minister to let us know what other sites have been selected, and to instruct his technicians to tell us some of the problems which need to be overcome, the requirements to be met, and the technical factors involved. I should also like him to tell us the possibility, in the light of the demand for a service further east, of the selection of another site.
I think, too, that the selection of these sites must be related to the possible future use of translators. It might be possible that a site could be chosen further east and that, to serve any blind spots between the television stations on the Darling ranges and the Northam-York area, 20, 30 or 40 miles further east, a translator could be sited at a suitable place. I agree with the people in the eastern areas who claim that a station situated too close to the coast, perhaps for population reasons, could mean that residents in the further eastern portion could be denied the benefits of television for a considerable period of years. The argument would naturally be advanced that expenditure running into six figures - something like £200,000 or so - for the setting up of a television transmission station in an area further east to serve any blind spot would not be justified.
I consider that the economics of the matter must come into the consideration as well as the technical difficulties, and that the station must be sited to give the maximum service to the more eastward areas, with the possibility of the blind spots which could be left by the erection of the station further east being covered by a translator service. I know that the Postmaster-General, because he is a Country Party man and a practical man, with a practical knowledge of the country, appreciates the country man’s view-point in this matter. I know that I am not asking him in vain to give his personal attention to this problem in order to meet the needs of the country people.
We could not have the administration of this department, which is the greatest business undertaking in the Southern Hemisphere, in more capable hands than those of the present Minister, who is a Country Party man. So I can assure the country people in Western Australia that they can have confidence in whatever recommendation he brings down as the result of the technical advice given him in connexion with this matter. I am happy to receive a nod from the Minister to say that this consideration will be undertaken. I do not want the Minister to rise and take up the time of the House by making an explanation at this stage. But with the assurance he has given I am able to say to the people in the eastern wheatbelt and further east that, with re-investigation and the personal consideration of the Minister, if the site of the television station is ultimately at Needling Hills, they will be given the technical or economic reasons for its being established there. They will be assured that the Minister’s investigations definitely confirmed that adequate service could not be provided at another point further east than the proposed Needling Hills site.
Another matter which I think the Minister might examine is the reason why no application has been made for a commercial television licence-
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lucock).
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I wish this morning to raise the question of the guaranteed price for fat lambs exported from Tasmania to the United Kingdom. In view of the lateness of the Tasmanian season and the urgent need to stabilize the industry in that State, I urge the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and the Government to extend the guaranteed price of ls. 6d. per lb. - less processing charges - from the present date of 1st December, through the months of December, January and February.
This industry is very important to my State. Many ex-servicemen from the last war have been settled by this Government on fat lamb raising properties. Apart from these, of course, the Government has a duty to the longer-established farmers who are in difficulties at present, as well as to the many younger people who have gone onto the land in this industry in recent times. We all know that farm income has been falling rapidly in the last few years and that stability in this particular industry has been lacking in the past two or three seasons.
Some time ago Tasmanian members in both Houses of this Parliament attended a meeting of some 200 farmers at Ulverstone, on the north-west coast of Tasmania. Not long ago, as a deputation, they brought forward to the Minister in Canberra a resolution urging the Government to help in stabilizing the position of the smaller farmers. Admittedly we did not have very much to put before the Minister at that time, but we discussed such things as a subsidy on fertilizers and also a lower interest rate on money loaned by the banks, together with the need for the exemption from tax of petrol for use in farm tractors, and so on. As I have said, we could not put very much of a concrete nature before the Minister, but we did all we could to help these people at that time. Since then, I have approached the Minister on behalf of the Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board and the farmers, in an effort to obtain a subsidy to help open up a market in Asia. The board had a contract for 1,000 tons and sought the subsidy in order to guarantee delivery in Ceylon. Despite the fact that the Government has spent huge amounts of money on trade delegations and trade promotion, it turned down the request for a small amount to assist in the establishment of an outlet for Tasmanian produce in Asia.
However, what I am suggesting to-day is something that the Minister, as the person responsible for the welfare of primary industry in Australia, and the Government can do if they are really concerned about the position of the primary producer, particularly in Tasmania. The position is this: Last season the market was very weak, and in November buyers were offering as little as 8id. per lb. for lambs purchased on the farm. The position improved a little later, and the average gross price for the best grade was ls. lid. After taking off about Hid. for overall charges, the producer was left with a return of about lid. per lb.
On 14th June I wrote to the Minister on behalf of a group of fat lamb producers seeking a guaranteed price to bring some stability to the industry. The Minister replied, on 4th July, that he had approved proposals submitted by the Australian Meat Board for a guaranteed price scheme for lamb during the coming export season. The price was 18d. for lambs of 36 lb. and under, shipped before the end of November, and 16 1/2d for those shipped after the end of November. The mainland export season is mainly from September until November, and practically all mainland lambs will qualify for the higher minimum price. However, the Tasmanian season does not start until November and goes through until February. It is most unusual for any shipment to be made before the beginning of December and so, under the present plans, Tasmanian lambs will qualify for the lower price only. This contention is borne out by a study of last year’s shipments through the export lamb pool.
Last year 22,844 carcasses were exported through the pool, which is controlled by the Tasmanian Meat Board. A few of these carcasses were carried on “Townsville Star” which sailed on 21st November, and on “ Cedric “ which sailed on 25th November. But the majority of the carcasses went on “Port Hobart” on 14th December, “ Port Sydney “ on 19th January and on “City of Auckland” on 3rd February. From this it can be seen that our export season is from December to February, mainly because of our climatic conditions. It is clear that the Government is prepared to discriminate against us by making us accept the lower price.
To give some idea of the value of this industry to ray State, let me point out that last year we exported 102,506 carcasses to the United Kingdom. In the previous year, however, we exported 112,343 carcasses, while in 1959-60 the number exported was 166,589. The decline has reached quite serious proportions, and the Government can do much to stabilize the industry by giving us a higher guaranteed price during the three months of our export season.
Unless the present arrangements are changed so that we can be guaranteed a price of 18d. per lb. during our export season, our producers w:’’ lose about £60,000. In recent years Tasmania has exported about 25 per cent, of its total lamb production. During the export season a further 30 per cent, of production has been marketed for local consumption. Therefore, export prices apply in respect of about 55 per cent, of the total production, and it is on this basis that we estimate a loss of £60,000 unless we are granted the higher price.
I know that many producers in Tasmania join with Mr. C. E. Napier, the chairman of directors of the North West Cooperative Freezing and Canning Company in condemning the present proposals as totally unacceptable, undemocratic and contrary to the spirit of federation. Probably the trouble has been caused by the fact that we have no representation on the Australian Meat Board. Whatever the cause, however, it is not too late for the Minister to change the arrangements so that discriminatory action will not be taken against fat lamb producers in Tasmania.
Speaking of boards and the lack of Tasmanian representation on them, I must say that until recently I was not very keen to support the contention of my colleague, the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), that there should be a Tasmanian representative on the Australian Wheat Board. I want to tell members of the Australian Country Party that I now strongly support the honorable member, because even though we do not grow the quantities of wheat that are grown on the mainland, and cannot justify representation from that point of view, a Tasmanian representative on the board could at least ensure that we will not get the rubbish that has been arriving recently at the port of Stanley from Geelong. Poultry farmers have told me that their fowls are becoming cross-eyed trying to separate the wheat from the rubbish with which it is mixed. The shipments were so bad that the Australian Wheat Board was inclined not to believe us when we complained about the quality. I have samples in my office in Burnie, taken at random from bags lying in various produce stores. The Australian Wheat Board has now promised us better quality in the future. I now strongly support the suggestion that there should be a Tasmanian representative on the board, because he could at least ensure that the Tasmanian people will get better quality wheat.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to speak about one of the problems facing small-acreage farmers. Yesterday I asked a question of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) about the large quantities of lemon juice being imported into Australia from the United States of America. Last night the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage) spoke about this matter during the debate on the motion to adjourn the House. While I agree with the honorable member about the difficulties that are now facing lemon growers as a result of the large volume of imports, I do not agree with his implication that this is an isolated problem. Difficulties such as this have confronted these farmers for a number of years, and so I say that while it is necessary to take immediate action to remedy the present situation, I make a plea for the industry to be helped in planning a long-term programme for its future prosperity. Although the various State governments have a great degree of responsibility in this matter, there are, nevertheless, some ways in which the Commonwealth can help.
Despite what the honorable member for Mitchell said last night, I can recall the help that has been given over a number of years by our ministerial colleagues. I recall the help that has been given recently by the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and by the Minister for Trade. I also recall the assistance given by the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) when he was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Trade, and also by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) when he was Minister for Primary Industry. I recall, too, the arrangements made for a senior research officer of the Liberal Party to accompany me on a special tour of investigation of some of the areas concerned, and the report that we made to the industry at that time. I believe that some of these things could well merit consideration by the industry in its planning at the present time, and in its formulation of a scheme to put to the Government for stabilized marketing. However, the present situation calls for urgent action.
In addition to making that plea, I want to support the application that has been made by the industry panel to have the present problem referred to the special adviser of the Australian Tariff Board. On 5th June a letter was written to the Department of Trade by Mr. G. E. Kitchin-Kerr of the New South Wales Citrus Growers Council in which he directed attention to the concern felt by the industry regarding the pure lemon juice which had been imported from, I think, the west coast of
America, and which was being retailed in Australia at very low prices. As I have said, such problems as this have faced the industry before. In past years, some imports have come from southern European countries and from other low cost production countries. The present imports do not come from what we might term the low cost production countries, but from a country whose standard of living is in many Ways even higher than our own. I think that investigation could well be carried out to see whether the present large quantity of imports in any way comes under the definition of dumping. The quantity being imported is nearly equal to the total juice received under item No. 04905 from the United States from January to 16th March. This brings the total for 1962, at the end of April, to nearly 41,000 gallons. That information was contained in the letter addressed to the department on 5th June.
Since then I have received further information. The country of origin is still the United States of America. The quantity imported during the period ended 16th June, under the first importation, was 3,355 gallons and the value for duty was £2,356. The second shipment of 1,263 gallons was valued at £1,280. For the period ended 30th June, a further 14,804 gallons was imported, the value for duty being £3,653. When I say to you, Sir, that the average price expected by the Australian grower is £25 a ton, and that he is being offered £5 a ton by processors, you will readily understand how urgent this matter is. This is a very brief description of the situation, but in the time available to me I think I have shown the necessity for quick action. I ask for the co-operation of the Minister in attending to this matter.
– This week, in New South Wales, is Education Week. Whilst I do not intend to dwell very long on the subject at this time I feel disposed to say just a few words on it. I know that many parents who have been invited to return to their old schools and to visit the schools of their children will be rather impressed by the noble buildings and the facilities provided for the education of their children at a number of schools. Unfortunately, though. Education Week occurs this year at a time when announcements have been made about the imposition of quotas in every faculty of our universities and the increase of students’ fees by one-third. The Sydney University has been the first in my State to announce the increased fees. In this Commonwealth Parliament, which has accepted a particular responsibility in regard to university education, we must feel that we have a long way to go before we give education, including university education, the priority that it ought to enjoy in a young, developing and expanding economy. I hope that some of the parents who visit the schools will be encouraged to press on with their petitions and supplications for the Commonwealth Government to give to the States the special assistance required to bring our schools up to date.
The other day, I had the not very happy experience of visiting one of the big girls’ high schools not far from where I live. This was one of many educational institutions which I and my colleagues have had the opportunity to visit during the parliamentary recess just ended. It was not a happy scene. Here was one of the girls’ high schools which supplies most of the girl graduates to our community. It is a firstclass high school, but only in terms of the enthusiasm and ability of its teachers and the ability and interest of the students. Apart from that, it falls down. I found that the walls were dingy, to say the least. Paint was peeling from the ceiling and the walls. Many of the rooms were without lighting. I could go on to detail the dinginess within the walls of this high school, which is one of the most important and most eminent in Sydney. Sitting at the staff table, in dingy quarters, were up to 30 young professional women, preparing their lessons in a room that would be condemned by any selfrespecting local government health authority.
We have a long way to go. Despite the fact that the State governments are spending a very large proportion of their funds on education, there is an urgent need for more expenditure. As has been dramatically stated again by Sir Marcus Oliphant, we in Australia must realize that education is fundamental to our development, to our ultimate progress, and to our continued possession of this large island continent. I hope that the Universities Commission, which is now calmly making its inquiries, will be a little more realistic than it apparently has been in the past. The Sydney University and the University of New South Wales would not be in their present precarious positions if more generous estimates had been made of their requirements. In the last twelve months we have seen the librarian of the great Fisher Library of Sydney University resigning in disgust because of the woeful inadequacy of the library facilities for the students who attend that great university. A library fee of £2 a head has now been imposed in an attempt to cope with the urgent problem of inadequate library facilities at this great institution.
The recent activities of the Universities Commission and statements in this Parliament concerning teaching in hospitals is another matter that has come under my notice on rather a parochial level. The great St. George District Hospital in my electorate is about to become a teaching hospital. It has been designated so by the State Government of New South Wales. It is urgently needed to provide teaching facilities for our young medical students. Unfortunately, the Universities Commission did not see fit to inquire into the needs of this hospital in order to provide it with the equipment that it will need as a teaching hospital. The Universities Commission said: “ You are not yet a teaching hospital. Therefore we cannot make provision for you.” That statement seems to represent a most myopic attitude. How can a hospital aspire to become a teaching hospital if it is not to be given teaching facilities until it does become a teaching hospital? This is the position of the great St. George District Hospital.
I should also like to refer to another matter, somewhat akin to education, namely, research. I should like to refer, particularly, to the activities of another body which has its head-quarters in my electorate, but its activities are not restricted by any means to that electorate. In fact, it encompasses New South Wales. It is called the Australian Inventors’ Association. This association recently participated in a great engineering exhibition at the Sydney showgrounds. I understand that it attracted more attention than any other exhibit. But this is a struggling body. It does not consist of wealthy men, or of people who are attached to great industrial or commercial concerns. Many of its members are employees. Some of them are small business men or entrepreneurs. They have not the money or the facilities necessary to put their inventions to the test. I would have thought that in a country like Australia which urgently needs to develop its productivity and trade potentialities, the Commonwealth Government would heed their application for assistance. It would not have been establishing some unique principle in respect of either overseas countries or Australia. After all, during the second world war the committee dealing with wartime inventions gave substantial assistance to inventors and, indeed, appealed to inventors to make available to Australia their ingenuity and resourcefulness to help Australia win the war. How much more important is it that we win the peace when we are struggling to make Australia a great nation.
I cannot understand why we cannot enlarge on the existing provisions to enable the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to assist people of this kind. I understand that in the United States two out of every five applications for patents come from private individuals and not from persons associated with great research bodies, governments or private enterprise. Much of the resourcefulness, imagination, ingenuity and inventiveness that have helped to make the United States of America great have, in fact, come from small entrepreneurs.
I am hoping that if it was good enough for the C.S.I.R.O. to join with some of our great farm machinery manufacturers to produce the sugar harvesting machines that we now see in action in north Queensland, and if it was good enough for the C.S.I.R.O. and other bodies to join with the ricegrowers at Humpty Doo to exploit the possibility of growing rice in the north, it would have been worth while for them to give assistance to individual inventors. They have problems, not only in acquiring patents but also in carrying projects through. They have the greatest problem in putting their inventiveness into actual practice.
There is a strong rumour that big companies have an unwritten agreement that they will not purchase inventions from of pay royalties to private inventors. They are said to have an unwritten agreement that they will not take over ideas that involve the payment of royalties. There seems to be a closed door. That appears to be the situation from what has been told to me by this association.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to reply to a statement that was made recently by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I regret that the honorable gentleman is not here. I should like to send him a get-well message and hope that he will soon return to this House. But he made a statement which was reported at page 14 of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ on 1st August. Perhaps 1 am doing the wrong thing in referring to it because a statement published at page 14 does not attract much attention. I do not suppose that many people knew this statement was in the newspaper, but my attention was directed to it. Speaking in the Northern Territory, the Leader of the Opposition was reported to have said -
A statement by the chairman of the Federal Government Food and Agriculture Committee, Mr. H. J. Bate, that a “ massive crash program “ to develop Northern Australia was under way was false. . . .
Talk of “ massive crash programs “ was a falsehood perpetrated on behalf of the Liberal and Country Parties at the expense of the people of the Northern Territory.
There could be no effective development until the Federal Government accepted its responsibilities and planned deliberately and quickly. Effective use of any plan called for the planned spending of large sums of public money.
The north cannot be developed on the cheap, nor can Australia buy its future security on the cheap.
The Leader of the Opposition said that my claim that there was a massive crash programme of development in northern Australia was false. In the few minutes that I have at my disposal, I want to reply to that statement because if it were allowed to become widely known and pass without challenge, it would do a great deal of damage to Australia. That would be in line with the damage that the Australian Labour Party has already done in Queensland. If the statement of the Leader of the Opposition becomes known abroad, there will be a move to use Northern Australia because the Labour Party has said that it is not being used. Let us see what is actually happening in the north, because if the wrong impression gets about the Labour Party will have to correct the situation if it ever becomes the government.
The Australian Labour Party destroyed morale, hope and confidence in Queensland in an effort to win seats in this Parliament. It succeeded, but now it has to restore morale and confidence in Queensland and that will take time because the people are frustrated about the north. We see the other side of the picture in the work of the Minister for the North-West in Western Australia, Mr. Charles Court, who has created morale. The first thing to do in a programme for the advancement of northern Australia is to get people who want to go there. What we want is not so much large sums of money but the human spirit that is willing to try.
For 100 years, there has been frustration. Labour government after Labour government has done nothing in the north and the result has been frustration and bones whitening in the desert. But to-day in the north of Western Australia there are men who are filled with glowing hope for the future because of the activities of this Government. The Ord River scheme has become a symbol, but it is only one small achievement among the great many things that have happened in that area.
It is not possible to give a complete list in a brief speech. But the people of Australia and this Parliament should be reminded of a few of the things that are happening there. Public works expenditure in the Northern Territory since 1950 has totalled £24,000,000. In the same period, private investment in the pastoral industry has totalled £10,000,000 and £3,250,000 has been invested in trade, commerce and transport. Buildings of all kinds completed in 1961 were valued at £2,800,000 in the private sector and £3,000,000 in the public sector. There has been a total investment of £9,000,000 by the Government and by private enterprise in the mining industry.
The Commonwealth Government has made oil search subsidies available. The working of copper mines and the export of iron ore have been facilitated by policy decisions. Mining has been assisted by tax concessions and the gold-mining subsidy. This Government was the first to establish a separate Water Resources Department in the Northern Territory on the same level as a department of mines, agriculture, lands or animal husbandry. Then there has been a revolution in expenditure arising out of a change in Australian Loan Council policy. I refer to the fact that this year, of £24,000,000 given to the States for special projects, Queensland was granted £9,200,000, Western Australia £6,700,000 -a total of £15,700.000 of £24,000,000 allocated to all six States. In other words, money has been flowing to the north.
At the same time in Western Australia, the Commonwealth has provided funds running into millions for the construction of a big new jetty at Wyndham. The Derby jetty has been mentioned in the Budget. Beef roads are carrying more than half the cattle moved in the area. An amount of £3,750,000 has gone into the first diversion dam on the Ord River which will lead to the construction of the higher dam. This will provide for ordinary storage of 3,250,000 acre feet, but at its full capacity in time of flood it will take 10,000,000 acre feet of water. Dams have been built on the Fitzroy River.
Much research had to be done and the Kimberley Research Station was established sixteen years ago to discover the best way of ensuring nutrition from pasture plants which could be useful in the dry season. Research has been done into legumes which would bring down part of the 400 tons of nitrogen which lies between ground and space over every acre in Australia. Part of the nitrogen has to be brought down by the legumes to feed the pasture plants which, in turn, feed animals in the dry season when there is little nutrition available. The next break-through in research was in the supplementary feeding of animals from grain grown with the use of irrigation. In one case, 3,000 acres of linseed was able to feed 8,000 animals. Instead of losing 1 lb. a day for three months, they put on 1 lb. a day for three months. This was a total saving of £80,000 from the by-products of 3,000 acres of linseed. These are the findings.
The work with rice has been successful. This was mentioned to-day during questiontime. Then we have further work on pasture nutrition, on the construction of air strips, the provision of electronic guiding for aircraft, and the construction of beef roads in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and the north of Queensland. These roads will provide the means for people to go through the area. One of the first essentials of development is that people go to these areas. Motels should be provided for tourists, because the climate is good for a large part of the year. Work on breeding research is going forward. A few days ago, a Brahmin bull was sold for 6,050 guineas. I think it was an animal that John Murray had. The Brahmins have a good heat tolerance, can stand up to ticks and use low-quality feed in the winter time. At two and a half years, they are heavier than the old stock would be at five years.
I think the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) has replied to the statement of the Leader of the Opposition. He pointed out that in Queensland £20,000,000 has been advanced for the re-construction of the Mount Isa-Townsville-Collinsville railway. This, of course, will give better, faster and heavier transport to the centre of that very rich State. Once again, I say that morale is the important factor, not money. We need people with the will to go ahead. Once the socialists get that in their minds, we will get somewhere. At the same time as all this work is going on, we have had large mineral finds in the north. They flow directly from a decision of this Government to raise the embargo on the export of iron ore that had been imposed by Labour for many years. We have fabulous deposits in the north at Pilbarra and Mount Goldsworthy. Each of these two separate deposits contains five times as much ore as the previously known reserves in Australia. Although the drilling has not been completed, we know that the deposits are very large. Drilling has reached a depth of hundreds of feet and the drillers are still finding ore with 60 per cent, of iron. This means that the ore is almost pure.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr.
Jeff Bate) spoke about confidence in the Government, but the Government could well start to have a little more confidence in itself. The Liberal Party will not contest the by-election in the Batman electorate and did not, I understand, contest three northern seats in the last election in Western Australia. This shows lack of confidence in itself. This is to be expected. 1 rose this morning to speak on a matter that will disturb the whole Victorian community and those who have some feeling about the direction that social activity is taking in that State. Last Monday, fourteen men sat around a table in the State offices in Melbourne and calmly made a callous and capricious decision to have a man hanged, although a sentence of death had not been carried out in Victoria for some eleven and a half years. These people are the associates of those who sit on the opposite side of this House and, by their action, they will degrade the whole community of Australia. No one may escape the charge. I want to know what manner of men these are. In the whole western world, the use of this form of barbarity is diminishing.
This matter concerns me particularly, because this act of barbarism will be carried out in my electorate next Friday week. As the children of Coburg go to their schools, this action will be taking place. Around the grim walls of Pentridge Gaol there are some four or five schools and one teachers’ college. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) and other honorable members opposite who are interjecting may well speak as they are. They display the dreadful attitude of the people who make these decisions. I know the men who made the decision to carry out capital punishment in this instance. For some of them I have personal affection and admiration. I will read their names, because they cannot escape personal responsibility for the action they have taken. Their decision will degrade every person in the community. The members of the Victorian Cabinet are: H. E. Bolte, A. G. Rylah, Sir Arthur Warner, G. L. Chandler, W. J. Mibus J. S. Bloomfield, H. R. Petty, K. H. Turnbull, G. O. Reid, M. V. Porter, A. J. Fraser, L. H. S. Thompson, R. W. Mack and E. R. Meagher. They are members of the
Liberal Party who have decided on this action arbitrarily and capriciously. They have been in power in Victoria for some seven years, and murder has been committed there before.
It is a matter of some pride to me that in this country the Australian Labour Party has been the principal proponent of the abolition of capital punishment, and it is with some pride that I realize that we have created a public will that has almost led to its abolition. Honorable members opposite are interjecting. Let them stand in the public eye; let them tell the leaders of the Churches which they will probably attend next Sunday and subsequent Sundays how they feel on this matter. Let them tell the Archbishop of the Anglican Church who, I understand, will be a member of the deputation to the Premier. Let them tell their fellows in New South Wales whose policy before a State election was reported in the following terms: -
A Liberal-Country Party coaltion, if returned as a Government at the next State elections, will not re-introduce capital punishment.
Mr. Morton and Mr. Davis Hughes have agreed on this as policy.
Apparently this policy in Victoria is not only against general feeling around the whole of the world but is against the views of the Liberal Party in New South Wales. No doubt the present views of the Liberal Party in New South Wales ari held because of the attitude that has been adopted for many years by successive Labour governments in that State.
There are many arguments against capital punishment. There is no point in trying to canvass them here. Obviously, for some months now great pressure has been brought on the State Cabinet to try to make it change its opinion because of the number of violent crimes that have been committed in Victoria. The Melbourne “Herald” of 7th February last reported -
Support for capital punishment has hardened in State Cabinet, because of Victoria’s record number of murders last year.
The lessons of history, of course, are that capital punishment is not a deterrent.
– They never do it a.g?.in!
– The rather frivolous and facetious approach of the honorable member for Perth is typical of the attitude of his colleagues. Western Australia is still guilty of these acts. A royal commission on capital punishment was held in England a few years ago. I remind the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), who is interjecting, that South Australia is the hanging and flogging State of Australia and is a disgrace to our civilization. In 1920, Belgium was faced with this problem. The records are available for honorable members to see; I have not time this afternoon to read them. The Minister of Justice in Belgium in 1920 was faced with just the same problem as we have now and he refused to have capital punishment carried out. The Secretary-General of the Ministry, M. Paul Cornil told the story of this to the royal commission of 1949-53. There had been a series of robberies in which the victims were killed, and the government prosecutor in the last of these cases to come to trial demanded the implementing of capital punishment. The Minister of Justice refused to authorize it. Suddenly the series of robberies died away without any apparent cause.
The point I make is that this experience in Belgium was not because there was no capital punishment or because there was capital punishment. These are attitudes and aspects of society for which we have no real explanation. The Australian community will be degraded by the action of the State Government in the Tait case. An honorable member has asked, “ What about the relatives? “ I ask him to go to the records. I do not want to mention the names of the relatives, but I point out that the son of the woman who was murdered in such a vicious way has set an example that could well’ be emulated. He is a minister of a Christian church and he has given his opinion on this matter. Psychiatrists have given evidence that Tait, who had a retarded boyhood, was mentally deranged on occasions. The decision to hang Tait is a panic decision on the part of the Victorian Government, and was made because of the emotional outcry over the number of crimes of violence that have taken place in Victoria in the last few months. This is a matter that affects all of us.
No evidence exists to show that capital punishment acts as a deterrent. Many countries have abolished capital punishment.
Capital punishment was abolished in Austria in June, 1950. In Belgium, the last execution took place in 1863 except for one during the First World War. Denmark abolished capital punishment in 1930, but no executions have taken place in that country since 1892. Finland and Western Germany abolished capital punishment in 1949. Capital punishment has been abolished in some States of America. No executions have been carried out in Queensland since 1913. I suggest that statistics will show that the incidence of capital crimes committed in Queensland decreased in the last 30 or 40 years. No executions have been carried out in Tasmania since, I think, 1946. In New South Wales, the death penalty was removed from the statute book in 1955. Is Victoria to be the last outpost of barbarity in the civilized world? Why should the Liberal Party cling to capital punishment? Why should this barbaric act - this crime against humanity - be carried out in my electorate? I speak for a great many responsible and respected people in Victoria - church leaders, newspaper leaders, trade union leaders and the Labour movement itself. I ask honorable members opposite to disregard emotionalism and sensationalism in their consideration of this matter, and to use their good offices with the people whose names I read to the House. Those people are good men and true, but because of their decision they will forfeit in some measure the respect in which they are held by all who know them. Australia should take the lead in this field. The sanctity of human life is treasured in this community, and you will not foster respect for the sanctity of human life by killing people.
.- I rise to record an emphatic protest against the elimination of the electorate of Gwydir, as recommended by the electoral distribution commissioners. Gwydir is one of the original seats of the Commonwealth and has a long tradition in this chamber. I have had the honour to represent the constituents of Gwydir for the last nine years or so. I do not make my protest because the elimination of Gwydir will mean the end of my representation of that seat or because it will mean the end of associations that I have been able to build up in that area over the last few years, but because the decision breaches a principle that should be adhered to by this Parliament - the principle of fair representation for country people.
I disagree with the proposals of the distribution commissioners for three main reasons. First, I disagree because the major policy of the party to which I belong in this House is to achieve a balanced development of Australia. That policy aims at obtaining the most efficient use of the natural resources of the country, the improvement of communications and the decentralization of industry and population. If we disregard the need for adequate representation for the developing areas of the Commonwealth we strike a blow at its development and expansion. I cannot agree with the commissioners that a reduction of parliamentary representation will do anything to achieve balanced development.
Secondly, the commissioners have disregarded a factor that has come into prominence in recent years. All honorable members know that to-day people expect, and are entitled, to see their member more frequently than was the case in the days prior to the last war. There is no room to-day for absentee representation. To-day, with the complexity of government and the encroachment of government services into the private lives of citizens, it is necessary for the electors to be able to approach their elected representative to place their troubles before him. In order that that may be done the representative must have a reasonable area of country in which to move. In some constituencies at present it is manifestly impossible for a parliamentarian to present himself to the people and at the same time perform his task in this Parliament of representing the views of those people faithfully and adequately.
My third reason for disagreeing with the proposal of the commissioners is that the electorate of Gwydir forms part of a unique region of the Commonwealth. Gwydir and the electorate of New England constitute the area which is widely known as the north and north-west of New South Wales. The area is not quite the north and north-west of the State, but it is the north and northwest of the relatively well-populated section of the State. The area is bounded on the east by the Great Dividing Range, on the south by the Warrumbungle Range and the Pilliga scrub and on the west by the Darling and Barwon Rivers. On the north it is bounded by the Queensland border. In this region are the head-waters of the great Darling River system and three river basins - the Namoi, the Gwydir and the BarwonDumaresq. The area contains vast fertile stretches of country. The potential of that part of the State is fully appreciated only by the people who live there. Its potential has remained hidden because so little public money has been spent in the area to develop latent natural resources.
The Gwydir-New England region is a unique area. It provides the strength for the new State movement, which for years has been agitating for better communications, improved services of all kinds and more money for the development of that section of the Commonwealth. The distribution commissioners now propose to transfer the bulk of the electors of Gwydir to an electorate with which they have no common interest, and in which the large centre of population is the City of Dubbo. A major part of the electorate is isolated from its centre of population by 100 miles of rough and rugged mountain bushland. Another segment of the Gwydir electorate has been transferred to the New England constituency. I have no complaint about that, because, as I have said, the New England and Gwydir electorates, as they are situated, to my way of thinking form part of the one community. That community is served by one great daily newspaper, the “Northern Daily Leader”, and by a district police force and a fire-brigade service, both of which are concentrated in the area. Innumerable other services, associations and organizations serve that one community. The distribution commissioners had no regard for the fact that this area constitutes a community.
