24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. KEARNEY presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the House will -
Australia’s willingness to enter into an agreement to keep Australia free of nuclear weapons or bases; and
Petition received and read.
Mr. L. R. JOHNSON presented a petition in similar terms.
Petition received. ,
– Is the Minister for External Affairs aware of statements made by the Netherlands Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to the effect that the Netherlands had been forced to sign an agreement on West New Guinea because it had been deserted by its allies? I ask the honorable gentleman whether Australia is an ally of the Netherlands, and what pressure Australia exerted on the Netherlands to have it sign the agreement.
– I was not aware of the statements to which the honorable member has directed attention. I am able to say that Australia has placed no pressure upon the Netherlands to sign any particular agreement. Australia has followed the course of exhorting both these parties to negotiate and to settle their differences peacefully. I am happy to say that an agreement has been signed which represents a peaceful resolution of this dispute. I have not the particular terms of it yet but I would hope to have leave of the House, on Tuesday, to make a statement covering the agreement and some part of the events, at any rate, that led up to it.
– Has the Treasurer considered the proposal made at the recent conference of building industry representatives that the requirement for savings banks to maintain at least 70 per cent, of their funds in cash and government securities should be altered to, say, 65 per cent, to enable the savings banks to lend more for housing?
– The requirement to which the honorable gentleman refers is one of long standing. From time to time, the Government has considered recommendations that the percentage be reduced for some commendable purpose. The facts as I have them do not suggest that there is any strong case for that to be done at the present time. The banks are required, under the regulations, to keep not less than 70 per cent, of depositors’ balances in the form of cash deposits with the Reserve Bank or in government securities. At the present time, they hold, on an average, 80 per cent, of their balances in that form; so there is a considerable margin over the 70 per cent, requirement. Since the end of March last year, with considerable encouragement from this Government, the savings banks have substantially increased their lending for housing purposes. Their total lending has increased by £43,000,000 since that time. It would appear that they have a substantial margin for further lending, and they are making a considerable contribution in this way. Finally, it will be appreciated that were the Government to lose loan support from the savings banks for government securities that would reduce our capacity to service the loan programmes which we agree upon with the States at Australian Loan Council meetings.
– Will the Treasurer reconsider his decision regarding the exclusion of quarrying companies from the 20 per cent, capital investment allowance for taxation purposes? Would not the Treasurer agree that quarrying is, without doubt, a form of open-cut mining? Further, would the Treasurer not agree that quarrying companies are the manufacturers of vital basic commodities used in roads, housing, national works and defence? Does not the very importance of this, industry justify its receiving the 20 per cent, capital investment allowance?
– The prime purpose of the investment allowance was to give some encouragement to the manufacturers of equipment required in industry and for manufacturing purposes. We gave very careful consideration to the quarrying industry, and to various other industries which did not actually manufacture. We did not regard quarrying as coming within the scope of the allowance or of the policy that we had in mind. The purpose was clear. We believe that the range that we have applied to the policy will give considerable encouragement to the manufacturers of capital equipment, but there must be some limits to how far this policy can be extended. As the Prime Minister reminds me, this allowance applies also to manufacturers re-equipping themselves for manufacturing purposes.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Repatriation. Is he able to inform the House what stage has been reached in the provision for and construction of the proposed new repatriation artificial limb and appliance centre in Perth?
– I know that the honorable member raised this matter in the House some time ago. It is a fact that the present building occupied by the repatriation artificial limb and appliance centre has to be vacated because a freeway that is being constructed by the State and local authorities will go right through the present site. It was decided to build a new centre in the Hollywood Repatriation General Hospital area. I should say that at the moment the work on that undertaking is about half-finished, and we expect that the centre will be ready for occupation at the end of this year. The cost of this undertaking will be in the vicinity of £51,000.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. How many migration agreements did he conclude with other countries on his visit to Europe four years ago and how many did he conclude on his visit during the recent recess? Did the Italian Government in particular decline to make a new agreement until the Australian Government could guarantee adequate employment for Italian migrants to Australia?
– If I could answer the honorable gentleman by correcting what he said first, I would point out that my previous visit to Europe and to Great Britain was three years ago - not four years ago. My purpose in going abroad on this occasion v/as, in the main, to bring negotiations to what proved to be, in the event, a successful end in relation to the renewal of agreements between Australia and Great Britain, Holland, Italy, and West Germany. When I was in London, Sir, I signed a renewal, in substance, of the Anglo-Australian agreement for a term of five years. As I understand it, the agreement between Australia and the Netherlands is now completed and likewise, that between Australia and West Germany.
When I was in Rome, at the request of the Italian Government I extended the current Australian-Italian agreement by six months, during which time further negotiations will take place between the two governments on certain matters which are not of any great substance, but which are still at issue between us. I take this opportunity to say to the honorable gentleman, and to the House generally, that I do not see any insuperable obstacles in the way of creating a new agreement of quite long duration between this country and Italy early next year.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Air. Does the Minister know whether the Royal Australian Air Force has investigated the possibilities of the use of hovercraft in the service? If this possibility has been investigated, has any positive decision been made?
– There have been remarkable developments in hovercraft in recent years, as I think all honorable members know. The R.A.A.F. has amassed considerable information about these hovercraft and their likely future. However, at present it is not believed that they have any particular application to the Air Force. Probably the Army and the Navy would have a requirement for hovercraft, but at this stage the Air Force is not interested in their purchase.
– I direct my question to the Minister for External Affairs. Is the Commonwealth Government preparing for any new arrangements or adjustments of present arrangements and policy that may become necessary upon the transfer of the administration of West New Guinea from the Netherlands to Indonesia? Have any steps been taken to safeguard such rights of passage by sea and air as Australia now enjoys in this territory or in the waters of the territory when the transfer occurs? Does the Government propose to seek to continue with the new Indonesian administration the programme for the integrated development of the two sectors of the island of New Guinea, now proceeding by arrangement with the Dutch? If so, have any representations been made to the Government of Indonesia for the continuance of this programme? What progress has been made in on-spot marking of the western boundary of Australia’s frontier in New Guinea? When is it expected that this work will be completed?
– Before I proceed to reply to the honorable gentleman’s questions, let me correct something that he said. At present there is no agreement between ourselves and the Netherlands for the integration of the two parts of this island. The agreement which exists relates and is limited to co-operation in certain administrative respects in the development of the territories.
As to the consequences of the transfer of the administration of West New Guinea, of course I and my department have been considering what adjustments will be necessary and what arrangements ought to be sought and made. Very many consequences will flow from the transfer, and these are being examined. Without going into particularity on the various matters which the honorable member mentioned, I can assure the House that as far as possible we will not overlook any necessary rights which Australians now have, or the preservation of our interests.
– Will you make a statement in the House on this matter?
– As arrangements are made and as negotiations proceed, I will inform the House.
– Win the Minister for Territories inform the House of the effect of a decision reported to have been made in Darwin that aborigines under the age of fifteen years and over the age of 65 years will not be declared wards of the state? Does this decision affect the entitlement of aborigines to social service benefits?
– I am grateful to the honorable member for raising this matter because there has been a certain amount of confusion about it. I think all honorable members know that in the Northern Territory no person of the aboriginal race comes under special or restrictive legislation unless by a legal process he is declared to be a ward of the state. The legal process is that the Administrator-in-Council has the responsibility of declaring a person to be a ward. The declaration is not subject to any direction by the Government; it is solely within the discretion of the AdministratorinCouncil. However, it is subject to appeal by the person so declared to the Supreme Court in chambers.
I assume that what has happened in Darwin is that the Administrator-in-Council, meeting as a council, has adopted certain rules for the council’s guidance. As I understand it, there is no question of an amendment to or any change of the present law. The position is that the council, in carrying out its function for declaring wards, has adopted certain rules. My understanding is that the Administrator has announced that in future no child under the age of fifteen years and no person over the age of 65 years will be declared a ward. So far as I know, the Administrator drew no conclusions and gave no explanations, and the interpretations that have been made are those placed upon the announcement by the newspapers.
As to the newspapers’ interpretation that there is some alteration in the entitlement to social service benefits, I would say quite plainly that the entitlement of aborigines to these benefits is determined by an act of this Parliament, and the matter is administered by my colleague, the Minister for Social Services. The procedure cannot be altered either by the declaration of a person as a ward or by failure to declare a person as a ward. I think the interest shown by the press arose from the fact that throughout Australia age pensioners in institutions, whether they are of European origin or of the aboriginal race, can have their pensions paid in part to themselves and in part to the institutions. That rule applies to both coloured persons and white persons. It applies to aborigines in the same way as it applies to all other Australians. No change will be made in the rule by failure to declare a person over 65 a ward. An aboriginal ward over 65 could receive the pension direct, and he would fail to receive it direct only if he were living in an institution. That arrangement will not be altered. In respect of children under fifteen-
– This is a matter of some importance and of interest to a great number of Australians. In the case of a child under fifteen, my own view would be that the problem scarcely arises, because it is a question of legal status, which reaches the point of determination at the age of 21 rather than at any earlier age. The Government’s view is that there would be no real legal necessity to declare any one until he reached the age of full majority, 21 years.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question. It arises from the action of Indian authorities in condemning 1,000 tons of Australian wheat which was contamin ated with a poison. Has the Department of Shipping and Transport power to insist that, in the loading of ships, no poisons or insecticides shall be loaded in proximity to foodstuffs, since undetected leakages could endanger health, or life itself?
– I have no information concerning this action by the Indian authorities. It has not been brought to my notice. There are, however, specific regulations covering the loading of ships in Australian ports. I will look into the matter and see what information I can give the honorable member.
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade. It arises from a statement released to the press on 12th August concerning special industry promotions in overseas newspapers. Will the Minister make available to representatives of various industries concerned a detailed list of the commodities involved and the countries in which their sale is being promoted?
– I will be glad to do so. I think perhaps these particulars are already available in publications of the Department of Trade, but if they are not I will have them made available.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Did the right honorable gentleman, in announcing the Government’s economic measures that were introduced in November, 1960, state that the need for the Government’s action was the allegedly excessive boom conditions then prevailing, and did he give as an illustration the operations of the motor vehicle industry? Is the Treasurer aware that monthly registrations of motor vehicles are now much greater than those in 1960? If so, will he explain why a situation regarded by the Government as dangerous less than two years ago is now presented as evidence of the success of the Government’s proposals to revive industry? Can the Treasurer’s changed attitude be taken as an admission on the part of the Government that its damping down of the economy in 1960, with a consequential serious increase in unemployment, was without any justification whatsoever?
– I would greatly welcome an opportunity to reply to the honorable member at the length that the question deserves since it has been asked, but I shall reply as briefly as I can. To anybody who cares to study the economic situation of Australia then and now, there is no inconsistency in the approach of the Commonwealth Government. At the time when our action was taken to reduce the pressure on resources which was coming in great strength, as it were, at that period from the motor car industry, our overseas resources were running down very rapidly. There was an excessive demand for labour with a very limited supply of labour available, and the motor car industry was one of the strong pressure points in an increasingly serious boom situation at that time.
When it took these measures, the Government acknowledged that the motor car industry enjoys a place of great importance in the Australian economy. Indeed, we are not without some gratification that our policies have enabled this industry to become firmly established and to be so diversified as to enable a high degree of competition to exist between various sections of the industry. But having cured the excesses which were evident at that time when the motor industry was making very heavy demands on overseas exchange for steel, rubber and other components, we are now glad to be in a position to enable the industry to go forward again in strength. We are glad that the Australian community now enjoys the position of being one of the highest users of motor cars per capita in the world. We are pleased with a situation in which the number of cars on the road has, I think, trebled during the lifetime of this Government.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Repatriation by reminding him that some time ago I directed attention to the provision that a service pensioner could not get an allowance for his wife and children, even if he was 70 years of age, without undergoing a medical examination to show that he was permanently unemployable. Has a decision ben reached on my representations on this matter? I point out to the Minister that an age pensioner over 70 does not have to undergo an examination to obtain an allowance for his wife and children. Other honorable members also have directed attention to this anomaly.
– I have given careful attention to this matter which was raised by the honorable member for Port Adelaide about twelve months ago and by other honorable members as well. Only recently officers of the national head-quarters of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia also referred this matter to me. Having regard to these representations, and after a careful study of the problem, I have decided that an anomaly exists, and it will be adjusted. Instructions are being sent out to branches of the Repatriation Department in all States to correct the anomaly. From now on, service pensioners who reach the age of 70 years will be classified as permanently unemployable if they are not engaged in an occupation at that time. Therefore, their wives and children who are eligible will receive some form of pension in the future.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Has his attention been directed to a statement made at a public meeting in Rockhampton last week by Dr. W. G. Goddard, reported in the local press, to the effect that military action has been taken by the Republic of Indonesia against the Portuguese on the island of Timor and that hostilities have been going on for the last six weeks? If this is true, will the Minister inform the House why no publicity has been given to events which could be so important to Australia?
Sir GARFIELD BARWICK__ I certainly have no information of the kind mentioned by the honorable member. I think the reason why there has been no publicity is that what is alleged fact has not in fact happened.
– My question is directed also to the Minister for External Affairs. With the acquisition of West New Guinea, will Indonesia take the place of the Netherlands as a member of the South Pacific Commission?
– This is a question which will have to wait until the whole matter has been sorted out. If the Netherlands is a member of the South Pacific Commission in right of its possession of this territory, it may be that Indonesia, in due course, will be represented on the commission.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that several Australian travellers overseas have been very critical of the general set-up, ranging from displays to service, in Australia House, London? In view of these complaints will he, in the interests of Australian prestige, investigate the standard of the displays in particular?
– I am bound to tell my friend from Wimmera that I cannot remember a time when somebody did not have some complaint to make about Australia House. This is really a well-established principle. My inspection of Australia House in recent times has not convinced me that there are these defects. I have, in the past, seen very serious defects, but the High Commissioner is pretty satisfied at present with the displays and the general arrangements. If a particular complaint has come to the notice of the honorable member, I shall be very glad to have it looked at.
– I ask the Treasurer: Will he obtain and have published figures showing the quantity of petrol sold by resellers in the Australian Capital Territory over the past financial year, together with the amount of petrol tax charged on those sales? Will he then consider means by which the proceeds of the petrol tax collected in the Australian Capital Territory, or a proportion of it, could be either made available for expenditure on the minor roads in the Territory or credited against government expenditure on those minor roads?
– I shall see whether I can get the data which the honorable member seeks. He raises a question of policy which it would not be appropriate to answer now. I really would take some convincing that the residents of Canberra are neglected in this respect in comparison with people in other parts of the Commonwealth.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Services. In view of the decrease in avenues of employment in country areas, are application forms for the employment benefit readily available at every country post office? If not, or if the Minister is not certain of the position, will he take immediate action to ensure that such forms are made available? Will he arrange also for a notice to be posted in a conspicuous place in each post office informing the public that forms are available and setting out the main qualifications that entitle persons to receive benefits?
– To the best of my knowledge and belief application forms for all social benefits are available at post offices throughout the Commonwealth. In addition, forms are usually available at the offices of clerks of petty sessions and at similar offices in the various States. I will have inquiries made into this matter and, if there is a shortage of application forms at any particular point, appropriate action will be taken to rectify the matter forthwith.
– I ask the Treasurer a question without notice. The annual report of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development discloses that the bank’s largest loan for a single project - 100,000,000 dollars- is in respect of the Snowy Mountains scheme. Will the Treassurer inform the House in full detail the nature of the construction equipment that was obtained with this loan and why that equipment could not be obtained from Australian sources?
– If my recollection is correct this matter was dealt with in legislation last April. Nevertheless, I shall endeavour to obtain some detailed information in an endeavour to satisfy the honorable gentleman’s curiosity in the matter.
– Is the Treasurer aware that some residents in country areas are forced to travel many miles each week in order to take their children to a point where they may board public transport to their place of schooling? Will he consider allowing as a tax deduction the full amount of expenses so incurred?
– The honorable gentleman has pointed to one of the disadvantages experienced by people who live in rural communities. Yesterday his colleague, the honorable member for Richmond, pointed to another disadvantage. But I am sure that both those honorable gentlemen will acknowledge that some very notable advantages and benefits are to be derived from the well-balanced life to be lived in rural areas of Australia. As the matter raised is one of fiscal policy, a reply at this time would not be appropriate. I undertake to examine the question and I assure the honorable member that the matter will be appropriately reviewed when the taxation legislation is being examined again.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Some time ago, he stated that when the meat and sugar season commenced, unemployment would be greatly reduced in the coastal towns in Queensland. In view of the latest figures, does the Minster say that his forecast has been borne out and that unemployment has been effectively reduced in those towns?
– I should like to correct the honorable gentleman. I did not say that unemployment in the Queensland coastal towns would be reduced when the meat and sugar season commenced. I would have said that by the time the season was well under way, or when the provision of employment opportunities had been completed, unemployment would have been reduced. If the honorable member looks at the monthly news release issued by me on 13th August last and compares it with the releases of recent months, he will see that the number of persons registered for employment in the Queensland coastal towns has been very substantially reduced. Of importance, too, there has been a very substantial reduction in the number of those receiving the unemployment benefit. The figures are still being reduced. If the honorable gentleman will look at the table in appendix 1 in the last release, he will see that the number of persons registered for employment had fallen to 14,195 on 27th July and that the fall is continuing.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer a question without notice. Has he any detailed information about the various sources of finance for both the building and the purchase of homes throughout Australia over the last three years? If not, does he know whether the Commonwealth Statistician has such information available? If it is not available from the statistician, will the right honorable gentleman ask that officer to undertake research into this subject so that a clearer picture of the requirements of money for housing throughout Australia can be obtained and further research undertaken to determine whether the allocation of funds can be more efficiently organized?
– A great deal of information on this important subject is available, and I shall see how much I can usefully collate for the information of the honorable gentleman and of others who may be interested. I have recently supplied the Deputy Leader of the Opposition with some further material in response to a request that he put to me when I made my secondreading speech on the Loan (Housing) Bill (No. 2) 1962 last week. The important sources of funds are well-known, I think. This Government, out of its Budget, this financial year will provide something more than £90,000,000 for home construction throughout Australia. Earlier to-day, I intimated the extent to which advances by the savings banks for housing have increased. They now total something like £345,000,000, of which £43,000,000 represents an increase since the end of March last year. The trading banks have been urged by this Government in recent times to give preference to housing in their advances. Insurance companies, especially the life assurance offices, and various other financial institutions all participate in the provision of funds for housing.
I think it is worthy of note that Australia now ranks as the country with perhaps the best per capita availability of housing. In the life of this Government, for every 2.6 persons added to our population, one new house has been constructed. That is a very remarkable achievement, but we do not sit back and rest on it complacently. I assure the honorable gentleman that we are anxious to ensure that adequate finance is available for home-building.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Has the Government’s attention been directed to the trenchant criticism made by Professor Eric Rudd, Professor of Economic Geology at the University of Adelaide, while addressing the recent annual conference of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy at Surfers Paradise, regarding the failure of this Government and private oil interests to explore fully the great potential for oil in Papua and New Guinea? Did the professor say that Papua offered an extreme case of major companies holding a large area for an extensive period and not conducting an adequate campaign of geological exploration? If so, is this an accurate evaluation of the position? Finally, what Commonwealth legislation exists to prevent purposeful inactivity of this kind to the detriment of the Australian economy?
– I had not read this statement, but I will be very happy to pass on to my colleague in another place, the Minister for National Development, the points that I understand are being made by the honorable member.
– I do not know whether this is the appropriate time to do so, but I wish to make a personal explanation relating to a broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s national news service this morning.
– Yes, I think this is the appropriate time.
– I heard the broadcast this morning and have since obtained from a representative of the Australian Broadcasting Commission the text of the passage to which I wish to refer. It reads as follows: -
The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator McKenna, said to-night that the words “ full employment “ had dropped out of the Federal Government’s vocabulary. For the first time for many years the Treasurer did not use the words “ full employment “ in his Budget speech earlier this month.
I have before me the “ Hansard “ report of my Budget speech. The passage to which I wish to refer appears at page 15 of “ Hansard “ for 7th August. I had made several references to employment but the immediately relevant passage is as follows: -
We must enlarge the sources of our export income if we are to generate employment opportunities in our rural, mining, manufacturing and other industries on the scale necessary to match the growth in our work force. There is still too little recognition of the link between export income and our objective of full employment. Without an adequate export income, we cannot have created for us the job opportunities which a growing work force will need.
The words are quite clear.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is the right honorable gentleman in order in reading from “ Hansard “?
– Order! The Treasurer is in order. I point out that if any honorable member wishes to clear his name as far as the press is concerned, it is considered that he should have the right to do so.
– I conclude merely by saying that the words speak for themselves. It is quite clear that the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate had no justification for making this quite erroneous statement. I hope that he will take suitable action to ensure that the matter is corrected in the Senate, and I hope that the Australian Broadcasting Commission will also take suitable action to correct the error, which was in no way due to the action of their reporter.
– I claim that I was misrepresented in a report which is supposed to be a report of a party meeting held yesterday. I do not wish to quote what the report says, but I would like, in your words, Mr. Speaker, to clear my name by giving what I did say. The records then will be clear. The statement attributed to me does not represent what I said or the spirit of what I said. Mr. Speaker, honorable members opposite are interjecting, but you have ruled that a member may clear his name.
– Order! The honorable member has claimed that he has been misrepresented. We will deal with that matter. I suggest that no honorable member abuse this privilege; it should be jealously guarded by all honorable members. The honorable member for Macarthur wishes to clear his name in relation to a misrepresentation.
– I want to deny the press report of what I said. It is not what I said and it is not the spirit of what I said.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Fairbairn be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and that his place be filled by Mr. Haworth.
That Mr. Bury be a member of the committee in the place of Mr. Haworth.
That the foregoing resolution be communicated to the Senate by message.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) each speaking on the Budget without limitation of time.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 15th August (vide page 404), 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.
.- The Treasurer (Mr. Harold” Holt) has presented a bold Budget. There has been no resort to vote-winning concessions, which have been represented to the Government by sections of the press as being necessary for its own survival. That which these critics characterize as daring financial policy is in fact not daring policy but an adventure in foolhardy spending which would wreak a great disservice to our thrusting economy. Beyond any doubt, the Budget has gone as far as it reasonably could in creating the financial environment for vigorous growth. However, I wish to concern myself with a complementary aspect of this conditioning process. I refer to the 19th century laisserfaire reality of the conditions of our trade, commerce and manufacturing activities.
Two years ago in the Budget debate, I directed attention to the multitudinous existence of restrictive trade practices in Australia. On that occasion, I stated the view, shared by many of my colleagues, that restrictive trade practices could be and in very many instances are most harmful to the public interest. We further shared the belief that many of them had grown up at times when they were virtually sponsored by the governments of the day in war and depression. Their practitioners genuinely believed not only in their moral correctness, but also that their continuation was in the public interest.
The passage of these two years has brought introspection and critical selfanalysis to the point where many now realize the untenable nature of some - indeed of many - of the restrictions. A closer examination has led many to realize that while they practise a mild restriction of trade they are, at the same time, victims of a far more virulent and obstructive practice. They are actively engaged to find ways of amending or exorcizing their practices when the legislation is on the statutebook. I have said before - and I have become more confirmed in my opinion - that the trade association has a most important and proper role to play in our commercial and manufacturing life. Officers of these bodies are my friends and associates. They ought to be, not the instrument of the enforcement of sanctions, but the vehicle for co-operation and advancement of the legitimate aspirations of their industries. In these things they excel. Restrictive trade practice legislation is not an attack on associations. It is an attack on harmful practices from which the whole range of our community suffers, not only as individuals, but as the broad and often defenceless public.
I believe, as did my colleagues, that not all restrictive trade practices are bad. Some are justifiable on the ground of public interest. Most are the products of past economic difficulties, and were conceived to ease transient situations. But they have remained as a cushion to make more comfortable general trading conditions and are now revered as “ orderly marketing “ or a “ code of ethics “, words which excite immediate suspicion that they are the camouflage for restrictive practices. Many restrictive trade practices, however, are unquestionably bad. They raise prices; they restrict production; they boycott people out of business; they prevent others from competing; they concentrate economic power improperly; and they care not for the public interest.
As the twentieth century has unfolded, and has developed the concept of control within reason, it has become crystal clear that untrammelled liberty cannot be allowed to disadvantage the majority. Democracy must protect itself to survive. Laisser-faire will be replaced either by socialism or by control within reason. Absolute freedom has not the connotation, socially, that it permits crime to go unpunished or rudeness to go unnoticed. The surrender of absolute freedom in the commercial field, which restrictive trade practice legislation involves, is no more than “ control within reason “, as we know it civilly. The alternative is socialism, which appals me, and has even lost its attraction for our friends opposite.
For all these reasons I welcome restrictive trade practice legislation as soon as may be possible. More important, I want it to be legislation approved by this Government and drafted by the present Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), because members of the Australian Labour Party have failed to think reasonably - or at all - about the matter. Instead, they have surrendered to emotional outcries. Were they to draft legislation it would undoubtedly be criminal in nature, absolute in terms, and extreme in penalty. They do not even know the difference between a monopoly and a restrictive trade practice. The limiting of absolute freedom is wholly consistent with Liberal principles. We must consider all the parties involved, not just the practitioners who are vocal and have something to lose. We must also consider those against whom the practice is directed - you and I and our electors, the public.
In some areas I have encountered the attitude: “Leave us alone. We have already had tightened trading conditions by restrictions of credit. We have lost much of our comfort. Don’t interfere with our freedom by restrictive trade practice legislation.” This attitude exemplifies just what restrictive trade practices are. They are a method of reducing the rigours of competition - of making trading conditions more comfortable. They, therefore, should be ignored. As I have pointed out, it was under conditions of this kind that restrictive trade practices were born, and recent trading conditions are no argument for them to be permitted to continue.
The Treasurer, in the Budget, has pointed to the strength of our economy. He and others have emphasized our need to keep prices down in the struggle to maintain and extend our export markets. Legislation against restrictive trade practices will materially help this drive. Since the war, many countries have legislated on restrictive trade practices, for example, the the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Denmark, Japan, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and West Germany; and also countries not highly organized industrially, such as Ireland and New Zealand. Even the Treaty of Rome has as a basic article a very strong provision against restrictive trade practices.
Recognition of the existence of restrictive trade practices is not a modern phenomenon, as was pointed out by the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, when it borrowed from “ Restrictive Trade Practices and Monopolies “, by Wilberforce, Campbell and Ellis, and I quote paragraph 838 of its report -
Restrictive trade practices are as old as trade itself. According to one authoritative English treatise - Restrictive Trade Practices and Monopolies by Wilberforce Campbell and Ellis, at page 2 - they represent nothing more than the attempts of intelligent men to interfere, to their own advantage, or that of the industry in which they are engaged, with the free working of supply and demand and with the results of competition. As to practices, the advantages of cornering the market were known to the ancient Egyptians; papyri are in existence which show the existence of private monopolies in wool and cloth, and a schedule of merchandise which dates from about 3000 B.C. is known, which shows an attempt to fix prices as against those prevailing in free competition.
The learned writers referred, at pages 2 and 3, to the historical antecedents to modern restrictive practices, and legislative safeguards against them, in the following terms: -
In Greek times the astronomer Thales, having ascertained from the stars that the olive crop for the forthcoming season was likely to be particularly copious, arranged some months in advance to hire all available olive presses, thus proving that philosophers, as well as academic economists, can achieve economic independence . . . Moreover, just as the practice of restriction is endemic in commerce, so the State has from the earliest time sought to interfere by legislation with sectional profit making. There are monuments in India, dating from some centuries before Christ, recording regulations to prohibit merchants and producers from making collective agreements to influence the natural market prices of goods by withholding them from trade: boycotts are mentioned amongst other punishable offences as well as any interference with buying and selling of others, and throughout history sovereigns, constitutional or otherwise, have attempted to repress private monopolies with one hand while often granting monopolistic privileges with the other. It was the Romans who first legislated against monopolies and restriction in a comprehensive way: in classical times the Lex Julia de annona established sanctions against combinations to raise the price of corn, and the famous Constitution of Zeno in the fifth century … set a precedent for . . . much medieval legislation . . .
Mr. Chairman, I have not heard anybody in this House describe what a restrictive practice is: nor will I attempt a definition. However, there are some extremely wellknown practices which it may be useful to honorable members to hear about, just as my colleagues found it useful in the pursuit of our inquiries. The one that first comes to mind is the price fix. This is an agreement or arrangement which is just as likely to be contained in a formidable legal document as to have been arranged and understood at informal meetings and dinners. It may be entered into by manufacturers, merchants or retailers. The insidious nature of it is such that agreement by one group begets similar and usually intertwined agreements by other groups in the distributive process.
In its worst form it fixes prices much higher than they need be. In the lesser form it fixes prices to allow a comfortable margin of profit without risk of loss. In all cases the agreement is accompanied by sanctions, a penalty in the form of a fine or expulsion from the group. Expulsion means to the member disbarment from the advantages of price his fellows enjoy. It may result in him being able to obtain his merchandise only at retail prices and eventually drive him out of business. This consequence will flow from selling goods at a price less than that fixed by the agreement. If he be a manufacturer he will find his customers refusing to stock his products.
This agreement, almost invariably, is associated with a corresponding agreement elsewhere in the distributive chain. The members of one group buy or sell only to the members of the other. This leads me to the term “collective boycott” - the manner of disciplining a non-conformer in price agreements, area sharing, prescribed conditions and so on. Not only are prices fixed but conditions of the offer for sale are in many cases rigidly predetermined. This is most important in areas where the basic price structures for different manufacturers or merchants are composed of the same items and, therefore, are very similar. The fixing of conditions is just as restrictive as the fixing of prices.
Another restrictive practice is known as “ sharing the market “. This amounts to a licence given by the group determining who may enter a given trading area or manufacturing pursuit. A person cannot oppose the group, or if he does he soon cannot obtain supplies of materials without the group’s licence. It is only upon accreditation by the entity that he is able to obtain them. This restricts competition and usually has, as a corollary, a given zone in which the accredited trader is immune from competition. In return for accreditation he embraces the fixed price, the collective boycott, and foregoes any right to trade outside his own area at peril of incurring the sanctions.
There are all degrees of sophistication in application and it applies over a wide variety of goods. The simplest form is in small items delivered daily. In complicated form it applies to international manufacturing concerns, the mysterious “ international cartel “. “ Full line forcing “ is another term and is descriptive of a restrictive practice. It is a means of forcing a trader to take a full line of goods if he takes any at all. The effect on retail prices of forcing a trader to carry an unwanted or at best unattractive collection of goods is readily appreciated. Its corollary is the tied contract which enables a dominant supplier to use his dominance to force a trader to agree to forgo any rights to trade in goods competing with those nominated by him, that is the dominant supplier. It takes little reflection to remember circumstances in which a particular brand of goods has been asked for by an individual but has been unavailable. The imposition upon personal choice that this constitutes by the use of the dominant economic power is often overlooked.
The next one I come to is “ collusive tendering” where the tenderers collectively agree, first, as to which of them is to be the successful tenderer; second, the price at which he is to tender; and third, the price known as a cover price at which the others of them are to tender. This price is above that of the person who is to be the successful tenderer.
