24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. WHITLAM presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the House will -
That the petition be received and read.
– Order! Standing Order No. 130 provides that no discussion shall be allowed upon the subject matter of a petition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Petition received and read.
Mr. REYNOLDS presented a petition from certain electors in the State of New South Wales praying that the House will -
Mr. L. R. JOHNSON presented a peti tion from certain electors in the States of the Commonwealth praying that the House will take immediate steps to ease the burdens of unemployment.
Petition received and read.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of a recent statement by Lord Attlee warning of the deleterious consequences likely to accrue should the United Kingdom enter the European Common Market? Is the right honorable gentleman prepared to issue a similar statement warning of the likely consequences of such action?
- Mr. Speaker, I was under the impression that I had made a. fairly elaborate statement last Thursday night about the European Common Market, but in case my old friend has missed it, I will send him a copy. I am not unaware of the remarks of Lord Attlee, a very old and valued friend of mine. In fact, I read the full text of his speech in the House of Lords “ Hansard “ only last night.
– You should read last night’s issue of the Melbourne “ Herald “ and learn all about it.
– Ah, but when it comes to facts, I prefer “ Hansard “.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Air. Does the recent announcement concerning the development of a vertical take-off fighter aircraft as a successor to the Mirage III. which the Royal Australian Air Force has ordered mean that we are spending a considerable sum of money on an aircraft which is fast becoming obsolescent?
– I can assure the honorable member for Ballaarat that the Mirage III.O which the Royal Australian Air Force is to receive will not be obsolescent or obsolete for a very long time. We hope to receive the first of these aircraft about September, 1963. It is a very high performance aircraft and we are fortunate in that the Royal Australian Air Force will receive delivery before even the French get any of these fighters. We believe that at the time we receive the Mirage III.O, it will be superior to anything else flying anywhere in the world. I have seen the announcement that a vertical take-off aircraft is to be produced and will be known as the Mirage III.V. This aircraft will be lifted by eight Rolls Royce engines which are switched off when the aircraft becomes airborne. This means that the aircraft will carry a considerable amount of dead-weight which will reduce its performance. However, this is another generation aircraft. It is not expected that a true prototype will be flying before 1964, and it is unlikely that the aircraft will go into squadron service with any fighter air force before 1967 or 1968.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. In view of Broken Hill’s large contribution to Australia’s development by the production of wealth and the payment of taxes, will the right honorable gentleman make funds available to standardize the rail gauge between Port Pirie and Broken Hill and thus facilitate the continued operation of the Broken Hill mines, the development of national assets by giving stability to Broken Hill, and the provision of work for the 600 people now unemployed at that centre?
– I have nothing to add to what I have said already in the House on this matter.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs inform the House whether any protest has been made by the Australian Government to the Indonesian Government following the reported dropping of Indonesian parachute troops in West New Guinea yesterday?
Sir GARFIELD BARWICK__ I became aware yesterday of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s report of the dropping of Indonesian paratroops along the southern shores of West New Guinea. In the circumstances, I acted on that report. So far we have not intervened in this dispute between Indonesia and The Netherlands, to which we are not a party, although we have counselled each of them to go to the negotiating table in order to find a settlement which would be suitable to them and which the United Nations would accept. I was unable, and I am sure members of this House were unable, to understand why there should have been a drop of paratroops at this stage. Accordingly, I took the course of sending for the Indonesian Ambassador and myself forwarding the strongest message of protest to the Indonesian Government.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. For the purpose of protecting Australian industry and employment opportunities, will he examine the disinclination of English companies to equip their Australian industrial components with improved technological equipment, thus enabling those companies to usurp the normal Australian production of Australian industrial requirements on the score that suitable equivalent Australian-made articles are not available? Will the Minister, as a matter of urgency, cause an inquiry to be made into the attitude of Australian Electrical Industries Proprietary Limited on this level, and take such action as is necessary to preserve for Australian workers the production of traction motors in Australia?
– The honorable gentleman’s question covers a wide range. I undertake to obtain a transcript of the question and to study its contents and implications.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. Under a section of the Estate Duty Act certain exemptions are permitted in relation to gifts to institutions which exist principally for the relief of poverty, distress, sickness and so on. Is the Treasurer aware that Legacy clubs as a whole are not accepted within this category and that any gifts must be made over to a special section which is generally known as Junior Legacy? As all money given to Legacy clubs is used exclusively for the relief of poverty and so on, will he take up the matter with the Taxation Branch with a view to having these gifts accepted under the relevant section of the act?
– I am aware that bequests to Junior Legacy are exempt, as the honorable gentleman has said. It is my understanding that whilst the Commissioner of Taxation has not, so far, regarded bequests to Legacy itself as qualifying for exemption, he will so regard them if it is made clear in the bequests that the purposes for which the money is to be used must be similar to the purposes for which bequests to Junior Legacy are used. However, it may be a more practical answer to the honorable member if I suggest that he bring to me any particular case he has in mind. If he does so, I will undertake to raise the matter with the Commissioner of Taxation and get a ruling on it.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that there is considerable unrest because of the chaotic economic policies of the Government? Is it a fact that because of this unrest the Minister and the Government are endeavouring to destroy the power and influence of Australian trade unions? Also, is it a fact that the Minister has singled out the militant Waterside Workers Federation of Australia for special attention in the campaign that is being conducted by him and the Government, and that he has in fact repudiated certain undertakings that were given to the union? If these are not facts, will the Minister say whether he supports and, if so, on what grounds he justifies, the harsh penalties imposed by the Commonwealth Industrial Court on this union, which has been fighting for justice and better working conditions for its members?
- Mr. Speaker, the honorable member has asked what is obviously a very long and detailed question, and one that is, perhaps, incapable of being answered by what is supposed to be a short reply in this House. The honorable member made some provocative statements. Those statements contained nothing but sheer nonsense, and the honorable member knows it. As to my attitude towards the Australian Council of Trade Unions, I will do my best to maintain the prestige of that great organization. I will always listen to the suggestions and recommendations that it makes to me, and I think I can say that the discussions I have had with officials of the organization have been amicable and that the conclusions we have arrived at have usually been sensible ones. As to the Waterside Workers Federation, what the honorable member must decide is whether he is on the side of the executive of the Waterside Workers Federation or on the side of the Communist-dominated Sydney branch of that organization. Both the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the executive of the Waterside Workers Federation gave me certain assurances. The Sydney branch of the union is not living up to those assurances. In fact, the Sydney branch is studiously attempting to undermine the influence of Fitzgibbon, the general secretary of the federation; and the Australian Labour Party stands condemned for doing nothing to help that man in his fight against the Communists.
– I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. According to press reports, there has been much bitterness in Thailand over the decision of the International Court of Justice in favour of Cambodia in the dispute between Cambodia and Thailand concerning the border temple of Phra Viharn. Can the Minister tell the House the present position with regard to Thailand’s attitude towards the decision of the International Court?
– These two countries, with both of which we are on friendly terms, have had a long-standing dispute over the position of the border between them. On that border, or near it, stands the temple that has been referred to. The two countries submitted the question to the International Court of Justice, and the court decided, by a majority, that the border was on the Thailand side of the temple; in other words, that the temple was in Cambodia. I have no doubt that this resulted in great disappointment among the Thais. Press reports have suggested that the Thais were not going to accept the decision, and I think it is proper that such an impression should be corrected. The Thai Government has said that it would accept the decision and abide by it, even though the government no doubt felt bitterly about losing the case. It said that it could not regard the decision as being correct. That, of course, is not an uncommon attitude for litigants in our own courts to take. We, for our part, hope that the resolution of this question through the courts may lead to improved relations between these two countries, with each of which we are friendly, as I have said.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister in charge of the Public Service Board. Did the Public Service Board approve of the action taken by the Department of Supply in contracting with a firm of business consultants for the streamlining of the procedure, organization and working methods of that department at a cost of £15,000? Have the Prime Minister and the Government lost confidence in the Organization and Methods Section of the Public Service Board, which has trained the Commonwealth Public Service and brought it to a peak of efficiency which is the envy of private enterprise? Will the right honorable gentleman state what the position will be if the Government wishes to introduce these new training methods into other Commonwealth departments? Will a charge of £15,000 for each department be met, or will officers of the Public Service Board be trained in the Department of Supply so that they may implement the scheme elsewhere if required?
– All that I can tell my honorable friend is that I do not know but I will find out.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the constant references to increases in the work force resulting from the addition of schoolleavers and migrants, can the Minister inform the House what is the estimate of the number of people expected to retire in the ensuing twelve months for age, health or other reasons?
– We do not have exact figures for the number of elderly people who retire from the work force each year. We take the total population, the various age groups, and the percentages of people in these age groups who are in fact working at each census, and from that information we make certain estimates from year to year. I think that the substance of the honorable gentleman’s question can be answered by saying that far too many pundits are now expressing the view that we shall have a very big problem next year in absorbing the numbers added to the work force. I think that most of the people who express this view make two mistakes. First, they severely over-estimate the number of workers in the migrant intake. Secondly, they completely lose sight of the fact that many more young people now stay longer at school, and that many more go to the universities, largely as a result of the Government’s policy of helping the universities by granting additional funds. So I say that most of the estimates made by these pundits are grossly exaggerated and that we, as a government, do not see an insuperable problem in absorbing young people into the work force next year.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Has the Minister seen the newspaper reports that four Melbourne medical authorities are urging the application of common sense in the use of commonly available drugs such as phenacetin? Will the Government consider establishing a committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council to advise members of the medical profession, and to collect and pass on to them information about drugs? Is the Minister aware that the Commonwealth Department of Health has circulated to members of the medical profession in Australia 12,000 copies of a British publication, “Prescribers Journal”, which gives the latest information about drugs in common use? Will the Minister make copies of this journal available in the Parliamentary Library for the information of members of the Parliament?
– As I mentioned yesterday in answer to a question which dealt with the subject from another angle, this matter is being examined by the National Health and Medical Research Council at present. As the question now asked relates to quite a lot of material which requires careful study, I shall convey the details to my colleague in another place and shall obtain an appropriate answer for the honorable member.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. It relates to an injustice to country people who need specialist medical and hospital treatment in the cities. Under the present regulations of hospital and medical benefits funds, no provision is made for rebates on travelling expenses incurred for that purpose and, in addition, country people cannot claim from the Taxation Branch deductions for income tax purposes in respect of such expenses. Will the Treasurer consider allowing such expenditure by country people to be treated as a taxation deduction, because very often travelling expenses amount to more than the cost of the medical attention that is needed?
– This matter has been brought before me from various quarters. It was one of the matters that was examined, in company with hundreds of other requests for taxation concessions, in the course of the Government’s consideration of the current Budget. Because of the overall budgetary position, we did not feel able then to grant further taxation concessions. However, the matter will be kept under review and will be examined at an appropriate time.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Yesterday, replying to a question asked by my colleague, the member for Oxley, about the Democratic Labour Party, the right honorable gentleman said -
Therefore a decision was taken that the leader of that party, even though he was the sole representative of the party in the Parliament at the moment, should be accorded the normal rights of the leader of a party.
Does this mean that if a Communist were elected to another place, or even to the House of Representatives, he would be granted recognition as a party leader if this Government were still in office, for the same reasons as those outlined by the Prime Minister when referring to the present lone wolf Democratic Labour Party leader? Is this not a dangerous precedent?
– It is a very sound principle, which I have learned over many years, not to answer hypothetical questions. The honorable gentleman is inviting me to assume a state of affairs in which the mental capacity and the moral quality of the people had sunk so low that we had a Communist in this Parliament. All I can say is that I hope that will not happen in my time. If it does, I will try to deal with it. I knew that certain honorable members opposite would not agree with me on that. However, I have said it and I stand by it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. As the British Labour Party has already designated the British Peace Council as a Communist-front organization, does he not think it is about time the Australian Labour Party did the same thing to the Australian Peace Council?
Speaker, I think I can answer the honorable gentleman by-
– T rise to a point of order and ask yOU, Mr. Speaker, whether the Standing Orders provide that a question is out of order if it requires a Minister to give an expression of opinion?
– If we observed the Standing Orders strictly. T think very many questions would be disallowed. This question is in order.
– Mr. Speaker. I also wish to take a point of order. I point out that the Standing Orders require that a Minister can be questioned only about a matter concerning the department over which he has control and for which he is responsible.
– I think the question is quite in order. The Minister has been questioned about something of public interest.
Speaker, I have some knowledge of these peace fronts. They do come within my jurisdiction. I have some very accurate information about them. In answer to the question, let me say that I have sat here long enough to hear the way in which members of the Labour Party hail a former Labour Prime Minister. He would have nothing to do with peace councils and I am surprised that honorable members opposite associate themselves with such councils now.
– I think you are nuts.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for East Sydney to restrain himself. The least we should be able to expect is that honorable members will observe some standard of decorum.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the market for beef-strain bulls, notably Hereford and Aberdeen Angus, dropped to bargain-basement levels at the Exhibition sales in Brisbane this week? As the market collapse is attributable to Common Market jitters caused by a variety of forecasts from members of the Government parties, will the Prime Minister promote some degree of policy stability in the ranks of the Government by informing the Australian people which of the forecasts announced by leading members of his party may be accepted as reliable? May one conclude from the right honorable gentleman’s recent speeches that Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community on standing terms could be very costly to our primary export industries, particularly the industry of which the bulls referred to earlier in my question are a part?
– I missed the first part of the honorable member’s question. No doubt it was very exhilarating, although it seemed to cut across the point of order taken a few minutes ago by the Opposition, since it appeared to invite an expression of opinion. All I say is that last Thursday night I took the trouble to make a very full and, I hope, clear statement about the problems of the Common Market as they affect Australia. I do not add to that statement, nor do I subtract from it.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. I refer to the strong recommendations of the Associated Chambers of Commerce concerning sales tax on freight. This matter has been looked upon for some time as an anomaly. As the sales tax legislation provides for manufacturers and wholesalers who sell goods in remote areas on an f.o.b. or f.o.r. basis to exclude the cost of freight from the taxable sales value of the goods, will the right honorable gentleman consider recommending to the Government that this principle warrants a general amendment of the legislation to delete freight charges within Australia from sales value on which sales tax is payable?
– The Government recognizes the great importance of the subject which the honorable gentleman has again brought to the attention of the House.
– The Government does nothing about it.
– The Government has done a great deal about it. The Government reviewed this matter in considerable detail in the course of the latest Budget discussions. This is a very complicated matter. The Government has studied practices adopted in Canada and other countries. As a matter of policy no decision to change the present practice has been made. I can undertake only to keep the matter under review and to examine it in the light of the representations now made by the honorable member for Swan.
– I ask the
Minister for External Affairs whether he or his department will raise any objection to the admittance to Australian territory of persons from West New Guinea who have openly opposed the Indonesian claim to that country and who may have reason to feel that their lives or safety will be endangered when the Indonesians take control of the country. I know that this subject concerns also the Minister for Immigration, but I understand that the Department of External Affairs is interested when relations with a foreign government are involved. I ask whether the Minister, in considering this matter, will be guided by the highest principles governing British practice in matters of political asylum, particularly as the persons concerned may have mistakenly taken encouragement from Australian protestations of support for independence and self-determination in West New Guinea?
– I take a point of order; I have a similar question on the notice-paper.
– Order! It is almost impossible to keep in one’s memory all questions that are on the notice-paper. If the question standing in the name of the honorable member for Chisholm is identical, the question now asked by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is out of order.
– I do not think it is quite identical.
– Then the Minister for External Affairs may answer the part of the question that is not quite identical.
Speaker, the question of the movement of people out of West New Guinea has had the consideration of myself and my department and, I have no doubt, of my colleague the Minister for Immigration. Whether any of these people will ask for asylum remains yet to be seen. If any do we will apply the traditional British principles of according political asylum, but I would point out to the honorable member that very often to ask for political asylum is to ask for more, really, than the facts will warrant. So far as I am concerned, any questions which arise, whether under the heading of political asylum or any other, will be entertained and decided from a very high humanitarian point of view.
– I ask the Minister for Trade: Can he give the House any indication of when the inquiry into the Australian tariff which, if I remember correctly, was forecast earlier this year by the Government, will be instituted?
– I think what the honorable member is referring to is a statement that the Government intended to make a study at the departmental level of certain mechanical aspects of the operation of the Australian tariff. This has been proceeding for some little time now.
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the fact that New Zealand has cut its tariff on imported steel by 15 per cent., and that a shipping line, the Meyer Heine line, trading between Japan and New Zealand, has cut its freight rates by 50 per cent., thus making it possible to land Japanese steel in New Zealand at a cost well below the Australian price? In these circumstances, is the Minister prepared to recommend to the Government that an Australian shipping line be developed so that our £25,000,000 steel market in New Zealand may be retained and shipbuilders may be kept in employment?
– Mr. Speaker, my attention has been directed to the issue which the honorable member raises, but I must observe that there is a wide disparity of significance between the freight on one item between Australia and New Zealand and the establishment of an Australian shipping line. Yesterday I said, in reply to a question, that the proposal for the establishment of an Australian overseas shipping line by the Government raised a matter of policy, which it is not customary to deal with at question time.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. It relates to the representations which I have made concerning the inability of people in the Three Springs district of Western Australia to obtain satisfactory reception from the national station 6GN Geraldton. Have investigations been made into the reasons for the inadequacy of the reception and, if so, what remedies, if any, is it proposed to apply in order to give these people reasonable reception?
– The provision of better broadcasting facilities in the area mentioned by the honorable member has been under consideration for some considerable time. I have had representations from a number of Western Australian senators and members on this subect. It is realized that reception from Station 6GN, which is only a 2,000-watt station, is not very satisfactory over the whole area. As I have announced previously, plans have been made to improve the situation. I remember stating in the House some time ago that it was proposed to establish a station at Dalwallinu. The station is designed to give considerable relief and will be of 10,000 watts. It will operate on a low frequency and will have a wide coverage. It will give good service in the area. Tenders for the construction of the mast have been received and an order has been placed. . Tenders for the provision of the transmitter building have been called and are being examined. My information is that the building should be completed in about May of next year and that the station should be operating towards the end of next year.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that 10,000 boys and 12,000 girls who left school last year have failed to find employment? Also, is the honorable gentleman aware that another 85,000 youngsters will leave school this year? Has the Government any plan to find gainful employment for this important section of our populace?
– The statement in the . first part of the honorable gentleman’s question is horribly wrong. Fewer than 2,300 young men who left school are now registered with my department, although between the end of November and the end of June something like 62,000 school leavers registered for employment. The honorable member is confused as to the figures. If he has a look at them, he will see a distinction between juniors and school leavers, and he may then be able to form a correct conclusion. The honorable member also asked about the Government’s plans. The Budget has been delivered. There is far too much howling about the future. With a little confidence, particularly from the Opposition, prospects for employment would improve considerably.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. As wheat-growers must plan production at least two years ahead, I ask: Has the Minister had discussions with representatives of the wheat-growers regarding the extension of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act? Is it the intention of the Government to introduce legislation this year in regard to this matter? If so, can the Minister give any details of the proposed legislation?
– I have had discussions with representatives of the wheatgrowers regarding a future stabilization plan. I think it will be recognized from the policy speech delivered by the Prime Minister that the Government’s intention is to continue stability in the wheat industry. I remind the honorable member that this is not a matter for Commonwealth legislation only; complementary legislation must be passed by all the States concerned. The Australian Agricultural Council had preliminary discussions on this subject at its last meeting. It was decided that the matter would be discussed in full at the next meeting of the council, which will be held in February next.
– Will the Minister for Social Services consider amending the Social Services Act to enable the dole to be paid to youths and girls over sixteen years of age who remain at school in order to gain a leaving certificate or intermediate certificate when no jobs are available to them and their parents are unemployed?
– The honorable member for Hunter well knows that the question of social services is carefully examined every year when the Budget is being drawn up. It is only a few months ago that increases in the unemployment benefit were made available to those who qualified for them.
– I have received advice from the Leader of the Government in the Senate that Senator Kendall has been appointed to fill the vacancy now existing on the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory.
Motion (by Mr McMahon) agreed to -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 14th August (vide page 335), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the first item in the Estimates, under Division No. 101- Senate- namely, “Salaries and allowances £34,400 “, be agreed to.
Upon which Mr. Whitlam had moved by
Way of amendment -
That the first item be reduced by £1.
– Mr. Chairman, I am sure that all members of this committee are sorry that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), due to illness, was not present to open the debate for the Opposition on this important subject. Although he is a political opponent, I know that most people on this side of the chamber still regard him as a friend; and many messages of sympathy have been sent to him during the period of his illness. However, Mr. Chairman, in his absence the debate was opened by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). This was rather a tragedy from the point of view of the Opposition because the substitute speech which he made indicated a degree of recklessness and irresponsibility. It also disclosed an almost complete lack of understanding of the present economic position in Australia.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition fell into the well-known trap of making reckless promises without disclosing to the committee or the people how those promises were to be financed.
The promises to which I refer are those which he stated would have been implemented if the Australian Labour Party had had the opportunity to introduce this Budget. He stated categorically that his party would have increased the present Budget deficit by £42,000,000. At the same time, he promised increases of social service and repatriation benefits which would have cost about £100,000,000. He also indicated that extra grants would have been made to the States for educational purposes. Whilst he did not indicate a figure in this connexion, we could expect, in view of his comments, that it would be about £50,000,000. In addition, he made many other rather vague promises, which, as far as I can assess their cost, would involve an additional expenditure of £50,000,000. From what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said in his rather reckless way, the additional cost to the Budget of his proposals during this financial year would have been at least £242,000,000. Such expenditure could be financed only by a huge increase in taxation or by an unthinkable increase in deficit finance which, if implemented to that extent, would wreck the economy and cause rampant inflation. There, I ask those who will support the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this debate to indicate how they intended to finance these promises which he indicated would have been implemented if the Labour Party had had the opportunity to introduce the Budget.
The speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition also completely ignored the great need in Australia to preserve price stability in order to maintain our competitive position on export markets. That is one of our greatest economic needs to-day; yet no mention was made of it. Certainly no allowance was made for it in the proposals put forward as the policy speech of the Opposition. It is a fact, Mr. Chairman, that Australia’s developing economy demands a high rate of export earnings. We can appreciate that fact all the more if we realize that approximately 80 per cent, of Australia’s import expenditure is for goods and material required by our industries and transport services. We should also realize that this deficit Budget has been made possible only by the fact that we are in a strong balanceofpayments position. There is every indication that the proposals of the Opposition, in the end, would lead to a run-down of our overseas reserves. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and his colleagues who followed him, criticized the deficit budgeted for by the Government and said that it represented a reversal of the Government’s attitude towards the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition last year that there should be a deficit of £100,000,000. What the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has not said, and what has not been said from the Opposition benches, is that the deficit proposed by the Leader of the Opposition at that time was in respect of a four-month period only, so that it would have been equivalent to a deficit of about £300,000,000 for a full financial year. As we said at the time - and 1 repeat it now - that was complete financial irresponsibility. The Budget, as an instrument of government economic policy, must be shaped to deal with changing economic circumstances each year.
This Budget should be termed “ a development budget “, because the whole accent is on the promotion of growth, on the one hand by providing millions of pounds for the creation of services and. on the other hand, by providing for the continuation of concessions introduced last February to give a stimulus to the development of industry and commerce. The mere act of budgeting for a deficit, in existing circumstances, will give a substantial boost to economic activity. Two successive budget deficits - £27,000,000 in 1961-62, and £118,300,000 under this Budget, making a total of £145,300,000- will put that additional money into circulation to the benefit of all sectors of the economy. Those deficits are calculated to take up the slack in the economy by fully employing our resources. To that extent, they will promote growth. A stay-put budget, as one Opposition member has described this Budget, would have the opposite effect; it would keep all activity at current levels. The combined budget deficits of £145,300,000 which I have mentioned will generate just that much extra activity over and above the level that would otherwise have obtained.
I want to refer now to the developing economy that is so apparent on examination of statistics and records in Australia. It is a fact that our population is growing at the rate of 200,000 a year. At the same time, our work force is increasing at the rate of more than 100,000 a year. In the financial year 1961-62, Australia earned an export income of £1,070,000,000- the highest that we have ever earned. We must take that into careful consideration because it was a tremendous achievement. At the same time, the value of mineral production in 1961-62 reached a record high level of £245,000,000. Production in basic industries such as wool and coal was also maintained at record levels and the aggregate volume of Australian rural production for the year ended 30th June, 1 962, was estimated to be an all-time record. It all adds up to this: Our population is increasing, our work force is expanding and production in the key sections of the economy, both primary and secondary, is increasing.