I completely disagree with the proposals for three reasons. First, they disregard the principle of country representation which is so necessary for a country with a small population, situated, as Australia is, in a vulnerable sector of the world, a continent with an area as large as that of the United States of America. Secondly, they disregard the peculiar needs of parliamentary representation at this time in our history. Thirdly, they disregard the unique nature of the Gwydir electorate.
I am faced with two alternatives. One is to vote against the proposals, if they come before this House. I hope that the distribution commissioners will heed the protests that are being sent to them by associations, organizations and individuals throughout the electorate. If the commissioners heed those protests, the position will be reclaimed.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, before I discuss the subject to which I wish to address myself, may I take this opportunity to congratulate the persons who were responsible for the installation of the new microphones in this chamber. When I first became a member of this House, I was amazed to see the microphones spread about the chamber like a sea of tombstones. The old ones have now been replaced by smaller and more sensitive microphones. However, I offer one criticism and a suggestion for improvement. I do not know whether the matter should be dealt with by Mr. Speaker under the Standing Orders or whether it should be rectified by the technicians. I suggest that honorable members on the front benches on both the Government and Opposition sides would be heard much better if they spoke into the microphones instead of turning their backs to them and to Mr. Speaker. They would be heard much more effectively by honorable members on the back benches if this suggestion were adopted and the rear benches were not addressed directly.
I rise on this occasion once again to bring to the notice of honorable members and the people of Australia the plight of the people domiciled on the islands of Torres Strait. We must remember, Sir, that their whole economy was disrupted by us. Before coming under our protection, they traded between the islands and New Guinea, Malaya, Indonesia and the Philippines, and even as far away as India. Those trading opportunities were cut off when they came under our protection, because they are not permitted to travel beyond a certain distance from their islands.
The main factor in the disruption of the whole economy of the islanders, however, was the exploitation by white people of the natural resources of the islands. I refer mainly to pearl shell. White people were allowed to go into the area and remove the shell without making any effort to rejuvenate or restore the fishing grounds from which the shell was obtained. The Department of Immigration has some interest in this matter, because it had a say in permitting the entry of people from Okinawa to dive for shell at greater depths. The Okinawans were thought to be better divers than the Torres Strait islanders are, but this was not proven. Many Okinawans, excellent divers though they are, died in the Darley Deepstrying to harvest shell. The whole business was very costly and, furthermore, plastics eventually displaced shell in commercial use. This would not have happened if we had taken proper care of the shell resources and tried to restore the shell fishing grounds, as is being done now by private enterprise, which is trying to cultivate pearl shell - not culture pearls in this instance - to rejuvenate and restore the accessible fishing grounds. But seven to ten years will elapse before any results can be obtained by these methods. I believe that four companies are at present engaged in these activities.
I sincerely believe that we have a responsibility to try to do something for the people of the Torres Strait islands. We must remember that they are an intelligent people. Physically, they are our equals, and I believe that, given an opportunity, they can develop their islands economically and maintain a stable economy in the area. I earnestly suggest that the Federal Government propose to the Queensland Government that the Commonwealth take control of the islands. I am sure that the State Government would agree. After all, a Queensland government has a very big area to develop, and it needs for development on the mainland all the funds that it receives from the Commonwealth.
The Torres Strait islanders at present exist more or less on social service benefits. They are grateful to the Federal Government for giving them the right to vote. I can assure the House that the islanders appreciate the right very much. The way in which they vote proves their intelligence. The percentage of informal votes is lower than in some places on the mainland. The main trouble about which I am concerned is that we, having exploited the Torres Strait area, have done nothing to assist the islanders. They do not want to exist on social service benefits. They want to work and they are prepared to pay taxes. Indeed, they would like to be taxpayers. They want to be able to earn enough money to pay taxes instead of having to exist on social service benefits. I direct the attention of the House to the fact that we are spending thousands of pounds on social services for these people. I would rather - as I know these people would - see the Government expend the money on the establishment of industries in the islands.
Many years ago, private enterprise established a fishery and cannery on Murray Island. Unfortunately, it was based on ideas that have been adopted in many enterprises in outback areas, particularly in northern Queensland. I refer especially to a scheme to can fruit in the north of the State. Obsolete machinery was taken there from other canning plants, but it was not efficient enough to enable the product to be marketed in good condition sufficiently cheaply. This was what happened with the fishery and cannery on Murray Island. Obsolete machinery was taken there and it was hoped that the cheap labour of the islanders would enable the undertaking to operate on an economically sound basis. Unfortunately in this instance, as in most others, private enterprise wanted to get its £1 back almost as soon as it had been invested. I cannot see that happening in this area.
The best course would be for the Government to take an interest in the islands. Everybody here should be given an equal share of the task of trying to do something for people whom we took under our protection and exploited to the full, leaving them without any resources whatever. A fish cannery could be established on Murray Island. There are millions upon millions of sardines in the vicinity. An efficient canning factory, combined with advertising of the product and attractive cans and labels, similar to those we see coming from overseas would do much for the islanders. 1 believe that fish caught and canned there would be as good as, if not better than, any canned fish now imported from overseas.
There are many ways of helping these islanders, and we must help them. This job cannot be left entirely to private enterprise. This is a remote area, distant from markets. We must remember that we are spending thousands of pounds a year by way of social service benefits in keeping these people on the islands. Incidentally, officers of the Department of Social Services are writing to the islanders, asking them whether they will go to the mainland if work is found there for them. They have all answered in the affirmative so far, because they do not want to lose their social service benefits. However, the big problem, if they can get work on the mainland, will be to determine who will pay their passages there and who will house them. They are very sensitive about their colour or about our opinion of it. This factor must be considered in relation to these people. Some of the younger islanders a”e now working on the Queensland railways. They are happy and contented, and they receive good wages. They are received very favourably in Queensland. Obviously, however, all of these people cannot go to the mainland. Some of them do not want to go there. They want to reside where they were born, where their farthers, grandfathers and the generations before them lived. They love their land. They are proud to be a part of Australia and they want to live in their own area. We should do everything we can to let them live there. The introduction of our economic methods to their islands has put them in their present plight, so we should do all that we can to rehabilitate them. That would be much better than wasting money in giving them social service benefits which they would not want if they had other means to exist.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay).
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I take this opportunity to bring before the House a letter that appeared in the Sydney press this morning under the name M. Wallington, federal organizer of the Waterside Workers Federation. The letter seeks to impugn the integrity of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) by implying that he does not understand the terms of an agreement that flowed from a recent conference that he had with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation, when an endeavour was made to bring some form of sanity to the waterfront. I shall not worry about how the Minister will reply to such a letter. What I am concerned about, however, is that it contains damaging and completely misleading propaganda, indulged in by a notoriously militant union to serve its own ends and to seek support for its disruptive tactics on the waterfront. I need not remind honorable members of the scandalous activities of the Waterside Workers Federation in recent months. Those activities, in the form of a series of unjustifiable stoppages, have tended to cause critical damage to Australia’s export trade. That union has held our economy to ransom, particularly by disrupting wool shipments over a period of days following the union’s claim for the employment of two additional men to sling bales. The letter I have mentioned reads -
I refer to your editorial on Tuesday in which you deal with alleged undertakings given by the Waterside Workers Federation to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon).
As an officer who participated in the discussions between the Minister, the A.C.T.U. and W.W.F. on June is regarding the anomalies and penalties in the Government long-service leave legislation and penalties in the Act, let me make it clear:
The Federation at no time gave any assurances to the Government that its officers would prevent members from takin: industrial action, including port stoppages when such were necessary, to defend and improve conditions of work. Talk of negotiated “ peace pacts “ therefore is not in accordance with the facts.
I have no particular comment to make on that paragraph, except to say that it is a complete subterfuge to state that the officers of the union could not give an assurance in such a matter. They could get round that problem in several ways. The letter continues -
The main burden of my complaint about this letter, and the reason for my bringing it before the House, is that I regard the waterfront situation as very serious. The letter is misleading and is quite unjustifiable propaganda on the part of the Waterside Workers Federation. If the men on the waterfront have a complaint and consider they are justified in having two more slingers alongside them while they are slinging wool aboard, they are entitled to tell a representative of the stevedoring company - a foreman, supervisor, or even the manager of the company - that in their opinion the work is too heavy for them to handle, and that two more men are needed to do it. In those circumstances, if the employer is of the opinion that the claim is justified, he will employ two extra men. This sort of thing has been done before; it has been done over the years. There are many examples of employers on the waterfront acting in accordance with the claims of a union. However, if the employer considers there can be no possible justification for the employment of two extra men, it is his right to disagree with the union’s claim. Then, a dispute having been created between the union and the employer, surely iiic right tiling io du, as provided in our industrial arbitration laws, is for the union to take its claim to a board of reference, constituted in such manner as to afford the advocate of the Waterside Workers Federation every opportunity to put forward on behalf of the union every argument he can adduce. However, the men will not do that.
Frankly, the reason is that they have no justification for their demand for two extra slingers I am now adverting simply to the wool issue. If there were justification for their demand, I am certain that a board of reference, sitting under a completely impartial chairman - I say from long experience that he would be impartial - would hold that they were right and would arrange for the employment of two additional men. In the recent situation, the port of Sydney has been held to ransom for about seventeen days. Many thousands of bales of wool were left lying on the wharfs there and the ships had to sail in order to meet their own commitments. All that delay occurred, and that was a very serious attack on our economy and on the assets of our wool-growers. I was very interested to read recently in the press what Mr. FitzGibbons had to say about these negotiations. I hope that honorable members opposite will take note of this report and listen to my reply to show how far wrong he was. The report of his statement reads -
Negotiations had taken place in Melbourne and Sydney on the present waterfront dispute. They had proved fruitless because the employers had refused to consider what essentially is a sound and reasonable claim, a settlement of which could at all times have been negotiated on reasonable lines.
He completely pulls the wool over everybody’s eyes when he tries to make out that the employer is not being reasonable and does not look on the claims in a proper manner. He realizes that there is no justification for his claim, but he uses the words, “ a settlement of which could at all times have been negotiated on reasonable lines “. The opportunity for settlement of this dispute on reasonable lines is available to the union but it fails to take the opportunity.
I am pleased to see that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has returned to the chamber, because I would like him to hear what I have to say. The fact is that the Waterside Workers Federation is militantly led. It does not require or desire these grievances to be settled by arbitration. It thrives on an opportunity to keep men out of work. The union actually thrives on the fact that it has members taking home half-empty pay packets. It obviously suits the objectives of the leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation that this should be the unfortunate position for many of these men.
No one can say that I do not hold a brief for the majority of the waterside workers. I can say, probably with more justification than can most honorable members on the other side of the House, that a large number of waterside workers are friends of mine. I have been associated with them over a number of years and I know how these things work. Consequently I am satisfied that the men have not the opportunity to express themselves. When they go along to stop-work meetings they are subject to-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, I regret that the “ Little Toot “ representative of the shipowners did not finish sooner so as to allow me to disclose to the House something which I think is of vital importance to the people of Australia. I want to make reference to the activities of a man named Edward Russell Vickers, who is a member of an American big business international firearms cartel. The address of his main trading offices is care of Vickers (Metals) Proprietary Limited, Suite 800, San Fernando Building, 406S Main-street, Los Angeles, U.S.A.
My information comes from a reliable source and I have no reason to doubt it. I understand this man has been purchasing Australian service rifles - mainly . 303’s - in many thousands through the assistance of this Government since May, 1961. I have a lot to say on this subject, but I understand I have only three or four minutes in which to say it. It is believed that the . 303 rifles were purchased for a negligible sum. They were shipped to Canada and they are now believed to have been transhipped to some of the trouble spots in the world. They never left some of the wharfs overseas. They were shipped to Los Angeles and have now been reshipped to trouble spots in the world and could well be used against Australian servicemen.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order No. 291.
Question resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 8th August (vide page 158), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I think we can all agree that any amount of money allocated for development, particularly in the rural and more distant areas, is very welcome. The only complaint we have is that there is not enough of it. The Government has given attention financially to central and northern Queensland so that we can commence the eradication of brigalow, continue the construction of the
Mount Isa railway and continue the mechanization of the port of Gladstone.
– The Government has been very generous to you.
– Very generous indeed, and I hope it will treat Western Australia as well. As to the Mount Isa railway, criticism could probably be based on the fact that the railway is being reconstructed to the old gauge and not the standard gauge. The Government had an opportunity to continue its work in standardization. The line in question is an inland line of considerable length, carrying a good deal of traffic to the port of Townsville. Eventually all these lines will have to be standardized, and we will find that we will have spent another £30,000,000, plus the interest on that amount, and the Queensland Government will have to put the taxpayers of that State in debt to the extent of another £30,000,000 plus the interest on it. If the pattern of this debt follows that of previous debts, we will find that we will still be paying off this expenditure long after we have undertaken another debt for the eventual standardization of the line. For these reasons I believe the Government should have arranged for standardization on this occasion. It would then have given a much greater benefit to the people of Queensland the country as a whole than it is now doing.
We are very pleased to have some more money to spend on our roads, but do not forget that in the western part of Queensland, where money is being spent on what the Government has been pleased to call cattle roads, not very much is being done to benefit the average Queenslander. These roads run north and south.
– Not all of them.
– Well, I can tell the honorable member that there is an alleged road running from east to west in Queensland, connecting Rockhampton with the hinterland, and there is a break of several hundred miles in the middle where there is no road at all. At an earlier time this Parliament granted money for the construction of roads and the Queensland Government applied some of it towards the commencement of construction of a road from Windorah to Yaraka. An amount of £243,000 was allocated for that work, and the construction was never finished. Some of the material still lies beside the uncompleted road. In spite of all the efforts made by organizations throughout central Queensland, the present Government of that State steadfastly refuses to complete the road. The eventual position will be that cattle from the western part of Queensland will be drawn off into the southern States and Queensland will receive no benefit whatsoever.
– How many cattle go through Yaraka, anyway?
– Plenty of cattle would go through Yaraka if you could get them there, and the only way to get them there is to provide a road.
Now let us consider the matter of the clearing of the brigalow. An amount of £1,750,000 is to be spent in this direction, and that is all that we in this House know about it. How is this money going to be spent? Of course, if one inquires of the responsible authorities, one finds that they wash their hands of the whole business, in the manner of Pontius Pilate, saying that it is the affair of the State Government. It was stated in this House yesterday by more than one member that the way in which the money is spent should become the business of this Parliament to a much greater degree than it is at present. Are we going to spend this money in the same way that we spend money on housing? We get money by way of taxes from our citizens, and we lend that money back to those citizens, at interest rates as high as 6i per cent., for the building of houses. I have pointed out previously in this chamber that people who borrow £3,000 to build a house will eventually pay back more than £6,000. Terms of this kind are evidently going to be imposed on the people who have the brigalow lands.
What will be the conditions of expenditure of this money? Very little of the land is Crown land. Most of it is held on lease. Probably a small portion of it is freehold. I know of one firm that has 500 square miles of it. It has bulldozers and other equipment ready for use when it finds out how the money is to be spent. Will it be offered to the people who hold these lands by way of loan, or is it to be granted to them? Will the Government do the job of clearing itself? Just what is to happen to this money? If it is to be spent in the same way as money has previously been spent on beef roads, we can expect to see the job half done. Do not forget that you cannot do half a job with brigalow clearing. If you cut or push down two trees to-day and then do nothing further, you will have 50 trees in their place to-morrow. This brigalow land has been inspected and investigated by experts and amateurs, by politicians and scientists, to such an extent that if every person who carried out an inspection had been given an axe and told to cut down two trees there would now be no brigalow left.
– What is this brigalow?
– The brigalow is a tree. It is a very persistent tree. If you cut one down you are likely to have ten or twenty in the next season. That is why I say that you must continue the job once you have started it.
– Don’t you have less of it when you cut it down?
– The brigalow is not the kind of tree that you can cut down and be sure of having less, because if you take into account the time factor you can finish up with more. Even the white ants cannot eat it.
The brigalow country is very good country for grazing and for agriculture, but we all know of the mistakes that have been made in the past. Recently the Queensland Government was encouraging primary producers to rush in and grow more wheat and sorghum. They had a very good year, so good that they were able to grow sorghum in the wintertime. What happened then? Having grown the crop, they found that there was no accommodation for bulk storage. The railways had only 200 waggons to cart the product in bulk, and so it was on for young and old. There was no way of moving the product. We should insist on a little forethought and a little planning. That is one of the reasons why I say it is not enough simply to vote these large sums of money and then wash our hands of the whole business and say that it is the worry of the State Government. We cannot just give the money to the State
Government and hope that it will do the best with that money.
Let us consider also the matter of beef roads. One Government spokesman told us that the provision of money for beef roads will increase the quantity of beef available for export. Export to where? In central Queensland at the present time we have the greatest beef producing area in Australia. Within 200 miles of Rockhampton we have more than 2,000,000 head of beef cattle. We have two meatworks, neither of which can obtain enough export markets to work the year round. More than 50 per cent, of the meat produced in that area passes by the meatworks and goes south. So if we produce more meat on the spot we are not necessarily going to have more beef for export, because it cannot now all be marketed abroad. The existence of a market is of no use to the producers if the price offered is too low. The meatworks authorities say that they are paying too much for the meat now. Of course, the graziers do not agree with that. So we have seen in Rockhampton the conflict between the meatworks proprietors and the graziers, who are trying to urge the State Government to establish a State abattoir. It would be a very good proposition.
– Hear, hear!
– I am very pleased that my friend from McPherson agrees with me. I am glad to see that he is becoming a socialist, because the only way in which the grazier will ever be able to operate his industry properly will be to give him control of it.
– What about Queerah meat works at Cairns?
– I am interested, at the moment, in my own electorate. I am concerned with how this money is to be spent. It is not sufficient just to push down the trees. Not only have you to clear the land of obstructions, but you have to put something else on it. You have to provide transport facilities in the form of roads. You cannot clear 10,000 acres in the wilderness and let a man be bogged down for six months of the year in the wet season. How can you expect people to produce under those circumstances? During the last few weeks, a grazier who came into my office asked me how this money was to be spent if the Commonwealth Parliament gave it to the State Government to clear away the brigalow. He had 20,000 acres of it. He said that, under these proposals, he would borrow money at up to 6 per cent, to clear his land although he did not necessarily want to do it. He said: “The land is all right as it is. If I accept a loan on which I will have to pay this interest what will happen? They will put up my rates and Crown rents.”
Questions such as these are being asked by the graziers. I think that they are entitled to know what their obligations will be before they commit themselves. There is an agitation in Queensland to alter the land tenure laws. At the moment, leases are for tenures which will expire at various times - some in five years time, some in ten, and some in only a few months. Is the money to be lent to all leaseholders on the same terms? Will the man whose lease has five years to run be pleased to borrow money at 6 per cent, to do a job from which he will not be able to make a profit? Perhaps that is not the intention of the Government. If it is not, let the Government tell these people its intentions.
Believe it or not, I have heard graziers complain about the beef roads. One man told me that his present droving costs were £5 per head. He said: “ As soon as the beef road comes in, the drover will go out. In will come the cattle train costing between £30,000 and £60,000. I have been quoted a price of £13 per head to shift my cattle.” Anybody who has had anything to do with the land will realize that the grazier cannot pass on his costs. It has been said that this proposal will increase the population of central Queensland. I doubt it very much, i think that the work done on these clearing projects will be done by machinery. The contractors will come from outside the area, and will depart with the money for the contracts in their pockets.
We are very pleased to see the mechanization of the port of Gladstone. Honorable members may go there and see the great efficiency with which coal can now be loaded. Two men can load 18,000 tons of coal into a ship so quickly that it is staggering. The State Government has promised the coal interests that they can build a railway if they want it. There is a clause in their agreement to provide for one. But do they want to build it? It would cost them £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 and, at the moment, the State railway can carry away all the coal that they can sell.
It is population that central Queensland wants and, in central Queensland, we have projects which could be developed. The first thing necessary for industry is cheap power. It has been pointed out by the Central Queensland Development Association that it would pay the Government to build a super-powerhouse at Callide - not the fiddling one which is proposed at the moment, but a big one which could turn out power at .5d. per unit. Even if the Commonwealth were to subsidize such a project the industry attracted to the area would pay ten times as much taxation as the subsidy would cost, lt would be possible to smelt aluminium there. At present, 600,000 tons of aluminium ore is being shipped untreated to Japan. It has been said that, eventually, smelting works will be built in New Zealand. That is a very good thing for the New Zealanders, but it will not put much money into the pockets of the people in central Queensland or any other part of Australia.
Iron ore deposits in the vicinity of Gladstone also could be developed if we had cheap power. There should also be cheap power for Mount Morgan where fertilizers, sulphur and sulphuric acid can be produced. At present, mechanization has reduced the population of Mount Morgan from 10,000 to 5,000. Something has to be done to reverse that state of affairs. If conditions are made sufficiently attractive in an area, industry will go there. If we tackle this job as we should we shall attract population to central Queensland. New industries could bring 175,000 people into central Queensland, thereby doubling its present population. Unemployed people could be brought there from the south.
This is not a matter of parochial politics. The development of Australia is tied up with the development of the northern part of the country. After all, if we lose Capricornia those in the south will lose their part of the country also. If we do not occupy the northern part of our continent we shall lose the lot. There is no doubt about that. No sensible person will contest the proposition that 10,000,000 people cannot justify the occupancy of 3,000,000 square miles of country while other people starve. If we want to keep the country we must use it, and time is not on our side. While we play about with £1,750,000 to shift some brigalow trees - worthwhile though that work may be - the population of Asia will increase by 40,000,000. Those people will have to get food from somewhere or starve.
Any one who lives in Queensland knows that the people are gradually realizing that you cannot allow a Kathleen Mavourneen policy to control development. We cannot expect people to go on the land to wrestle with brigalow trees or any other trees, or land without any trees on it at all, unless population is attracted to the area and Unless the best market of all is provided - people living in the vicinity. What is a market? lt is people with money in their pockets and prepared to spend it. Whether those people are here, whether they are inside or outside the European Common Market or whether they are inside red China to which the Government is so anxious to sell our products, it all amounts to the same thing: it is the purchasing power in the people’s hands that constitutes a market.
Honorable members in this House who profess to support the primary producers should not forget that the best possible market is provided by the trade unionists. The more money the trade unionists get, the more they will spend and the more the primary producers will sell.
– Why do they have to be trade unionists?
– The trade unionists are the biggest section of organized people in the country. We have compulsory trade unionism in our part of Queensland and I can tell the honorable member that a similar principle applies to the pre-war producers. Membership of the Queensland Dairymen’s Organization and the Queensland Cane Growers Council is compulsory, and if anybody tried to remove the compulsory clause in relation to this matter the farmers would set the dogs on him.
– What about the record savings bank deposits?
– Record savings in the banks will not buy the farmers’ products. Money in the bank is a potential market, but if deposits continue to rise, that is money which is withdrawn from the purchasing power of the people. We want all people to have an adequate income and use it. If Australia is to be developed to any degree, development must take place in areas where development is needed most, and those are the unpopulated central and northern portions. Such areas need money desperately. Not only do we need beef roads, removal of the brigalow trees and installation of coal-loading devices in our ports; we also need money to develop major industries which will attract population that will in turn provide markets. Unless we have a population occupying this country, we cannot hold it effectively.
– What do you suggest?
– I suggest, first, that we provide finance for and build a major power house in central Queensland, and, secondly, that we subsidize the power that is produced so that industries can be established with a reasonable certainty that they will pay. If the Government wants to encourage decentralization and if it wants to get industries out of the big cities, it must be made profitable for the industries to go to outer areas. It is useless passing pious resolutions at a public meeting and saying that we must decentralize. That was done in Sydney and where did the industries go? They went to St. Mary’s. In effect, they moved about 300 yards and thought they were in the outback.
– It was the State Government which did that.
– I do not care what government it is or whether it is State or Commonwealth. If you want people to establish industries in distant areas, you must make it profitable for them to do so. If not, they will not go to those places. Apart from anything that a State government has done, this Government built its ammunition annexe at St. Mary’s. It could have been built in Western Australia in the electorate of Moore.
– Hear, hear!
– The place where it is built is in an industrialized area and one atomic bomb would wipe out the lot.
If this Government wants decentralization, it must act and set an example to the State governments. As I said at the beginning of my speech, we people in Queensland appreciate this grant of £1,750,000 we are getting for the brigalow country and the £8,000,000 we are getting for the Mount Isa railway, but in a budget of more than £2,000,000,000 that is not very much. When we are considering decentralization, the effort to develop the northern and central parts of the continent should be a major plank in the platforms of all parties and governments. If we have any claim to statesmanship, as apart from mere politics, then we should be allocating more than only 5 per cent, of our national expenditure on development. It should be the main objective of our efforts.
I repeat that time is not on our side. We cannot allow development to trail along, financed with odd crumbs from the political table once a year. We shall not get the country effectively occupied by spending a few millions here and a few hundred thousand pounds elsewhere. The Fitzroy River basin covers 56,000 square miles. It is more than twice as big as Tasmania and is as big as England, but it has a population of only 21,000 people. Even if the population in the Fitzroy River basin were doubled by the expenditure of this grant, there would still be only 42,000 people there, and what would 42,000 people be in an area of 56,000 square miles? This is begging the question. This area has the greatest coal deposits in the world, at least three known iron deposits and all the raw material for the manufacture of cement within a few miles. It is the only known spot where all these ingredients are to be found in one place.
– Do not pile it on too thickly.
– I have to keep ahead of you fellows from Western Australia or we shall get nothing. It is not a matter of piling it on too thickly but simply a matter of common sense. Either this Government wants to develop northern Australia or it does not. If it is in earnest, it should go out and do something instead of merely trying to placate the electors who recently turned on the Government and gave Government supporters the surprise of their lives at the last election. This is something that must transcend politics. It is more important than how the electors voted at the last general election. We are thinking of the future of Australia. It will not matter much whether the present Government parties or the Opposition party forms the government if we do not own the country. So whoever sits on the Government side must give this matter more attention than is evident from the money that is to be voted from the Budget for the development of northern Australia.
All governments have done a little towards development. We have had money to develop the beef roads before. A Labour government has had a share of this work. I say once again without fear of contradiction that we did not do enough either, but the fact that we did not do enough does not justify the failure of this Government. Government supporters have chided the Opposition for not doing enough about the development of the north when we were in office. Now the Government has an opportunity to demonstrate that it is prepared to do more. We are committed to spend £60,000,000 a year on the development of northern Australia when we reach the treasury-bench, as we shall do before long. Is there any honorable member who is prepared to rise in this House and say that such expenditure is not warranted?
– You are committed to spend £300,000,000.
– And we will spend every penny of it. I regard this matter as something that is outside the political field. It is a matter of developing Australia and holding it. We have to shift more of our population into the north. I say for the benefit of the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) that we need to do more there than has been done in the past.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The purpose of the bill is to provide a nonrepayable grant to the States of £12,500,000.
Being an interest-free non-repayable grant, it is a gift from the Commonwealth to the States. The purpose of the gift is to assist in providing employment. Consequently, the greatest amounts are payable to Queensland and Tasmania, the two States that have the greatest amount of unemployment. Queensland is to get £3,600,000 and Tasmania, £1,100,000, an amount far in excess of their pro rata proportion.
During this debate, one Labour member after another has made most extravagant statements about the employment position. I would say without fear of contradiction that the greatest cause of unemployment at present is the Australian Labour Party. By their extravagant and untrue statements about the employment position, members of the Labour Party are destroying confidence and preventing industry from developing so that additional employment may be provided. I suggest to Opposition members that they follow the advice given to them by the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and stop this panicky nonsense about the large number of unemployed in Australia. I will quote from Mr. Monk’s address to the Australian Citizenship Convention in January, 1961. If the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), who is interjecting, has no faith in Mr. Monk, let him say so. This is what Mr. Monk said-
– You should quote him in full.
– I will quote Mr. Monk.
– You will quote only the part that suits you.
– No, I will quote Mr. Monk verbatim. He said -
Australia should not panic over a minor percentage of unemployment.
In America to-day, there are about 5,000,000 unemployed, or about 6 per cent, of the total work force.
In Canada, the present unemployment figure is 8 per cent, and it will go up to about 10 per cent, by the end of March.
We have been very fortunate. When I tell people overseas that our unemployment figure is about 1.8 per cent., or less than 2 per cent., they say, “That is not a problem at all”. They are used to having economic problems with a ratio of unemployment to the work force of about 4 or 5 per cent.
In 1939, when the war broke out, we had about 10 per cent, unemployment in this country, and we were used to dealing with it on a 10 per cent, unit basis.
But the ordinary person in Australia now gets awfully frightened if we get up to 2 per cent, unemployment, whereas in actual fact, because of our seasonal occupations in Australia, it is necessary to have about 1.5 per cent, floating work force to deal with seasonal and major construction works.
Those are not my words; they are the words of Mr. Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
At present in most States we have under 2 per cent, of the work force unemployed. Mr. Monk has stated that 1.5 per cent, is essential to do the casual work - the canning, the shearing and similar activities - without which it would be impossible for Australia to carry on and develop. Therefore, instead of frightening Australia and frightening the industrialist, as one Labour member after another does, Opposition members should be quoting Mr. Monk. If they followed him as their leader, they would help the people to get jobs and would not keep them out of employment.
The policy of the Government is to have a high rate of development, a high rate of immigration, stability and full employment. The bill now before the House aids in achieving those four great objectives. In the last eighteen months, we have seen Australia’s stability improve out of all sight. In the figures just supplied, we find that for the year ended 30th June our exports were £1,068,000,000, an all-time record. O’ur imports were only £882,000,000. So, we have a trade surplus of £186,000,000. That gives stability lo the country. Then we find that the cost of living was reduced in the four quarters of the last year. This is the first time for a great many years that the cost of living has actually fallen. I trust now that we will have no more sneering references by Opposition members who ask, “ When will you put value back in the £1 “?
– Have you put it back?
– Value has been put back into the £1. We have had falling costs for every quarter in the last twelve months. The Government realizes that its policy of a high rate of development and a high rate of immigration throws burdens upon the States. Consequently, the Government does not say to the States, “ I am all right; you look after your own burdens “. This Government has helped the States year by year by the provision of additional grants. Let us have a look at what the Government has done for the States. In 1949-50, the year that we came into office, the grants to the States totalled £70,000,000. This year, the grants are £317,000,000. If we take into account the State obligations that are paid by the Commonwealth in various forms, we find that the total amounts now paid by the Commonwealth, either directly to the States or in payment of their services this year, will be £422,000,000. In other words, 4s. out of every £1 that this Government raises in taxation and receives from its undertakings is paid to the States to carry on what are essential State services. No government could have treated the States better. But as this country develops I am convinced that the Commonwealth will have to make bigger grants to the States. That is obvious from the fact that although the Commonwealth has been reducing its public debt each year, the States, owing to the large sums required to finance additional services, have had to increase their public debt. This Government has a magnificent record of achievement in relation to its public debt. In 1950, shortly after this Government came to office, the per capita interest payment on our public debt amounted to £6 9s. In 1961-62, the amount had fallen to £5 3s. 9d. In other words, we are getting rid of our public debt and our interest liability.