But this is not an exhaustive catalogue of restrictive trade practices. That is impossible. The refinements are as exotic as the fire from a cut diamond. Tailored by master craftsmen to suit the needs of themselves, no greater labour has produced greater artistry of result.
While the need for control of restrictive trade practice is cleary established, I wish to say emphatically, Mr. Chairman, that I do not regard the question of mergers and monopolies as falling within the same, simple prohibition. I do not criticize bigness as bigness. I believe we must have evolution of big enterprises with the capacity for research, volume of production, and management incentive. Monopolies, as such, are not harmful; they become so when they use their economic power badly. It is this misuse which we should seek to control and prevent. Mergers are part of the cycle of business growth. The purpose is usually legitimate and proper. We should seek to prevent mergers only where their purpose is either to avoid the consequences of restrictive trade practice legislation or to acquire dominant economic power to drive competitors out of business.
Mr. Chairman, the Commonwealth has great problems of legal and constitutional powers to circumvent in drafting this legislation. There is the trade and commerce power under the Constitution, which is limited by interpretation by the High Court of Australia; there is the corporation power, which from the outset of judicial interpre tation was limited by Morehead’s case; and then there is section 92, although I do not think that section 92 will be the great hurdle that it is said to be by many who have examined this question. I feel that section 92 in some respects will come to the aid of the Commonwealth in legislating on this matter, and I say that because of the tests that were laid down by the Privy Council on the interpretation of section 92 in the banking case and cases subsequent to that.
The co-operation of the States is essential and probably will be, and is even now, forthcoming. But even with their cooperation the intricacies are extreme. Mr. Chairman, I would welcome legislation at the earliest possible time. I firmly believe that not only does the public want it but the nation must have it.
.- Mr. Chairman, I am very glad that the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) is not like the Americans who speak through their noses. I understand that he is in considerable anguish at the moment as a result of a blow sustained yesterday while he was playing squash. I congratulate him on his stamina in delivering a speech in such painful circumstances.
The Budget has already been variously described. Government speakers have sung its praises since this debate began last Tuesday night, and I think sometimes they have done so with tongue in cheek and certainly in very mournful tones. Now they go about with an assumed air of cheerfulness, like the small boy who whistles as he walks through the cemetery.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was heard last Tuesday night not with bated breath, but in stunned silence, as if his unhappy followers were under the spell of an unseen orchestra playing the Dead March in Saul. As a matter of fact, the stage had already been set during the afternoon; we had spent the afternoon mourning the passing of some former members of the Federal Parliament and Mr. Alan Bird, who was a member of the present Parliament. I suppose the stage was set for a mournful budget by the proceedings of the afternoon.
For nearly 80 minutes the Committee of Supply sat stoically listening to a Budget speech written in a minor key. I know that the pressmen in the gallery looked extremely bored. The visitors in the galleries looked as if they wished they had stayed at home, and the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), under the influence of the Treasurer’s monotone, fell fast asleep, dreaming, no doubt, about the luxurious lives led by the widows and pensioners under his beneficient régime. I wonder whether ever before so little was said in so many words. For all the helpful impact this Budget will make on the economy of Australia, the Treasurer might very well, like the late lamented Mike Jacobs, have “ stood in bed “.
One of the most curious things about this dismal Budget will be seen if we reflect upon the Treasurer’s statement last October, after the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) had outlined Labour’s plans for 1962 in the event of Labour coming to office at that time. Mr. Calwell said that in February, 1962, we would budget for a deficit of £100,000,000. The Treasurer criticized the Leader of the Opposition - in this he had the support of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) - and said that such an action was grossly inflationary. It is all a matter of the angle from which you look at it. When we propose a budgetary deficit, it is called grossly and even dangerously inflationary. When the Government budgets for a deficit, it is called expansionary. Sometimes I wonder whether we understand the meaning of those words. Why is there such a great difference between our understanding of the words “ inflationary “ and “ expansionary “? If we propose to do something, the Government describes it as inflationary. If the Government proposes to do the same thing, it is described as expansionary. The public must be gravely confused by the use of these terms.
Looking at the stock exchange prices since the Budget was announced, I have noticed that the share leaders have continued to decline. I have always regarded the stock exchanges, particularly those in Melbourne and Sydney, as being indicative of the state of confidence in the government of the day and in the way in which the country is being run. If the price of shares on the stock exchange is any indication - I believe it to be an excellent indication - there seems to be very little confidence in the way in which Australia will be run during the next twelve months.
After listening to the speeches of several honorable members on the Government side, I have gathered that they have been searching for the cause of the curious lack of confidence by the people. They believe that they have discovered the reason for this. They claim that the Government is not at fault and that the fault lies with the Australian Labour Party, which goes about preaching gloom and catastrophe. They claim that as a consequence of the Labour Party’s attitude Australia’s troubles have increased. We on this side of the chamber continue with our refusal to join the Government’s mutual admiration society. We are not satisfied; we are not self-satisfied, and I hope that we never will be. We shall continue to point out that more than 100,000 people are unemployed; that there is still grievous want in some sections of the community; that we need many more homes for our people; that we need more migrants, and need them fast; that we need more schools, more teachers, more universities and at least three times the present number of Commonwealth scholarships for university students; that we need more and better roads; that we need our own ships; and that we need a much stronger foreign policy if we are to regain the self-respect that we lost when we ran away and left the Dutch in the lurch in West New Guinea.
Not very long ago I was a member of a parliamentary party which visited West New Guinea. We observed for ourselves the manner in which the Dutch were governing that country and endeavouring to raise the standards of living and the ability of the inhabitants to govern themselves. I was convinced that the Dutch were doing a particularly fine job. But that is all past history now. I believe that an agreement has been signed and that the Dutch will leave the territory. In the meantime, however, the Indonesians continue to make war upon the Dutch people in West New Guinea. This is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs, and I believe that we have emerged from it with a very serious loss of self-respect.
These are the reasons why we of the Opposition shall continue to warn the people about the dangers that await them under a government which believes that doing nothing gives the country stability. The word “ stability “ figures largely and often in the Treasurer’s Budget speech. He laid great stress upon the word. So do we. We also want to see stability, but we want progress as well. In fact, we want it more than does the Government. If the search for stability gives us what we have now, which is virtually stagnation - ask any businessman - let us have a little less stability and let us take a few of the risks which always accompany progress. Those are the remarks that I wanted to make about the Budget speech.
As every household has its own budget, I believe that something should be said about a process which recently has been developed - I believe it has been perfected, although I would like to know a little more about it - by a man in Sydney named Henry Dolan. When I referred to the household budget, I had in mind particularly an item which involves women in great expense each year because of the fashion which insists upon them using very fine gauge hosiery. The hose now being purchased by women is of a very fine gauge and is manufactured from 15-denier nylon. Nylon is the principal thread used; there is very little of anything else. Because stockings to-day are so fine, they have very little wearing quality. It is usual for young ladies who go to work and, as a consequence, wear hosiery, to be involved in the purchase each week of a pair of fullfashioned hose or fine-gauge seamless stockings.
I have noticed that prices in the chain stores for 15-denier nylon hose vary from about 6s. to 8s. a pair. If these stockings have to be replaced at least once a week, the purchase of 52 pairs of stockings each year must place a very great strain upon the finances of the women of Australia. I spent a long time in the manufacture of hosiery and I claim to know a great deal about the subject. At present what is known as 66 gauge full-fashioned machinery is in use. These machines can knit a nylon thread of 15 or even 12 denier and produce a stocking which, while it is in great public demand, has no wearing quality. Millions upon millions of stockings are needed each year by the women of Australia. Because these stockings have a very short life, the household budgets must be very adversely affected.
There has been a very strong trend away from full-fashioned hosiery and to-day circular hosiery of almost equal fineness, and having the ability to retain its shape in exactly the same way as does a fullfashioned stocking, is being used. The nylon is put through a particular process to achieve this effect. As we import millions of pairs of stockings each year, and as we manufacture many more millions of pairs in Australia, the Australian women spend a very large sum of money on the purchase of stockings. If we can find some way to make a stocking last a good deal longer than it does at present, we shall confer a great benefit upon Australian women and upon our economy. I might mention that to-day the price of full-fashioned hose is about one-third of what it was 35 years ago. Sometimes I wonder of how many other commodities it could be said that their price is a great deal lower than it was 35 years ago. There would be very few such items. If you took into account the decline in the value of money you would find that stockings to-day cost about onesixth as much as they did 35 years ago. However, they do not have as long a life. They have not the wearing capacity that they had in those earlier times, because stockings then were made of much stronger threads.
Since a great deal of money is spent in replacing damaged hosiery it would be of great benefit to this country if a means could be found of making hosiery last longer. I understand that Mr. Henry Dolan of Sydney has perfected a process which permits the stitches in nylon hose to be bonded together, without loss of appearance and without loss of elasticity or tensile strength. Hosiery made by such a process will not ladder, and ladders in hosiery are the principal reason why replacements are needed. If this process is a success it can be confidently expected that the need for women’s hosiery will be greatly reduced. Something will happen similar to what happened in the trade in men’s socks. There was a time, only a few years ago, when it was possible to buy only woollen socks. There is not much life in a woollen sock. But when nylon or terylene is converted into staple fibre and knitted into socks the finished article is almost everlasting. Something similar is about to happen in a slightly different way, with respect to women’s hosiery.
If this new process is a success, whom will it hurt? Of course, the first to feel the impact will be the hosiery manufacturers. When nylon staple fibre came into general use in the knitting of socks the number of machines required to supply the requirements of half-hose in Australia fell by about 66J per cent. Something similar will happen in the manufacture of women’s hosiery if the new process is a success and is developed in the proper way.
The next people to suffer will be the nylon spinners throughout the world. They will suffer first in Australia, because it is in this country that the process will first be used. Thirdly, the manufacturers of polymer will suffer and, fourthly, fewer shop assistants will be required in the establishments selling hosiery. One can walk into almost any chain store in Australia to-day and see what is called a hosiery bar. Fewer hosiery bars will be required if this process is a success.
The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is a great and famous legal man, and I sincerely hope that he will use his best endeavours to persuade Mr. Henry Dolan to sell the process he has invented to the Commonwealth, or at least to retain the process for the benefit of Australia, so that it will not fall into the hands of those who would suppress it or exploit it. There can be little doubt that when a process like this is discovered manufacturers who would be affected by it would show an eagerness to buy the process and suppress it. It is certain that if the process could not be suppressed, and if it fell into individual hands, it would be exploited. I believe it is Mr. Henry Dolan’s desire that the process, if it is successful, should be used for the benefit of the people of Australia, and especially the women of Australia. 1 hope that the Attorney-General will take note of what has been said and offer his assistance to the inventor of the process.
Another matter I wanted to refer to concerns the civilian widows of Australia. These women have an association which is federal in character. They have been assisted in founding it by the Apex clubs of Australia. But very little progress has been made as yet in persuading the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) to do at least one little thing that ought to be done for civilian widows. Sometimes I wonder how much longer it will take for the suggestion to penetrate the pachydermatous covering of the Minister that permissible earnings of civilian widows should be increased. This is a matter that we have raised frequently in this chamber.
An age pensioner couple receiving pension of £10 10s. a week can have up to £4,040 worth of property, or alternatively can earn up to £7 a week without reduction of pension. They can, therefore, have an income of £17 10s. a week. That is very good, and we are extremely pleased with it. But a widow with a child under sixteen receives £5 10s. a week and is permitted to earn in addition £3 10s. a week for herself and 10s. for the child. This means that the maximum permissible income is £9 10s. a week. The age pensioner couple can have an income of £17 10s. a week, or £8 a week more than the maximum allowed for the widow and her child. Is this justice? According to the Minister it is, but the proverbial Blind Freddy can see that it is not. On the one hand the age pensioner couple can get £17 10s. a week, while, on the other hand, the widow and her child, who have in many instances greater expenses to meet, are allowed only £9 10s. a week. This kind of anomaly cries out for attention. We have said on many occasions that it should be given consideration by the Minister for Social Services, but he continues to ignore us.
I wanted to refer also to the matter of unemployment. In December of this year nearly 90,000 young people will leave school. In July last there was, according to the published figures, a fall of 3,000 in the number of people unemployed. That still left 90,000 people out of work, according to the official figures at the end of July. Of course, everybody knows that this is not the true figure, and the number is actually much greater. Married women, for instance, are not included in the figure, and many thousands of married women who had jobs have been dismissed. They cannot register for the unemployment benefit. There are also many people who will not register because they regard it as humiliating.
In far too many instances employers arc adopting a wait-and-see policy, with the result that investment activities, upon which employment depends, are being carried on in a torpid and sluggish manner. Businessmen fear to take a risk on investment or expenditure, and who can blame them? There is an old Chinese proverb to this effect, “ Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”. The businessmen have now been fooled by this Government not twice but thrice. There have been three artificially induced recessions since the Government came into office. Who can blame businessmen if they are afraid or reluctant to take advantage of the money which is now available for borrowing? They fear that if they do there will be, at some unpredictable moment, another restriction of credit and possibly the loss of what they have borrowed, and even their own businesses.
I know that this problem of unemployment is regarded by the Government as simply another statistical item, but for those who are unemployed it is a very real, personal and painful problem.
Recently there came to my office a friend of mine who was a loyal and faithful servant in a high place in a large textile company which collapsed several years ago. This man was a particularly good executive and he had certain skills which were of value to him when the company folded up and he, like 2,000 others, lost his employment. He was approached by another great firm in Australia. It is a monopoly, and I will not name it. He was offered a job because he could do the work of an electronic computer, and the firm used his services for three years.
At the end of that period, an electronic computer that had been ordered arrived, and this man was given one month’s notice. He was then 62 years of age. That was about four months ago and, in the intervening time, he has been unable to find employment of any type. This man refuses to tell anything but the truth, and the moment he says that he is 62 years old - although he looks only 52 - he cannot get any kind of work.
While men in their fifties are better off than those in their sixties, they find work very difficult to obtain. Frequently, they are men who have been trained for work of a higher order, but when their employment folds up and they are dismissed, there is only one thing left for them - if they are lucky, they might get a job as a sweeper. It is not fair to expect men who have educated and trained themselves in a lifetime for a better class of work to sink in their later years to the relatively menial position of sweeper.
I have spoken of the difficulties of mcn who are 50 years of age or over. In many cases, when they received their education as children, neither they nor their parents could predict the shape of things to come. It is no fault of theirs that there are no employment opportunities for them. There are 1,000,000 or more children in our schools to-day. Who can predict that the things they are learning and the knowledge they are acquiring will be of any value to them in ten or twenty years? Nobody can say.
It is wrong that affairs in this country should be conducted in such a way that there is a pool of unemployed. We believe it is possible for a government to administer the country in such a way that there will be full employment. We have said it before and we repeat it now. We have shown in the past that it can be done. Next December 85,000 young people will leave school to seek employment. Their numbers will be added to those who are now out of work, and it is high time the Government exerted every effort to bring about a state of full employment and so relieve the minds of our people from the worry of seeking jobs.
A few days ago it was announced in the press that the fees at the Sydney University were to be increased by one-third. What does this mean? It indicates that the States have reached their limit in the field of education. Although they spend the bulk of their revenue on education, they are unable to grapple with its problems. They have called repeatedly on the Commonwealth Government to come to their aid, but they are not getting assistance. How many parents and students’ hearts will break at the knowledge that they will have to pay the higher fees next year?
We recall the scorn with which the Government greeted the statement by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in February of this year that if he were leading a Labour government, he would budget immediately for a deficit of £100,000,000. Now, the Treasurer is eating his own words. Six months after the statement by the Leader of the Opposition, the Treasurer is budgeting for a deficit of £118,000,000. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said this week, the Government is providing too little too late.
Last week I had a visit from a gentleman who had received a circular letter from the Department of Social Services. In this letter which was directed personally to my constituent, the department stated -
It is noted that you have been in receipt of unemployment benefit since 10th July, 1962, and, according to the information supplied by you (or, with your papers) it does not appear that you have taken adequate steps on your own account to obtain employment. Opportunity is taken therefore, to remind you of your obligations in this regard.
So that the department may be aware of your efforts to find employment, you are requested to state on the back of future weekly income statements the names and addresses of prospective employers approached in your search for work, together with any reasons given for non-placement.
Your case will again be reviewed at an early date.
At this date the department had not cancelled the gentleman’s unemployment benefit, but the department was warning him that unless he did those things-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I commend the 1962 Budget, particularly as a member of this chamber representing a country electorate based on the exporting industries which are so vitally concerned with the problems of prices and costs. Built into this Budget is the principle of stability of costs. This commends itself to me and will appeal to anybody who is concerned with the major primary industries of Australia.
During the course of this debate, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and other Opposition speakers have tried to create in the minds of the public some form of nebulous economic plan. Members of the Opposition are continually talking about the plans they would introduce should they, by some misfortune, be returned to the treasury bench.
The very nakedness of this claim should be exposed. The Opposition has no sound workable proposition. It has no sound economic plan that it can offer in the event of achieving control of Australia’s destinies. That is, I believe, one of the reasons why the Opposition has gone to such tremendous pains to try to impress on the public that the Government has no effective plan. It is a form of false pretences and a complete distortion of the facts to present to the people the suggestion that the Government has been continuously and continually operating on what the Opposition terms “ stop-go “ tactics. During the course of my remarks, I propose to deal at some length with that particular point.
In this Budget there is no windowdressing. There is no bargain basement giveaway. In fact, despite the comments of members of the Opposition, it is a budget that is basically framed with the idea of keeping the economy going, to the extent that we are not going to create a situation which will call for the application of checks again.
I propose now to go into the other problem of how or whether it is possible to devise, through government action or economic direction, a long-term plan which would require no checks and could be carried through to finality without any danger of it being upset; because that is inherent in the argument put up not only by the Opposition but also by other supposedly competent people in the community.
It must be apparent to any thinking person that the most difficult economic problem facing governments in Australia to-day, particularly on the federal level, is the formulation of policies that will provide a maximum opportunity for growth and development and, at the same time, safeguard the internal economic structure against a resurgence of the powerful forces of inflation which are inherent in any plan for rapid development under the political and social conditions that prevail in this country to-day.
It is obvious that we must increase our population at the maximum speed and that also, to support that increased population, we must provide increased employment opportunities for the increasing work force. All this must be accomplished within the framework of a high standard of living, with full employment - or as close to it as we can achieve - an expanding social services programme and a responsible recognition of our defence requirements. Each of the items within this framework contains the seeds of inflation. These things, in combination with various unknown factors at the international level, make the preparation of a plan for steady and even development a major task unless we are prepared - I stress this point - to reduce the rate of development to one commensurate with the most pessimistic anticipation of future trends in world prices as they will affect our exports and our purchasing power overseas.
One of the criticisms that have been frequently levelled at the Government during recent years is that its economic and fiscal policies have been dominated by stop-go tactics and that the economic requirement in Australia’s present conditions is steady long-term planning, so that the whole national machine will go forward from strength to strength without pause, check or hindrance. This view has been voiced by several people of standing and supported by certain sections of the press. Of course, the term “ stop-go “ has appealed to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and his supporters as a basis for attacking the Government.
There can be no doubt, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that the objective of steady and uninterrupted economic progress is highly desirable and should be supported by every one. But it is as well to give some consideration to the practicability of such an objective under the circumstances that prevail throughout the world to-day and which have a bearing on Australia’s internal and external trade. During the autumn session this year, I think, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) pointed out in this chamber how inappropriate it was to adopt the simile of traffic signs in relation to the national economy. He portrayed the havoc that would result if traffic continued to flow in one direction regardless of traffic pressures from other directions. In other words, there must be periodic cautions and stops when conditions demand them and side issues or cross currents are evident. Personally, I prefer to travel with a driver who knows where the brakes are and who gives consideration to traffic moving in other directions. I suggest that those who so glibly use the stop-go criticsm might take note of the word “ stop “, and stop and think.
It appears to me that in the circumstances applying to-day the only steady rate of national development which could reasonably be expected to avoid checks or reverses would be one that was so restricted and limited that neither the Australian public nor the world in general would allow it to continue. If we cast our minds back to the period immediately after World War II., we recall that the then government’s economic advisers expressed the firm view that the future of wool prices was most uncertain and that any rise from the low price under the Joint Organization scheme could1 hardly be expected. No one can ignore the vast influence wool prices have on our overseas income. Had this advice been followed it would have pointed to a cautious approach. As it turned out, this view was completely wrong. Not only did Australia and other wool-producing countries dispose of their current wool clips at much improved prices, but also in a very short time the accumulated stocks of the Joint Organization, which included a high percentage of types normally difficult to sell, were sold at most satisfactory prices. I want to stress that point. It is a well-known fact that in the 1945-46 period the economic advisers of the government of the day expressed the view that there was no future for the price of Australian wool. So much for longterm economic planning on that basis.
Again, who could have anticipated that the struggle in Korea would develop, bringing in its wake inflationary pressures on the prices of metals and many other commodities, including wool? Even more unpredictable was the situation that arose when the United States authorities set up two separate wool-buying agencies, bidding against each other and pushing up wool values to incredible levels. Again, in relation to our overseas trade, who can accurately prophesy what will be the effect on
Australia’s overseas earnings of the developments in the European Common Market? Fortunately the Government, in anticipation of the possible loss of a portion of Australia’s United Kingdom or European markets, has pursued a most vigorous policy of exploration in other areas, which must obviously have some stabilizing effect. But much remains to be accomplished before we can say that we will not feel the loss of empire preferences in the United Kingdom.
Then we have only to turn to the wheat situation and the substantial reduction of Australia’s projected surpluses due to sales to red China, which in theory comes as the result of bad seasons and crop failures in that country. We can also give consideration to the effect on our national economy of the disastrous results which might follow a general drought such as we have experienced in the past and of which we got a taste in the very bad conditions in the north of Australia in 1960. I believe that much of this thinking about the necessity for steady so-called planned development comes from the secondary industry side, which naturally would like to have a nice easy flow of production to meet a steady demand, well protected and unaffected by outside influences. I think it is from the less efficient sections of secondary industry the greatest criticism comes. My colleague, the member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp), referred to this question last night, adequately and with great truth.
Secondary industry has grown so rapidly in the last twenty years and now so dominates our political and economic thinking that we are at times forgetful of what happens to the general national economy if there is a serious slump in prices for our export products, which come mainly from our primary industries. There is a tendency to think that secondary industries and the internal market are the major considerations. We forget what happened to our commerce and secondary industries when the slump in export prices in the depression years was the first step, through its influence on our agricultural industries, towards the economic strife that hit Australia. That same situation will surely arise again, with more than a passing influence.
That is a factor that seems to be forgotten by those who think that the simple fact of planning a period of national development is the answer to all our problems. Peculiarly enough, this view, which is basically socialistic philosophy, is also held by one or two of our most orthodox financiers, and this surprises me.
The parallel, of course, is that which we have seen so often in Communist countries working to a five-year or ten-year plan, or some such laudable objective, which in most cases is notable for failure to achieve the targets set, mainly because such a plan breaks down under two conditions - the human factor and the impossibility of insulating against outside economic influences or seasonal conditions. I believe the detailed implementation of a broad development objective must, of necessity, be subject to changes and adjustments, some of them of a substantial nature. I cannot approve of all the financial measures of 1960. I believe that one, in particular, was both unnecessary and extremely irritating to the general public. That was the increase of the sales tax on motor vehicles from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent, for a short period. I am not being guilty of exercising hindsight when I say that I was certain at the time that the impact of the credit restrictions would have a far greater deterrent effect on motor car purchasers than the additional sales tax. This proved completely true. I can assume only that an enthusiastic Treasury official saw a heaven-sent opportunity to extract a little more sales tax revenue.
It is, therefore, my firm opinion that the type of long-range planning that we require - planning that aims at increasing our internal resources, expanding our overseas markets, fostering the establishment of new industries, all of which will lead to greater capacity to absorb the increasing work force associated with our growing population - must be on very broad lines to allow the forces of initiative to have their play, and to obtain the maximum assistance in capital and know-how from our overseas friends. Any attempt to impose the kind of restrictive economy beloved by the socialist world not only would retard those processes, but would be certain to scare away the type of assistance to which we look.
Within this broad framework it seems to me inescapable that our economy must be affected by events outside our control, and any attempt to base a detailed development plan on the theory that the Australian economy can stand an unrestrained rate of progress, and that inflation does not matter, seems to ignore the basic principle of Australia’s trade pattern. The thinking associated with the stop-go criticism ignores the extraordinary progress that has been made in Australia in ten years. It ignores what is going on at present and what is projected for the immediate future. Such thinking is unrealistic in its estimate of our capacity to do much more without at the same time bringing the whole structure down about our heads through the white-anting forces of inflation. It is fantastic for the Labour Party, based as it is on restrictions and controls, with its record of shortages and rationing, its violent objection to overseas finance and its inherent opposition to any individual success, to pose as the champion of expansion and development.
I remind honorable members of what is published in the White Paper entitled, “ The Australian Economy, 1962 “. Referring to an overall plan for the economic, industrial and social development of the country, the White Paper states -
Notions of what an overall plan would be and try to do are variously formulated but, typically, they contemplate the setting up, five years ahead or even longer, of a central target for aggregate national output in statistical terms. This would be derived from forward calculations as to the likely increase of resources in various categories and as to what, on these and other assumptions, the contribution of various sectors of the economy to total output is capable of being.
In other words, each sector will have its own target, and the various sectors will be corelated. The White Paper continues -
All this would be subject to close consultation between those actually engaged in drawing up the plan and representatives of industry, trade, labour and public authorities.
This is no novelty. It has occurred in other parts of the world, particularly in the iron curtain countries, which love this type of long-term economic planning. The White Paper claims that doubts can be raised on various grounds about such a far-reaching project. It states -
One that promptly suggests itself is whether targets can bc calculated so far ahead reliably enough for the purpose. People who have to do with estimating economic magnitudes know how difficult it is, even with a wide range of information, to produce dependable figures, even for relatively short periods ahead.
A second query is whether a long-term programme, however well devised, could be sufficiently protected against changes in external conditions such, for example, as a large fall in export prices or in capital inflow. Australia is still heavily dependent on overseas and, although our economy has in recent years shown itself rather better able to withstand export fluctuations than it used to be, these can still be highly disruptive for the industries directly involved, especially if a fall in earnings is prolonged.
On the whole, the broad disposition of the Australian economy and those who work in it is probably against the notion of an elaborated plan which might, at best, prove somewhat rigid and therefore cramping and, at the worst, fall to pieces through initial miscalculations . . . The presumption, in other words, could still be in favour of individual or group enterprise so long as this did not run to excesses which would act to disrupt the general forward movement.
As to official policy, no government can commit itself in advance as to what its attitude in particular situations will be. What it can do is to state the main objectives it has in view and define the broad policies by which it will seek them. On some matters, of course, it cannot be as specific as on others. It is, for example, one thing to state a migration target - as the Commonwealth did some years ago - or a general target for home-building at which it will aim; it is quite another thing to say what level of overseas investment it will seek to secure because so many of the factors that will influence the result are quite beyond its control.
A third requirement is continuous and effective consultation between the central government and all the main constituents of industry, commerce, finance and labour. Without this there cannot be an adequately informed common mind on the problems in which all have to share and towards the solution of which all must co-operate. Neither can there exist the necessary measure of understanding, trust and freedom from needless conflict.
Whether the advantage lies with a closely-knit plan or with a looser association of interests and organizations, held together chiefly by general understandings and broadly-defined purposes, the aim would be to secure a steadier, more consistent order of progress. So far as this could be achieved there would, by definition, be fewer and less violent ups and downs in activity and fewer occasions for intervention by governments.
It would, however, be a mistake to suppose that this would do away with the need for shortterm economic policy. For example, if the economy is to grow faster and more continuously, it will need even more than now to be assured of adequate and increasing supplies from abroad. But the export earnings and the capital inflow which pay for such supplies are subject to rapidly changing world influences beyond our control. The internal economy, again, can be thrown out of gear by droughts or similar disasters, by waves of speculation by industrial troubles or by large and sudden cost increases. For these and a great variety of other reasons, there have to be adjustments in policy on the budget, on monetary conditions, on tariffs, wages, social services and the like and a constant effort to harmonize all these phases of policy.
I have given two versions of this one subject - my personal view and the view expressed in the valuable White Paper from which I have quoted. Nobody can deny that the Government has, since 1949, worked with definite objectives in view, and has aimed at specific targets, although circumstances have caused a breakdown in its planning.
Before I conclude I must say something about a matter that deeply concerns me. Recent electoral events, particularly the general elections of 1961, have indicated to me that the swinging voter in Australia is far more concerned that the tide of unemployment should not approach him than that he might be the victim of the effects of inflation. This attitude disregards one major point. Industry and employment have been and will continue to be supported by the purchasing power of our exports, which are mainly the products of our primary industries. Should the forces of inflation so damage our primary industries as to limit their capacity to export, Australia’s internal economy will feel the brunt of that damage and the employment situation will be immediately dealt a heavy blow - a blow far worse than anything we have experienced in recent times.
We exhibit complete ignorance of the facts of life - indeed, we virtually deliberately ignore them - if we regard this matter purely as an internal problem and ignore all the influences and stresses to which we are subjected, in common with other countries, by events, particularly economic ones, taking place overseas, and if we think that we can quietly assume that our progress will not be impeded and that there will be no need for intervention at government levels or for the Government to put on the brakes or switch on the amber warning light.
In conclusion, I say that even though this Budget may be abused by certain sections of the community, it surely should be applauded by those people throughout Australia who are the greatest contributors to the earning of our export income. Apart altogether from the objective of stability, and the inherent’ stability, built into this Budget, those people at least are assured that they will not be pushed out of the world’s markets to the detriment not only of themselves but also of the Australian public generally.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) very conveniently overlooked the challenge made by my colleague, the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Clay), who implied that Government supporters should explain why they had said that the Australian Labour Party’s proposal in October, 1961, for a budget deficit of £100,000,000 would cause inflation and why they now consider that a deficit of £1 18,000,000 at this time is expansionary. It occurs to me that this Government is consistent only in one thing: It consistently damps down the expansion of this country’s economy. In October, 1961. the Government alleged that a budget deficit of £100,000,000 would be inflationary and would hamper the expansion of our economy. Yet, last Tuesday week, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) presented a Budget which envisages a deficit of £118,000,000.
This indicates the thinking of the Government and its supporters. If their present attitude is consistent with their attitude of October, 1961, they are deliberately causing further inflation in this country. That is the clear implication, and no Government speaker has mentioned it or rejected it. Speaker after speaker on this side of the chamber has asked the Government to explain why it regarded a deficit of £100,000,000 as inflationary in October, 1961, and why it now regards a deficit of £ 1 1 8,000,000 as expansionary. We can only assume, if the Government is consistent in its attitude, that it is now deliberately causing further inflation. I challenge the honorable member who will speak next for the Government to answer that charge.
The honorable member for Corangamite made some observations with which I should like to deal. He said that this Budget is one designed to keep the economy going.
Apparently, he is just another Government supporter who is out of touch with the Treasurer. Although the Treasurer said that this is an expansionary Budget, the honorable member for Corangamite has said that it is designed merely to keep the economy going. He sees in it no window-dressing and no basement give-aways. The honorable member said, also, that this Budget is designed to bring us as close to full employment as we can get. Yet, not two hours ago, the Treasurer said that full employment was the Government’s aim. The true thinking of the Government parties comes out in the words of the honorable member for Corangamite, who said that this Budget is designed to get as close to full employment as can be achieved. If this is the Government’s attitude, the people of Australia can expect at least the present level of unemployment to continue.