The 1962-63 Budget will reinforce this growth in various ways. First, it will continue the income tax cut which was introduced in February. Then, it will stimulate manufacturing activity through the investment allowance. It will help the development of unused resources in all parts of Australia, particularly the northern region, by improving transport facilities and boosting export earnings. All this will lead to the creation of jobs and wealth throughout the economy.
This Budget is part of an overall economic programme that has been introduced by the Government in recent years. The first major economic action was taken by the Government in February of this year when a series of measures was introduced. Because they have been overlooked or neglected by the Opposition, I think I should refer to them again as they are vitally important. The measures include reduced personal income tax, provision for special nonrepayable grants to the States totalling £10,000,000, advances of £5,000,000 to the States for housing, an increase in the unemployment benefit, an acceleration of the Commonwealth’s own works programme, and a reduction in the sales tax on motor cars, station wagons, motor cycles and parts and accessories. In addition, the maximum loan available under the war service homes scheme has been increased.
The Government has also introduced a 20 per cent, investment allowance for new plant and equipment used in manufacturing production. It has permitted an increase of £7,500,000 in the States’ borrowing programme for housing purposes. The borrowing programme for semi-government and local authorities has also been increased by £7,500,000. The funds of the Development Bank for development purposes have been increased by £5,000,000. The introduction of these measures resulted in an immediate improvement in the economy and the effect is continuing. In addition, the measures resulted in the Government having a deficit at 30th June, 1 962, of £27,000,000, which in itself was an overall stimulus to the economy.
I think I should refer to the basic provisions of this Budget because they have been overlooked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and other speakers on the
Opposition side. The 1962-63 Budget is the second step by the Government in this year’s economic programme. The Budget continues the 5 per cent, reduction in personal income tax. It maintains the 20 per cent, investment allowance for new plant and equipment used in manufacturing production. It increases expenditure on defence by £6,900,000, and increases expenditure on oil exploration by almost £3,000,000. It also makes provision for an increase of £17,000,000 in expenditure on developmental projects in the States such as the Mount Isa railway, cattle roads in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, the Western Australian standardgauge railway, coal-loading facilities in New South Wales and Queensland, the development of brigalow lands in Queensland, Western Australian northern development, locomotives and rolling-stock for South Australia. The Government has increased payments to or for the States by £26,000,000.
The concessions provided in the Budget are valued at £75,000,000, and with the injection of additional credit into the community, a total of £145,300,000 more money is being pumped into the economy over a period of two years. As a result, there has already been a substantial improvement in the economic situation. Only yesterday, figures released showed that the demand for labour had increased. In July there was an overall fall of more than 3,000 in unemployment. This improvement was noticed principally in Queensland, and it took place in a period when normally the demand for labour is slack. Production of motor vehicles rose and registration of motor vehicles last month was at an almost record figure of 29,000. There was also a substantial increase in bank lending for industrial and commercial purposes in July.
There is another important point to which I shall refer because it has been neglected by the Opposition in this debate. I refer to Australia’s efforts to promote and diversify our export trade. With the European Common Market negotiations exercising the minds of so many people in Australia, some reference should be made to the impetus given to export development since the establishment of the Department of Trade by this Government in 1956. First, a number of additional trade agree ments have been signed to create a climate in which Australian trade can expand. Notably, we have concluded trade agreements with the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Malaya and a number of other countries. At the same time, a number of additional trade activities were noted this year and the principal of these was a further increase in the Trade Commissioner Service. To-day there are 76 trade commissioners in 35 posts throughout the world.
During this year, full-scale trade missions have been sent to the Middle East and South America, and a floating showroom on the steamship “ Chandpara “ went to Sout-West Asia and the Arabian Gulf. Each of these missions received millions of pounds worth of firm orders as well as beginning negotiations which will give Australian businessmen regular entry to vast new markets. In addition, Australia exhibited at the Milan and Osaka international trade fairs, and at the New Zealand Easter fair. At Osaka, 40,000 people saw the exhibit the first day it was opened to the public.
To assist trade promotion in Asia, “ Austral News “ is being circulated widely in eleven Asian editions through most Asian countries. Special four-month intensive promotion drives have been undertaken in West Africa, Scandinavia and Mauritius. To assist the sale of foodstuffs and wines in Asia, the largest display ever of Australian foodstuffs and wines was arranged this year in Singapore. In addition to our missions overseas, Australia has received missions interested in both buying and selling from Canada, Arabia, Japan and Taiwan in recent months. New shipping services have recently been arranged to South America, Arabian states and East and West Africa to give Australian exporters greater opportunity to exploit these markets.
I want to devote the second part of my speech to the Repatriation Department for which I am responsible. I feel that some broad comment on our repatriation system is necessary, because in the field of repatriation, the Government has kept the promises it made to ex-servicemen in 1949 and can stand upon its record in the intervening years. We all want to do everything we can to provide what is practicable for disabled ex-servicemen and their dependants, and for the dependants of those who have given their lives in the service of the nation.
Within the framework of a repatriation system which compares more than favorably with any other in the world, the Government has kept under constant review the requirements of ex-servicemen and their dependants. It has provided new and important benefits. It has extended the range of eligibility and has provided quite substantial increases in all benefit payments. I myself have had a careful look at the repatriation systems in the other major countries with problems like our own arising out of two world wars and, as I have said, I have concluded that ours compares more than favorably with the rest of them.
The real test of a repatriation system is whether those who have suffered as a result of war are properly cared for and compensated. The Government can be proud of what it has done in the development of our repatriation system. It has met the challenge, first, to provide adequate compensatory payments for disability or death resulting from war service; secondly, to meet the changing needs of the ex-service population; thirdly, to remove anomalies which it found in the system; and fourthly, to gear the administration to meet an everincreasing demand upon its resources.
During the life of this Government all benefit payments have been increased substantially and the means test on the service pensions has been liberalized very greatly. An example that comes to mind readily is the domestic allowance for war widows which is paid because of the widows’ family responsibilities, their age or their ill-health. This has been increased from 7s. 6d. to £3 2s. 6d. a week, and is paid in addition to the war widows’ pension.
In the field of social services, it is easy to say that this or that payment should be higher than it is, but claims in this area must be measured against all the other demands which are being made on the Government. Because revenue is not Unlimited, it is the Government’s responsibility to measure the relative merits of all demands. No government has ever been able to meet fully all of the claims made upon it. To the extent to which it allows one, it has to consider how far it can go towards meeting others. In this year in which the Government had to budget for a deficit to cover developmental requirements, and in the light of the welcome economic stability which has been maintained during the last year, and taking into account the general increases provided last year, the Government decided not to vary existing rates.
Repatriation is not static. What might be described generally as natura’ increase alone will cost in this financial year an additional amount of more than £6,000,000. This includes, of course, the impact for a full financial year of the increases provided in last year’s Budget. To administer the system and to provide appropriate standards of medical treatment requires a staff in the vicinity of 8,000 throughout Australia and the maintenance of well over 4,000 beds in repatriation general hospitals, as well as a comprehensive medical service at the outpatient level.
Three notable additions which this Government has made to repatriation benefits are, first, medical benefits for service pensioners and nurses of the First World War - this, of course, being for disabilities which were not due to war service - secondly, widows’ remarriage gratuity, and thirdly, the establishment of a training scheme for disabled ex-servicemen and for war widows. The provision of medical benefits for service pensioners is the most significant step forward in the Australian repatriation system since the institution of service pensions in 1935 because it caters for the health needs of all the ageing exservice men and women who have seen service in the various theatres of war and who find themselves in restricted financial circumstances. They have a full range of benefits including local practitioner, specialist, pharmaceutical, dental and hospital services. Of approximately 42,000 service pensioners, about 90 per cent, are from the First World War and there are over 300 Boer War veterans. All of them receive these benefits.
Other new benefits which have been introduced by this Government include gift cars and a running allowance of £120 a year for certain seriously disabled exservicemen, as well as a clothing allowance, travelling expenses for war widows receiving medical treatment, air travel for nominated next of kin to visit ex-servicemen who are dangerously ill or, in the event of death, to attend a funeral, and supplementary assistance for service pensioners. Other rates of allowances, medical sustenance paid during treatment, travelling expenses and compensation for loss of earnings while attending for treatment or in connexion with pension claims or payments, and for the education of children, have also been increased substantially over the years. In the field of treatment, the range of medical benefits provided for war widows and children has been extended over recent years.
So far as the removal of anomalies is concerned, I need mention only two very important items. One of the first things which this Government did when it came into office was to wipe out the time limits which had debarred wives and children of incapacitated ex-servicemen of the First World War from war pension and other benefits when the marriage or birth, as the case may be, took place after 30th June, 1938. The second important thing was the abolition of the ceiling limits which had been imposed in 1948. The effect was that some war pensioners received increases in their service or social service pensions while others, notably totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners and their wives, became eligible for a service or social service pension which the ceiling limits previously had debarred them from obtaining. It is because of this that married couples, both general rate and T.P.I, war pensioners, may now receive up to a total of £17 10s. a week between them from the Commonwealth by way of dual pensions.
As Minister for Repatriation it is my task to keep the system under constant review and to ensure that a system, soundly based at its inception in 1920 and developed in the intervening years to meet changing demands, does not flag, and that the standards with this Government itself has set during its term of office will be maintained. Above all that, the system must be kept flexible enough to meet the demands of the future because it will not be for another decade or more that the peak demand will be made upon it. In the light of the Government’s record any criticism can only range around the fringe of benefits. It cannot challenge the system itself.
In conclusion I should like to say that I have dealt with a wide range of budgetary subjects, all of which indicate that Australia’s free enterprise economy is on the march forward stimulated by a developmental budget and marked by an unprecedented degree of co-operation between industry, commerce and government.
.- The speech of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) was characterized by a long catalogue of .events which have taken place in the past. If this Government does not get out of the past in its thinking, it will have no hope of restoring, the Australian economy to the level at which we want to see it.
– I thought I was talking about this Budget.
– You were not. The latter part of your speech was devoted entirely to repatriation. If you study the Budget carefully you will find that it contains no reference to repatriation. You were referring to last year’s Budget and the February proposals.
As I listened to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) deliver his Budget speech I wondered whether he was speaking about the 1962-63 Budget or the 1961-62 Budget. He referred so often to last year’s Budget and the February proposals that one-half of his speech was devoted to one and onehalf to the other of those subjects. In other words, the Budget is not what one would call a new budget for a new twelve months. The Minister stated with pride that over two years this Government has injected £145,000,000 into the economy and he mentioned some ways in which this was helping the economy. I have time only to refer to two of the ways that he mentioned. The first was his reference to the sugar industry and the reduction of unemployment in Queensland. May I point out to him that the reduction of unemployment in Queensland was not due to government policy as characterized by either last year’s Budget or the February proposals. It was purely a seasonal take-up of employment, which happens every year.
– Seasons happen every year, too.
– Of course. This Government takes credit for the seasons and for the rain that falls and the sunshine which bathes the country. The Minister cannot put that one over us. May I point out also, with respect, that during last month the motor vehicle companies were offering up to £200 price reduction on motor cars so as to clear the decks for the new models that were due on the market in August, lt was because of these reductions that were on offer that registrations leaped to unprecedented levels in one month. 1 have given those facts merely to show that neither of the two developments had anything to do with this Budget or with the economic measures of last February. I just leave the matter there.
As we listened to the Treasurer the other night, and to other Government supporters who have spoken since, we must have gained the distinct feeling that this Government is afraid, lt is afraid of European Common Market repercussions. It is afraid of another boom. It is afraid of a quick recovery in the economy. It is afraid of full employment. It is afraid of facing economic facts. It is afraid of giving the economy a financial blood transfusion. It is afraid of the next election, and it is afraid of the future. That sums it up in a nutshell. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) so pertinently stated in opening Labour’s case against the Budget last night -
He was there referring to the unprecedented decision of the Liberal Party not to submit a candidate in the Batman by-election which will be held on 1st September.
Australia cannot afford to risk its future in the hands of a worn-out government, with a worn-out cabinet repeating worn-out ideas. Australia has now suffered from thirteen years of muddling by a Liberal-
Country Party Government which has been kept in office only because of its shabby, unwritten pact with the Democratic Labour Party. This country is in desperate need of a new government with new ideas and a new cabinet, following a vigorous and courageous policy and with a new-born will to put that policy into effect regardless of opposition. But for a parcel of Communist Party and Democratic Labour Party preferences in the electorate of Moreton in Queensland - preferences which went to the Liberal Party candidate - the people of Australia would have had the new government that they most certainly sought on 9th December, 1961. However, the Government is here again by virtue of Democratic Labour Party preferences. It has been returned in the last three elections because of D.L.P. preferences, and the only difference in the last election was that it needed also some Communist Party preferences to succeed.
This Budget is an insult to the people of Australia. The honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) told me, after he had heard the Treasurer the other night, that it was the most uninspiring Budget that he had heard presented in nearly 40 years in this Commonwealth Parliament. I accept his opinion and value it highly.
The “Taxpayer’s Bulletin” of Saturday, 1 1th August, contained some pertinent comments. The editor said that the issue had been delayed so that he could give a full coverage of the fiscal and economic proposals to be announced in the Budget. Then he said -
This note is written as the Treasurer completes the reading of his fourth Budget speech on the evening of 7th August. We now wonder why we bothered to hold back this issue.
The Hobart “ Mercury “ is not a Labour paper, but it is a very good daily newspaper and, I believe, is one of the best in this country. On 8lh August the “Mercury” carried an amazing editorial. I have not time to read all of it to honorable members, but no more trenchant criticism of a budget has ever been published by that newspaper. It said, among other things -
When platitude and pious hope are subtracted from the Budget it contains precisely nothing . . .
The insipid document which the Treasurer (Mr. Holt) read to Parliament last night inevitably classifies itself as a nothing Budget . . .
It is the emptiest and least imaginative fiscal document which has ever taken up the time of Parliament . . .
With all the aplomb of a country blacksmith about to mend a watch, Mr. Holt has told the people that the Government “ proposes to follow through its expansionary programme.” Although this programme has made some contribution it is far from adequate. Australia needs more than a policy of silting down waiting for problems to go away.
Basically the country is in a sound position and it could go forward confidently . . . But recovery is slow and too many thousands of Australians are without work. The missing element is public confidence. It is still badly shaken by the bungling policy of the Treasury in bringing the economy to a violent stop, and Mr. Holt has provided nothing to inspire any renewal of confidence . . .
A Budget aimed at restoring the confidence of commerce, industry, and the ordinary people - and this should have been the prime purpose - would have been one which cut taxes or gave concessions to family men, gave a mild increase in pensions and endowment, and provided something for commerce in the form of depreciation allowances . . .
The Treasury avoided a policy of stimulation because it has an inborn fear of inflation and because it would have increased the book deficit . . .
The expected deficit of £118 million is not relevant beside the problem of speeding up the economy . . .
This is Mr. Holt’s fourth Budget. If the Government has any pretensions to continuing in office for a further term it may have to ensure that this Budget is also his last.
That is a remarkable editorial to appear in a newspaper that has never officially supported the Australian Labour Party.
The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ headed its editorial, on the morning after the Treasurer had delivered his Budget speech, “ Mr. Holt’s Recipe foi Stagnation “. That was the most apt heading of any of the editorial headings used by the newspapers. The Melbourne “Sun News-Pictorial”, which also is not a Labour newspaper, condemned the Budget thoroughly and completely in its editorial on the morning after the Treasurer had presented it.
Having read the comments that appeared in various newspapers in different parts of the country - and that is the only way to get an accurate overall picture of public feeling - one must come to the conclusion that this Budget has received more criticism than any other budget that has been brought down since the Government came to office more than thirteen years ago. The Budget has done nothing to stimulate confidence, which is obviously missing to-day. Investors and ordinary spenders are afraid to move. Why is this? It is because they have lost faith in this Government, which has changed direction so often and which has no clear-cut plan to keep up a steady, sure and positive rate of expansion. No one can be inspired by an economic and financial policy of stop and start.
Let me make a few comments about the unemployment problem, which is quite tragic. In Tasmania we have 3,800 registered unemployed. The number did not decrease in July, but instead it increased by 125. Tasmania and Western Australia have experienced increases in unemployment in the month of July. The recent non-repayable grants to the States that were mentioned by the Minister have been acceptable, but they have been insufficient to bring about full employment in the community. I hate to think what the situation would have been if those two grants, which the Government felt forced to make, had not been given. The Government’s neglect in allowing the economy to run down so disastrously as to cause 130,000 people to be out of work earlier this year is an indictment of itself and its worn-out policies. It was essentially an act of weakness and failure that special direct Commonwealth grants of £22,000.000 had to be given to the States between February and June of this year. A government that complacently, callously and cynically stands by and lets the economy run down in this fashion forfeits all right to the treasury bench. The by-election in the State seat of Broadmeadows in Victoria recently was won by Mr. Wilton, the Australian Labour Party candidate, by an absolute majority of 3,851 over three opponents. That result is a barometer of the people’s political feelings to-day.
Does the Government realize what unemployment does to a home, a family, a community, a State and a nation’s economy? There are 90,091 people registered as unemployed throughout Australia now. Let us assume that about 10,000 of them probably are unemployable for various reasons and take 80,000 as the number who are capable of working, who want work and who cannot get jobs. Those 80,000 people who, although able-bodied and willing to work, are unemployed are losing a total of £62,000,000 a year in wages. This means a loss of £62,000,000 a year to the economy in purchasing power. There are approximately 55,000 factories in Australia. I have just looked up the “ Year Book “ to obtain the figure. If every factory were able to take one additional employee, 55,000 of our unemployed would be at work by the end of the week.
– Instead, factories are sacking employees because management has no confidence at present.
– Exactly. Employees are being sacked because factory managements have no confidence in this Government or its policies. The public works departments and the housing authorities in the States, national projects and various government and semi-government authorities, if they were stimulated sufficiently, could absorb another 40,000 of the unemployed. Unemployment is demoralizing, unchristian, uneconomic, wasteful and wrong. It causes vicious, destructive, glacier-like repercussions and a chain reaction throughout the industrial economy. Any government that does not correct such a situation quickly is actually betraying the people of Australia.
I now want to discuss housing as it affects the economy. On 9th August, in Canberra, Professor Sir Douglas Copland addressed a housing finance conference. He is an able man who, perhaps four years ago, made a remarkable statement on Australia’s housing needs. Every Minister in this Government ought read the words that he used in his address the other evening. I shall quote some extracts from it, Mr. Temporary Chairman. It received excellent publicity in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of Friday, 10th August, which stated -
Australia needed stimulus for the economy more than it needed stability, Sir Douglas Copland, the economist, said to-day.
He said Australia needed to increase its rate of growth to cope with the great expansion in the number of young people in the years ahead . . .
Sir Douglas said: “Whoever made progress by worshipping stability? . . .”
That is a new and very important angle. This Government worships stability, and therefore the Australian economy is going along like a creaky old model T Ford car with only one cylinder functioning. The Government’s idea of progress is to worship stability. It is not courageous enough to make a definite forward move by injecting into the economy sufficient purchasing power and sufficient confidence.
Professor Copland continued - “The motto that the land is better further on should be the motto of the people governing Australia now.
The newspaper report added -
Sir Douglas said one of the biggest national problems facing Australians was that of making a home.
At present, Australia was building about 82,000 to 83,000 homes a year.
That, by the way, is the level of building activity set by the Government’s policy. The Treasurer told me last year, after months of persistent questioning in this chamber, that the construction rate of 95,000 homes a year in the middle of the boom a few years ago was dangerous. He said, in effect, that it would not be allowed to recur and that the construction rate would be limited by this Government, by deliberate policy, to a level between 80,000 and 85,000 a year. That is a criminal thing for any Commonwealth government to admit to in a field like home-building, which is the greatest industry in Australia.
The report of Professor Copland’s statement continued -
It had been estimated that by 1966 the demand for houses would be about 94,000 and by 1970 at least 107,000.
Yet this Government is determined to limit building activity to the construction of between 80,000 and 85,000 houses a year. If the level rises above that, the Government says that there is a boom and that it is dangerous. What rot! What a callous and cynical attitude to adopt towards the young people who are getting married and who are prospective home-builders! My daughter, who will be married on Saturday morning next, is one of those who face the dismal future inflicted upon people by this Government. Young people take a risk in getting married these days, Mr. Temporary Chairman, with this Government in office. It is no wonder that the marriage rate has been stable while this Government has been in office. We need a new government. We shall then have an upsurge in the number of marriages throughout Australia because young people know that a Labour government will release credit to establish the homes that they need.
– That will suit the parsons.
– I am sorry that I cannot marry my daughter. The privilege of marrying people, along with other privileges, was taken from me about sixteen years ago. All that I have to do on this occasion is to give my daughter away at the ceremony and pay up.
Professor Copland added -
My own feeling is that these estimates are conservative and that the real demand will be greater.
The newspaper report of his remarks continued -
Sir Douglas said that at the moment the prospective rate of building in Australia was a little over 80,000 a year, well below the national demand . . .
With more adequate and reasonable finance, and a realistic plan to meet the rising demand, the resources of manpower and materials were sufficient to step up the construction rate by some 25 per cent, immediately . …
Such an increase in home building would provide a much-needed stimulus to the Australian economy, which had by no means recovered from the checks imposed in the recent credit squeeze
To meet this position, a growth rate of 4 per cent, would be needed merely to absorb the work force at current levels of productivity.
My colleague, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), has stressed this point over and over again, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), also, mentioned it last evening. We need an expansion rate of 4 per cent., but the current rate is only 1.5 per cent. That shows how this Government worships stability rather than progress.
– Has not the honorable member any ideas of his own?
– I am giving the honorable member some ideas of experts. I am no expert.
– That is right.
– At least I have the courage to admit it, but when honorable members opposite address us they pose as experts on everything. The views of Professor Copland are a challenge to this Government, if ever there was one, Mr. Temporary Chairman, because he is no minor individual.
The next matter which I want to discuss is the urgent need to establish an overseas shipping line. The Australian Labour Party includes in its political programme a proposal to establish an overseas shipping line for this country. The first overseas shipping line owned by Australia was a huge success in the years immediately after the First World War. William Hughes courageously bought quite a lot of secondhand ships. He obtained some captured enemy vessels and built up the Australian Commonwealth line of steamers, which carried goods to the markets of the world at reasonable freights which saved the Australian primary producers £7,000,000 in the money of those days. That overseas shipping line operated from 1916 to 1928, when it was sold out by the Bruce-Page Government. I remind the committee that we have not yet been paid fully for that transaction.
– And the man to whom it was sold got twelve months’ imprisonment for fraud.
– Yes. It is the policy of the Australian Labour Party to establish a Commonwealth overseas shipping line. At present we are in the hands of the conference lines, which consists of about 22 different shipping companies. This is a huge monopoly which controls shipping operations on the high seas between Australia and overseas ports. We cannot get anything taken to England by ship unless it is carried by ships of the conference lines. There is a need to provide some competition for the conference lines, because there is no competition now. A freight rate is fixed and it is applied by all the shipping companies in the combine. The conference lines come to a decision, and that decision applies to every shipping company within the organization. It is a monopoly - a cartel which faces no competition at all.
We believe that a Commonwealth overseas shipping line would be able to cut freight rates and so provide competition on voyages between Australia and overseas ports. As one of my friends on this side remarks, a Commonwealth shipping line did that before. It saved our primary producers £7,000,000. If we established our own overseas line, we could do that again. We must reduce the high overseas shipping freights which are strangling our primary exports at the moment. We must also give new life to our shipyards, which are rapidly running down under the regime of this Government. I was at the Walker shipyard at Maryborough in Queensland a few weeks ago; I went right through it. It was tragic to see that wonderful ship-building yard with only one little ship on the stocks, and with no prospect of having other vessels to build. That will be the end of it. We can wipe off this ship-building enterprise in Queensland. Other Australian shipyards are just holding on. We have had ships built overseas instead of in our own shipyards. That is a scandalous thing. We believe that by establishing a Commonwealth overseas shipping line we could give new life to our ship-building yards, where we have technical skills equal to those that can be found anywhere in the world. The shipyard at Maryborough in Queensland built some of the most important ships for Australia during the war years.