– At the expense of the States.
– The position with regard to the States is that in 1950 the per capita interest payment on their public debt amounted to £4 12s. 5d., but to-day it is £12 6s. 3d. So we see that the Commonwealth public debt has been decreasing while the public debt of the States has been increasing. It is true that most of the States’ debts represent money that is repayable - money lent for housing and other purposes, all of which will come back. But certain amounts received by the States for special purposes are not repayable. I refer to amounts allocated for schools and hospitals. I am sure that as time goes by the Commonwealth will have to increase the amount of its grants to the States.
In 1950, the per capita Commonwealth public debt amounted to £228 ls. 9d. but by 1962 the figure had fallen to £145 13s. 5d. That is a most creditable achievement. But we find that the per capita public debt of the States in the same period increased from £145 to £280. I think there is grave danger in allowing the States to get too far into debt. We must watch the position and, whenever possible, the Commonwealth should make grants to the States to assist them in the provision of schools, hospitals and other services. I suggest that grants be made to the States not so much for specified purposes but rather in order to expedite the provision of services that are so necessary for this country’s development.
– This is turning out to be a good speech.
– I hope that the honorable member who has interjected will recall my remarks about the leader of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I hope that the honorable member will follow Mr. Monk’s example and stop panic talk about unemployment. All Labour supporters know in their hearts that to-day very few people over and above those engaged in seasonal work are unemployed. What would be the position if every man and woman in the land were permanently employed? How would we get our shearing and our canning done? Although the shearer is paid on the basis of twelve months’ work a year everybody knows that he works for only nine months a year. During the remaining three months technically he is unemployed. Persons engaged in the canning industry are in a similar position. They work during the canning season and receive reasonable wages, but when the season finishes technically they become unemployed. Nobody in this House is more anxious than I am to see employment available for every person able and willing to work. I have devoted a large part of my life to bringing that about. Let us put an end to this panic, and stop pretending that a situation exists that does not exist. The fact that a man is registered as unemployed at a particular time does not mean that he is not waiting for his seasonal work to commence. That is the approach that Mr. Albert Monk has adopted. He asked his own Labour supporters not to panic, but to be realistic and see that the business of the country was conducted satisfactorily. He said that a certain number of men were required to perform seasonal tasks, and that everybody else should have a job. If the number of persons unemployed in most States represents about 1.8 per cent, of the work force, that number represents about .3 per cent, over and above the number envisaged by Mr. Monk as necessary for the performance of seasonal tasks. I am not talking about the position in Queensland, where the percentage of persons out of work is higher than elsewhere. Because of Queensland’s particular difficulties the Commonwealth has given that State a bigger grant.
– The figure is 2.72 per cent, in Tasmania.
– I have already said that Tasmania will receive a bigger grant than it normally would be entitled to. On the last figures that I saw the percentage of persons unemployed in Queensland was higher than the percentage unemployed in Tasmania.
– On the most recent figures Tasmania’s relative position is as bad as Queensland’s.
– If that is so I hope that the honorable member for Bass will do his best to ensure that employment is found for everybody who is willing and able to work. He should devote his energies to helping his constituents to find work instead of making panic speeches in the House, which only destroy confidence. If he were to do as I suggest this problem would be solved much more quickly.
I congratulate the Government on introducing this bill. In view of the deficit for which the Government is budgeting this year, £12,500,000 is a large sum to grant to the States. I am pleased that the Government has approached this problem of unemployment, particularly as it affects Queensland and Tasmania, realistically, and has provided additional money for the States, despite the fact that it is budgeting for a deficit. I feel sure that this bill, com bined with the other legislation that was introduced earlier this year, will help to solve the unemployment problem in Australia. But panic-stricken speakers who urge the creation of a situation in which no one will be available to do casual work are completely unrealistic. They are trying to create a completely undesirable situation that I hope will never be realized.
I congratulate the Government and wholeheartedly support this bill, Sir.
– Mr. Speaker, this bill will provide the States with £12,500,000 for economic development and the relief of unemployment throughout the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) alleged that honorable members on this side of the House had made an attack on the Government in a panic. I can assure him, on my knowledge of the feelings of the people of Hunter, that the attack is not made in a panic. I think that the electorate of Hunter has suffered more economic changes than any other electorate has done in the last ten or twelve years, as I have pointed out previously in this House. These changes have been due to mechanization of the coal-mines and the decline in the demand for gas coal.
The honorable member for Sturt spoke of casual or seasonal workers working for only nine months of the year. I am sure that he would not approve of parliamentarians being paid their salaries only when engaged on their duties here and not when the Parliament was in recess. They might be regarded in some respects as casual employees, or seasonal workers.
This grant of £12,500,000, in the opinion of myself and many others on this side of the chamber, is negligible and will do little to remedy the sad situation that exists in many parts of the Commonwealth, or to soothe the feelings of the unfortunate people who are suffering hardship. This sum is virtually little more than one-half of the cost of one of the American rocketfiring destroyers which have been ordered, if I may say so perhaps somewhat cynically, by the United States Government, not by this Government, and which are to be paid for with the Australian taxpayers’ money. I have my own opinions about the purchase of those vessels.
This is the third time since 1957-58 that a grant of this nature has been made. We well recall that in February, 1962, this Government made a special grant of £10,000,000 to relieve the acute and sad unemployment situation that existed in Australia at that time. That grant did relieve the situation slightly, but it was virtually negligible and represented only a drop in the ocean. It was more insignificant than a flea on an elephant’s back, one might say, for it has done very little to relieve the unemployment situation permanently.
I know of nothing more cruel than the fate of a person who, unexpectedly and suddenly, is thrown on the employment market. This is especially cruel for men with family responsibilities who wish to be honorable and pay their way in life. Many of my constituents have suddenly suffered this fate and have been given barely one week’s notice of the termination of their employment. Recently, approximately 100 men were retrenched from the Liddell colliery at Muswellbrook. Numbers of them came to my home, as retrenched miners used to go to my dad’s home, asking whether I could do something to get them jobs. But the industries in Newcastle to-day are practically saturated, in an employment sense, through absorbing considerable numbers of unfortunate mine workers who felt the sting of mechanization and the change-over in the coal-mining industry and were retrenched some six or eight years ago. Even those miners who remain in employment in the mines suffer constant mental frustration because they are always in fear that the same sort of thing will happen to them as has happened to their neighbours and workmates with whom they were reared and with whom they worked for years.
I believe that, as long as this situation continues, we shall never have a happy community. A lot has been said in this House by honorable members on both sides about a planned economy. We shall have a happier and more peaceful society only when the Government adopts a policy of planning the economy so that men will know that there will be a steady demand for their services in a certain class of work, and that, if they have to switch to another kind of work, there will be work available for them, even though they mav have to travel some distance from their homes to it. A better and happier society, I think, is the aim of every decent citizen. We all want to live happily and peacefully with our neighbours for the short space of time that we have on this earth. That is the true Christian spirit that has developed among the people of Australia. That is the spirit that was brought here by our forebears from our mother country, Great Britain, late in the eighteenth century.
I do not intend to take my full time in this debate, because I know that the total time available is limited and that many other honorable members wish to take part. I am prepared to share my time with others. Therefore, I shall not labour or re-hash points that have been made by earlier speakers. The establishment of plants to produce by-products from coal, and thereby stimulate the coal industry, and particularly the gas-coal industry, has been talked about in this House for a considerable time, and I want to mention the matter again to-day. Modern plants for the production of byproducts from coal are in operation in the United Kingdom, Holland, West Germany, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, New Zealand, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
Australia at present imports approximately £50,000,000 worth of chemicals that could be produced in this country in modern plants. Plastics are among these imports. The records of the Commonwealth show that about £5,000,000 worth of plastics that could well be produced here in modern coal by-products plants is imported every year. These records show, also, that some £17,000,000 worth of synthetic rubber, which is a by-product of coal, is imported yearly. Tires made from synthetic material that is a by-product of coal are imported in large quantities, and these give 30 per cent, more wear than do tires made of natural rubber. Plastic shoes are regularly imported. These, also, are made from material produced as a by-product of coal. Plastic shoes are proving to have better wearing qualities than leather shoes have. I understand that these shoes have been tested on a machine to the extent of 2,000 walking miles. Not many members of Parliament would wear out such a pair of shoes. These modern shoes, with plastic heels, have been made to last. Made from the by-products of coal, they will wear much better than shoes with normal rubber heels, which have a life of approximately 300 walking miles. These facts are on record and I think they are worthy of mention in this House.
Other by-products that could be made available from a modern coal by-products plant include ammonium nitrate, calcium nitrate, sodium nitrate and superphosphate. This country is in dire need of these chemicals. Many country people are now going in for pasture improvement and a considerable quantity of superphosphate is being used. This commodity could be readily produced in a modern coal by-products plant. I understand that Australia is now importing annually about £7,000,000 worth of miscellaneous chemicals that could be produced locally from coal. We read in the papers of our balance of payments being down, and that this is not in the best interests of the country. The Government should consider making a Commonwealth grant for carrying out research with a pilot plant to see whether it would be in the best interests of Australia - I believe it would be - to produce these goods from a modern coal by-products plant. If that were not in our best interests, and if it became clear that a petro-chemical industry would be much more advantageous, then such an industry should be established. The welfare of the nation should be our first consideration. There is no reason why a modern petro-chemical industry should not be set up on or near the coal-fields, because oil and by-products from petro-chemical industries have done the most harm to the coal industry. I consider that this would be only right and fair, and that the Government should give consideration to implementing some of the suggestions that I have brought forward in this House this afternoon.
In my electorate we have a great problem of youth unemployment. I have no doubt that other electorates have similar problems, but I doubt whether they are more severe than that in my electorate. Youth unemployment throughout the Hunter electorate is a sad problem, and it is getting to the point of tragedy. Statistics reveal that the approximate total of unemployed in Australia is now 90,000 to 93,000, and it is claimed by responsible people - I believe that statistics support them - that 26,000 of this number are in their youth - young boys and girls who have left school and never had a job. It appears to me, with the experience of a man in my age group, that a situation similar to that which obtained prior to the last world war will again occur. At that time many young persons got their first job following the outbreak of another world bloodbath. I am sure that every sane-thinking person in Australia would hate to see another situation like that.
I shall draw to a conclusion, despite the fact that I should have liked to bring forward a considerable number of other matters. I feel that this grant of £12,500,000, if it does relieve the unemployment situation and bring happiness to some of those unfortunates who are now out of work, not only in the electorate of Hunter but throughout the Commonwealth, will afford only a temporary measure of relief. How many honorable members feel that unless we find the upward from within, life is definitely on the down? I hope I am wrong, but I think we are going downwards rather than taking the upward grade. We will probably have to make greater sacrifices. In the words of Mr. Kennedy, President of the United States, the rich will have to give more to the poor, otherwise we will have no rich. I have no aspirations to be rich. I think that wealth destroys one’s character. I have more respect for the ordinary person who merely wants a reasonable income so that he can enjoy an ordinary standard of life than for the person who exploits others to get greater comforts for himself. I believe that the materialism that has gripped mankind is the ruination of the Western world to-day. I have committed to memory the words of a great statesman who, before he died not so long ago in West Germany, said -
It is that we shall learn to live like sons of God where no man demands too much for himself whilst another man goes hungry; where character not colour should become your yardstick oi human values; where we shall learn to live as one honest-living united people throughout the world.
If we can achieve that, we will have a society which will be much better than the society we live in to-day under the Liberal Government controlled by R. G. Menzies.
– The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) expressed some fear that the results of this measure would be only of a temporary nature, that its effects would wear off after a relatively short time, and that the economy would not feel its impact for any lasting period. I think I should draw his attention to the fact - which he already knows - that this in itself is only a shortterm measure, designed for a specific purpose. It must not be taken out of context and considered apart from all the other things done in recent months to stimulate the economy of this country, lt cannot be treated as a separate measure, apart from all the other measures that were introduced by the Government last February and have been continued in the Budget this year.
This bill is known as the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill. Perhaps it would be better to entitle it the “ Develop Australia Bill “. That is exactly what its provisions mean. On the surface, the bill represents a parliamentary method of providing the States with an additional £12,500,000 in the form of special grants that do not have to be repaid and on which no interest is due. Behind this provision is a principle which is vitally important - that of Commonwealth and State co-operation in the great task of national development. Following this principle at the Premiers’ Conference held in conjunction with the recent meeting of the Australian Loan Council, the Commonwealth indicated that in addition to supporting the borrowing programme of £250,000,000 for State works and housing, which had been adopted by the Loan Council for this financial year, it would be willing to make available special grants to the States for expenditure on employmentgiving activities. These amounts, of course, are in addition to the grants paid to the States under the States Grants Act 1959-62.
Some criticism was voiced by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and other honorable members in this debate regarding the lack of conditions laid down for the use of this grant by the States. I think they may be quite justified in drawing attention to this matter, but I think they should appreciate that it was at the request of the State Premiers and Treasurers themselves that the grant was made in this form. I think it is most desirable that the scope of a special grant of this nature - a grant so broad as to be based merely on employment-giving opportunities - should not be stultified in any form at all. I agree with the principle applied to the special grant, provided the States adhere to the principle and utilize the funds to the best advantage. I want to make a passing reference to an important aspect of our economy, that is, investment in primary and secondary industries. Australia, as you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, has expanded remarkably yet steadily and firmly, in recent years. It is a country of youth and vitality, eager for the enormous development of which it is capable, and full of opportunity for the enterprising. Australia is a nation built upon, and believing in, free enterprise. Free enterprise has played a major role in the country’s expansion and the Government is firmly behind the policies which will increase our population and develop our resources, in both cases developing our resources and creating opportunities and the need for great participation by business interests in our national growth.
Overseas capital, with the technical and management skills which have accompanied it, has contributed significantly to the recent large-scale development of our country, and we see evidence every day that the industrialists who have set up business here, having come from countries overseas, have found Australia a rewarding field for their activities. Australia is already doing a great deal to provide from its own earnings the capital needed to increase its productive capacity and its basic services. Current investment in the nation’s development is equal to some 25 per cent, of the gross national product - a record, I think, in the Western world - and at the same time another significant point is that about 90 per cent, of the total investment in industry in Australia to-day is from our own resources.
Having said that, I point out that we cannot yet find all the resources, financial and otherwise, that we want to do all the things that need to be done in addition to our programme of national development. We recognize the special value of the contribution made by the overseas investor who is prepared to join our country in its forward march. I feel sure, in discussing the basic economic problems of - our country, that these facts must be taken into consideration in relation to the overall economic scene. I want to refer, very briefly, to the changing pattern of national development in Australia. And the changing pattern is quite obvious, because the Commonwealth Government to-day plays an increasingly important part in the development of our resources and the expansion of our economy. This bill is further evidence of the stimulating action by the Government in this direction.
The great problem is to maintain a balanced and stable economy in a period of tremendous expansion. These problems were emphasized by the boom which emerged during the past two years and the resultant government action which was necessary to halt it. Resulting from some of these economic measures and fostered by bad seasons, principally in Queensland, a grave employment situation arose, again principally in Queensland. This necessitated some urgent action by the Government to correct the situation. This bill - in addition to other measures - is designed for this specific purpose, but it will also give a further impetus to development, particularly in the northern areas of Australia. 1 think I should quote again, quickly, for the record, the allocations for the various States, because I think they are of great significance. Under this bill the grant to New South Wales will be £3,044,000; to Victoria, £2,442,000; to Queensland, £3,640,000; to South Australia, £1,312,000; to Western Australia, £894,000; and to Tasmania, £1,168,000. It will be seen immediately from the significance of these figures that special consideration has been given to the States where the unemployment problem is greatest. I wish to refer particularly to Queensland, where this problem has been accentuated by three successive bad seasons. However, under the stimulus of the Commonwealth Government’s economic measures last February, and assisted by better seasonal conditions, the situation in Queensland has improved enormously to-day, so that this large special grant which is being made, in addition to other special financial assistance announced in the Budget for Queensland, can really now be considered as developmental assistance to that State which I consider - I am sure most people will join me in the belief - has the greatest potential for development in Australia to-day.
It is this aspect of Queensland’s development that I want to touch on now, because it is a great story of partnership between the Commonwealth and State governments. It is a most heartening story after the stagnation period under previous Labour Party administrations. The unfolding picture of Queensland’s development under Liberal-Country Party governments in Canberra and Brisbane is a dramatic one indeed and I will quote some facts to substantiate what I have said. Let us look at the sheep and beef industries.
Queensland’s greatest export earner is still wool. Late figures show that Queensland exports nearly £60,000,000 worth of wool annually which, in recent times, has gone principally to the Japanese market. For many years the United Kingdom was the biggest wool customer for Australia, but gradually the Japanese buyers have predominated in the Australia wool trade and a large section of Queensland’s wool now finds its way on to the Japanese market.
In beef production, also, Queensland plays a very important part in the export markets of the world. This State is responsible for approximately 70 per cent, of the total beef exports of the Commonwealth. A very large proportion of that beef comes from the line north of the tropic of Capricorn. Under the fifteenyear meat agreement the vast bulk of Queensland beef has been exported to the United Kingdom. But in recent years there has been set up in the United States of America a very good market for the Australian type of manufacturing beef and a large export trade between Queensland and the other States of Australia and the United States is now being carried on.
These two great industries are responsible for about half of the total exports from Queensland. The future development of these industries, and particularly the beef cattle industry, is naturally linked with the improved land usage of the brigalow lands in Queensland. There are approximately 23,000,000 acres of brigalow lands in Queensland which, when cleared and improved, will provide first-class country for cattle fattening purposes. There are extensive areas of this country in the Fitzroy basin, and the Commonwealth Government has agreed to provide this year an amount of £1,750,000 to assist in financing the first stages of a scheme to open up and develop to full production these brigalow areas in the Fitzroy basin. The development procedures will include the clearing of the brigalow lands and the provision of roads, fences, accommodation and all associated facilities.
In addition to this, the Commonwealth has agreed to provide Queensland with a grant of £5,000,000 to be expended over five years for the construction of roads to enable cattle to be transported by road trains from breeding to fattening areas and thence to markets. It is expected that this undertaking will enable younger cattle to be turned off, with a consequent substantial increase in the quantity of beef produced for export. A sum of £650,000 was contributed last year for the purpose and this year’s amount is estimated at £1,480,000. The roads involved are in distant areas. They are the Normanton-Julia Creek road, the Mount Isa-Boulia road, the GeorgetownHann Highway road, the Boulia-Winton road and the Quilpie-Windorah road, all of which are in areas with a big potential for improved beef production.
Work is at present in progress on the Normanton-Julia Creek and QuilpieWindorah roads. The objective is to provide virtually all-weather roads with a gravel surface where required and stream crossings will be provided. An amount of £250,000 is also being provided this year for the sealing of roads included in the programme. The Mount Isa railway reconstruction will also assist the expansion of the beef cattle industry in Queensland.
In addition to these grants, the Commonwealth is also providing assistance to Queensland for research and we have activities through the Department of National Development, the Department of Primary Industry and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization on resources surveys generally which are being carried out in the Fitzroy and Burdekin river basins and the Darling Downs area. These activities involve soil surveys, agricultural economic surveys, geological surveys and the preparation of resources maps.
Having dealt briefly with the great potential for the development of primary industries I want to refer equally briefly to industrial development in Queensland.
It is interesting to record that last year the number of registered factories operating in Queensland increased by 128. The gross value of output from these factories is now more than £474,000,000, compared with £216,000,000 only ten years ago. At the same time, 5,886 establishments are employing 105,415 workers in secondary industry, as against 4,700 employing 93,000 ten years ago. Salaries and wages have increased during the same period by about £43,000,000 per annum to more than £90,000,000 per annum. These figures prove conclusively that industrial activity has been given an increased impetus in Queensland, and that it is making a sound and ever-increasing contribution to the Australian economy. One of the most pleasing characteristics of this development is to be seen in the fact that the relationship in Queensland between primary and secondary industry remains closer than in any other State.
In order of importance, from the viewpoint of recorded production in Queensland, are the pastoral, manufacturing, agricultural, mining, dairying and forestry industries. Some idea of the importance that the processing of our primary products has played in Queensland’s growth can be gained from the fact that only about 40 per cent, of raw materials used in manufacturing are imported. The most practical and lasting way of stepping up our industrial production is through the increased development and processing of our own natural resources. Complete self-sufficiency in this modern world is impossible, but the degree of self-sufficiency of a community is a reliable yardstick with which to measure its prosperity. Records show that the selfsufficiency of Queensland is increasing rapidly each year.
I now wish to refer to the development of the coal industry. In conjunction with the development of the Kianga-Moura coalfield the Commonwealth has agreed to provide £200,000 of an estimated £400,000 required to improve the coal handling facilities at the port of Gladstone. The Commonwealth contribution will be one-half grant and one-half loan, £145,000 being provided for this purpose in the current year. Contracts to a total value of about £13,000,000 were signed early this year for the exports of up to 3,400,000 tons of coal from the Kianga-Moura coal-field to Japan over the next seven years. The annual tonnage to be exported will, to some degree, be determined by the transport facilities available, but I understand that the Queensland Government is about to introduce legislation to provide the required railway facilities between the coal-fields and the port of Gladstone.
Another important development in Queensland to which reference must be made is that which has occurred in the Mount Isa district, where extensive mineral development is taking place. To assist this development the Commonwealth has agreed to provide by way of loan about £20,000,000 out of a total requirement of £30,000,000 for the rehabilitation of the Mount lsa to Townsville railway, which is about 750 miles in length. When this work is completed it will be possible to increase substantially the output from the Mount Isa mines. Even at the present time this output is quite large, amounting to 44,000 tons per annum of refined copper, 52,000 tons of lead bullion and 54,000 tons of zinc con.centrates A vigorous expansion programme is in progress at Mount Isa, and it is expected that £25,000,000 will be spent in this programme.
I could not conclude without making a reference to oil development. Very spectacular development in oil search has occurred in certain areas of Queensland, particularly in the Surat Basin of south-west Queensland. The enormous importance of finding oil in commercial quantities in Australia is obvious. Imports of petroleum cost us more than £104,000,000 annually - more than any other single import item. Discovery of oil in commercial quantities would assist Australia with its balance of payments and make it less dependent on imports from overseas sources. Oil is the one remaining important mineral which has not yet been discovered in commercial quantities in Australia, but we feel that success is near. The Commonwealth has given ex tensive assistance in oil search in all States, both by direct technical and scientific assistance and by subsidies, which this year will amount to about £27,000,000. Work has commenced on the construction of an oil refinery in Brisbane, and there is a very good chance of another refinery being established in the not-too-distant future in central Queensland.
The next point I want to mention concerns decentralization. We have heard some rather gloomy statements during this debate about decentralization in some of the States, but if we look at the census figures for Queensland we see a very heartening picture. The 1961 figures show that 29 towns in the State increased in population at a rate equal to or greater than the rate of population increase in Brisbane, where the rate of increase was 17.9 per cent. I think we can be proud of the fact that this rate of decentralization is continuing in Queensland.
In conclusion I would say that the dramatic picture of Queensland’s development is a stimulating one, compared with the dreary picture that was seen under the previous Labour Administration. However, the development phase of Queensland’s history has only commenced. This bill, which I wholeheartedly support, will give further impetus to Queensland’s expanding economy, and this will greatly assist the Australian nation to maintain and improve its position as one of the great trading nations of the world.
.- The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) can usually be depended upon to make a thoughtful contribution to the debates of this Parliament. On this occasion the Minister has raised many points of great interest to Queensland. However, like most of the Government members who have spoken in this debate, he completely ignored the problem of the widespread unemployment that exists throughout Australia. It would appear that the enthusiasm which the Minister endeavoured to display on behalf of the State of Queensland is certainly not shared by the electors of that State, if the voting in the general election in December of last year may be taken as a fair indication of the mood of the people.
I wish also to refer to the contribution made earlier this afternoon by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson). The honorable member dealt quite extensively with the question of unemployment. He at least did not attempt to evade the issue. I find myself, however, in complete disagreement with the honorable member on one point. He said, relying on a statement which he attributed to a member of the trade union movement, that unemployment to the extent of 1.5 per cent, of the work force is necessary in this country because of the numbers of people who are engaged from time to time in seasonal employment. The honorable member completely overlooks the fact that year by year the population of this country increases, both from immigration and from natural increase. He also overlooks the fact that the areas used for producing seasonal crops, such as vine fruits which are processed and sold as dried fruits, are steadily being reduced. There is certainly not as high a proportion of seasonal employment in Australia as there was five or ten years ago.
The second point which the honorable member conveniently overlooked was the fact that, under both the Curtin and Chifley governments, there was no question of keeping 1.5 per cent, of our population out of permanent employment so as to be available for seasonal employment. Under the Curtin and Chifley governments full employment was maintained at a time when it was thought that it would not be possible to do so. It was not until the advent of the present Government that there was unemployment in this country, despite the fact that the Government was elected on a pledge to maintain full employment. Less than thirteen years ago Government supporters were telling the people that full employment would be maintained. How effective that promise was can be ascertained by any honorable member who cares to study the statistics made available by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) or by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. The Government has deliberately ignored the pledge which it made in 1949. To-day, we have a very high degree of unemployment in Australia, despite the fact that the Minister for Labour and National Service assures the House from time to time that unemployment will be reduced, if not this month, then next month. I have no doubt that he intends to assure the people of that, too. Yet, throughout the whole of this year a level of unemployment in excess of 90,000 has persisted.
Another matter to which the honorable member for Sturt referred was the need for public confidence. I find myself, again, in complete agreement with members who have spoken on this side of the House. 1 also find myself in agreement with the honorable member for Sturt. There is a lack of confidence in this country, and it is certainly not to be found among those employed by governments or governmental institutions. The lack of confidence is among those people to whom this Government has always pledged its support, those who are engaged in private industry. I am not certain that the blame, in this respect, can be laid entirely at the door of private enterprise. If there is a lack of confidence it is due entirely to the policies of the present Government.
In 1949, the parties which constitute the present Government pledged themselves to support private enterprise and to ensure that facilities, financial and otherwise, would always be available for development. Despite the fact that, only two nights ago, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said in this House that this Government and he, personally, disagreed with a policy of fits and starts, throughout its period of office the Government has adopted a go-slow financial policy. Therefore, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is not to be wondered at that there is great difficulty in the private sector of the economy because the semigovernmental bodies and the private enterprises which normally place orders for new buildings and equipment are reluctant to proceed with their plans. They are uncertain of the future. As a result of these factors, we have a very serious degree of unemployment. We are therefore debating a measure which the Government says will relieve, in some degree, unemployment throughout the country.
The bill will provide an interest-free payment to the States of £12,500,000. I suggest that that sum will not relieve unemployment at this stage of the year any more than a similar payment relieved unemployment earlier this year, or when the first grant of this nature was made in 1957-58. It did not improve the unemployment situation in that financial year. Certainly, the grant which was made earlier this year did not relieve unemployment to any great degree, and this grant will not relieve unemployment at this stage.
I find myself in complete agreement with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), who was not entirely satisfied with the way in which the sum of £12,500,000 would be expended throughout the Commonwealth. In the State of Tasmania such grants have not always been spent in a way which has provided a reasonable amount of employment. It is true that much of the money has been allocated to municipal bodies, and they have used it in a way which they thought would be to the greatest advantage. But, Mr. Deputy Speaker, it has not provided employment for a great number of men. I venture to say that, on this occasion, much the same procedure will be followed. The Opposition believes that the Government should make grants available for the relief of unemployment on a much wider basis than is proposed under this legislation. I am sure that other members on this side of the House will agree with me that, long ago, there should have been a conference, not only between State Premiers and Commonwealth representatives on this matter, but between the Commonwealth Minister for Labour and National Service and Ministers who hold corresponding portfolios in the State governments.
It is not sufficient to provide two or three weeks’ work for the unemployed. This problem can be tackled effectively only by means of a long-term plan in each State. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, when he led for the Opposition in this debate yesterday, referred to the fact that there is a great need for new schools in every State. There is also a need for improved hospital facilities and for public works such as main roads. There is a need for additional semi-governmental works in every State. The amount of money to be made available under this legislation will not make it possible to undertake these works. It will merely make a small amount available to semi-governmental institutions for a very short period. Consequently, it will enable the employment of only a limited number of men for a very short period.
I have already stated that the percentage of unemployment in Australia has remained much higher in 1962 than had been expected. All honorable members are fully aware that the present unemployment problem is closely related to the Government’s economic measures of 1960. In fairness to the Government I must say that I do not believe that it thought, at that time, that unemployment would persist at its present level. Although the Government anticipated that there would be some unemployment, I am sure that those responsible for that legislation must have been unpleasantly surprised at the degree of unemployment that their measures brought about in 1961.
The improvement in the situation has been very slow. Although the Government introduced measures similar to the bill before the House earlier this year, its efforts have made no real impact on the employment situation. To-day in Tasmania 2.7 per cent, of the work force are unemployed and the position in Queensland is the same. No supporter of the Government would suggest that such a degree of unemployment in two States should be accepted by any responsible government. Until the Government is prepared to give some incentive to those who are ready to make employment available, and until it is prepared to put into effect a sound developmental policy that will bring about a restoration of confidence, it is unlikely that the present level of unemployment will be reduced to any marked degree.
This Government has shown a lack of consideration for the needs of the States. I acknowledge at once that there are certain difficulties affecting the relations between the Commonwealth and the States. Ever since the uniform taxation scheme was introduced, the States have not been masters of their financial houses; so if there is an urgent need for the erection of new schools in any State, the State government is completely dependent upon the generosity of the Commonwealth to provide the money required for the work. This Government is fully aware of the need for better education facilities throughout Australia. This is nothing new. The matter has been raised in this Parliament year after year for the past five years or so. The Government has had reports available to it, not only from members of this Parliament but also from persons interested in education in every State; yet the Commonwealth Government has been adamant that it should not provide any more money for educational purposes.
Until the Commonwealth Government is prepared to accept some responsibility in this matter it is unlikely that the schools that are needed in all States will be erected. That applies also to health. In every State, there is a great need for improved health facilities. Only the Commonwealth Government can make finance available to enable the States to embark on a programme that would improve their health facilities.
Although the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) indicated earlier that the Commonwealth was making more money available to the States now than ever before in the history of federation, he conveniently overlooked the fact that money was worth a lot more in 1949 than it is now. Honorable members opposite know that in 1949 the basic wage was approximately £5 6s. a week. To-day it is closer to £15. The value of money in 1949 was three times its value to-day. Through the decline in the value of the £1 the amount made available to the States this year would have to be at least three times the amount that was made available in 1949 to provide the same services. The honorable member for Sturt knows these things, but he has tried to mislead this House and the people by suggesting that the States are getting a better deal under this Government than they did in 1949.