The honorable member for Corangamite stated that he prefers to travel with a driver who knows where the brakes are. It occurs to me that in November, 1960, the Treasurer must have hit everything in the front compartment of the car - brakes, clutch, accelerator and everything else. At that time he increased the sales tax on motor cars and demanded loans from insurance companies. The honorable member for Corangamite does not now agree with that action, but there is no record of his having crossed the floor of this chamber to vote against the proposal, although there is a record of a senator having cross the floor of the Senate. Very insidiously, the honorable member suggested that some minor Treasury official might have thought that he could collect a bit more in tax. Is that the way this Government runs the country - by implementing without hesitation a proposal made by some minor Treasury official and later blaming him when things go wrong? Or is it the usual practice of this Government to blame everybody but itself?
– Stick to the facts.
– The facts are there for everybody to see. The next speaker from the Government side of the chamber may try to deny them if he wishes.
The honorable member for Corangamite spent some time explaining that plans are not necessary. Heaven forbid that we ever see the day when any government or any other worth-while organization does not have a plan and a target at which to aim. When the Australian Labour Party talks of plans, it means co-ordinated plans. It does not think in terms of everybody going off at different tangents.
– What do-
– Apparently, honorable members opposite have been touched where it hurts. It is about time some of them woke up to the way in which this country is being run. It is about time they began running it for the benefit of the people. Most of my adult life, which, I suppose, has been about as long as that of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), whom I see in the chamber now, but who rarely comes into this place, I have been led by the newspapers to believe that the Government parties represent the business community and free enterprise. I have been led to believe that they are the planners and that they, as members of the board of directors of this great country, will run it in a business-like way.
How has this Government been running the country over the last few years? The result of its administration is that about 90,000 people are unemployed, the economy is dislocated and consumer spending has been retarded. The people do not know when they will join the long lines of unemployed. In any part of this country, one finds workers who say to themselves: “ My personality conflicts with that of. the boss. One of these days, he and I will clash and I shall be unemployed “. Because of this feeling, the people deposited in the savings banks the £115,000,000 mentioned in the Budget. They are frightened about the way in which the great business men opposite are running this country.
The family man has been waiting for his dividend from operations under the management of this Government. In 1950, child endowment at the rate of 5s. a week for the first child was introduced, and the rate of 10s. a week paid for subsequent children was continued. Despite the tremendous increase of inflation under the management of this great, business-like free-enterprise Government, these rates of child endowment have remained unchanged. Faced with increased costs for education generally, for the transport of children to school and for clothing, and with all the other consequences of the inflation that has developed under the management of this Government, the family man has waited in vain for almost thirteen years for relief. I remind the Government that family men and women are the people who elect it. Business houses do not elect it. However, I do not think that there is any doubt in the minds of honorable members on this side of the chamber that this Government represents sectional interests and places the welfare of the electors at the bottom of the ladder.
– We are not responsible for what the honorable members thinks of us.
– You are not responsible! You have said exactly what we think of you. You do not regard yourselves as responsible for your constituents. You regard yourselves as responsible for only a section or group in the community.
Order! The honorable member will address the Chair.
– The honorable member is twisting my words.
– -I am twisting nothing. Are you satisfied that you are doing sufficient?
Order! The honorable member will address the Chair and not the honorable member for Mallee.
- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I mentioned that the people of Australia are the shareholders in the business conducted by this Government and that they are waiting for their dividend. My colleague, the honorable member for St. George, mentioned the plight of civilian widows, who have repeatedly made to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), who is now at the table, representations seeking increased allowances. However, it appears to me that the Minister is quite content to run the Department of Social Services with whatever funds are given to him. His attitude is: I cannot do anything if the money is not given to me. I suggest that he ought to ask for more funds with which to ease the plight of these people. A widow who is left with four children to educate, clothe and shelter receives from this Government £7 15s. a week in basic allowances, and an additional £1 15s. a week in child endowment, making a total income of £9 10s. a week.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, I was directing attention to the fact that over the years the Government has claimed that it is a government of free enterprise, and that its members are the businessmen who run the country. I pointed out that the Australian people gave the Government a mandate to run this business so that they could benefit from it. I mentioned some of the people who are anxiously waiting for a dividend to be paid by the Government from the great natural reserves of the country.
The family man has been waiting in vain for an increase in child endowment. I support the remarks of my colleague, the honorable member for St. George, who referred to the pitiful state of civilian widows. A widow with four children is entitled to £7 15s. a week and child endowment of £1 15s. She has to care for her children and educate them on an income of £9 10s. a week. At Redcliffe, in my electorate, I interviewed some civilian widows. They told me that they have never been able to send their children to school in other than second-hand clothes, bought at jumble sales. Their children are - denied equality with other children who are fortunate to have a father. The Government should be roundly condemned for not ensuring that a widow with a family has the same income as a pensioner couple. Widows have asked repeatedly to be allowed to earn slightly more than the permissible income for each child so that they can educate their children. This plea has been rejected by the Government. I hope the next Government supporter who speaks in this debate will tell me why a widow is not allowed to earn enough money to bring her income to the equivalent of the basic wage. I wait with interest to learn why the Government will not permit this to be done.
An invalid pensioner with two children has an income of £5 5s. a week and his wife has an allowance of £2 17s. 6d. a week. With the allowance for his two children, he must maintain himself and his family, educate his children and pay for all his medical expenses out of a total income of £9 12s. 6d. a week. Why does the Government not make better provision for the children of widows and invalid pensioners? Why does the Government not make some grant for the children who go to school? Why should the son or daughter of a widow be condemned to wear second-hand clothes and to receive inadequate education?
We all admit that Australia is a growing country and that we will need tradesmen. Yet our apprenticeship system provides that the wage of a young apprentice shall be £5 15s. 4d. a week. Out of this sum, the apprentice must purchase overalls, tools and special clothing, and he must go to school at least one night a week. But educational expenses for his apprenticeship cannot be deducted from taxable income as other educational expenses can. One would think that the Government would provide more assistance for young people who want to become tradesmen.
Age pensioners also wait in vain for assistance. The anomalies in our social service scheme are legion. Every member of the Parliament receives requests for assistance, but the Government repeatedly turns its back on age pensioners. At the same time, it budgets for a deficit of £118,000,000.
One of the reasons for the introduction of the little horror budget - it turned out to be a big horror budget - in November, 1960, was that there had to be a shift of the employable population from light industry to heavy industry. I wonder whether the Government has succeeded in transferring a sufficient number of employees to heavy industry, such as that conducted by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. The Government also said that overseas reserves were falling. This was given as a reason for the hitandmiss catastrophe of November, 1960. Opposition members have repeatedly made the point that our overseas reserves become depleted because we do not own a shipping line and each year we must pay £250,000,000 in freight and insurance. We are still told about the invisibles. I hope some one will explain this.
It is acknowledged that Australia makes the cheapest and best steel in the world. The cost of sending Australian steel to Singapore is 170s. a ton, but with steel from Britain, which travels twice the distance, the cost is 120s. a ton. Similarly, it costs 179s. a ton to send Australian steel to Hong Kong, but steel from Britain is sent there for 144s. a ton. Why has the Government not investigated these discrepancies? Does the Government not want to capture the steel markets of South-East Asia? Surely this lazy, incompetent Government bears the responsibility of providing a shipping line so that we can trade with other countries. When asked to build an overseas shipping line, the Government says that it is not its policy to do so, but each year it provides for the expansion of the Australian National Line. The other day we were told that a roll-on, roll-off ship costing £3,500,000 was being built for service between Sydney and Tasmania.
– Are you against that?
– We support it all the way. If you follow the debates any time you are in the chamber, you will learn that we support the building of ships in Australia for the purpose of carrying Australian cargo. Why can we not build a fleet of ships for the overseas trade? If we can have a fleet of 44 ships for interstate trade, why can we not build ships here for our overseas trade?
– What happens to the profits when Australian seamen on overseas ships are paid high rates?
– The Australian National Line makes a profit of £1,250,000 on cargoes that no other shipping line will carry. The Australian National Line has been sabotaged by other shipping companies ever since it was founded. It was sabotaged in 1951 when men were attracted from its ships to the vessels operated by private companies. But the Government stepped in and stopped this malpractice. The Australian National Line carries only those cargoes that other companies consider unprofitable, but with six ships laid up in Sydney and two at Port Kembla, it still makes a profit with Australian seamen manning its ships. You may not have any confidence in Australian seamen, but we have.
– Ha, ha!
– You may sit there and laugh. Half the City of Brisbane is without sewerage, and this is the responsibility of the business managers who disburse the money. The councils are compelled to force developers to provide roads and other services for young people buying land. What is the result? A block of land costs £900. How does a young apprentice, starting his apprenticeship at sixteen years and coming out of it at nineteen or twenty years, save £900 for a block of land and perhaps £1,000 as a deposit on the house, and then furnish the house? These are the people who elected the Government. The Government has neglected them. The people have turned against the Government, but their decision did not quite defeat the Government at the last election. At the next election, more Government supporters will lose their seats.
I think most honorable members will agree that Australia is magnificently endowed for the economic production of manufactured goods, and agricultural goods, because of its easily worked iron ore, its wonderful climate and its easy terrain, which makes for easy transportation. We have an intelligent public service which has the ability, if left to do so, to develop Australia. However, since the margins case, public servants are very much underpaid compared with private enterprise. They should be given the opportunity to develop the nation by giving them a good policy. I say to Government supporters who are interjecting that I know that, in them, I am talking to a brick wall. As I look at them on my left, it becomes a thicker wall. There is no chance in the world of the Government’s formulating a policy for the well-being of the Australian people. It is about time that this Government resigned. The people employed in the public service of Australia have been frustrated and stagnated because of the inadequate policies of the Government.
During the past twelve years the failure of the Government to develop the national assets of this country has become a national scandal. I want the speaker who follows me from the Government side to say why in heaven’s name, when the bauxite deposits were found in northern Queensland and Consolidated Zinc Proprietary Limited commenced to ship it away from that area, the business managers of the Commonwealth Government did not say, “ Hold on a moment “, and build a super power house in Queensland on the Callide coalfield. Such a power house should have been subsidized, if necessary, in order to enable the establishment of an aluminium works in this country. There are seams of coal 75 feet deep at Callide which you can walk into. A super power house could be built on the spot. Why did not this businessman’s government do that? Possibly, there are some smart men in the Government, but they are weighed down by the leaden weight of such men as the interjectors on my left. Unlike Mount Isa lead, which has a percentage of silver in it, there is no silver in the leaden mass of the Australian Country Party, but there is a lot of overburden.
Recently, the Japanese sent a delegation to Siberia, and if they get the contracts that they seek they will increase their steel production seven-fold. Obviously, Japan will get coal from Moura and obviously it will get iron ore from the Constance Range. Do Government supporters think that the United States of America would let Australia or England come in to take over its ore deposits and export them? It is internationally accepted that the assets of a country should be retained for the wellbeing of that country. I should like to know why that does not happen in Australia. I had the opportunity to visit the Moura coalfield in Queensland, which has a seam of coal 25 feet deep, 180 feet wide and 40 miles long. There is enough coal there for any amount of steel production and there is any amount of iron in the Constance Range. If the Government does not like the policy of owning an enterprise and putting the profit from it back into the hands of the people, why does it not build a steel-works and then, if it so wishes, sell it as the Bell Bay aluminium industry was sold? What is the Government giving to the country now? I am inclined to think that none of its members or supporters think at all. A leadenhead over here on my left keeps up a rumble of interjections like cargo moving in a ship’s hold.
– Do you agree with what was done with Bell Bay?
– Most certainly I do not. But if the Government is not prepared to own industrial enterprises, at least let it build them and then sell them, as it has sold other industries. It will then at least continue to provide employment opportunites in these industries. It will need a lot of explanation. In Queensland, some of the great plans for the Atherton Tablelands are reaching fulfilment. The Tinaroo dam irrigation area on the tablelands is progressing very slowly because of lack of help from this Government. On the Atherton Tablelands, every kind of primary product can be grown, including all the tobacco consumed in Australia. By the ingenuity of our Australian workmen, a coastal river has been brought over the Great Dividing Range. During the last drought, 5,000,000 acre feet of water was released down the Walsh River and travelled hundreds of miles to save cattle in western Queensland. Why not grant a few million pounds to help this great project? The same question might be asked of the Burdekin scheme and the Fitzroy scheme. The Treasurer has announced a grant of £1,750,000 in order to clear the brigalow country in Queensland. The Country Party-Liberal Party Government in Queensland do not know what to do with the grant yet. Reports indicate that it costs £60 an acre to clear the brigalow land.
– Where did you get that figure from?
– That is the figure that was quoted to me by one of the honorable member’s own party. I will check up with him later.
– Order! I suggest that honorable members cease interjecting, and that the honorable member for Petrie might address the Chair.
– At the present time, one of the biggest meatworks in Rockhampton is owned by the Vestey monopoly which, of course, is interested only in export production. Even at this stage many Queensland Country Party members are demanding that the Queensland State Government build a Sate abattoir at Rockhampton so that producers can get a fair price for their meat.
– Your colleagues have said the same thing.
– You should demand it from your own people. Apparently this kind of attacking argument is not approved of by honorable members who are interjecting. I hope that the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten), who follows me, will answer my argument. The Government has failed in its management of Australia. The people recognized that in December, 1961. They are still dissatisfied with the Government to-day. If members of the Government have statesmanlike courage they will resign and let the people decide this issue. They have presented a “ stayput “ budget - a budget that will not assist this country one iota. In October, 1961, the Government stopped completely. It did not go anywhere at. all. I hope that the honorable member for Indi will tell us why the Government has stated that a deficit of £100,000,000 in October, 1961, would be inflationary and, eight months later, has introduced a budget with a deficit of £118,000,000. If such a deficit would have been inflationary in October, 1961, it must still be inflationary. Therefore, according to its own argument, the Government is deliberately creating inflation. Mr. Chairman, I call on the Government to resign.
.- Mr. Chairman, I am sure we have all been entertained by the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) since the resumption of the sitting after lunch. If he had not made so many inaccurate and distorted statements, and asked so many questions to which he ought to know the answers if he has been paying attention to the proceedings of the House, you would almost have thought that he was delivering a sort of light-hearted, after-dinner talk to amuse a gathering of distinguished people. He invited the following speaker to answer so many questions that I am not certain whether it should be the member for Indi, Barry Jones, or the oracle speaking now, because he wanted to know the answer to practically everything. Well, I will give him a couple of answers to a couple of questions he posed. The first concerns the charge that no one on the Government side has bothered to answer the assertion made by more than one speaker for the
Opposition that the deficit of £100,000,000 which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said he would introduce after the last election if he became Prime Minister is similar to the deficit Budget of £118,000.000 that is now proposed by this Government. The first inaccurate statement the honorable member makes, which is pretty typical of statements by members of the Opposition, is that no one in the Government has bothered to answer this charge. I should like to quote the remarks made by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) in the course of a splendid speech in the chamber last night. The AttorneyGeneral said -
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.
That is the answer to the charge made by honorable members opposite.
The only other point made by the honorable member for Petrie that I want to answer is the statement regarding the allocation of funds for social services. He said that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) each year is given a certain sum of money and at the end of the year is placed in a position where he has to apologize because he has not enough money to meet social service payments. The honorable member for Petrie is nodding his head and saying, “ That is right “. He is fairly new to this chamber, so perhaps he will be enlightened when he finds out the facts.
The position is, Mr. Chairman, that the Minister for Social Services is not given a sum of money at all. Parliament lays down the qualifications that recipients of social services must possess and fixes the rates of the various payments. Having done that, the Department of Social Services meets the pensions and benefit allowances for the whole of the financial year, irrespective of the rates. In other words, the money is provided to cover the amounts that are laid down by this Parliament, and the Minister for Social Services is given no money at all. 1 feel that this is a sensible Budget and is one that is designed to enable urgent developmental works to be undertaken, to solve the employment situation, and also to solve the extremely difficult task of maintaining cost stability in this country. I support this Budget.
I want now to refer briefly to the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), as have many of my colleagues on the Government side. They have pointed out where the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has misled the Australian public with inaccurate statements; I break my description of them down to refer to them as inaccurate statements. Honorable members heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition make a speech that was full of vague promises and pessimism. He has said the Government is not interested in restoring full employment, but he has never said what the Australian Labour Party means by full employment. There is not one country in the world that has total full employment. We are not satisfied with the present position - of course we are not - but in our view the position in Australia compares very favorably with that prevailing in other countries that have a way of life similar to ours.
– What about the estimate of 90,000 unemployed?
– The honorable member has mentioned the 90,000 people registered for employment. We all agree that a certain number of these people are unemployable. I believe that those in employment should contribute to their welfare and that we should do all we can to help them. Suppose there are 40,000 people in question. There are many factors involving their particular cases and this Government should do something.
– How many unemployed would you be satisfied with?
– How many would I be satisfied with? None.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Petrie have said our deficit Budget is exactly the same as the budget proposed by the Labour Party, a budget that we had criticized as being inflationary. I have already dealt with that argument by reading what the Attorney-General said, and I should like to support his remarks. However, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition goes a bit further this time; he does not say he does not agree with the £118,000,000 deficit Budget, and he does not say he disagrees with the method by which the Government proposes to spend the money. He said the Labour Party would have budgeted for a deficit of £160,000,000, which is £42,000,000 more. A study of his speech, however, reveals that he does not say how the Labour Party would propose to spend this money. He gave practically no detailed figures whatever about how it would be used. In the course of his speech he referred to this Government hoodwinking the public; but if ever I have heard an attempt to hoodwink the public it was when I heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber at 8 o’clock last Tuesday night.
Let us recall what he said the Labour Party would do. I remind honorable members that this is what he wants the Australian public to believe. On this material he asks the people to support his party as the government of Australia. He said, first of all, that his party would increase the unemployment benefit, but he did not say by how much. He said it would increase child endowment, but again he did not say by how much. While I am on that point, I mention that if child endowment were increased by 5s. a week the additional cost per annum would be £32,000,000, and if pensions were increased by 5s. a week there would be a further additional cost of £9,000,000, which would mean an immediate increase in expenditure of £42,000,000. But he was not satisfied with those two increases - the unemployment benefit and child endowment. He went on to say that the Labour Party in office would make a substantial emergency grant for education. Again he did not say how much. He said the Labour Party would see that more universities and hospitals were built and that money was made available to overcome the transport problems. He said the Labour Party would improve the health of the nation. He claimed that our defence forces were not efficiently equipped, but he did not say how that situation would be remedied or how much money the Labour Party would devote to it. Then he wanted to harness all the water resources in Australia. He claimed that he would do all these things with an additional £42,000,000.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also stated very definitely that Australia had the highest interest rate in the world. That is not true. I should like to cite some figures which have been supplied by the Commonwealth Treasury to indicate the yields on government securities in various countries. Money on loan for twenty years in Australia yields 5 per cent.; in the United Kingdom, 6 per cent., or 1 per cent, higher than the Australian rate; in Germany, 6 per cent., or 1 per cent, higher than the Australian rate; and in Canada, 5.5 per cent., which again is higher than the Australian rate. I have mentioned only three of the six countries on my list in which the rates of interest are higher than the Australian rate, so it is clear that the statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was not correct.
He also stated that this Government was allocating less for housing than it did five years ago. That also is not true. Once again let me refer to figures which have been supplied by the Commonwealth Treasury. In .1957-58, five years ago, Commonwealth assistance for housing amounted to £75,250,000, and this year’s Budget provides for an allocation of £91,400,000. So once again the Deputy Leader of the Opposition made an incorrect statement.
Several Opposition speakers have been most pessimistic about conditions in Australia. They have told us that the Australian people have never been worse off. Generally, Opposition members have been distorting the position completely. I should like to mention three matters which will help the people of Australia to decide for themselves whether they are well off or not. Australian savings bank deposits have reached an all-time record of £1,740,000,000. Motor vehicle registrations have also returned to a very high level. The honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) last night directed attention to a statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition which was designed deliberately to mislead the people. I congratulate the honorable member for having brought to our notice the way in which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition misquoted a couple of sentences in a publication of the automotive industry.
The third matter which I shall mention relates to advances to businesses. At present a total of £1,000,000,000- an all-time record - is on loan to businesses. This represents an increase of £29,000,000 on the figure for this month last year. I believe that I have given a fair indication of how much notice can be taken of the speeches which have been made by Opposition members about what they claim to be the true state of our nation.
I should like to mention now what I regard as a most important subject - the financial assistance which is available to primary producers. The first thing we must realize is that our primary and secondary industries are interdependent. They both need financial assistance to enable them to carry on and to expand, but primary industry has not the access to finance that secondary industry has. Every day secondary industry advertises in the press that if money is made available to it for a certain number of years it will pay a certain rate of interest. In addition, it has access to its own internal reserves. But primary industry has not this source of finance available, so it must depend on our banking and lending institutions. I request officials of the Commonwealth Bank and all trading banks, as well as officials of lending institutions such as insurance companies, to consider urgently the question of lending money to primary producers on a longer term basis. To show that I am not alone in making this plea, I should like to read an extract from a report of a primary industry cost conference which was held last week in Melbourne. The extract is from the journal “ Muster “ and is in these terms -
Agriculture had a good case for government aid, on economic and humanitarian grounds. Mr. A. G. Lloyd, an agricultural economist at Melbourne University, agreed that some methods of aid, such as price subsidies and rigged home prices, were largely ineffective in helping the lowincome farmers, and encouraged cosily national inefficiency. But many other forms of aid could be clearly justified, e.g., subsidized farm amalgamation schemes, subsidizing efficient practices, some tax concessions, special credit facilities and more subsidy on research and extension.
In addition to Mr. Lloyd’s opinion, the article contains a statement by Professor Lewis of the University of New England who advocated more flexible terms of repayment and more flexible security requirements. There we have the opinions of two leading experts who have made a great contribution to Australia’s economy over the years and have played their part in conducting investigations into primary industry. They believe that some change should be made in the credit facilities which are available to primary producers.
I am disappointed that the Budget makes no provision for the introduction of a subsidy on superphosphate and for some relief in relation to estate duty. However, I noticed with pleasure that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is to receive an increased allocation of funds this year. I hope that the various State branches of the department will make a large proportion of this money available to provide people in rural areas with more and improved telephone services. This Government has done a magnificent job in this regard since it has been in office. In the 50 years prior to this Government coming to power we had only about 300 continuous telephone exchanges in rural areas. To-day we have about 1,500. In twelve years 1,200 exchanges have been installed in country areas. That is very good. Honorable members who live in city areas and who are interjecting would not have much idea of what I am talking about, but we must realize that people in the country are faced with the possibility of constant emergencies in which a telephone is absolutely necessary. Very many country people have no means of communication from mid-day on Saturday until Monday morning. In effect, they are off the air for a day and a half. As the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King) has reminded me, their chances of an emergency arising are much greater than is the case in the city areas. Like all families, country families are faced with emergencies from time to time. They may need medical assistance in the home or a bush fire may break out. Any one who has experienced the nasty feeling of being in a bush fire area when a really big fire is blazing will know how important and how helpful some means of communication can be.
People in country areas must be given adequate and fair political representation. The electoral commissioners who carry out the redistribution of electoral boundaries have a difficult task to perform. However, on present indications and trends the country people can expect in the future to have fewer voices in both Federal and State Parliaments. This should be obvious to all members of this Parliament, no matter what political party they represent. I notice that there are members on the Labour side who are showing definite agreement with my statement.
As important producers of a great proportion of the nation’s export income surely the country people are entitled to adequate representation in our parliaments. Although it may be said that members of this Parliament all have a national outlook, the real situation is that nearly every member’s actions are influenced by the interests of the people he represents and of the area in which he lives. It naturally follows that the more members we have representing the capital cities and the areas in close proximity to them, the more consideration will be given to the problems of those areas and the more action will be taken to solve them. It is very necessary for all members to talk to the people they represent as often as possible, and the size of some of the proposed new electorates will make this an extremely difficult task.
There is another matter that concerns the country people to which I would like to direct the committee’s attention. I refer to the success of farm management clubs in various countries. I would suggest that the Department of Primary Industry and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics should investigate the operations of these clubs and the possibilities of their general establishment in Australia, and to issue a report on the matter. I understand that some of these farm management clubs arc operating in Victoria, in New South Wales and in Western Australia. There may be some in the other States as well. They have achieved such success in New Zealand and the United States of America that this Government should take an interest in them, examine the results achieved by them, and issue a report for the information of members of this Parliament.
I want to pass now to what I consider a vital and fundamental issue for this country in its efforts to increase export income. 1 refer to the cost structure of the nation, particularly in the primary and secondary industries. I would like to see more attention given to the matter of production per man-hour. This is commonly referred to as productivity, but there are different forms of productivity. The subject of productivity is an extremely wide one, as some of the more experienced members on the Government side will agree. I do not want to traverse the whole field of productivity or to go into the question of increased productivity brought about by working overtime as opposed to increased productivity per man-hour worked. I just want to say it is increased productivity per man-hour that we need in this country. We must increase this productivity if we are to satisfy the constant and understandable demand for increased wages.
Let us consider what we are faced with in connexion with our increased cost structure. Since 26th June last, newspaper reports have told us that pay rises have been requested by a number of groups of people. Rises have already been granted to two of these groups, engineers and school teachers. I do not in any way suggest that I disagree with these pay increases - and I do not say that for political purposes - but I mention these facts merely to show how our cost structure can be affected. Other groups of people who have asked for” increases include journalists, State public servants, metal trades employees, the Superannuated Commonwealth Officers Association, the Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen, and Commonwealth public servants. In addition, many organizations are seeking shorter working hours. We must wake up in this country to the fact that you cannot work shorter hours and get more pay. Let me refer the committee to an article by Mr. John Eddy, the “ Herald “ economist, which put the position in a nutshell. He said -
This week the ACTU decided to push a 35- hour week campaign. I was sorry to see this. We cannot build a nation on short hours. I’d sooner see more pay rather than less work.
That is John Eddy’s contention, and I support him. He said also, quite rightly -
Australia would not be the great country it is to-day if our grandfathers had worked only 35 hours a week. Hard work and effort make a nation …
In the U.N. survey, a table shows that output a worker in Australia increased by 3.8 per cent, a year between 1950 and 1960.
This productivity rise looks small compared with 12.2 per cent, a year in Japan, 7.6 per cent, in Italy, 5.8 per cent, in France and 5.1 per cent, in West Germany.
There is a lesson to be learned from this. The countries that were badly affected by the last World War are those that have increased their productivity most. I realize that they had the assistance of the United States of America in modernizing their plants and machinery, but the fact remains that their productivity has increased more than that of other nations. There has been an increase in productivity per man-hour in Australian since 1960, and in this respect I would like to read part of an article that appeared in yesterday’s Melbourne “ Age “-
Rising export sales had helped lower Repco Ltd.’s costs in the Australian market, the chairman and managing director (Mr. C. G. McGrath) said last night.
Mr. McGrath, speaking on a television series on exports, said production for export could increase turnover . . .
Apart from the likelihood of reduced local costs, exports resulted in better plant, improved products and greater efficiency in the organisation because of world competition . . .
The president of the Drop Forging Association (Mr. J. R. Siddons) said yesterday that the nation’s export programme was being boosted by the industry’s successful campaign to cut costs.
He was addressing the association’s annual convention.
Mr. Siddons said that while wages had increased by 20 per cent, in the past five years the forging industry had reduced prices by 18i per cent.
Efficient management techniques and production methods had made these savings possible.
That backs up my argument on the necessity for increased production.
– Did you say it backs it up or breaks it up?
– I said it backs it up. These people realize that this is a tough competitive world. I am sure that all members of this Parliament would urge industry to realize that our cost structure is vitally important, and that they would request the primary and secondary industries, appreciating that they are inter-dependent, to join forces in the battle to maintain and improve our standard of living, cope with our increasing population and keep our place as one of the great trading nations of the world.
.- A few years ago, Mr. Chairman, when the Australian Labour Party sat on the government benches, we were able to speak of the light on the hill. It was a green light. It was the torch of the late Ben Chifley. That light has now been blacked out and we see in its place the torch of this Government which is led by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). It is a torch of poverty, misery and degradation.
The Budget presented to the Parliament this year is little more than an irresponsible document. Sir, on a profoundly important financial policy, the Government has practically abdicated. The Government shows that it is not concerned with helping farm incomes. It accepts no responsibility for unemployment. It refuses anything substantial for the great bulk of the pensioners or for families in need of help. It evades its duty to overcome the housing crisis which is a blot on the Government. It ignores the falling incomes of small Australian companies and businesses. And yet, the Government actually claims its actions are sound and responsible! It has a narrow view of its responsibilities and can only say that certain things would not be “ feasible or wise “. The Government claims that it is not wise to give practical help to the economy or even to the most needy. It is no exaggeration to say that this is a lazy Government.
This is a Budget of a tired and lazy Government with little care for the well being of anybody except its own bureaucratic machine. It is the ultimate in budgets. It is the last of its kind that Australia will see. There are not enough crumbs in the Budget to feed a pet canary. The Government deserves strong censure and the purpose of the Opposition is to declare that censure.
It is years since the income of the farmers was at such a low ebb as it is to-day. The purchasing power of farm income is little higher than it was before the Second World War when the farmers were almost a depressed class and when wheat-farmers and wool-growers were almost on the dole. The export price of butter is only 106 per cent, above the pre-war level and about half the real value of those days. Does the Government propose to raise the butter subsidy? No! What is the reason? The fact is that what happens to the dairy-farmers is not the concern of this Government, and farmers’ incomes are likely to be even lower this year.
What does the Government say about it? In effect, it says, “ The farmers were all right last year because they lived on the fat of previous years “. But that cushion has disappeared. What of the future? Again, it is not the concern of the Government. The Government shows some concern about the effects of diminished spending on other businesses, but the Government’s only comment about the farmers is that they have done all right in the past. There are no real proposals for vitalized export drives, subsidies or other concessions to help the farmers over what is a desperately lean period.
The overseas shipping combine is still to be allowed its pound of flesh. But the Menzies-McEwen Government has been a close friend of the large combines and its policies have been largely dictated by them. This is clearly demonstrated by the reckless and improvident sales of assets belonging, in whole or in part, to the people of Australia such as Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool, the Commonwealth shale oil project and the great whaling project. The Government’s close link with the private banking combine is shown by legislation passed some time ago to weaken and dismember the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the Government’s action in forcing up the rate of interest to the injury of the small patriotic Australian holders of war bonds. It is shown also in the profits of the private banks.
Where is the crumb for the farmer in the Budget? There is none. There is not even a word of sympathy in the face of falling production, falling home consumption and a serious fall in overseas prices. The farmers have struck a second drought in this barren Budget.