I suggest that we undertake a five-year ship-building programme in Australia, constructing the vessels that would be required by a Commonwealth overseas shipping line. We could start with one or two vessels and build up the fleet under a five-year shipbuilding programme until we had, say, twenty ships. The effect of Britain’s entry into the Common Market would be quite severe. If Britain went into the Common Market and we lost some of our markets overseas, many members of the Seamen’s Union would be dismissed and a great deal of labour would be dismissed from our wharfs, because of the lack of cargoes from Australia. In the early years after Britain goes into the Common Market, when we are searching for new markets abroad, our ship-building industry will need assistance. While we are trying to establish new markets in Asia and elsewhere, it is vital for us to begin to build ships to carry our exports overseas so that we can cease to be the chattels and slaves of a cartel such as the conference lines. In the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of 8th August there appeared an article stating -
Shipping lines have struck a blow at Australia’s steel exports to New Zealand by slashing freight rates on steel from Japan by SO per cent.
Most of New Zealand’s iron and steel imports at present come from Australia. Last year they totalled about £N.Z.25 million.
The article stated further that New Zealand was re-adjusting her duties and that the tariff on Japanese steel would be reduced from 20 per cent, to 5 per cent. The article continued -
The freight cut will make it even more attractive to New Zealand importers to buy from Japan . . The ship arrived in New Zealand early this week. The price of the Japanese steel on board is £N.Z.10 below the Australian price for plain or corrugated sheets and £8 for plates.
So we have severe competition there, because Japan has cut freight rates. Here we are, the only major trading nation in the world without its own shipping line. This is a disgrace and a scandal of the highest order, and it is about time that this Government started to think in terms of our own shipping line.
What have our primary producers got out of this Budget? Precisely nothing. It contains no answer to their problem of high costs and low returns. I am shocked by the neglect of our primary industries in this Budget. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) recently made an eloquent speech in Perth. He is a good speaker. The speech was reported in the “ Tasmanian Farmer “ of 9th August, under the heading, “ Credit for development our great problem “. There are two columns, covering half a page, containing a report of what the Minister for Trade said ought to be done for the farmers of Australia. This Government has been in office for thirteen years, yet he is still talking about what should be done for the farmers. He said they should have easier credit for development and more of it. He said the Government set up the Development Bank. Of course it did, and we agreed with that, but what a scandalous thing it is to be charging 6 per cent, interest on loans for development. That is what this Government is doing through the Development Bank. How can the small farmer, or any other man for that matter, afford to pay 6 per cent, interest?
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, in the several speeches I have made in this House I have seemed to be associated with the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr.
Duthie), being called to speak either just before or just after him. However, I have prepared my own speech, unlike the honorable member for Wilmot, who, I think, had his speech prepared for him by the editor of the Hobart “ Mercury “ or by Professor Sir Douglas Copland. When he commenced his remarks he referred to the speech made by the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), which he said was a long catalogue of events of the past. That may have been so, but those events are worth recalling. I submit that we must regard the Minister’s speech as something very different from the dismal catalogue of events which were forecast by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) in this place last night. That, of course, was quite in keeping with the forebodings which honorable members opposite have expressed for many years now, but which have not been borne out by events. The people of this country have had ample opportunities during the last twelve years to change this Government, if they wished to.
One can be rather easily sidetracked into thinking, if one is gullible, that this Budget is, to use the words of some so-called informed critics - of which there are a great many opposite - a dull and uninteresting document, notable for the absence of concessions or incentive to the economy, lt is remarkable how public attitudes can change and how the public can become conditioned to a particular set of circumstances. It is not so long ago that the taxpaying proportion of our community viewed every approaching Budget with apprehension, almost with dismay, in the expectation, which was probably well justified, that their compulsory contributions to the national Treasury would be increased. And so they probably were. No doubt there were good reasons for that action, such as cases of national or international emergency or the need for large-scale development of the National Welfare Fund. This Government has been well in the van in this particular field. The action may have been necessary in order to finance some huge development undertaking. Whatever the reason, the increases in the most direct application of the Budget to the individual were undoubtedly justified, if only in response to popular demand for greater government spending in one direction or another.
Let us not forget that there are circumstances compounded of some or all of these factors operating at this very moment to a greater or lesser degree. Can it be, Sir, that in this document the Government has produced something that is completely confusing to the Opposition, something that the Opposition just cannot understand? This Government, which the Opposition says is so unpopular and out of favour - doomed to political insignificance, according to honorable members opposite - has produced no hand-outs with which to woo the electors. Nor has it, on the other hand, increased taxation except in very minor categories. Nevertheless, it has been able to increase our defence vote. It has also increased the amount provided for the National Welfare Fund and has set aside enormous amounts for developmental works. Those amounts are quite apart from the allocations made in the more traditional forms of budget financing. The Government’s attitude is quite different from that of the Opposition, as we know from statements made by honorable members opposite at successive elections. The Opposition’s attitude was fluently expressed last night by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam).
One cannot overlook the fact that the Government, in keeping with the practical needs of the country and in conformity with the most fundamental theory of applied economics, has continued the taxation concessions and the social service benefits allowed last February. That action will provide a stimulus to the economy by directing a greater proportion of the wage packet into private industry. At the same time, the Government’s action will give an impetus to individuals to earn a little more. It is significant that savings bank deposits are currently running at a high level. We can assume that a large proportion of those funds will find its way into commerce and industry. Figures released by the Commonwealth Statistician show that trading bank advances increased by £29,500,000 in July. In the field of hire purchase there has been a return to high-level activity, indicating a greater confidence on the part of the people in committing themselves to future responsibilities. There has been, as the Treasurer stated, a small fall each quarter in the consumer price index, indicating a stability that will benefit considerably two very important categories of persons, namely, those on fixed incomes and those who cannot determine their own price returns - primary producers. Those are the people who suffer most when inflation - that offspring of uncontrolled expansion and excessive demand - plays precociously among them. We make no apologies for what the Government has done.
The honorable member for Wilmot claimed that the Government worshipped stability. That is not a bad thing to worship at this stage of our economy. To say, as the honorable member did, that primary producers did not get anything from this Budget is a travesty of the truth. Primary producers have got stability. According to the headlines of a certain agricultural newspaper, the Budget contained no incentives. I submit that stability is one of the greatest incentives that a primary producer can have to safeguard his future production. I know what I am talking about, because I am a primary producer. One is justified in adding emphasis to the sombre warnings of other honorable members concerning the Treasurer’s estimate that payments to the National Welfare Fund may well reach 72 per cent, of revenue from income tax. With a continued clamour for reductions in indirect taxation, many of which I would support, one wonders how a government can be expected to administer a country, let alone provide the necessary funds for its expansion.
Expansion is the word that typifies this Government and distinguishes it from its opponents, among whom the naturally adventurous spirit of man is shorn of all desires to rise above the “ give me “ group. Our opponents see no reward in self contribution to the immense task of development, with one very glaring exception - the oft professed intention of spending an enormous amount of money in the north. One should always bear in mind that equally large sums could justifiably be spent by the Government south of the Tropic of Capricorn. There is, of course, a great need to provide large amounts of finance for the northern part of this country but let us not fall into the trap of believing that everything will be solved by pouring a huge amount of money too suddenly into that melting pot. The greatest need at the moment is for a political and personal understanding of the north so that its wealth may be better appreciated. We must not let the north become a cast-off political plaything in respect of which financial commitments could become embarrassing. There is a future for our far north and north-west and I believe those areas may well emulate in development the rest of Australia. We must remember also, however, that we have spent our entire history endeavouring to understand the problems of production, both primary and secondary, and we are still in the process of understanding them. We have faced complex problems associated with the distribution and marketing of our products. Perhaps we have overcome a great many of the production problems and we certainly understand them better, but those problems with which we have dealt so far have been concerned with the traditional forms of produce. We must realize that these same problems must be experienced in the entirely new field in the north. Despite the views expressed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition during the debate on the Common Market, every effort is being made to take advantage of potential markets in Asia.
I return more directly to the general terms of the Budget. I question the absence of more direct stimulus to private industry. However, we must »ot overlook the importance of three particular items in this category. One is the record deficit of £118,000,000, about which honorable members opposite made scornful and jeering noises. That is an amount of money that will increase enormously the flow of money through private hands, commercial firms and business undertakings. The effect of that flow will be felt at all levels of the community. A distinction must be drawn between the deficit financing proposed by the Opposition and the method employed by the Government. The distinction is most apparent where money is provided for developmental purposes and to increase production rather than to provide extra payments from the National Welfare Fund.
A large amount is set aside in the Budget for capital works and for purely developmental undertakings. It may be said that this will not provide the required stimulus to private industry. But let us not forget that this Government utilizes private enterprise. The spending may be government spending, but the money is generally channelled through private and public concerns. The same argument, I suggest, may be applied to the States. I refer particularly to Western Australia, which was dealt with in such glowing terms last night by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall). I refer also possibly to Queensland and South Australia, to which States will be directed certain and particular allocations of these special grant funds. I think we can assume that as the disbursement will be in their hands they will apply a similar principle and disburse these funds through public and private concerns. If the same principle is not adopted I think it is relevant to suggest that the States concerned will have to assume responsibility for this.
I refer thirdly, Mr. Chairman, to the provision pf assistance to the gold-mining industry, which will take a form of a development allowance. On this, I might add, we have heard very little from the Opposition. Could it be that they are in favour of this one? Certainly it will do a very great deal to lengthen the life of our mining industry and the employment it provides. All in all, I cannot think that the allocation of nearly £27,000,000 can be regarded as anything but a very positive attempt to step up the expansion of this country.
I have referred to capital works and the degree of expansion which is envisaged by this Government, and I want now to refer with particular emphasis to a most important aspect of any form of development, namely, the development of communications. I believe quite firmly, particularly after having gained some first-hand experience in the rural areas, that funds allocated for the improvement of means of communication will repay themselves many times over in terms of development. I might add that a great deal of the money which might otherwise be spent in Government sponsorship, would be invested by private firms in these essential services. Also, I think it can be well appreciated that Australia must endeavour at all times to maintain a standard equal to that of the rest of the world. She has managed to do this in her trading activities; she has managed to do it in many fields, and I need mention only the fields of the sciences. She has managed also to keep abreast of what is taking place in diplomatic circles and in the field of international understanding. But I might say that she has achieved this notwithstanding her own inherent disabilities in so many directions. She has limitations imposed on her and there has to be a compromise between excursions into this rather high-level development activity and the rather more persistent demand for development of more ordinary facilities.
I note that the Budget provides for an increase of about £2,000,000 in the capital allocation to the Post Office, and I can only hope that this will provide an opportunity to overcome what I regard as a very serious lag in the installation of adequate telephone facilities in so many rural areas. I understand that a great many of these areas cannot claim support for what might be regarded as an economic venture. If, however, this type of development is to be regarded in terms of its profitability, then I consider that one must also make some assessment of returns brought about by increased land development and private and community enterprises. Otherwise we should discard the principle of profitability altogether.
In general there have been, of course, immense developments, which reflect great credit on the Government and on the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) and his department, in the fields of television, radio, and telephonic and telegraphic communications. There have equally been great developments, going beyond the limits of normal amenities, in the applied initative of people of this country. They have displayed confidence in themselves, in their future prospects, and, I might add, in the judgment of this Government. I hope, therefore, that this will be recognized and that determined efforts will be made to overcome the deficiencies which are so dispiriting to those who are forced to bear them. There is possibly a need for a little better co-ordination or liaison between the various authorities who are concerned in development, on the one hand, and the provision of these essential services on the other, so that these two may be mutually maintained at a level which does not unduly prejudice or embarrass either, but yet gives ample opportunity for the expression of people’s adventurous spirits.
If any criticism can be levelled against the Government, it can only be on the basis that in recent years the degree of expansion, both absolute and otherwise, which has been so realistically promoted by this Government, has exceeded the ability and the capacity of portions of this community to keep pace. This is not an unusual circumstance in a country of limited population, of limited finance, and with an enormous enthusiasm to develop and leave its mark on the world.
The Government has been criticized on the grounds of its so-called stagnating policies. I suggest there is confusion in some minds about the meaning of the words “ stagnation “ and “ stability “, and for the more discerning minds I shall summarize certain effects of this Government’s policies. In 1961-62 we saw an export income greater than ever before - a sum of something like £1,070,000,000. The production of our basic industries, including the coal and steel industries, is at record levels. The aggregate volume of our production in rural industries is also at record levels. As a result of these and other things we have been able to cope with an increasing population, an expanding work force and higher levels of production in our key industries every year.
I submit, Sir, that these are not the products of stagnation or, as the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) said, of a government of frightened men. I commend the Government and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on a courageous Budget, a Budget which seeks to fulfill the two-fold function of stability and expansion, and I believe, Sir, that it will achieve both.
.- Mr. Chairman, recently an honorable member suggested that what he would like to see built in Queensland was a wailing wall. I should like to remind that gentleman that we need one here. In 1942 when the Japanese were only a couple of hundred miles away and even food was rationed we did not wail. Development should not be solely a matter of economics. We have made a case for the development of north Queensland, and I think most honorable members will agree that eventually it must be developed.
If we had not had northern towns such as Townsville before the war we would not have had bases of any description. Until 1938 there was not an air force station of any size in north Queensland. Certainly there was none north of Townsville, and at Townsville there was just an airstrip. If there had not been a settlement at Townsville we would not have had even that airstrip. So I say that the economic aspects can be over-estimated. When I flew in a Beaufort bomber during the war it took one hour and ten minutes to fly from Home Island to Merauke - and that is where we will have the Indonesians in a short while. That is not much further than Sydney is from here.
We are very pleased that £12,000,000 has been given to Queensland. I think it is needed. In north Queensland we need people, yet I believe that in the next two or three years that area will lose people. There are three reasons for this. The first reason is the completion of work on the Mount Isa railway line, which I will elaborate on later; the second reason is the mechanization of the sugar industry, and the third is the can pack system in the meatworks.
Dealing first with the Mount Isa railway line, I should like to explain to honorable members that at the moment there are something like ten trains a week, each with one engine and one crew. These trains haul something like 1,000 tons in each load. When the Mount Isa track is re-laid - as the Treasurer mentioned last night, £8,000,000 will be spent this year towards the completion of that project - we will have something like four trains a week. They will haul 4,000 tons each. They will have a double engine with one crew. The effect of this is obvious. West of Townsville, about five towns depend entirely on the railway, and they will cease to exist. The gangs have been motorized. Instead of having three gangs for each 30 miles, we will have one gang. The gangs now can do the work in half the time previously taken. In addition, the bridges will be made of concrete and there will be no bridge gangs.
The money being provided will help with the development of Queensland, but many aspects of this development are bad for the population. I urge the Government to do a little more than it has done. Offices are being equipped with machines. With automatic machines, six men will do the work previously done by 66 men. Far from increasing the population of the north, we will have fewer people there. This does not affect only north Queensland. As I mentioned before, when our north is in peril the whole of Australia is in peril.
The sugar industry is also being mechanized, and last year 500 fewer cutters were used in the harvesting. No one complains about the mechanization of harvesting, but I think I should point out the side effects. We should be aware of them; if we are not, we are failing to do our jobs as members of the Parliament. Mechanical loading now handles 50 per cent, and in some areas up to 90 per cent, of the sugar crop. In addition, automatic fuellers mean that no men at all are engaged on the sugar boiling floor. Those honorable members who have been through sugar mills know what 1 am talking about. The sugar towns are suffering as a result of this mechanization. In the area I represent, four towns are affected. The sugar industry in Australia in the next few years may face a threat from Cuba. If Cuba has two bumper crops in a row. we will be in trouble with our sugar. Cuba could well dump its sugar on the market for whatever price it will bring.
Another matter I wish to mention is the can pack system in the meatworks in Townsville. This affects other places as well as Townsville. The men now work under a federal award, which means there are no tally men and no butchers. AH the men are knife hands. With the present rosters, there will be 100 fewer men on the slaughtering floor, but they will kill the same number of bullocks as were killed before - that is, 500 a day. We are having a lot of trouble in the meat industry, but this is not due solely to the meat workers, as some people seem to think. I will deal with beef fattening in a moment.
The problems of seasonal employment can be solved, and I should like to mention several solutions. One way of providing additional employment is by the rotati >n of crops. The only crop that will give out-cf- season work in the sugar areas is tobacco. In Ayr, and particularly in the settlement of Clare, some 200 unskilled labourers are used every year in tobacco picking. This activity lasts from October until December and sometimes until January. Tobacco is the alternative crop for the sugar areas, but it cannot be grown extensively now, because the whole area is suffering from a lack of water. The Burdekin dam scheme should be completed. A small coffer dam was built as a forerunner to the Burdekin scheme. It was supposed to service some 30 to 35 farms, but to-day it is servicing over 100 farms. Water is not available in sufficient quantities, and the lower the level of water in the river becomes, the higher the salt content becomes. This has happened in Western Australia, where the tobacco industry was almost closed down because of the chlorine in the water.
Our biggest problem in Queensland is the problem of seasonal employment. Every one knows about it but no one offers any solution. One possible solution is to increase the amount of tobacco grown in the sugar areas. The land around Innisfail would never grow tobacco, but Ingham has a good area for this crop. However, very little can be done in this way until a scheme such as the Burdekin scheme is put into effect. Such a scheme would enable us to open up more land and in the slack season more work would be available for seasonal workers. At the moment, all these men can do in the slack season is to hang around the towns and draw social service benefits.
The Herbert River presents a great potential - to use an overworked word - and could help in the development of a tobacco industry. It is a very big river and could be used to provide hydro-electric power, just as the Burdekin River could. If the Herbert River is dammed for this purpose, more power and cheaper power would be available in north Queensland. Bauxite from the Weipa deposits could be smelted there instead of being sent elsewhere. These matters are still in the survey stage. A survey of the Herbert River is now being made. I realize that the State Government is responsible for development of this nature, but I mention it here so that honorable members will be aware of what can be done……. _j
Queensland always has been a primaryproducing State and apparently it will continue to be one. This means we will always have problems of seasonal employment. We have a tremendous amount of unemployment around Townsville. This is very embarrassing to every one, including the Government. It is certainly an embarrassment to me. If we do something about this problem, we will make some headway. I think the possibility of growing tobacco as an alternative crop to sugar, and so providing employment in the slack period, should be investigated. A tuna fish industry could be created at Townsville, . and this again would provide employment in the slack season. Tuna abound in the waters around Townsville and would provide employment from October until January. This is the time when work must be found for seasonal employees.
As I said before, most people in the north of Queensland are very unhappy about the fact that bauxite is sent away from Queensland for treatment. We saw how Mary Kathleen was created, when it suited some one to build this town. People in the north feel that similar action could be taken to develop the Weipa area. Money used for this purpose would not be wasted. I am in business and I always believe that if you want ~to increase your turnover you buy more stock and then advertise the goods. At the moment, we seem to be sitting around, hoping that the turnover will increase so that we can buy more stock. I do not believe that that is a practical proposition. The public to-day still has no confidence. My business is still sagging, as it has been for some time. Other businessmen tell me that they are having the same experience.
– Do not blame the Government for the condition of your business.
– I am not. I am just pointing out the lack of confidence in the Government. The public has no confidence in the Government at the moment. Until the workers have money to spend, we will not have the turnover we need in business. We will not see the stock market rise again and we will not see any general recovery in the economy. I am sure that if the Government had acted earlier, as it was urged to do and as most people realize to-day it should have, we would not have been in as bad a position as we now are. At least, business would have been moving, but there is no movement in the retail trade now. My business is pretty big, or was, but I do not think it will improve. I hope it does, for my sake.
People in my area ask me very awkward questions about the money that is being spent to give Canberra a face lift. They believe that this “money could be put to better use. In various towns, we see large buildings being pulled down and other buildings, costing £8,000,000 or £10,000,000, being constructed in their place. This is especially so with insurance buildings. I do not think that the use of money in this way is good for the country. However, it is for private enterprise to decide what it will do. The fact that private enterprise wastes money in this way supports our view that decisions of this nature should not be left solely to private enterprise. Something should be done by the Government and should be done quickly.
I should like to mention housing. There has never been a Housing Commission house built in Mount Isa. Again, this is a matter for the State Government, but all these activities are tied together. Too much is left to the other person and we do not seem to be getting anywhere. We will have to move in these matters soon. A similar position obtains in the field of education. The States are at the end of their tether in trying to meet the needs of education. This Government should at least appoint a Minister for Education and devise some way of helping in this sphere. It is all very well for the Government to say it cannot do anything about education; the fact remains that it should do something. [Quorum formed.]
– I thank the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who called for a quorum, for having brought members back into the chamber to hear me after the last speaker on the Labour side had driven them out. I listened with very great interest last night to the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). Like the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), I believe that it was full of inaccuracies. It had too many inaccuracies to reply to in the short time that
I have at my disposal. Let me deal with one of them. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition accused the Government of adopting a policy which the Australian Labour Party had enunciated twelve months ago. A part of the policy enunciated by the Labour Party on that occasion was to inject another £100,000,000 into the economy. Yet the Leader of the Opposition now criticizes the Government for budgeting for a deficit of £118,000,000.
If the Government were to inject into the economy the additional amount suggested by the Opposition it would aggravate the inflation from which we have been free over the last twelve months. In budgeting for a deficit of £118,000,000 the Government is in a position similar to that of an individual who feels there is room for expansion in his business and who requires additional capital for that purpose. In effect, the Government like such an individual has gone to the bank and asked for an overdraft for £118,000,000 saying, “ We will invest in business enterprises which are reputable, and the economy will benefit “. The Opposition has made an unreal distinction in describing the Government’s policy as inflationary and its own policy as productive.
The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Don Cameron) and the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding) mentioned what the Government had done in relation to Mount Isa. Do not those honorable members know that the late Queensland Labour Government applied for a loan of only a few hundred thousand pounds in respect of the Mount Isa railway and that the Commonwealth Government, which is a business government, turned down the proposition because it was so miserable? No enterprising government could have accepted it. What happened then? When the present Country-Liberal Party Government came to power in Queensland it put a proposition to the Commonwealth Government to raise a loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. It was not successful in obtaining that loan. However, the Commonwealth Government has been able to provide a loan at a rate of interest lower than that which the World Bank would have charged. What is more, the payment of interest will not start until the project has been completed. If a loan had been obtained from the World Bank, interest would have been payable on it from the day on which the loan was advanced. Members of the Opposition do not understand what has been done in that instance.
They said also that the loan has not been granted by the Commonwealth as a bonus. Of course not. This is a commercial project for the renovation of the railway line concerned. Whatever government had been in power when that loan was granted, the same conditions would have been imposed. The position would have been different had a proposal for the standardization of rail gauges been involved. In” that case, the proposition would have been handled as was done in respect of the standardization of rail gauges in Western Australia. Incidentally, the first standardization project in Australia - the Kyogle to Brisbane line - was instituted by an Australian Country Party Treasurer, the late Sir Earle Page. Finance for that project was provided on exactly the same conditions as it was provided for the standardization of the gauge from Melbourne to Albury and for the project in Western Australia. A lot of the talk about these propositions has misled the public. I repeat that when a commercial proposition such as this is involved, all governments adopt the same policy and insist on the repayment of the loan. Standardization projects, however, are financed on a 70-30 basis.
I believe that the Budget which the committee is considering is a sound one. It provides for the long term rather than the short term, although short-term advantages can be gained from it. During this debate we have heard a lot about confidence in the economy. Any lack of confidence in the economy has been occasioned to a very great extent by statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) down the years. His statements, increasing in gloom and despair, have been aided by certain sections of the press, particularly in their reporting of economic matters last November. Such press comments stopped investors, particularly timid investors, from investing in industry, and also stopped them from going to the banks for accommodation. That has been proved by the big increase in savings bank deposits and in other ways during recent months. The Opposition must take the blame to a great extent for any lack of confidence in the economy of this country.
– That is completely untrue.
– It is absolutely correct. Nobody will ever be able to estimate how much the Jeremiahs, particularly honorable members on the other side of the chamber and their press followers, have retarded recovery and delayed enterprise.