The honorable member for Sturt also overlooked the great increase in population. Surely, if the States were receiving a certain amount in 1949, taking into consideration the change in the value of money and the increased population, there would have to be a substantial increase in the funds available to the States. Obviously, the amount provided is not enough. I am sure that Government supporters recognize and appreciate that point. If the States were receiving enough money for education and health and for other purposes to which I have referred, obviously there would not be the degree of unemployment that exists to-day.
This Government was elected on a pledge to maintain full employment. Indeed, under the United Nations Charter, we are pledged to maintain full employment. No enlightened government should tolerate the unemployment of 2.7 per cent, of the work force.
Let me turn now to the statistics on unemployment that have been made available by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and show for the benefit of honorable members how unemployment has persisted throughout the term of office of this Government. The first year I shall take is 1957. At the end of January, 1957, 52,629 persons were registered for employment with the Department of Labour and National Service. In 1959, the figure had climbed to 81,901. It is true that there was then some improvement, and by March, 1959, the figure had dropped to 69,344. By March, 1960, there was again a decided improvement and 54,165 were registered with the department. However, with the Government’s so-called little budget of 1960, the position changed drastically, and by March, 1961, there were 81,865 registered for employment. In June, 1962, when the last figures were available, the number registered for employment had increased again to 93,128. At various periods throughout 1962 the number of unemployed has exceeded 100,000.
The average number of unemployed registered in 1956 was 31,000. The number was 52,000 in 1957, 64,000 in 1958, 69,000 in 1959, 83,000 in 1961 and 93,000 in 1962. This shows clearly that in each year since 1957 there has been a gradual increase in the number of persons registered for employment with the Department of Labour and National Service. It is quite true that at some stage in any one year the figures may drop, but always in the following year more persons are unemployed. Members of the Opposition are led to the opinion, therefore, that the Government intends to maintain a pool of unemployed. It has consistently maintained a pool of unemployed since 1957. It is not prepared to say what the percentage of unemployment should be. but. on the figures I have given, it clearly believes in a pool of unemployed of not fewer than 50,000 people. It is a tragedy that in this country there should be unemployment at any time. Unemployment or the fear of unemployment injures not only the unemployed person but also the community. I believe that the people recognize this point. The Government will not continue in office if it adopts a policy of a high level of unemployment.
I turn to the question of unemployment benefit. We know that it is difficult to-day for any person to qualify for this benefit because of a vicious means test. Therefore, the figures I shall give do not represent the maximum number of persons who should be receiving unemployment benefit. Again, there has been an increase each year of the number of persons registered for unemployment benefit. In March, 1957, 13,077 persons were in receipt of unemployment benefit. In 1958, the figure had grown to 24,485, and in 1959 it was 27,669. The position improved slightly in 1960, when the figure dropped to 18,177. But this was the first time for many years that the number of persons receiving unemployment benefit fell below 20,000. In March, 1961, 29,718 persons were receiving unemployment benefit and in June, 1962. the figure was 46,300. In this country, 46,300 people are completely dependent upon the inadequate amount of the unemployment benefit they receive each week from the Government, and they must maintain themselves and their families on this sum despite the very high rentals that they are obliged to pay.
One can only be disappointed with the very poor employment record of the Government. It has continued to maintain a high level of unemployment for more than six years. Only a positive policy is likely to correct the situation. However, as I have said, the Government appears to be satisfied with a high level of unemployment. The effect of such a high level of unemployment on the business sector is largely responsible for the lack of appreciation of the need to develop Australia. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports spoke about development yesterday. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) dealt to some extent with development in Queensland. But the Government has never really believed in development. Although we have a Minister for National Development in another place, he has concerned himself only with disposing of the assets built up by the Curtin and Chifley Governments. He is not really a Minister for National Development, because the Government has not been responsible for one major item of national development since it assumed office in 1949.
Opposition members who come from Queensland know that to spend £30,000 on a beef road and £30,000 somewhere else does not represent real development. The effective development of Queensland would require not £30,000 or £1,000,000, but probably £30,000,000 or £40,000,000. This also applies to the Northern Territory, to the north-west of Western Australia and, to a certain extent, to Tasmania. But the Government does not believe in that type of development. It prefers to sit back and wait for private enterprise to do the job for it. Fortunately, the Government will not be in office sufficiently long for private enterprise to do the job. Private enterprise will never be able to develop Australia effectively. I need refer only to aluminium. The aluminium project was, of course, sold by the Government. Had the job of producing aluminium in Australia been left to private enterprise, we would still not have reached the present rate of production of aluminium. This project depended entirely on Government initiative. Major development is needed to restore the confidence that is lacking in the community.
I could refer to many other matters. One subject that deserves attention is housing. If this industry were tackled as it should be, we would not have as much unemployment as we have now. But the Government has no intention of making it easier for the average person to purchase a home. The timber industry is in difficulties, and I refer particularly to the industry in Tasmania. Only a few years ago, more than 5,000 persons were employed in the timber industry in Tasmania. As a result of the Government’s policies, fewer than 2,500 persons are now employed in the industry.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I claim to have been misrepresented by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard). During the course of his speech, the honorable member said that I supported a level of unemployment of 1.5 per cent. I did not say anything of the sort. I shall quote my actual words. After referring verbatim to the statement of Mr. Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, I said -
Those are not my words; they are the words of Mr. Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
At present in most States we have under 2 per cent, of the work force unemployed. Mr. Monk has stated that l.S per cent, is essential to do the casual work - the canning, the shearing and similar activities - without which it would be impossible for Australia to carry on and develop. Therefore, instead of frightening Australia and frightening the industrialist, as one Labour member after another does, Opposition members should be quoting Mr. Monk. If they followed him as their leader, they would help the people to get jobs and not keep them out of employment.
Therefore, it is quite wrong to say, as the honorable member for Bass did, that I supported a level of unemployment of 1.5 per cent.
.- Just to put the record straight, let me remind the House that we are discussing a bill under which the Government makes a grant to the States of £12,500,000 as a special non-repayable interest-free grant to be spent on employment-giving activities. The States will participate in this grant in varying degrees. My home State of Western Australia is to receive £894,000. New South Wales will receive more than £3,044,000. It is a matter for some regret that this grant is needed, but it is even more regrettable to hear honorable members opposite flogging the same old horse and blaming this Government for the unemployment situation. After having listened to Queensland representatives on the other side of the chamber I am convinced that what is needed in Canberra to-day is a wailing wall against which they may knock their heads and wail, wail, wail. I seriously suggest to the National Capital Development Commission that it provide the Labour Party with a wailing wall, because since I have been in this House honorable members opposite have done nothing but wail.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), in leading for the Opposition in this debate, began his wailing by saying that there was a lack of confidence in the community. Any lack of confidence that may exist in the community is due entirely to the lamentations and wailing of members of the Labour Party. The Labour Party seems determined to create a fear complex in the people for its own political purposes. That state of affairs is a tragedy for this country. My Tasmanian friend, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), spoke in a similar way when he addressed the House. He presented a completely distorted view of the employment situation. He referred to employment conditions during the reigns of the Chifley and Curtin Governments - a time when we had full and even over-full employment. But the honorable member for Bass did not point out that at that time the wheels of industry in this country were geared to catch up the leeway of production lost during the war period. At that time we had over-full employment. We did not have enough people for the jobs available. We did not even have enough machines to do the work required. The country was in a bad state. We had nothing to sell to the people. We were not producing enough. Of course, there was overfull employment. The government of the day made no attempt to overcome the problem of inflation that was staring us in the face. Not until this Government came to power in 1949 were we able to begin to restore a reasonable economic balance in the country. This Government was faced with the task of adjusting a war-created economy to a normal, stable economy and it has performed its task well. That can be seen by the progress that has been made in this country since 1949.
The honorable member for Bass referred to the £10,000,000 grant made to the States by the Commonwealth earlier this year and said that it had not done anything towards relieving unemployment. I refer the honorable member to the unemployment figures. When we talk of unemployment running at 1.5 per cent, or 2 per cent., we must bear in mind that those figures include persons whom it is difficult to place in employment. I would like the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) to provide an analysis of the unemployment figures so that we may see, for example, to what extent men and their wives both are registered for employment.
– The incidence is very low.
– I know that many women whose husbands are working are registered for employment. I know of many people who, because of their age or health, are difficult to place in employment but nevertheless they are registered for employment. No matter what government is in power, it will always be faced with this situation. I invite honorable members opposite to do what they can to provide details of the number of persons in the categories to which I have referred who are registered for employment.
I do not deny that there are many problems associated with employment, but if the present unemployment position is the result of this Government’s economic policies, as is claimed by the Labour Party, why is not the problem equally acute in all States? A lot has been said about the position in Queensland and New South Wales, but in Western Australia, as a result of years of good government, we are entering upon a most dramatic phase in the State’s development. Western Australia has had to send a mission overseas to seek skilled workers for the projects being undertaken in the State. There is no shortage of jobs for skilled workers in Western Australia. If skilled workers want opportunities they should go to Western Australia.
Let me tell honorable members the story of Western Australia’s development in recent years. In 1905, Western Australia had a population of 250,000. In 1947 - 42 years later - the population was 500,000. To add 250,000 to the population took 42 years. During those 42 years the Labour Party was in power for long periods. But in the last fifteen years the population has increased by a further 250,000 and now exceeds 750,000. I suggest that if governments composed of the Australian Country Party and the ‘ Liberal Party of Australia remain in office in Western Australia and in the Commonwealth, Western Australia will increase its population by another 250,000 in much less than fifteen years. The facts are clear, Sir.
One of the biggest difficulties in relation to unemployment is the problem of young people. I make no bones about it: There is a problem of youth. I am a little concerned at the fact that we in Western Australia have to seek skilled workers overseas, as do other States. This situation alarms me and suggests that something is lacking. Education is a State responsibility. If we continue to seek skilled workers overseas to meet the demand for skilled labour that has arisen as a result of the development that has taken place, we damn our own people by relegating them to the class of unskilled workers. In effect, we are making Australians into labourers while we import skilled people from overseas.
– Now you are talking!
– Yes, I am.
– Why do you not train your own skilled workers?
– It is the responsibility of the States to do so. The honorable member for Bass said that there was a shortage of proper educational facilities in the States because this Government had not provided enough funds. Let me say at the outset that the States have never been treated more generously in respect of grants and other financial assistance by any Commonwealth government than they have been treated by this one, even taking account of the decrease in the value of money in recent years.
The States have to allocate their funds in the way that they think is best for their own people. Theirs is the task of determining priorities and deciding which shall come first. They have to determine whether they shall first provide health services or educational facilities or whether they shall reduce fares on the railways or spend money on socialistic enterprises in fields that should be left to private enterprise if losses are not to be made. This whole problem of determining priorities in financial matters can be boiled down to a simple illustration which a person of the lowest intelligence can understand.
– I do not know which kind of intelligence the honorable member has.
– If I had the lowest kind, I would be in very good company with the honorable member.
The States are in the position of an ordinary housewife who has to make up her mind whether she will use her available funds to buy, for example, a blanket, a useful labour-saving appliance or a fur coat.
– What do-
– The honorable member is utterly irresponsible and would not spend his money on something even as useful as a fur coat, but would dissipate it on something far less useful.
The housewife has to make up her mind whether she. will spend her money on, for example, a labour-saving appliance or on mere ornamentation. That is for her to decide. In similar fashion, the State governments have to assess the degree of need in any particular field and allocate their funds accordingly. There would be a terrific noise from the States if the Commonwealth were to say to them, “We shall decide how you are to spend the money that you receive from us “.
Education is a responsibility of the States. It must be, unless they want to hand the whole thing over to this national Government. However, if they did, the position would be impossible. Technical education, therefore, is a responsibility of the States. This kind of education is greatly needed to-day. [Quorum formed.]
For the benefit of those who have just entered the chamber, may I say that I twitted the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) a few moments ago. Apparently, I hurt him to the quick and he decided that he would not allow me to continue with the train of thought that I was following. I do not want to hurt him, because I am a merciful and peaceful man.
I was talking about the responsibility of the States in the field of education. They have to look ahead and provide better facilities for technical education so that our young people will not be forced to take employment as unskilled workers while we attract skilled operatives from overseas. I have been given to understand,
Sir, that Queensland, under the administration of its Australian Country Party and Liberal Party Government, has initiated some scheme to take skilled teachers to country districts for the training of young people in the country areas in skills which may enable them to take advantage of better opportunities. I hope that some honorable member from that State will later tell us something of what Queensland has done in this field, so that other States may benefit by its experience.
– It is the leading State.
– I am not prepared to say that, although it is well to the fore in certain things. I remind the honorable member that, only a short time ago, he was telling us how backward Queensland was and how much he envied Western Australia. Queensland, like Western Australia, may be in the lead in terms of political enlightenment because it has at present the best kind of government.
We must do much more in the field of education. The grant to be made under the terms of this bill, as I said at the outset, is non-repayable and interest free. Furthermore, the money is to be used in a way to be determined entirely within the discretion of the States. I am well aware of what has happened in Western Australia in the past, because I have interested myself particularly in developments in that State. I know that when a grant was made previously in a similar manner, the State Treasury instructed the various departments immediately to revise their works programmes and to give priority to those projects which would provide increased employment opportunities. That instruction was given immediately the Western Australian Premier returned from Canberra with Western Australia’s share of the grant of £10,000,000 that was made at the time. I am quite satisfied that the same course will be adopted in this instance and that the State Treasury will see that the Western Australian share of the grant is spent on employment-giving activities.
I take the opportunity to say, now, for the benefit of the Premier and Treasurer of Western Australia, that I think one of the best employment-giving works would be the extension of the comprehensive water supply scheme to the north-eastern wheat belt in Western Australia. The Western Australian Government has already asked the Commonwealth to assist in financing this project. So far we have not had a very kindly reception from the Commonwealth, but I understand that the matter is coming up for review. In the meantime the State can do much for itself, not only by spending money in employmentgiving directions, but also by a developmental process which will add considerably to production and make life considerably more endurable for people in the country districts who are without a water supply. This water supply is urgently needed. I have already said so in this House and I shall say so again on many more occasions.
I want to say something about the development of the north and north-west of this country, about which we have heard quite a lot in this debate. Let us face the fact that this Government has done more for the development of the north and northwest than has any other Commonwealth Government. I remind the House that the Government has implemented a policy which the Country Party has preached in this place since 1 946, when the first Country Party member from Western Australia, Len Hamilton, came here. At that time we advocated that that part of the country should be developed and that this Government should provide money for the purpose of assisting the State to develop it. The whole of the north is involved in this developmental problem, but at that stage we were concerned with the north-west portion of Western Australia. To-day we see the beginning in the north-west of Western Australia of an era of prospective fantastic development, because of the encouragement given by this Government. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) knows that very well, too. If you travel through that area to-day you see fantastic happenings as a result of the financial encouragement given by this Government to the State Government.
– You have never seen a kangaroo.
– I grant that my knowledge of the kangaroo may be limited, but I know something of monkeys. If a kangaroo is like the honorable member for
Grayndler, I should recognize a kangaroo. AH the States of the Commonwealth have cause to thank this Government for its work in the field of development. We in Western Australia are particularly appreciative of the fact that the Government has at last recognized our claim - our demand, really - for the development of the northwest.
We have advocated that a special authority - an advisory body with a certain amount of power - be established to assist in planning the development of the northwest. The State Government has announced that it proposes to appoint such an advisory body - a north-west advisory council of some kind. I am of opinion, and so are many others, that this should not be left entirely to the State. I believe that on a council of that type there should be representation of the Commonwealth, so that the Commonwealth would at all times have a true picture of what was required. If the advisory body were purely a State body, that would merely perpetuate the existing state of affairs whereby the State must approach the Commonwealth and present a case showing the necessity for Commonwealth aid in the further development of the north-west. The position would be different if we had Commonwealth representation on a council of this type. I think the idea should be taken even further, and that the Commonwealth should have representation on a council that was concerned with the development of the whole of the north.
It is not a question of faith, as an interjector implies. The Commonwealth representative would be in constant touch with his Government, and would keep it fully informed. I am certain that by this means quite a lot of red tape and the protocol of approaches, which delay the fulfilment of requests and cause difficulties that do not arise when matters are dealt with promptly, would be short-circuited. I suggest that the Commonwealth might well get in touch with the State Government and find out exactly the details of its northern administration scheme. The Commonwealth would then see how and where it could fit into the scheme in an advisory capacity. I believe the State would be only too glad to have that assistance, which would go a long way towards helping a much faster development of the north-west. That development is going on at a good pace already.
I could give the House details of the vast developments that are to take place in Western Australia. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) said that this Government left development to private enterprise and that private enterprise would never undertake any development in this area, but I remind him that the fantastic and dramatic development in Western Australia is entirely due to private enterprise.
– You have said all that before.
– I will say it again. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie may know the gold-fields, but he does not know the changing face of, say, Perth to the extent that some of us do. I say again that there has been fantastic and dramatic development in Western Australia, and that is entirely due to the fact that the State Government has encouraged private enterprise. With the exception of the standardgauge railway, which, of course, is being constructed by the Government, all of the development work now taking place in Western Australia is being done by private enterprise. Private enterprise is associated with the Ord River project and has been responsible for the drilling of oil wells and the development of iron ore exports. All of this development work has been undertaken by private enterprise as a result of the encouragement given it by the Government. We are rapidly getting away from the dead hand of socialism which has plagued Western Australia for so long. If the Queensland people are wise enough to retain the Government they now have there, they will overcome the effects of the 40-odd years of the dead hand of socialism in that State.
Before I resume my seat let me say that we of the Country Party believe that we are capable of doing the impossible in the field of good government, but we fall just short of being able to perform miracles. People who think that the face of Queensland can be changed in six years after 40 years of the dead hand of socialism are surely expecting a miracle. We of the Country Party, though we can perform the impossible, fall just short of being able to perform a miracle. I commend the bill to the House. I wholeheartedly commend the Government for introducing it, and for showing a real concern for the people.
.- I am pleased to have the opportunity to associate myself with this measure for the provision of financial assistance to the States to relieve unemployment, but I think the Government is deserving of criticism for the inadequacy of the grant of £12,500,000. What is needed, of course, to stimulate the economy is the undertaking of a big public works programme to take up the slack of unemployment, instead of going about it in the piecemeal way that this Government has adopted since unemployment rose so steeply. At present we have over 93,000 unemployed, equal to 2.2 per cent, of the work-force. Over 46,000 persons are in receipt of unemployment benefit. These, of course, are the numbers of registrations. If we analyse the position, we find that the figure of 93,000 does not truly represent the number unemployed, because many people who become unemployed but have some assets or income do not register; instead, they themselves try to obtain work. Many others are on part-time jobs. They do not bother to register for full-time work. These categories are not included in the statistics of registered unemployed. Neither are migrants who are at holding centres awaiting employment. Therefore, the figure of 93,000 is not accurate. We must remember that, in assessing the percentage of the work-force unemployed, selfemployed persons are included in the workforce, and that the figures are based on the 1954 census. So the percentage is not accurate. We might obtain a more correct figure when a full analysis is made of the recent census.
It is most noticeable that Government spokesmen have ceased to use the term “ full employment “. Full employment is no longer the policy of the Government. Government supporters refer now to high levels of employment. They never say what they consider to be a high level. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in his Budget speech, said that the number of unemployed was too high, but he did not say what he considered the figure ought to be. That is something which the Government should tell us. What figure does it consider to be normal? If the current figure is too high, what number does the Government suggest should be unemployed? Why has the Government stopped using the words “ full employment “? That term was used by this Government for many years after the Labour Government was in office. In my view, the Government has adopted the terrible outlook that prevailed before the Second World War, when it was considered that there ought to be a pool of unemployed. The Government seems to be again favouring that line of thought. That would appear to be so from the remarks made by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson). It does not matter about the people who are unemployed or their dependants! Government supporters believe that there should be a pool of unemployed. The depth of the pool will depend on just how much the public of Australia will take from this Government. The last election revealed that the people are not prepared to take very much. They will not accept unemployment to anywhere near the extent that prevails at present.
Actually, this Government is departing from the charter laid down in the Commonwealth Bank Act of 1945, which provided for the maintenance of full employment. It is also departing from the United Nations Charter, which has a similar provision. This is a retrograde step and a matter which should be rectified. It seems that the Government is prepared to accept, if not 90,000 unemployed, at least somewhere near that figure.
In view of the fact that for the first four months of this year the Government provided £10,000,000 to relieve unemployment and is now providing, for a twelve months period, £12,500,000, when the unemployed number more than 90,000, it seems that the Government is not very eager to reduce the figure by very much. As a matter of fact, it is following the lead of of the Metal Trades Employers Federation. A report in the “West Australian” of 31st May, 1962, stated-
National leaders in the metal trades to-day questioned the wisdom of a policy of full employment.
That seems to be the line being followed by this Government, and we want to know something about it.
A pool of unemployed is not acceptable to the Australian people. It was not accepted before and it will not be accepted now. The position is getting worse. The number of people receiving unemployment benefit has been gradually rising, but the figures published for June last showed a decline, the number unemployed having reached a peak of 113,000 in 1961-62.
The numbers of people receiving unemployment benefit have varied in this way -
The figure for June, 1962, fell to 46,300. This is very high indeed - much higher than has been acceptable to this Government in the past and much higher than is acceptable to the people of Australia. Actually, the repercussions of the credit squeeze are still with us. The economy cannot be regulated in the same way as a tap can be turned on and off. It is easy enough to apply a credit squeeze but it takes a long time to restore confidence. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that the credit squeeze was over, the effect was not suddenly to make everything in the garden rosy. This Government’s policy caused a loss of production equal to £250,000,000 per annum. That figure was assessed by manufacturers. It is a lot to pick up. Bus* ness interests have actually lost confidence. It is useless for the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) to say that increased unemployment was the result of my party’s directing the attention of the people to the Government’s policies. One way to get the economy back to work is to start a gigantic public works programme. This would give the economy a shot in the arm. The stimulus that would result would create further employment, enable industry to get going again, and restore confidence.
The bill provides for the granting of £12,500,000 for the States. I consider that this amount is too small. In addition, there is discrimination against Western Australia. Although the Premier of that State finally had to accept, he did not agree with the allocation made. Western Australia has the worst of the allocations. New South Wales will receive £3,000,000, Victoria over £2,000,000, Queensland over £3,500,000, South Australia £1,312,000, Western Australia £894,000 and Tasmania £1,168,000. The amount provided for the relief of unemployment in Western Australia is equivalent to little more than £1 a head of population. We shall get less than Tasmania receives. Tasmania has a smaller population but it has a higher percentage of unemployment. There may be a good reason for supplying more funds to those States with greater unemployment, but that does not alter the fact that the allocation to Western Australia is far too small. Incidentally, we get less than South Australia, but in South Australia the unemployment figure is lower than that in Western Australia. It is 1.7 per cent, of the population in South Australia, compared with 1.8 per cent, in Western Australia.
In Western Australia a figure of 1.8 per cent, represented 5,320 unemployed as at 29th June, and according to the report of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), the vacancies registered at that time numbered 928. The number of vacancies has dropped considerably in recent years. At one time the number of vacancies used to correspond pretty well with the number of jobs required. The figures I have given were as at 29th June; but on 1st June the unemployment figure in Western Australia was 5,010 and the number of vacancies was 1,163. So, there were more vacancies at the beginning of the month and fewer unemployed than there were at the end of that month. Unemployment is worsening in Western Australia.
The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) said that a mission has been sent overseas to secure skilled men for Western Australia. That is true, but I cannot understand why that was necessary when there are plenty of skilled men unemployed in the other States - men who, surely, would be willing to go to Western Australia if the prospects there are so bright. The fact is that the Brand Government destroyed the training ground for apprentices in Western Australia. It reduced the standards of the Public Works Department, where most of the apprentices were trained. Private enterprise will not take on apprentices to the extent that it should. So, the main training ground for skilled men in Western Australia was destroyed by that government and now it has to look for trained men somewhere else.
The departmental report to which I have already referred shows that there are 1,286 skilled and semi-skilled workers unemployed in Western Australia. I will leave it at that, to indicate that the situation in Western Australia is not as happy as a lot of people would have us believe.
The Premiers were dissatisfied with the amount of the grant of £12,500,000, and with the distribution of the moneys. They do not get much say in respect of a grant of this nature, which is provided by the Commonwealth Government. The Premiers’ Conference is held in conjunction with the Australian Loan Council, which is becoming a bit of a farce. It is supposed to be a representative body of the States and the Commonwealth. Instead it is an organization where the States fight for what they consider they need to see them over their financial problems, but the final decision is left with the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has two votes and a casting vote and each State has one vote, so the Commonwealth has to get only two States on its side to secure approval for anything it wants.
To solve the unemployment problem, the works programme allocation approved by the Loan Council should have been considerably higher than the £250,000,000 which was provided. This additional grant of £12,500,000 should also have been considerably higher. I think it was yesterday that the Minister stated that there were over 2,000 school-leavers still unemployed. But what about those mentioned in his own report who are under the age of 21 years? Possibly some of them have never had a job and many have certainly not had regular work. On 29th June, 24,954 young people under the age of 21 years were registered for work throughout Australia and it is estimated that there will be more than 80,000 youths leaving school this year. That could mean that at the end of this year or the beginning of next year there could be over 100,000 young people under the age of 21 years looking for work. In addition to that, if the position does not worsen, there will be approximately 70,000 adults unemployed.
On 14th June last there was a report in the “West Australian” which read as follows: -
An additional 170,000 workers would have to be absorbed each year to wipe out unemployment by 1964, Australian economist Sir Douglas Copland told the country members group of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce to-day.
The national work force would increase naturally by 120,000 each year and there were at present 100,000 unemployed, making a total of 340,000, he said.
What is the Government doing about that? Surely it is not suggesting that this amount which it is allocating to take up the slack in employment will be adequate to overcome a problem such as that! What we want the Government to do is to revise its policy in this direction so that the country can have again a condition of reasonably full employment.
It is claimed by certain people that Western Australia was not hit by the credit squeeze to the extent that the other States were. That is true and nobody questions it. We have not the same degree of unemployment as some of the other States have. But the reason is that we do not have the big industries to be affected by a credit squeeze. We do not have a motor industry of any kind. Consequently, the credit squeeze did not hit us to the extent that it hit the more populous and more highly industrialized States. But the percentage of unemployed to the work force in Western Australia is still too high and additional assistance is required to get our people back to work.
We do not begrudge the special assistance that has been given to the other States where unemployment is greater than in Western Australia. But I want to call attention to the fact that when we had 2.5 per cent, of unemployment in Western Australia no special assistance was given to us such as is now being given to Queensland and Tasmania. There are many developmental works that are required to be done in Western Australia. If they were put in hand all the unemployed in the State could be absorbed. For instance, a second rural water scheme is required. Last year this Government refused to extend the comprehensive water scheme in the central and southern areas of Western Australia. Prior to that it had supported the scheme on a £1 for £1 basis, but that has now been completed. According to the Budget papers there is no allocation for water supply in Western Australia on this occasion.
This would have been a good opportunity to provide funds for a second comprehensive water scheme which is needed in Western Australia. The first part of the scheme has been of tremendous value and has been responsible for increasing the number of stock carried in the area served by it and has given an incentive for more intensive rural development. That scheme has fostered the growth of county towns and has assisted to some extent in decentralization, but we also want the other scheme. There seems to be no sound reason against extending the scheme to areas where water supply is limited. Such an extension would mean an upsurge in agricultural production. It is important to the nation to help Western Australia because it would assist primary industry in that State and thereby would increase our export income. Western Australia exports overseas more than it imports and the extension of the comprehensive water scheme would enable that State to export more than it does at present.
This Government has an obligation to do something about that situation and I ask that the matter be considered as quickly as possible. Instead of providing the funds on a £1 for £1 basis for a second comprehensive water scheme the Commonwealth should speed up the work by providing funds to the extent of £2 for every £1 provided by the State Government. It is not a very big amount when you consider the £24,150,000 made available by this Government for the Snowy Mountains project. No one begrudges that expenditure, but it emphasizes the poor treatment that Western Australia receives from this Government. The Snowy Mountains scheme is a great scheme, but we want some of the underdeveloped States to receive treatment which would enable their lands to be developed also. Northern development needs to be hurried along. I do not want to go into that question to any extent. It is true that in this Budget certain funds are being made available for northern development, but the works require to be speeded up. We need an authority for the whole of the northern development similar to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. Such & body should be set up as a matter of urgency and funds should be provided to enable it to function.
Those are the types of project which will absorb the unskilled who form the bulk of the unemployed pool. We want work of that nature in order to absorb them. I have already mentioned that we are still suffering from the effects of the credit squeeze. It is interesting to go back to a statement made by the Prime Minister at the Sydney Science Sheep Show in 1961 when he said -
The current economic restrictions imposed by the Government are only passing incidents. Nobody can get rid of an inflationary boom without hurting somebody. It is the duty of practical statesmen to select the corns and not be afraid to tread on them.
There are over 90,000 people throughout Australia whose corns have been stood on, and if you consider their dependants there are a lot more corns that have been trodden on. They are smarting from the heavy tread of the Prime Minister. He has not yet stopped treading on their corns, but when he does he will get a kick where he really deserves it, and he and the people behind him will finish outside politics. That statement by the Prime Minister was made more than twelve months ago. A little later he said that within twelve months he would have all the unemployed back to work. He is not making too good a fist of it.
There are over 90,000 who are still unemployed and in order to keep going families have had to use their meagre savings to exist. The unemployment benefit is not sufficient to keep them going. Those without savings are in a worse plight. They have to live on that meagre unemployment benefit. A healthy economy must be based on a healthy consumer purchasing power, which only a fully employed work force with decent wages can provide. The sooner we get people back to work the better for the whole economy. It would mean that the £160,000,000 in wages and salary withdrawn from circulation since the start of this credit squeeze would be restored to the economy, and it would also mean that the production of over £250,000,000 per annum which has been lost would also be available. In addition, the £13,000,000 a year which is now being paid for unemployment benefits and actually being wasted would be available.
This is a rock ‘n’ roll government. It has actually rolled Australia on the rocks. Australia wants a government that will take it off the rocks before any serious damage is done. The party on this side of the House can provide such a government. The present Government cannot do it. It has lost the faith of the people. The Broadmeadows by-election showed that, and the fact that the Government funked the fight in Batman emphasizes it. The Government is not game to go to the people and test its policy - even at a by-election. The popularity of the Menzies Government continues to decline - or, putting it better still, its unpopularity continues to increase. I sincerely hope that the electors of Australia will take the first opportunity to replace it with a government that will get down to the job of making an Australia that is worthy of the name of nation.
.- Two things in the debate this afternoon have disappointed me. One is the attitude of members of the Opposition in living almost 40 or 50 years in the past and putting forward their old catch cries, trying to build up a hatred in one section of the community against the other. They are trying to develop a fear complex among all sections of the community.