The Government is equally unconcerned about pensioners who are desperately hard-up. These people are to receive no recognition from this cruel and barren Government. We do not believe that people who can no longer contribute to material production should be passed by. Their needs are real. They are not mere accounting problems to which, in the words of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), the Govern ment has given consideration. I say that pension standards are a matter of both justice and humanity. Is it too much to ask the Government to see it that way? Even those Australians who are contributing to current production and who have young Australians to support have been completely forgotten by this tragic Government. Nowhere does the Government recognize its responsibility for securing and maintaining full employment. We are back to the early depression days when anti-Labour governments said it was the unemployed man’s own fault that he had no job and that he was unemployable.
What has happened to the lip service this Government used to pay to full employment? It is conveniently forgotten because it is more profitable for big business to have a pool of unemployed to draw on. The objective of the Government’s backers now appears to have been achieved; they have a pool of unemployed. The workers are being put in their place, and when they get a job there is the fear of losing it. But the Government can no longer claim that these men are unemployable with 45,000 men, who would have been holding jobs a few years ago, now drawing the unemployment benefit. The whole resources of a powerful government department are employed in looking for jobs for these men, but week after week they are told, “ Nothing doing “.
The unemployment benefit that the Government provides is £3 15s. a week for a single man and £7 2s. 6d. a week for a married couple. The married couple get £3 7s. 6d. less than the couple on the age pension. On top of this, there is a rigid means test. If a man gets as much as a day’s work in a week, if he earns as little as £2 a week by his own initiative, his extra earnings are deducted from the benefit. What is more, he has to pay fares when looking for jobs to which he is directed and which may have already been filled. The maximum permissible income for an unemployed man with a wife is £9 2s. 6d. This is £1 7s. 6d. less than the minimum for a couple on the age pension. It is no wonder that only 45,000 of the 90,000 registered unemployed are eligible for the unemployment benefit. Happily, many unemployed men are still able to pick up a few days’ work occasionally.
What of the Government and private industry? The Government has allowed farm incomes to fall to a post-war low, without a murmur. The real income of other unincorporated businesses showed no increase last year. The national income paper shows that the income of Australian companies, after taxation, has followed a steady downward trend over the last five years. We should remember that the big corporations have continued to report bigger profits, but the profits of the little companies must have shown a sharp fall.
If private enterprise, as the Labour Party understands it, has fared so badly under a government which claims to be the supporter of private enterprise, well may I ask who has benefited. The answer is that it is mainly the overseas companies that have benefited. Their profits, after taxation, have risen considerably, while the profits of Australian companies have fallen. This Government is a government of big monopolies and combines. They are the beneficiaries and they are the people who back the Government. The small Australian businessman, the Australian farmer and the Australian worker have not a chance while the Government fosters the merciless squeeze by the big monopolies. The farmer is squeezed by the shipping combine, the storekeeper is squeezed by the chain store and the employee is squeezed by the Government’s employment and wage policy. How can a party really say that it supports private enterprise when private employment falls? How can a party say that it supports private enterprise when more than the whole increase in male employment goes into government jobs? This is not a government of private enterprise. It is a government concerned solely with the interests of big business, which gradually eliminates competition from small and medium businesses.
Let us examine shortly how the Menzies Government has treated the States. The States share sovereignty with the Commonwealth, and should be regarded in that light. But the Menzies Government does not regard the States as the Australian people in another political form - as the bodies which provide the people with educational, health, agricultural, road, railway, housing and other vital community services. To this Commonwealth Government the
States are little more than rivals which can be squeezed like the farmers, the small businessmen and the workers. This is proved by the amount of funds made available for State public works.
It is no wonder that the States have insufficient schools, homes and roads, and railways that need rehabilitation and reconstruction. This is only another aspect of the continuous squeeze that the MenziesMcEwen Government has applied to everything that is important to the ordinary life of the ordinary Australian. A more subtle squeeze has been imposed on the day-to-day expenditure of the States. It is a squeeze brought about by the manipulation of high finance - a method which comes naturally to this Government.
This Budget is the climax of twelve years of mismanagement. It marks the refusal of the Government to accept real responsibility for what happens to the Australian people. The Budget, as presented, is almost a declaration of political insolvency. It does not even face up to the immediate problem of controlling and regulating excessive interest charges. It gives no sign that the Government has any vital plan for dealing with unemployment or re-establishing full employment. Like the majority of Australians, the members of the Opposition are deeply disturbed by this Budget. It is the inevitable climax of twelve years of mismanagement of the nation’s affairs by the Menzies-McEwen Government. It is a monument to the incompetence and arrogance of a government which began with a rich inheritance from the Labour Government led by Mr. Chifley - a low-cost structure, balanced and abundant overseas reserves and an adequate and low-interest loan market. Worst of all, perhaps, is the Government’s callous neglect of the children of Australia by its refusal to grant any increase in child endowment, which has remained practically unaltered since 1948. I therefore say that the Government deserves the severest condemnation for the many injustices of omission and commission which are contained or implied in the Budget.
The Budget marks the refusal of the Government to accept real responsibility for what happens to the Australian people. The Government admits the need for more spending, but says it cannot find the money. Did the experiences of the war teach members of the Government nothing? Have they learnt nothing from years in office? Do they not know that the reason why they cannot find the money required is that they refuse to face up to the fact that, in a recession, borrowing from the Commonwealth Bank to the extent needed is not only permissible, but essential? But no! In effect, the Government believes that it has no function but to be in government, and has no responsibility to any one except itself and its friends.
The Labour Party believes in a policy of credit expansion which will be sufficient and certain to maintain full employment. We do not accept the proposition that the executive government of this Commonweal.h has no responsibility for full employment, as was stated by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) when speaking in Western Australia only last year. I believe that every man and woman who is desirous of employment should be entitled to get it, and that the Government should encourage credit expansion to ensure this. Private enterprise can and should contribute much to credit expansion, but cannot of itself control the general financial and credit situation. The Government, by statute law, must accept final responsibility for the policy applied by the central bank. Government spending represents one-third of the national income. The Government extracts one-third of the total earnings of the nation. The Government can aid or impede production; it can assist or frustrate distribution. Labour asserts that at a time like the present the Government’s policy must be positive and constructive. Mass unemployment must be regarded as the enemy of the state. Our people must be guaranteed full employment. Our industries must be encouraged and assisted. But this cannot be done through a policy that looks suspiciously at full employment because its authors are not convinced of the feasibility of full employment. Fear will be removed by positive action. Fear of unemployment and further recession grips the hearts of the Australian people. Plainly, the Government has no solution for the economic and financial problems that beset this country. This Government stands condemned. It deserves the strictest censure.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, in his Budget speech the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said -
It is the determination of the Government to follow through with its expansionary programme until the economy is operating at the highest level of activity we can sustain.
The keynote of this Budget is expansion. The Government proposes to achieve this expansion in three main ways. First, it will increase spending by means of a Budget deficit of £118,300,000. Secondly, the Government proposes to retain the tax concessions provided in the previous Budget and in the measures announced last February. Those concessions will cost £75,000,000 this year. Thirdly, the Government will provide £26,800,000 for developmental works.
Despite what honorable members opposite, and particularly the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller), have said, this Budget is neither a hand-out budget nor a stay-put budget. The Budget recognizes that expansion may succeed only through basic price and cost stability. The Budget is a further step in an overall economic programme announced by the Government some ten years ago. That programme contains many items. I shall refer to a few as examples. One item is the £685,000 which this year will be spent on what we refer to as the coal ports - Newcastle, Balmain and Port Kembla. We know that a special nonrepayable grant of £10,000,000 is to be made to the States with a view to relieving unemployment. We know of the £5,000,000 additional advance that the States are to receive for housing. We know that the maximum amount of loan obtainable under the War Service Homes scheme has been increased from £2,750 to £3,500. I remind honorable members of the £7,500,000 increase in the States’ borrowing programme for housing. An amount of £7,500,000 has also been made available in the loan programme for local government works. In addition, the lending funds of the Commonwealth Development Bank have been increased.
I referred earlier in my remarks to the basic price and cost stability. That matter has been in the forefront of the Government’s mind during its term of office. We all know that it has been very hard to stop the galloping inflation that was started by the socialist Labour Government when it was in power, particularly in the 1946-49 period. At times some of the measures taken by this Government have been criticized because of their short-term effects, and because they have hurt some sections of the community. We know now, however, that those measures have been successful, and that they have benefited all sections of the community.
Let me cite some figures relating to New South Wales. The cost-of-living index figure for the December, 1961, quarter in New South Wales was 122.5. In the March, 1962, quarter that figure had been reduced to 122.4. In the June, 1962, quarter it had been reduced to 122.3. It must be realized that no group in the community has benefited from stability more than people on fixed incomes and those in receipt of social service benefits. Over recent years I have been opposed to proposals made by various organizations seeking to have the base rate of the pension related in some way to movements in the cost-of-living index or the basic wage. I have expressed my objection to those proposals in this chamber and elsewhere. I have pointed out that to put those proposals into effect would conflict with our present policies, which aim at stabilizing the cost of living in this country.
I have just shown how in recent times the cost-of-living index has fallen. If the rate of pension had been tied to movements in the cost of living, pensions would have been reduced. This Government has done more for the recipients of social service benefits than did any government before it. Probably the best thing that this Government has done has been to introduce the merged means test. That has enabled thousands of people to receive for the first time age and invalid pensions. It has enabled many more who were on part pensions to have their pensions increased by a considerable amount. This year, a record sum will be paid in social service benefits and repatriation benefits.
I should like to speak now about an important group of people in our community whom I term the small farmers. They are the people who produce a great deal of our foodstuffs, such as milk, fruit, vegetables and eggs. Many of these people are once again confronted with problems - problems of a wide variety. On other occasions I have referred to the problems that beset the egg industry, and last week I spoke of the problems that confront citrus growers. A problem common to all these industries is the problem of obtaining a reasonable price for the goods produced. Marketing problems are numerous, but I do not intend to deal with them at present. In a great many ways power to alleviate and even to solve the problems that beset the small farmer lies with the State governments. But there are ways in which the Commonwealth can assist. We can give financial help and support trade-promotion activities. We can assist by way of consultation. As you, Sir, know, the Government has at all times made it clear that if any primary industry comes to it with proposals for an organized marketing scheme, all possible assistance in the establishment of such a scheme will be given.
Let me now talk about the citrus industry as an example. This is an industry that is presently suffering a great deal. During my visits to Singapore and other countries in South-East Asia in the last few years, I have been promoting the sale of Australian foodstuffs in the markets of those countries. In the marketing of citrus products, Australia competes with South Africa and the United States of America, in particular. I found that the freight on oranges from South Africa to Singapore was less than the freight on Australian fruit, although Australia is much closer to Singapore than South Africa is. Much the same thing applies to the freight on produce sent from South Africa to Hong Kong, and I shall give the committee an example. The freight on fruit sent from South Africa to Hong Kong in 65-70 lb. cases, under refrigeration, is 13s. sterling, or about 16s. 9d. Australian a case. The freight on Australian fruit sent to Hong Kong in bushel cases weighing 46 to 50 lb. net is 15s. 9d. Australian a case.
In my discussions with representatives of the citrus industry, I have found that the industry itself is not asking for any form of subsidy on its exports. It considers that the Government could assist by helping to remove the external differential and the freight disadvantage. It can be shown, I think, Sir, that if this is not done, the industry, in effect, is asked to subsidize the shipping companies by paying higher freights on fruit sent from Australia to Singapore and other South-East Asian ports.
A representative of the industry has recently concluded a six weeks’ tour of the Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaya and Singapore. He considers that trade with those countries can be increased by shipping a larger quantity of a number of our foodstuffs, including citrus products. It will be of interest to the committee to know that the growers, the co-operative societies and the packers, realizing the importance of increasing our trade with those countries, are trying to enlarge those markets, and have recently reduced their f.o.b. prices in an effort to attract more orders. I understand - I emphasize the word “ understand “ - that this reduction is 2s. a bushel. We, as a government, can assist by helping industries such as this in their efforts to obtain additional markets overseas.
I shall now give the committee an illustration of the efforts that are being made, Sir. In July of this year, the growers sent some 5,000 cases to Europe and the United Kingdom, against nominal guarantees arranged by the importers. This consignment was sent between the change of seasons for fruit consigned by the normal suppliers of those markets. The success of the Australian industry on that occasion shows that we have opportunities to increase our sales in a number of countries. I think that this illustration shows the real efforts that the growers themselves are making to solve some of their marketing problems.
As I pointed out last Thursday, there is competition also on our home market. 1 should like to touch on several points additional to those that I mentioned on that occasion. The greater part of the New South Wales lemon crop is used for processing into fruit drinks. For a number of years now, cheap juice has been imported, largely from southern European countries, and, more recently from the United States of America. A very low tariff is imposed on such imports. I think, speaking from memory, that it is only 2s. 6d. a gallon. That is probably the lowest tariff imposed on any food imported by Australia. I ask the Government to have this tariff reexamined by the Tariff Board.
At this point, I should like to read to the committee certain information concerning marketing and price arrangements in the United States that was published in the journal, “ Citrus News “. This information has been provided by an American organization. In relation to citrus, that organization has stated -
There is no relation between fresh fruit market levels and returns from processing. The products outlet- is not an alternative outlet, but one that is used for fruit which would not be satisfactory for fresh sales (oranges). At the present time, the ontree value of oranges sold fresh is approximately four times the return from processing. With lemons, the current on-tree return for processing is approximately zero, so that all the grower’s income must come from fresh sales.
So we see that citrus juice now coming to Australia from the United States is sold at very low prices. Therefore, the tariff of 2s. 6d. a gallon does not meet the situation in any way adequately. Present advice to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) is that the position does not warrant reference to the Special Advisory Authority. I emphasize that, although the quantities of juice brought in may not be as large as we originally thought, any imports aggravate the problem and upset a very delicately balanced market. It will be recalled that some years ago the growers themselves supported an application for the approval of imports at a time when Australian fruit was in short supply. This season, the crop is very large, and, indeed, there has been a carry-over of processed juice from last season’s crop.
For these reasons I suggest that, in our plans for the expansion of which we talk, we must allow for the needs of the small farmer.
The third matter that I wish to discuss, Sir, is the British Commonwealth of Nations. During the last recess of this Parliament, I was given by my colleagues the privilege of attending, as a representative of the Government, the recent conference in London of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, which was organized by the United Kingdom branch of the association. Three items were on the agenda. The first was the role of the Commonwealth in the modern world. The second was the implications for the Commonwealth of Nations of the European Common Market. The third item was education and technical co-operation within the Commonwealth. The second of those items, of course, is the subject of an order of the day listed on the notice-paper, debate on which will be resumed after this debate on the Budget is concluded. So I shall not now deal with that matter. However, I wish to say something very briefly about the role of the Commonwealth of Nations in the modern world.
When we thought of the British Commonwealth of Nations when it was first formed - and, indeed, of its predecessor, the British Empire - we thought of a group of countries nearly all the people of which were white, of British stock, Christian and enjoying a good standard of living, and the governments of which were reasonably rich. Now, we have the Commonwealth of Nations, the majority of whose people are not white, are not Christian and do not enjoy a high standard of living, and the governments of which, in the main, are not rich. I believe that we are living in a period of great changes, politically and economically. We see the quick emergence of countries in Africa and Asia as independent nations. We see that Europe has recovered a great deal of its strength since World War II. and its nations are expressing some desire for greater unity amongst themselves.
One of the underlying features of the conference was the unanimous belief in the necessity to maintain the Commonwealth as a world force. This I found interesting, because it was an opinion expressed by the delegates from a number of African countries. I wondered, therefore, how far this would conflict with the expressed views of some African statesmen about Pan-Africa. We know of the need for the people of each member nation to understand more about the problems of others and indeed to get to know each other better. I believe that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association can play a big part in doing this.
We do not want the British Commonwealth of Nations to become in any way like another United Nations Organization, but we do want the Commonwealth nations to have more liaison so that they can give a more unified lead at meetings of the United Nations Organization. It is necessary, for example, for our colleagues in the other Commonwealth nations to have a greater realization of what Australia is doing in its Territory of Papua and of how it is carrying out its obligations as the mandatory power in the Territory of New Guinea. Australia has a big responsibility within the British Commonwealth of Nations to give a lead in these matters. The United Kingdom has been doing so for a number of years, but I think the responsibility is increasing upon what is known within the Commonwealth as the developed nations, such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand, to come into closer partnership, on the one hand, with the United Kingdom, to give a lead and, on the other hand, with the emerging nations of the Commonwealth to assist them to become strong members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
If we are to do this and if we are to accept these responsibilities as an Australian Parliament, it is necessary for the members of this Parliament to devote more time to the work and the programme of our branch. It will, of course, mean that financial arrangements will have to be made to allow more visits to Australia by members of those countries close to Australia and to enable more members of this Parliament and of our Australian national organizations to visit the member countries. We can start by bringing even closer together Australia, Malaya and New Zealand, the three partners in the Commonwealth in this part of the world. Without wishing in any way to form what could be regarded by others as an Australian-Malaya-New Zealand axis, I believe we can have closer co-operation which will be of benefit not only to ourselves but indeed to the Commonwealth and the world.
The Commonwealth nations acting together can bring the people of our nations closer. They are different in so many ways, as we realize, by culture, by custom and by religion, but they have now more and more a common factor in being strong, democratic nations. If we can come more together and if we can understand the problems of one another, the Commonwealth will indeed act for good government and the peace of the world.
.- I move- [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 36).]
THE SCHEDULE. IMPORT DUTIES.
Mr. Chairman, the proposals to amend the Customs Tariff which I have just moved provide for tariff amendments on -
Spring rollers for blinds.
The tariff proposals give effect to the Government’s decision on Tariff Board reports on these products. In each case, the Government has adopted the recommendations made by the board.
Protective tariff duties are being imposed on abrasive materials imported in large rolls for cutting in Australia. This basic material is in volume production by the principal manufacturer of abrasive discs and sheets and local production is planned by other companies. Protective duties already apply to the finished discs and sheets.
The duties on wooden blind rollers are being reduced to non-protective rates but tariff protection on metal blind rollers will remain unchanged. I commend the proposals to honorable members.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table of the House reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Spring rollers for blinds.
Ordered to be printed.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the following resolutions: -
That Senators Buttfield and Mattner be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.
That Senators Hannan and Vincent be members of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.
That, until such time as the vacancies for members of the Senate on the committee are filled by members of the Opposition, Senators Sir Walter Cooper and Laught be members of the committee.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed.
.- The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) delivered a very dreary speech. A good deal of it dealt with parish pump material, trying to protect the interests of citrusgrowers in his electorate. Of course, the Government is responsible for the plight of the citrus-growers. The citrus industry has been handicapped by the flood of imports of citrus fruit from America. The honorable member is trying to square off to his electorate, but he should remember that he is partly responsible for the difficulties facing the citrus-growers.
This is a do-nothing Budget. It is wholly null and void. It has no positive proposals. It is necessary to bring about an alteration in the existing state of things, yet this is a status quo Budget. It is not a key to open the door to full employment. The Government continues to be frightened at the possibility of a boom because it is convinced that it would be unable to deal with a boom if it came. To-day, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) offered an apology in this regard, but honorable members opposite have stated, time and time again, that the Government has abandoned its policy of full employment and that its policy now is to have a higher level of employment.
The Australian Labour Party stands first and foremost for full employment. The Labour Party believes that this can best be brought about by putting money into the hands of those who need it most - by doubling child endowment, by increasing age, invalid and widows’ pensions. The Opposition protests against the Government’s failure to give justice to families, to invalids and to widows. Those people need money. If they get it they will spend it and provide the necessary stimulus for the economy. A Labour Government would also make grants to the States for education, for housing and for local government and semi-government authorities. The Labour Government of New South Wales still has 35,000 people registered on its official housing list. Housing co-operative societies have many thousands of people waiting to build homes. Now, sixteen years after the war, over 20,000 people are waiting for war service homes. Yet the Government is not making any additional money available for housing.
Our most urgent responsibility is to employ every man and woman who is willing to work. There is much development work to be done in Australia and only Government leadership is necessary to get it done. We should set out to provide homes for the people, hospitals, education facilities, water supply and sewerage, roads, port installations, flood control and water conservation. There is much to be done; yet, according to the Government’s own figures, we allow 90,000 people to be unemployed. Although full employment is Labour’s objective, we realize that when we inherit the treasury bench after the next general election we shall inherit a run-down economy. In the last twelve years Australia has had an adverse balance of trade. The Government has allowed the country to get into debt to other countries to the extent of ?1,600,000,000. We know the problems that we shall inherit from this Government.
I know that all honorable members have been greatly concerned, particularly during the last twelve months, about the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Economic Community. We have heard the calamity howling of Menzies and McEwen, each of whom has been trying to outdo the other. We have to be frank about this. This crisis will arrive whether the United Kingdom joins the Common Market or not. I want to elaborate on some of the calamity howling by the leader of the Australian Country Party, Mr. McEwen. When addressing 120 United States businessmen at a luncheon of the American Chamber of Commerce at the Hotel Australia on 11th June, he made statements which were reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 12th June as follows: -
The United States had placed restrictions against Australian products of all kinds.
In nearly is years Australian exports to the United States had fallen, whereas the U.S. exports to Australia had multiplied four times. The United States now has 20 per cent, of the Australian market. Americans buy less than one dollar per head from us, whereas Australians buy 46 dollars per head from the United States every year. Australia has bought 1,200 million dollars more from the United Stales than the United States has bought from Australia, and yet they have 20 times our population. In addition we have run up a debt to the United Stales of the order of 1,300 million dollars.
Mr. McEwen continued
– Order! The honorable member must refer to the Minister by his portfolio or his electoral division.
– I am quoting from the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. The report continued -
The United States should not frustrate Australia’s efforts to maintain its historical and traditional markets by exercising influence on Britain to enter the European Common Market.
Of course, we know that the so-called “ tough-guy “ told the Americans to get out of his hair. On the one hand we have the so-called tough leader of the Country Party, Mr. McEwen. On the other hand, we have the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the smoothie. He uses the smooth approach. He flew to the United States of America on 15th June to give his personal point of view to President Kennedy. On 20th June the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ published the following article: -
NO ‘ SPECIFIC PROMISES’ BY KENNEDY TO MENZIES ON MARKET.
President Kennedy yesterday expressed sympathy to the Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, about Australia’s Common Market problem but made no ‘ specific promises ‘ U.S. officials said today.
Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Country Party have failed to win friends on either side of the Atlantic. My view is that the United Kingdom will enter the European Economic Community, and that by 1970 nothing will be left of our present trade agreements with that country. The so-called tough guy, the Leader of the Australian Country Party, who has been saying that the Americans are getting in his hair, and the old smoothie, the Prime Minister, will have to do more than talk. They will have to act. I believe that we have relied too much in the past on our so-called powerful friends, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In doing so we have been sold down the Rhine. As I said earlier, we have had an adverse balance of trade of ?1,600,000,000 over the last twelve years during which the Menzies Administration was in office. That is in the past. The real problem is in the future. Of that adverse balance of ?1,600,000,000, the sum of ?500,000,000 has been with the United States of America and ?800,000,000 with the United Kingdom. Only in 1950-51 did we have a favorable balance of trade with the United States of America. In 1951-52, the unfavorable balance of trade with the United States of America was ?31,900,000; in 1952-53, it was ?27,300,000; and in 1953- 54, it was ?17,700,000. In 1954-55, our exports to the United States of America amounted to ?52,400,000 and our imports amounted to ?102,100,000, giving a trade deficit of ?49,700,000. In 1955-56, the deficit was ?43,700,000; in 1956-57, it was ?29,400,000; in 1957-58, it was ?58,000,000; and in 1958-59, it was ?46,600,000. In 1959-60 we had a debt of ?73,700,000; the year before last it was ?144,500,000; and last year it was ?64,900,000. These are our powerful friends and these are the people on whom we have to rely! In fact the United States of America is pushing Britain into the European Economic Community. The Americans are the people from whom we are seeking help. The Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen) used tough words, but we need more than words. We need action, and we have to get tough with the United States. Australia has given favorable taxation treatment to the United Sates, so it should begin to say it will have to review the position and its attitude on trade with that country.
In the twelve years of this Government’s administration there has been only one year when Australia has had a favorable trade balance with Great Britain. That was in the year 1952-53. In each other year there has been an adverse trade balance. The adverse balances total £794,600,000 - nearly £800,000,000. I see the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) looking amazed at those figures. They are the official figures - I did not conjure them out of the air; I got them from the official figures of the government department concerned. Yet honorable members opposite say that these are the powerful friends on whom we must rely.
Let me analyse the value of our trade with these two countries. As I said earlier, we have been relying far too much on our powerful friends, Britain and the United States. We have been far too generous with both countries in our trade and taxation agreements. I believe that the present arrangement with the United States with respect to the taxation agreement should be reviewed. I shall give honorable members some idea of what is involved in this agreement. I was sitting in an aircraft only a few days ago with a member of the Country Party who said, “ I am not quite sure what this double taxation agreement is or what is involved in it “. For the benefit of my friends in the Country Party - and even for some in the Liberal Party - I shall enlighten them by explaining some of the conditions of the agreement.
In 1953, Australia entered into a double taxation agreement with the United States. Prior to that agreement, an American who was investing money in Australia paid personal taxation of Id. in the £1 for the first £100 of dividend and up to 15s. in the £1 on a dividend of £8,000 or more. That dividend was going to America. Companies were paying tax at the rate of 7s. in the £1 prior to the agreement. Under the agreement a flat rate of 3s. in the £1 operates. The Menzies Administration gave as a reason for this double taxation agreement its belief that it could attract more capital to this country for the development of Australia; but the fact is that since 1949, when this Administration came into power, the inflow of new capital from the United States and Canada has been £115,200,000, while the outward flow has been £111,400,000, giving a gain to Australia of £3,800,000.
If honorable members examine the position they will learn that from the time the taxation agreement came into force in 1953-54 to 1959-60 the inflow of capital to Australia from the United States was £88,800,000, while in the corresponding period £100,400,000 went to America in dividends. So, Australia lost to the extent of £11,600,000. If honorable members examine the position still more closely they will find that the figure £100,400,000 was arrived at after the payment of tax at the rate of 3s. in the £1, so the total dividend would have been £117,000,000. Had the dividend been taxed on the old scale at 7s. in the £1, the collections would have amounted to £41,000,000. In other words, the investors in the United States have saved £23,500,000 in tax concessions under this new double taxation agreement. Since 1953-54, the difference between outgoings to America and inflow of capital from that country to Australia is £11,600,000 and the investors have saved £23,500,000 in tax concessions. As the Leader of the Country Party told the American businessmen at that now-famous dinner to which I have referred, it is true that we have borrowed £1,300,000,000 from the United States to close up the difference during this period, but does he honestly and sincerely think that any member of this Parliament will believe that anything is to be gained by his saying to them, “ Look, you Americans are getting in my hair “ ?
There is only one way to deal with Americans or any business undertaking. I do not want to be specific on this or appear to be anti-American, anti-British, or anti anything else, but I am concerned with this struggle for trade and Australia’s struggle for survival. We must be concerned about the condition of this country. Under this double taxation agreement, Australia is coming out on the wrong side of the ledger. If the Leader of the Country Party says American businessmen are getting in his hair, my reply is, there is only one way for the Government to deal with them - by the use of legislative power. This Government has the power within the taxation laws of this country to determine this issue.
– What about British capital?
– I will come to the British capital in a moment. I want, first, to clear up the matter I am discussing. During the term of this agreement the great speculators have been active. Much of the money coming into Australia from America and Britain has been for what is called portfolio investment. Some time ago I directed a question to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in regard to the attitude of the Government in accepting portfolio capital. I asked whether he was aware that there had been an increase in portfolio capital from £1,600,000 in 1947-48 to £47,100,000 this year. To give honorable members some idea of the increase of this portfolio capital I should mention that it has increased from 5 per cent, in 1949 to 26 per cent, of all new foreign capital. I asked the Treasurer this question on 27th March, but he could not answer it in the House and had to write to me. On 10th April, he wrote to me in these terms -
In your question you also asked whether it is a fact that portfolio investment does not bring any new industry or technical know-how to Australia.
It is true that portfolio investment does not directly bring any new industries to Australia; nor does it normally involve the introduction of technical know-how. At the same time, however, portfolio investment does add to our holdings of foreign exchange and to the resources available for the financing of new investment. It thereby contributes indirectly to Australia’s economic development.
In other words, the Government allows any kind of money to enter this country so long as it bridges the gulf between our exports and our imports. Consequently, we are putting our country into pawn. Do not take my word for that. A very conservative publication, “ Australian Coal, Shipping, Steel and The Harbour “, has this to say about foreign capital -
But all these activities are merely pawning Australia to overseas capital which is flowing in not only for this kind of activity but in attempts to secure control of national staple concerns like B.H.P”.
An article in tht “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 11th May, 1962, referred to the sale of shares in the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited in this way - “ Sales of B.H.P. in New York vary from very little to as much as half a million shares each week”, a trader said.
Americans who want to buy B.H.P. shares instruct their American brokers to buy the shares through brokers at Australian exchanges.
On one occasion the statistics indicated that within one month 3,000,000 shares changed hands. That boosted Australia’s overseas exchange to the extent of £10,000,000, but it also put us in pawn for the future pay-off. We must say to our American friends, “You have a very favorable double taxation agreement with us. We shall determine what money is to come into Australia and we shall determine the tax rebate which you will get on it “. We should stop this speculative money from entering Australia, and we should start to get tough with our powerful American friends.
We also entered into a double taxation agreement with Great Britain in 1946. Let me state frankly that the agreement was entered into by the Chifley Administration. I believe that Mr. Chifley was correct in principle in entering into the agreement, because at that time we had before us the post-war era and we needed full employment and secondary industries. But the time is long past when this agreement should be reviewed. The Australian Labour Party will do this if the opportunity arises.
To return to my previous line of argument, since 1949 there has been an inflow of £445,000,000 from the United Kingdom and an outflow of £261,000,000. British investors here have had a very considerable tax saving. It is very difficult to work out the exact figure because of the difference between investment by British corporations and by private investors. British corporations pay no personal income tax in Australia, and under the present scale individual British investors pay the maximum of 3s. in the £1. However, I estimate conservatively that because of the double taxation agreement British investors have saved £104,000,000. British and American investors have received a very fair deal from us, so we are entitled to some consideration. We must do some straight talking to them about the reciprocal double taxation agreements which treat them very favorably.
Turning to the controversial subject of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market, I believe that Britain already has made up its mind to enter and that by 1970 very little will be left of our reciprocal trade agreement with Great Britain. But we can meet this challenge. It may bc necessary to subsidize certain industries. We should place a consumer subsidy on flour, butter and milk. This will increase consumption of those commodities and in effect give wage justice to the great bulk of the Australian people. Australia has a great future, and I believe that we can face this challenge if we have courageous and correct leadership. We should adopt a more independent line on trade and foreign policy. We should seek out trade with all nations, including those in the Middle East, South-East Asia, Asia itself and Latin America. In those areas we have merely scratched the surface and potential markets remain untapped. We can extend our trade still further with Japan and China. We should continue to develop our secondary industries, and process our primary and raw materials for export. We should develop our own overseas shipping line and our own export insurance company. Australia has a fine future if it is developed, but the men to do this must have vision and courage. This is not apparent in the Government which introduced the Budget now before us. It will be necessary for the Australian Labour Party to guide and control the destiny of this country and to develop it in the best interests of all its people.