I now want to refer to unemployment, particularly juvenile employment. Immediately the present Government of Queensland came into power five years ago it recognized that there would be a problem in this country so far as skilled tradesmen were concerned. It set out to provide educational facilities for the country people so that young people would have qualifications for jobs. The record of the Queensland Government in education is unsurpassed in Australia. The Government faced up to the problem and Queensland now has 62 high schools. Thirty of these have been built in the past five years. In addition, 28 high-tops have been established. Seventeen of the high schools and all the high-tops have been built in the country. We are taking these facilities to the country areas so that young people can acquire the knowledge and skills that they will require if they are to find work. Advertisements in the daily newspapers show that employers are crying out for skilled tradesmen. An unskilled worker has practically no hope of finding a job. This record in education demonstrates to the rest of Australia that the Queensland Country PartyLiberal Government is aware of the situation and is doing something about it.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) asked a question to-day about the provision of tax concessions for persons who have to travel long distances to a city to get specialist treatment. I remind the committee that here again, the Queensland Government has done a remarkable job. It has appointed what is called a flying specialist to deal with cases in country areas. This service is wholly maintained by the Queensland Government. Here again that government has taken an essential service to the people.
– Now direct your attention to the Budget.
- Mr. Chairman, I am answering certain statements by some of our friends on the Opposition side who have tried to create the impression that the Government is unaware of certain problems in the north or is doing nothing about them. I want to show honorable members that a Government of similar political colour to the Commonwealth Government is aware of the problems and is doing a lot to solve them. It is doing more than Labour governments ever thought of doing in Queensland.
I shall not go into the details of why certain things are lading in Queensland. The honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) told the committee last week in a very good speech how the present Queensland Government is reaping the harvest of 40 years of socialist administration. In those years industry was driven away from Queensland and investment discouraged.
Quite a lot has been said about beef roads. I have mentioned beef roads and the need for communications in the north in practically every speech I have made in this chamber, and eventually we are getting something through the initiative of this Government. I wish to remind the committee of something that was said here by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) who followed me on one occasion after I had made a speech about this matter. He said I had made my usual parochial speech, that I had adopted my usual bovine attitude, and that all I was interested in was the beef barons and the wool barons. It is only in recent years that honorable members on the Opposition side have understood what is required in Queensland. Now they are trying to get on the band wagon because they think it is the popular subject to talk about. This Government has made provision in every Budget for development in the north.
I remind honorable members that before the white man came to this country, the north was empty, although just to the north of Australia there were teeming millions of people. Have we ever asked ourselves why this country was never populated by the people from the near north? The principal reasons were adverse seasonal conditions and soil deficiencies. This Government, and governments of similar political colour, realized that soil deficiencies and nutrition problems were among the failings of the north. It was a Country Party Treasurer who established the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which has done amazing work in soil analysis in the north. I hope that the phosphate deposits near Rum Jungle will be extensive enough to supply the phosphate we need to add to ou.- soil in northern areas. If that is done, one of our greatest problems in the north will be overcome. We will be able to fatten cattle and produce other primary products much more easily and cheaply. The north will develop itself providing we build roads and other facilities to enable producers to get their products to the cities and other markets.
I believe also that we could develop the north quickly by declaring Darwin a free port. I have considered this matter fully and I know the implications of such a proposal. If we had a free port for everything but immigrants, Darwin would be one of the cheapest places in the Commonwealth in which to live instead of one of the dearest. Darwin and the hinterland would develop in no time. Let us take the plunge. For too long has the north been unpopulated and undeveloped. Time is running out and we must act quickly.
In the short time at my disposal, I wish to refer to trade. The Government has been criticized for not developing our trade in preparation for the challenge from the formation of the European Common Market, but I emphasize that, long before the European Economic Community came into being, we recognized that circumstances would change. That is why the Department of Trade was set up in 1957. Since the formation of that department, a great deal has been done as has been stated by the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz). We have not been lax in trying to find new markets. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has endeavoured to expand our markets overseas because changing circumstances in the world demanded that we should do so.
Finally, I wish to refer to the redistribution of electoral boundaries. According to the press I have a blue ribbon seat now so I am not squealing for myself. I want to look at this matter from the overall position. The act has not been applied as I believe it was intended to be applied. Community of interest and the 20 per cent, tolerance have not been taken into consideration to the extent that they should have been. The people of the Commonwealth, who probably are not as well informed as are members of this House on the Constitution and on what happens in relation to quotas when a census is taken, cannot understand how we have lost two seats when we have had an increase in population. I am not satisfied with the commission’s findings for the reasons which I have mentioned.
In conclusion, let me say that the people must be made aware of the fact that our secondary industries and our standards of living depend upon our exports, 80 per cent, of which come from primary industries. If our primary industries are prosperous, every other section of the community is prosperous. The people must wake up to the fact that if we cannot sell our goods and maintain our export markets, we cannot earn the necessary funds to buy the equipment and goods which we need to maintain employment and our standards of living. I leave it at that. I support the Budget. I repeat that I believe this to be a sane Budget which will maintain stability, stabilize costs and make for continued expansion and development in the Commonwealth.
.- I heard the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) describe this Budget as one of stagnation. I think we could build on that quite easily. It is a Budget of stagnation, frustration and damnation. It contains nothing constructive. Like my colleague, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who is one of the few earnest souls listening to me this afternoon, I well remember many of the Budgets that have been considered in this chamber, but this one is dreary, uninformed, careless and absolutely futile. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) made that clear. He read his Budget speech just like a school girl would read “ The Wreck of the Hesperus “. He knew he was going on the rocks no matter what happened, so he showed no vitality. Although he is a strong swimmer and a great man at undersea fishing, he was not swimming on the night of the Budget. He just allowed the tide to dump him on the beach. He was a political castaway with nothing left and with nothing to say to a tired Parliament and a tired people.
As I listened to the Budget speech I tried to imagine, even after all the years that I have been in this Parliament, that I. was an elector - that powerful person - sitting at home listening to the speech. The Treasurer is an economist by training from his own economists. I remember that a very skilful leader of the House of Commons once said that if all the economists in the world were laid end to end they would never reach a conclusion. On this occasion the Treasurer was the most apt pupil of them all, because he did not get anywhere near the finishing line. If I was unemployed and listening at home to the Budget speech, I would have heard such terms as liquidity, balance of payments, investment levels, gross national product, uncontrolled expenditure-, excessive demand, stimulus - the Treasurer certainly needed some - inflation, deflation and cushioning the impact of unemployment. That was quite a plate of porridge to put before an unemployed man, listening to the Budget speech and trying to learn what the Government had to say about the unemployment problem and when he would be put back to work.
– All right, Little Red Riding Hood, you tell us!
– It is all right for you. Your unemployment is coming surely and certainly after the next election. You had better listen carefully to what I have to tell you so that you can use your by no means inconsiderable capabilities to earn yourself a living.
Unemployment is treated as an academic issue, as something to be discussed on the level of economics. I am suspicious of the words and terms used by the Treasurer. I think he used them to try to bamboozle the people. He said, in effect, “These terms are something occult, something you cannot understand, something so incredibly complex that you must listen to me and marvel “. But the simple questions that the Opposition is asking the Government and the Minister directly responsible - the “Minister for
Unemployment “, the honorable member for Lowe (Mr. McMahon) - are: “ What will you do about unemployment? At this stage will you tell us, for the sake of the people, whether you really know how many people are out of work? Do you care? Is it 93,000? Is it 143,000? Is it 90,000? What is the true figure? “ The Minister has said that we have about 93,000 unemployed. He adopts every subterfuge. He darts in and out of the House looking for more statistics to prove that the position never becomes any worse. But since 1956 it has been worsening rapidly. The number of unemployed rose from 41,000 to 140,000 at one time. I mentioned those figures during my speech on the 1961-62 Budget. We cannot pin down the Minister and get him to tell us how many people are out of work, how big the problem really is and what is to be done about it, so that we can begin to lift a measure of anxiety from the minds of the people of this country. We can do that only by restoring full employment.
The Government creates a smokescreen about this subject. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) swept into the chamber with regal splendour and shot off three or four different versions of his view of the Common Market. Some one else came in and made a speech about international affairs which, of course, we took up and challenged. We followed those speeches through, but we are losing the thread. The people outside want to know whether the Government has created a hard core of unemployed. Can anything be done about it? Does the Government intend to allow the position to become worse year after year until it is rotten, or will it do something about it? We are prevented by one digit, one man, one number in this House from doing something about this problem, although the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) did set forth a plan during his speech last night.
I want to return to the insane stupidity of the Minister in lying to us about unemployment, in lying to us about production, in lying to us about development and then, when he is cornered, raving in this House, as Queensland members do, about what is happening in Queensland. If the members of the Government want to know where the real anger of the people finds its highest expression, let them look at the young and vigorous men who have come to this Parliament from Queensland. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr Brimblecombe) tried to make a speech on behalf of the Queensland Government. That is the best thing that he could do to have himself thrown out of this Parliament quickly. We are all very fond of the honorable member and it was very nice of him to make such a speech. He is going on a tour to Nigeria. If the people there are living in the same heathen darkness as he is in regard to economics they will be looking forward to seeing him. He did not say anything about Queensland’s problems. He did not follow what the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding) and others have been trying to drum into this House week after week and month after month - that Queensland is in distress. The honorable member for Maranoa told us what Mr. Nicklin or some one else said about a specific method of doing these things. That is all low-grade party politics. Will the honorable members opposite ever measure up to providing a solution of the unemployment problem? If we are to eliminate the hard core of unemployment some positive method must be adopted. You will be terrified, as I and every one else who studies the matter was terrified, to know that it is not a matter of having a lot of money and it is not a matter of being a prosperous nation. You can have almost incurable unemployment if you do not watch the social, economic and humanitarian side of your form of government.
Why is it that the great United States of America, with its untold resources and its extensive programme of aid to other countries, has a determined and rugged problem of unemployment, which is running at a level of 5 per cent, and with which it cannot cope? We have to consider problems such as that of unemployment as they affect countries in all parts of the world. We should always take account of the varying standards in different countries. U Thant, the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations, reminded us that two-thirds of the people of the world go to bed hungry at night. A worker in India or Siam or Ceylon or China or Japan may work for a whole day to get the price of a loaf of bread.
These are relevant considerations when we are talking about unemployment. Unemployment is not bound up simply with the old Country Party moan about production. There is plenty of production in the world, but the problem is distribution. We have the goods, but we cannot give them to the people who want them because they have not the money to buy them, and the people who want them are not only the unemployed in our own country but also the starving people throughout the world.
We hear from members of the Government a lot of poppycock about the Common Market. We have a couple of old men in Europe, Adenauer, tottering at 82, and the dictator of France, Charles De Gaulle, keeping England out of a little, narrow customs union where tariff barriers are created. That union will be all right for a while, but the world is not moving in that direction. The countries in that union may effect local industrial improvement and general improvements in local conditions which will make them comfortably off and smug and completely isolated from the rest of the world. But I have no belief that the Common Market represents a great chance for the British. The British ought to be out in the world, where they have always been. They have never really belonged to Europe. If you dig up your history books you will find that every time England entered into an alliance with a country in Europe hatred between European countries resulted in a war, and I say that economic warfare could come out of this European Common Market.
I shall return to the problem of unemployment later, but while I am on this subject I want to refer to the United Nations plan for providing aid for all the underprivileged in the world by taking contributions from the privileged countries to the extent of 1 per cent, of their national incomes. That is the only answer. This is one world. Two manned space craft are circling around this world at the moment, and are soon to be joined by others. The old conceptions have been shattered, and we must realize that we must all now live in one world. Our first job is to do what we can in our own country. We should get down to the grass roots when we are attacking this problem of unemployment. Despite the fact that we have had between 100,000 and 143,000 people unemployed we have also seen cartels operating to keep prices up. Nothing is cheap. Talk to people receiving social service benefits and ask them the price of butter or meat. Have a look at their budgets. It is really terrifying. I made a survey, and I have fresh information, so that I know what I am talking about. Similar problems are faced by people who may be out of work for ten or twelve weeks before managing to slip back into the ranks of employed persons. We have seen the activities of cartels in respect of prices. No matter how many people are out of work the same price levels are maintained. In the days of the great depression, bad as they were, there was a sort of loose system of supply and demand, so that if there was no one to buy goods they became cheaper. Now, however, everything is tied up in a racket.
Let us face this fact: There are many people, themselves in employment, who are not interested in the plight of the unemployed. The Government is not particularly concerned about the situation, because the classic policy of the Liberal Government has always included the maintenance of a pool of unemployed. Government supporters hate to be pinned down to a statement to that effect; they consider it wrong to say such a thing. But all the actions of the Government, from the days of Professor Hytten until to-day, have been aimed at keeping a number of unemployed persons standing by. That is the Government’s idea of stabilizing industry. If it only realized it, that is the best way to smash industry.
If you have a deficiency of purchasing power how do you restore it? Not with the poppycock the Treasurer gave us the other night, full of wise saws and meaning nothing. You find out where the money has gone from the economy and you try to restore it. The survey that I made showed me that you cannot revive local employment because all the small firms trying to expand are unable to get money, either from the trading banks or from the Commonwealth Bank. There is no money for the man who wants to borrow between £2,000 and £8,000. I found an instance of an engineering firm, the owner of which wanted to put some of his old friends back into jobs. He was unable to do so because he could not get any money. Similar circumstances applied in the case of a small textile industry in my electorate, and also a small processed poultry industry. All these little shows were seeking expansion but they could not get any money. It is obvious that if you cannot restore the life blood of the economy, either by cash or overdraft, you cannot restore employment. I spoke to people who had approached at least six banks and in all cases had received the standard answer.
I am most amused when I have a moment to look at television programmes to find that the people are told of the wide choice they have with free enterprise banks. You need not bank at the Wales; you can go to the Commercial instead. But I warn you that if you go there and ask for money you will get exactly the same answer. All those banks have identical policies, and it is regrettable that this Government, which would like to destroy the Commonwealth Bank, makes that bank follow the living letter of credit restrictions, while saying to the private trading banks, *’ You can break it down.” This is why the small, local pockets of unemployment cannot be wiped out; there is just no money for small local industries. If the money was made available all these small shows, added together, could make quite an impact on the unemployment problem.
Let me make another point in relation to unemployment. When we talk about this problem we should get right down to the grass roots. That is something that is not done by honorable members on the Government side, although it is frequently done by Labour Party members. Consider the position in connexion with ordinary services. Take the case of a man who, after the last war, decided to build a house for himself. He would have paid highwayman’s prices for the land and then obtained a war service home loan or borrowed money from some financial institution to build the house. Then he would have settled down to battle it out, saying to himself, “ I am in employment and getting good wages “. But what kills him are charges for services, telephone charges, charges for installation of water and other services, local council rates - all these things that used to be small items now in the aggregate become a horror to the householder who is already tied down trying to hold his home together and keep his family. These are the grass roots problems that should be considered when we are talking about restoring employment. They are very real problems in the case of people who happen to lose their employment.
Charges for services have risen enormously. Take the matter of registration fees for motor vehicles, or charges for mechanical repairs. Whenever a bill is submitted you find that it is a big one compared with what it would have been for the same service ten years ago. That is where the money is running out all the time, reducing spending power and depressing living standards in the home. That money, representing purchasing power in the hands of the people, is flowing out and not coming back into the economy in the way that it should. All these matters I have mentioned are linked with the problem of restoring local employment and, later, full employment.
Another thing I found out from conversations with my constituents is that the people are more or less tied down with the time payment drag. In time a person may manage to pay off a television set or a motor car under the hire-purchase system, but this is what I want the Government to tell me: Why is it that when you go to the bank on your bended knees and, if you are very lucky, manage to borrow some money, you are charged 61 per cent, for it, while the rate of interest under hirepurchase agreements - and a good third of the community’s purchasing is done in this way - fixed by economists and research officers, is 17£ per cent.? The already vulnerable purchaser, struggling with the problem of keeping his small family and paying his taxes and the instalments on his home, is mulct for 17£ per cent, when the standard rate of interest is 6i per cent.
You will not get any lift in purchasing power while that situation exists. The only way of preserving purchasing power, as Mr. Chifley made clear in all his economic theories, is to make sure that money remains in the hands of the people. At present the Government is making it impossible for people to spend more, if they can manage to get rid of their present irrevocable commitments which require them to satisfy the time payment man who knocks regularly at the door for his Hi per cent. Here, of course, we see racket piled on racket, because the banks own the time payment shows, in many cases in their entirety.
The banks have a charter from a government of the day a long way back to operate as bankers. The next thing, of course, is that they operate as time-payment houses, charging interest at 17i per cent. Not satisfied with that, they go into the factoring industry. This is a new and fascinating racket. This ought to be on television. It is conducted in this way: A small merchant or producer who sells goods to Woolworths, Coles or any other big company has to wait 60 days for his money. But the small businessman cannot wait. So he goes to the factor, who gives him his money less 10 per cent. This represents more dragging away of the money that should be in the economic veins of the community. The economic heart-beat ought to be stronger. The vandals to-day are the bankers, the time-payment shows and the factoring organizations that are taking, not one bite, but three, out of the Australian community.
What are the answers to this situation? I do not know whether the submission of this matter to a referendum is constitutionally possible, but if a proposal that the Commonwealth be empowered to deal with this sort of activity were put to a referendum, the referendum would be won without a tremor. These loan sharks, time-payment racketeers and high-pressure financial salesmen, if they deal in this way, ought to be regarded as bankers and brought under the control of the banking legislation. They should be made to provide credit at the statutory interest rate of 5 per cent, or 6 per cent. If this were done, half our problems would be solved.
We cannot accept this nonsense - this hyperbole, if I may so describe it - that we hear from the Treasurer, who says that one sort of financial activity is essentially different from the other. That is just bankers’ baffle. It does not get to the real essence of the problem as we on this side of the chamber see it. How could it do so? Therefore, the problem that we face in relation to this Budget is that it has no realism at all in it.
I warn the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), who is subject to panic under all conditions - this is certainly a situation for him to worry about - that we are tired of hearing about the miseries of the Australian Country Party. They are lined up at present in the public mind as a lot of fence-sitters who just wait for things always to come their way. There are many poor people in Australia and there are many unemployed at present. Yet we hear Government supporters and Ministers, one after another, talk about the ascertained cost of production and ask what primary producers are to do for markets. After all these years, I ask them: What do you intend to do about the best common market in the world - the market composed of the Australians who buy your commodities at prices which give you a fat profit and enable you to export at lower prices obtainable in overseas markets? How often have you starved your fellow Australians of the best of your products and given them only second-rate goods so that you could sell the best of your produce overseas? Members of the Australian Country Party ought to start thinking about the people in Australia’s cities whom the members of that party have brushed aside as if they were of no consequence.
The point is that there is a good home market and it has not been treated properly. If the United Kingdom’s entry to the European Common Market becomes a realized fact, primary producers in this country will be looking for better markets at home. It is time for the Country Party to stop moaning and to throw its weight behind the efforts to solve the real problem that we face - a problem that has many facets and the solution of which is beset by many anxieties. Summing up, I say that I believe that the only way to get back to a stable economy is to think in terms of the grass roots - in terms of what the ordinary people are thinking and saying - and to break for ever from these empty explanations.
Let us be frank. At budget time, the Treasurer comes into the chamber and throws down a document marked “ A “ - exhibit A - and we fall into the stupid trap of discussing it as if it were exhibit B. We start to argue about it as if it were something that it is not. There is all the difference in the wide world, all the difference between the seas that divide the world, between Labour’s economic policy and this Government’s economic policy. We ought to say of the Government’s economic policy, first of all, as our acting leader said last evening: “ We reject it. It is weary. It is the work of men who have grown tired. We are looking for a way out of all this mess but the Government is just letting the economy collapse.”
In my view, the Government performs as if it were engaged in a political barn dance in which one can change partners without anybody taking offence. The Government made so many statements last year, the year before, and the year before that again, of its intentions. Then, having been belted along to the barrier again, it said, in effect: “ Was not that an outrageous thing that Arthur Calwell proposed last year? He wanted £100,000,000 to stimulate the economy. Occasionally he gets a good idea. But let us make the amount a bit more.” So the Government did that. It stole Labour’s idea. Indeed, it lives by stealing the ideas of the Australian Labour Party. Were it not for the content of some of our social policy, which this Government has stolen from us, it would not be where it is to-day.
Unemployment is the real problem. Beside it, the European Common Market issue fades into insignificance, as do our other international problems. We have to think in critical terms about unemployment for this reason: Automation may catch up with us. Mechanization and automation are throwing men and women out of work. In spite of members of the Australian Country Party moaning that they cannot get enough work done in a certain time, they are always down in their home town on market day. We ought to be thinking now of a 35-hour working week. We ought to be thinking in terms of three weeks’ annual leave for all Australian workers in the immediate present. The machine has come among us. Automation and mechanization are throwing men out of work. Shall we do again what the Americans did? Are we to be caught short as they were, although we have their experience before our eyes? We have to do something about this matter, and we have to do it now.
I believe, without being able to say so officially, that, in the incoming Labour government, there will be a Minister for automation, whose job it will be to watch this very thing. Throughout all the centuries of civilization and organization, man has fought for leisure, and the parties opposite have fought every inch of the way to prevent the ordinary man from achieving the leisure that he seeks. But, with the invention of ever-better machines, even the most tory government has to realize not only that more leisure is now desirable but also that it must be granted in order to permit effective organization of the economy. Otherwise, there will be total economic collapse and unemployment will occur on all sides.
In relation to unemployment, I suggest to the Government that it should first make itself aware of what the people want. We can give them a little relief in many ways. We hear much talk about the merits of a deficit budget, compared with a balanced budget. We hear much about national development in broad terms. All these things have been bandied about this chamber so much as to make me see them as in a sort of fantasy. After budget debates, we never get any realism in these matters. Where are the plans? Where are the committees that ought to consider these matters? This Ministry is just a lot of showmen. Let us not think of them as members of a worth-while committee. They resist all efforts to drive some sort of common sense into their heads. Where are the committees, below the ministerial level, that will do some of these things that are so urgently needed?
The major problem, above all, is that of unemployment. The honorable member for Maranoa raised the question of markets. I remind him that to-day we want, not more production, but better distribution. If we are taking Metrecal to keep our weight down and some poor Indian, Chinese or Thailander is starving to death, with an average life expectancy of only 34 years, underweight, miserable and riddled with hook worm and disease, as our New Guinea natives are, the conscience of the world must be aroused, not only in relation to the question of work for all, but also in relation to the levelling of standards for all. I do not see any hope in the European
Common Market, because it is too narrow in scope. It is too much the European concept of the great colonial powers which used to exploit us in the old days, when Asia was just a source of ivory, peacocks, rubber and other exotic things for the benefit of Europe. Now, of course, Europe, under a self-imposed colonialism, is telling us what to do, now that the European colonialists have been kicked out of their colonial empires. We have heard de Gaulle’s advice that we ought to get out of New Guinea. I remind him that he and his countrymen were pushed out of Indo-China at the point of the bayonet.
Let us be a little realistic about these things, lest we be pushed out of our own continent. The trouble is that there has to be a world feature in our thinking. We cannot allow everything to be locked up in Europe. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is shooting grouse and knocking over pheasants on the moors to-day. Lady Chatterley and her lover, too, are probably up on the moors knocking over the pheasants. I am not sure, but I suggest that to honorable members as a possibility. We remember that, when World War II. broke out, Chamberlain was on the moors shooting pheasants. Soon, millions of men started to shoot each other as a result of the ineptitude of the times.
I come now to this point, with regard to the question of international trade and international co-operation as a means of keeping a good economy: We have this phenomenon of 93,000 men out of work and 143,000 likely to be out of work soon in a highly prosperous country. Some of us are well off and comfortable. The problem of this dead weight of unemployment which prevents us from sleeping at night must be met with a broad plan. I suggest that the plan has been given to us by U Thant, Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his address to the Economic and Social Council, in which he talked of a decade of development. He envisages a period of ten years during which we shall apply ourselves charitably, humanely, aggressively and technically to lifting the standards of the people of the under-developed countries, with 1 per cent, of our national income and all our knowhow being poured into those countries. By those means, in ten years we would lift their income by one-quarter and stop the population explosion.