I have said before, and I think every member of the House would agree with me, that unemployment is a bad thing. If only one person is unemployed it is no consolation to say to that person that we have the lowest unemployment level in the world. To that person it does not matter whether or not that is so; to him, or to her, it is no consolation.
Having said that, I add that it is against the interest of the community for honorable members opposite to stress the existence of unemployment, as has been done on many occasions, without giving the Government credit for steps it has taken to overcome and alleviate the problem. As every one will admit, figures can convey incorrect impressions - false is perhaps not the right word. An illustration of this can be given in relation to unemployment. I read an editorial in a country newspaper not long ago where it was pointed out that a degree of overtime was being worked in certain sections of industry and the community, and that in some instances both the men and the women in the family were working. If union solidarity could prevail to ensure that the work that was available was shared in a more equitable manner the problem of unemployment would be decreased to that extent.
The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) said that many people with incomes of their own had not registered for employment. On the other hand, many people have, for particular reasons, registered when they did not have to do so. I understand that the honorable member for Stirling registered the day after he was defeated in the 1958 general election. To that extent he would help to give an incorrect impression of a particular situation. As I said at the beginning, the wrong emphasis is being placed on unemployment. We have the lowest unemployment ratio of any major industrial country. In that regard credit should be given to this Government for the steps that it took. Also, certain statements that have been made by Ministers and the Cabinet generally have been distorted for political purposes. No one would deny the tragedy of any one who is capable of working being unemployed.
In certain circumstances, each and every person has to play his or her part in endeavouring to restore confidence in this community and endeavouring to stimulate the progress of our community and our industries. I say, quite frankly, that I believe that in certain instances big businesses have, for selfish reasons, been unwilling to play their part in endeavouring to restore confidence in the nation. I think one of the gravest problems facing Australia was our cost of production - especially in a nation that was so dependent upon export income. If one were to go into any of our country areas and ask the man on the land they would learn who has borne the heat and burden of the day of this country’s economy. The man on the land has had the problem of rising costs and trying to sell on overseas markets where prices were falling.
I have paid tribute to the Minister for Trade and the Department of Trade for the magnificent job they have done in establishing, to the benefit of Australia, markets in overseas countries. But the value of all their work could have been lost if we had not stabilized our economy. The evidence of the stabilization of the economy has been given, I think, in the movements in the last twelve months in the basic wage, and in the statistics that have been prepared showing the state of the economy generally.
I have given one reason for my disappointment at some of the comments that have been made by members of the Opposition. Another cause for disappointment is the contention that has been supported by many members of the Opposition - the contention that the Commonwealth Government should do everything, and that if the States get into a spot of bother they should simply go to the Commonwealth and ask for assistance.
– Hear, hear!
– “ Hear, hear!”, says the honorable member for Darebin, and his remark merely shows how unfortunate it is that he is a member of this Parliament. If this proposition is followed to its logical conclusion, and power becomes concentrated in Canberra, then all the authority and power of the States will be completely destroyed. Of course, some members of the Opposition would welcome the destruction of State powers, so that all power could be concentrated in the Commonwealth and socialism would have a better chance of succeeding as a policy. I often wonder whether some honorable members opposite who put forward these ideas realize exactly what they are advocating.
Let me quote some remarks made by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) in his speech yesterday. The Minister said: -
The purpose of the bill is to make available a special non-repayable, interest-free, grant of £12,500,000 to the States for expenditure on employmentgiving activities. This is in addition to the borrowing programme for State works and housing of £250,000,000 approved by the Australian Loan Council for 1962-63. The grant is also additional to tax reimbursements and other moneys paid to States such as the amounts provided under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement.
This is in accordance with the continuing policy of this Government. In 1957-58, £5,000,000 was made available to meet special economic circumstances, and the major share of that money went to Queensland and New South Wales. In February of this year, because of similar conditions, the Commonwealth Government made available to the States a sum of £10,000,000, non-repayable and interest free. Queensland was a major participant in that distribution as it is under the terms of this bill.
From the remarks of members of the Opposition one might have thought that this amount of £12,500,000 was the only grant that this Commonwealth Government was making available to the States.
As I have said on a number of occasions in this House, one of the problems confronting the Commonwealth results from the vast area of the country and the small population. Compare Australia with the United States of America, where, in practically the same area, there are 200,000,000 people. All our services, our railways, roads, telephonic communications and the like, cost us a good deal more per head because of our vast area and small population. It is, therefore, urgently necessary for us to keep our costs down as far as possible, so that as much development can be carried out as is possible with our limited finance. I use the word “ limited “, having in mind the small number of people in the country. Anybody who has seen the progress and development of this country during the term of office of the present Government, since 1949, surely must concede, unless he is completely biased in his political leanings, that this development and progress have been remarkable. There are, as we appreciate, many other causes of that progress and development than the work of the Commonwealth Government, but it must be admitted that the Government has been the guiding force.
My colleague, the honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) has reminded us that one of the main factors that have inhibited the progress and development of Queensland has been the dead hand of a Labour government for so many years. Honorable members opposite asked, “ What is the present Government doing now? “ Of course it is impossible to completely overcome, in three or four or even five years, all the effects of the delaying and retarding activities of a Labour government over a period of 40 years. But if one looks at what the Queensland Government has done in the few years it has been in office, I think one must pay a tribute to the mem bers of the Country Party and the Liberal Party in that State for the progress and development that they have brought about.
I support the legislation that the Government has brought forward. It is simply another instance of the way in which the Commonwealth has always endeavoured to assist the States. I hope that this assistance given by the Commonwealth to the States will be viewed in the correct perspective, and that the proposition that everything should be left to the Commonwealth will not gain too much ground. I hope that the governments of certain States will gain a sense of their own responsibilities.
I hope to say something on another occasion about the matter of education. That is another field in which it has become obvious that if the Commonwealth supplies the finance it must have a certain degree of control. This has become evident in connexion with universities. The Commonwealth has made large amounts of money available for universities, and so the Commonwealth has gradually assumed greater control over the universities, while State control of them has declined. This is an inevitable result. Financial control leads to control of other kinds. This is an everpresent danger, and those State Labour governments that think they can gain political advantage by berating the Commonwealth and appealing to it for financial assistance at every opportunity should think very seriously of what they are doing. If the process is followed to its logical conclusion it will lead to the destruction of State power, which in this Commonwealth would be a bad thing from both the political and the economic points of view.
.- The debate on this States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill, which began yesterday and in which we have heard many speeches, is now coming to an end. As I happen to be the last speaker on this side of the House, I have an opportunity to sum up the case that has been put by the Government in support of the bill, and that which has been put by the Opposition in criticism of it. First, however, I want to refer to the point raised by the honourable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) when he began his speech. He said that the Opposition seeks to foster hatred of one section of the community by another. That is an idea that is often deliberately expounded by Government supporters, either because they misunderstand the situation or because they think it pays politically.
The Opposition is seeking to point out the causes of certain economic conditions that prevail in the community. Anything that tends to build up hatred between one section of the community and another is a bad thing. Anything which divides one section of the community from another also is a bad thing. What the Opposition seeks to do is to point out that certain economic consequences, such as unemployment, are not just the result of natural forces but are the result of things which can be identified. When we say that, of course, the finger is pointed at certain people, including the Government. If, as a result of our analysis of this situation, people dislike the Government or even hate it, that is the Government’s responsibility. If the Government loses seats, as it did in Queensland recently, or loses votes, as it did even more recently in the Broadmeadows by-election, that also is the Government’s responsibility. It cannot avoid having responsibility attributed to it.
The economic consequences to which I have referred are very often not the responsibility of any particular section of the community, because in the economic system under which we live, and in other economic systems, there are natural contradictions. In our economic system there is the significant natural contradiction between costs and demand. From time to time we hear members of the Australian Country Party saying that costs have to be kept down. That is said in the interests of the people who pay the costs - the farmers and other employers of labour who want to keep down their costs and therefore want to keep down wages. But it is not in the interests of wage-earners that costs should be kept down if it means that wages also are kept down. It is not in the interests of the economy if costs must be kept down when the economy needs more demand, because the only way in which greater demand can be attained is finally by increasing wages and therefore increasing costs. So, what we are really criticizing is the basic contradiction that lies in the economic system and which is not the responsibility of either the farmers or the workers.
Any one who does not like that analysis will have the opportunity sooner or later to say that it is wrong. Unfortunately, there is a basic contradiction in this system, so that when we need increased demand, as we do now, we can get that only by increasing costs. We should be a little more objective in analysing some of these matters, instead of thinking of them in terms of personal responsibility.
What does this bill that we are discussing seek to do? It is a type of bill that is not often introduced. It provides for what has come to be called additional assistance from the Commonwealth to the States. Such assistance has been given on two earlier occasions, first in 1957-58, and again in 1961-62. The bill provides that £12,500,000 is to be paid to the States as a grant which is not to be repaid and upon which interest is not chargeable, so that the States may provide for expenditure on employmentgiving activities. The amount provided in 1957-58 was £5,000,000. Last year it was £10,000,000, and this year it will be £12,500,000. As was the case last year, this bill is clear evidence of the problem of unemployment. Although the Government is not facing up adequately to that problem, it is recognizing that special measures are needed to deal with it. Additional assistance grants have therefore been provided.
Let me say something of the case that the Opposition makes against this bill. First, there is the criticism that there is no plan behind the bill. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) put this view vividly when he said that we are almost back to the old philosophy that the quickest way to obtain economic activity is to set the unemployed digging post holes and filling them up again. That was the kind of philosophy that prevailed in the 1930’s. It is true that there has been no national plan behind this financial assistance. I think that, at the beginning of this year, having regard to the level of unemployment then prevailing, a national conference was necessary. State representatives could have been called to Canberra to confer with the Prime Minister and members of the Government with a view to evolving some kind of plan for the provision of finance for works in various parts of Australia.
It is quite uncertain where the money that is being provided will go. Victoria, for example, has on its hands a £4,500,000 bridge which, it has now been revealed, was built of steel which was faulty before it was used. The Victorian Government might find it easier to use its share of the money provided under this bill to rebuild sections of that bridge. That would provide employment. There is no overall pattern on which the States could plan to meet problems now and to meet them next year, too. It is worthwhile to point out that the problems were here last year, when £10,000,000 was provided under a bill similar to that now before the House.
The second criticism made by the Opposition is that this bill comes after a long delay. The problem of unemployment has been recognized over a considerable number of months, but it is only now that provision has been made to do something about it. The Government was able to take certain special measures at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, but it was not able to see its way clear to provide additional moneys for employment-giving activities. The delay has led to certain serious and significant losses for the Australian people. To those who think only in terms of unemployment, I point out that it is not just a matter of the number of people who are out of work all the time. Their number rose to 139,000 at one stage during the last twelve months and now stands at 93,000. Losses are suffered not only on account of those people actually out of work all the time; the most significant loss is in national product and income, which has gone on during that period. It has been estimated by Professor Lydall, of the University of Western Australia, that in the twelve months of 1961 the Australian economy actually lost income and product amounting to £350,000,000.
Those people who are not very much concerned about unemployment - and I think that some people are not very much concerned about the level of unemployment that exists in Australia to-day - may be a little more concerned when they realize that this kind of situation means that we have lost perhaps as much as £350,000,000 worth of goods and services which we otherwise would have had. If we look at the official public accounts that have been provided for us with the Budget, we find that in 1958-59 the national income was £5,047,000,000. In 1959-60, it was £5,592,000,000; in 1960-61, it was £5,864,000,000; but in 1961-62, it was only £5,932,000,000. Therefore, national income, as it was estimated for inclusion in the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure, had risen by only £68,000,000 on the year before. The increase in the year before that was £272,000,000, in the previous year, £545,000,000, and in the year before that, £340,000,000. So, for the period which the White Paper reflects, the increase in national income was about £300,000,000 less than in any one of the preceding years.
That loss of national income, Mr. Speaker, means fewer homes for the people, less food, less clothing, and fewer roads and streets. It also means less demand for the products of the supporters of the members of the corner party. It means that the food that is being produced in Australia and which, increasingly, cannot be sold on the European market, meets so much less demand here in Australia. Those remarks indicate the impact that this bill will make on the economy. In other words, our second criticism is that there has been a great deal of delay over this measure. Whatever it provides should have been provided six or nine months ago. Whatever effect it might have in stimulating economic activity should have been achieved sooner.
The Opposition’s third criticism of the bill is that, whilst the economy needs a stimulus, this bill and the Budget as a whole do not provide nearly enough stimulus. The Australian economy has had to be propped up most extensively by Government spending over the last ten years. Whatever rate of growth we have been able to maintain over that time has been maintained only by very great assistance from Government expenditure. Those who are committed to a completely private enterprise economy might realize this: There cannot be progress in an economy of this sort unless the Government plays a very substantial role indeed.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) showed that gross domestic expenditure has fallen, according to the White Paper, during the last twelve months. In 1960, the gross domestic expenditure was £7,504,000,000. In 1961 it was £7,222,000,000, a fall of £282,000,000. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports also showed that private investment in fixed capital equipment had fallen from £1,338,000,000 to £1,231,000,000, a fall of £107,000,000. The economy has been maintained in its present position only because there has been increased spending in the public sector. Expenditure by public authorities in the last twelve months has risen from £1,334,000,000 to £1,446,000,000, an increase of £112,000,000. If public authorities had not made that increase, sixteen Country Party electorates would be far worse off than they are. They would have sold less food to the Australian people. Public investment and public expenditure is the foundation upon which the present level of economic activity in Australia depends. That indicates the significance of a bill of this kind, which raises that level by a mere £12,500,000.
The proposed1 increase of public expenditure by the States is less than the increase in 1961-62. What the Government proposes to do in this bill and in its Budget is less than it proposed to do last year, when expenditure was £282,000,000 less than it had been in the year before, and when income was only £66,000,000 more than it had been in the year before. If supporters of the Government believe that they can retain their seats under the economic conditions that will prevail as a result of the current Budget they will be very much disappointed. If they are not much concerned about the people of Australia, perhaps they will be concerned about their own seats. They lost sixteen seats last December, and this Budget will lose more for them at the next general election.
Let us look at the significance of this bill in the light of other payments to the States. Total payments to the States for all purposes in 1960-61 was £363,000,000. In 1961- 62, they were £410,000,000. In 1962- 63, it is proposed that they should be £442,000,000. The increase in 1960-61 was £33,000,000, and in 1961-62 it was £37,000,000. In 1962-63, it will be only £32,000,000. The Government is proposing to increase public expenditure less in this financial year than in any of the previous three years, despite what has happened to the economy and despite what happened to Government seats in the last general election. The figures that I have cited represent an increase of 9.1 per cent. in 1960-61, 9.2 per cent. in 1961-62 and only 7.8 per cent. in 1962-63. The increase in capital works and services in the Commonwealth field is very slight indeed. Statements by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) himself show just how negative is the whole attitude of the Government on this matter. I think it is pretty clear that this measure will not increase to the extent that is necessary the expenditure that will be possible by the States for the relief of unemployment.
What answer has the Government given to the case put by the Opposition? First, the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), who spoke after the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, said that the States could raise more money. This cannot be a solution to the problem for a number of reasons: First, the Commonwealth dominates not only the revenue position, but also the loan position. It exploits the taxation field as fully as the Government is prepared to exploit it. It cannot be expected that the States will collect additional tax revenue sufficient to make any difference to the situation. Commonwealth expenditure is found, predominantly, out of revenue, but the Commonwealth Government ensures that the States finance their activities as much as possible out of loan money, upon which they must pay interest. The honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) pointed this out after the honorable member for Macarthur had spoken, and nobody from the other side of the House has tried to answer him.
The honorable member for Oxley pointed out that the Commonwealth share of the total public debt had fallen from £1,776,000,000, as it was ten years ago, to the present level of £1,280,000,000, whereas the States’ share has risen from £1,081,000,000 to £2,548,000,000. This means that the interest costs of the States have become very different from those of the Commonwealth. The cost of interest to the
Commonwealth has risen from £51,690,000 during this period to no more than £55,540,000. But the cost of interest to the States has risen from £44,950,000 to £130,660,000. Therefore, the burden on trie States has increased nearly three times while the Commonwealth Government has adopted a formula mainly determined by past requirements, a formula which does not allow the States to do their job and leave room to balance their budgets. As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said, “The Commonwealth has been able to afford the luxury of determining how much of its public works programme shall be financed out of revenue, while it leaves the States to wrangle about how the funds available to them shall be distributed between State departmental works and local government works “. Some action is needed to correct this situation, but there is nothing in the present bill, nor in the other proposals of the Government, that is likely to have that effect.
The next answer which Government supporters have given to the Opposition case is that what is being done at the present time is enough, because the unemployment problem is not serious.
The honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) was the clearest exponent of this argument. He quoted the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr. Albert Monk, as saying that the level of unemployment in Australia to-day was not significant. The honorable member for Sturt criticized speakers of the Australian Labour Party for allegedly creating panic and doubt in the situation and for depressing the people. The people who have panicked, the people who are depressed in this situation are the members of this Government and their advisers in the Treasury and in other parts of the economy. What is being done in this Parliament is the very opposite to what Mr. Monk was advocating. Mr. Monk was saying that the economic conditions to-day were sufficiently good to make any depression, recession or credit squeeze policy unjustified. He was saying in effect that the economy needs, requires and must have increased expenditure. But what kind of a policy do we get in the economic survey, “ The Australian “, from the Treasurer? We get a miserable, conservative, penny- pushing policy which is preventing the kind of expansion that is really needed in Australia to-day. What kind of policy is the Government acting on to-day? It is a miserable, tight-fisted type of policy which reflects only a loss of confidence by the Government in its ability to maintain rapid economic growth in this country. That is the very opposite to that for which Mr. Monk was arguing. He said, in effect, that the economic position was not so serious as to justify putting a clamp upon wages increases in the Arbitration Court. He said, in effect, that it was necessary for the Commonwealth. Parliament to increase expenditure and to make more money available in a measure such as this, that £12,500,000 for this type of expenditure was inadequate. The honorable member for Sturt cannot gain much satisfaction from his argument when it is examined closely.
As I mentioned a short while ago, a professor from Western Australia, who is somewhat more imaginative and more willing to use his imagination than the advisers of the Government appear to be, was able to point out that approximately £350,000,000 of income had actually been lost in the last twelve months. He expressed the opinion that something like £700,000,000 more was needed in the Australian economy to return it to a state of full employment and full output and production. And that is precisely the alternative that the people of Australia must face to-day. Those who live in Queensland have seen what can happen when the development of a State like that does not go on fast enough. The people are not satisfied with this policy and the Government lost seats in Queensland because of it. The people living in Victoria have now seen it in the same light. This kind of economic policy is not satisfactory to them and residents of the Broadmeadows electorate showed their feelings as decisively as did the people of Queensland. I say to those people who advise the Government and those who are concerned with the rentier, the retired person, who wants stable prices and whose spokesmen in this House are the honorable members for Sturt and Bradfield, if you are satisfied with the condition of the economy as it is at present, then the great majority of Australian people are not satisfied with it. And the Government will find this out at the cost of seats it now holds at the next election.
In conclusion, I point out that I have heard that at its party meeting, the Government and its supporters decided to hold a tight grip on the economy this year so that there will be no more problems of boom or inflation, and next year, just before the next election, to release that grip through a vote-catching and votewinning Budget because that is the only way it can survive. I make this statement now so that the people of Australia may know in advance what is going to happen. When this titillating, vote-catching Budget is introduced in this Parliament the people of Australia will know that this Government has been prepared to restrict the economy to a level of employment, output and income far lower than it might have been, and to do it at the cost of fewer homes, and less clothing and food for the people who need it. It has been done so that the Government could retain its position on the treasury bench in this Parliament. If it is prepared to make this choice, then it is prepared to make the choice that the tory party in England has made at several elections; a choice which this Government has apparently just learned to make.
The Government has shown in this measure, as it has in the Budget, that it is lifeless and restrictive, that it has become an exponent of slow growth, that it is incapable of solving the problems and providing for the needs of the people whether they be in the north of Queensland1 or the centre of the City of Melbourne. That the people are dissatisfied was shown conclusively by the result of the by-election in the electorate of Broadmeadows. One week after the election for the seat of Broadmeadows the “ Melbourne Sun “ pointed out that there were more than 1,150 miles of unmade streets in Melbourne. That newspaper published a photograph of an unmade street right in the centre of the Broadmeadows electorate. In other words this paper pointed out one week after the election what the Australian Labour Party had pointed out on television one week before the election.
The people of Australia will not accept such a policy, and unless the Government wakes up to this fact it will be defeated at the next election. I want to see a change in policy even if this Government is preserved, because in my electorate today, and in many others, numbers of good people are unable to find jobs and many old people are finding it impossible to continue to live in decayed and rotting houses. These matters should be dealt with. The comfort of retired people and money lenders, for whom there are spokesmen on the other side of the House, should not be considered in preference to the needs of the people who need the attention of the Commonwealth Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
– by leave: - In my four weeks’ absence abroad, I conducted close discussions on the Common Market problem in both the United Kingdom and the United States. I did this by way of following up the invaluable work done by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) in the course of his strenuous and far-reaching journey.
In London, I had a series of talks with the Prime Minister and with Lord Home, Mr. Butler, Mr. Sandys and Mr. Heath. In Washington, President Kennedy, Mr. Rusk, Mr. Harriman and Mr. Ball all found considerable time for an examination of our mutual problems. I was able to leave each place with a strong feeling that Australia’s case was not only understood but was receiving very close consideration.
I felt that this was important, because it must always be remembered that in the negotiations now proceeding on Great Britain’s application to accede to the Treaty of Rome and become a member of the European Economic Community, we are not a party principal and must therefore do what we can to impress our views, directly and indirectly, upon the actual negotiators and upon those whose views may influence their ultimate decisions.
Just as I arrived in England, an announcement was made by the press that an agreement - that was the term used - had been arrived at in relation to “ hard manufactures “, under which existing Commonwealth preferences were to be “phased out” by 1970, when the European Common Market arrangements are designed to reach maturity. Although the exports of both New Zealand and Australia in this field are intrinsically limited, Mr. Marshall of New Zealand and I had a discussion and issued a joint statement in which we said that British entry should not be on terms which resulted in critical damage to our economies and the impairment of Commonwealth relations. We recalled that the British Government had repeatedly given assurances that it would not feel able to join unless Commonwealth interests were safeguarded. We said that these assurances were of vital importance in the current negotiations.
We also said that, notwithstanding this, neither Australia nor New Zealand could be indifferent to some recent developments in the negotiations. Although no doubt the outcome of that week’s discussion on industrial products would come under examination at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, it none-the-less represented, we said, a disturbing development. It fell far short of providing adequate safeguards for Commonwealth trade in the products concerned. Even more important, of course, it must not under any circumstances, we said, be taken as a pattern for the type of settlement which might be reached on other products of even greater concern to Australia and New Zealand.
Sir, this statement attracted considerable public attention. I then pursued the matter of the nature of any “ agreement “ between Great Britain and The Six. Discussions with British Ministers quite soon made it clear that, until the meeting of Prime Ministers was held, all such arrangements as that announced in relation to “ hard manufactures “ would be tentative only, that they were not binding; that they represented what Great Britain and The Six felt was a feasible basis of agreement; and that when finally the ground had been covered, there would emerge a package of such feasible arrangements which the Prime Ministers would be able to discuss without prejudice and without prior commitment.
The second question, that of the phasing out of preferential arrangements by 1970, was, of course, vastly important, and occupied much of my time. This phasing out principle has been referred to in many official messages and records as “ decalage “. I do not want to appear pedantic but this word has occurred in all the cables - “ decalage “. It is a French wording meaning “ a shifting of the zero “, or what we would call for the present purpose a gradual reduction to the point of extinction. When in London I noted with interest that the “ Times “, in a report of a parliamentary debate, printed it “ decollage “, meaning in one sense a beheading. We have made it clear that to dispose of the Commonwealth issue by steady reduction of our existing arrangements without in some other way preserving our market opportunities, until termination in 1970, would be grievously unsatisfactory to us. It is true that our current trade treaty with Great Britain has a terminating or terminable date; that our current meat agreement is for a term of years; that the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement runs until 1969; and so on. But the point which we have been making is that, whatever the dates may be, there has been for very many years an expectation and intention that preferential arrangements of an appropriate kind would continue, just as it has been contemplated that a British preferential tariff on British goods passing into Australia would continue.
Sir, we have not been blindly obstinate or unreasonable in our advocacy. We have, in fact, recognized throughout that the present members of the Common Market were not likely in 1962 - whatever might have been the position when the Treaty of Rome was in process of negotiation - to accept the entry of a Great Britain carrying with her the existing structure of Commonwealth preferences. We have therefore proposed and sought some alternative course which would secure for us the substance of maintained and expanded access to an enlarged European Common Market while not requiring the continuance of the strict letter of what I will call “ the old law “.
Without going into burdensome detail, I may illustrate our approach by two examples. For some commodities, we suggested that we should be given, on the basis of our trade with Great Britain, “ comparable outlets “ into the enlarged European Common Market. This means that we should be given a preferential tariff quota which would apply to the whole of that market, but be based upon the normal amount of our existing sales to Great Britain, plus an agreed factor of normal growth. In the result, each European country of The Six would enjoy the same cost advantage as Great Britain, up to a point where the total imports of that commodity from Australia reached the agreed quota. After that our exports of that commodity would have to meet the common external tariff.
In some other commodities we felt that the right answer was to make world agreements, pending the negotiation of which our current rights should continue. There were and are many variations on these two themes which involve technical procedures which I could not hope to cover in a statement which is designed to explain the issues broadly and concisely.
With these preliminaries, I now proceed to explain, as objectively as possible, the nature of the two great problems which engaged my attention. The first involved some examination of what I will call the political issues involved for Great Britain and the Commonwealth. Although, as we know, political issues embrace economic issues very closely, 1 am here using the expression “ political “ as distinguishing such matters as foreign policy and the concerting of external policies, and putting the economic issues, somewhat artificially, as I agree, in a separate category.
This distinction is by no means precise, since there are in and under the Treaty of Rome provisions which could limit the normal political and legislative discretion of a British Parliament in relation to economic and social matters. But, in spite of some confusion and overlapping of ideas, the making of the broad distinction will facilitate the presentation of the record to the House. I will, therefore, begin with the political considerations.
The British Cabinet clearly is impressed by what it believes to be the political advantages for Great Britain, Europe and the Western world which would flow from British membership of the European Economic Community. Mr. Macmillan made this clear in our discussions, and indeed in at least one speech when I was there. I think it fair to say that his views on this matter seem to be fully shared by President Kennedy.
– That is where he got his views.
– This is a serious problem. I would really like to address myself to it without cheap-jack remarks of that type.
– It is serious for you.
– It does not matter whether it is serious for me. It is serious to me, and it is very serious for this country. If some of these people want to represent to the people of Australia that the Labour Party regards the whole subject as a laughing matter, let them do so.
The basis of this belief is a feeling that the old balance of power policy - with Great Britain standing outside Europe; - is no longer possible in modern circumstances and has been falsified twice in this century; that the measure of European co-operation already achieved under the Treaty of Rome is already notable, and will grow more rapidly with British participation; that Great Britain, as a member of the European Economic Community could exercise substantial influence in the direction of outward looking policies and positive resistance to the Communist menace. That is the basis, as I understand it, of that belief.
We understand and respect these views, but we have never assumed nor offered to sit in judgment on them. They clearly involve a choice, a most historic and farreaching choice, to be made by Great Britain herself. If the choice is made in favour of entry, the political effect upon Australia and other Commonwealth countries, indeed upon the Commonwealth itself, will materially depend upon the nature of the political arrangements which develop inside the extended European Economic Community.
Primarily, the Treaty of Rome provides for permanent close economic association between its members, with, for example, common agricultural policies, a free movement of people and capital, the harmonization of social policies, and the creation of institutions such as an assembly, a council, a commission - an executive body - a court, and a European Investment Bank.
The political implications of the economic association are visible, but not easy to define. But, as I pointed out to this House a year ago, the preamble to the Treaty of Rome stated that the signatories were “ determined to establish the foundations of an ever closer union among European peoples “.
The British Government has given much thought to this great question; it sees world advantages in involving Great Britain in European political associations of a permanent kind. We have never questioned the sincerity of its view, or the possibility of those advantages. Indeed, in a joint statement by President Kennedy and myself - to which I will direct attention at a later stage - we said that we both “ recognized that European unity could contribute substantially to the strength of the free world “.
From a Commonwealth point of view, I have taken every opportunity to point out that a great deal turns upon the nature of the proposed political - including constitutional - association. This question has given rise to much political debate both in and out of the British Parliament. There is a wide range of possibilities, from regular conferences of leaders and Ministers at one end of the scale - an ad hoc rather than a structural association - to a full-blooded European federation at the other.
I gathered in Whitehall that Great Britain does not contemplate the creation of supranational institutions of government, with their consequential clear modifications of political sovereignty. There would appear to be some division of opinion among The Six themselves on this matter. But it does seem that, to take a single example, the right under the treaty, to the free movement of workers between the member states can readily generate political pressures for organic political association. Many Europeans have already moved from one member state to another. Subject to the power of national histories and traditions and prejudices - a power which can easily be underestimated - national lines will tend to become blurred. If these processes now going on under the treaty operated to reduce the possibilities of intra-Western European wars, such as the two great and devastating wars of this century, a great thing would have been done for world peace. Whether those processes would be accelerated and strengthened by British entry into the European Economic Community presents a great current problem of statesmanship.
What we have sought to make clear is that if Great Britain went in, and if in the course of time the extended European Economic Community became a European political community with the structure of a federation, the nature of the present Commonwealth would be clearly and materially changed. For, as we know, a federation distributes sovereignty between the central or federal authority and the member states. The sovereign powers of the member states are diminished, the powers subtracted being handed over to the central or federal authority. In short, if Great Britain eventually became a member state in a European federation - I do not say this will happen - she would no longer be sovereign as the other Commonwealth countries are. The Commonwealth would have ceased to be an association of sovereign and fully selfgoverning states.
Throughout my journey and my conversations, I felt most acutely the pressure of these considerations. The question in my mind took shape somewhat as follows: “ After all, the Commonwealth has sustained many changes since the last war. Only some of its members remain within the direct allegiance to the Throne. It cannot be said that we have an allembracing community of political institutions or democratic processes, or of the rule of law as we know it. Should our deep desire to preserve what we can be allowed to stand in the way of a new European conception embracing some 300,000,000 British and European people, getting rid of their old local hostilities and forming themselves into an integrated power devoted to true peace and determined to resist aggression? “ That is the question that in all frankness I put to myself.
I believe that we, as a not unimportant member of the Commonwealth, would answer that question, as I have tried to answer it in England myself, by saying that United Kingdom membership of an actual European federation, involving the great change in the Commonwealth to which I have referred, would be a mistake. I do not say that it is contemplated - I am sure that it is not - but nobody can confidently foretell the effect of those pressures of the future which I mentioned a few minutes ago.