.- I should like to congratulate the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) on what was obviously a very carefully prepared speech. I would have appreciated it even more if 1 could have understood it. My lack of understanding may be my own shortcoming, but I am sure that the honorable member himself could not understand clearly what he was saying.
I would not like to be the Treasurer. Of course, there is very little likelihood of that happening, but still I would not like to hold that position. It must be very disappointing to draw up a budget, add those long columns of figures - and even get them to balance - then introduce it into the chamber and have the Opposition fall on it in a rage and disagree with everything that it contains. I understand that this behaviour is not common to the Labour Party. I understand that when we were in opposition we also behaved in that way. Still, it must be disappointing to be a treasurer.
There are always complaints about budgets. I understand that the two main complaints about this one are, first, that it is a stand-still budget, and secondly, that it is a cruel budget. I should like to consider those two criticisms in detail. As to the first complaint, that it is a stand-still budget, let me say that we have become accustomed to the criticism that we are a stop-and-go government. However, it is all a little confusing to me, because when we stop being a stop-and-go government and become a stand-still government we still are abused. Let us be clear about what this Budget does mean, having regard to the £118,000,000 deficit. I must admit, as one without any great deal of economic training, that until I came into this chamber such things as deficits of this kind did not seem to mean much to me. What does this £118,000,000 deficit mean? It means, first, that the Budget is expansionary to the extent of £118,000,000. If you like to put a finer point on it, it is inflationary to the extent of £1 18,000,000. To produce such a budget is a considerable step for any government to take.
There are many, of course, who would say that the deficit ought to be greater, but we should realize the implications of this £118,000,000 deficit. We should realize that it is, perhaps, necessary to go this far in deficit financing; but it is important also to realize that we should not go too far. In other words it is, perhaps, necessary at this time to do something, but we must not do too much.
We say that this £118,000,000 deficit is necessary because we must create employment. We must clarify our thinking on this question. We have to-day 2.1 per cent, of our work force unemployed, and that is a rather larger proportion than we should have. But we should realize that in 1947, at the time of the last census taken during the term of office of the Labour Government, the proportion of unemployed, as shown by the “Year Book”, was 3.2 per cent. The ratio was greater then than it is at the present time. I am not offering criticism because of that degree of unemployment. I merely point out that the figure to-day is lower than it was in 1947 under a Labour government.
We should also realize that the figure of 2.1 per cent., although higher than we would like to see, is not high by world standards. I think I should again read portion of the speech delivered by Mr. Albert Monk in January, 1961, at the Australian Citizenship Convention in Canberra. These remarks were used, of course, to great effect by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) in a debate last week. Mr. Monk said -
Australia should not panic over a minor percentage of unemployment.
In America to-day there are about 5,000,000 unemployed, or about 6 per cent, of the total work force. In Canada the present unemployment figure is 8 per cent., and it will go up to 10 per cent, by the end of March. We have been very fortunate. When I tell people overseas that our unemployment figure is about 1.8 per cent., or less than 2 per cent.-
I admit it is now 2.1 per cent. - they say, “ That is not a problem at all “. They are used to having economic problems with a ratio of unemployment to the work force of about 4 or 5 per cent. The ordinary person in Australia now gets awfully frightened if we get up to 2 per cent, unemployment, whereas in actual fact, because of our seasonal occupations in Australia, it is necessary to have about 1.5 per cent, floating work force to deal wilh seasonal and major construction works.
Those are not my statements; they are the statements of Mr. Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. We should get this question of unemployment into proper perspective.
The risk entailed in this kind of budgeting is, of course, the risk of inflation. Inflation is not an obscure disease that afflicts treasurers only. Honorable members on the other side of the committee are inclined to toss out airy statements to the effect that inflation does not really matter. In this regard I would like to quote the remarks of another Labour leader who, I think, enjoyed the respect of all. In one of his budget speeches Mr. Chifley said -
I am deeply grateful for the support that my colleagues have given me in my fight against the great danger of inflation. I know that some of them have not readily seen the force of many of the economic theories on which I have had to act, and that they were apt to regard my ideas as fossilized. But they have stood by me.
Inflation, Sir, is not a figment of our imagination. It is not something that we have just dreamt up to keep people under. It is an economic fact that we must take notice of, as must any wise financial administration. It affects particularly two sections of the community. I shall not dwell in detail on this aspect of the problem but I will merely say that inflation is of vital importance, first, to the man on a fixed income, who is in many respects the salt of our community. It is also important to the exporting section of the community, which, as I have said many times, cannot pass on increased costs but must compete with other countries with lower cost structures.
At this time the danger of starting an inflationary spiral by introducing unwise measures is more real than ever before. As we have learned from the debate on the European Common Market, Australia, as an exporting nation, is facing very grave perils, and we can escape them only by keeping our costs in order. This should be a matter which should always receive the highest priority.
I suggest that if a treasurer of any other country came to Australia and looked at our figures he would be envious of the position that we are now in. We have, it seems, finally checked inflation. We have our cost of living index stable at last. We have our trade balances at last in a safe position. We have our unemployment down to 2. 1 per cent, of the work force. We would like to see it lower, but it is within striking distance of the figure set by Mr. Albert Monk. We have reached these goals after some difficulty and after a certain amount of pain inflicted on many of us. Are we going to toss everything overboard now and go baldheaded for more inflation? Are we going to buy popularity at that price? I would certainly not support the Government if it went too far in that direction.
We must appreciate these things when we come to a discussion about unemployment. You do not get good employment figures and good development out of a sick economy, and the easiest way - and it is easy - to get a sick economy is to allow an unwise degree of inflation. That is a risk that we take at the present time by budgeting for a deficit of £118,000,000. I appreciate that there are many people on the Labour side who realize this risk, but some of them would ask us to make the deficit far larger. Indeed, in many cases the man in the street cannot understand why we cannot pull money out of the air and do all the things that people want us to do. We can only do these things if we run the risk of a very dangerous degree of inflation.
One of the reasons for this demand for inflationary action is the desire of the people for development. I am not discounting this in any way. I think it springs from all that is best in our community, for various reasons. One may be that we have a young nation feeling its muscles, feeling that it ought to get on with the job. Another reason may be an uneasy feeling that with the heavily populated nations to the north of us we should quickly tackle these problems of development.
As I have said, I am not discounting this cry for development, but several things should be said about it. The first is that you do not do good development in boom times. Were we geared to do a job of development in 1960? Do you develop Australia by playing the stock exchange or gambling in real estate? I would say that in the 1960 period we were showing every sign of being a soft and decadent country, and soft and decadent countries do not do sound jobs of development. In that period, we were importing steel. How can we do railway construction work requiring steel if we cannot provide the materials?
There is too much easy talk about development. 1 pay a tribute to the amount of development we have done in Australia, but we should realize that the next steps will be far more difficult than the first step. There is a too ready acceptance of the idea that you can clear land with eloquence and develop it with your tongue. We hear a lot of talk about the development of the north. I give way to no one in my deter mination that some day we will develop the Northern Territory, but it will not be easy. The Northern Territory is littered with the bones of past failures. It is not a case of going in with a brief case and a cheque book and developing the north. It could be done by people with resolution and serviced by a sound economy. This advice goes for both sides of politics: Do not let us give way to a feeling that development can be done by anybody making eloquent speeches.
I have some knowledge of these things. In 1960 I went to the Northern Territory to clear scrub when I could have been making speeches here - not eloquent speeches perhaps, but speeches - about how to do it. I know something about the problems of development and I implore both sides of the chamber not to be overwhelmed by eloquence. This work can be done by a people who have the courage and a sound basis to work from, but above all if they have a realization that the problem is bigger than something that can be solved by moving speeches.
This goes back to the criticism by the Opposition of the Government’s plans for development. We are told continually that this is a stay-put budget, and that it does not allow for the problems of development. Let me read the list of developmental projects. The Government will provide £8,200,000 for the Mount Isa railway, £1,480,000 for cattle roads in Queensland, £1,750,000 for the development of the brigalow scrub land, £4,300,000 for railway gauge standardization, £1,400,000 for north-west development in Western Australia, £700,000 for cattle roads in Western Australia, £300,000 for a new jetty at Derby, £1,300,000 for diesel locomotives and wagons for South Australia and £6,600,000 for oil search, a total of £28,000,000. When we add £24,000.000 for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, it does not seem to me that we have been sitting back twiddling our thumbs.
There is more money in this Budget for sound development work than there has been in any other budget in Australian history. Never before has so much been done. I admit that never before have the problems been bigger, but do not let us think the problems are easily solved and that, consequently, we are not making a reasonable effort to do something about them.
The second criticism I want to deal with is the charge that this is a cruel budget and does not give enough aid to the unfortunate sector of our economy. Let us have a look at this criticism. I know that we on the Government side are met with the taunt that we represent big business.
– That is what the Queensland Government says.
– I would be interested if my banker could hear that. He has definite ideas on that score. We are also told by some - not by all - that honorable members on the Opposition side represent the workers. What I would like to do one day, if I could, would be to get some of the very eloquent urgers who represent the workers to labour for a week or two on a farm at harvest time. That does not go for the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), who would have a full realization of how hard the farmers have to work. But do not let us kid ourselves that the Opposition represents the workers and we on the Government side do not represent them.
Continually we hear the criticism that we should do more. Our record has shown that we have a pretty clear realization of the importance of helping the unfortunate sector. I will not traverse the record, but I think it would stand examination. One thing we should be clear about is that governments, unfortunately perhaps, have not got any money of their own. It would be much more convenient, of course, if we had some source from which we could suddenly pull out large sums of money which would solve our problems and give the people what they want. But we have not any money of our own, and the money we are going to spend to help unfortunate people must be obtained from our own taxpayers.
I shall quote some figures from the Budget speech which should be well remembered. In 1949-50, payments from the National Welfare Fund were equivalent to 47.7 per cent, of the revenue from income tax and social service contributions paid by individuals. The comparable figure for 1961-62 was 68 per cent., and the figure is estimated to reach 72 per cent, in the current financial year. We will pay 72 per cent, of the revenue derived from individual income tax to the National Welfare Fund. Again quoting from the Budget speech, I point out that if the estimated expenditure on war and service pensions and allowances, repatriation hospitals and other repatriation benefits, is added to the National Welfare Fund payments, the total expenditure will equal 91 per cent, of our estimated revenue from income tax on individuals in this financial year. So it is clear that we are doing a considerable amount. Yet the Opposition says that we should do more.
The only way we could do more would be by increasing income tax, and two things would happen if we did so. First, we would dampen down demand in the present. We would undo some of the good we did in February. We would take away the ability of the people to spend, which I understand both sides of the chamber support. Secondly - and this is a point to which the Opposition does not always give sufficient weight - we would destroy the incentive to work if we increased income tax. I think it is important to realize the importance of work. Work was always supposed to be something that people despised, but we should realize that Australia will be developed only by work. We will get a great national income only by people working better. If we have a higher rate of income tax, we will certainly reduce the incentive to work and to work well. That is where I part company with the Opposition. I believe the important thing is to have a bigger cake, and you get a bigger cake only through people working well. If you have a good big cake, you can get bigger slices from it. The thinking and philosophy of members of the Opposition always seems to be such that they are content with a smaller cake, and they say the underprivileged should get a larger slice of that cake. There is the difference between their thinking and ours. I think we should be clear on this question. I believe that to devote 91 per cent, of the proceeds of personal income tax towards helping underprivileged people is as far as we can go. The important thing is to get a bigger cake so that we can get bigger slices from it.
Having said that, I wish to make two points of mild criticism of the Budget. The first has reference to the £1,750,000 provided for the brigalow scrub clearing project in Queensland. Having spent rather too many years of my life in clearing scrub in my own country, I must admit that I am inclined to look with envy on States which seem to be getting help which we did not get. I admit that that is a nasty parochial view, but I look with envy on Queensland, which is getting what I would call a very generous hand-out in this respect. My second point of criticism relates to my disappointment at the absence of any plan for the standardization of the gauge of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill railway line. As the theme of my speech is that we should not have too much inflation, I certainly will not castigate the Government for not doing this work now, but I would like to have some kind of assurance that the Government will start on it before the completion of the work on the Kalgoorlie-Kwinana railway in Western Australia.
The economics of the standardization of the Port Pirie-Broken Hill line and the national importance of the work are undoubted. I had hoped that the Commonwealth Government would be prepared to give an assurance that it would tackle this job, that it would help South .Australia with this programme and assume a proper share of the financial burden. It has agreed that it will do so eventually, but I hope it will give some assurance soon that it will help South Australia in the gallant attempt that State is making to do the work on its own. I think- we should pay a tribute to the Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, for the courage he is showing in getting on with the job. I think he is activated by two motives. One is that this standardization work is good business and will return good interest on the money expended. The second is probably in a different category. If my wife cannot get me to chop the wood, she goes out to the woodheap and starts chopping herself. I am then overcome with remorse. If the wood-heap is near the house, I take the axe from her and do the job. I am inclined to suggest that Sir Thomas Playford may be working on that principle and that he is hoping that this Government will take its share of the burden. But perhaps he does not think like that, and that may be only the way in which I see it. However, in view of his determination to do a job which has to be done, I hope this Government will support him at some definite time. I have pleasure in congratulating the Treasurer on his Budget, and in supporting it.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I suggest that this Budget deserves to be condemned because, first of all, it does not provide for economic growth in Australia; secondly, it does not provide a plan of national development for this nation; thirdly, it does not recognize the need to develop our skills; fourthly, it does not provide properly for social services, health, repatriation and superannuation benefits, or for any increases therein, and finally, it fails to promote consumption and thus create full employment.
Like the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), I have some sympathy for the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). 1 can imagine that in the weeks and months before he finally appears in the Parliament to present a budget to the people, he is approached with petitions, appeals and all manner of requests from all kinds of organizations and individuals in the community. I am sure that this Budget was no exception, and that the Treasurer was approached by all sorts of people - people wanting various kinds of social services to be increased, people wanting various kinds of taxation concessions, people asking for seven important points of amendment to the repatriation provisions, people asking for superannuation increases, and various organizations making broad economic requests. But I never thought I would have to listen in this Parliament to such a dreary document as the 1962-63 Budget. I can just see the Treasurer, sitting among piles of appeals, petitions and requests, looking at them and wondering how he is going to cope with them - with all the sins of the Government coming up in front of him. I can imagine him saying, in final despair, “ Beggar it! 1 will beat it up to Bingie Bay and be blowed to all these bods “.
The measure of the Government’s lack of confidence in this Budget is its abstention from participation in the Batman byelection. A less chicken-hearted government, a government less riven by divisions between its coalition parties, each with its resentment of the stand-over tactics of the other, would have gone out on to the public platform with boldness and enthusiasm to sell its policies to the people. But, significantly, immediately before the Budget, the party bosses of the Liberal Party and the Country Party pulled their parties out of the election battle, and a seat which Labour held in 1958 by a mere 1,300-odd votes is let go by default, because of the Government’s lack of confidence in itself. It can hardly blame the people for not having confidence in it when it has so little confidence in itself and in its current policies.
The Treasurer, in his Budget speech, said that by most tests this country is in a position of great strength to-day, and that opinion was reiterated just now by the honorable member for Wakefield, but we have to remind ourselves that investment is sluggish in Australia to-day, that the press is reporting that shares are going down in value almost without exception, and the level of unemployment is all too high, with 90,000 unemployed officially recognized. Probably even more significant economically than the 90,000 men out of jobs is the tremendous amount of unused industrial and commercial capacity in Australia to-day. We are witnessing a recurrence of the growth of the volume of imports into this country. There must be some diffidence in the minds of investors who are called upon to make long-term investments to promote enterprise as they witness this recurrence. The outgoings from overseas investments are increasing. Apparently overseas investors in this country are now less inclined to plough back the profits they make. Schools, hospitals, housing, roads, social services and repatriation are being neglected in this “ stay still “ or “ Forever Amber “ Budget.
The Government is giving a warning and saying: “ Beware; do nothing; sit still; watch!” Growth is stagnant and this Budget does nothing to promote it. Migration is down by just over 26,000 in the last two years. As I have said, even the Commonwealth’s former servants are denied superannuation increases despite the fact that the superannuation fund contains about £80,000,000. Consumption in practically every sphere including foodstuffs, which are a ba»<c need, is down. The public debt of the States has almost doubled in the last ten years. With all this in mind the Treasurer points out in his Budget speech that -
It would be easy enough to wreck all of this by some ill-judged stroke - some action that caused a sudden upsurge of demand or a sweeping addition to costs in industry.
Manufacturers and consumers at large would be much better pleased if the Government were to go forward with enthusiasm and promote spending, production and growth. In the financial year before last the gross national product rose by 5 per cent. - quite a reasonable amount by international standards. However, in the financial year ended 30th June last the gross national product, which represents the value of goods produced in this country, rose by only 1 per cent. In fa;t, the position is worse than the figures indicate. After taking into account the slight reduction in the value of money and the population increase that has occurred, there was practically no gain at all. Indeed, as Sir Douglas Copland points out, the movement in the gross national product per head of population was still less than it was two years ago.
The Australian Labour Party brings these matters to the notice of the people of Australia and to the notice of this Parliament. It is time to get going. We need something in the nature of the appeal that President Kennedy made to the United States of America a couple of years ago. It is time to get on the move again. I think that most of us heartily agree with Sir Douglas Copland that there is no future in world stability to-day if that stability is to be gained by the suppression of activity.
I said at the outset that there was no provision in the Budget for national spending. This Budget should have been related to a much broader scheme of national development. Nearly every economist of note in Australia to-day advocates this. Not only persons who can take a more or less objective view of these things, but even some of the stalwarts of private enterprise are making this appeal to-day. I have in my hand the quarterly review-
– They are socialists.
– Socialists! Do you call the Australia and New Zealand Bank Limited a socialist organization? I quote from the bank’s quarterly review, published in April of this year -
The sharpness of the cut-back in the economy after the restrictive measures of November, 1960, followed by the hesitancy of the present recovery, bear testimony to the need for closer overall planning in the Australian economy. The government’s recent consultations with leaders in commerce, industry and finance are a step in the direction
I interrupt the quotation to say that it is a very minor step - of achieving a greater measure of co-ordination between government policy and the plans of private enterprise.
I think that everybody recognizes that the success of any private or public organization depends on planning. That is the hallmark of efficiency. How can a public corporation or private undertaking make reliable plans for even three years ahead if the most responsible organization in the community - the National Parliament - is not prepared to give a lead? Lack of leadership has produced the hesitancy that characterizes economic life in Australia to-day. The Budget does not give a lead. It does not do anything significant to stimulate confidence or economic activity. The rate of migrant intake should be geared to the availability of education facilities. There should be adequate provision for housing, hospitals, employment and developmental tasks. All these things should be co-ordinated. We must abandon the attitude of laisser faire, the movement from problem to problem. Just as the indiscriminate use of insecticides creates new resistant strains of pests, so the Government’s action in this regard creates new economic problems. 1 believe that national planning is vitally necessary in a federal system such as we have in Australia. There is an urgent need for a national planning council to coordinate activities of all three phases of government as well as private enterprise in Australia. Until we get that we shall continue to have stop-and-go policies. That is inevitable. This Budget should have been related to a much broader plan of national development. It would then be valid for the Government to claim that an annual budget is not the fixed and final thing that it was in years gone by. The budget would not have to be fixed and final if wc had the co-operative and democratic planning that has been suggested by so many responsible persons.
At the outset of my remarks I mentioned that neither this Budget nor any of the recent provisions of the Government properly provide for the training of skilled people. I have heard various Government supporters during this debate refer to the shortage of skilled labour, but they overlook the fact that so many people are unemployed. If it is skill that we need, the Government should be offering assistance. Even the tertiary education inquiry being conducted under the auspices of the Australian Universities Commission will continue until at least the end of next year before a report is submitted. The committee of inquiry is, as far as I know, most inadequately provisioned as far as trained staff and research staff are concerned. It is unwieldy in size - about fourteen members - and if my information is correct it contains only two people who have had recent teaching or research experience in universities or other tertiary institutions. The committee’s report will not be submitted to the Parliament until the middle or the end of next year. Action may flow from that report some time in 1964 or even later.
I suggest, as a positive proposal, that the Commonwealth Government should, as a matter of urgency, make special grants to the States immediately. This has been the plea of many responsible bodies. If the Government is not prepared to go that far - if it does not wish to become involved in giving substantial assistance to the States for primary and secondary education - at least let it trim its sails and make a special grant to the States for the building of teachers’ colleges, particularly those catering for the training of secondary school teachers. The crisis in the Australian educational scene to-day is in secondary and tertiary education. It is not much good trying to patch up university education without tackling the fundamental problems associated with primary, secondary and even technical education. There is a shortage of teachers’ training colleges in New South Wales. A couple of years ago the New South Wales Department of Education could not get candidates to enter teacher training colleges. It had to reduce the standard for entry even below the leaving certificate in special cases. To-day, 1,000 or more young students with leaving certificate passes - many of a matriculation standard - cannot gain entrance to teacher training colleges simply because there is insufficient accommodation, staff or proper equipment for them.
I applaud this Government for having made special grants for roads for the transport of beef cattle, for the provision of coal-loading facilities at ports and for the extension and expansion of railways. If it is good enough for the Commonwealth to provide funds for those things, it is good enough for us to provide funds for the most basic requirement - the training of skilled people for our community. We ought to provide funds in the way that I have just suggested. We could even provide special Commonwealth grants for library facilities within our teaching institutions. I do not think that the cost of providing such facilities would be very great. As an emergency measure, we could increase the number of Commonwealth scholarships. We shall have to wait a while for the result of this inquiry into tertiary education, but, to assist education in its existing plight, and especially to assist in providing the required number of trained teachers, we could provide an additional 1,000 Commonwealth scholarships for teacher trainees in the various State educational systems. If we were to do that, we would not only meet an existing emergency situation effectively but also ensure a firm basis for the further advancement of Australia.
We have raised these matters very often. The requests go on and on. Even in this Budget, the Government has not acceded, even in the most minute particular, to the many requests that have been made. It has not been prepared even to allow a tax deduction for the fees of part-time students, whether paid by themselves or by their parents. Technical education, particularly, makes heavy demands on part-time training to-day. A plea for assistance in this respect has been made to the Government many times, but it still does nothing.
We read in the newspapers a rumour that the Government intended, at least, to do something about child endowment. We read that something helpful but not very big would be done. The rumour was that child endowment for the fourth and subsequent children would be increased and, more particularly, that endowment was to be extended in respect of full-time students up to the age of eighteen. But none of these things happened. Instead, the Treasurer went off to Bingil Bay, in northern Queensland, for his holiday, and everything else went by the board.
One can take the matter further and consider even more fundamental tasks of development allied to the subject of education.
– You have had a holiday for three months.
– That is quite inaccurate. The electors of Barton will bear testimony to the fact that I have not had a holiday for twelve months.
– What you said before is more inaccurate than that.
– At any rate, the Treasurer may as well have had a holiday for all the good that this Budget will do.
Considering these matters, I think particularly of fundamental research. By the courtesy and with the help of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), I was able to travel through the Northern Territory last year. I found that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, within the limitations of the available facilities and skilled manpower, was doing a magnificent job undertaking research in the Territory. But it could have been doing twice as good a job in developing the north for the good of Australia and our economy if more funds had been provided for its research work. Finance, of course, is only the first step in providing more facilities and personnel. All these requirements, too, have gone by the board.
It is quite within the competence of this Federal Government, without any inhibitions at all, to provide funds for the establishment, say, of a chair of educational research at the Australian National University in Canberra or in any of the other universities in Australia. As a matter of fact, a proposal of this kind was made by Professor R. W. B. Jackson, Professor of
Educational Research and Director of Educational Research at the Ontario College of Education in the University of Toronto, who visited Australia and remained here for four months in 1960. In a book which he has since published, entitled “ Emergent Needs in Australian Education “, he made one of his most significant recommendations when he proposed that we establish a chair of educational research at the Australian National University. This suggestion could be carried into other fields.
Systematic, independent research into education is all the more necessary in a country like Australia with the decentralized kind of educational system that we have. It may not be of much use for me to plead in this place for more money for education if I cannot be more fully convinced than I am now that the great sums being provided for education to-day are being used with the utmost efficiency and effectiveness. So I suggest that a research organization ought to be established.
The Australian Universities Commission has recognized this to some degree. That commission has done an important job for Australia in rehabilitating our universities to some extent, but I cannot help reiterating what I said in a debate in this chamber not long ago: I still regard the actions and recommendations of the commission as being very conservative indeed. We have the problem of student numbers being limited to specified quotas in practically every faculty of every Australian university to-day. There is a crisis over library facilities at the University of Sydney. The cost of the building programme required at the University of New South Wales has been grossly underestimated and, as a result, the completion of the programme has been delayed. All this has happened because the Government does not make adequate provision for the needs of education. I suggest to Sir Leslie Martin and the Universities Commission, of which he is chairman, that the commission can afford to be a lot more generous and a lot more optimistic about the requirements of tertiary education in this country.
The Australian Labour Party, of course, is wedded to the principle of Commonwealth intervention in education. That does not mean that we want to take over the administration of education. We think that education is a very important aspect of the development of this nation and, as such, we shall fully recognize its importance by establishing a federal ministry of education and science. Without waiting to find out what the real needs were, we made an ad hoc decision prior to the last general election campaign and announced in our policy speech that we were prepared to double the number of Commonwealth scholarships. By doing that, we would have saved the parents of many young people now attending universities much anguish, for students are now confronted with an increase of fees by onethird.
The States cannot manage the task on their own. I have criticized one thing in particular which is a consequence of the financial policies adopted by this Government over the years, and I once more voice my criticism of the Government on this issue. I have taken the trouble to obtain particulars of the public debt of the Commonwealth compared with that of the States since 1952. Between June, 1952, and June, 1961, the Commonwealth was able to reduce its public indebtedness by no less than £371,000,000, or 20 per cent. The public indebtedness of the States, on the other hand, rose from £1,396,000,000 to £2,702,000,000, or 94 per cent., over the same period. Yet honorable members opposite describe themselves as protagonists of the federal system! The federal system will not last in a situation such as that.
We have not really a federal system today. Indeed, we have neither a federal system nor a centralized system. We have, instead, some wishy-washy system, which lies somewhere along the scale between the two, and this defective system limits the corrective action that can be taken and promotes the buck-passing, as it has been called, that inhibits development and the economic progress of this country. This Government ought to look very seriously at this kind of situation in which, in the provision being made for education, the States are being submerged in debt. I cannot see the logic of a State government being called on to finance the construction of schools and other educational institutions out of loan funds whereas a commercial enterprise such as the Snowy Mountains scheme is largely financed out of tax revenue. If ever anything should be financed out of revenue, schools and other educational facilities should be. The States should not be loaded with more debt by being forced to finance these works out of repayable loans.
The most urgent need in relation to the development of our northern and western areas, I suggest, Mr. Chairman, is for the discovery of a cheap form of power. If we could provide power cheaply in the north and west, this country would go ahead by leaps and bounds. What a boost it would be if we were able to process in north Queensland bauxite from the deposits at Weipa! This would need some form of cheap power. In my tour of the north last year, I learned that natural gas had been discovered at Roma. However, only the local body was using it. The natural gas was channelled to the local electricityproducing unit. The grumbles there were that neither the Commonwealth Government nor the Queensland Government could be persuaded to undertake full-scale research into the possibilities of the use of the natural gas in Queensland. If natural gas can be found in Queensland in the quantities that are available in other countries, such as Canada, the United States of America and Russia, and if it can be made available at a reasonable price, Queensland and all Australia will benefit immeasurably. As far as I know, nothing has been done by this Government to undertake research in this field.
I come now to the matter of road building. I agree with the Australian Road Federation that we should set up a federal roads bureau on the pattern of the bureau in the United States of America. The body there has played an important part in the great highway construction programme of that country. Writing in the “ Commonwealth Automotive Review “, in December, 1961, the secretary of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries said -
The contemporary Australian setup in which State Governments have a constitutional authority for road development but not the financial resources, whilst the Federal Government has the resources but no constitutional authority over roads, will never produce the roads system Australia needs now or in the future.
I note from statistics that in the ten years between 1950-51 and 1960-61, the Commonwealth Government raised £444,000,000 from road users by way of petrol tax. In the same period, the Commonwealth Government paid to the States only £302,000,000 for road-building purposes. The Commonwealth kept £142,000,000 of the amount raised in this way.
The petrol tax, of course, is not the only means that the Government uses to raise money from the road users and motor car owners. It raises a very substantial amount in sales tax on motor vehicles, and we have unhappy memories about this tax. The Government could do much more than it has done. It should set up a national road authority to co-ordinate the activities of the various bodies concerned with road building in Australia. It must be apparent even to this Government that the Commonwealth needs more constitutional authority than it now has. Many State legislators recognize that the Commonwealth should have more constitutional authority to deal with matters of health, education, road building and so on. The people should be given the opportunity to clothe the Commonwealth with the necessary powers to promote the proper development of the nation.
I would have thought, with all the talk about the Common Market and the danger to our primary industries, that the Government would have heeded the appeals made by many people to abolish the sales tax on foodstuffs. We have been told that the annual value of primary produce used in taxed foodstuffs is £34,200,000. Wheat used in taxed foodstuffs in Australia to-day is valued at £5,200,000, sugar £15,400,000, dairy produce £5,500,000, eggs £2,200.000, and dried fruits £1,600,000. Every one of these industries is under some cloud because of the threat arising from Britain’s application to join the Common Market. The one thing that could easily have been done, without considerable cost to the nation, to promote the local consumption of these commodities was not done by the Government. There is a need for a much more vital approach to Australia’s problems, but I have no confidence that this Government will adopt that approach.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- We have just listened to a speech that has covered practically every activity in Australia. I was unable to discern any constructive comment in it. It followed the pattern of most speeches made by Opposition members. Obviously, they are unable to assess the real worth of this Budget. Last night, the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) completely demolished the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) - the whole edifice collapsed - but the unfortunate fact is that the speech of the Attorney-General was not mentioned in many of our newspapers. It was a really magnificent speech.
We on this side of the chamber are concerned about the inability of Opposition members to evaluate the true position on many subjects. But we are not the only ones concerned about this. According to to-day’s “ Daily Mirror “, the Australian National University has offered to provide members of the Australian Labour Party with expert information on specific subjects. The subjects include foreign affairs, social services, economics and national development. What a scope there is for the Australian National University! Obviously, the university is concerned. It may be that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who is a member of the council of the university, is concerned about the lack of understanding by his own party. I do not know what the position is, but obviously this is a matter of real importance. The university may be concerned because it realizes that the Labour Party would provide the alternative to our Government, and may think that, with some instruction, it would not be completely disastrous.
– Did the Labour Party accept the offer?
– Apparently there was a split in the party. Perhaps some Opposition members are happy in their ignorance; I do not know. However, let us hope that some good will come from this offer. The important fact is that this great national body has recognized the weakness and has offered instruction on subjects that are of utmost importance to Australia.