We cannot get Asian markets now because our Asian customers, who want the things we have, cannot pay for them. They have not the money. We must give them the money. We must pitch our tents in Asia, put our banks there and try to wrest trade from the Asian countries. This Asian, this memorable man from the United Nations, U Thant, has put up something which, in its dignity, its simplicity, and its basic and moral approach, makes the Common Market look like a miserable little bit of trading between a few countries trying to get in out of the wet. His plan is commercially acceptable to us. The standards of living of these peoples would be lifted, because we would all be in there lifting whether the helpers belonged to one group them. There would be no question of or another; the Communists have agreed in principle to this decade of development. We would all go in and help the underdeveloped countries to lift their living standards. We in Australia would then be set for life, because we could then sell our goods to the teeming millions in Asia, who would have money with which to buy from us. We could begin slowly and then go up.
Finally, in regard to both unemployment and trade, I say, no matter what natterings come from the Government side of the House - honorable members on that side have no imagination and never have any plans - that you have first of all to look after your own people. You must not feed them a lot of poppycock about unemployment and-
– I wish to take a point of order, Mr. Chairman. I love listening to the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) but I do not like him talking only to one side of the House. Would he please talk to us as well?
Order! The honorable member for Parkes will proceed.
– I always have a tendency, when the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) is present, to turn my shoulder towards my own people, as a protective and safety measure. But if he insists, I will conclude by addressing my remarks to him, through you, Sir.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, those of us who are on this side of the chamber usually find it extremely difficult to follow the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) in a debate. He invariably takes his full time, his grammatical construction is usually in accord with the most meticulous of textbooks and he generally abuses us in his most pleasant way, but we find it extremely difficult to discover any coherency in his arguments and to understand exactly what he has said during his half-hour speech. This afternoon has been no exception, so far as I am concerned, although I listened to the honorable member very attentively.
I found one or two of his statements quite novel. I thought it strange for the honorable member for Parkes, of ali honorable members, to condemn this Government for the magnificent full employment policy which it has pursued since it took office in 1949. I should have thought that the honorable member for Parkes, whose statement about a minimum rate of 5 per cent, of unemployment has now become notorious, would be the last person in this chamber to condemn this Liberal-Country Party Government, whose record has caused all textbooks on this problem to be completely rewritten. For the greater part of the time this Government has been in office the unemployment rate has been less than 2 per cent., or 3 per cent, less than the minimum figure mentioned by the honorable member for Parkes in the declining years of the Labour Government.
I also found it strange for the honorable member for Parkes to be condemning this Government for the activities of hirepurchase companies in New South Wales, particularly the activities of one company in that State which is allegedly charging 17i per cent, interest. I should have thought that he would be asking what the State Labour Government was doing about this problem.
Perhaps the most amusing and novel idea which the honorable member put forward was, “ Do not let us worry about the outside world. We have the greatest common market in the world in Australia.” His philosophy is, “Do not let us worry about exporting anything. Let us sell all that we have in this country to our own people, and everything will be all right.” Would it were that that position could obtain! However, any fifth-year high school student of economics knows that, while that goal is desirable, in this big sophisticated world in which we live it is completely impossible of attainment. The honorable member for Parkes has many talents, but a vast economic knowledge is not one of them.
We expected that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), leading the challenge to the Government in the debate, would produce proposals which made economic good sense. On Thursday last, replying to the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the Common Market, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, to our disappointment, avoided discussion of the political issue and concentrated on the economic aspects of Britain’s entry. We felt that that might be a hint that he had become economically sophisticated and would be able to comment in some articulate way on the nation’s Budget. He had a whole week in which to think about his speech. No doubt he had advice from many socialist economists, who now seem to abound in our universities and are not loth to give the Labour Party advice at every opportunity. So we listened to him with some interest to discover what his main items of criticism would be.
They were twofold. He said that the economy was too stable - that the policies it was following reeked too much of stability - and then he bemoaned the fact that there were no concessions contained in the Budget. From the way in which members of the Opposition are talking during this debate, it seems that in their minds the word “ stability “ is now a dirty word. The Labour Party is composed of individuals who are the so-called champions of the people of the working class, of pensioners, superannuants and people on fixed incomes - the people who are treated tragically in any economy other than one in which stability is the keynote. The obvious inference from the remarks of honorable members opposite is that they are saying, “Do not let us worry about the pensioners or people on fixed incomes. Do not worry about stability. Let us flood the economy with money and let boom conditions operate.” This is a contradiction which I cannot understand. Then there was the reference by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition - it is a point which has been repeated twice to-day in this chamber, to my knowledge - to the age-old claim of the Labour Party for a 35-hour week.
I should have thought that at this time of our history we have a glorious opportunity to equate the price level and cost structure of this country with those of other countries. When we are faced with the grievous problems which will arise if Britain unconditionally enters the Common Market and while inflation is creeping into Europe, Japan and others of our competitor countries, we should think of stabilizing our economy and keeping hold of our cost structure. But this does not seem to be the philosophy of the Labour Party.
Another disappointing thing about the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was that he abused us for not giving hand-outs and concessions. I was amused by the comments made by way of interjection by several honorable members opposite during the speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) was heard to say, when the Treasurer said that at this stage there could be no other concessions as far as he National Welfare Fund was concerned, “ Why do you not commit suicide quickly? “ The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) said, “ This Government wants to go out “. Obviously the belief of members of the Opposition is that the only way to win votes and to obtain the confidence and trust of the Australian people is to give them repeated and sustained hand-outs. That is a cheap, tawdry gesture. We on this side of the chamber give the Australian voter credit for more common sense than do our friends opposite.
The accepted philosophy in all countries now is that a government must intrude into the affairs of the economy in order to keep it on an even keel. That philosophy is accepted even by businessmen. However, a philosophy seems to be developing in Australia that when things are going well, when the economy is buoyant or in a state of boom, the businessman deserves full credit for his business ability and perspicacity; but as soon as matters take a down turn the great Australian tradition of blaming the government comes to the fore. That is why many people expect the government to play a leading part in guiding the economy. The Budget is no longer the mechanical result of an arithmetical subtraction of anticipated expenditure from expected income; it is a calculated appraisal of the condition of the economy and a wilful act of the Government to control and guide the economy in the way it thinks best.
At this stage I would like briefly to examine factors in the economy - first, material factors; and secondly, psychological factors, each of which has now become most important. It is interesting to look at the development in economic knowledge over the last twenty years. The tools that have come into the hands of economists and governments in the last twenty years for diagnosing material factors in the economy have developed considerably. On the other hand, to date no great diagnostic technique has been devised to detect and anticipate movements in the psychological factors in the economy. In measuring the material factors in the Australian economy to-day we see certain things. We see overseas reserves running at £561,000,000, with drawing rights on the International Monetary Fund amounting to £212,000,000. The consumer price index has not moved upwards; in fact it has moved downwards over the last three quarters. We see our trade balance in a most favorable and happy light. We see the number of unemployed continually decreasing.
– You had better leave unemployment alone.
– I will not leave it alone. I will debate the employment situation in this country to-day with anybody. The present proportion of unemployed is 2 per cent. The figure must be looked at objectively. Some few months ago in this chamber I cited various radical authorities, such as Karl Marx and other authorities such as Adam Smith, none of whom set an inevitable unemployment figure in a sophisticated society below 3 per cent. Anybody who has made a study of economics will know that inevitably there is always a pool of seasonal workers and unemployables who at any one point of time cannot be employed. Economists, ranging from conservative to radical, seem to set the figure for that pool at at least 1.5 per cent. With Australia’s proportion of unemployed running at 2 per cent., is the excess of .5 per cent, over the inevitable pool sufficient to warrant the castigations, the bemoaning and calamity howling that have come from the Opposition?
Is the Opposition’s confused and sustained attack on the Government in respect of unemployment warranted? I say that it is not. I believe that the small pool of unemployed that we have at the moment will rapidly be taken up. That is a subject about which I will say more later. One finds on analysis that the present pool of unemployed consists largely, if not totally, of unskilled workers. That condition is a hangover from the boom of 1960. In my view over-full employment is one of the greatest tragedies that can occur in this country. When you have over-full employment you have a tendency for young men about to leave school not to seek further learning and training but to go immediately into the work force unskilled.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
– by leave - I have to inform the House of the tragic accident that occurred this afternoon at East Sale Royal Australian Air Force base. At 1.45 p.m. four Vampire jet trainers took off to practise aerobatics. Shortly after 2 p.m., when recovering from a roll, the four aircraft hit the ground some 7i miles from East Sale. All six occupants of the aircraft were killed. I extend my deepest sympathy and that of the Government to the relatives of the men killed. Their names will be released as soon as their next-of-kin have been informed. A team of accident investigators has been sent to East Sale, but, as all persons taking part in the exercise were killed, it may be some time before the cause of this tragic accident can be ascertained.
– by leave - The Opposition would like to be associated in the expression of sympathy to the relatives of the men who lost their lives in this tragic accident.
Sitting suspended from 5.51 to 8 p.m.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed.
.- Mr. Chairman, before the suspension of the sitting I was attempting to answer the Opposition’s attack on the Budget. That attack seemed to take two prongs. One was that we had not given enough handouts, to which I have replied that it is not the philosophy of this Government to buy votes in such a tawdry fashion. The second prong of the attack was that we were concerned too much with stability. This is a rather remarkable attitude for a political party such as the Australian Labour Party to adopt. The Labour Party is a self-appointed champion of all those people, such as pensioners and those on fixed incomes, who are hurt most by an unstable economy. In fact, every lime honorable members opposite talk about the economy, instead of being champions of working people, pensioners and others, they seem to be champions of that class of person who has a vested interest in the continuance of sustained inflation.
I was beginning to review the remarkable soundness of the Australian economy to-day, taking it through its various facets, including our overseas reserves, the consumer price index which has remained stable for so long, the balance of trade and unemployment - I have shown that the real unemployment to-day, in my view, is less than .5 per cent, of the work force - and I was about to talk of the internal demand of the economy which, in my view, is strong at the moment.
The Treasurer pointed this out in his Budget speech and gave several examples of how it was strong. One of the examples was the motor industry, and to his remarks on that subject the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) replied in the fashion that I shall now indicate. I have done some research on this and I find the results of my research rather interesting. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in attempting to repudiate the Treasurer’s claim, said this about the motor industry -
I quote from an official publication of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries of Australia . . .
I thought at the time that it was rather strange that he did not say which publication. His reference to the publication was rather vague. But with the efficient aid of the Library staff I tracked it down and I find that the publication is called “ The Commonwealth Automotive Review “. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition made the following quotation: -
The strong resurgence of the new vehicle market must, it is predicted, taper off very soon.
That is what the Acting Leader of the Opposition claimed was stated by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries of Australia in its journal. But when I tracked down that journal I found that the chamber had not said that at all. The honorable gentleman had left out the first part of the sentence. The article deals with certain stimuli that are affecting the automotive industry and, after discussing these stimuli, such as the increasing tendency in Australia for two-car families, the tendency to buy baby cars and so on, the article goes on to say -
The effect of such stimuli, which have contributed to a strong resurgence of the new vehicle market, must, it is predicted, taper off very soon.
In other words, Mr. Chairman, this journal says the stimuli will taper off, not, as the Acting Leader of the Opposition alleges, that the resurgence itself will taper off. This, to say the very least, shows a lack of complete honesty on the part of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. But to set the matter completely straight I took the trouble of telephoning the director of the chamber, who gave me the correct figures for new vehicle registrations this year, and these figures paint a rather remarkable picture.
In January there were 19,500 registrations, an all-time high for any month of January in Australia; in February there were 22,200, which was only 1,000 fewer than February of 1960, the boom year, and much higher than February, 1961; in March, 26,280, which was only 800 fewer than March of the boom year, 1960; in April there were 22,094, which was only 100 fewer; but then in May - and honorable members will see how the picture is gradually improving - there were 27,373 new vehicles registered, which was 1,300, or 4 per cent., more than in the boom year of 1960; in June of this year there were 28,000, which is 2,400 more than in the boom year; and in July there was the astonishing figure of 28,800, which is 2,800, or 10 per cent., more than were registered in the boom year.
I find it remarkably difficult to see that any economy is stagnant when there is such a demand for motor vehicles. I do not know of any group of impoverished people who will queue up for a motor car and will buy 10 per cent, more in the month of July, 1962, than they bought in the corresponding month of a boom year.
We read only last week in the newspapers the official reports of two motor manufacturers. For a vehicle manufactured by one there is a waiting period of two months, and for the vehicle from the other it is three months. Sir, I suggest that “ stagnant “ and “ stable “ are hardly the adjectives to use in such a situation.
In short we are disappointed with the Opposition’s reply to the Budget speech, the Budget being a tremendously vital document affecting the destiny of our nation. I say sincerely that we on this side of the chamber hope for some constructive and valid criticism from members opposite. We recognize, of course, that they are entitled to eke out as much political capital from a budget as they decently can, but at the same time we expect some basic, sincere and constructive criticism from a political group which has the presumption to want to govern this country.
I must say from my own point of view that I have had some doubts about the Budget. I rather query at this stage the wisdom of budgeting for so large a deficit. I say this because I find that there is a rather frightening similarity between to-day’s conditions and those obtaining in mid-1959. I should like to quote from the White Paper on the Australian economy, issued by the Treasury recently. In discussing the 1960 boom its says -
There can have been few to predict, in mid- 1959, that a boom on such a scale lay just ahead. . . . Although the economy had come through a difficult year rather well, there had been anxiety earlier about unemployment which, In January, 1959, had touched 2 per cent. At the end of June, unemployment was still regarded as rather high and a net 80,000 more people were expected to join the work force during the year. On these grounds there were many demands at the time for further expansionary action by the Government.
Sir, I find a great similarity between these conditions and conditions to-day, because when we look around we find that savings banks deposits increased by £157,000,000 in the year 1961-62; debts on hire purchase were considerably reduced, allowing a great, latent potential for quick expansion; fixed deposits are rather high; the trading banks are remarkably liquid, so much so in fact that they are capable of unleashing quickly great amounts of credit into the economy. The Government is expecting £90,000,000 from tax refunds to go into the pockets of the people this financial year, mainly in the next six months. State governments will have £34,000,000 more to spend this year than in 1961-62.
Sir, it is one of the truisms of economics that investment generates incomes, and increased incomes further generate investment, and so it goes on. I know that the Government is watching this position very closely, and I am greatly encouraged and thrilled at the step taken by the Treasurer to consult with business leaders and representatives of companies before the preparation of the Budget. I know that he is continuing these consultations with the leaders of industry. I repeat - and I know this is the view of the Government - a recurrence of the 1960 boom would be one of the great economic and social tragedies of the century.
In the concluding part of his speech, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to planning. This is the catch-cry of the Opposition. I constantly remind myself that every man sitting opposite is an avowed socialist. Every man sitting opposite is dedicated to the implementation of a plan or a series of plans if, by some mischance, the Australian Labour Party finds itself in office. Opposition members are committed to a national planning authority which would steer capital investment into various sectors according to calculated need and priority. Some of the Labour Party’s newly found1 economic advisers, such as Sir Douglas Copland, are now writing articles to the newspapers in which they ask, “ Why do we not plan? “ In answer, I could do no better than give a brief example of how socialist planning, which can ‘become the very bane of an economy, has worked in other countries. I would have thought that in this enlightened age it would be unnecessary to remind even Opposition members that planning just does not work in the context of their own philosophy.
Let me refer to an article written by Mr. John Brunner, who was economic adviser to the British Treasury for three years. He said -
If proof is needed of the unscientific nature of forecasting of this sort, one has only to look at the record. Every industry’s cupboard is littered with old skeletons of forecasts that have gone awry; and if I choose to illustrate the point by reference to the fuel industries, this is not because the efforts of fuel forecasters are egregiously incompetent. Rather it is because, the fuel industries being publicly owned, their forecasts and the subsequent outcome are more exposed to public view.
Mr. Brunner referred to the Ridley committee. The economist on it was Professor Arthur Lewis, who made a particular name for himself as an authority on the processes making for economic growth. It also included some of the country’s best minds from industry and technology. I shall give some of the results of this committee’s forecasting. In referring to the decade from 1951 to 1961, the committee predicted that the consumption of coal would decline by 4 per cent.; in fact it fell by 28 per cent. It predicted that the consumption of coke and manufactured fuel would rise by 41 per cent.; but it slipped 1 per cent. Gas consumption, in terms of coal equivalent, dropped1 4 per cent.; the committee said it would rise by 27 per cent. Electricity consumption, for which the committee had predicted a 38 per cent, increase, actually rose by 84 per cent. The consumption of oil - to be exact, the socalled black oils - rose by 249 per cent, against the committee’s forecast of 82 per cent.
We can easily imagine the tragedy that would occur if a government geared its whole economic planning to a forecast which was subject to such ridiculous errors, although the forecast was allegedly made by the best economic brains in Great Britain.
The element of human fallibility enters all planning and all forecasting. It terrifies me to think that this Government or any government in Australia would gear its whole programme to, and gamble the happiness and destinies of the Australian people on, the whim, whether it be an optimistic or a pessimistic whim, of some economic forecaster. I believe that the Budget, with the one qualification I have made - I know the Government will keep a constant vigil on the supply and demand equation - is a most commendable document and one worthy of the support of this committee.
– I was interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp). He said he was rather terrified of the hand-outs that the Opposition would make. At the conclusion of his speech he also said he was rather terrified of what the Labour Party would do in the future. He said we should not take notice of people who say they are able to forecast economic trends. I tell the honorable member that it is rather terrifying to me to learn that a man of his knowledge and ability is fearful of what the Opposition may do and of its propositions. While I was listening to the honorable member, I was reminded of the position in England some years ago when a Labour government introduced the national health plan. Some people said then that this plan would ruin the country.
– And it did, too!
– Here is another honorable member who makes a fallacious statement about ruining the country. Australia’s difficulty to-day in obtaining migrants from England stems from the fact that the English people are better off now than they have ever been. The honorable member cannot contradict that assertion. The English worker to-day receives better wages and has better conditions than he has ever had, and the people of England as a whole are in a better position than they have ever been in.
I read in a newspaper recently about one of these hand-outs that the honorable member said would ruin the country. In England, a married man with three children is receiving £12 or £13 a week. This is a hand-out given not by a Labour government or a socialist government but by a Conservative government. This man said that he had never worked in his life and did not intend to work. The authorities told him to take a light job, but they could not find a light job for him. He said, “ I have not had a job yet and I am not going to have one.” That married man with three children has lived in England on what a Conservative government for years has been handing out to him as social service benefits.
When Government supporters say that Labour’s plans will damage the country, they are wrong. Some harm may perhaps be done in individual cases. Years ago, a man said to me, “ Look at those pensioners; they get their pension at the post office and then go to the pub and drink the lot.” Perhaps one pensioner in a thousand did that, but the remaining 999 made good use of their money. Government supporters say that Labour would give hand-outs. But the Government claims - this is its claim; I am not acknowledging it - that it has handed out more to the pensioners than the Australian Labour Party ever did. That is the Government’s contention. But then the honorable members opposite speak about the socialist state and refer to what we Would do.
The honorable member for Higinbotham referred to industry and said that every Opposition member is an avowed socialist. The honorable member did not attempt to define the term “ socialist “. What is a socialist? The honorable member may have some conception of what he means when he refers to a socialist. I tell him that if socialism means that I, as a member of the Parliament, will work to give every person a fair and reasonable share of the production and wealth of the country, a reasonable opportunity to educate his children to take a proper place in the community, and if it means that I must say to the people, “The greatest thing in your life is not money or property but good health “ and then make provision for their good health, I am proud to be a socialist. Socialism does not mean what some people on the other side of the chamber think it means. In reply to the honorable member I would say that if every member on this side is an avowed Socialist, evidently every member on the other side is an avowed anti-Socialist. I know there are members on the Government side who would go just as far as I would in implementing socialistic plans for the benefit of the people.
The honorable member then criticized what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) said about stability. He seemed to think that we were on the wrong road in saying that all the Government thought about was stability and that it did not care about the future of the people. I say to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) that he has created stability in one respect which makes me feel pretty sore. For the next twelve months he has stabilized the amount payable to the dependent wife of an invalid pensioner at £2 7s. 6d. a week.
– What did she get under your Government?
– If judged in proportion to the age pension, she got more than she is getting now. The Government wants to keep conditions stable. It wants people such as dependent wives of invalid pensioners to receive no more than they are now receiving. Such people are feeling their present position very much. The Government has said that it wants to help the person at the bottom. At present, the pensioners who have the hardest row to hoe are not the married couples who have paid for their homes, who might have a few hundred pounds in the bank and who are receiving the full pension. The real sufferers are the single men and women. Many of the single women may have worked until they attained the age of 60 when they received the pension. Many of them have no close relatives to help them. They have to go into the back places, the poorer sections, of Melbourne, Sydney or Adelaide to get a room.
The Government has said that it is going to do something extra. I give the Government credit for moving forward in one direction. It has said that it will give 10s. a week extra to single pensioners if they are dependent solely upon their pensions. Although such provision has not been made in legislation, the Government has arranged for such payments to be made if, in the opinion of the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) or the Director of Social
Services, single pensioners have insufficient to keep them. If single pensioners receive less than 10s. a week apart from their pension or have less than £210 in the bank they can receive 10s. a week towards their rent. However, the Government has stabilized that position. It does not propose to extend that assistance. As a result, if a married couple occupies separate rooms in a Church home they do not receive the 10s. allowance although all the single pensioners in the home receive it. I took this inequality up with the Miinster for Social Services long ago and he admitted that a difficulty existed in connexion with such cases. But the Government wants stability. Consequently, these people will get stability and nothing else.
When I visited a home for old people on one occasion an old lady who was in a terrible state showed me a letter which she had received from the Department of Social Services. I asked, “ What is the matter? “ She said, “ I have just received this letter. It states that I am not entitled to the 10s. a week because my husband is also an inmate of this home.” Neither she nor her husband could receive this allowance although the rest of the inmates were entitled to it. It is no good making representations to the department in Adelaide in respect of such cases because the department has instructions that the allowance is not to be paid.
Let me examine another matter which is linked with pensions. Two or three years ago the Government - stable again - said that it would give long service leave to waterside workers, and it introduced a bill in order to do so. I stated at the time that the bill was not designed so much to give long service leave as to intimidate the waterside workers. That intimidation still exists to-day. The Government stated when the bill was introduced that if waterside workers stopped work on any day for a reason which the authorities thought was not justified the men would lose three days’ appearance money. On top of that, the Government provided that for stopping work on one day the waterside worker would lose 30 days of his long service leave. The waterside workers are bitter about this. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has said that the position of the waterside workers in Sydney is the fault of the Sydney executive of the union and that the union was being fined. But the fine imposed on the union is not the only penalty suffered by the waterside workers. Those men who do not work lose three days’ appearance money. In Port Adelaide there are approximately 2,000 waterside workers who normally receive £3, £4, or £5 a day. If there is a strike, a man cannot work whether he wants to or not, and during a three-day stoppage he would lose nearly £5 appearance money. Thus, not only is a fine of £300 or £500 imposed on the union but the men lose three days’ appearance money for each day on which a stoppage occurs.
I think the shipowners had the idea that if a man had to pay out of his own pocket for a stoppage he would not stop work. We have been told in the past that the men did not mind stopping work on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday because if they went back on Friday or Saturday and it was desired to get the ship away they would get overtime rates to do it. It was said that the only way to prevent such stoppages was to impose this sort of penalty; that is intimidation.
When the Government introduced long service leave it said to the man over 70, “ Out you go and if you are entitled to long service leave you can get it.” Previously those men could get casual work when the waterfront was busy. Numbers of them would earn £5, £6 or £7 a week on an average when they could get extra work. They were not entitled to attendance money but they could earn something because casual work was available. Immediately the Government brought in the provisions I am complaining about, those men over 70 years of age could not earn that £5, £6 or £7 a week and they went back to the bare pension. Yet this Government claims that it is legislating for the benefit of the people and the workers!
No body is more sorry than I am to see hold-ups on the waterfront. We know that when the shipping companies say they have lost so many thousands of pounds because of a hold-up, in a few weeks or months they will recover their loss by increasing freights. They get it all back and those who pay are the consumers in the community generally. If a businessman imports a new machine and it is held up on the wharf, he adds the extra cost to the overhead when the machine goes into production and so increases the cost of the product to the consumers.