It is possible to contemplate with approval a close co-ordination of high political policies between Great Britain and the European Economic Community. It would, as we see it, be an unhappy thing to contemplate the absorption of Great Britain into an organic European federal union. But, I repeat, these decisions are not ours to make. All we can do is to state our views as we hold them and as we are entitled and bound to express them, and trust to the accumulated wisdom and experience of Great Britain, as the centre of the Commonwealth, to come to sound conclusions.
It is on the economic aspects of British entry into the Common Market that it would not be right to dogmatize about the views of the Government of the United Kingdom. There are those who believe strongly that for Britain to have duty free entry into a home market of 300,000,000 people with relatively high living standards would mean salvation and growth for British manufacturing industry in total. When questioned about the possible damage to British industry by duty-free goods from Europe, their answer is that this challenge will be met by increased efficiency in Britain - an efficiency compelled by the new circumstances.
On the other hand, there are competent people who think that the economic arguments for going in or staying out are fairly evenly balanced. This is a view which I found more widely held than I had expected. So much was this the case that I found myself tending more and more to the belief that the dynamic element in the Common Market movement is the. conviction of political advantage; almost of political necessity in the cause of world security; and that the economic results are accepted by some as the necessary condition of political association.
Once again, I made it clear that we are not sitting in judgment on Great Britain’s own economic views. It is for her to balance the possible gains in Europe against the possible losses in Commonwealth trade, which has in the past, of course, been vastly more important to her. Our task is not to oppose Britain’s entry on economic grounds which affect her, and which fall for her judgment; it is to do all we can, by hard work and persuasion, to ensure that the terms finally agreed to by The Six do the minimum of damage to the present and anticipated pattern of Commonwealth trade, and of Australian trade in particular.
I am not in a position at present to expound the present state of the Brussels negotiations. They are clearly far from complete. I anticipate that fairly soon we will be officially and fully informed. Until then, it would merely confuse the problem for me to introduce speculation into what is intended to be an objective narrative. But whatever the outcome of the negotiations may be - whatever outlines of tentative arrangements may be presented to the Prime Ministers next month - the ultimate decision, when all the arguments have been heard, will be that of Great Britain, over whom, except for such current and binding agreements as now exist, no meeting of Prime Ministers can exercise a veto.
I mention these truisms because they are too frequently forgotten. Although one is frequently asked for a categorical “ Yes “ or “ No “ to the question “ Are you m favour of Britain entering the European Community? “ no such answer is as yet possible. The position is still confused. Very able Australian officials have for a year, both in London and Europe, and recently in Washington, presented to their opposite numbers facts, arguments, and proposals in relation to a long list of Australian commodities The permanent head of our Department of Trade, Dr. Westerman, whose ability, knowledge, and immense industry deserve great praise. made a long exposition of Australia’s approach to the Council of Deputies at Brussels. My colleague, the Minister for Trade, this year pursued a powerful advocacy on the Ministerial level in all three areas. I myself followed the matter up as well as I could in the journey which gives rise to this report.
All these things have been done in no spirit of hostility. We know that the British Government has set out to secure terms which give reasonable protection to Commonwealth interests. We have a high regard for their chief negotiator, Mr. Heath, who has at all times been accessible to our views and has, as we know, been presenting the case for Commonwealth trade to the European negotiators.
It is certain that when we meet in September we cannot be presented with a complete package of possible arrangements. But it was anticipated, when I left London, (hat enough progress would have been made to enable useful discussion on some important items to occur, and the relevant principles to be debated. Both in London and Washington, I encountered some opinions, courteously but firmly expressed, that the Australian Government was overstating its case, and that the damage to Australian trade was likely to be comparatively small. I know, from an unhappy recent experience, that this view is entertained by some thoughtful people in Australia. I therefore took, and now take again, the opportunity of answering these opinions.
In the first place, Sir, nobody is yet in a position to know what the terms of Britain’s entry will be. If she were to enter on the existing terms of the Treaty of Rome, with its objectives of internal free trade, a common external tariff, and a common agricultural policy, our preferences would before long be terminated, and replaced by preferences in Great Britain to European products. In addition, our access to the enlarged Common Market would be restricted by the array of protective devices used to support the common agricultural policy. In such an event, blows would be struck in due or undue course against our exports of such important commodities as, to take a few examples, sugar, metallic lead, dairy products, meat, dried fruits, and canned fruits. x
Should the terms of the Treaty of Rome be modified in the interests of Commonwealth trade, the degree of impact upon our export trade will depend upon the nature and extent of the modifications. As we do not know what, if any, modifications may be arrived at between Great Britain and The Six, who - not we - are the negotiators, we must, as prudent people, assess the possible losses to us on the basis of the Treaty of Rome as it stands; any departure from it in our direction will be so much saved.
I have not tried to deal with the purely financial implications of the Treaty of Rome. They were very clearly explained by my friend, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in this House on 22nd August last year, in a speech which all students of the Common Market problem should study. But there is another consideration which my colleague, the Minister for Trade, repeatedly explained, and to which I devoted a good deal of my own time. A general economic survey which looks at national totals, divorced from consideration of particular industries, regions, and communities of men and women, can be most misleading. Percentages, as we know, can frequently be misleading. Much of Australia’s productive development has been related to the long established pattern of Commonwealth trade, and designed to satisfy markets which form part of that pattern. In many cases, entire communities have grown up around export industries of this kind. In many cases, such industries cannot be confident of finding alternative markets quickly, or, in some cases, at all. I will illustrate what I am saying, Mr. Speaker.
In 1960-61, our exports of metallic lead -pig and bullion - totalled £15,800,000. Great Britain took £10,600,000 of this, duty free. Behind this export, we have developed in Australia great smelters, notably at Port Pirie, whose efficiency is of world standard. We also export substantial quantities of concentrates. The Common Market contemplates a common external tariff of about 9 per cent, on metal. It is not difficult to see that, if our exports of lead, being now duty free in England, are to be subject to this tariff, Australia could, upon British entry, lose the1 bulk of her export of metallic lead; her lead smelters could become uneconomic; while, ironically enough, as the Common Market will freely import lead concentrates, the reduction, and perhaps, at the worse, the disappearance, of lead smelting in Australia could be accompanied by the creation of new smelters in Europe. It would be difficult to persuade communities like Broken Hill and Port Pirie that the problems thus presented for their industries, their regions, and their people, are minor ones.
Take dairy farming and the export of butter. In 1961-62, for which we have complete figures, Australia exported to the United Kingdom just under £20,000,000 worth of butter, out of our total export of £23,500,000. It entered the United Kingdom duty free, whereas European butter pays a duty of 15s. a cwt. Should Great Britain go into the Common Market on the terms of the Treaty of Rome, Australian butter would be subject to variable levies and possibly quantitative restrictions, while European butter would have free access. Is the problem thus presented, in economic, industrial and human terms, a small one?
Take the sugar industry - a great industry which gives life and significance to large coastal areas in Queensland and the north of New South Wales. In 1961-62, for which also we have complete figures, Australia exported £18,300,000 worth to the United Kingdom, none to the European Economic Community and £14,800,000 elsewhere. Our exports to the United Kingdom are mainly at a negotiated price under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. On the remainder of our exports to the United Kingdom we receive the world price plus a preference which is of the order of £3 15s. sterling a ton. Surely, Sir, this is a measure of trade so closely related to the development and peopling of our north that the protection of this trade assumes major proportions.
Dried vine fruits have provided the foundation, in specially irrigated areas, of large settlements, particularly of exservicemen, in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. In 1961-62, we exported to the United Kingdom no less than £5,000,000 worth out of a total export of £9,500,000. Our product entered the United Kingdom duty free. The application of the terms of the Treaty of Rome, with a proposed common external tariff of 8 per cent., could strike a crippling blow at industries which support entire communities, and to which an assured export is economically vital.
Canned deciduous fruits and canned pineapple also have great regional significance. In 1961, we exported to the United Kingdom, duty free, nearly £11,000,000 worth, a nominal amount to the European Economic Community and under £1,000,000 elsewhere. The proposed Common Market external tariff is 25 per cent. It is therefore clear that practically the whole of this export trade is involved in the negotiations now going on.
I have said nothing about our large export trade in wheat and meat, to which our negotiators have been directing close attention. These products need a special presentation, and I will not expand what should be the reasonable limits of a statement like the present one in order to do what my colleague, the Minister for Trade, can do with greater knowledge and authority. But the illustrations 1 have given will, I hope, convince the House that it has not been for small considerations that we have been conducting negotiations and offering advocacy on an unprecedented scale, including the facilitation of investigations on the spot by leading members of the Opposition.
We are realists, but that is not to say that we are pessimists. We attach great value to the expressed determination of the United Kingdom Government to protect Commonwealth interests. We believe that the powerful and influential United States of America understands our lawful interests and national ambitions, and the importance of a Commonwealth growing in political and economic strength and significance. I am not conscious-
– Nor are your Ministers.
– Did you say you were! I compliment the honorable member. He is conscious for the first time this year. I continue. I am not conscious-
Opposition Members. - We know.
– It’s all right, Sir. It is a boyish sense of humour. Do not grudge it to them. I repeat: I am not conscious of any exaggeration in our case. If the honorable member for Yarra thinks there is, he can tell us later on his usual lines. If, indeed, I had not thought that the possible impact upon Australia was, and is, a matter of very substantial importance to our own growth and prosperity, I do not think I should have so warmly approved of my colleague’s strenuous journey or undertaken a similar one myself.
There is one other aspect of the economic argument which deserves special mention. I have had a good deal to say about our primary export industries, which are of vital importance to our balances of trade and payments, and whose volume of export trade is so important for their unit costs of production. We must, at our peril - I know that the Opposition will find this amusing - do what we can to keep those costs from rising in a world in which the terms of trade are by no means favorable to us.
But our manufacturing industry, the steady growth of which is needed for an increase in our population and full employment, has great interests in the Common Market negotiations. This comes about in two ways.
First, our export earnings serve materially to determine our capacity to import. Most of our imports are not those of finished consumer goods, but those of plant and materials for local manufacture. In this way, the protection of the export markets of our primary products is essential to our manufacturing growth.
Second, the accession of Great Britain to the European Common Market is thought, as I have said, to be likely, through the creation of a vast home market, to increase manufacturing efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs in the extended European community. This must be expected to increase its competitive capacity in its exports to Australia. This in turn will affect the capacity of Australian manufacturing to meet competition from overseas, and may well give rise to acute tariff problems which in their turn will, or may, create cost problems in the rural industries.
I am not assuming to answer these problems in advance. What I do want to make clear is that it would be an error to think that the Common Market problem is of interest to limited sections of the people. In reality, it touches the Australian economy at many points, and must be the concern of us all.
When I flew over to the United States of America, my principal objectives were to discuss with the President, the Secretary of State, Mr. Dean Rusk, and Mr. Averell Harriman, some of the problems of SouthEast Asia, and also, with the addition of Mr. Assistant Secretary Ball and other leading officials, the problem of British entry into the Common Market.
I am happy to say that, over a period of three days in Washington, I was given a great deal of time and had the fullest opportunity to develop the views of the Australian Government.
In particular, honorable members may be interested to know that I found President Kennedy, with whom I had enjoyed most useful talks fourteen months earlier, not only friendly but uncommonly well informed on Australia’s special interests in the Common Market negotiations. He gave me hours of his time, as did the principal members of his Administration.
Assisted by the reports of my colleague, the Minister for Trade, who had done invaluable work a little earlier in Washington, I came to the conclusion that it would not be useful for me to rehearse the arguments justifying the principle of the preferential trade system of the Commonwealth which was first given comprehensive form at Ottawa in 1932 and to which the United States has always expressed objection. Deeply attached though we areto the Commonwealth pattern of trade, I felt that nothing was to be gained by pursuing what might be called doctrinal arguments about an issue on which my colleague, speaking with great knowledge and authority, had deserved success, but had not been able to achieve it. My own approach, therefore, took two forms.
The first was to say that, in the interest of practical satisfaction for both Australia and the United States of America, we should agree to avoid conflicting theories or argument about particular phrases or words, and find out whether, in a purely practical and pragmatic way, we could consider American and Australian interests in particular commodities to the end result that we might do our best, jointly and severally, to preserve our competitive status in the markets of an extended European area, and, in the case of Australia, maintain and expand access for our goods to Britain and Europe.
The second was to make it clear that should The Six insist upon terms of entry which involved the disappearance of Commonwealth preferences by 1970 without some other provisions for preserving our market opportunities, the Government of Great Britain would be confronted by a most difficult choice - whether to go into Europe on terms which would invite opposition in other Commonwealth countries, or to terminate the negotiations and stay out of Europe. My argument was that, should Great Britain be confronted by such a dilemma, the United States of America itself would be, though not a party principal in the negotiations, the witness of a conflict of interests on a matter in which, as I believed, it wanted to see Great Britain go into Europe, but did not desire to have a conflict of Commonwealth interests.
After my Washington discussions, which I thought particularly helpful, a joint communique was agreed upon. Though honorable members have no doubt seen its terms as published, with the concurrence of the House I shall incorporate the relevant portions of it in “ Hansard “, so that I may direct attention to some of its terms. They are as follows: -
President Kennedy expressed his strong belief in the importance of the Commonwealth as a source of stability and strength for the free world. At the same time both leaders recognized that European unity could contribute substantially to the strength of the free world.
They reviewed therefore the implications for the trade of their two nations of the possible accession of the United Kingdom to the European Economic Community.
It was agreed that, in this event, the United States and Australia would, as great suppliers to Britain and Europe, face problems in endeavouring to maintain and expand access for their goods.
The Prime Minister offered the view that it would be a grave misfortune if, after the negotiations, it turned out that the conditions laid down for Britain’s entry were unacceptable to Commonwealth countries on the ground that they damaged Commonwealth trade and expansion.
The President and Prime Minister took note of the fact that with respect to certain articles and commodities Australia’s historic terms of access are different from those of the United States. They recognized, however, that Australia competed with the United States in the United Kingdom market with respect to only a relatively small number of these items, though the items themselves are by no means small in importance. They agreed that, with respect to these items, technical discussions would be held between the two Governments in an effort to reconcile the trading interests of both nations.
With respect to the great bulk of articles and commodities they noted that, as non-members of the European Economic Community, their countries faced essentially the same problems, and they joined in hoping that the community would pursue liberal trading policies. President Kennedy pointed out that under the trade expansion legislation now pending before the Congress the United States Government should strive, through reciprocal agreements, to bring about a general reduction of trade barriers for the benefit of all. Moreover, both leaders agreed that, with respect to a number of key primary products, the problems raised by the expansion of the Common Market might best be solved through international arrangements.
During the course of their interviews the President expressed his warm interest in Australia and his understanding of Australia’s needs in terms of development and growth, recognizing the problems of particular regions as well as industries.
Both he and the Prime Minister were agreed that the problems for the United States and Australia arising out of Britain’s proposed entry should be approached not on any basis of theory or the use of particular words but upon a practical basis, examining commodities one by one, having in mind the protection of the interests of both countries.
As a result of their discussions the President and the Prime Minister were encouraged to believe that satisfactory solutions will be found to those problems faced by their two countries.
I thought our talks and this joint message quite valuable. The atmosphere of our relations with our powerful friends in America is of material and continuing importance. It is therefore significant that the document records that -
President Kennedy expressed his strong belief in the importance of the Commonwealth as a source of stability and strength for the free world.
I can assure the House that this is no mere form of words. The President’s knowledge of Commonwealth problems is quite remarkable. His interest in Australia in particular is quite unfeigned. I am sure that he is our friend. Again, “ It was agreed that, in the event” (of Great Britain acceding to the European Economic Community) “ the United States and
Australia would, as great suppliers to Britain and Europe, face problems in endeavouring to maintain and expand access for their goods”. I attached importance to this as a recognition that Australia is an expanding country with a great need for economic growth, and that we should be able to look forward to expanding our export trade to the European area. And further in the document - “ They agreed that, with respect to these items “ (i.e. those in which Australia competed with the United States in the United Kingdom market) “ technical discussions would be held between the two governments in an effort to reconcile the trading interests of both nations”.
This paragraph arose from my proposal that Dr. Westerman, our chief official negotiator, should return to Washington to have commodity by commodity discussions, “ not on any basis of theory “ “ or the use of particular words, but upon a practical basis, examining commodities one by one, having in mind the protection of the interests of both countries “.
Pursuant to this arrangement, Dr. Westerman returned to Washington. On his return to Australia, he was able to report some most useful talks, which have greatly assisted my colleague the Minister for Trade and myself in subsequent communications with British Ministers. I will make a further reference to this before I conclude in a few moments.
Honorable members will observe in the communique our joint hope that the European community will pursue liberal trading policies. This is important. Australia has for years past been carrying out active policies for the development of new markets and an increased export trade. This has been done through a much enlarged Trade Commissioner Service, trade missions, trade ships, the Export Payments Insurance Corporation, special tax measures designed to encourage export, banking arrangements in aid of rural development, Beef Roads assistance and aid to the provision of improved coal export ports and facilities. But the British and European markets remain very important for most export industries, and are quite vital for some. It thus gave me satisfaction when President Kennedy approved this paragraph -
During the course of their interviews the President expressed his warm interest in Australia and his understanding of Australia’s needs in terms of development and growth, recognising the problems of particular regions as well as industries.
And, on the personal initiative of the President himself, the final words were added -
As a result of their discussions the President and the Prime Minister were encouraged to believe that satisfactory solutions will be found to those problems faced by their two countries.
I have already referred to the arrangement made for further official talks in Washington. These occurred, most usefully, and my colleague, the Minister for Trade, and I have had personal reports on them by Dr. Westerman. Even more importantly, I have in the last few days learned from the American Administration of its deep satisfaction with these talks, their co-operative spirit and their fruitfulness.
I conclude by saying that, in this matter which transcends or should transcend normal party differences, we shall continue to do all in our power to influence decisions in directions which we believe will be good for Australia and for the Commonwealth and therefore enhance, in the words which I have quoted, “ the importance of the Commonwealth as a source of stability and strength for the free world”.
I lay on the table the following paper:-
Common Market Negotiations - Ministerial Statement, 9th August, 1962.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) proposed -
That the paper be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) making his speech without limitation of time.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) dealt first with the political aspects of Britain’s application to join the European Economic Community. It is impossible to understand the attitude of The Six, without realizing that the impetus which has driven them to unite is a political one. There are many political issues which have driven them to unite in that way. But the economic features of the European Common Market are an article of faith to The Six because it is behind the tariff wall that they believe they will unite their countries politically just as it was behind the tariff wall of the Zollverein that Germany was united a century and more ago. Therefore we must reconcile ourselves to the fact that they will appear unduly dedicated and unyielding on economic matters, because they believe that it is only by being united on economic matters that they can become united on political matters and that it is only if they become united economically that they can never again be unravelled politically.
They also believe that the step they have taken is one which will inure to the benefit of the rest of Europe and to the rest of the world. It is no truism to say that they do believe it is a step towards the parliament of man and the federation of the world. M. Jean Monnet, who is a man of the most abiding influence in this generation, has disciples not only in every country on the Continent but also in the United Kingdom, and now in the refreshingly enlightened and ebullient Administration in Washington.
Politically there would be no difference in Australia if Britain joined the European Economic Community. Our political system would remain completely unchanged. That would be so whether the community became a Europe des peuples or a Europe des états. The ties of Australia with Britain would remain. There would be, in addition, further ties with Europe. It may be that the only external features which would change in our life would be that we would have a decimal and metric system and that we would be driving on the other side of the road. More seriously, there might be a sense of political, strategic and commercial isolation. But that is something the duration and depth of which will depend on the extent to which we are prepared to adjust ourselves to our own environment. I must immediately add, Sir, that I am no admirer of federal systems. I would not urge any communities to combine in a federal system. But one must concede that The Six have already co-ordinated and planned their economy better under their system, be it federal or confederate, than Australia has advanced in its 60 years of federation.
The Prime Minister is more directly concerned - and so might Australia be - with relations within the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister has described the Commonwealth as an association of sovereign and fully self-governing States. It is ironic that it is a conservative government in Britain which is risking the loss of sovereignty. It is the British Labour Party which is concerned at the possible loss of the association. The Labour Party in Britain realizes that the Commonwealth is the only association in the world in which different countries, utterly diverse in their backgrounds and circumstances, can confer and co-operate in complete liberty and equality. The crowning irony of this situation is in the political field, with conservative governments in Canada, Australia and New Zealand relying on the British Labour Party to check any tendency by the British Conservative Party to forget its country’s traditions and obligations.
I propose to devote the remainder of my remarks to the economic aspects, because while the political aspects are the ones which motivate The Six overwhelmingly, Britain partly and the United States largely, the economic matters are the ones with which Australia must be overwhelmingly concerned. Before I go further, I must say that I valued the very great assistance I received from Australian officials overseas. I completely agree with the assessment by the Prime Minister of the skill and the dedication of our officials in all the posts which I visited. I adopt in relation to their efforts in Brussels and elsewhere the words which the Prime Minister used in referring to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) - they deserved success but had not been able to achieve it.
May I also say that I was personally indebted to Australian officials in our posts overseas for enabling me to have such full and frank discussions with Ministers and officials in all the countries of The Six that I visited - that is all except Luxembourg - in Greece, which is the only European associate country, in Britain and Ireland, which have applied1 to join the community, in India, Malaya and Canada* which are affected as members of the Commonwealth, and in the United States of America, the influence of which is crucial in all these matters. I am also indebted to them for their assistance in arranging interviews for me with most members of the Councils of Ministers and of Deputies in the community and with members of the commission of the community. I thank them all personally. As an Australian I must say that this country is well served by the officials who have, with great skill and tenacity, put the Government’s view in all these places.
I must first deal with the general trading position in which I believe Australia finds itself. This country is one of the largest trading countries in the world. It is one of the ten, eleven or twelve largest, from the point of view of quantity and value of trade. With Canada it is unique in being predominantly an industrial country, which relies for most of its export income on primary products. There are few countries in the world, if any, in which the proportion of investment, production and employment in secondary industries is higher than in Australia. There are no industrial countries, not even Canada, whose export incomes depend so largely - in our case the dependence is to the extent of 80 per cent. - on the export of agricultural, pastoral and mineral products in their primary or raw form.
In another respect the pattern in this country is unusual, and here again Canada is the most nearly similar country. Our investment and our trade have been principally with Britain and the United States, and also to a certain extent with Western Europe and Japan. That is to say, we are serviced and we are developed largely by highly industrialized countries, which have concentrated their subsidiaries and services in catering for consumer goods within our own community, but we have not sought to diversify or to enrich our exports by having more manufactured exports. We are still to a very great extent a British farm or a Japanese mine.
Britain is our biggest customer. Before the war she took 55 per cent, of our exports. Last year she took only 19 per cent., but she is still our biggest customer. It is in this context that we must assess the impact of Britain’s application to join the European Economic Community. A very great pro portion, perhaps two-thirds, of our exports to Britain are assisted or protected or permitted because of preferences or quotas in Britain.
We can calculate the proportion of our trade which could be affected by Britain’s accession to the Common Market - that is, we can compute the external economic effects - by computing the income which Australia receives from those exports to the United Kingdom which would be subject to the common external tariff or the common agricultural policy of the community. We can calculate the effect on our production - that is, the internal economic effect - by computing the percentage of Australia’s production that is represented by these exports.
The Prime Minister used 1960-61 or 1961-62 figures in regard to the value of our exports of many of these products. I have not yet been able to learn, for those years, the proportion of our production of these products that was exported. Accordingly, Sir, I shall give the average annual income and the average annual percentage of our production for those exports over the years 1957-58 to 1960-61, the figures having been published by the Department of Trade or a related department. I must beg pardon for now giving seven or eight lines of statistics. I feel, however, that this is necessary to show the external and internal economic effect of these principal exports to Britain.
During these years we exported about 10 per cent, of our annual wheat production to Great Britain for an average annual income of £13,500,000, 12 per cent, of our beef and veal for £21,000,000, 5 per cent, of our lamb and mutton for £7,000,000, 50 per cent, of our canned meat for £9,400,000, 24 per cent, of our apples for £4,800,000, 18 per cent, of our pears for £1,500,000, 50 to 60 per cent, of our canned fruits for £9,500,000, 40 per cent, of our dried fruits for £4,900,000, 30 per cent, of our butter and 27 per cent, of our cheese for £20,500,000, 24 per cent, of our sugar for £17,300,000, and about 50 per cent, of our lead metal for £11,300,000. These are the major items at risk. If, however, one adds up all the items which could be affected one finds that the average income was £147,000,000 a year. In 1960-61 this figure was £135,000,000.
Assuming that the amount of our exports at risk fell last year in the same proportion as our total exports to Britain fell - that is, by 10 per cent. - it would seem that the present value of Australian trade which could be affected by Britain’s accession to the Common Market would be in the region of £125,000,000. On present trends, this amount is likely to fall in the future. These statistics are public and are as readily available in Western Europe as in Australia. We might as well rely on those facts; propaganda will not prevail.
The degree to which these exports could be affected can be ascertained, firstly, by computing to what extent the six members of the existing community are self-sufficient, and, secondly, by estimating to what extent it would be possible for them to increase their present production to meet the British demand which is at present satisfied by imports from Australia. If The Six find it possible and are determined to meet the British demand, they will achieve this objective in two ways. In the case of manufactured or processed imports, they will impose a tariff. In the case of primary products, they will impose a flexible levy which will be used to subsidize their own production of those products and to equalize the prices of the imported and the local products.
If The Six find it impossible to meet the British demand, or do not want to meet it, then it is relevant to consider how far present or potential suppliers of the British market will be in a position to oppose the preferences or quotas which Australia at present enjoys. It is on this point, and this point alone, that it is relevant to consider the objection by the United States of America to Commonwealth preferences. The United States is not concerned with Commonwealth preferences for products, such as butter, which it does not export or seek to export to Britain. The United States is, understandably, averse to preferences which penalize its exports of such commodities as canned or dried fruits. It is unconvincing to many people overseas for us to abuse the United States for treating Australia in the way in which Australia treats New Zealand,
Countries generally seek to become as selfsufficient as possible - industrial countries to become self-sufficient agriculturally and agricultural countries to become selfsufficient industrially. Sometimes this is attempted within individual countries, and sometimes by countries forming regional trading blocs. There are some economic facts and uneconomic aspirations which we might not like but which we must recognize. Initially, a great deal of this agricultural self-sufficiency is uneconomic, just as our aspiration to be industrially self-sufficient is initially uneconomic according to people overseas and according to some in this country. The European Economic Community countries are not concerned to secure more efficiently produced and cheaper food from other countries; they want to produce more of their own foodstuffs while preserving and increasing their industrial advantages. They export only the surplus after meeting, as far as possible, all their local requirements. It is only fair to state, however, that if Britain and two other applicants such as Norway and Denmark - both great trading countries, as is Britain - were to join the Common Market, the trend to more liberal political and economic policies in the community would be enhanced.
In order to break through these various world trade barriers we must seek international commodity agreements, particularly in those fields in which we are efficient producers and where our lower costs of production can be put to our advantage, particularly in connexion with wheat, meat, minerals and sugar. In respect of all these commodities we need not be apologetic about the costs of our production. We need not be apologetic about the efficiency or economy of our butter production. In all these respects we are efficient producers by general standards, and we process the products quite efficiently’ and economically too. I hope that the present European Economic Community negotiations will force the wealthier countries to a new awareness of the commodity problems of primary producing countries, which they have consistently exploited for years. For years past, primary exporting countries such as Australia have been producing more and exporting more but their incomes have remained static, while countries which live by exporting manufactured goods have sometimes exported more but even if they have exported the same amount as previously their incomes have risen. Manufacturing exporting countries are in a position to protect themselves and, in many cases, to exploit their customers, but primary producing countries for the last ten years have been in no such position. Australia, unfortunately, has fared worse than most countries which depend for the bulk of their export income on the export of primary products.
Now, Sir, I want to deal, by way of illustration, with some of those commodities which are at risk. I believe that sufficient information has not been given in Australia as to how these products can be affected. I have done what I can by this analysis up to this stage to show generally what can be affected, how much it could be affected and in what way it is likely to be affected or might be affected. I will now deal with some of these products by way of explanation. First of all, let me take butter. That was the first of the primary products mentioned by the Prime Minister, so I will take it first. The Six produce 98 per cent, of their requirements of butter. Britain produces 8 per cent, of its butter requirements. Britain’s imports from all sources comprise 42 per cent, of the production of The Six. The question then arises: Can The Six increase their production by the balance so as to meet the British market? The trade in butter is exceptional in that Britain is the only substantial market in the world. It is supplied by the Netherlands, which is in the community; by Denmark and Ireland, which have applied to join it; and by New Zealand and Australia, which are in the Commonwealth. Other countries supply the British market only spasmodically. Here, as in respect of all temperate products, it is possible for France greatly to increase its production. I here interpose to say that many of the things said about France assume that the same area of land can, in the course of one season, be used greatly to increase the production of bee: and of wheat, beef and other commodities. Of course, it cannot all be so used at the same time, although it is true that in the course of one season the production of any of these commodities could be greatly increased. France is the fairest agricultural country in the world. It has a long diplomatic tradition and enjoys negotiation. It is fair to say, however, that France cannot afford the odium of appearing to be the odd man out. When one is making an assessment of whether Britain is likely to be admitted to the Common Market, it is as well to realize that France itself accepts the inevitability, sooner or later, of Britain’s association. Economically, France might very much enjoy it. America, similarly, wants Britain to be associated with the Common Market. America will work towards that end and France will accept it. But all the other members of the community want Britain in it. France, too, probably would be more openly keen to have Britain in if there were a change of regime in France.
To return to butter, another limiting factor is that there is a consistent trend from the land to the cities in France as in every other industrial country.
There is also another distinct limiting factor in the potential production, say, of butter in France in the fact that the British public will reduce its consumption of butter if there is any substantial rise in the price. This is realized in all The Six. The Netherlands, like Belgium, is very anxious to have Great Britain join the European Common Market. Economically and politically, it would suit Belgium and The Netherlands to have Britain in. Geographically they would be at the crossroads and politically it is more comfortable to have three great neighbours than two. The Netherlands is prepared to make concessions in order to secure Britain’s accession.
Although The Six have to act unanimously in all such matters, it is their usual practice to respect the wishes of any member which is solely or principally concerned in a matter. Since The Netherlands is the only perennial and large supplier of butter to Britain among The Six, the Dutch are optimistic that arrangements can be made for the five principal countries - themselves, the two applicants and the two Commonwealth countries - to retain their present percentages of the British butter market. I can only report that I found the Dutch optimistic, but it is significant that The Six have since declared that they will make special arrangements for New Zealand. It would be anomalous and invidious if arrangements were made on the basis of the origin of the product instead of on the basis of the product itself - thus, if arrangements were made for New Zealand butter as distinct from butter in general.