Obviously, the Opposition has not appreciated the importance of the Budget. Every thinking person will applaud the Budget. Unfortunately, Australia’s economic problems are complex. They must be complex, because we have achieved much and grown considerably in recent years, and tremen-
F.6363/62.- it- 16] dous pressures are being put on us. We must take drastic measures from time to time to preserve this growth. Comments about the Budget made by people generally in the community are important. But what really concerned me as a member of a party which represents particularly primary producers was that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not mention primary industry once in his speech. Are we to infer from this that the Labour Party is completely unconcerned with an industry which is the very basis of Australia’s economy? Obviously, that is the fact. Opposition members have no concern for our primary industries.
I think it was the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) who said that we should have planned our economy over a period of a few years. Of course, that is the socialist policy - economic planning. This Budget is designed to give some idea to the community of what will happen in the future. We are in the very serious position of having to rely on primary industry for about 80 per cent, of our export income. Our primary industry exports have to contend with overseas prices over which we have no control, and with seasonal conditions in Australia over which we have no control. Of course we must have a varied economy in Australia, which the Opposition calls a stop-and-go economy. If honorable members opposite could tell us what the price of wool would be next year or what seasonal conditions would be we might be able to plan.
This Budget is designed to hold costs. The Government has held costs for the last four quarters. This is the first time that the inflationary spiral has been arrested since Labour instigated it in its last term of office by introducing the 40-hour week and by other measures. The late Mr. Chifley, the last great Labour leader, agreed that the 40- hour week was responsible for considerable inflation. Nevertheless, the present Government has arrested the inflationary spiral. We must build up our manufacturing industries to a position in which they can sell overseas by keeping their costs down and, at the same time, we must give relief to our primary industries by keeping their costs down. The Government has succeeded in doing this.
At the same time, in this Budget, provision is made for tremendous increases of expenditure, particularly on social services. As the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) mentioned, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) stated that the National Welfare Fund takes an amount equivalent to 71 per cent, of individual income tax, and repatriation and hospital expenditure takes the equivalent of 91 per cent. Is not that a tremendous sum for a country such as Australia to provide and, at the same time, develop its own industries? Australia is in the position of a young couple starting out to develop a farm. What are they going to spend their money on? The first priority will be given to those things which will return them an income - which will safeguard their profit position. They will spend their money on such things as pastoral improvement and water supply before they start spending on such items as television sets. In Australia, we are providing a mighty sum for social services and the educational facilities to which the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) referred. Having regard to our responsibility for development we are spending tremendous sums in this way.
We are not in the position of oldestablished countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America or some European countries which have completed their development. They do not require tremendous sums for the further development of roads and other facilities which we require.
The Government is providing for development, State by State. It has provided £650,000 for coal-loading facilities in New South Wales, £8,195,000 for the Mount Isa project in Queensland, £1,500,000 for Queensland cattle roads, and £250,000 for other purposes in Queensland. It has also made provision for coal-loading facilities at Gladstone, for the development of brigalow lands, for the South Australian railway project and for other projects. It has provided a total of £26,837,000 for development. We have to build up our income-earning position in order to be on a stable basis to provide funds for education and social services. That is the policy of stability which the Government has pursued ever since it has been in office, lt has provided us with the very high standard of living that we have to-day.
Honorable members and other people have made a tremendous feature of unemployment. We on this side of the chamber are very concerned about unemployment, but it will not be easy to reduce the present incidence of unemployment, which is slightly over 2 per cent. It will be very difficult to employ those who are now unemployed, but we must keep on trying to employ them. Most of the people who are at present unemployed are capable of being employed only in inflationary times. Probably because of psychological factors, they are, unfortunately, unable to stay in a job for any length of time. In boom times they are employed because they go from one job to another.
As the Attorney-General said, if we have employment for all these people there will probably be unemployment somewhere else, and we shall undermine our economic position. I am particularly concerned about the younger people who are leaving school. We must try to provide an economic climate in which those younger people can be employed. I am quite satisfied that measures of the kind included in this Budget will do that. Some of our friends opposite have travelled the north. They allege that they speak knowingly on the development of the north.
– What do you know about it?
– I shall endeavour to show you. The honorable member for Reid suggested that we should process our bauxite in Queensland. The honorable member for Barton and the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) said exactly the same thing. I think they said that we should build a super power house which would use our vast coal resources to process aluminium from bauxite. What a super calamity that would be! We would have something like the Peak Downs project which the State Labour Government introduced in Queensland. Obviously, the honorable members do not know the position regarding the international market for aluminium. There is an over-supply of aluminium in the world. The cost factor is an exceedingly important one. Most of the aluminium in the world is produced by hydro-electric power. There is vast production in British Columbia. There is also vast unexploited hydro-electric power in the south island of New Zealand. If we were to process aluminium by using power produced by coal we would never sell it because the cost would be too high. This illustrates the sort of wild thinking that we get from honorable members opposite. No wonder the Australian National University has offered to inform them on certain subjects. Obviously, it is felt that honorable members opposite need some instruction.
Comments have been made on the effect of this Budget on primary industries. This is a comment of Mr. Havard, the president of the National Farmers Union, which was read in one of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s news services. Unfortunately it has reached very few newspapers because, I am afraid, many newspapers are interested in condemning this Budget. I think most honorable members agree that Mr. Havard. being president of the National Farmers Union, speaks with considerable authority. Mr. Havard praised the Budget for preserving cost stability in Australian export industry and said -
With Australian export industry facing the question mark of the Common Market, the longterm considerations, which had apparently governed the Budget, had rightly been given first place.
A lot of notice should be taken of that comment. Listen now to the sort of criticism we get. I quote the remarks of Mr. C. R. Darvall, chairman of the Australian Bankers Association, as reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ -
Despite the fact that the Government’s February measures have yet to work through the economy, the Budget is disappointing.
The emphasis has been placed predominantly on Government spending when it would have been preferable to have given direct incentives to the private sector.
I ask honorable members: Are not Mr. Darvall’s banks in a position to assist? They have tremendous funds. In the last White Paper issued by the Treasury we find that the deposits of major trading banks amounted to £1,824,000,000, and that their overdraft limits amounted to £1,729.000,000. The savings bank deposits are of a similar amount. Obviously there is a tremendously liquid position in
Australia and we want only confidence. I hope the Government will have help from honorable members opposite to that extent.
The one respect in which I am disappointed in the Budget is that it does not give some relief to the family man. I think the family man should have been given assistance and incentive by way of a greater allowance for dependants, because it is the policy of this Government in our free enterprise system to permit a man to earn his living in Australia by his own efforts. Our friends opposite would prefer to dole it out to him by way of child endowment and other means. If he is given some concessions on dependants’ allowances the family man would be able to retain a little more of what he earned, and I believe that that would be of help to the small man who believes in free enterprise. He is the man to whom, to a very great degree, we owe our position in Parliament.
I conclude, Mr. Chairman, by giving my full support to this Budget, but I hope that the Treasury will find it possible to give some degree of help to the family man along the lines that I have suggested.
.- It is the practice in budget debates for honorable members to deal with the matters that they believe are of the greatest importance. I think that the prevention of nuclear war is to-day the most urgent and compelling task of all. If we are to be able to prevent war we must identify the forces which lead to war. I believe the first of those forces which lead to war is in fact the arms race. A quite notable British Labour member of the House of Commons, Mr. Noel Baker, has said that the most evil thing in human history is the modern arms race, and I do not think that is any exaggeration. The frantic competition to produce bombs, missiles and interceptors will not prevent war, but if it continues it will produce the universal fire storm it is designed to prevent. The arms race is a force impelling every one of us into war, and all of those who rely on it are guilty.
I think the second force that to-day leads us to war is the almost universal practice on both sides for people to assert on every occasion that their side is blameless and that all the fault is on the other side. On each side there is a force of national selfrighteousness that is the greatest menace of modern times. It is such an evil and menace, not because it has not been behind all wars that have taken place so far in history, but because it is now coupled to weapons which could destroy humanity. There may be millions of unborn generations who, if they live, will not see the ideological and religious differences of today as so important that the destruction of humanity should be risked in order to preserve them. If this evil of national selfrighteousness is to be modified - and it has to be modified if we are to have any hope for survival - then each side’s leaders have to be prepared to recognize their own contribution towards the cold war situation, or others must be prepared to prove it to them.
If leaders will not do this, then the only hope is that the ordinary people everywhere will criticize and oppose them. But, whenever an attempt is made in Australia to criticize our national self-righteousness in the cold war, the attempt is smeared with words that allege, against those who make the attempt, the most treacherous crimes in the calendar. So, many people, fearing embarrassment, or a worse penalty than embarrassment, are depressed into a degree of conformity and political inaction that can hardly be worse than that which occurs in an overt police state.
How many citizens are prepared to-day to undergo the risk of this attack, even to the extent of questioning the view that the anti-Communist side is always right and the Communist side is always wrong? How many citizens are prepared to undergo the risk of even questioning that proposition? How can it become easier for freedom of thought and expression to become more of a reality in this situation? I believe that it can ‘become easier only if the movement against war is one of complete intellectual integrity. None can stand up to the persecution and pressures unless his position is one of intellectual integrity. In Australia the movement against war does not always reflect a sufficient degree of it.
Nowhere in the history of man’s struggle for survival and justice is there a more compelling cause than that of to-day - to save the world from nuclear devastation. Surely this is powerful enough to bring out of our churches, universities and all other places enough men and women who will think straight and talk straight on this vital matter.
In contrast to this vital problem of our own survival, our problems of the Budget and the European Common Market are trivial. We must find a way to cross the barriers that exist between the Communist and the anti-Communist worlds. We must find ways for agreement about arms, trade and frontiers. We must build a community of interests across the walls that are erected around the world and around individual men and women. To strengthen the community of interests across the divisions is of far greater importance than it is to strengthen each side, or either side, in the cold war.
In this respect the Australian Labour Party has made important progress. We have said that we seek to re-establish by agreement all round our country, as far as we can - because we have limited powers and responsibilities - a nuclear-free area. To secure that end we are prepared to enter into agreement with other countries not to acquire or receive nuclear weapons on our soil. It would only be if such an endeavour failed completely that those who hold fears and act aggressively against our neighbours now would have any justification for their attitude. For them to speak and act aggressively now against our neighbours without making any effort to reduce the forces of war that exist between us is to betray our people and theirs. First of all, we must seek to reduce the forces of war between us and all countries within our reach. This is the basic aim of Australian Labour Party policy. Let those who seek to talk and act aggressively save themselves for the future in case our endeavours fail. But do not let them obstruct, hinder and misrepresent our efforts now for peace and understanding.
When we turn to the less important issues of the Common Market and the Budget we find matters on which much has been said. In fact, so much has been said that there is hardly room for more. The Common Market has three important aspects - political, economic and sovereignty. Politically, the important question is not whether by entering the European Economic Community Great Britain will strengthen the forces opposed to Communism, because those forces already are strong enough to destroy their opponents several times over.
The vital political question is whether by staying out or going in Great Britain will contribute most towards the reduction of the tensions between communism and the West. Certainly France, Germany and Italy have little to contribute to this from their own background of alternative authoritarian governments and anarchy. Whether Great Britain can contribute much depends more on whether she can become more liberal herself than upon the forum in which she puts her case.
Economically, Great Britain’s entry into the Common Market will make things tougher for a few years for her own working people - people who, on the whole, cannot afford to have things made much tougher for them. The economic consequences for them will be far more significant than any economic consequences of a movement to the Common Market will be for the Australian people. Australia’s argument that the European Economic Community will seriously damage Australia will cut no ice in Europe. In fact, it has cut none whatever because in Europe they are in possession of the facts. They know that the economic consequences in Australia will be no greater than something which could be handled by a quick return to full employment and by giving financial assistance directly to those who would be injured. But when we realize how it has been the Government’s policy to allow people to be injured, as it allowed 100,000 of our unemployed to be injured by economic adjustment, surely the farmers cannot have much confidence that the Government will do any more than allow free enterprise to solve its problems.
Australia surely must recognize that her exports to British and European markets will continue to decline as they have done for many years. It is almost beyond doubt that the decline of Great Britain as a market for Australian exports in the next ten years, even if she goes into the Common Market, will not be any greater than the decline which has taken place in the last ten years. Open recognition of this is essential if we are to develop new markets. Our old trade has been handled by private banks, insurance companies and snipping cartels with their offices and their hearts, if they have any, in the old world.
Not only do they choose to do business in the old ports and in the old ways, but they also are positively opposed to Australia doing business in the new world. We must determine to break the restrictions which they have imposed upon our exports to the new world in the form of excessive freights and prohibitions on exports and by policies more subtle but equally capable of preserving the markets which exist there for the European and American owners of Australian subsidiaries built to supply only the Australian market and positively prohibited from exporting to the markets to which we should go. The restrictions imposed by these private cartels must be broken if Australia is to find new markets.
It may well be that the only way to break this solid pattern of the old world, of private cartel restrictions, is by the use of Australian public enterprise, for it may be that only public enterprise would be free from the power of the private cartels. One cannot even be sure that public enterprise would be free from this power. Here the Australian Labour Party proposes, not only to guarantee a market for Australian farmers, but also, if necessary, to give aid to the farmers if they get into difficulties. In addition to giving that guarantee, about which we are specific and which will be carried into effect, the Australian Labour Party proposes to establish a Commonwealth export bank, a Commonwealth insurance corporation and a national overseas shipping line so that if it is possible for independent action to break the restrictions of the private cartels and monopolies which prevent us from entering into the new world, we shall do so. The great function of public enterprise in the future is to give forthright competition to the private cartels which dominate this economy to-day.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) appear to be alone on the Government side in lamenting that the European Economic Community will involve a possible loss of British sovereignty. Their concept of sovereignty is so old that the honorable members for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), Wentworth (Mr. Bury) and Barker (Mr. Forbes), with their academic traditions, are prepared to sacrifice it. Sovereignty is not a static condition. It is what a people and their government are prepared to do. As in the case of the political consequences of Britain going into the European Economic Community, Great Britain would lose sovereignty in the Community only if she refused to act resolutely and independently. The greatest advocates of declining British sovereignty are those who would subject her completely to the will of countries in Europe which have no liberal or democratic tradition to concern them. Those who would rescue her from this loss are not those who think in terms of the nineteenth century, like the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Moreton, but those who want to see Great Britain take a liberal independent line in world affairs. There are no such persons on the Government side of the chamber.
The 1962-63 Budget is the most depressing and colourless document submitted to the Commonwealth Parliament in recent years. This is the first time in recent years that it has been completely unnecessary to introduce enabling legislation to carry Budget proposals into effect, because there are none.
– This has never happened before.
– This has never happened before. To-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald” contains a statement in these terms -
The share market yesterday suffered its sixth decline since the announcement of the Federal Budget.
And the share market in Sydney has been open for only six days since the Federal Budget was introduced! The critical question is: Will this Budget stimulate recovery? The Sydney Stock Exchange says, “ No. “. If the Stock Exchange says “ No. “, how can the Government expect an effective “ Yes “ to come from anywhere? How could the answer be otherwise than “ No. “?
It has been estimated by university economists that there is room in the economy to-day for £700,000,000 of additional income and product. But, accepting the Government’s own estimates, upon which this Budget is based, we find, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) showed clearly in a proposition that has not been rebutted or even dealt with by any body on the other side of the House, that the Government expects to spend £13,000,000 on unemployment and sickness benefits this year, as against £15,900,000 last year. Let us remember that last year was a year in which the economy was subject to excessive unemployment and in a serious recession. It is evident, therefore, that the Government is anticipating a level of unemployment in the coming year at least more than 60 per cent, of that which prevailed last year.
Next, if we take the Government’s own estimate of Commonwealth revenue at £1,665,000,000 for 1962-63, and allow fully for changes in revenue policy as against last year, we find that the Government must be expecting a national income in 1962-63 of no more than £6,120,000,000, or only £230,000,000 more than last year. That is the very best estimate of increased income that can be made as a result of the Government’s own anticipation as shown in this Budget. Not only does this mean continued unemployment; it also means the abandonment of full employment, and it also means the lowest rate of growth of national income among all the Western countries.
Those are the fundamental facts in relation to this Budget. The Government is quite afraid to stimulate the economy, because it is convinced that it is incapable of preventing a boom if it does so. It is convinced that it is incapable of preventing a boom because it has already failed three time to do so. In 1950-52, 1955-56 and 1959-60 the Government failed to control the boom, so it has very good reason for not wanting to run the risk of having to tackle a boom again. One of the significant reasons for its failure in this direction has been the pressure of gilt-edge investors and the international financiers against any kind of public intervention that would be necessary to plan and regulate an economy.
But another significant influence at work is the outdated ideas of many of the Government’s economic advisers. These advisers are still deriving their policy recommendations from the economics of John Maynard Keynes. It was Keynes himself who said that economists invariably prescribe yesterday’s remedy for to-day’s malady, that it was the ideas of the dead that determined the ideas of the living. If ever there was a document determined by the ideas of the dead it is this 1962-63 Budget.
It is many years since the standard Keynesian system of economics was criticized as inadequate to deal with economic growth. This is because full employment is its ultimate economic objective, and it assumes that there needs to be no rate of growth in national income to maintain it. Keynes had seen that the equilibrium necessary for full employment in the old economics was rare and unlikely. But the full employment equilibrium in Keynesian economics is even theoretically just as rare and just as unlikely. Economic history of the past twenty years has proved it to be so in practice. What we have had under the guidance of Keynesian economists and under the influence of the gilt-edge investors has been inflation and recession - stop-go. That is what we have had for thirteen long years. It could not be called a good performance on the part of any government or its economic advisers.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the sitting was suspended I had discussed international affairs and the European Common Market. I then proceeded to show that the Budget itself was not in any way a positive stimulus to the economy. In the actual estimates that appear in the Budget itself, £13,000,000 is provided for unemployment and sickness benefits as against £15,900,000 last year. Therefore, the Government actually accepts and anticipates that in 1962-63, the levelof unemployment will be at least 80 per cent. of what it was in 1961-62. In other words, unemployment at its maximum in the coming year is expected to be about 112,000 and at the minimum about 80,000 persons. The Government, therefore, actually budgets for unemployment at a level no less than 80 per cent. of the level of last year when the economy, on the Government’s own admission, was depressed and needed to be rectified.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) made a statement to this effect on Tuesday night and produced evidence to prove it, but no member of the Government who has spoken since has replied to that statement. The Prime Minis ter (Mr. Menzies) will follow me in this debate, and I ask him to say whether or not the Budget actually provides £13,000,000 for unemployment and sickness benefits against an actual expenditure of £15,900,000 last year. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether this does not mean, first, that the Government is actually budgeting for at least 80 per cent. of last year’s unemployment; secondly, that the Government has given up its objective of full employment and, thirdly, that the Government has decided to maintain economic stagnation under the name of stability because it has become convinced that it cannot prevent a stimulated economy from becoming an uncontrolled boom.
Mr. Chairman, at present there is almost general recognition that funds must be provided for education, road building, houses and other essentials. But sufficient money is not available. It is not available despite the fact that the economy as a whole is depressed and needs many millions of pounds of additional expenditure to take up unemployment, excess capacity and low production. In fact, since the Budget was introduced only seven days ago, on each of the six business days that followed there has been a fall in prices on the Sydney stock exchange. That was reported by the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ this morning. I know the Prime Minister reads that newspaper every morning over breakfast and I am sure he has an answer; but I am also sure that this committee and the country will find it inadequate.
The Government refuses to provide these funds as far as it can, and it refuses to lead the economy as a whole in providing them. Those who want to see the pensioners get an increase, who want to see child endowment increased, who want to see roads built and be able to buy a house will realize that the question is basically a political question. They will realize that the Menzies Government is in a key position but that to all these needs it has said “ No. “. They will realize that the Government is essentially responsible for the shortage of funds that brings about a denial of these necessaries.
Some of us have believed that the Government has decided upon a policy to restrict the economy this year in the middle of the period before the election because it desperately needs votes and numbers at the next election. It is calculating that in twelve months’ time it will produce a votewinning budget and go to the country. Should that occur and the budget of 1963 be in any way a stimulating budget and one that is likely to acquire votes, the people of Australia must realize that the Government has deliberately decided to restrict the economy and place it in a straitjacket for twelve months so that it may improve its political prospects at the next election.
If this occurs, a statement should be made beforehand and examined by the people beforehand, so that the performance of the Government can be tested. It will mean that the Government will have deliberately decided to accept at least 80 per cent’, of the employment of last year. It will accept an economy that leaves 35,000 people in Sydney and 17,000 in Melbourne waiting for housing commission homes. It will accept an economy that leaves many people paying £7, £8 or £9 a week in rent; that leaves pensioners and social service beneficiaries completely ignored this year; that provides less for education while there are quotas in all the universities and secondary education is in a bad way. The Government will be leaving these conditions unaltered for a full twelve months so that it can improve its political prospects at the next election.
There is hardly any doubt that it is economically possible to provide for all these essentials, but the Government refuses to act, not because there is inflation or any chance of inflation, but because the Government is obsessed by a fear of inflation. This fear of inflation which paralyses the Government is derived from its failure on three occasions - in 1950-52, 1955-56 and 1959-60 - to prevent the economy from inflating itself into a boom. The Menzies Government is still dominated by its failure to honour its 1949 promises. It is still dominated by its failure to put value back into the £1.
But this is no way to lead Australians to the great work of economic development that the world demands we achieve. This is no way to protect ourselves against the losses that will come from Great Britain’s entry into the European Common Market. This is no way to meet the basic needs of education, housing, roads and health. There is no way to achieve these things without a government that will courageously stimulate the economy into full employment without delay. There is no way to achieve these things unless we have a government that will regulate private expenditure by banks, fringe institutions and others so that booms will not occur.
We cannot meet essential needs if we are to be deterred by fears of inflation from providing for them when the opportunity is available as it is to-day. There is no economic reason whatever why there cannot be increased expenditure on all the essentials of education, roads and housing that are needed in the economy at present. We cannot provide for them unless at the same time we are determined to prevent less essential needs from expanding too much and being met first. The Menzies Government has failed for thirteen years to achieve these aims. How many more chances does it expect to get?
– The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) has a rich vein of humour that I have always admired; but he really ought to make up his mind one of these days what it is he means because in the last five minutes of his speech, he adopted in his attack on the Government two utterly inconsistent positions. In the first place, he drew a picture of the Government as full of low cunning. He says we are going to make ourselves more unpopular in the next six months; we are getting ready to do something in a year’s time when the election is getting nearer. You can imagine the low cunning with which this cold-blooded Government is planning a political future. That rather surprises me because after the last election I was given to understand by the Opposition that we would not be here very long. Now the Opposition has us engaging in a three years’ plan, all cold and calculated.
In the next breath, the honorable member for Yarra has said that the Government is frightened - frightened of the future and of all sorts of things. You know, I find it difficult to believe that anybody except the honorable member for Yarra could be at one and the same time consumed by terror and full of cold-blooded, low, calculating cunning. However, I do not want to worry about him now. I will do that if and when he becomes the Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia.
I want to say something now about the motion of censure moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), and then I want to say something about our own policy, in a positive sense. The speech by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was very interesting. It was a not very original exercise in phrase-making. 1 seemed to hear, as I listened to it, all the cliches which enjoy currency in half-baked socialistic academic circles. I gather from this morning’s press that we may expect to hear more of these in the future, fresh from the National University. I know the honorable member opposite who is interjecting does not like anything except the sound of his own voice and the distant waves from a certain foreign country. But may I, even with difficulty, return to what I was saying about the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition?
He accused us - I made a note of a few of his phrases - of ineptitude, unprincipled conduct, neglect, callousness, incompetence, and intellectual and political dishonesty. 1 hope I will be allowed to say to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that for him to accuse anybody of those offences really hurts. It hurts profoundly. Presumably - the honorable member for Yarra gave a hint of it in the closing passages of his speech - the country has suffered from our ineptitude, unprincipled conduct, neglect, callousness, incompetence, and intellectual and political dishonesty for twelve years or more without knowing it. That is the most astonishing performance in democratic history. Here is a community which, time after time after time, has had elections, but we are still in government. The poor simpletons, as we are told - the Australian electorate - did not know the kind of people who were conducting the affairs of this country.
– Order! The honorable member for Wills is interjecting. He must keep order.
– Sir, I do not expect honorable members opposite to be very happy. Now that they have decided they cannot win, they have determined that they will squeal. Let them squeal.
– Order! Honorable members are still interjecting. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition was extended the courtesy of being heard in silence, and I expect the same courtesy to be extended to the Prime Minister. If that courtesy is not extended, the Chair will be forced to take action.
– The favourite phrase which ran through the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was that the Australian economy was a stagnant economy. We have heard this time and time and time before. I have heard it ever since we came into office in 1949. Until we had been here for a year or two we did not hear much of it, but thereafter there were constant references to a “ stagnant economy “. The stagnancy of the economy, presumably, is due to the defects that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has enumerated. Sir, I do not want to labour the obvious, but what has happened in this stagnant economy during our dull, incompetent and unimaginative regime? I will tell you, Sir, for the benefit of all those who are not sitting in opposition and therefore are not professionally bound to disregard it. The population of this country in that period of time has risen from 8,000,000 to over 10,500,000.
– You had nothing to do with that.
– I had as much to do with it as the honorable member. My contributions to the population during that period were all by deputy. The net value of production in Australia has trebled in that time. There are very nearly 18,000 more factories in Australia. There have been enormous increases in mineral development and production. The value of our exports has doubled. Just under 1,000,000 houses and flats have been built, so that already, in the proportion of homes to population, Australia leads the world. General revenue grants to the States, which have their own great responsibilities in the federal system, are almost five times what they were when honorable gentlemen opposite went out of office. The loan works programme - sustained by the Commonwealth Government for the first time in the Commonwealth’s history - is nearly four times what it was in 1949.
But, Sir, there are, of course, other continuing proofs of progress in this “ stagnant “ economy. Too few people realize that a cash deficit of £120,000,000-1 will put it in round figures - will of itself have a most expansionary effect. We shall pay out to the citizens £120,000,000 more than will be collected from them. So far from being timorous - I think that was another of the words used by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition - this is adventurous finance. Taking into account the deficit, including the tax refunds now being made, it is clear that purchasing power in Australia this financial year will be uncommonly high. The real task of any government to-day, as well as of the business community and all sensible citizens, is to get that purchasing power exercised.
Sir, there are other factors. The gross national product in the June quarter of this year - this year of so-called superstagnation, but a year in which no change occurred in the consumer price index - showed an increase of 7.6 per cent, over the June quarter of 1961. Here is further proof of the “ stagnation “ of the economy. Deposits in the savings bank, which are not the haunt of the rich, amounted in 1961- 62 - the financial year we have just ended -to £157,000,000. Hire-purchase debts fell by £40,000,000. The banks were most liquid. Our external balances, a great source of anxiety to us only two years ago, rose and are healthy. And all of this has occurred, Sir, and is occurring in a period of stable price levels and stable monetary values. I say no more about the allegation that the Australian economy is stagnant. Most people in other parts of the world would love to live in a country with so stagnant an economy as is Australia’s.
I know that the professional task of honorable members opposite is, to use the old phrase, to cry stinking fish - to make everybody believe that the Australian people are in the depths of misery. The Opposition thinks that once it convinces the people that they are in the depths of misery, they will vote for Labour - you have to be pretty miserable to vote for the Labour Party, but that is what honorable members opposite are hoping for.
Now let me say something about the bases of our policy. The first item in our policy - this does not distinguish us from other people - is to build up Australia’s population. An increased population is vital to Australia. Whatever fluctuations may have occurred in our population, let me remind honorable members that in 1949 the population was a little more than 8,000,000, but to-day it is well over 10,500,000. Our second great objective is to maintain full employment of man-power and resources. The two things must go together if we are to develop Australia.
It is true that in January of this year 131,000 people were registered for employment, but last month that figure was down to 90,000. That is a magnificent reduction in that period of time. That process of reduction will continue. I do not need to be reminded that honorable members opposite will cry themselves to sleep if the number of persons unemployed declines to the point where it disappears, because then they will have lost their one great claim to statesmanship. The reduction in the number of persons unemployed has occurred with the full effect of the February measures obviously yet to be seen, and most obviously with the full effect of a £120,000,000 cash deficit yet to make its mark on the spending power and willingness to buy of the Australian community. Of course I am optimistic. The honorable member for Yarra, who obviously has never had to associate himself with the compilation of estimates, says: “ But your estimated figure for unemployment benefit is such and such. That means you have reconciled yourselves to a certain volume of unemployment.” I would be very sorry for the man who, having approached the Treasurer with an estimate of how much had to go out in unemployment benefit, had to go back and ask for more. Of course, when the honorable member for Yarra is older and wiser–
– When he is gre)- headed, like you! ,
– Yes, when he is greyheaded like me, or is the honorable member referring to the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds)? The fact is that confidence - the important element in putting all this purchasing power to work - is attacked and undermined by an Opposition which relies on unemployment to put it into office, but, as I gladly acknowledge from the honorable member for Yarra, not for three years - that is what I gathered from his remarks.
Our third objective is to restrain inflation. I did not hear anything about restraining inflation in speeches made by honorable members opposite. As far as one can judge, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition neither says nor cares whether anything is done about inflation. In fact, at one stage during his remarks, as cliche followed cliche I expected him to say that inflation was a bogy - but I have heard that one before. He seems to believe - presumably his party believes it too - that stability in the value of income of any kind and in costs is stagnation. This is something about which everybody should begin to think, ft is something about which I invite the people of Australia to think. Do they believe that stability in the price level - in the value of the money they receive and in the cost of things they buy - is stagnation? No sensible person could possibly believe it.
We have had eighteen months of stability in the consumer price index, and in that period we have conducted, or materially contributed to, some of the greatest works of development in the history of Australia. Far from believing that stability means stagnation, we have proclaimed that stability is a condition of growth and development. We have spent vast sums of money on the Snowy Mountains scheme, on the standardization of rail gauges, on a great project in Western Australia, on a now-completed programme in Victoria and on the Mount Isa railway. The latter is a very great enterprise involving the development of our copper resources and the export of copper from this country. We have given encouragement to the coal ports, and we have assisted the building of beef cattle roads in the north. It would be tiresome to list all the undertakings that this Government has helped. They are all in the minds of honor able members. The point I make is that those projects have been completed or undertaken by us in a period of stability, which the honorable member for Yarra continually confuses with stagnation.
Our next great objective is to see that there is a steady and strong growth of manufacturing in Australia, because manufacturing is one of the essential conditions of full employment in a growing population. Every honorable member knows that. There is a limit to the extent to which an increased population may find gainful employment in rural affairs. Everybody knows that. We must find employment in secondary industry and in tertiary industry for the fastincreasing population that is coming to this “ stagnant “ country.
Our next objective is to reduce costs of production or, alternatively, to prevent them from rising. I am speaking now about manufacturing industry. I remind honorable members that it is this Government that has introduced investment allowances to help manufacturing industry to improve its plant and to reduce its costs. It is this Government that has introduced export tax concessions in order to give material inducements to manufacturers to get into the export business and not leave it all to the primary industries. It is this Government that has expedited tariff procedures. It is this Government that has introduced provision for quota restrictions in selected cases of some urgency and particularity. It is this Government that has introduced export payments insurance in order to encourage export industries. I think it will be understood that all of those things have a great bearing on costs of production because if manufacturers in Australia developed a large export market their turnover would be greater, their unit costs would come down and they themselves would be able to resist other pressures upwards on the cost level. Therefore, the whole objective that we have, in the case of manufacturing, is to increase turnover, to facilitate the maintenance of plant efficiency and to reduce unit costs. With the primary industries, we have pursued, and are pursuing, corresponding policies.