The Government claims that it is working in the interest of the consumers and that the Budget is designed to make the country prosperous. I will not discuss unemployment figures because they have been dealt with faithfully by members of the Opposition who have already spoken. I will not go into the economics of the situation because they have been or will be dealt with by honorable members on this side of the House who have studied economics. I am more concerned with the people. It has always been my contention, first in the State Parliament and then in the Commonwealth Parliament, that a budget should be designed to take the wealth and the expenditure of the country and equalize them as fairly as possible among all the people, whether it be the dairymen producing butter, the man working on the roads, or the tradesman in a workshop or factory. I admit that if the country is prosperious many benefits will flow automatically throughout the community, but I am very concerned when honorable members say they are satisfied that we are in a good position, that the economy is stable, that the country is prosperous and therefore that there is nothing to do.
I was rather amused by the references made by the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) to the motor industry. The honorable member cited figures. It is marvellous how authoritative figures can be made to sound.
– Be fair!
– I am merely saying that it is wonderful what you can do with figures. The honorable member overlooked several things in his calculations when he talked about the big increase in motor car sales in July. I wonder if honorable members know one of the reasons for the increase in sales? I have a new motor car. I did not intend to get one until next year, but I bought one in June because the manufacturing company told its agents that as a new model would soon be produced existing stocks should be cleared. I remember when one company told its own men by circular - there was no secret about it - that if they took a car of the model about to be superseded they could have a special discount of £55. That was not something to be sneezed at. The men knew that if they waited until the next year they would not get the concession.
I read in the newspapers recently that the agents in Sydney were taking £100 off the price of a superseded Holden. For months past, the talk in the newspapers and among people in the motor car industry was that the Holden company, the Ford company and the British Motor Corporation were all bringing out new models and that there would be fierce competition between the companies in the market for medium-sized six-cylinder cars.
– Where did the people get the money to buy these motor cars?
– Many of these people had the money or enough for a deposit, but they had it last January, too, before there was all this talk about a new model. Why did they not buy motor cars then? Several years ago when the Australian Labour Party said it would abolish the means test and increase social service payments, honorable members on the Government side asked, “ Where will you get the money? “ We proposed to give a bigger share of the national wealth to the people who needed it. How would we pay for it? I would say that I would tax the people more.
– You did not say that at the general election.
– I did, and I say it now. I told the workers that. I was not afraid to say it. Evidently when the honorable member for McPherson gets on the stump at election time, he is not game to tell the people. He has said, “ You did not say that at the election “. I say I did say that. I challenge honorable members on the Government side to say that Labour puts up a proposition and is not prepared to say where the money will come from to pay for it. We know that the money has to come out of the pockets of the people. But out of what pockets? There is not one honorable member on either side of the chamber who could not have got along very well without the recent 5 per cent, cut in personal income tax. I invite anybody who could not have done so to put up his hand. Nobody raises a hand!
Honorable members could afford to pay that 5 per cent.; it would not have hurt them and the Government would not have had such a big deficit. Honorable members opposite say that members of the Opposition are avowed socialists. I say that an avowed socialist is a man who is prepared to enact legislation and conduct the affairs of the country so that everybody will have a reasonable means of existence and a reasonable standard of living. I make no bones about it when I say I would do that.
What I would wish for every person in the community is good health and the means of keeping it. This Government has recognized the need for a health scheme. When the Labour Government was in office we could not get the British Medical Association, as it was then, to work with us to keep the Australian people in good health. But this Government made an agreement and introduced a medical benefits scheme. I am not speaking of the pensioner medical scheme but of the general medical scheme. The Government said if any man or woman contributed to an approved society for a certain benefit payment, the Government would contribute a similar payment, but that a person who did not contribute to a society would get nothing at all. That is how the scheme works to-day.
I can fell the Australian Medical Association that when the scheme was introduced, I told members of friendly societies that whereas they were spending £20 for an operation then and had to pay the lot themselves, the bill would go up when the Government’s scheme was introduced. There is no question that it has. The British Medical Association would not agree to Labour’s proposal because the then Minister for Health, Senator McKenna, wanted a list of the charges that could be made for certain operations. The doctors said, “ No, we are prepared to come in with you in your scheme to help people meet the cost of operations but we will not let you decide how much operations are to cost “. To-day even those people who contribute to medical benefits funds are faced with enormous costs.
The case was brought to me recently of a woman who needed a certain ear operation. The specialist’s fee was 100 guineas, or £105. The most the woman could receive from the medical benefits fund was £45 or, if she contributed for extended benefits, up to £60. She would have to pay to the specialist £45 or £60 more than the assistance she would receive from the Government and the society to which she was contributing. Although I am unable to lay down the manner in which it could be done, I claim that the position could be improved considerably.
I have been referring to general medical benefits. Now let me deal with pensioner medical benefits. I have in mind the provision of hearing aids for pensioners. Today the pensioners must pay for them. The same position applies to pensioners who need chiropody. If you cared to visit some of the chiropody clinics you would know as well as I do that most of the people who are treated are elderly and that they must attend every week for this treatment by competent chiropodists. But they receive no assistance from medical benefits funds. I hope that the Department of Health will investigate the position to see whether some assistance can be given to pensioners in relation to chiropodists’ charges.
I should like to refer now to a matter which has been the subject of questions on the notice-paper and in respect of which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has not been prepared to give an answer - the standardization of the gauge of the railway from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. The Government parties have a railways committee, of which the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is chairman. The committee, assisted by the Government, travelled all over Australia to investigate this matter. One of the things which the committee stated was urgently necessary was the standardization of the gauge of the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. Yet now we have a statement by the Premier of South Australia to the effect that he has received a letter from the Prime Minister stating that as the Commonwealth Government has too many other commitments at present it cannot make funds available now for’ the standardization work to be carried out and, therefore, it will have to be postponed indefinitely. The Premier of South Australia, rightly or wrongly, has stated that he believes the Commonwealth Government has dropped the whole thing and will do nothing about it.
– That is not so.
– If the honorable member knows that, I should like him to use his influence with the Prime Minister to so inform Sir Thomas Playford. I am merely repeating what Sir Thomas has said. If the proposal is not to be dropped, what will be done? This matter affects not only South Australia but also Australia generally. We have been told that about 16 per cent, of the lead which is exported to Great Britain goes through Port Pirie. Honorable members opposite have told us that the Port Pirie smelting organization is the biggest organization of its kind in the world, turning out an enormous quantity of lead from ore which comes from Broken Hill. We have assisted the workers of Broken Hill by paying them a lead bonus. They in turn have made Broken Hill a prosperous town. I have visited Broken Hill on several occasions and I have seen the difference in the town in relation to housing and general conditions since the lead bonus has been paid. The town will suffer if the price that we receive for our lead falls. In fact, the whole country will suffer both internally and externally if the traffic in lead from Broken Hill is discontinued.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) made a very interesting though very long speech last night. In the early part of it he made an interesting concession. He conceded that this Government will be in charge of the next Budget. That is an indication of how the honorable member’s judgment is improving. He also permitted himself to make a Labour policy speech - very bravely, because he knows very well that he will never be called upon to put Labour’s proposals into operation. When I considered his speech very carefully, I noticed all the planning that was proposed. We were to be planned in this way and planned in that way. I could not help thinking how unfortunate it is that so many of the young people to-day who vote and who work do not know the days when the Labour Party planned us into shortages, planned us into black markets and planned us into despair. It is a great Pity
What is the position to-day? Because this Government has been in power for so long and so effectively the people cannot compare it with the Opposition. They have no performance of the Opposition with which to compare ours. Those people who have lived a little longer than our young people will remember that the only time the Labour Party was in office in peace time it made such a mess of things that it went out of office after three years. It had one term of office in peace time! The Government is suffering from its own success. By that I mean that the Government is like a man who has reached the top of the tree in his own profession. He is never compared with the people he beats; he is compared only with himself, and unless he outdoes himself people claim that he is a failure. That is what has happened to this Government. The public expects us to outdo ourselves every time. The extraordinary thing is that mostly we do.
If you think quietly on how the Deputy Leader of the Opposition began his speech, you will remember that he began in the traditional Labour calamity-howling way. The Labour Party has a vested interest in unemployment, because that is the only path to the treasury-bench open to it. No one would cry more than would the Labour Party if there were full employment to-morrow. It has done everything that it can by speech and by action to prevent full employment. I have said that previously in this chamber, and I shall repeat it. The Labour Party is constantly trying to intimidate those in work with the thought that to-morrow they will be out of work. Then it has the impertinence to say, “Who has caused a want of confidence in this community? “ The Labour Party, with its friends in the newspaper world, has done far more than has any one else to cause this want of confidence.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that we should look at the state of the economy. Well, look at it fair in the face. I am certain that any one who came to Australia from abroad would be amazed at how good this economy is. Think of all the things at which you would look to see whether we are following an upward trend. You would see banks which never have been more liquid. I shall relate that in a moment to the proposed deficit. You would learn that never before had they been so free to follow their own preferences in lending. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who, unfortunately, is not here to-night, thoroughly approves that position. He has suffered a change of heart. He now believes that the banks should be free to go their own way. Their overdraft accommodation limits have increased by £70,000,000 since last February. Savings banks deposits have increased by £70,000,000 since last February. There are more people in employment. This is the important aspect - there are 81,000 more people in employment than there were this time last year. Production in most industries is increasing.
The honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) referred to the increase in the number of motor vehicle registrations. These have been increasing at the rate of 300,000 new motor cars a year. Does that bespeak poverty? Does that bespeak a grounddown population? The last speaker for the Opposition told us that he bought his car because he was offered a £55 cut in the price, but we know that he has to run it and to pay insurance on it and to suffer the loss through depreciation. People can afford to do these things these days, but they never could in the days of the Labour Government.
Costs and prices are stable. The last speaker made a most eloquent plea for pensioners and others in similar circumstances, and while I listened to him I wondered whether he realized what stable prices mean to the pensioner. To a pensioner receiving £5 5s. a week a 5 per cent, increase in inflation means a loss of 5s. a week. To a man receiving £14 a week, such an increase in inflation means a loss of 14s. a week. Simply by holding the line we can, as it were, give such a man an extra increment. This Government has been able to do so.
But there is, and I regret it - I have used this expression once before - more unemployment than this Government would wish. The Government is very keen that there should be no unemployment. The unemployment has been reduced more slowly than it might have been, and, as I have said before, this is due in no small measure to an unreasonable timidity that has been induced both in the consumer and, I regret to say, in many businessmen, by the sort of calamity howling that we hear from honorable members opposite. This timidity has caused a slower recovery than there should have been.
What is the function of the Budget in relation to all of this? The function of the Budget, of course, is to provide, if it is appropriate, more money in the community. This could be done in one or both of two ways, either by reducing income or increasing expenditure or both. This Budget does both. The last speaker for the Opposition said that we ought to increase the revenue. He wanted more taxes. I would have thought that his leader would not have a bar of that, because he has expressed his belief in a deficit. This Budget has had its -form dictated by the February measures. In one sense it is, in truth, a continuation of the February measures. It is a sort of February budget. The Government has said - and I would subscribe to the view - that its measures then were right and adequate, and that, given enough time, they will achieve what they were introduced to achieve.
I was amused to hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition implying that our deficit of £118,000,000 is the same as that involved in his leader’s proposals last year. Really! One wonders how the Deputy Leader can reconcile that statement with his own standards of mental honesty, because the proposals of the Leader of the Opposition involved the deficit of £100,000,000 in four months, while this Budget provides for a deficit of £118,000,000 in, virtually, sixteen months.
The Leader of the Opposition also wanted tax cuts and additional expenditure which would have greatly increased the deficit that he proposed. The proposal of this Government bears as much relationship to the proposals of the Leader of the Opposition as, I suppose, a sparrow does to an eagle - and in this case this party is the eagle. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition agreed that there should be a deficit. This was a very important concession. But he made two other very interesting concessions, which I want to examine to see whether they fit into this grandiose Labour policy that he talked about, and which was really so much guff which we got, if I may say so, from Gough. The first concession was that you can overdo a deficit. It is not often that you hear a Labour chap agree that you can overdo a deficit. Then he said that in this year the deficit should be £160,000,000. Mark you, he set the main, the upward limit, at £160,000,000. Our deficit is £118,000,000. Then he saidand this is very important - that he would make up the difference not by altering revenue and not by altering any expenditure that this Government has provided for in the Budget, but by adding to the expenditure an extra £42,000,000 for social services and education in some unspecified proportion.
That is a very important statement. He does not suggest that anything the Governmen has done is wrong. He simply says that there ought to have been another £42,000,000, but no more, in the deficit. 1 have had some figures taken out to see how he would make up this £42,000,000. He said it would be in pensions, child endowment and special grants for education. That sounds awfully good, but when you get down to analysis you find that an extra 5s. for pensions would mean an extra £9,000,000 in this Budget period and £12,000,000 in a full year. An additional 5s. in child endowment would cost £34,000,000 in this Budget period and, I think, £42,000,000 in a full year. So an extra 5s. for pensions and for child endowment would eat up £1,000,000 more than he says is the top mark of the deficit, or £43,000,000 instead of £42,000,000 in this Budget period. After that, of course, there is also to be a grant for education, but unfortunately for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition he has run out of deficit, he has run out of money.
I have given a simple analysis to show that these statements are so much guff when you bring them to the touchstone. After all, you cannot talk about increases of much less than 5s., and that is the figure I took.
He would use up his extra deficit in the two items that I mentioned. But, in addition to that, he must agree, as I think every reasoning man would, that you cannot go on with deficits for ever. They are devices to be used occasionally in special circumstances. Do not forget that a deficit this year has to be picked up next year or the year after, and very often it has to be picked up twice over. I am sure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would agree that when you are deficit financing you cannot go in for irreversible expenditures. What he was suggesting in regard to social services was the building in of two irreversible expenditures. He could not reverse them the next year. We, on the other hand, have used reversible devices. We know that in budgeting for a deficit you cannot introduce irreversible items, because if you do you will never get out of your difficulties. We heard the Deputy Leader deliberately choosing two irreversible items, which, taken together, would more than eat up his suggested extra deficit of £42,000,000.
I want to bring this suggested additional deficit to the touchstone to see whether it would bring about what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition calls full employment. It is very noticeable that the measures of February of this year allowed payasyouearn tax deductions to be reduced, over the four months between February and June, by the equivalent of 5 per cent, over a full year. The money represented by this tax rebate was put into the hands of people who were in the main wage-earners, although some, perhaps, were salary-earners. What happened to that money? Largely, it seems, that money went into savings bank accounts. Why? I can tell honorable members why. It went into savings bank accounts because the people who received it were forced into timidity by the sort of talk that we have heard from honorable members on the other side of this chamber. There was no other reason. There were plenty of things for those who received the money to buy and there was plenty of need for them to buy. But, although they received this very great concession in ready money, there was no corresponding increase in retail sales.
In the next two or three weeks, almost £100,000,000 will be paid in tax refunds, very largely to people who are on wages and salaries. The rebates of 5 per cent, amounted to a large sum. I have forgotten what it was. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) may remember and may be able to recall it to my mind.
– Over the four months, the rebate represented 15 per cent.
– That is so, and the sum paid out was a very large one. We have to add to that sum £90,000,000 or £100,000,000 due in tax refunds after the end of the last financial year. Yet the Australian Labour Party tells us seriously that an additional £42,000,000 paid out in this fashion will solve all our problems! Let us be under no misapprehension: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition does not suggest that more than £42,000,000 be added to the deficit. Nor does he suggest that any other figure be changed. Any one who looks at the record can see how much planning and how many other things his announced policy would require, but the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not bother to cost those things. According to him, it is quite certain that he would not raise taxes this financial year, and he would not cut any expenses. He would only budget for an additional £42,000,000 deficit. Anybody who studies the honorable gentleman’s speech will see how bogus his policy is. It represented great window-dressing. He was willing to express that policy to the public because he knew very well that he would never be called upon to put it into effect.
I want to pass from these matters to one or two of the things which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition tried to perpetrate on my colleague, the Treasurer. We must remember that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition needs to be measured against his statements occasionally. I have just tested him on one statement. Let us now test him on another. He called attention to the fact that employment had increased by only 1 per cent., between June, 1960, and June, 1962, whereas the population had grown by 4 per cent. He did not trouble to tell us what the significance of all that was. He merely threw two figures into the air. Let us have a look at them. Who are represented by the 4 per cent, increase in the population? I suppose they are mostly babies.
The idea of comparing an increase in the population represented mainly by babies with any figure for the growth in employment in such a short period of time is just too silly for words. However, honorable members on the opposite side of the chamber find such a comparison good enough. We on this side reject it. What sense is there in setting a 1 per cent, increase in employment against a 4 per cent, increase in the population represented mainly by babies?
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition then declared, “ The Treasurer said that £91,000,000 was to be spent on housing this financial year “. This is a vast sum. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition went on to say, “ There is nothing in that, because you are collecting that money from people who borrowed funds long years ago and who have been making low repayments “. Let us stop and think about this. Has it anything to do with the case? The truth is that we were putting into current use £91,000,000. What is the relevance of whether it came from repayments of loans or from taxes? We are not working out how much better or worse off we are. We are working out how much we are currently putting into housing. Nevertheless, to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, his argument seems good enough as a stick with which to beat somebody’s back.
– The Minister is making a very bad effort of his argument.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition made a very bad mess of his argument. He told us just how many people were unemployed, in his view. I think that we ought to front up to this figure and speak rather directly on the issue. I have never heard any one suggest that there was anything but full employment in June, 1960. As a matter of fact, there is scarcely a man among us who will not admit that there was over-full employment in 1960. Any one who wanted to get anything done in June, 1960, knows that there was over-full employment then. At that time, 44,000 persons were registered for employment. That number, of course, must include those who were moving from one job to another, those who had special capacities and could not find a job at the time, and maybe some who, for one reason or another, were unable, in the ordinary way of things, to find work. When one talks of the numbers unemployed at any given time, common fairness requires that some figure equivalent to the number registered for employment in June, 1960, be deducted from the total number now registered. When we allow for this, we find that only about 46,000- at any rate, fewer than 50,000- persons are registered for employment.
The right way to put this matter in perspective is to say that approximately 99 people out of every 100 who are able to work and can find the right job are now in employment. Do not take me as saying that I do not regard as significant the one out who remains. Of course he is significant. But I have enough sense to know that when one tries to get him a job - and he will not be the easiest person for whom to find a job - one needs to be singularly careful to ensure that in the process one does not put three or four others out of work. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition betrayed the fact that he does not understand this, because he said that he would rather overshoot the mark than under-shoot it. What he was saying was that he would rather take the risk of putting three or four men out of work in trying to get a job for one man than go about it carefully and cautiously as this Government has done.
It is of no use for the Opposition to say that this Government does not believe in full employment. This Government has a record second to none in keeping people in employment.
– The Chifley Government left it with full employment.
– I have forgotten what the percentage of unemployment was in 1948-49 when Labour was in office.
– It was 5 per cent.
– The honorable member who is noted for a statement about 5 per cent, of unemployment has left the chamber now. He said that unemployment of 5 per cent, represented full employment.
– No, he did not.
– He did.
– No, he did not.
– The honorable member for East Sydney seems like one who would like to rub one of the dots off a card if it did not suit him.
– He probably does.
– The honorable member is quite right: He probably does.
We all are anxious that there shall be full employment. But the tremendously important task before us is to ensure that this country is strong and stable in the face of what lies ahead. Mark my words: What is in front of us is of great significance. We, as a great trading nation, are going into a highly competitive world - a world much more competitive than we have ever known it to be. We need a sound and strong base, and this Government has done great things to keep our economy strong and thereby provide a firm base.
I want now to discuss one other figure that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition used a number of times. It sounded very good. He said that as a result of the measures taken by the Government in November, 1960, £700,000,000 worth of production had been lost. He kept citing that figure as if it represented something dreadful. The word “ bogus “ is the only one to apply to the argument that he based on that figure. Those honorable members who look up the newspaper files will see that, in November, 1960, many people were saying that the Government ought not to do anything to curb activity, because the economy was already on the down-turn. The Government did not cause the £700,000,000 loss of production, or whatever the figure may be, because the loss would have occurred anyway without the Government’s intervention. The truth of the matter is that but for this Government’s intervention, far more than £700,000,000 worth of production would have been lost. The ultimate breaking of the bubble would have cost the country a much greater loss of production. In my submission, it is very wrong to regard any consequence of that kind as due to what the Government did. The Government prevented it from being worse; it did not create something which would not have occurred otherwise. It actually prevented the position from being much worse. But it is good enough for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to say that if you take the number of people out of employment and assume that they would have been employed - that is his assumption - there is £700,000,000 of production lost. That is just not true. It is like so much more that we hear from him. It is pretty slick, pretty smart and pretty shallow, and we on this side are getting pretty used to it.
I noticed, at one stage of the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that he had caught the bitter class consciousness of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). Two or three of his remarks were indistinguishable from the sort of stuff that we hear from the member for East Sydney, with his bitter class conscious tongue. What I want to point out is that the economy has been sluggish - if that is the right word to use - insofar as it has not overtaken this relatively small but very important amount of unemployment. That is due entirely to timidity and want of confidence. It is not due to want of money, because the community is bulging with money in the trading banks, savings banks and so on. It is not due to not having things to do. It is not due to the Government not having provided a base by government expenditure, because government expenditures are high and constant. It is due, of course, in tremendous measure, to those who are trying their best to frighten the chap in a job into not spending his money, in an endeavour, if possible, to retain this level of unemployment until the time when, perhaps, what is left of the members on the other side of the chamber might struggle on to the treasury bench.
I am sure that the people of Australia understand quite well that we on this side are earnest in our desire for full employment and for the economy of this country to be not stagnant - it does not look stagnant - but sound. This Budget, if I may say so, being the continuation of what we did in February last, is right. It will shortly, particularly if it is given the good will of those who have the welfare of the people at heart, produce a reduction of this small but important amount of unemployment and ensure that we have full employment in the sense in which this Government uses that term - not the 5 per cent, of unemployment which is the Opposition’s standard.
.- The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) came into this Parliament with a great reputation as a barrister. He certainly will not leave it with a great reputation as an economist or a humorist. He has got into the unfortunate habit of sneering and of laughing at his own jokes. One thing that struck me was that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was in the chamber while the Attorney-General was speaking. Was he here to keep him on the rails? Was he here to prompt him and give him a lead on what to say and what not to say? Or was the Treasurer here to make sure that the Attorney-General did not establish such a reputation that he would be able to challenge the Treasurer when the leadership of the Liberal Party came up for discussion? I doubt whether the Attorney-General will make it.
He talked about the Government being sick and tired of listening to the policy speeches of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) in this Parliament. The Government certainly is sick and tired of what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been saying. That is why Government members are coming into this chamber, squealing and trying to destroy the arguments he has put forward instead of attempting to justify the innocuous Budget recently brought down by the Treasurer. When I noticed that the Attorney-General was to speak before me to-night, I thought I might have something to reply to or to debate relative to restrictive trade practices. The honorable gentleman has talked a lot about restrictive trade practices over the years. Let us look at what has been said by him and by other members of the Government over the last three years. In the GovernorGeneral’s Speech on 8th March, 1960, this passage appeared -
The development of tendencies to monopolies and restrictive practices in commerce and industry has engaged the attention of the Government, which will give consideration to legislation to protect and strengthen free enterprise against such a development.
This is 1962, and there has been no such move from the Government. On 11th April, 1960, in reply to a question about when legislation on monopolies and restrictive practices would be introduced, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said -
I would hope in the Budget session.
He said, in other words, “ I do not know when, but some time”. During a Budget session, on 17th August, 1960, it appeared that legislation would not be introduced during that session. Asked when appropriate legislation might be expected, the AttorneyGeneral replied -
In due course, no doubt, there will be some legislation.
That is the type of thing that has been going on for some years now. As recently as 24th August, 1961, the Attorney-General said -
The State Attorneys-General and I met recently and made considerable progress towards the formation of a bill.
In the Governor-General’s Speech on 20th February, 1962, His Excellency was still talking about this subject. If one goes back through the records, one can read how this Government and this Attorney-General and his predecessors have all talked about it. In fact, the Prime Minister, during a Budget debate on 8th September, 1939, had this to say -
During the last two years, we have been engaged, financially speaking, in combating what would otherwise have been deflationary forces. For all I know, in the course of the next few years we may have to encounter inflationary forces, and we may have to devote ourselves to the combating of financial tendencies opposite to those which we have witnessed in the last two years. Incidentally I referred to one of these in my statement yesterday on profiteering. That is only one aspect of this problem. It is just one of the many possibilities that exist in relation to a period which possesses so many imponderable elements as that which we are now contemplating. This problem will be attacked by the Government with vigour.