Now I come to sugar. The Six produce 92 per cent, of their requirements of sugar, but Great Britain produces only 26 per cent, of her requirements. Britain’s imports of sugar from all sources represent 61 per cent, of production in The Six. It would thus be relatively difficult for The Six to increase their production to meet the British deficiency. Further, it should be remembered that although Australian cane sugar production is less economic than cane sugar production in many tropical islands, it is much more economic than beet sugar production in Europe and Great Britain.
International sugar agreements have been concluded several times in the last few years, although temporarily suspended through the Cuban situation. All these agreements have been signed by The Six and incorporate the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. There is thus a reasonable prospect that arrangements can be made to preserve the sales of Australian sugar in an augmented European Common Market.
Now I come to canned and dried fruits. The European Economic Community is, and is likely to remain, a heavy importer of canned deciduous fruits and dried fruits although the establishment of American subsidiary companies, particularly in Italy, and the association of Greece with the Community will lead to the expansion of production of these fruits, particularly of canned fruits. In general, however, our immediate difficulties in this field are likely to arise through American competition which we will find it almost impossible to meet unless our preferred position is maintained in the British market.
The United States export market is such a small proportion of the American internal market that the United States is in a very strong position to dump fruit in Europe at reduced prices to clear endofseason stocks. For instance, in 1960-61 although we exported only twice as much canned fruit to Britain as did America, exports represented 44 per cent, of our production but only li per cent, of America’s. The abolition of our canned and dried fruits preferences in the British market would be of great benefit to the United States but a serious blow to us.
Last, I refer to wheat. The Six produce 91 per cent, of their own requirements of wheat. Britain produces 36 per cent, of hers. Britain’s total imports from all sources represent 18 per cent, of the Six’s production and her imports from Australia represent 2 per cent, of their production. It would thus be relatively easy for The Six to increase their production to meet the whole of the British demand, particularly of the soft wheat which Australia produces. The amount which The Six ultimately produce will depend on the common agricultural policy price they fix. If the price is fixed at the average of the prices which obtained in 1959-60 in the individual members of the community, there will be a great incentive for French wheat-growers to expand their production, and also for British growers to expand theirs, since the Community mean price was £A.6 per metric ton above the French price and nearly £A.8 above the British price.
There are some limiting internal factors, however, such as the continued attraction from the land to the cities in France. Here, America as well as Australia has an interest in exporting to an augmented Common Market. America is opposed to Australia having a quota when America and Argentina are denied one, but the United States would like all present wheat exporters to have quotas. In these circumstances, there are reasonable prospects of further international wheat agreements. The Six have said that, if it proves impossible to secure international agreements, they will be willing to make agreements with those countries which have proved themselves co-operative in trying to reach international agreements. It is, therefore1, essential, I believe, for Australian wheatgrowers to understand official views among the Six on such wider agreements. The! Six believe that, if it is reasonable for them to have a home price which will limit their production, it would also be reasonable for exporting countries to fix a home price for their production. They believe it is reasonable that if production is to be deliberately limited by some producers, it should be deliberately limited by all producers. Accordingly, Australian wheat-growers should contemplate, as American wheatgrowers are contemplating, the possibility that wheat agreements will be attained only if all countries which wish to sell excess production take some steps to regulate the amount of that excess by fixing the internal price. I am not advocating any of these things, but I am reporting the attitudes I found in The Six and in the United States and Canada. There is one intangible matter and that is: Would China be willing to co-operate, as Russia does, with the signatories to an international wheat agreement?
I have dealt in greater detail with these products which the Prime Minister mentioned because I believe one can only see the possible effect on them one by one. One cannot generalize because the same countries, consumers and exporters, are not involved in every case. I feel that the Prime Minister has so far taken the line of holding the line. He has adopted for us to-night too conservative and static an attitude.
The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) in much of what he said in Australia and overseas, could not resist the opportunity to blame Britain’s application to join the European Common Market for the deterioration and deficiencies in Australia’s trading pattern. Our trade has deteriorated more than that of comparable countries. The Minister does not mention our failure to increase the proportion of our export manufactures, our dependence on foreign services in shipping, credit, insurance, warehousing and marketing; our failure to diversify markets for our existing exports, and our failure to find markets for those products which can be produced in our undeveloped tropics.
The United Kingdom’s application to join the European Economic Community has focussed attention on our trade perils but we must not allow it to distract our attention from trade perils which we were already facing and which we would still face if Britain’s application were withdrawn or rejected. We should no longer use it to excuse our existing trade pattern and trends or to postpone adjustments in them.
A year ago, when the Minister for Trade first spoke in this place on this subject, he suggested an ambitious trade plan. He suggested that the richer countries of the world should buy food surpluses, including our own, and give them as aid or sell them at uneconomic prices to needy countries. At first glance such a plan seemed attractive to many people, but I suspect that it was basically one of self-interest - it was certainly so regarded by other countries - to help our flagging primary industries rather than one to help the under-privileged peoples of the world. In the long run it will not help us either.
It is common prudence to concentrate on producing those products in which you have a cost advantage, and even then to concentrate on those in which you have a cost advantage and in which other countries are prepared to trade on the basis of cost as distinct from subsidies. We can produce a great number of our products as economically as can any other country in the world. Unfortunately, some of those products are subsidized in other countries, and therefore if we want to build trade on those products we must subsidize equally or limit our present production. But there is no future in promoting the increased production of those products which rely on the goodwill of other countries. We have learned that with Britain because, if Britain can let us down, any other country can let us down still further.
Further, we can sell our produce only when we have customers with the ability to buy. This will often occur only as the production and income of the poorer countries rise. This in turn can best be assisted if the richer countries increase substantially their capital aid and technical assistance Trade prospers between rich countries and not between a rich country, on the one hand, and a poor and needy country on the other hand. I do not rule out the value of aid in the form of food. In fact, we should consider seriously the ways in which increased foreign aid from Australia can take the form of food1 supplies. However, food hand-outs do not offer a long-term solution to the problems of raising the incomes of the under-developed countries and so increasing their capacity to buy.
It is in the field of capital aid and technical assistance that the Common Market countries can make a valuable contribution in assisting primary exporting countries like Australia. Marshall Aid put Europe on its feet. Aid on a similar scale from Western Europe, in turn, could materially assist the under-developed countries which are Australia’s natural market. Australia is geographically surrounded by the least prosperous countries in the world - Africa, Southern Asia, and South America. When those places achieve their economic take-off Australia will have no trading problems. But we cannot deal with this problem single-handed. The pity of it is that through the international organizations in which we have as much say as any one else, and through our associations with the biggest trading countries in the world, we should have taken the initiative in proposing that countries of our industrial pattern should, in their own interests as well as for humanitarian reasons, ensure that under-developed countries are developed. Australia, by itself, cannot do much, but Australia from its own observations knows the position of all of its neighbours. It should have put the case for all countries of our industrial and trading pattern to concentrate on raising the standards of their neighbours, but it has not yet done so. To do this would be in our own interests as well as in accordance with our principles and ideals as human beings.
This leads me to the fact that one area of Australia which stands particularly exposed if adequate protection of our interests cannot be achieved is northern Australia. I know that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade have mentioned the problems of northern Australia, but they have never concentrated on them. Overseas and in Australia they have concentrated on holding the line for the areas which are already trading overseas, which already have votes in this Parliament. Australia occupies a greater area of the tropics than does any other country except Brazil. Among the countries that I visited in the other hemisphere I found that up to that stage there was not a sufficient realization that Australia not only was the second largest tropical country in the world but also was the only tropical country in the world where Europeans were not only settlers but virtually the only settlers.
The Common Market proposals could seriously interrupt the development of the north just at a time when it seems to be on the verge of bigger things. This area depends almost entirely on the production of beef and canned meat, sugar and minerals. There are few or no alternatives to these agricultural, pastoral and mineral products in the area. The communities which are so dependent on these industries are in a most exposed position, much more so than most of the industries which could be affected in our temperate southern areas. Our northern beef areas are highly dependent on markets in Britain and America. Forty per cent, of our canned meat production in 1960-61 was exported to the United Kingdom. The Atherton and Barkly Tablelands, the Gulf country and the Kimberleys - as good beef country as there is in the world - rely particularly on the United Kingdom export market. The beef areas in the southern temperate part of Australia cater for the home market. The Queensland coastal areas from Brisbane to Cairns rely greatly on meat killing works, meat canning and meat exports.
Australia is the only European community which has developed successfully a sugar industry in the tropics. We do not always produce as much sugar per acre or per crop as the other cane-growing countries.
– We produce more.
– Strange to say, we produce much more per crop, not per year, than does Cuba, but Cuba has several crops a year. We produce twice as much sugar per acre per crop as do any of the beet sugar countries. Economically, we are a good producer. Again, our methods of marketing sugar are admirable. The northeast coastline of Australia is heavily dependent on sugar. The Australian people cannot justify and certainly should resist the prospect of our efficient cane industry in northern Australia being restricted for the sake of inefficient beet sugar producers in Europe.
Then there is the mineral potential of this area. The Prime Minister very properly mentioned lead, particularly at Broken Hill and Port Pirie, but of course
Mount Isa is also concerned, and there is the potential of the aluminium industry. The biggest bauxite deposits in the world are in the northern part of Australia. If, however, the Common Market, augmented by the inclusion of Britain, places a tariff on imports of metals but allows ores and concentrates to enter duty free, industrialization in all those areas will suffer a setback. For too long Australia has been at the mercy of the industrialized countries in the northern hemisphere. The countries which prosper in world trade are those which sell processed products. Therefore, we must concentrate on selling the processed products of our lead, zinc and bauxite deposits.
Unlike the Common Market countries, Great Britain imports a much greater proportion of lead and aluminium metal than it does of ores and concentrates. Therefore, Australia should have rallied other mineral-producing countries to support the British pattern of imports in this matter rather than that of The Six at the moment. Australia can give a lead in developing our tropical region for the benefit of our neighbours and ourselves.
I believe that we would have made more impression on The Six and on America if we had admitted and proclaimed our similarity to the under-developed countries and if we had demonstrated how we could be a pilot plant and an example to our neighbours in the tropics. Australia has more industrial know-how than has any other tropical country. We have agricultural, pastoral and mineral resources here and we could show how the tropical areas of the world could be developed, not just by taking the raw materials out of the ground, but by processing and marketing them. Altogether too little emphasis has been placed overseas on this potential in Australia and on the model which Australia could show to Europe of what can be done in under-developed countries. The temperate zones of the world are relatively well developed. The tropical zones still have to be developed. Australia is the best model on which to show how those tropical countries can be developed. This attitude has not been expressed on either side of the North Atlantic. We would have got much further if it had. Unfortunately, we have dissipated too much of our energy - and too much European goodwill, too - by concentrating on temperate foodstuffs which the Common Market countries regard as problems of adjustment, such as they themselves have in good number. These countries are fairly impatient of countries that are not as prompt and ready to face up to adjustments as they are themselves.
On the very day they published the communique which the Prime Minister issued with President Kennedy, such authoritative newspapers as the New York “Times” and the “Washington Post” - newspapers that are very close to the American Administration - expressed their views. The New York “ Times “ said-
It is hard to sec why the Australians are making so much fuss.
The “Washington Post” said -
There has been some feeling that the cries of panic have been overdone.
– Is that your attitude?
– I think the case has been misrepresented and put in a quite unbalanced way. We have spoken too much for home consumption and we have not made the impression on each side of the North Atlantic which we would have made if we had appeared a bit more global in our attitude and less selfish.
– You would have argued against us.
– I would have argued better than you did. You have postured and protested well enough; you have not progressed well enough. The Minister for Trade cannot resist the opportunity to blame Britain’s application to join the Common Market for the deterioration and deficiencies in our trade pattern that have developed during his term of office. We have failed to increase the proportion of our exports of manufactures. We still depend on foreign trade services. We have not diversified our markets for our existing products and we have not found the markets for those products that can be produced in our under-developed areas.
Manufactured goods offer good prospects for trade expansion. I know it is often said that Australia cannot compete in manufactured goods, that our costs are too high. Our costs are no higher than America’s costs or Canada’s costs. It is said that our home market is too small. Our home market is larger than the home market of Sweden or Switzerland, and those countries live on manufactured goods. They concentrate on their strengths and they look after their own national interests when it comes to the development and export of manufactured goods.
We produce the cheapest steel in the world. We have the most skilled manpower for thousands of miles around. We are closer to the developing markets of Asia than any other country is. We should regularly produce sufficient steel for export. But the steel monopoly has been far too cautious up to now in expanding its capacity, and in producing for export instead of for a minimum local demand. The Government resigns itself to the good graces of an efficient but cautious monopoly. We believe that if a local monopoly or international cartel refuses or hesitates to establish or to expand an industry, the Commonwealth has the opportunity and obligation to do so itself. All our neighbours import steel. All of them except New Zealand import it from Japan or from Europe. Some of them import it from other countries which have made it from Australian iron ore and coal.
Excessive shipping freights are a great handicap to our exporters. Honorable members will recall that last year the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited reported -
Australia continues to labour under a considerable burden in (freight rates) and in our business the cost of delivering steel to such relatively close places as Singapore and Hong Kong is in excess of the similar costs incurred by European producers. Other markets, such as those in South America, are almost inaccessible because of the high cost of freight.
Writing on this subject in the June issue of the “Australian Quarterly”, the former First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Trade, Mr. McClintock, made these comments -
The simple facts are that it costs too much to deliver our products to Asian markets. Australian manufacturers face a herculean task if they are to be expected to manufacture at a price which will carry freights which are often 60% higher than the freights paid by their Japanese competitors.
The transportation of our goods to and from Australia is in foreign hands. No other trading country in the world tolerates this. Foreign shipping companies play a large part in determining the extent and direction of our export trade. We are tied to the markets they service - particularly the declining markets of Europe. Shipping freights on our imports alone cost us over £150,000,000 a year, or 15 per cent, of our export income. A similar amount must be allowed for freight on our exports before we enjoy any export income from them. Marketing boards consistently advise the Parliament of the handicaps that our exporters face in shipping freights; but the Government does nothing about this basic export problem.
Again, the automobile industry is the largest industry in Australia. It is a completely modern and competitive industry. Only seven countries in the world produce more cars than Australia does, and none of them exports such a small proportion of their production as does Australia. We have the same right-hand drive as all the countries around the Indian Ocean have. But the British motor companies are forbidden to export at all and the Americanowned companies are not allowed to cut their prices sufficiently to build new markets. This cannot be permitted to continue. We cannot allow our vital trading interests in such a field to be subservient to foreign interests. Mr. McClintock also wrote -
The battle to remove restrictive export franchises is one which Australian firms must win before we can increase our export trade in finished manufactured products significantly. Most “ name brands” sold in Australia belong to overseas principals; distribution is normally available overseas for such brands and establishment costs in a market are often lower as a result. Moreover, unless Australian firms win these rights they risk seeing profitable Asian markets supplied by Japanese firms licensed by United States and European principals.
It is not sufficient for the Minister for Trade merely to appeal to these foreign companies to allow their Australian subsidiaries to export. We ought to give them a term of years in which to earn their repatriated dividends and profits through exports and to assert their own and Australia’s independence in exports. Mr. McClintock went on to say -
Most Australian manufactured products are not known in Asia, and therefore have no reputation and enjoy no loyalty from the distribution system.
Australia will never establish new markets by waiting for European merchants to sell Australian products in a few Asian coastal cities. In many circumstances, a mass market will only be achieved through governmenttogovernment trading or through breaking out of the existing distribution channels.
On the matter of trade credit, Mr. McClintock made this comment - . . U.K., Continental, and Japanese firms can offer credit terms with the certainty that they will get far stronger backing from their Governments and from their financial institutions than is possible in Australia.
The term lending fund of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) hardly touches the problem.
Let me give this concluding quotation from the article written by Mr. McClintock, the former adviser to the Minister for Trade, who resigned from that position only this year - . . if we are to achieve this increase in trade, it will be necessary for us to create, during the next decade, a widespread industrial and commercial complex which is influenced by - or controlled by - Australia.
For too long the Government has been mesmerized by the Common Market negotiations. It has allowed Australia to get into a bad negotiating rut. Valuable time has been lost in preparing to meet the possible effects of Britain’s entry into the Common Market. To say this is not being defeatist; it is being realistic. Our negotiating position will not be weakened if we take some trade initiative. Our trade position will be all the stronger for it, whether or not Britain eventually joins the Common Market.
Unfortunately, the Government has not made, and certainly has not published, a detailed analysis of the trading future of particular industries. Just what are the trading prospects, for instance, of the canned fruits industry? It is not an adequate answer to say that its future is bleak. The Australian people in general, and most certainly people working in the industry, want to know as precisely as possible what future markets are available to them. They are entitled to be told just what are our trading prospects overseas for certain products, and what can be done to improve those prospects.
If, after such an examination there seems little prospect of alternate markets, then clearly the problem is one of internal adjustment. Some internal adjustments will have! to be made. If we do not face this fact, the adjustments will in the end be all the more painful and difficult. We must have an imaginative, forward-looking plan to meet these difficulties where and when they arise. But the Government has no plan and has produced no ideas to meet these difficulties. Its concern does not go beyond self-pity at the shabby way we are being treated in the negotiations. It gives no inkling of where we go from here.
Many countries, including those of the Community itself, have established funds and organizations to assist industries affected by sudden shifts in trade patterns. The Labour Party believes that a similar principle must be applied to industries and areas likely to be affected through loss or reduction of our markets in Europe. We said so in our election policy speech last November. The necessary adjustments must be made at a minimum cost to the individuals concerned. Such matters are a national responsibility. In many cases these industries have been promoted as a direct result of Government initiative and responsibility. An example is soldier settlement industries. We insist, as we did at the last election, that areas such as Mildura are not expendable any more than mining areas such as Glen Davis and Captain’s Flat should have been expendable. Labour is entirely consistent in its concern for all vulnerable communities, whether industrial, agricultural or pastoral.
Despite the serious set-backs which the Government has dealt to the Australian economy, the Labour Party has sufficient confidence in the Australian people and the prospects for our economy to know that we can meet the problems - serious problems indeed - which will face us in the future. We have no time to lose. Abroad we must energetically seek out new markets and improve our sales methods. In some circumstances quite drastic changes in our marketing methods are required, as will be realized by anybody who has seen the anonymity under which our products are so often marketed overseas.
At home our economy must be geared to meet the difficulties of particular industries. Some may have to be guaranteed at their present level while others are encouraged to expand. But where is the plan to achieve this? The Government has certainly not revealed one yet.
With adequate forethought and planning we can achieve the maximum development of our economy at minimum cost to communities groups and individuals. Over twelve months have already been lost in which the Government could have conferred and worked on advantageous adjustments. No more time should be lost.
– In his last few moments the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) tried to tell the Government that it should have met the effects of the Common Market on certain Australian industries before we could possibly have known what those effects would be. He said that we have lost twelve months’ planning in relation to industries that might be affected. Is it sensible, Mr. Speaker, to plan to meet an effect when you do not know what the effect is going to be? We do not know how much butter we might sell in Britain if Britain joins the Common Market because we do not know the price policy of the Common Market in relation to butter. If the policy is a high price, British consumption will fall greatly and we will have a surplus that we cannot sell in Britain. If the policy is a low price, quite clearly we may still be able to sell a large part of our dairy products in the United Kingdom. For the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to suggest that we could meet this kind of effect by Government action before we know what we are trying to meet is sheer nonsense, and at heart he must know that it is nonsense.
A little earlier, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition criticized trade trends that have been experienced in this country in recent years. If he was criticizing the increased proportion of our exports that is sent to Asian, American and Japanese markets, it seems a strange thing to do. I would have thought that the diversification of our markets into those areas would have been a subject of praise and not of criticism. It certainly has been undertaken as an act of policy as the result of the Japanese Trade Agreement and of the foresight, in a large measure, of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who has con sistently sought new markets. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition tried to say that we have not diversified our markets; but we have done so and the fact that we have been able to replace a falling market in the United Kingdom, to some extent, with new and increased markets in Asia, Japan and Africa shows that the Department of Trade has been vigorous and energetic.
Last year, the United States more than doubled her purchases from us and is now our third largest customer. Japan increased her purchases from £142,000,000 to £173,000,000 and is very nearly our largest customer. In a smaller field, but a still significant and important one, Hong Kong, Burma, the Philippines, Ceylon and India all bought far more from us than they did in the year before, or in years before that. This, in a large measure, has been the result of government trade policies.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made it plain, I believe, when he spoke prior to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that there had been two important results from his recent trip abroad. The first was that any agreements reached at Brussels would be tentative, subject to the criticism, at any rate, of Prime Ministers at the September conference. The second, if I understand the position, is the important modification that appears to have taken place in the policy of the United States. Clearly that country attaches great importance to the political implications of the Common Market. As a result it has apparently shown a willingness to modify what might have been a doctrinaire attitude towards the old imperial preference system.
The Prime Minister also quite clearly and simply stated the importance of the United Kingdom’s possible entry into the Common Market in relation to certain Australian industries. If you are a dried fruit grower and there is a possibility of losing your market, quite clearly this is of the utmost importance to you and your community. The Government has made it quite plain that it will do everything possible to maintain and preserve those markets. The Government has said that if in the end the markets cannot be preserved to the full, it will stand by any industries that might be affected. The Prime Minister said that on a former occasion in this House.
Australia’s relations with the United States obviously occupy a key place in negotiations on the Common Market, not only from the point of view of the United Kingdom and the Common Market countries, but also from the point of view of Australia, because the influence of America in Europe and in the United Kingdom can quite clearly affect the result of the negotiations. It is obvious that the United States must be able, if it wishes to do so, to affect the terms of entry that the United Kingdom can negotiate. The fact that there has been a change in emphasis in American policy as the result of the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States is of the utmost value to Australia, and is something which should not be overlooked.
It is unfortunate, perhaps, that we have tended in the past to look at the United States trade policies with a somewhat jaundiced eye because its blind spot coincides with our own blind spot. If any one from New Zealand suggested that that country should export butter or fat lambs to Australia you can imagine the reaction that there would be throughout the length and breadth of this country and from this Parliament in particular. When the United States meets the same kind of suggestion in relation to commodities which we would like to export to her, we cannot really blame her for having a blind spot when we have the same kind of blind spot ourselves. Perhaps the thing that hit Australia more than anything else, from the point of view of the amount of publicity received, was the imposition in 1958 of quotas for the importation of lead and zinc into the United States. But perhaps Australians did not know that on three occasions between 1951 and 1954 the United States tariff commission recommended to the President that quotas for the importation of lead and zinc should be imposed because the home industry had been grievously affected. Despite the imposition of quota restrictions in 1958, employment in the lead and zinc industry in the United States fell by 11,000 or 33i per cent., between 1956 and 1961. Despite the quotas, the United States still imports 59 per cent, of its lead requirements and 55 per cent, of its zinc requirements. If an Australian industry had been as grievously affected as the American lead and zinc industry, I think imports into this country would have been stopped completely, but the United States continues to import a large proportion of its requirements of those commodities. We should not be too critical of the policies adopted by the United States in relation to this matter. We should try to understand the reasons behind those policies.
Although the United States and Australia have common blind spots in relation to certain commodities that other countries may seek to export to them, the Prime Minister made it clear on other occasions, just as he did to-night, that we both have common interests in the European Economic Community. If the United Kingdom joins, both Australia and the United States will be outside. We both will want to trade with the community and we both will want the community’s trading policies to be liberal. The United States has already gone a long way towards realizing these objectives. [Quorum formed.] It may be worth noting that the effort of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who called for a quorum, did not bring any of his colleagues into the chamber. The United States is about to pass the Trade Expansion Act, which will give the United States President unprecedented powers to negotiate to reduce tariffs between the United States and members of the European Economic Community. Any such reductions will be available to Australia and other third-party countries. That action will go a long way towards achieving liberal trade policies so far as the community is concerned.
But the real interest of the United States in the Common Market is, as the Prime Minister said to-night, political. Her real interest is to strengthen Europe and to remove the causes of old rivalries and old jealousies - to create a Europe able to defend itself against Russia and willing to play a greater part in aiding underdeveloped countries. The United States, quite clearly, wants the United Kingdom in the European Economic Community in order to help achieve those ends. The United States believes that the United Kingdom may be able to bring its political wisdom and stability to the Common Market, and may perhaps stand between France and Germany if at some future time that becomes necessary. Although a successful European Economic Community would be a great force to strengthen the free world and although it would be a force that would do much to prevent any further spread of communism, I do not think we should delude ourselves into thinking that the only possibility of war comes from a clash between the East and the West. It is my belief that the division of Germany - a condition which nobody can possibly foresee being changed under present circumstances - provides a readymade cause of war if economic conditions in West Germany were to make other conditions appropriate, as they were once before. That is all the more reason why West Germany should be enmeshed in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and in the European Economic Community. In that way there would be less likelihood of any real differences arising as a result of the partition of Germany. That state of affairs will provide a powerful and important stimulus to the United Kingdom to join the Common Market.
Although the United States has strong views on Imperial preferences, she would seem to be prepared to subjugate her economic views to the political arguments, which, I think, she believes to be more important. If the United States feels that the United Kingdom may choose the Commonwealth if the terms of entry to the Common Market are too high, the United States may use her influence to have those terms modified. This changed attitude on the part of the United States is a direct result of our Prime Minister’s recent visit to that country.
The essence of the Common Market is political, not economic. The real motives of the Common Market are political, not economic. The economics of the Common Market are a means to an end. The end is a fusion of interests in Europe. The trend is to replace the old balance-of-power politics with a fusion of interests. This is quite a new policy and one which I believe will have a much greater chance of ensuring peace in Europe.
Attitudes to this grand design fall into three categories. There are those who are plainly and openly for it, and those who are faint-hearted - who believe that the federation or confederation of Europe is an unattainable goal, idealistic and beyond the reach of ordinary man - a goal to be shattered perhaps by the nationalism of earth-bound states and countries. Such people, in my opinion, misconceive the nature and attraction of the Common Market. Finally there are those people who in varying degrees are against the Common Market. The reasons for their attitude are many and of differing repute. There are those who are against the Common Market because it touches their economic interests. There are those who are against it because they feel that it affects the sovereignty of the United Kingdom or the status of the Crown. There are those who are against it because they refuse to recognize that times have changed. There are those who are against it because hereditary and acquired prejudices make it impossible for them to see the road down which we must go. Even if the surface of the road is rougher than we would like, it may offer a better journey than any other road.
If Australians ever came to believe that the European Economic Community was just an economic arrangement that to some degree would hurt our economic interests, real harm could be done to the Commonwealth of Nations if the United Kingdom joined. They would misunderstand and misconceive the United Kingdom’s motives for joining. If the choice is a United Kingdom strong in the Common Market or weak outside it, we of the Commonwealth, in political terms, should want the United Kingdom in. If the United Kingdom is to be weak outside the Common Market, preoccupied with the giant across the Atlantic and the one across the Channel, she will not be of much use to us. If she is in the Common Market and stronger, she will be able to give a political lead to the world and be of benefit to Europe and to us. She will make Europe more outward-looking. She will strengthen the already outwardlooking forces of France, which already devotes to under-developed countries four times as much of her national income as does the United Kingdom.
It is strange to see some of the arguments about the Common Market, particularly those advanced by the Beaverbrook press.
Those arguments display a particular dishonesty, an unscrupulousness, an abuse of power and a renunciation of responsibility that I hope never to see copied by the Australian press. The arguments, which I do not have time to read, are found in advertisements such as the one that I now hold in my hand. Those arguments completely fail to recognize the changes that have been made in the Commonwealth. The people who hold the views expressed in those arguments do not realize that the Commonwealth is a multi-racial society. They do not recognize anything except the old Dominions and they do a grave disservice to the world and particularly the cause of the Commonwealth.
Historically, Great Britain has remained aloof from Europe and, as a result, has never been trusted by Europe. She has followed a balance-of-power policy and, in so doing, has fought Napoleon, the Kaiser and Hitler, and probably made a mistake in not fighting Bismarck, if she were determined to pursue the same policy correctly. But British and Australian dead in war cemeteries throughout the world show how foolish or how unsuccessful this policy has been. Britain at last realizes this and seeks to influence Europe from within. Instead of a balance of power, there is a fusion of interests, which I believe holds a much greater hope for the world. It is to some degree a paradox that at a time when the United States has forsaken isolation finally, done more to provide a military and civil aid to under-developed countries to encourage the European Economic Community, and done more to encourage freedom in trade under her Trade Expansion Act than has any other country in the history of the world, there is a touch of isolation in the United Kingdom’s policies, and perhaps in our own. The United Kingdom turned her back on Europe after the war and we seem to have a yearning, perhaps, for the past, historic desire to be sheltered by the United Kingdom, despite the fact that we cannot be.
Australia has said that the decision is for the United Kingdom. This is true, but politics affect us as much as they affect the United Kingdom. At the moment, isolationists have no force in the United States, but if moves to enlarge the
Common Market fail, if the United Kingdom and Australia remain, to some degree heavy-footed in these great movements, and if Europe, France or Germany reverted to disorder, might not our great friends feel disillusioned that their efforts to get into the world have been rebuffed? Would it not be possible, perhaps, for them to turn their backs on their present philosophy and create a “ fortress America “, which I understand modern defence ideology would make a practical possibility? This may not be realistic in terms of the present, but if there is the slightest possible chance of this happening, our future survival is involved. The effects that this withdrawal by America would have on our own vital interests would be completely and absolutely overwhelming.
If it is excusable to put aside for a moment the economics of a matter that is economic only as a means to a political end, then the clear political interests of Australia, the Commonwealth of Nations, Europe and the free world lie in the United Kingdom’s joining the Common Market. Beaverbrook and his supporters may subvert this course. If so, their names will be cursed in history books for a thousand years.
.- When the Treaty of Rome was signed on 25th March, 1957, by the representatives of Western Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg, the European Economic Community was established. This changed the whole structure of the outlook of these countries and, partly by inference and partly in fact, each of them surrendered some of its national sovereignty and some of the power of its national parliament.
It was agreed that a customs union for manufactures would be set up, in which all trade barriers would be removed and a common external tariff adopted against the rest of the world. Agriculture was to be subject to a common system of trading under a managed marketing system. The free movement of workers was to be arranged by 1970 and professional men and businessmen were to be free to work in any of the communities. All necessary measures were to be taken to unify conditions affecting employment, wages, the movement of capital between States, foreign exchange, fiscal policies, &c. A common transport policy was to be set up, to include shipping, and to apply not only to international transport but also to transport between the member states. The policies of the European Economic Community were to be implemented in three stages, each no longer than four years, and to be completed by 1973. It is now expected that they will be completed by 1970. Early in 1962 the tariff on goods of trade between the Common Market countries was cut by 40 per cent.