Let me remind the committee - and I find that I need to remind the Deputy Leader of the. Opposition, because, from first to last, he had not a word or a thought to spare for the rural industries in Australia - that the exports of primary products by Australia produced most of the income which enables manufacturing industry to have the imports of plant and materials that it must have if it is to grow and to employ people. Here is- the perfect example of interdependence. Manufacturing industry needs materials. To a great extent still, it needs plant from overseas. It cannot buy plant and materials overseas unless we establish overseas credits by the export of primary commodities. As a result, the preservation of the primary industries and the strictest attention to their cost level have a direct bearing on the extent to which manufacturing industry can grow and employ the increasing population that 1 stipulated for at the very beginning.
So I can add, in the case of primary industry, also, that the avoidance of inflated costs is essentially related to increased productivity of the land. So far, the results, in terms of increased productivity, of the use of applied science or technology, have been quite remarkable, as has been the development of new and wider markets. All of these things are being attended to by this Government. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is a much-abused man. He has been responsible for some of these things. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has been responsible for others. I suppose that 1 may regard myself as the innocent bystander. These things have been done and arc being done by this Government. Yet, Sir, the problems of production, of costs and of export for both primary and secondary industries were not regarded as being worth five minutes’ time by the Opposition when it presented what I, in my innocence, regarded as the policy speech on behalf of an alternative government.
It is quite clear, as all honorable members who followed the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will remember, that the first fatal omission from that speech was his failure to say anything about rural costs. On the contrary, he advocated, in a rather broad and undetailed fashion, a policy of acute inflation, laughing at the idea that we need to worry about the stability of costs because, in his opinion, stability, if we achieve it, will be equivalent to stagnation. This is the thought right down in his mind, or in the minds of these academic observers and advisers of his.
I have stated the first thing omitted from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s speech. I am talking about major matters. The second thing is that there was in it not a word about the need to encourage the productivity of the export industries and to increase export income, because the Deputy Leader of the Opposition failed to realize that those two things are essential to full employment. Is this a draft of the policy of those who hope to form the next Labour government? If it is, let the man on the land in Australia take warning. He will be forgotten and irretrievably damaged, and full employment will be imperilled by lack of real nourishment for the great primary and secondary industries.
Sir, we hear a lot about full employment. We are asked questions about it now and then, and there are arguments about words. But full employment is not an artificial idea or something to be achieved by some sleight of hand, by some artifice on the part of a government. It is the desired end of national and industrial actions operating together to create a state of affairs in which people are employed because they are needed for work. In other words, you can look at full employment as if it were a theory, or you can look at it as the desired end of a great co-operative effort throughout the country - an effort in which action is productively directed and people are productively employed.
The next objective that we have in our policy, Sir, is to develop the basic resources of the country. Honorable members opposite would be hard put to it to deny that during our term of office the most astonishing development of these resources has occurred. This development is quite right, because basic resources and public works are the foundations of real growth in both the public and the private sectors of the economy. I have said this before, and 1 repeat it: I do not accept this artificial division of the economy between the public sector and the private sector. We look at the works programmes of the States and we think that they are very good programmes.
They are very good indeed. Without them and without our works programme, private industry could not grow. It could not employ people. It could not see them housed and provided with transport, schools and all the amenities of civilized society. So we must not draw these acute distinctions. But we must understand that if we are to have all these things, the roots of development must be deep in the soil of Australia. We must look at our basic resources, wherever they are, and expose them and use them in the service of the people of Australia.
Our next objective of policy, Mr. Chairman, is to raise the standard of living by massive assistance in housing, by the maintenance of industrial peace, by large and growing payments to the States for transport, schools and water supply, and by development generally. I lump those things together. I wish I had enough time and the committee had enough patience to enable me to take them one by one and analyse them, but I must lump them together for my present purpose. Assistance in each of these fields represents a powerful contribution to the improvement of the standard of living. In consequence of this assistance, the standard of living has actually been rising in this “ stagnant “ economy!
Next, Sir - I hope the Opposition will pay some attention to this - one of our great purposes has been to maintain the public credit so as to ensure the maximum capital raisings in Australia, a substantial inflow of capital, on both public and private account, from abroad, and, generally, Australia’s international financial repute. Nothing is more valuable to a country than a good reputation. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, speaking, I admit, with not too much knowledge about this matter, said that if we would give the Australian Labour Party the chance it would reduce the interest cost of raising money on the public account. That seems quite simple to do if you say it quickly. It is not so simple to do. As a matter of fact, it was quite wrong for him to say this, because he wanted to create the impression that there was an unduly high interest rate on public securities in Australia as compared with other countries. I will take the long-term yield, which always affords a basis of com parison. On the long term, twenty-year yield, what were the current figures in July of this year - that is, last month? They were: Australia, 5 per cent.; Great Britain, 6 per cent.; West Germany - no one has ever said that West Germany’s was a stagnant economy, for it has been throbbing with activity ever since the war - 6 per cent., not 5 per cent, as in Australia; and Canada, which has great access to powerful financial resources from the United States of America, 5+ per cent. Australia was the lowest of the lot.
Having made those remarks, I just want to make two particular comments. Time would not reasonably permit me to make more. First, we were charged the other night with callous treatment of the unemployed. I take it that that is the general belief of the Opposition. I hope that all honorable members on the Opposition front bench agree with that charge - callous treatment of the unemployed.
– That is an understatement.
– He will always rise if you cast the fly enough. “ That is an understatement”, says the honorable member for East Sydney. Well, well! Sir, I seem to remember that the Australian Labour Party was in office for a number of years - eight years. I remember that well, because 1 was sitting on the Opposition side of the chamber. The Labour Party was in office for eight years, lt was not notably deficient in talent, compared with those now on the Opposition side. Labour was in office for eight years, had majorities and ran the country. In 1949 - my year of grace, if I may put it that way - when Labour was still in office, there was substantial unemployment for a time. I am not worrying about-
– Of course you are not!
– I know that the unemployment arose primarily from a Communistinspired coal strike. But do not forget that right through the period there was some unemployment.
– Three hundred.
– You ought to study the figures. I defy you to find any time in the whole of that period when no people were registered as unemployed. There were masses of people unemployed. Anyhow, whether they were unemployed for a short time or a long time, or whether they were few or many-
– Many jobs were available.
– I am talking about people receiving unemployment benefit. Even you must understand that when they were drawing benefit they did not have a job; so let us discuss it in that way. Few or many, it does not matter; they were still unemployed. What did the Labour Party provide for them? The benefit for an adult or a married minor was 25s. a week and for a wife, £1.
– And it bought three times as many pounds of butter as your benefit will buy.
– The honorable member for Lalor will be advocating a reduction in the price of butter shortly. Really, Reggie, you must behave! Mr. Chairman, I know Opposition members want to interrupt the reception of this speech.
The benefit was 25s. for an adult or a married minor, £1 for a wife, 5s. for one child, nothing for any more children, and a permissible income of £1. This year, under this “ callous “ Government which does not care what happens to the unemployed - that was the phrase used by the Opposition, so we had better accept it-
– Who created the unemployment?
– Under this Government in 1962, no thanks to you, the adult or married minor receives, not 25s., but £4 2s. 6d.; the wife receives, not £1, but £3; each child receives 15s., not just one child receiving 5s.; and the permissible income is £2. Let me just summarize that. Labour provided for an unemployed man with a wife and two children, £2 10s. a week.
– You provided nothing in 1939.
– I know you do not like it, but for once in your life take it. I will repeat it.
– Why don’t-
– I will repeat it as long as the honorable member for Lalor does not want it to be heard.
– Order! I warn the honorable member for Lalor that he must cease interjecting.
– I know what happens the moment you get them like this. The moment you have them on the hip, they begin to say, “What did Lord Wellington say in 1832? “ This is the oldest debating exercise in the world.
– What did he say?
– I haven’t a clue. Probably all he did in 1832 was to vote against the Reform Bill.
I will repeat this; it will ultimately reach the public ear. Labour provided for an unemployed man with a wife and two children, £2 10s. a week, and permitted an additional earning of £1 a week. For the same family we provide, not £2 10s., but £8 12s. 6d., with permitted additional income of £2, not £1. It is of no use for honorable members opposite to say, “ Ah, but the cost of living has increased “. No increase in the cost of living that has occurred can explain the difference in the benefits paid. Opposition members have my deepest sympathy when confronted by these figures, when they have it demonstrated that this argument about callousness to the unemployed is hypocritical drivel. When this is demonstrated to them, of course, they run back and ask what happened in - oh, dear, dear!
The second particular comment that I want to make - I might well make 50, but I will limit myself - is that the honorable gentleman said in his projected budget there would be an emergency grant to the States for education. He did not give any details of this. I confess it puzzles me a little. An emergency grant! Docs he mean for one year? Does he think that a grant for one year will solve the problem? Or does he mean that it is to be permanent and therefore not an emergency grant? He really ought to tell us, I think, at some convenient time, which idea he has in his mind’.
But under this “ stagnant “ Government, in this “ stagnant “ period in Australian economic and social history, what has happened? In 1950, the States, which have the prime responsibility for education - greatly assisted by us. as I will show - were spending £46,000,000 on education. In spite of us and our villainy, in 1960-61, ten years later, they spent, not £46,000,000, but £184,000,000. This does not sound much like stagnation. From 1951, when we began it, to the current financial year, Commonwealth direct payments to State universities rose from £1,000,000 to just under £16,000,000, and our scholarship provision was multiplied four times. I will not take too much time on this, because I am preparing a statement which will show how much the Commonwealth contributes directly and indirectly to State education expenditure. The figures will show that in 1950-51 the Commonwealth component of the £46,000,000 that the States spent was £22,000,000, and that out of the current £184,000,000 the Commonwealth component was no less than £85,000,000. But, Sir, I will not anticipate because I think it is duc to the honorable members that I should have a paper prepared - and it is now well in hand - to deal with these matters.
I have briefly explained the objectives of our policy and I have explained them, I hope, in positive terms. We know quite well, if nobody else does, that in any country economic conditions will fluctuate. But that does not mean that a long-term policy cannot be pursued with vigour and determination provided that it is widely understood and that targets are clearly seen. If we compare our progress in Australia - this great country of ours - for the last decade with that of any other comparable country we shall se; that our advance has been steady and sure. True, we have recently had some recession of business activity - now recovering - and some unemployment. But this Budget, coming as it does on top of the liberal measures of a few months ago, is expansionary and will, subject to one element to which I shall refer again in a few minutes, facilitate a full return to a rapid but sound national growth. The large deficit of nearly £120,000,000 is, for reasons I have mentioned, calculated to stimulate this process.
Sir, our foundations are solid and sure Our overseas reserves and our balance of payments, which gave us great concern in the boom months of 1960, have been restored to health. The banking position and the availability of credit are both satisfactory. We have cost and price stability. The inflow of capital for Australian investment is being maintained. The public credit is high. We are confident of a good future, and we are determined to achieve it. Our task is not to produce a return to an inflation which, in its turn, could produce rapidly rising costs and prices with excessive labour turnover, inefficiency and damaging speculation. That that is not our task, I am happy to say, was recognized by every businessman and primary producer with whom we had discussions about six weeks ago.
Our duty is not negative but positive. It is to promote a climate favorable to rapid but sound growth of national resources and primary and secondary exports and the new and enlarged markets that we need in a changing and challenging world. To do all these things we must and will accept some risks, but not foolish risks. However the chances in this national adventure may fall, we do not propose ever to lose sight of the need for growth, which is supremely important, nor of the basic condition of growth, the preservation by the joint efforts of science, management and labour of a general cost level which will enable us to meet and overcome competition both at home and abroad in the products of our fields and factories.
Sir, before I conclude, may I say this: Much play has been made by our opponents, evidently unacquainted with the fact that the economy, as well as road transport, has its traffic problems, on the brilliant term “ stop-go “. Adopting this metaphorical expression I can say for the Government that, economically speaking, we shall drive ahead on the right road as fast as we sensibly can. We hope to have the green light with us. We may well occasionally see the amber light, which means caution, but we will not drive through the red light just because some passing pedestrian would regard that as a proof of liberal thought. 1 said that there was one element operating against a full return to speedy growth. That element is insufficient confidence up the line from consumer-buyer to manufacturer. For all the reasons I have mentioned, there should be to-day a powerful surge of confidence. Those who devote their major attention to the defects of our present position, and withdraw their attention from the real foundations of prosperity, do a great disservice to the nation. They promote in the public mind that very ill-founded uncertainty which is the sole remaining cause of the degree of unemployment that still exists. There is no room for pessimism in a country whose entire history is a triumph for hope and faith and confidence.
– Sir, I think, perhaps, the most singularly unfortunate remark of the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in a rather unfortunate speech to-night was made when he challenged the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), for once in his life, to stay and take it. I think that the right honorable member for Kooyong, on reflection, will agree that the honorable member for Lalor, throughout his career, has shown a considerable capacity to take it - a far greater capacity than the Prime Minister has ever shown. It will be interesting to see how long the Prime Minister stays to-night and takes it A second unfortunate remark was made by the Prime Minister to-night when, in a rare burst of candour, he said that it was easy to say something, but it was much more difficult to translate it into action. That is, of course, the epitome of the Government’s record.
To-night, we have had another exposition in words from the Prime Minister of all the things which the Government always talks of doing but which it has found it impossible to accomplish in twelve years. The committee will have noted that there was in the Prime Minister’s speech, tonight, no target date for the restoration of full employment in Australia. He gave a target date only a few months ago, but now there is none. He announced then that the Government confidently expected to restore full employment in Australia by the end of the present year. Now, with 90.000 registered unemployed, no reference whatever has been made to-night to a date for restoration of full employment.
The other most significant thing about the right honorable gentleman’s speech was that, although he had two days to study the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) he did not make one refutation of any fact or figure given by the Deputy Leader on Tuesday in one of the most telling indictments of any government ever made in this country. He did succeed in making a charge - unfounded - that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had totally failed to refer to rural policy.
– Quite right.
– I am sorry for the right honorable gentleman’s awkward and failing memory. May I remind the committee that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in his speech on Tuesday night, dealt with exactly the same rural matters as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) dealt with in his Budget speech, namely, conservation and beef roads. All the rural matters that the Prime Minister’s own Treasurer referred to in his Budget speech were referred to also by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Whatever the Prime Minister says in reproach of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is, of course, his clever and indirect reproach of his own Treasurer. But let us look at this thing a little more. If we accept the argument of the Prime Minister, and if the aim is to use our foreign earnings from the export of primary produce to finance capital imports for secondary industry, then import controls would obviously have been far better than the credit squeeze as a means of ensuring that the overseas earnings of this country were intelligently built, lt was the utter refusal of the Government to take those steps that has led to the position in which this country has floundered ever since. New Zealand - not under a Menzies government - has had full employment ever since 1938.
– Look at its economy.
– It has to-day an unemployment rate of one-quarter of I per cent. You ask me to look at its economy and I reply to you that New Zealand has not driven up rural costs. There is no member of the Country Party who will not agree that this Government, during its twelve years of office, has driven up rural costs - the costs of those who have to sell on the world markets - by far more than 100 per cent. New Zealand is fully able to compete in markets from which Australia has been driven in the last twelve years because of this Government’s inflationary policy.
– Why complain about stability?
– I will come to that in a minute. The only claim that the Prime Minister made that 1 think could not be refuted - he made it several times with great pride - was that during the term of his government the population of Australia had risen from 8,000,000 to something over 10,000,000. Of course, that has been done by the people of Australia despite the discouragement to the family given by this Government, which has picked out the family from every other section of the community by freezing the child endowment rates so that the assistance to families now is less than half what it was when the present Government came to power.
– You have the answer to that one.
– What is the answer?
– The Prime Minister has just told you.
– The honorable gentleman says the answer is that the population has increased, despite the refusal of the Government to do justice to the family. That, of course, is an utterly cynical and wicked outlook and I cannot imagine that any family man in Australia would support the honorable member in that altitude.
As for the stimulation of migration, the position is that migrants who are brought here, each at a cost of thousands of pounds, are now leaving this country. It is a very great pity to have to say so, but they are crowding every ship that leaves Australian ports. Passport photographers have told us that they cannot keep up with the crowd of people waiting to be photographed to get their passports to leave Australia. The honorable gentleman knows this to be a fact. Meanwhile, the head of the greatest finance house in one of the capital cities of Australia says that to-day his most persistent applicants for loans are people who wish to raise the money to enable them to return to their own countries because they cannot get the opportunity for useful employment in Australia. They are asking their fellow citizens in Australia to act as their guarantors for these loans so that they can return to their homelands.
I was amazed by the statement of the Prime Minister that the Opposition has now recognized that it cannot win. This statement comes very close to the Batman by-election. The Prime Minister to-night put the case for the Government - let us say he made the best of it - but it is certainly true that he has not stayed here more than five minutes to take it, as he implored the honorable member for Lalor to do.
Let us say that he has spoken to-night on behalf of the Government fearlessly. He stood on his record. He has taken up the Opposition’s challenge like a man who has nothing to hide. He invites the vote of the committee on the record of his Government. Indeed, he says he is prepared to stand or fall by it while the Opposition, he says, is frightened to face a test. Well, how noble that is! How admirable! Surely, then, this is not the same man who absolutely refuses to go into the electorate of Batman. But, alas, it is. There is going to be fought a by-election in which the people will be the judges, in which hard knocks will be given and taken, but where is the great leader that we saw to-night? He has taken refuge behind the barricade of volumes of “ Hansard “, between a battery of press secretaries, and he simply will not come out and face the people at any price whatever.
The soldiers of liberalism in the electorate of Batman are watching; the Australian Women’s National League is ready to man the polling booths; the bugles are sounding; the drums are beating; the banners are unfurled; but the magnificent champion has put his head beneath the bedclothes and cannot be dragged out. It is true that his lieutenants are trying to cajole him out. It has been a frightful shock to those backbenchers on the Government side who have long regarded him as their hero, but the fact is he has skied the towel, he has raised the white flag, he has declared Batman “ no fight “ in voluntary surrender before it has even begun - anything rather than face the people of Australia.
All that is very sad, I think, when you think of the glorious past of this right honorable gentleman. That might seem very puzzling unless you also understood the facts. It is said that to understand all is to forgive all, so let us try to understand. The fact is that in this chamber the Prime Minister can safely put on his exhibition, as we have witnessed him do to-night. But that is only shadow sparring. There is not a person who can hit him here. Here nobody can reach him because all he has to do is get up and walk outside and refuse to take it, as the people of Australia will have heard him do a few minutes ago. Here, because of the accident of the magnificent Killen and a few Communist preferences, the verdict is already given in his favour, and so he can posture and strut and prance and throw down his challenges. But in Batman the fight is real and the Prime Minister knows that he is likely to be knocked out of the ring.
In this almost evenly divided House another seat is obviously of the utmost importance to the Government. There is one thing, however, that is more important to the Prime Minister, and that is that he shall not be dragged into the country to face his masters, the people of Australia. Nothing will make him do so.
– Now get back to the Budget.
– The right honorable gentleman does not like it?
– I enjoy it.
– I thought he might. I did not think there was any love lost in that quarter. It might be said that Batman is an impregnable Labour stronghold. Even if that were so, it would not be sufficient reason for the Government’s decision. The Labour Party tackles all seats, and so would any party with a cause to believe in and a policy to fight for. You can study the whole history of federation and you will find that no previous Prime Minister has ever, in similar circumstances, run away as the right honorable member for Kooyong has done on this occasion. When you look at the voting figures in Batman, the position becomes even more illuminating. Although it is true that the late honorable member for Batman, Alan Bird, had a handsome majority as a result of a strong and richly deserved personal vote, the Senate voting in Batman at the last election was equal for the Labour Party and for the Liberal Party and the Democratic Labour Party combined. In the two State electorates which comprise the Federal electorate of Batman the Victorian Liberal Party has a handsome majority. There was a 5,000 majority for the Liberal member for Ivanhoe and a 3,000 majority for the Labour member for Northcote.
It is pertinent to this Budget and what the Government believes is before the people of Australia to show that the Prime Minister recognizes that discretion is indeed the better part of valour and that he knows that if he goes to this electorate he will be annihilated. He knows, and the Treasurer knows, that if that happened a situation would be created in his ranks such as was created in 1939-40 when his own party pushed him out of the Prime Ministership. So the Prime Minister is determined at any cost to remain in his position, no matter how great the personal humiliation that he suffers and the fate of his reputation with the Australian people. So he hands over the fight for Batman to his ally, the Australian Democratic Labour Party.
On Tuesday night Senator Cole issued a statement condemning this Budget. But in issuing that statement on behalf of the Democratic Labour Party Senator Cole condemned himself and every man associated with him, because but for the Democratic Labour Party this Government would not be in office to-day to put this Budget into effect, to the injury of the Australian people, as Senator Cole so clearly recognizes. I believe - I have heard it said - that he is a very sincere man and that he holds very firmly to the principles to which he is committed, but is it not a fact that this man who now recognizes the evil which this Budget is doing to hundreds of thousands of decent Australian citizens, has also been placed in his position in this Parliament by the votes of the very people whom he is now betraying by his support of this Government? As much as we can hold the Treasurer and the Prime Minister responsible for the policies which are causing suffering to the people of Australia, even more responsible is the Democratic Labour Party because, through it and through it alone, does this policy become possible.
On the electoral figures as between the Labour Party and the Liberal-Country Party coalition, the Liberal-Country Party coalition is in the minority by 300,000 votes. No wonder that the Treasurer is looking for some hope from a redistribution.
I shall quote some of the words which the Prime Minister used to-night. He said -
Last January the total of registered unemployed was 130,000. Now it has been reduced to 90,000. That is indeed a magnificent achievement.
There are 90.000 Australian workers unemployed and unable to obtain useful work so that they can support themselves and their families, yet the Prime Minister of Australia declares that to be a magnificent achievement! He said, “ So much has been achieved already “, as though he did not know what every one else in this Parliament knows - that you must hope for an improvement in the employment figures between now and next November. In December and January we shall have a vast army of young Australians, fresh from school, and universities, seeking their place. Unless we then have a far better state of affairs than 90,000 unemployed- unless that figure is reduced by at least one-half by November - unquestionably we shall again have 130,000 unemployed, or more, next January. The Treasurer knows, because he budgeted for it, that the Government is planning deliberately to provide for the needs of an average of 80,000 unemployed in every month of the present financial year, and of a minimum of 1 1 2,000 unemployed next January. That, then, is the Prime Minister’s magnificent achievement.
Let me quote another sentence from the Prime Minister’s speech. I believe that this man deceives himself more than any man in the history of public life in Australia has ever done.
– He has had a record term of office as Prime Minister.
– He has a record term of office as Prime Minister. I thank the Treasurer for that interjection. In total, the right honorable member for Kooyong has had fifteen years as Prime Minister of Australia and he has been Prime Minister continuously for over twelve years. Yet he has stated, “ We have had eighteen months of stability in the price level “. Eighteen months in over twelve years! And we still have mass unemployment. I shall quote the Prime Minister’s remarks again, because this was indeed an extraordinary speech that we heard to-night. He said -
Our immediate objective-
I cannot imitate the magnificent tone in which he said it - is to expand manufacturing in Australia because this will produce full employment. Our next objective is to get the costs of production down.
Well, have not those been exactly the Government’s objectives ever since it was first elected in December, 1949? Has not the Government proclaimed them in every Budget since them?
– There are 1 8,000 new factories.
– Yes, to produce full employment, yet unemployment stands to-day at 90,000 registered and at least 120,000 in total. The Prime Minister went on -
It has been the Government’s object every year, as the Treasurer has just admitted - has been to get the costs of production down and to get value back into the £1.
During this Government’s term of office, the cost of production has more than doubled and to-day the £1 is worth 7s. or 7s. 6d., compared with its value when Mr. Chifley was Prime Minister. Yet the Prime Minister hopes to delude the Australian people and to continue to have their faith when, for the thirteenth year in succession, he comes along and says -
Our immediate objective is to expand manufacturing in Australia because this will produce full employment. Our next objective is to get the costs of production down.
When will he stop talking and start doing something about it? Can anything be done? Does this Government know how to do it? Can this Government restore full employment? If it can restore full employment, why does it not do so? That is a very simple question. The Government has been aiming to do it for nearly thirteen years. It is still proclaiming its determination to do it. The Government claims that it knows how to do it. Then why does it not do it? There can be only two reasons for its failure - either sheer incompetence or dilatoriness, or a deliberate determination to keep a pool of unemployment in this country. It must be one or the other.
– Will you mention our export income this year?
– I will mention quite a few things if I have the time, but at the moment I want to quote what the Prime Minister has said, because he rebutted the charge that the Government has been guilty of callous treatment of the unemployed. He compared his Government’s treatment of the unemployed with the treatment meted out by a Labour government. Well, Mr. Chairman, I think the answer is very simple. In December, 1949, when this Government took office, the number of persons receiving unemployment benefit was 700. In July, 1962, it was 45,400, and we know that by December of this year, unless a tremendously successful effort is made, it again will be well over 100,000. It is true that we had unemployment for a couple of months in July and early August of 1949, due, as the Prime Minister admits, to a political conspiracy engineered by the Communist Party of Australia, always the greatest ally of the Liberal-Country Party coalition whether in or out of office. But there was no need to provide unemployment benefits on a scale which would give permanent subsistence to people because within a few weeks all of those unemployed were back in jobs.
The other part of the Prime Minister’s utterances that was so shockingly hypocritical was that in which he mentioned the rate of unemployment benefit, for which he claims so much credit for his Government. Those rates were not established until February of this year. The people have had the benefit of those rates for six months out of twelve and a half years. He was forced to increase the rates to their present levels solely as a result of an evenly divided Parliament after the last election, and he uses them as the basis for a completely false argument to bolster his contention that his Government has treated the unemployed better than they were treated by the Labour Government.
There was no callous treatment of unemployed by a Labour government because there was no unemployment. The Labour government came to office after the defeat of a Liberal government, headed by the present Prime Minister, at a time when fourteen out of every 100 Australians were unemployed. When the Labour Government relinquished office there were only 700 registered unemployed in the whole of the Commonwealth.
Let me pursue a little further the argument that the Prime Minister put to the committee to-night. The level of savings shows that the crisis is not a crisis of purchasing power, he says, but rather of confidence. The Treasurer admitted that in the first paragraph of his speech. The crash in the value of shares - and shares have declined in value even further every day since this Budget was introduced-
– Yes, that is right. As I say, the crash in the value of shares has involved thousands of people, who normally support this Government, in heavy losses.
The Prime Minister to-night blamed the Australian people for their lack of confidence. He reproached them for it. He said there was no cause for their lack of confidence. He was angry and disappointed about it. Does he not realize what the people of Australia are increasingly coming to realize - that the lack of confidence is due to his leadership and to the lack of a consistent policy by his Government? Does he not realize that it is due to the unpredictability of Government policy? That is what has shattered confidence. In February of 1960, just over two years ago, we saw the lifting of import restrictions. In November of 1960, a few months later, there were further restrictions of imports by means of increased sales tax and credit restrictions. In February of 1961 the increased sales tax was removed and a credit squeeze imposed, designed to curb a boom in Melbourne and Sydney but applied uniformly throughout the whole of Australia, causing tremendous injury to Queensland particularly, and to other States. What forced the Government finally to do something for Queensland? It was no decision of policy but the result of an election in which the Government met a shattering defeat in Queensland. That is the only kind of event, I am sure, that will ever force this Government into action.
In the few minutes left to me I should like to quote further from the Prime Minister’s speech to-night. He praised the Government for budgeting this year for a cash deficit of almost £120,000,000. He said that instead of being timorous the Government is engaging in adventurous finance. He said its effect will be splendidly expansionary. This is the same Prime Minister who, when the Labour Party proposed a cash deficit of £100,000,000 just a few months ago, said that if Labour’s policy was carried out it would increase unemployment. He said, “ Where will the Leader of the Opposition get the money? He will not be able to get enough money to finance his policy unless he forces upon the Reserve Bank the creation of vast sums of money, unmatched by new production.”
– lt was £300,000,000.
– No, the Prime Minister was referring to the Labour Party’s proposal for a cash deficit of £100,000,000. Please let me read on. He said that increased expenditure without increased taxation - does that ring a bell with the Treasurer? - is the definition of a vast system of inflationary finance. How can he pretend to hope that the people of Australia will have confidence in a leader of this country who is capable of such flagrant contradictions as that which is apparent in his differing attitudes within a period of a few months?
What new item of policy will he bring on next? Only of one thing can we be certain: If this Budget stands, unemployment will increase to the point at which a further budget and a change of policy will be necessary next February.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) is noted for his misrepresentations, and to-night he has taken his usual course of misrepresenting the facts. Perhaps this tendency of his comes from living in Canberra, without seeing much of the other parts of Australia, and from having a forum of his own on radio and television, with nobody to pick him up on errors or to contradict him. As usual, the honorable member falls into error, and to-night we heard him, again as usual, presenting something less than the truth.
The honorable member said that there are 90,000 unemployed now, and that the Government had promised there would be no unemployed by the end of the year. Let me remind him that there were about 130,000 unemployed in February, and that the number has now dropped by about 40,000. This is the time of the year when unemployment is at its worst. August is the worst month, because it is at the end of winter, at the end of a time when there is little movement of money in the community. If we find that in August there has been a reduction of 40,000 in the number of unemployed, after continued reductions month by month, then we must conclude that there is hope and confidence in the community.
But of course it would not suit the honorable member to face this fact, because it is important for the Labour Party to encourage unemployment, to be calamity howlers and to whinge and to destroy the beginnings of returning confidence when we are pulling out of the situation that existed in 1960.
The honorable member said that there were 700 unemployed when we took office, but he forgot to mention that there were 700,000 a few months before. He also forgot to mention that industrial lawlessness was so bad that very few people could work. There were strikes in every direction. The honorable member failed to mention that during that dreadful period from June to August, 1949, which marked the swansong of the Labour Government, of which he was a supporter, troops were sent to the coalfields, the miners’ leaders were put in gaol, and the Coal Industry Act was enforced, resulting in the freezing of union funds and the taking away of strike pay from the women and children, the most brutal and savage attack that was ever made on trade unions. This attack was launched by a government some of the members of which are still sitting on the other side of this committee. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) was a member of that government, and he and his colleagues should be ashamed. These things were not mentioned in the remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro.
We also had from the honorable member a hate session directed at the Democratic Labour Party. This had nothing whatsoever to do with the Budget. It was just the expression of a sort of frustrated fury against the D.L.P. for having prevented the Australian Labour Party from taking office. Why did the D.L.P. prevent the Australian Labour Party from getting in? It was because the members of the D.L.P. were honest men. They disclosed the communism that existed amongst members of the Labour Party. We saw what happened in this very chamber when the seven men stood up and opened their shoulders and told the truth about communism in the Labour Party. It was because the D.L.P. is composed of honest men that it prevented the Australian Labour Party from coming to power. [Quorum formed.]