I do not know when the Government is going to get wound up. That is what the Prime Minister said in September, 1939. I suggest that the time is long overdue when, instead of the Attorney-General coming into this chamber and talking about something about which he knows nothing - namely, the economy of this country - he should devote some time to the presentation of legislation in this Parliament which would enable action to be taken against the various restrictive trade practices being indulged in by various combines in this country to-day.
I have brought to this chamber conclusive evidence of what has been taking place in the motor tire selling and retreading industry throughout the Commonwealth. Small businesses have been put out of existence because of the inactivity of the Attorney-General. There are many other cases that could be referred to, such as the petrol and oil rackets and the clothing and timber industries. I suggest that the honorable gentleman is probably more adept at bringing down oppressive legislation affecting the rights of the people, such as his Crimes Bill and his telephone tapping legislation, than at attempting to control the activities of the private combines and monopolies in Australia to-day.
May I refer now to the Budget? To me, as it must have been to members of the Government, listening to the comparisons which the Treasurer endeavoured to make - comparisons of unemployment, social services, housing grants, road grants and other grants to the States - the Budget speech was a dreary reiteration of what has been said so often by the Government, without one bit of inspiration being produced by the Treasurer to overcome the lack of confidence in the community to-day. That lack of confidence will persist until this Government is removed from the treasury bench. The people of Australia no longer have confidence in a government which, over the last couple of years, has been responsible for a series of stop-and-go budgets. The first of such budgets was in February, 1960. That was followed by the Budget in August, 1960, and another budget in November of the same year. The Government persisted in its policy of stopandgo. It was planning not years but only months ahead in the hope that something would turn up. It must have been nauseating for Government supporters to listen to the Treasurer and realize that there was not one spark of imagination in the Government’s policy for the next twelve months, the policy that they must sell to their supporters and to members of their political groups.
The Treasurer claimed that the Government was doing a good job in social services. He claimed that social service payments were running at the rate of £380,000,000 a year. He compared that figure with the amount made available by
Labour in its last budget in 1949. If we want to see what governments did years ago let us see what the Liberal-Country Party Government did about social services in 1939-40. At that time it provided a paltry £16,700,000, or 16 per cent, of its budget, for that purpose. 1 do not intend to criticize what was done in 1939-40, and it would be just as stupid to compare what was done in 1949 with what is being done to-day. The Treasurer seems to have fallen back on the old political philosophy: If you cannot convince the people, confuse them.
The Treasurer claims that this Government is doing everything in its power to maintain full employment or, as he calls it, maximum employment. He said that the Government’s record in employment compared favorably with records of other countries. He referred to the United States of America and Canada. But is it good enough for Australia to have unemployment running at 6 per cent., which is the case in the United States of America? Do conditions overseas justify the Government pursuing its present policy in relation to employment? Does the Treasurer think that because the Soviet Union and mainland China are controlled by Communist régimes and because Spain is controlled by a Fascist dictatorship, we should have similar regimes in control here? This Government’s record as far as unemployment is concerned is shocking. The Attorney-General said that the figure of 44,000 persons seeking work in July, 1960, did not mean that there was unemployment in this country but rather a state of over-employment. He claimed that nobody could refer to those 44,000 persons as being unemployed. In his view they should be regarded merely as moving from one job to another. What proof has the Attorney-General for his claim that those 44,000 men and women who were out of work in June, 1960, were moving from one job to another? What proof has he for his claim that they were unemployable? He cannot bring forward any evidence that his contentions are correct. A figure of 44,000 unemployed is too high in this country just as a figure of 90,000 unemployed is far too high. The electors will not tolerate unemployment in Australia. That is why the Government parties escaped by the skin of their teeth when magnificent Killen was elected on Communist preferences in Queensland.
From time to time the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) claims that we have taken up the slack in employment. But let us look at the facts. When this Government first applied its economic measures in November, 1960, about 1,579,000 men were employed in private enterprise. In May, 1962 - the latest date for which figures are available - that number had declined to 1,542,300, a reduction of 36,700. In the same period the number of women employed in private enterprise fell by 13,000 from 728,000 to 715,000. The only way in which the Government was able to restore employment to the November, 1960, level was by introducing a crash programme of government spending. The Government shovelled money into the States in an effort to increase employment. That money was expended not according to a careful plan but in the form of a dole. Men were set to shifting sandhills from one place to another. The Government had no concerted plan of action to relieve the unemployment situation.
However, the Government’s action has restored employment to the November, 1960 level, but the Government has failed to take into consideration the fact that the work force is increasing by 85,000 persons annually. What has happened to the 170,000 men and women who have joined the work force since November, 1960? The answer will be found in the 90,000 persons who are to-day registered for employment. I know of several instances in my electorate in which employers in private industry, who operate a superannuation fund for their employees, have been compelled to retire men between the ages of 60 and 65 years. Those men retire on superannuation benefit of between £10 and £13 a week. They are not eligible for the age pension or unemployment benefit. Such persons are not included in the unemployment statistics. If that state of affairs can exist in one electorate it can exist in every electorate throughout the Commonwealth. The Treasurer referred (to the increase in the number of persons receiving the age pension. Many persons who to-day receive the age pension are men and women who have been laid off in industry as the result of this Government’s economic measures. If a man aged 65 or more cannot get a job he will draw the pension. Such a man cannot register for employment. This state of affairs has helped the Government to keep the number of persons registered for employment down to the figure of 90,000. The real number of men and women who are prepared to work but who cannot find jobs would be much higher than 90,000.
The position of married women is an interesting aspect of the unemployment situation. From time to time criticism is levelled at married women who accept employment. I have held strong views about married women working. I would be opposed to my wife working, but it has been put to me that as a member of the Australian community a woman, despite the fact that she is married, has every right to obtain and accept employment if she wishes. It is the Government’s responsibility to see that every man or woman who wants a job is enabled to obtain one. But the Government is not facing up to that responsibility. It has never faced up to it because it does not believe in full employment. Its policy is maximum employment. As I mentioned earlier, until such time as we get rid of this Government we will continue to suffer the indignity of “ maximum “ employment instead of full employment.
I should like to deal next with housing, as the housing of our people is a most important part of the Australian economy. As honorable members know, to-day there are thousands of people who desire to obtain their own homes. One has only to pick up a newspaper to read that some migrant has gone back to England or to Europe. There was a report recently of a father and his young son stowing away on a ship from Australia because they wanted to leave this country. Their reasons they gave for leaving were the shortage of housing and the temperature. There are numerous cases such as that. Government supporters talk about maintaining the present immigration programme which provides for an intake of 125,000 migrants a year, but I think the Government should bear in mind that when the pressure is really being applied from the other side of the world Australia will not be able to induce people to come here unless it can provide them with accommodation.
I believe that at present there are about 90,000 applicants in the various States for housing commission homes. I know that in my own electorate if a person wants to buy a housing commission home he has to wait approximately two years, and if he wants to rent a home the delay is two or three years. A single age pensioner who wants a pensioner unit has to wait for upwards of six years, and for a married pensioner couple the delay is approximately three years. Yet in these days when we want a housing programme to provide employment for our people this Government has had the temerity to reduce its grant to the States for home building from about £50,000,000 to about £45,000,000! The home-building industry is one that gives a wide spread of employment, and surely the Government will not deny that there is a need for that.
I believe that I have clearly established that to-day there is a need for home building, when there are so many people applying for homes through the various housing commissions and building societies. The people who are holed up in migrant centres cannot find accommodation and they are not eligible to apply for a housing commission home until they have been in the country for twelve months. When they do apply they then have to wait another two years, and yet this Government reduces its allocation to the States for home building! It cannot be claimed that materials are not available because it is quite clear that to-day the production of timber, bricks and so on is not so high as it was two years ago.
What is the position with labour? I went to the trouble of taking out a few figures for employment on home building, and they show that in this industry in December, 1960, there were 50,701 carpenters, whereas to-day there are 45,722 - a decline of 4,979. To-day there are 1,017 fewer bricklayers employed in the building industry. There has been a reduction of 15,928 in the number of plumbers, plasterers, electricians and other building tradesmen employed. The Government should make available the necessary money to take up this slack in employment. It- is easy to see what the effect of that would be on the various kindred industries which supply building materials. Then when a home is occupied it has to be furnished, and this gives impetus to the furnishing trade and to the textile industries which supply curtains, floor coverings and the like.
So, the Government could, by making additional money available for the building of homes stimulate all these other industries. It cannot be said that this would cause additional inflation. The demand for homes is there, the need for the materials and labour is there, and it can be shown by a perusal of the available statistics that this industry has the ability to provide the homes required.
If honorable members opposite will read the figures prepared by the Commonwealth Statistician they will find that, in March, 1960, 10,817 homes were built. Then, because of this Government’s economic policy, the monthly figure fell to 5,359 by January, 1962. In 1959-60, 103,000 homes were built; in 1960-61, 93,000 were built; and in the last financial year 84,000 were built. This was a decline of almost 20,000 homes in that short period from 1959-60 to 1961-62. The Government cannot argue that more homes are not needed. If 103,000 were required in 1959-60, then surely, with the natural increase in population and the increase as a result of migration, there must be an even greater demand to-day.
The Government must accept its responsibility and provide additional funds for home building. It cannot be said, Mr. Chairman, that money is not available. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) said ,to-night that bank deposits had increased. He quoted figures which, if I remember rightly, were very much akin to those that I have obtained. In March, 1961, bank deposits stood at £1,771,000,000 and advances at £1,011,000,000, making a difference between deposits and advances of £760,000,000. In March, 1962, deposits were £1,842,000,000, and advances in May this year were at £1,022,000,000, a difference of £820,000,000. That indicates that between March, 1961, and May, 1962, there was an additional £60,000,000 in deposits available to the private banking sector of this country. All that need be done is to put that money to work to provide employment and homes for the people of Australia. The money is there and there is the need for it.
One thing about the Government that does concern me is its lack of interest in, and lack of real planning for, the management of the territories under its control. I am pleased to see the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) in the chamber at the moment. I find, on examination of the Budget, that the allocation by the Treasury to the various territories is £35,000,000. The first territory with which I shall deal is Papua and New Guinea. The allocation of £20,201,000 for this territory represents an increase of £2,723,000 on the previous year’s allocation. I believe that the Government is not facing up to its responsibilities, not only generally in respect of all of its territories, but, in particular, in respect of the eastern part of New Guinea. We have all seen what is taking place in West New Guinea, where this Government, in my opinion, has fallen down on its responsibilities. I do not criticize or condemn the Government for everything that has taken place there, but I do criticize it for its failure to bring this matter before the United Nations instead of letting it take its course. The principle that might is right may well deprive the people of West New Guinea of an opportunity to determine their own destiny. What we must guard against is a similar state of affairs being permitted to arise in east New Guinea.
I was in New Guinea recently, and I believe that much more money must be spent on the development of roads there. It took us five hours to travel 70 miles in the highlands. More roads are needed to open up the country. We must also provide more money for education. We should realise that time is running out, not only for Australia but for other European countries interested in New Guinea. We must do something quickly to educate the people so that they can accept the responsibility of governing their country. I want us to retain the friendship of these people. I believe there could be a close relationship between Australia and New Guinea, even after the indigenous people have been given the responsibility of developing their country and of governing themselves. If the people are to be prepared to accept the responsibility of independence, more money must be spent on their education. We do not want another Congo in New Guinea.
If the people are to be prepared for independence, they must be educated. They must be shown how to manage their own affairs. More of them should be brought to Australia and shown the workings of the Parliaments - not only the Commonwealth Parliament but also the State Parliaments. They should also be shown how local government works throughout the Commonwealth. If the Government intends to prepare the people of New Guinea to accept the responsibility of independence, it must put additional money into the Territory. We have accepted the responsibility of training the people. If we do not want to shoulder this responsibility, let us get out of it and ask some one else to do the job for us. I believe that to do so would be wrong. Therefore, I ask the Minister for Territories to impress upon his Cabinet colleagues the great need to do something about the Territory. We must avoid the possibility of another Congo, and we can do so by helping the people in the Territory to develop. We must not exploit the country. Europeans have had the opportunity to do this, but further exploitation must not be allowed. Let us give to the people of the Territory the ability and the power to run their country. The only way we can do this is, in the initial stages, to give them a standard of education that will enable them to accept responsibility.
We must also develop the Northern Territory. The Government should make an annual allocation for the development of that part of Australia which lies north of the Tropic of Capricorn. The Opposition’s National Development Committee visited the north of Australia last year. What we saw there was sufficient to convince us that the allocation of £9,250,000 is completely inadequate. The Government has no plan to develop the north. It should set up a North Australia Authority, as has been advocated by Opposition members. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who is now the acting leader of our party, advocated the establishment of such an authority when he spoke last Tuesday night. We inspected the Ord River scheme, but this is only scratching the surface. We are spending a paltry-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), who has just spoken, spent twenty minutes of his time dealing with subjects about which he obviously knew a good deal. He dealt with two very serious subjects - unemployment and housing. I remind the honorable member, who comes from the State of New South Wales, that these matters are not solely within the province of this Government. The responsibility is shared equally by this Government and the governments of the States. The Government of his own State, New South Wales, has to my knowledge not played a full part in helping to solve the problem of unemployment or the problem of providing sufficient houses for the residents of the State. I hope the honorable member will use his eloquence in the caucus of the Labour Party in New South Wales and try to persuade it to abolish rent control, to allow men to move from ona point to another where employment is offering, keeping their families together, and to do its utmost to provide fruitful and productive employment.
I can cite one instance which affected me very much. A mine very close to the town in which I live, the Mount Howell mine, closed down several years ago. There were 70 hard rock miners there. The nearest employment of a similar kind available to them was 600 miles away. The New South Wales Government allowed them to obtain that employment 600 miles away, but they had to leave their families behind at the Mount Howell mine because they could not obtain housing for them at their new place of employment. This was a result of the restriction on rent applied by the New South Wales Government. That situation is completely absurd and is doing a grievous wrong to people whose livelihood is affected, as the livelihood of these men was affected, in circumstances quite beyond their control.
Last week, I listened to a speech - which I regarded as an excellent piece of work - by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) on the subject of the Common Market. He was obviously well briefed. He marshalled his facts well and presented them logically and purposefully. I thought at the time that, although I could not agree with his arguments - they were mostly fallacious - it looked as though the Labour Party would rise out of the trough in which it had lain for the past twelve years and show some signs of political life. But these expectations were dashed when I heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition speak on the Budget last night. This speech was studded throughout with epithets of a kind which we are accustomed to hear from the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and some other Opposition members. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition used such highly coloured adjectives as “ dishonorable “ and “ dishonest “. I cannot find the speech at the moment, but the type of words to which I refer is familiar to honorable members. There is no need for me to run through the entire list.
The moment I heard this speech and detected this quality, I realized that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had no case whatever. Although he is a fairly intelligent fellow - I think that would be conceded by most honorable members - he could not present his case in an objective manner; he had to colour it as he did because he knew it was so much arrant nonsense.
I do not propose to dissect his speech. That has been done very capably by honorable members on this side of the chamber during the course of this debate. However, I want to remark on two significant facts. First, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition ignored the export industries completely, and secondly, he ignored the place of savings in the economy. Every one should be aware, particularly after listening for months to discussions on the European Common Market, that Australia is a great trading nation. Australia cannot expand unless it is able to import plant and machinery, and it cannot go on importing an increasing quantity of plant and machinery to provide more job opportunities for Australians unless we have a steadily increasing flow of output trade and unless we can sell goods at competitive prices throughout the world. That is a fundamental fact of life in Australia, yet the Deputy Leader of the Opposition chose to ignore it completely.
Secondly, he ignored the place of savings in the community. I wonder where the Labour Party thinks capital comes from. Does it think that all capital comes out of the taxpayer’s pocket? Why do Labour members not say that if they ever attained office in this country they would remove private enterprise from the scene altogether and have the Government run all industry? The capital which makes it possible for private enterprise to build factories, to dig mines and create job opportunities comes from the savings of individuals and successful companies. That is the only source of capital for private enterprise. Yet Labour Party spokesmen choose to ignore the part that savings play in the community. People who have insurance policies, bonds, money in savings bank account’s, or money invested directly in companies should be warned that the purpose of the Labour Party is to destroy their savings. That is the reason why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not touch on this subject last night. The Labour Party does not want to have any truck with capital in any shape or form, whether it is the widow’s mite or the estate of the successful businessman. I wonder that the Labour Party did not come out and honestly say what it intends to do in this regard. Apparently, it finds it impossible to do so.
I support the Budget wholeheartedly because of its emphasis on the development of the resources of Australia. I am not envious that so much of the developmental money is to go to Queensland or Western Australia. Perhaps New South Wales will see the light some time and appeal to this Government for assistance for the development of the tremendously rich resources in the north of that State such as the Clarence River basin, the Barwon River system which borders Queensland and the rest of the areas which are crying out for development. Perhaps that time will come; I hope so. I support the Budget because of its emphasis on the stability of costs of production. Without stable costs of production we cannot compete successfully with private enterprise in other countries. That is absolutely axiomatic if Australia is to compete successfully in the sale of its commodities overseas.
In spite of my support of the Budget, however, I would like to see the Government do three things which are associated with it. I believe that the Government must demonstrate to the people of Australia that it holds the initiative. I believe that the great reason why businessmen did not regain confidence after earlier measures taken by the Government was that they were not sure - and they are not sure now - that this Government intends to forge ahead vigorously and hold the initiative in leading Australia onwards. The Government must display positive leadership at this time. It is not sufficient that it simply introduce a successful and adequate Budget. The Government is obliged to show that it has the reins firmly in its hands. If it does so businessmen throughout the country will feel confident in the kind of leadership that we are giving them and they will be prepared to brave the storms that lie ahead, whatever their nature.
I should like to see the Government institute three reforms - a reform of the electoral law, a reform of the Constitution, and a reform of our tariff structure. Reform of the electoral law should be discussed when we are discussing the problem of electoral redistribution as we shall, I hope, in the course of the next few weeks. I believe it is imperative that the country should be adequately represented both in this chamber and in another place. I believe that the electoral law should be amended to give a definite bias towards the country in order to allow members from the countryside to represent their areas adequately. The electoral law at the present time provides that the commissioners may exercise their discretion and allow a 20 per cent, margin, up or down, in the quotas for each seat. But that is an optional power which is not always exercised by the commissioners. I believe that it should be made mandatory; the commissioners should have no discretion in the matter. Following the precedent of the United States of America, Western Australia and South Australia, they should give a definite bias towards country seats to provide for adequate and fair representation of large rural areas.
I believe, further, that the method of election of the Senate should enable senators to represent areas of the country rather than a State as a whole. It is true that they now represent areas in the form of States, but those areas are too large to be represented as district provinces. The intention of the founders of the Constitution has obviously been defeated in this regard. I believe that it would be sensible to draw our senators from specific provinces in Australia, though some provinces would incorporate a capital city. In that way, we could have fair representation in another place.
Apart from the reasons which I advanced in this chamber when discussing electoral redistribution recently, I should like to bring forward another reason for electoral reform which might not have occurred to honorable members. It is that Australia is traditionally dependent on its export industries which, predominantly, have been primary industries. That has given representatives drawn from the countryside a big standing in discussions that have taken place in this Parliament. But we in the country know, nowadays, that our exports of primary goods must be buttressed to a degree by exports of manufactured goods. Our exports of manufactured goods are growing steadily year by year in range and volume. These infant secondary industries - infant in the sense that they are new to the field of export trading - require representation in this House. To whom can they turn but to the experienced specialists in representation of the exporter?
They must turn to the men who represent primary industry. So, we have a greater responsibility than appears at first sight. We from the country must represent our primary industries, but we must also speak for all those industries which are determined to maintain a reasonable level of costs in Australia so that they too may enter the export market, and which are determined to have the tariff adjusted in some way so as to permit them to build up their trade successfully. If representation is taken away from the country, a serious disservice will be done, not only to the primary industries but also to those growing export industries of a secondary nature. That is a very serious matter in a country which is expanding as rapidly as is Australia - a country that will become increasingly dependent on the export of manufactured goods.
Sir, I would like the Government to take the initiative in the field of constitutional review. It is my opinion that a convention should be instituted, and a commission formed to sit over a period of time and study matters pertaining to our Constitution. We do not know what perils we will face in the revolution that is coming about in Australia’s trading pattern as a result of the European Common Market, but we know that our marketing methods will have to be improved. It would be absurd for us to persevere for any great length of time with the system we have now where the Commonwealth must refer certain proposed legislation to all the States and obtain their consent before action can be taken.
There are many other facets which are more complex than I could deal with tonight, but a constitutional convention would have to take place over a period of years so that the people of Australia might be educated and support a referendum if and when it was necessary. There is another reason why we should act now to hold a review of the Constitution and it is this: We have something in Australia that happens only rarely in the life of a country - we have a man with the capacity and ability of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). For the Prime Minister of Australia to-day is a constitutional authority second to none. A man of his type rarely appears in a country. He would be the appropriate man to launch a commission to review the Constitution and possibly to chair its meetings. Under those conditions, we would really start to move in the field of reform of the Constitution.
– We have already had a review of the Constitution.
– What we had was a parliamentary review of the Constitution with limited terms of reference. The main matter which was not discussed, and which would be of the utmost importance in such a discussion, is Commonwealth-State relations. That would rate high on the agenda of a commission. It is ironic that in the Budget we are discussing, we on this side who are federalists should be doing our utmost to destroy federation by handing the States more tied grants. I wonder how many tied grants there are already in the form of grants for housing, for roads, for aid to mental hospitals, universities and so on down the list. If we carry on this process, we will destroy the States and they will become mere constitutional puppets. We shall also increase the irresponsibility of the States and will ensure that a great deal of the taxpayers’ money is spent unwisely, or perhaps one could add a further word on that point. In the interests of Australia, we should have reform now of the 60 years old Constitution so that we can be ready to march ahead and iron out all the difficulties that have cropped up in the course of the last 60 years.
I believe that the Government should take action to initiate reform of the tariff. I advance only one reason why the tariff should be reviewed and it is this: In the course of trading outside Australia in the future, we will be trading more and more with Asian countries. The exports of those Asian countries will be very largely and necessarily light manufactures. Unless those Asian countries can find adequate markets for light manufactures, they will not be able to buy the goods we have to sell them. So I am convinced that we should see to it that our tariff structure is drawn up in such a way as to allow us a reasonable degree of flexibility in bargaining with these Asian countries. We could still retain some of our light manufacturing industries at a certain level of production and we could export those goods in which we have a comparative advantage. By so doing, we would be able to multiply the exchange of goods between this country and the countries of Asia.
Finally, I should like to demonstrate why the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) was so hang-dog about presenting the case of the Australian Labour Party when he was moving a vote of censure against the Government last night. Of course the Deputy Leader was just as much aware of the figures I shall cite as we are. I shall quote from a recent edition of the “ Review “ of the Institute of Public Affairs. This shows that twenty years ago - and far more recently, although the statistics are based on a period of twenty years-there were eight motor cars for every 100 Australians compared with twenty motor cars to-day. Twenty years ago there were ten telephones for every 100 Australians compared with 22 to-day and there were seventeen radios then, compared with 60 radio sets to-day for every 100 Australians. In addition to that, of every 100 Australians living in the cities about twenty own television sets. It does not take very much thought to realize that our standards of living have increased enormously, in the material sense, in the twelve years of this Government’s administration. There are now thousands of automatic washing machines in homes, motor mowers on the front lawns, refrigerators and all kinds of electrical household appliances such as pop-up toasters, floor polishers, food mixers and the like. Not only did the Australian of the 1950’s possess many more goods than he did twenty years ago, he also had much more leisure time in which to enjoy them. Standard hours of work fell from 44 to 40. The Institute of Public Affairs “ Review “ goes on in this way -
He is able to save more. Even when allowance has been made for price changes, savings bank deposits in the 1950’s increased at the rate of about £6 per person per year; in the 1930’s the comparable rate of increase was £2 per person per year. By the end of the 1950’s, three out of every four homes were owned or being purchased by their occupants. In the 1930’s the proportion was less than one in two.