The United Kingdom’s entry into the Common Market will end the Ottawa Trade Agreement of 1932, under which we trade with the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries. Between £125,000,000 and £150,000,000 worth of Australian trade with the United Kingdom could be affected. I recently visited London and some of the capital cities of the Common Market countries. I met politicians, members of Parliament - some prominent and some not so prominent - industrialists, bankers, leaders of trades unions, and many workers. I believe it is proper to say that in London there is a hardening of opinion against the United Kingdom’s entering the Common Market. There are many people in high places in England who are having grave misgivings as they realize the great implications which will follow for the United Kingdom if she enters the Common Market. Public opinion is divided. People in high places in the United Kingdom are worrying increasingly about the loss of sovereignty which will affect the United Kingdom when she enters the Common Market.
In France and in Germany, there is a section of opinion which, while in some way encouraging the United Kingdom to enter the Common Market, is seeking to make the price very high. It is true, as has been said to-night, that nobody is yet aware of what the price will be. There is a growing body of opinion in France, perhaps backed by the traditional hostility or traditional unfriendliness of the French towards the British, which will demand a very high price for the final entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market. Part of that price, despite the fact that none of us wants this, will no doubt be the jettisoning of the preferential tariff which we enjoy in our trade with the United Kingdom.
In Germany, too, there is a feeling that the price for the United Kingdom must be stiff. Brussels to-day is the hub and centre of the European Common Market, where representatives of small and large nations are gathered, lobbying with members of the Common Market, to discuss the various aspects that affect their own countries. There are representatives of small countries, such as Iceland, Ireland and Israel, and of the large countries of the world, all lobbying with the foreign ministers in Brussels on this question of how they may be associated with or join with the European Economic Community.
When the United Kingdom enters the Common Market - you will note, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I have the temerity to say when and not if - we must look at the many small Australian farm industries which are directly dependent on the United Kingdom market for a substantial part of their income. Australian exports to the United Kingdom in 1960-61 were as follows: -
If we are to lose a substantial part of this market what plans has the Government to meet the situation? We have listened to the papers read not so long ago by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and the paper read to-night by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and we are still in the dark. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) said at the commencement of his speech, “ How can we make plans if we do not know what is going to happen? “ If, Sir, the honorable member for Wannon is to be a spokesman for the Government in these matters, what a pretty pass this country has reached, when the government of the day, knowing well that there is less than a 50 per cent, chance of our securing preferential tariffs from the European Common Market, is not making plans for the human element, as well as for the economic element, which will be affected by the jettisoning or losing of our preferential tariffs with the United Kingdom.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) last Tuesday night presented a particularly flat and uninspiring Budget. In the presentation he said, in effect, “ I believe that there has been a loss of confidence and we must do something to restore that confidence “. What confidence can the people who will be affected have when this Government, over twelve months or more, has not given them one pledge or promise? How much confidence can they have when the Government has not said to them, K If you are affected and have difficulties, we will support and help you “?
What will happen to farmers who depend on the export market for their income in payment for a portion of their produce? Workers employed in a particular industry and in all related industries could be faced with the loss of their employment. We could lose our traditional markets for the greater part of our exports of all the farm products that I shall mention now.
Britain takes 80 per cent, of all our exports of dairy products, and for these we enjoy preferences in that country. In 1960-61, we sold 750,000 tons of wheat to the United Kingdom. I asked in France, in Brussels and everywhere I went in Europe, “ What is to be the price of wheat in the European Economic Community? “ I received only vague answers, either because those whom I questioned did not want to tell me or because they did not know. But let us remember, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that there is conflict on this matter even between the Common Market countries themselves. France is a large producer of wheat and, naturally, wants a high price to be set for it. Germany is a great consumer of wheat, and wants a low price to be set for it. But, whatever the circumstances, we may lose an export market for 750,000 tons of wheat a year if we lose out in the situation concerning the Common Market.
We receive preference for sugar in the United Kingdom market and have an assured market under the Commonwealth
Sugar Agreement. Britain takes 88 per cent, of Australia’s exports of canned fruits under preferential tariffs. Practically all our surplus of eggs and egg pulp has gone to Britain. That country is a major export market for our meat.
What is the prospect for these exports and for the farmers and workers who produce and transport these commodities? What is to happen to the farmers and workers who produce stone fruits, grapes and wine in the Riverina and Mildura areas and in the Barossa Valley and other wine-producing districts in South Australia? What will be the future of the dairy farmer, the poultry farmer, the graingrower and other producers and workers in primary industry? What isi to happen to the cane farmer and to workers in Queensland and northern New South Wales who are engaged in the sugar industry, which exports to Great Britain 50 per cent, of its output? What are the prospects for the graziers, particularly the smaller ones who rely for part of their income on exports of meat? What will happen to the workers who are engaged in the meat industry? What about the small storekeepers who trade in these communities that are likely to be affected? What is to happen to their families and their homes?
What plan has the Government evolved? It is now more than twelve months since Mr. Duncan Sandys came to Australia to discuss the European Common Market with the members of this Government. Indeed, it is more than twelve months since it became well known that Britain would probably enter the Common Market. We have wasted a year or more. It is fantastic, Sir, that a government could not be prepared to say to those people who may be affected by these developments: “We will cushion the blow. We are prepared to help you.” We were reminded to-night by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) that the Australian Labour Party, in its policy speech for the last general election, said, “We will cushion the blow when this development inevitably takes place “.
What about confidence, Mr. Deputy Speaker? What sort of confidence can result from a statement such as that read by the Prime Minister this evening? How much confidence can those engaged in an industry, whether as employers or as employees, have when they feel that their industry is in jeopardy? The Government has said nothing to give anybody encouragement. Indeed, it is destroying confidence by its lack of a will to serve the people of this country.
Lead and zinc comprised more than £10,000,000 worth of our exports of metals in 1960-61. Port Pirie - which has the largest lead-smelting works in the world - Risdon and Mount Lyell in Tasmania, Broken Hill, Mount Isa, Cobar and many other mining towns may be affected by Britain’s entry into the European Common Market. What about the thousands of workers in these places Have they confidence? Has the Government said anything to re-assure them? On the contrary, it stands indicted for its attitude, Sir. It has not properly sought other markets. It is true that exploratory trade missions have been sent abroad, but what we ought to do is to send salesmen overseas with samples of the goods that we wish to sell. In that way, we would be able to get markets.
All of us recognize the great Australian initiative that we have in this country. We are very proud of it. We market our goods within this country as effectively as goods are marketed in any other country. Any of our retail stores would be capable of trading successfully in competition with any existing store in any city overseas. Why are we not using in the marketing of our goods outside Australia the same initiative that we use for internal marketing? Why is not the Government giving the lead in marketing our goods successfully with the enthusiasm and energy with which we sell our goods on the home market?
I have purposely not spoken to-night about the repercussions of the political situation relating to the European Common Market. I believe that, although there will be serious political repercussions, the Australian point of view is that we should not attempt to interfere with the wishes of the autonomous, sovereign country of the United Kingdom. In any event, Sir, I believe that many colleagues of mine on this side of the House will adequately and competently answer those Government supporters who wish to interfere with the sovereign rights of other countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Britain’s entry to the Common Market will have serious economic repercussions for Australia. At the worst, we shall lose all or most of our markets in that country. At the best, we may lose very little of our present export trade. But, in any case, special re-orientation of industry and agriculture will be needed. There will be an urgent need to alter the direction of some of our agricultural and industrial enterprises. “ Planning “ is a word of which this Government seems to know nothing. We must plan for Australia’s future. We shall have to grow some new crops and we shall have to stop producing some of the commodities that we produce at present. We must shape our production to suit the requirements of our potential new markets. I believe that, in the long-term view, perhaps not too much harm will be done to Australia by Britain’s entry into the European Common Market, provided always that the right steps are taken. We must and, I believe, will learn to stand on our own feet and shape our own destiny.
We in the Australian Labour Party have great faith in Australia and its future. We believe that, with proper direction and encouragement, with instinctive and correct leadership, and with wise guidance from those who sit on the treasury bench, Australia will take a triumphant and historic step forward. This country needs a direct statement from those who control the government of this country. It is the duty of the Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and the Treasurer to give assurance to everybody in every town who is fearful of the consequences because his town will be directly affected by Britain’s entry into the Common Market. The people of Australia will stand united, with the encouragement of the Government, and will support those Australians who will be especially affected by Britain’s proposal to join the European Common Market. Until the leaders of this Government give the people such assurance, there can be no restoration of confidence and there will be no hope for the hundreds of thousands of people who may be directly affected by the developments that we are considering.
Nobody is more sure than I am, Sir, that before long Labour will take over the reins of government. If Labour becomes the government, as I believe it will very soon, we will make it our task and our duty to see that a re-orientation of industry and agriculture takes place and that those who have to change their mode of living or production will be assisted to the best of our ability.
.- The European Common Market is a subject on which I thought the House would be interested primarily to hear an exposition from the Prime Minister as a result of his trip abroad, and the views formed1 by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) as a result of his trip overseas. However, the debate seems to have developed from the Opposition side purely as criticism of the Government for not doing some unnamed thing to meet some happening that has not yet occurred.
– In other words, party politics.
– As my friend from Wimmera says, honorable members opposite are merely playing at party politics. I deplore their attitude. As I represent a country electorate I realize this matter is of grave importance and concern to my constituents. We do not take it cheaply. We have not panicked about it; we believe that the Government has done a very good and wise job, not only over the last twelve months, but for many years past. Honorable members opposite say that no trade promotion has been undertaken. They refuse to take into account the figures that are published from time to time. I might even say that Labour members fail to read those figures. They have not heeded the figures that I have cited in this House from time to time with respect to the increase in our trade promotion overseas, which reflects our activities designed to bring Australia’s trading relationship into a better position than it enjoys at the present time. Even now we enjoy the position of being the tenth largest trading nation. The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) said in a vehement way that the Government has done nothing to improve our trade.
– That is true.
– That same false statement is reiterated by the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith. I suggest that he should examine the free publications that are sent to him. He should not throw them into the waste-paper basket. If he referred to the material used by his leader and got hold of the pamphlets issued from time to time by the Division of Agricultural Economics, he would educate his mind about these things.
– Over a great number of years we have been increasing our trade promotion activities overseas, particularly in the last few years. Have not honorable members opposite heard of the efforts of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen in stimulating the sale of wheat, flour, oats and barley in the markets of the world? Have they not heard of the Japanese Trade Treaty? Probably members of the Labour Party want to forget that treaty because they voted against it. That treaty put more pounds into the pocket of the Australian farmer than any other trade treaty negotiated for many years. This problem of the European Common Market has received a great deal of publicity. Much has been said and written about it. There should not be much else for the House to learn about it. Negotiations are now in train. They are not conducted as our business in this House is conducted - open to the press and to the public. Such negotiations are best conducted among men who can sit around the table and discuss the problems that are cropping up from time to time, taking each article separately and discussing the problems associated with it, so that they can come to an agreement which can be passed on for consideration by higher tribunals.
– Order! There is too much audible conversation in the chamber. I am having some difficulty in hearing the honorable member.
– Clearly, Britain intends to make the best possible deal it can bearing in mind its obligations to its own farming community, to what has been popularly called The Seven and to the Commonwealth countries. Repeatedly Britain has given assurances that it will honour those obligations, moral or otherwise, and we have never shown any doubt that it will do so. Our efforts have been to help Britain honour those obligations while, at the same time, it enters the European Economic Community which means so much to England and to the free world. The Minister for Trade, the Secretary of the Department of Trade and the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industry have gone overseas to offer all the help they possibly can to Great Britain in the negotiations. We hope that they will be successful. We have put the case of the Australian farmer, manufacturer and dairyman. If the happy relationship we have with the Mother Country can be continued, great benefits will be achieved not only for us but also for other countries.
If Australia’s trade declines as a result of the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Common Market without adequate safeguards, Australia will not be the only country that will suffer. I have heard it claimed that we should have expanded our trade in the manufacturing industries. That would be very nice. But how is it that every manufacturing industry in Australia is asking for protection?
– The dairy industry gets £13,000,000 worth of protection.
– The local consumer gets a price subsidy in respect of dairy products. When we find manufacturing industries asking for subsidies and for protection, it cannot well be said that Australian secondary industry produces goods as cheaply as any country, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition claimed to-night. I listened to his speech with interest. He cited some excellent figures provided by the Department of Trade and the Division of Agricultural Economics - irrefutable figures which I suggest are well worth studying. He said that some industries in Australia would not suffer if England joined the Common Market. Unless I misunderstood him, he claimed that the dairy industry would not be caused a great deal of harm. I recollect him mentioning the dried fruits industry, which is so important to my friend, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). He gave me the impression, when speaking of the wheat industry, that all that would occur would be that - I think these were practically his words - there would be a stimulation to the English wheat farmer to step up his production because of the higher price that would be fixed by the Common Market countries. Is this very learned gentleman, who has been overseas studying this problem, not aware that at the present time the British Government subsidizes the English farmer to the extent of the difference between what it considers would be the price of wheat landed in England from the “ dearer “ countries and the cost of production to the farmer in England? England is one of the high wheat producing countries of the world. The people of England who have always enjoyed cheap bread - the cheap breakfast loaf - find that they have to keep their farming community going at the present time by paying a large subsidy.
If and when the Common Market receives the United Kingdom as a member, this will all end. There will then be a common price for commodities within the market and levies will be charged against the entry of goods from outside. I cannot follow the honorable member’s reasoning. Maybe he was trying to say that the Australian wheat farmer would be better off, or perhaps that he would be worse off. The bare fact remains that under the International Wheat Agreement at the present time we have a guarantee from the United Kingdom to take a certain percentage of our wheat within a bracket of prices that had been considered satisfactory by this country.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition discounted the proposition put forward by the Minister for Trade last year that some arrangement should be made to try to help the rapidly developing countries by letting them have foodstuffs at a price they could afford to pay, and that this proposition could be assisted by industrial countries realizing the importance of these rapidly developing countries in the scheme of things. He suggested that rather than thinking about trying to sell something to people who had no money, we should cut down on our production. I ‘hope the Australian producers take note of that recommendation by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that we should cut down on production of those goods that we cannot sell profitably outside Australia. I suggest, too, that those engaged in industry in this country might take note also of that warning, especially those engaged in the manufacturing industries that are crying out for development. His recommendation, or what might be termed the medicine prescribed by him, appears to be that if those industries cannot sell profitably overseas, they should cut down production. Are we in this honorable House to cry stinking fish and to say, “ Australia is no good; it is on the way down; we cannot carry on “ simply because of some operation that is taking place overseas. Nothing could be further from the truth. Australia is a growing and virile country and in the past it has been able to produce commodities at a price which has enabled their sale to the United Kingdom and to other countries of the Commonwealth. This is not because we are descendants in large part of the people of the Mother Country, nor is it just because the people of other countries like us. The hard fact remains that we have been able to trade competitively.
The deals that we have made in places such as Ottawa and under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade have been made by the sweat and toil of such men as the Minister for Trade, who have’ gone overseas to negotiate them. Now the threat is that these, deals may be terminated because of a proposition that has been put up in another part of the world. What we propose and hope is that these deals will be continued in some suitable manner, and that our products will be accepted into the markets of the European Economic Community, thus allowing us to continue to expand and to do the job we have set out to do in this part of the world.
One could talk for unlimited time on the trade and economic aspects of this subject. It is a vast subject which has been discussed in this place before. It has been discussed also in the press and at practically every meeting of producers that 1 have been able to attend. We can never exhaust this intriguing subject. The fact remains that we are not asking for anything that is unreasonable; we are asking for something that is perfectly within our rights to ask for. We are not makins any threat to the United Kingdom in this matter at all; we are seeking to help her. All that we are asking is to be allowed to continue the trade we have enjoyed for so many years as a result of our own efforts. This does not mean that we have not gone out and fought to get markets outside Australia. We are still getting markets outside.
The honorable member for Phillip, who tried to suggest that this Government had done nothing to obtain overseas markets, was obviously very ill informed on the subject. I think he said that the Government had not given any promise to the farmers that if they were hurt as a result of the Common Market negotiations, the Government would look after them. Every day we are putting propositions to the farming community, the grazing community and the primary producers generally, and helping them along in their work. It is idle to say that they are not being given the assistance they seek. At the present time our great wool industry is being discussed by the farmers’ organizations, and every week brings us closer to an arrangement which will give graziers more security in the sale of their products. Only a few months hence we shall discuss the renewal of the wheat stabilization scheme, which has proved so beneficial to the farmers of this country. That scheme is backed by the Government, and the Government will stand by it.
Take any industry you like: You will find the hand of the Government guiding the farmers to carry on and to continue to produce that 80 per cent, of the export wealth of Australia which is required so badly by the manufacturing industries to enable them to import their raw materials and machinery and so to keep workers in employment. Those workers are supposed to be represented by the Opposition, but Opposition members never fail to criticize the rural organizations that are responsible for the great help that is given to the manufacturing industries.
It ill becomes honorable members to discuss this subject as one of party politics and to try to belittle the men who have done so much to bring the Common Market negotiations to a successful conclusion. I am not unfair when I say that. I have never been unfair in this House. But the Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows very well that he was most unfair to-night in his criticism of the Minister for Trade. The Minister has worked his fingers to the bone in the interests of the people of Australia in these Common Market negotiations, and he has worked very successfully indeed.
The policy of the Country Party in this matter is to strive and fight, and to keep on working to bring this matter to a successful conclusion so that not only will Western Europe and the free world benefit from this proposed amalgamation of nations, but also we will be able to play our part as we have played it before.
.- This House and the nation have had to-night an opportunity to listen to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) putting forward the views of the Government, on the one hand, and those of the Opposition, on the other, on the European Economic Community. What a contrast there was between the approaches of the Government and the Opposition to the steps that may be necessary if - I think I would be correct in saying “ when “ - the United Kingdom enters the European Common Market. From the Prime Minister we” had the old, cautious, tory approach - the approach of a government afraid of change and frightened of challenge. He pointed to the grave dangers that would threaten this nation if Britain should enter the Common Market. He offered no plan and suggested no preparations by the Government to cushion the effects of the economic disaster that Britain’s entry could bring to certain sections of Australian industry.
On the other hand, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition stated in clear terms, without minimizing the dangers and certainly not exaggerating them, the possible effects on Australia’s industries, both primary and secondary. He showed that the Australian Labour Party would willingly accept the challenge and plan for the future It has in fact already offered some measure of protection by intimating to producers likely to be gravely affected that it would be prepared to see that they did not suffer, and to attempt to find alternative markets. He clearly showed that the party on this side of the House is not afraid of change and is ready to accept the challenges that the future may bring, and that it is ready on the home front to put forward bold economic plans to solve the unemployment problem and the sad economic depression or recession which the Government brought about recently.
This Government has failed to deal effectively with the economic problems on the home front. It can speak only with fear of the economic disaster that might come if the United Kingdom Government should decide to enter the European Com~ mon Market. We on this side are prepared, whatever the challenge, to work in the interests of the nation because we have faith in Australia. We believe firmly in the efficiency of our nation. To-night, we have seen the difference between the outlook of the two major political parties which represent the bulk of the people of Australia.
The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) says we should wait and see, because we do not know what is going to happen. If the events about which the Prime Minister spoke in London, and those which he mentioned to-night, should occur, it will be too late for us to wait and see. Now is the time for action. This position has not arisen overnight. The possible entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market was not mentioned for the first time only when Mr. Sandys, the British Minister for Commonwealth Relations, visited this country some time ago. The possibility that Great Britain would enter has existed for some years. It is true that the initial step was taken not so very long ago. Nevertheless, the Government charged with the responsibility of looking after the interests of this nation should have been well aware of that possibility. It should have been prepared, some years ago, to meet the position when it arose.
It was a change for us to hear the Prime Minister to-night pointing out the political significance of the possible entry of Great Britain into the European Common Market. The Lord Privy Seal in the United Kingdom Government has on several occasions made it quite clear that that Government attached great importance to the political implications of Britain’s entry, as well as to the economic implications. Yet, until to-night, we in this country had heard of practically nothing but the trade and tariff implications. We have to face the position that the United Kingdom is a part of Europe. She must think in terms of European considerations. Similarly, Australia is a part of Asia, and we have to consider our neighbours.
I do not say that the Government spokesmen, particularly our trade representatives, have not done their best for Australia in the negotiations, and that they will not continue to do so, but I believe that the Prime Minister took the opportunity to exaggerate the position somewhat. It seems to me that he opened his next political campaign while he was overseas. He was playing up the position and using the services of the press representatives who went with him to send back to this nation daily statements in an attempt to condition the minds of the Australian people to acceptance of the belief that Great Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community would bring about a great economic crisis in this country. He knew full well that for two years or more - one could almost say ever since 1949, when the Government came to office - we had had a series of economic recessions. As a result, more than 100,000 people were out of work twelve months ago. Despite the Government’s great economic planning, we still have almost that number of unemployed to-day.
I am sure the Prime Minister is hoping that he will be able to convince the Australian people that he is on the right track. I have heard people in my electorate who have been Labour supporters say, when the reports were flooding back from London, “ At least Menzies seems to be doing a bit and fighting for Australia this time “. Of course, that is what the Prime Minister wanted them to say. The economic situation in Australia to-day is the responsibility of the Government, as it was twelve months ago and as it will be next year. If unemployment continues to grow, the blame will be on the Menzies-McEwen-Holt Government. I hope that the Australian people will not be hoodwinked into believing that the British Government is responsible for a recession that may occur in this country in the future. The blame will be entirely on the Australian Government. It will be held responsible for the events that occur in the period immediately ahead, as it has been for those that have occurred in the past.
The Prime Minister opened his campaign by painting such a gloomy picture in the minds of many people that he had to clamp down smartly on the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), then the Minister assisting the Treasurer, when he put forward, in the manner to which we have become accustomed in this House, a cold survey of the effects of Britain’s entry. He said they might not be as bad as the Prime Minister had said they would be. When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was making his speech to-night, his statements were not far removed from those which the honorable member for Wentworth made recently. The Prime Minister could not have that, because he wanted this gloomy picture. He needed a ready-made alibi, he wanted to blame the United Kingdom Government, so he promptly had to dismiss from the Ministry the honorable member for Wentworth.
The implications of the United Kingdom’s entry into the Common Market are many and varied. Its effects on Australia will be felt in the reduction of commodities and goods that we export to Great Britain. It is of supreme importance to the people who live in the Economic Community. It will have a great impact on the Commonwealth of Nations itself, and on the world generally. Which of these aspects is the most important? I suppose each of us looks at it from his own viewpoint.
I believe that in looking at the effect of Britain’s entry to the Common Market from the Commonwealth’s point of view, we are forgetting that we are living in changing times. We may think that the Commonwealth will break up as a result of Britain’s entry. In our relatively short lifetimes the British Empire, which, we thought would last for all time, has gone from the scene. In its place came what was commonly known as the British Commonwealth of Nations. Then very smartly we were reminded by many members of that association that it was not the British Commonwealth of Nations, but the Commonwealth of Nations. We are still close together, but one of our number is no longer in the Commonwealth. We also find that inside the Commonwealth some nations do not enjoy the democratic parliamentary way of life that we in this country enjoy.
The Commonwealth of Nations to-day is a loosely knit community and nobody wants to see it disappear. But history is in the making all the time and just as the British Empire has passed from the scene and the British Commonwealth of Nations has become the Commonwealth of Nations, it may well be that within a very short period that Commonwealth, as we know it, will go. But we must be prepared to accept the change and adapt ourselves to the changing conditions. The entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market is seen by many as being of great importance as a factor for the preservation of world peace. Many people to whom I spoke in London believe, rightly or wrongly, that it is essential to create a strong Europe through the European Community of Nations, with the United Kingdom as a partner, helping to mould the nations and taking an active part in the construction of that community. Those people believe that such a move would prevent another world war. It is a mighty problem. Who is there among us who will say that though the going may be a little harder here because of Britain’s entry into this economic bloc, it is not worth our trying a bit harder if that will save us from another world war? None of us wants to go through another series of conflicts such as Europe has experienced in this century. The prosperity of the Common Market nations since the six of them came together has increased.
Great Britain is not entering this community quickly. She has thought about it for a long time. At one period it looked as though she would not join, but now it seems a certainty that she will move into that community and build it up. Some people think it is not a good idea to have a federation or a United States of Europe. But if the United Kingdom believes it is in her interest and the interests of world peace to join the community I think she should do so. I hope that if Australia ever has to make a decision of grave importance to the people of this country that decision will be made in the interests of Australia. If the Government of the United Kingdom has any sense at all it will make a decision which it considers in the best interests of the people of the United Kingdom. I do not think there is any one who would want it to do otherwise. I am sure we will not be afraid of the future if the going becomes tougher because of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market.
To-night the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) described a sound, new policy for going out and getting markets for Australia. It is no use saying we cannot export. I mention one instance, Mr. Speaker, with which you are familiar. There is an industry situated on the border of our two electorates which produces the Hills rotary hoist. Who would say we cannot export the things we manufacture? For many years the people who manufacture Hills hoists have shown the way by exporting their hoists to the United Kingdom. Some people would never think that we could export rotary hoists, but it can be done. This firm exported them, without assistance, although it made many approaches to this Government some years ago for aid.
The export position is not wholly the fault of the Government. I am well aware that a few years ago some manufacturers were not interested in exporting. They were making plenty on the home market and were not prepared to worry about additional markets.
The Australian people should not be hoodwinked in the future or fall for any story to the effect that the English people are to blame if our conditions go bad when the United Kingdom enters the European Common Market. The guilt lies with this Menzies-McEwen-Holt Government which the other night produced a barren Budget which offers no hope to the economy of the country or the welfare of the people at home. The Government is frightened to face the future because of the proposed entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Wentworth) adjourned.
Message received from the Senate intimating that Senator Drake-Brockman had been appointed a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts in the place of Senator McKellar, resigned.
Message received from the Senate intimating that Senator Prowse had been appointed to fill the vacancy on the Public Works Committee caused by the resignation of Senator Drake-Brockman.
Motion (by Mr. Swartz) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Swartz) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . l
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.15 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
What are the types of work for which tenders have been approved concerning work by the Government in the Australian Capital Territory during the last twelve months, and what are the
names of the contractors, and (b) amounts involved in each case?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The Civil Works Programme 1961-62 lists all the major projects under construction at 30th June, 1961, and those scheduled for commitment to construction during 1961-62. The projects are listed under various Commonwealth Departments and in the case of the National Capital Development Commission under headings of Housing, Education, Commonwealth Administration, Other Architectural Projects and Engineering Works. It would not be practicable to list all contracts entered into during the past twelve months, but if there are any specific projects in which the honorable member is especially interested, the information can be made available.
y asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) Expenditure on public works in the Australian Capital Territory in 1961-62 was £13,248,833. (b) Of this amount, £12,828,931 was spent in the city area. 2. (a) National Capital Development Commission programme, £11,011,202; Department of Works, £42,049; Defence Departments, £206,012; Civil Departments, £1,989,570. (b) The major projects under the control of these authorities are listed in the Civil Works Programme for 1961-62. It is not practical to list the expenditure to date against each project, but if there is any undertaking in which the honorable member has a particular interest the information can be made available.
y asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Total recorded exports from and imports into Australia during the period 1948-49 to 1960/61 were-
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
What was the value of goods imported under by-law in each of the last three financial years?
– I now furnish the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
The value of goods imported under by-law in the financial years ending 30th June, 1960, and 30th June, 1961, is shown in “Hansard” of 1st May, 1962. The information for the year 1961-62 cannot be obtained until the final annual figures become available some weeks hence.
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council is, as the title implies, an advisory council to the Minister for Trade on a wide range of matters affecting the development of manufacturing industries. The council’s suggestions to the Minister for Trade are confidential. In its publication, “ Oversea Investment in Australia “ of May, 1960, the council examined the pros and cons of encouraging overseas investment in Australia. This assessment of advantages and disadvantages has been helpful to the Government in formulating policy.
g asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. On 4th October, 1961- see “Hansard “, page 1698 - I answered a question asked by the honorable member which was in almost exactly similar terms. That question was -
The answer I then gave him was as follows: -
The phrase “ offences endangering national security” is too vague to form a basis for any precise answer to the honorable member’s question. In this regard I refer the honorable member to an answer which on 17th August last, I gave to a question asked by the honorable member for Watson - see “Hansard”, page 296. It is not desirable that I should select the offences to which I may think the honorable member wishes to refer. If, however, he will inform me as to the particular offences in respect of which he desires information, I shall endeavour to supply it.
There is nothing that I can add to that answer.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Federal Aid Roads Act 1931.
The only condition was that the financial assistance provided by the Commonwealth was to be used for the purpose of construction, reconstruction, maintenance or repair of roads: it was left to the Commonwealth Minister to employ such means as he thought fit to ensure that this condition was fulfilled.
Federal Aid Roads Act 1936.
This Act laid down no new conditions in relation to Commonwealth assistance.
Federal Aid Roads and Works Act 1937.
Under this act certain additional assistance was made available to be used by the States for construction, re-construction, maintenance and repair of roads or “ other works connected with transport as the State may think fit”. Of this additional contribution, the States could be required to use up to onetwelfth for maintenance or repair of public roads adjoining or of approach to Commonwealth properties (including works or other Commonwealth activities) within the States.
Commonwealth Aid Roads and Works Act 1947.
For the first time, specific provision was made for expenditure on “ rural “ roads. A lump sum payment to the States of £1,000,000 per annum was to be used for this purpose. Of the remaining allocations, up to one-sixth could be spent by the States on “ other works connected with transport “.
Schedules of proposed allocations in respect of road construction works, including “ rural “ roads, were to be submitted to the Commonwealth Minister prior to the commencement of each financial year.
The following additional conditions were attached to the “ rural “ roads provision: -
Commonwealth, “ rural “ roads in this context were not to include State highways, main roads or trunk roads.
Commonwealth Aid Roads and Works Act 1948.
The amount provided for “ rural “ roads was increased to £2,000,000 per annum for the remaining two years of the Act on the condition that statements showing proposed expenditure on such roads in 1948-49 were submitted by the States to the Commonwealth Minister by 31st December, 1948.
Commonwealth Aid Roads and Works Act 1949.
The amount provided for “ rural “ roads was further increased to £3,000,000 for the financial year 1949-50 on condition that statements showing proposed expenditure on such roads in that year were submitted by the States to the Commonwealth Minister by 31st October, 1949.
Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1950.
Expenditure of the grants received by the States under this Act was governed by the following conditions: -
Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1954.
The only changes in conditions attaching to road payments to the States under this act were as follows: -
Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1956.
The conditions attaching to the road grants as set out in the 1954 act were unchanged under this act which merely amended the 1954 act by increasing the aid roads allocations from the duties on petrol.
The 1954 act - as amended in 1956 - remained in force until the current legislation was introduced in 1959, when the relationship between road grants to the States and petrol clearances was discontinued.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 August 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620809_reps_24_hor36/>.