I could quote these statistics at great length but they are familiar to every honorable member. Every one knows that during the last twelve years we have undergone a revolution in our standards of living. We have been through a wonderful era of prosperity. In another section the “ Review “ had this to say -
The 1950’s was one of the greatest - possibly the greatest - period of progress, prosperity and development in Australia’s history and it compared more than favourably with the record of practically any other country in the world.
I conclude on that note. How can we quibble with a budget which is out of the same stable as the budgets which brought Australia to this peak of prosperity and security and which will help to build a great and strong Australia in the future?
.- The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) commenced his speech by giving free advice to be followed in caucus meetings of the Australian Labour Party. Might I suggest that the honorable member offer his wise counsels to caucus meetings of his own party, which needs wise counsels so urgently? It is not quite clear how much disputation there is now between the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party. All we know is that dangerous smoke signals emerge from these quarters, but they are generally quenched by publicity media before they become widely noticed. Much of the honorable member’s speech was devoted to an attack on the Labour Party, which is a favourite pastime of back benchers opposite who are afraid to express their own views candidly. Occasionally the honorable member trod carelessly on the corns of his leaders. He should be more careful.
I support the amendment which has been moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). The purpose of the amendment is to test the sincerity of the committee in its attitude to the Budget which was presented last week by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). Every one looks forward to the presentation of the national Budget, because it contains so much that affects the lives of so many people. The 1962-63 Budget is a paradox. Its chief object is to restore confidence in the vast commercial sector of our society. The Budget purports to be the cure for the cancerous disease of unemployment. In point of fact, it is neither a cure for unemployment nor will it restore confidence in the community. It is a Budget of hopes and fears. The Treasurer hopes that the measures which are contemplated will of their own volition create and develop the desired state of society. The great weakness in this illusion is that the Government has done nothing to guard against the inherent selfishness which animates much in our commercial life. It leaves industry and commerce free to exploit as they may, instead of setting down safeguards to be observed to protect the people’s interests.
The Treasurer has expressed his fears that his deficit financing may spark off a new spurt of inflation as distinct from the creeping inflation which has bedevilled us during the regime of this Government. He has mentioned an upsurge of demand, sweeping additions to costs, edging up of prices and costs, and the evils of speculation. Can we see any safeguards in the
Budget other than that degrading one - the retention of our pool of unemployed? That is the only weapon which this supine Government is prepared to use. It has not the moral courage to lay down the necessary controls to provide against the fears of an upsurge of demand, sweeping additions to costs, edging up of prices and costs, and the evils associated with speculation. However, it has no compunction in opposing wage and salary increases when applications are made to our arbitration courts. These facts only emphasize the spineless, irresponsible nature of this stopgo Government.
It is now generally accepted that the appellation “ stop-go government “ is a fair description of this Administration, particularly over the past few years when once buoyant markets, good seasons and full employment have deserted it. The true nature of good government emerges when adversity and difficulties confront the Administration. Our great primary industries have increased their export output but their incomes have fallen. Lower prices for exports and higher costs of production have been forced on our export producers. The Government cannot control world prices, but it can do something about costs of production. The trend of creeping inflation in transport costs has hit the producer, but nothing has been done to prevent it or to help the producer when it occurs. The shipping monopolies periodically increase overseas freights because they have no competition. Australia is the only country without a national shipping line operating overseas. Because of this, primary producers are at the mercy of the shipping combines which, in turn, have received the green light from the Menzies Government.
It is farcical to hear the accredited representatives of primary producers in this chamber rise in their places and warn the Parliament about increased costs of production when they, at the same time, support a government which allows these increased costs to occur. Honorable members who follow this line invariably salve their political consciences by making a fullscale attack on high wages, which they claim to be the great menace to primary producers. They fool no one, not even themselves, for they well know that wages are a minor factor in the overall costs of primary production.
The Government stands condemned for its failure to plan national development on a long-term basis. It adopts a hit-and-miss policy, converged generally in areas where it expects a favorable electoral result. This pattern is revealed in the Budget, which provides for a good deal of money to be channelled into Queensland and Western Australia, the vulnerable electoral areas for the Government. A striking illustration of this is its failure to recognize South Australia’s claim for the standardization of the railway gauge between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. The Government cannot make progress electorally in South Australia, so that State is not considered. The Premier of South Australia has had to swallow his promises to the people, whereas Western Australia has been provided with £4^00,000 for a comparatively new project of railway construction. We do not begrudge Western Australia this money, but we emphasize that promises and obligations to South Australia in these important matters should be honoured.
With the scrapping of the plans for rail standardization in South Australia, the economy as a whole will be affected. Standard-gauge railways are important - even vital - to the processing of minerals produced in Broken Hill which now are railed to Port Pirie for that purpose. At present the minerals are carried on an out-of-date, costly, narrow-gauge railway line. The Government’s decision to abandon rail standardization in South Australia has caused grave concern at Broken Hill Associated Smelters Proprietary Limited at Port Pirie. Furthermore, secondary industries with interstate connexions have been waiting for rail standardization to improve the existing transport facilities. Many manufacturers were hoping that rail standardization in South Australia would become an established fact within a short time. Many industries, such as the automotive transport industry and industries engaged in the manufacture of household appliances and industrial machinery, depend to a large extent on efficient transport. The achievement of full employment would also be assisted if we had a more responsive Government in Canberra.
One of the important features of the presentation of the Budget was its general reception without any display of enthusiasm or excitement. Theoretically, this should have been a budget to be hailed with delight. We are entitled to ask why it was not. The answer can be found largely in the fact that this Government has failed to engender confidence in the community. Even some Country Party Ministers have little confidence in the Budget. Back-bench members and adherents of the Government parties are doubtful supporters of it. Businessmen and industrialists fear a possible return of the stop-go policy of the Menzies Administration.
This lack of confidence is a serious matter because it adversely affects our economic life. Most honest businessmen will admit that business is far from satisfactory. Many are hanging on, hoping for improvement, while many small and medium-sized businesses have had to go into liquidation, with their proprietors finishing up in the bankruptcy court. We can understand the feelings of these businessmen, and I believe that many of them expressed their opposition to the Government in the secrecy of the ballot-box at the election last December. Given an opportunity to-day, the electors would sweep the Government from office and restore sanity, confidence and action through a Labour government.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) aptly described this Budget when he said - the Budget the Treasurer brought down last week was obviously the work of men demoralized by their own failure. It was, indeed, the work of frightened men, fearful of many things. This Government is frightened of economic expansion in Australia. It is frightened of the challenge that such expansion undoubtedly presents. It prefers a pool of unemployment because it knows that a policy of genuine full employment brings many problems in its train and leaves less room in which to manoeuvre.
This word picture by our Deputy Leader well describes the Government’s attitude towards its responsibilities. It is completely irresponsible, as one can see when one examines its many failures. Let me point to one of the Government’s most frivolous actions. Two years ago the Treasurer took the axe to the motor vehicle industry because he claimed that it pre sented a danger in that it was accelerating inflationary processes then evident. . With the imposition of heavy sales taxes and a credit squeeze he soon wrote paid to progress and stability in that industry. Wholesale dismissals of employees, and curtailment of industrial activity, reached alarming proportions. The Government’s action was necessary, the Treasurer claimed, to stop inflation. In his latest Budget speech the right honorable gentleman has said he is proud that the motor industry is back to pre-credit squeeze levels of activity, and he points to this as justification for the Government’s economic measures. The Government’s stupidity in this direction poses the question: Was the prosperous automotive industry wrong in 1960 but right in 1962? This double-talk by the Treasurer merely highlights his unfitness to occupy such an important and responsible position.
What are the alternatives to the implementation of a budget programme such as the one now before us? First and foremost, we must have a government that commands the confidence of the nation. This means a Labour government. In troubled times in the past our country has turned to Labour to restore our national well-being; and to-day we need a government led by Labour and imbued with the high ideals of service and justice to the nation. Next, we need a dynamic programme, with long-term planning, that will bring security and social justice to all. In December last, the Leader of the Opposition submitted a positive programme for Australia. Among other things, he proposed deficit finance to the extent of £100,000,000 to pull Australia out of the economic muddle in which this Government had placed it. The Prime Minister and his Ministers ridiculed that proposal as being dangerously inflationary. Now, nine months later, they adopt, in part, Labour’s programme. However, it is a matter of too little too late. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has pointed out that £160,000,000 of deficit finance would now be needed to correct the weaknesses evident in our administration.
Inherent in Labour’s present programme is the necessity to restore full employment by means of a detailed national plan, and to inject spending power into the economy by giving nearly 100,000 unemployed regular pay envelopes, thus making them direct shareholders in the nation and directly interested in its economic stability. To buttress the position, Labour would increase child endowment payments in order to give the mothers and children more security than they enjoy under this Government. We would restore purchasing power to recipients of social services, whose position has been slowly white-anted by creeping inflation.
A Labour government would make taxation more equitable and assist the States with emergency grants for education, which are sorely needed, and also special grants for housing. Labour proposes a programme which includes the reduction of the present high interest rates. Make no mistake - this can be done. All we need is a government with the courage and determination to act. Reasonable interest rates can be justified, but no one can justify rates that become intolerable burdens on the majority of borrowers. Monetary policy plays a vital part in our economy, and a Labour administration is sorely needed to control it. Our monetary policy would be administered by a Labour Treasurer, pledged to make economic security and social justice his highest priority.
I would like to quote to the committee some other remarks made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He said -
A Labour Government would begin immediate preparation of a plan for the progress of Australia, a co-operative plan, which would give private investors a solid foundation upon which to make their own plans.
For Labour, economic growth means the betterment of the lot of the people and the strengthening of Australia.
We will plan ahead. And we will ask the trade union movement, business and the community at large to join us . . .
We are not interested in how little trouble we can cause ourselves in governing the nation. We are interested in how we can make Australia grow stronger faster.
Only if we know where we want to go and how we mean to get there can we as a nation end stop-go.
The Government’s stop-go policy is the main reason for the lack of confidence in the community. Our economic system works on the basis of credit, and therefore confidence becomes vitally important. If you destroy the confidence of the people generally, and especially if you destroy the confidence of those engaged in our vast range of industrial and commercial organizations, you immediately throw the industrial and commercial sector of the economy into turmoil and weaken it and destroy the chances of its objectives being attained. That is precisely what this Government has done.
This is the reason why such a pall of uncertainty hangs over the nation to-day. One cannot find any enthusiasm for the future in any sector of business. I know, because I visit many businesses. There is just a spirit of hopelessness and a determination to hang on as long as possible, waiting for something to turn up. This attitude reflects the administrative weakness and the inherent confusion that are characteristic of the present Ministry. For these reasons there is to-day a genuine and widespread feeling that we need a change of government. This one has not the courage or the fortitude to contest an impending by-election that is to be held to fill a vacancy in this chamber. The Government stands condemned for its lack of courage, and has been condemned for it in many quarters.
– It is frightened.
– It is frightened of the result of the by-election. It is afraid of defeat and is not prepared to test the feelings of the people about the way in which it has administered the country since December last. The Government is content to contest the by-election by proxy. It is letting one of its satellites or subsidiaries take the field in its stead.
Mr. Temporary Chairman, since the general election in December last we have seen the Government adopt many features of policy which have been culled from the programme announced by our leader in his policy speech for the general election. This Government turned a somersault in its attitude to the automotive industry and to inflation, and, in the same way, it has turned a somersault in respect of the items of policy that it has set before the people during the last nine months. Is it any wonder, therefore, that the Government has lost the confidence of the people? Whatever confidence the electors may have had in this Government in December last, they have precious little to-day.
For the reasons that I have stated, we on this side of the chamber exercise1 our right to criticize the Budget. I take much pleasure in supporting the amendment so ably and excellently proposed by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), who is at present acting Leader of the Opposition.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Mr. Speaker, this evening, I rise to bring before the House a matter that vitally concerns 46 private home-owners in the Lilley electorate, in the vicinity of the Brisbane airport at Eagle Farm. These people have received from the Department of Civil Aviation notice that the land on which their homes stand will shortly be resumed. I understand from inquiries that I have made from the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) that, in all, 1,100 acres of land, embracing 46 homes and several small-crop farms, will be resumed at a cost of £250,000. It is quite evident that the Minister and the officers of the department are not conversant with the relative values of land in this area. The people concerned have received from the department offers to purchase their properties at valuations determined by it. The department has been condescending enough to offer to rent these people’s homes and farms back to them at rents determined by it.
I know the area in question intimately. It is occupied by good, honest Australian families. The majority of the homeowners are ex-servicemen whose lives were disturbed enough during the Second World War. They served their country well, and, after returning to it, they decided that they would settle in this area and raise their families there. Most of these families have since grown up. Many of the children have completed their secondary education and some are about to enter on the professional careers on which their futures depend.
The home-owners of whom I am speaking do not wish to be disturbed further. They are quite happy to pursue their way of life with their wives and children in their present homes, Sir. Those who still have young children wish to raise them in their present environment.
I was interested to note, from information that I gleaned from the Minister for Civil Aviation, that in all probability the land now to be resumed for improvements to the aerodrome at Eagle Farm, which is situated in the heart of my electorate, will not be used by the department for another fifteen or twenty years. Yet the department proposes immediately to disturb these 46 good, honest Australian families which have worked and saved hard. Throughout their lives, they have believed in the philosophy of various governments that one of the greatest rights of any Australian is the right to marry, procure a home and raise a family. Here we have 46 families, the majority being the families of ex-servicemen who risked their lives for this country. They are now to be pushed out of their homes because some surveyor or some engineer of the Department of Civil Aviation has said that this ground may be required in fifteen or twenty years’ time. These 46 families have asked me to protest most vigorously on their behalf in this Parliament.
I have been to this area. I know these people intimately. I know their homes and I know the locality. I wholeheartedly endorse the protests of these people. I do not know whether it was my misfortune or my good fortune, but I landed at Eagle Farm aerodrome on many occasions on both wartime and civil duties. I can see no reason at present for the resumption of this 1,100 acres of land. I take it that the Minister has never looked at this area. I have, and I know that there is a sewerage drain, approximately 60 inches in diameter, running across the land. Looking at this area and at the industrial surroundings, you find that slightly north of the proposed resumption area it is proposed to build an oil refinery. If you go slightly west and south, you will find behind these homes the Hume pipe works, which exceeds in height anything connected with these homes which might endanger aircraft taking off or landing in future. The Hume pipe factory is quite a large factory, manufacturing many types of pipes for industrial and domestic purposes in Queensland, but it has not received notice of resumption.
I made further investigations and I found that numerous estate agents and land sharks have been racing around in their station wagons and motor cars, offering exorbitant prices for land lying in almost the position occupied by these houses, but on the other side of the road.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, I was somewhat surprised to-night by the interjections which were made by members on the Government side of the House when the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Don Cameron) was speaking. He was sponsoring the cause of ex-service men and women. We are given to understand that the Government has an exservicemen’s committee, and we know that a number of members of the Government parties are ex-servicemen. We expected from them a sympathetic understanding of the efforts of someone who was presenting a case on behalf of these people. The case put forward to-night by the honorable member for Lilley did him great credit, but the attitude that Government members took to a matter of such vital importance to men and women in whom they should be vitally interested did the Government little credit.
I would like now to deal with a matter about which the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) appear to be very touchy, judging by their answers to questions yesterday. I refer to questions asked by the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Monaghan) and the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) about the failure of the Australian National University to confer an honorary degree on the King of Thailand, I am concerned, first of all, at the attitude of the university in administering a slight to a distinguished person who is coming to this country, but, above all else, I am concerned at the leakage of information about the slight. I wonder whether the Attorney-General is going to make investigations, through the agency of the security service which he puts on to trade unionists and others from time to time, to find out how this leakage occurred.
It is bad enough for this university to have refused to grant a degree and to have slighted a royal visitor, but the worst feature of all is that news of a confidential approach to the university leaked out to the press and was published throughout the length and breadth of the country. Will the AttorneyGeneral let the matter rest there? Is it not his responsibility and that of the Prime Minister to see how the leakage occurred and find out why information was given to the press?
I do not know whether the Australian National University was entitled to do what it did, but I read in the press that the University of Oxford conferred a degree on Charlie Chaplin. Surely if the University of Oxford could do such a thing in the case of a distinguished comedian, a royal visitor to this country would feel slighted if the Australian National University would not stretch things a bit in his case.
These are matters which should be investigated. I am not slighting or in any way casting aspersions on our royal visitor. I noticed in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ - which is by no means an organ of the Labour Party, but rather is the sponsor of those who sit on the treasury bench in this place - an article stating that the university’s decision had shaken the officials of the Department of External Affairs, who are dedicated to improving goodwill with Asia. Undoubtedly this action must affect our relations with Asia. Undoubtedly this slight by the Australian National University must affect the standing of the Government and the people of this country in Asia, lt will have great repercussions on the peoples with whom we are endeavouring to build up goodwill.
That brings me to the important point: Who leaked this information to the press? Why has no statement been made to this Parliament about why the information was given to the press and was not kept confidential, as was intended? Undoubtedly some one in the National University was guilty of sabotage in this matter. As I say, the Minister uses his security service extensively. Here is a first-class case for him, right on the spot. The security officers would have to travel only 100 yards from their office in order to find out who leaked this information.
Why cannot a degree be conferred on this distinguished visitor to our country? I wonder whether, if Prince Philip came to this country and visited that university, a degree would be conferred on him. Or would it be found that he did not have the necessary qualifications? Would any member of our Royal Family be treated as this distinguished visitor has been treated? II. so, would the press be informed that a university would not grant a degree? These are matters of vital importance to the people of this country. I know dozens of people in all walks of life in this nation who, for services rendered to a university or for distinguished service in other directions, although without academic qualifications of any kind, have been granted an honour such as that sought from the Australian National University for the King of Thailand. They received those honours and nobody has suffered much as a consequence.
– Some of the greatest scoundrels in the country have received knighthoods.
– I would not go as far as that, but I have never been able to understand why certain people received knighthoods. After all, in England a leading jockey was given a knighthood. You would hardly think he was eligible.
Would the Government allow the Australian National University to refuse to confer an honorary degree on a member of the Royal Family of England? Would it allow the university to refuse to confer degrees on people honoured by Oxford University and other great universities? Are we to understand that the Government will take no action in cases such as the one under discussion? When questions about this matter are asked in this Parliament we are told that the honorable members who raise this matter are destroying Australia’s goodwill in Asia. The people who are destroying this country’s goodwill in Asia are the people who allow this state of affairs to pass unnoticed - people like the Minister for External Affairs, who will not tell the Parliament what he proposes to do about those who are responsible for this insult to our visitor.
I have raised this matter because it is of great importance. The average Australian is very concerned about it. If at this late stage the university decides to confer a degree, the King of Thailand will know that it is being conferred under duress. I know that the Government is accustomed to dodging the issue. It has so many things on its plate that it thinks this matter is of little importance. I would like to see honorable members opposite rush to the defence of the university. Could not the honorable member who has just returned from his investigations into the Common Market tell us what he thinks about this slight to the King of Thailand? Will honorable members opposite tell us how they expect to engender goodwill in Asia by allowing this insult to a distinguished visitor?
I could not allow the opportunity to pass without placing on record my displeasure at what has occurred. I direct attention to the silence of the Government on this matter and to the petulance of the Minister for External Affairs when questions about this matter are asked. Yesterday, in good faith, and in an endeavour to see that our royal visitor was treated correctly, the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) asked a question. The Minister for External Affairs answered him in a very petulant fashion. The honorable member did not get a satisfactory answer to his question. The important point is: Who leaked this information to the press of Australia in an endeavour to discredit a royal visitor to this country? I hope that members of the Country Party will tell us what they think about this matter. I would like to hear the Minister for External Affairs say a few words. I would like to know whether the Government would condone similar treatment of a member of the British Royal Family. If the university can get away with this action in respect of the King of Thailand, it can get away with it in respect of a member of the British Royal Family. If that happened the flag-wavers opposite would hasten to tell us of the insult to the British Royal Family, but they stand by while the King of Thailand is publicly insulted and do nothing to prevent a repetition of this action. Their attitude is in keeping with the Government’s approach to all great problems. The Government shirks its responsibilities. It takes no action to see that justice is done. At least common courtesy should be extended to royal visitors to this country. I would not be surprised if the King of Thailand cancelled his visit. If he did so this Government would get what it deserves, because it has treated the King of Thailand shabbily. To allow the university’s decision to be leaked to the press was humiliating–
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
e asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
How many migrants living in the Department’s migrant reception and accommodation centres are unemployed?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
At 9th August, 1962, there were 53 migrant workers in migrant accommodation centres of whom twenty had just arrived, awaiting placement in employment.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
e asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
What countries enjoy most-favoured-nalion trade agreements with Australia?
– The list of the countries gazetted for most-favoured-nation tariff treatment follows: -
Australian Antarctic Territory.
Australian Territories of Heard Island and McDonald Islands.
Australian Trust Territory of New Guinea.
Central African Republic.
Federal Republic of Germany.
Federation of Malaya.
Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
French Somaliland and Dependencies.
Guadeloupe and Dependencies.
New Caledonia and Dependencies.
Mauritanian Islamic Republic.
Netherlands New Guinea.
Jan Mayen Island.
Norwegian Antarctic Possessions.
Republic of China.
Republic of Cyprus.
Republic of Dahomey.
Republic of Ireland.
Republic of Korea.
Republic of Mali.
Republic of Niger.
Republic of Senegal.
Republic of South Africa.
Republic of the Chad.
Republic of the Congo.
Republic of the Ivory Coast.
South West Africa.
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
United Arab Republic.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Aden Colony and Protectorate.
British Solomon Islands Protectorate.
British Trust Territory of Tanganyika.
British Trust Territory of the Cameroons.
Colony and Protectorate of Gambia.
Falkland Islands and Dependencies.
Gilbert and Ellice Islands Colony.
Kenya Colony and Protectorate.
Mauritius and Dependencies.
St. Helena and Ascension.
Seychelles and Dependencies.
Virgin Islands of the United Kingdom.
United States of America.
Virgin Islands of the United States.
Other United States Pacific Islands.
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The Government has established, under the Tariff Board Act, special machinery designed to provide Australian industry with urgent temporary protection in cases where it can be demonstrated that imports are causing, or threatening to cause, serious damage to particular industries. This machinery ensures that no Australian industry need fear serious damage from competitive imports while its case is being examined by the Tariff Board. Australian industries are well aware of this special protective machinery and many have taken advantage of it. On 3rd August, the Australian footwear industry applied for temporary protection against imports of leather footwear. This application is being examined as a matter of urgency by the Department of Trade.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– I refer the honorable member to my statement in the House last Thursday on the Government’s approach to Great Britain’s application to join the European Common Market.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information requested by the honorable member is available in the report of the committee which inquired into the salaries and allowances of members of the Commonwealth Parliament in 1959, except that the report does not mention positions of Deputy Whip who receive the usual member’s entitlements. I also refer the honorable member to my answers to associated questions reported in “ Hansard “ for this session.
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Information sought by the honorable member is not readily available and the search of records necessary to obtain it is not warranted.
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. One- 1st to 7th December, 1959.
e asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
What is the number of age and invalid pensioners in receipt of the 10s. per week supplementary allowance?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
At 30th June, 1962, 87,372 age and invalid pensioners were receiving supplementary assistance.
n asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 to 4. Any question of change in the rate of wife’s allowance is considered each year at the time of the preparation of the Budget, when the entire field of Commonwealth finance policy, including social services, is surveyed. In the light of this review, funds are allocated for the ensuing twelve months in the manner best suited to the continuing needs of the community. After a searching appraisal of its present and future financial obligations the Government this year concluded that the time was not opportune to increase social service benefits. Doubtless the honorable member knows the rate of wife’s allowance was increased by 12s. 6d. a week last year.
y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) £5,780,000. (Budget- does not include the cost of the March increases.) (b) £12,636,766.
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. I understand some press publicity has been given to a statement attributed to the Reverend W. A. Brown when unemployment benefits were withdrawn from several aboriginal natives at Tabulam. The position is that benefit was stopped in five cases after the Department of Social Services had received reports indicating that the persons concerned could not satisfy the condi tions for payment of benefit. On appeal, benefit was restored after inquiry in two instances. In the other three cases a more extensive investigation was necessary, but payment was subsequently resumed in these cases also. At no time were the persons concerned forced to beg for food. If a person resident on the station is unemployed and not in receipt of benefit or any other income, rations are available through the station manager, the quantity and type being determined by the constitution of the family.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 August 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620815_reps_24_hor36/>.