This is a budget of consolidation. It is designed to carry on an economy which is one of the soundest in the world. The economy which the Budget consolidates, strengthens and maintains is responsible for balanced development in Australia. Enormous sums have been invested in the great industrial projects that we know so well in New South Wales from Port Kembla to Newcastle. Fabulous sums have been invested in the steel industry and manufactures, and employment is rising continually.
This Budget also allows the Government to put aside large sums for development in the north. We will not reap great dividends immediately but will do so in the future. This Budget will allow the nation to see, not so much an economic result, but a political meaning from the development of our resources. The Government has set aside large sums of money for settlement in northern Australia. Very little was said about these matters by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam).
Australia is remarkable to those who visit it. When a party of Indians came here recently, they said that this was a country where there was no poverty. They said that the standard of living was so high that they did not know how it was supported by the resources of the people.
This Budget means security for the immense resources of Australia. The people live a healthy, free life. It is a country where the boys and girls have a chance to study and rise to the top of the tree, lt is probably one of the few countries in the world where that can still happen. It is a place where any one can find the four freedoms and the pursuit of life, liberty, health and happiness. It is a tourist’s paradise. Whether it is summer or winter, there is heat and sunshine on any day of the year in some part of Australia.
It is a place of beautiful landscapes where roads are being built so that the people can go to any part of it. What Flinders called the “ Fairy Coast “ of Australia can be reached by any person who has a job and who has saved up for a motor car. It is a healthy sporting country renowned all over the world for vigorous, healthy bodies and wonderful sportsmen. It is a place where those from the old country and Europe have mixed with our people into a great hybrid community, enterprising and as strong as the old countries of the world when they received an infusion of new blood. Australia is a place of agricultural and pastoral resources with a potential that staggers the imagination. Through difficult periods, we have been able to spare large sums of money to develop Australia.
On Tuesday night we heard a speech from the new hope of the Australian Labour Party - the honorable member for Werriwa, who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He is a man who studies his work, but he lacks the sincerity of the real Labour man who comes from the trade unions. He is the academic type. When he speaks, he sounds as if he does not believe the story himself. There were so many inaccuracies in the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that he must be answered. The honorable gentleman said -
Let me take another example in immigration, one of the foundations of expansion in Australia since the war and the result of a Labour government’s vision and drive.
A few minutes later, one of his supporters, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) said -
Every one knows that the immigration scheme is becoming a dead economic loss to Australia. . . When I say that immigration is proving to be a dead loss, I mean that it costs thousands of pounds to bring individuals to Australia, to absorb them into our community and to provide the services that they require. . . . However, I say that, until such time as the Government’s undertaking on full employment is fulfilled, we should concentrate only on re-uniting families and bringing in single women to balance the sexes and skilled men for whom there are work vacancies which cannot be filled by people already in Australia.
So two of the leading members of the -Labour Party are completely at variance on one of the main planks of the party. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that immigration was one of the main planks of the Labour Party. The honorable member for East Sydney - a much older man with greater experience in the Labour Party - has said that immigration is a dead economic loss. Those are tha two conflicting views in the Australian Labour Party. I ask: What is the policy of the Labour Party on immigration? On the same night, within one hour, two men speaking on behalf of the Labour Party expressed completely different views on this one point.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition then made some comments which must be dealt with here. He said the Government had no defence policy and that the Labour Party would re-organize our defences. It is interesting to study a few figures to see what the Labour Party really did and to ascertain whether the people would trust the Opposition on defence matters. The defence vote fell under the Chifley Government from £124,000,000 to £74,000,000, to £61,000,000 and then to £55,000,000. As a matter of fact, the sale of war materials brought in more than the cost of defence. The Chifley Government got rid of great masses of material, sold it cheaply and took the proceeds into Consolidated Revenue. Then it began to destroy the defence machine.
Would the members of the defence forces and the people of Australia trust the Deputy Leader of the Opposition - the man wilh a glib, slick approach to these things - when he says that there should be a better defence force in Australia? The Labour Party has shown and has said that it will reduce the defence forces to nothing in order to bolster expenditure on social services. So the Opposition cannot be trusted on that point.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that this Government should have a policy on overseas trade. In 1957, this Government initiated the Japanese Trade Agreement. Every member of the Labour Party except the Leader of the Opposition spoke against it in extravagant language. Speaker after speaker said it would mean ruin and devastation for Australia, and that it would put hundreds of thousands of men out of work. We have seen the result. It was completely opposite to the prophecies of the Opposition and a triumph for the Japanese Trade Agreement. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition would have the people believe that this Government has not looked for trade. I invite honorable members to examine the figures.
In the year when the Japanese Trade Agreement was introduced, our trade with Japan was worth £70,000,000. It has grown in successive years from £103,000,000 to £135,000,000 and then to £161,000,000, and this year it will be worth £187,000,000. Our trade with Japan has grown threeandahalf times since the agreement began to operate and not any appreciable damage has been done. In the instances where it has begun to do damage, steps have at once been taken to ensure that no further damage would be done. The question of trade with Japan brings up the question of trade with Asia, the Pacific area and, of course, the United States of America. In five years, the value of this trade has gone up from £290,000,000 to £528,000,000. It includes the very lucrative meat trade with the United States, the value of which has gone up from £1,000,000 to £45,000,000 in those five years. I believe that this year the value of that meat trade will be £70,000,000 or £80,000,000. So we are expanding our trade in the Pacific area. Wc have managed to get over £500,000,000 worth of trade from the area already, and the figure is rising rapidly. That is being done at the expense of our traditional trade with the countries of Europe, which has been falling slowly. That is the answer to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who says we ought to go out and make trade agreements. The honorable gentleman knows - at least, he was careful not to speak against it - the folly of Labour’s attack on the Japanese Trade Agreement.
He also said that we ought .to be ashamed of our education policy. This evening the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) told us that, in payments to the States for the purposes of education, the Commonwealth expended from Consolidated Revenue and from loan funds about £45,000,000 in 1950. Last year, the expenditure was £184,000,000 and it is expected that this year it wil be close to £210,000,000. So expenditure by the Commonwealth in that field has risen fivefold. Annual expenditure on the recommendations of the Universities Commission, which did not exist when the Labour Government was in power, has gone up from about £900,000 twelve years ago to £8,000,000 this year. In addition, there is an amount of about £5,000,000 a year for buildings and furnishings. The universities and the schools have never had it so good. That gives the lie to what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said about education.
Then there is the question of industrial peace. In this regard, we are told that this Government’s record has not been as good as could be desired. When Labour was in office, the number of working days lost was about 2,000,000 per annum. The man-days lost per wage and salary earner were sometimes one a day a year, and at least .7 days a year. The figure for working days lost has been falling year by year to” 1,000,000, 600,000, 400,000 and 300,000, in round figures. The number of lost man-days per wage-earner has fallen to .124 a year. The older people in this country, who remember the Labour Government’s regime, know that you cannot have industrial peace under Labour. There was a complete break-down of work under the Labour Government, culminating in the tragic year 1949, in blackouts, black markets, rationing, strikes, shortages, heavy unemployment and the dreadful things I mentioned a moment ago that happened to the people who were the leaders of the coal-miners.
When the Prime Minister said that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had not mentioned rural industries, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro said that the Prime Minister had not once mentioned tha words “ rural “, “ farm “ or “ export “, and he went on to say that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had used the words “ beef roads “ and another term which I forge!. He then charged the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) with not saying anything about rural industries. That, of course, was a false charge. The honorable member was indulging in his usual misrepresentation. The Treasurer, in his Budget speech, said -
A third anxiety, very different from the rest, was that something would be done, or allowed to occur, that would jeopardize stability, start prices and costs rising again and unhinge our balance of payments. The spokesmen for rural industry were very strong on this. 1 suppose that the greatest thing this Government has done for Australia has been to achieve stability - not stagnation - industrial peace and law and order, so tha? costs in the rural industries could be held and the farmers could go on producing and expanding their production. We are told by the new manager of the Australian Wool Bureau that the overseas demand for Australian wool will probably double in four years. That, of course, will require an enormous increase in our sheep numbers. This country will be able to do that, so long as it gets the fertilizers it needs. In the course of his speech the Treasurer said, further -
I am now pleased to be able to announce that, following discussion with the Queensland Government, we are including in the Budget this year an amount of £1,750,000 to assist in financing the first stages of a scheme to open up and develop to full production a vast area of the rich brigalow lands in the Fitzroy basin of central Queensland.
A number of members of the Parliament went with me last year to the Fitzroy basin district. We saw the almost incredible resources of that place, which this Government is taking the lead in opening up. That is something else that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro did not mention in relation to the Budget. The Treasurer also said -
In the rural field, seasonal conditions have so far been favorable in most areas. The wool clip is estimated to be slightly larger than last year, when it was a record.
There has been a steady increase in total wool production and in the production per sheep. The standards of living in the world generally are rising, so that people can buy more wool for clothing. The central theme of the policy of this Government is the encouragement of the rural industries. The Government is prepared to bend over backwards to make certain that there will be a great export income for Australia. I think the rural industries know that if they were entrusted to the tender mercies of a Labour government, with its Communist friends in the background, they could fold up and forget about increasing production. We have heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition talk about stagnation in this country.
Let us look at some figures in order to see whether they show a stagnation of the economy. We see an expenditure of £8,100,000 on the Mount Isa to Townsville railway this year, £1,500,000 on cattle roads in Queensland, £1,750,000 on the brigalow lands in Queensland, £4,300,000 on railways in Western Australia and £1,400,000 on the development of the north-west of Western Australia. A few days ago some of us were privileged to see this development going on. We saw a complete change from frustration, cynicism and disillusionment under a Labour Administration to confidence, vigour and renewed hope. People now want to go to the north of Australia to develop it.
There will be an expenditure of £1,000,000 on cattle roads in the Northern Territory. Eventually there will be a vast network of roads throughout the north of Australia. To-day, more than half the beef that comes from the northern areas is carried on these roads, with double the previous turn-off from the properties concerned. Now the people of Australia are going up there, on these roads, to see the country. The process of development began when our troops had an opportunity to see this part of Australia during the war and abandoned the idea that you cannot live in the north of Australia. Of course, you can, with the development of airconditioning and other modern amenities. With these amenities, life in the north of Australia will be something to be desired instead of being something abhorrent, as it was in the past. So we have a breakthrough and a crash programme in north Australia.
The picture of Australia at present is very different from that painted by the calamity howlers and critics on the other side of the chamber, who have done everything possible to prevent the spread of confidence and vigour. Every now and again we hear words fall from their lips which show they are afraid that unemploy ment will go down and employment will go up. They have only one end in view. Their thoughts are dominated by the lust for power, their disappointment at not getting power and their hatred of the Democratic Labour Party. That is inherent in everything that is said by honorable members opposite. The Government has provided £1,300,000 to South Australia for diesel locomotives and wagons. It has provided almost £7,000,000 to subsidize the search for oil in Australia and assisted with seismographic surveys and soon this country ought to have a very valuable oil industry.
Is that a record of stagnation? Does that show the Labour Party is speaking the truth? Of course not! The remarks of honorable members opposite are incredible and disgraceful. The Labour Party would never be able to encourage vigour and hope in this country. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition told us that if Labour were in power it would seek the co-operation of business leaders. Does anybody imagine that the Labour Party would obtain the co-operation of doctors who refused to be a party to Labour’s national health scheme? Would Labour obtain the co-operation of the leaders of industry who are now able to invest with confidence in a stable economy? Labour would get no such co-operation. The Opposition claims that the Government’s policy is a stop-and-go policy, but let me remind honorable members that the economy did come to a halt in the last six months of the Chifley regime. The economy ground to a halt and could not start again except with a 10 per cent, increase in inflation. Australia had the highest rate of inflation of any country when this Government came to power. This Government struggled with that inflation for years and has at last got on top of it, and now the Labour Party sneers at the Government’s success.
A few years ago, when this Government was struggling with the inflation that it inherited from Labour, the Opposition was screaming about putting value back into the £1. Honorable members opposite do not say anything about that now. Instead, they claim that the economy is stagnant because value has been put back into the £1 and because the people have the highest real wage that they have ever had in our history. In fact, their wage is one of the highest real wages of any country. The people have more cars, better homes and a higher standard of living to-day than they ever had under Labour.
The Opposition continually endeavours to belittle this Government’s achievements. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition wanted to know how much was to be spent on public works. He could ascertain the information simply by looking at the papers tabled last Tuesday night by the Treasurer. When Labour was in power in 1945 Commonwealth payments to the States for public works amounted to £4,000,000. To-day the figure is £204,000,000-51 times as much. That sum comes directly from revenue. Payments under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement have increased from £6,000,000 in 1945 to £45,900,000 to-day - to about seven times as much. The total spent on public works and housing has increased in the same period from £10,000,000 to almost £250,000,000, or by 25 times. That is the answer to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
In 1947-48, under a Labour government, borrowings approved by the Australian Loan Council amounted to less than £20,000,000. This year the amount is £132,000,000 or six and a half times as much. A tremendous amount of revenue is being spent on public works. Those public works are being financed not only out of loans to the States - and the Commonwealth leaves the whole loan field in this respect for State works - but also from revenue.
It is worthy of note that since the unfortunate death of Mr. Chifley the Labour Party has not had a representative in this place able to handle financial matters. I understand that the Australian National University, embarrassed by the lack of financial understanding and economic knowledge in the ranks of the Labour Party, has offered to provide assistance. Members of the academic staff of the university are prepared to write speeches for honorable members opposite because they are shocked to find that Her Majesty’s Opposition in this Parliament is unable to put forward a sound financial argument.
All that honorable members opposite can do is misrepresent the true position and destroy the confidence of the people. They say dishonest things about the community and exult over the unemployment situation. They try to sabotage the community and they blame the Government for the shortcomings that have been created by their own despicable efforts.
.- The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) had a lot to say about misrepresentation. He mentioned that 90,000 people were unemployed at present and that in February of this year 130,000-odd were unemployed. He claimed that between last February and the present time 40,000 persons had been returned to work. The honorable member should take the advice that he gave to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser); he should get out of the Macarthur electorate and move about among the people. Apparently the honorable member has not heard of seasonal work, which has accounted for the employment of a great many of the 40,000 persons to whom he referred. I base that remark not on my own ideas but on statements made on more than one occasion by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Mc Mahon).
The honorable member for Macarthur spoke of the dishonesty of the Labour Party about the position in 1949 when there were strikes, particularly on the coal-fields, and when a great many persons were unemployed. But he did not say anything about a former Liberal Party Minister - now Lord Casey - who met in Newcastle a lodge secretary who was a well-known Communist. That former Minister came to some agreement with that man, but the honorable member for Macarthur said nothing about that. That was the effort made by a representative of this Government, which claims to be against the communism that went out to fight Labour in the 1949 coal strikes.
I would be wasting time if I dealt at length with the inaccuracies in the speech made by the honorable member for Macarthur, but I cannot help referring to one matter. The honorable member spoke about the marvellous schools that had been built with the assistance provided by this Government. He referred to the beautiful universities that have been built. I suggest that the honorable member visit some of those schools, as I have done. I suggest that he visit some of our universities, as I have done. I suggest that he pay heed to what the people attending those universities think about the conditions that exist in them. They are understaffed and ill-equipped. In many instances the boys and girls attending our universities cannot make full use of the university libraries because they do not contain the books that the students need. If the students can find the books they want, they cannot find a place in which to study them. That is a measure of the marvellous things that happen in our universities. I have seen army barracks and igloos erected and called schools. I admit that in education the Government has faced a problem because of the increase in population, but let us not make false claims about marvellous buildings that do not exist.
Let me turn now to the Budget. It presupposes that any economy short of keeping 100,000 people out of work is a bad economy. The Budget presupposes that stagnation of public works and lack of provision for new development at any level outside Canberra is disastrous. Does the Government believe that sheer neglect of education at all levels is necessary for stability? The Government’s cynicism in regard to public health is nothing short of irresponsibility. Has this Administration concerned itself at all about the shortage of hospitals in Australia. We have heard mention of what Government supporters claim is a great health scheme. They tell us that we have a marvellous health scheme. But it is a scheme that makes the medical profession, at least, very wealthy and the working man afraid of falling sick. That is the way I see it as a result of the experience that I have had with it, Mr. Temporary Chairman. This Government’s disregard of the national need of health services for aged persons and widows and their children leads one to think that Shylock was perhaps the soul of generosity. The contempt in which the Government holds Australia’s best citizen - the family man - is little short of criminal. That contempt is fathered by the Government’s incompetence and deliberate neglect.
These matters represent only some of the facets of national planning that were forgotten by the Government in the pre paration of this Budget. We hear a great cry from the Government about an undue lack of confidence. Government supporters have said a great deal about the undue lack of confidence by businessmen and industrialists who, no doubt, have caused the Government some embarrassment by exhibiting a lack of confidence in it. The Opposition’s efforts to make the Government see the difficulties that these people are faced with have been sneered at, but is it any wonder that signs of the lack of confidence are seen everywhere in the streets, when the Government itself has led the van in defeatism by its neglect of important planning for the future?
Is it any wonder that there is a lack of confidence in the Government when the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) produces a budget that obviously exhibits a fear of progress and when, like a nagging woman, he harps on booms and bursts, which have been so evident in the national picture over the last twelve years or more under the administration of this Government, which fears prosperity? I am not surprised that a government composed of parties which were so unimaginative and so far removed from reality in war-time as to produce a defence plan based on the Brisbane line has been unable to do better than produce an economic defence plan of parallel stupidity. Is it any wonder that private enterprise is uncertain about the future This lack of confidence is borne out in the latest survey by the Department of Trade.
Taking only one instance, I refer to the timber industry, which has been thrown to the wolves in the last few years. This industry directly employed some 60,000 persons throughout Australia, although, indirectly, it provided employment for many more than this, when we take into consideration the trades and industries associated with it. This industry has recently been under review by the Government, and quantitative restrictions on timber imports have been introduced to afford a little protection to some of the remaining operators. But the Government has failed entirely to do anything about a particular section of the industry - the veneer section - which has been pleading for almost three years for assistance. The veneer section of the industry was thriving at one stage, and produced an excellent product that was sold entirely on the home market. Yet that section of the industry was thrown to the wolves in spite of its appeals, and it is now in a sorry plight, because there has been inflicted on it a government-made recession which has been brought about by unrestricted imports not only of veneers but also of other timbers - -imports against which the Australian timber industry formerly had some measure of protection under the tariff laws.
At this point, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I should like to undertake a short review of this deep-freeze Budget that holds business at a standstill. R must be remembered that this country is only now beginning to recover from the Government’s self-made slump of 1961. This Administration’s completely cavalier attitude towards the needs and requirements of this great country has delivered a heavy blow at confidence. So I say to the people of Australia: Do not expect any more than you have had from this Government, which has treated you with so much contempt in the past and which believes that it can still get away with this attitude in the future. I believe that a little imagination and a little confidence on the Government’s part would be the greatest possible shot in the arm for Australia, for we have much work to do to develop this country. If Australia is to stand on its own feet - and developments in the European Common Market require just that of this nation if it is to survive - we must work, and we must have a government that is prepared to allow us to work. Our internal economy must be reviewed and we must regain some of the spirit that prevailed in our Australian armed forces - a spirit of confidence in which there was faith in our ability to bring to bear imagination and initiative when required. This spirit must permeate the thinking of those who administer Australia and have its welfare in their hands now and in the future.
May I point out to the Government some of the ways and means by which our internal economy can be strengthened. 1 refer in particular to the conservation and development of great untapped wealth of the eastern coastal belt. We see in that region a rich, undeveloped area that is capable of producing timber, cattle, dairy products, sugar, minerals, vegetables, fruit and many other commodities that are so necessary for the country’s welfare. I pro pose to outline some of the problems of that area, about which this Government has refused to do anything.
First, 1 shall deal with floods. They have caused great damage throughout Australia, particularly in the eastern coastal belt. The Hunter valley perhaps stands out as the most significant area in Australia in terms of flood damage. Losses have never been fully assessed. Press reports in February, 1955, at the time of very severe floods, put the Josses sustained in that valley at about £10,000,000-£5,000,000 in Maitland and the surrounding areas, £2,000,000 in Singleton and the surrounding district, and £3,000,000 at Muswellbrook, Scone and Denman and in the rest of the valley. The reason for such great damage lies in the combination of swiftflowing large bodies of flood water and relatively dense settlement in the area. Not only are alluvial flats used for intensive agriculture, but also parts of Maitland, Singleton and other towns are actually situated in the flood channels of the Hunter River. Moreover, in the last 47 years, the valley has averaged a major flood nearly every alternate year - in 21 of the last 47 years - culminating in the record damage in the flood of February, 1955, the latest for which accurate figures are available. Since then, there have been quite a few more floods.
In February, 1955, the total flood flow reached some 2,000,000 acre-feet and the peak flow was at the rate of more than 12,000 tons a second. The frequency of fast-moving, high-volume floods, in conjunction with the unfortunate siting, as it is now seen, of major towns, is at the root of the Hunter valley’s marked susceptibility to major flood damage. Since the valley is the location of a key communications route and is a food-producing area, the effects of a bad flood there are soon felt throughout New South Wales. When floods occur, Sydney’s milk and vegetable supplies, as well as those of Newcastle, are sharply cut. Usually, scarcities and high prices follow and road and rail traffic to the north and the north-west may be delayed for weeks or else may have to be diverted via long and costly alternative routes. In short, floods on the Hunter River attack a most vital organ of our economy. - The coastal valleys of the whole of northern New South Wales, extending right to Queensland, and principally those of the Macleay, Clarence, Richmond and Tweed rivers, also, have been hard-hit in recent years by floods. On the Richmond and Clarence rivers, there have been two heavy floods this year. The average frequency of flooding on these more northern streams, however, is not as frequent as is that on the Hunter River. In the 90 years up to 1953, the Macleay River had six major and eight medium floods, lt does not flood so frequently as the Hunter floods. However, when it floods it certainly does a great deal of damage. Floods on the Macleay are particularly savage and, since much of Kempsey straddles the river’s main flood channel, that town is usually severely damaged.
It is no accident that these coastal streams are so susceptible to flooding. Their susceptibility is due to the combination of their conformation- and the kinds of storms that occur in the area. Most of the streams drain large areas of country in their upper reaches; so that, after heavy rain, great volumes of water flowing through the tributaries converge on the main channel of the river in its middle and lower reaches. Most of the upper reaches are in the hills; so that rainfall is heavy. On the steep slopes, run-off is rapid. Floods occur frequently on the Hawkesbury, the Clarence and other rivers in New South Wales also.
Never at any time has any Government supporter seen fit to ask the Government to do something to mitigate this flooding and the consequent heavy damage. I know that honorable members opposite have talked of this Government’s proposals for the development of Queensland. The honorable member for Macarthur, for example, had much to say about grants for the provision of roads for the transfer of beef cattle. The people of Queensland fortunately woke up to this Government. Money was granted for development in Queensland only because the Government failed to win votes in that State at the last election. People in other States are beginning to feel that they should act as the people in Queensland acted. We on the north coast of New South Wales are not very worried at this stage. We believe that money will be granted for development work in our area either because this Government will become afraid of losing votes there or a Labour government will take office.
– A Labour government has been in office in New South Wales for 21 years, but it has made a mess of things.
– The honorable member for Lyne is in an area that has been flooded many times. Although he has been a member of this Parliament for many years, he has failed to mention this fact. If I know the honorable member, he will not mention it.
– Have you read all his speeches?
– I do not have to read his speeches to make my speeches. I know the honorable member. If something is not done about the work I have mentioned, the honorable member for Lyne will have to answer to his constituents.
– I have spoken about it before.
– I am very sorry to learn that a Government supporter has spoken about this matter so often, and made such brilliant speeches, without persuading the Government that it should act. That is a tragedy. There is every reason why something should be done about this matter. The honorable member for Lyne has said that he has pleaded with the Government. Apparently the Government takes no more notice of him than it does of the wisdom that comes from Opposition members.
I have raised this matter with the Government in questions I have placed on the notice-paper, but I have been told that the Government is not interested. I hope the people of New South Wales at the next election do as the people in Queensland did at the last election. In the last ten years in the Clarence River area some £2,500,000 has been lost in milk production. That is enough to pay for the scheme that is needed there. The State Government will pay some of the cost and has asked for a £l-for-£l grant, but that has been refused. I hope the honorable member for Lyne will press this matter.
The work I have mentioned is important to Australia. We must undertake this type of work if we wish to survive. I raise this matter now not in opposition to the Budget but in an effort to help the Government improve the Budget. These are not joking matters. We should not sneer about them, but we should implement these schemes. The people living in the coastal area of northern New South Wales have been denied the development that they need. When the people of Queensland were denied development that they needed, they rose up at the last election and showed the Government that they wanted some attention. They certainly received it! There is no doubt in my mind that money is being spent in Queensland on beef roads, the Mount Isa railway and so on only for political expediency.
However, the real issue in this debate is the Budget. Any government that is not prepared to accept its responsibility is not worth calling a government. If the unemployed were given the work that I have mentioned, something tangible would result from the expenditure of money. Instead of having to pay £5 or £6 a week to an unemployed man with a wife, the money would be available to be given as a special grant to the States. The States recently were given money which was passed on to shire councils. The councils used the money to give decent work to unemployed persons in their areas. These people were given the opportunity to earn money. We are in a terrible and a shocking position when men in the community who are prepared to work are denied the opportunity to work.
If the money were made available, work could be commenced on flood mitigation schemes, roads and other similar activities. This would bc a productive use of money. Instead, money is being paid in unemployment benefit, and this does not produce any return. Work should be found for the unemployed. We must never forget that people who were on the dole during the last depression went into their Happy Valleys. Men ran about the country like hungry wolves, looking for work and for something to eat Their wives and children lived in shanty towns. This was an indictment of the government of the day. If the type of thinking that led to this result ever becomes common again, I will be sorry for Australia and Australians. I sincerely hope that the Government will act as I have suggested. It should give money to the shire councils, which are always financially embarrassed, to do the work that is so necessary in their areas. This would lead to the development of Australia as Labour would hope to have it developed.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I want to take the opportunity to-night to speak about olive growing, the manufacture of olive oil and the preserving of olives in Australia. At the outset, I would like to pay a tribute to Sir Frank Meere, who on 31st May, in a report of the Special Advisory Authority, recommended measures under the Tariff Board Act which will give some relief to this industry. However, only more drastic protection from overseas imports will prevent the industry from going out of existence.
In 1959, 7,840 acres were in use as olive plantations. This acreage has since increased. As you know, Mr. Speaker, South Australia is one of the main olivegrowing areas in Australia. One-third of the Australian crop comes from South Australia. I propose to give a few facts about the industry as it exists in that State, and about one of the companies in my electorate. This company is one of the largest in South Australia. It has 5,000 trees, 3,000 in full production and 2.000 young trees of the very best variety. The factory manufactures olive oil and preserves a small quantity of olives. Unfortunately, a number of former growers and manufacturers in this industry have been unable to carry on their businesses because of the large quantity of olive oil that has been imported since import restrictions were lifted. The main supplies come from Spain, Italy and France, 90 per cent, coming from Spain. As I have said, this has all occurred since the Government lifted import restrictions.
Three large olive oil manufacturing companies have ceased manufacturing completely and, as a result, olive-growers have had great difficulty in disposing of their crops. In 1957 we imported only 398,739 gallons of oil, but in 1960 imports jumped to 1,349,965 gallons and they have increased since. The consumption of olive oil in Australia, it is estimated, would be only about 1,000,000 gallons a year and Australia produces about 30,000 gallons a year. It can be readily seen, therefore, that part of the oil imported has not been used but merely added to stock.
This industry, Sir Frank Meere states in his report, is in urgent need of assistance. He describes it as an infant industry. During the last war olive oil was in very short supply for war needs and for use in hospitals, and the industry was given some assistance to become established. It appears that if it does not get additional assistance now most of the industry will fold up.
The particular product of which I know and which is produced in my electorate is “ Dover “ olive oil. , It is one of the bestquality oils in the world. It is equal to the highest standard set by the British Pharmacopoeia. It is far superior - as is most Australian olive oil - to that which is imported. Unless some action is taken quickly the companies concerned will fold up. Olive trees have been grown in Australia for many years. It takes from ten to fifteen years for them to mature. Many young trees have been planted and have come to fruition, but have not yet been of any use to the industry. If the manufacturers close down there will be no sale for the products of the growers.
The plantations of the company of which I know are only 20 miles from Adelaide. They are ideally situated to be cut up for subdivision, but the company, an old-established one, does not want to see that happen. It has resisted the temptation - and it is a temptation. It could make a large capital gain by subdividing the plantation, but it would mean a loss of valuable trees. Heavy financial losses are being incurred by the manufacturing companies. Despite the fact that they want to keep their manufacturing businesses going, if further relief is not afforded to them they will have to sell their land to raise finance, in fairness to their shareholders.
In addition to providing protection from overseas imports, I think that the Government should instruct the Repatriation Department, the Department of Health and other Commonwealth departments to use only Australian-made olive oil. It should also request State governments to see that only Australian-manufactured olive oil is used by their departments. Sir Frank Meere, by his action, has given a ray of hope to the industry, which is struggling to keep going. I plead with the Government to take further action to protect what he has described as an infant industry. It could well be a vital industry for Australia in the future. There is no chance of profitable operation unless protection is given to the olive oil industry - protection from the imported product which is produced in low-wage countries and which is inferior to that produced in Australia. This should be done in fairness to the people who have been engaged in the industry and own small plantations that have been put under cultivation. People on soldier settlement blocks, for instance, deserve the protection of the Government.
As I said at the beginning, I pay a compliment to Sir Frank Meere for his speedy action to get protection for this young industry. I ask the Government to do something quickly, because in the years that are ahead we might urgently need olive oil again. We should certainly see that this industry is given the protection and assistance which is needed at this stage so that we shall always be assured of a firstclass product, manufactured under good condition in this country of ours.
.- Mr. Speaker, my mission in rising is to further/ my remarks of last Thursday when I made a brief reference to the activities of a man named Edward Russell Vickers. I have strong reason to believe that he is a member of an international arms cartel and is actively engaged in gun running. I challenge the press to print these particulars. He has an address at 800 San Fernando Building, 406S Main-street, Los Angeles, United States of America. With the aid of this Government, particularly the Department of Supply, this man has deceived the
Department of Customs and Excise after purchasing from the Department of Supply millions of rounds of .303 ammunition.
According to my information, which I have very strong reasons for believing to be true, he shipped this ammunition to America as scrap brass. He deceived the customs authorities on this point and also deceived them concerning the value of the goods, which he quoted at about £570 when the actual value was between £30,000 and £40,000. I am informed that rifles and ammunition which were involved in the transaction never left the wharfs in America. When the ammunition was being unloaded a case broke when it accidentally fell from a sling. The longshoremen then saw that they were unloading incendiary ammunition and threatened to go on strike because they are entitled to a higher rate for unloading that kind of cargo. I ask the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) who represents the Minister for Customs and Excise in this House, how the shipment of rifles and ammunition was allowed to pass unnoticed. What officers of his department were responsible for allowing ammunition to pass through the Customs organization, which the Minister claims to be highly efficient? I know that there are many decent men in the Customs Department.
I am also informed that these rifles and ammunition have been sent to some of the trouble spots of the world. They could well be used in Indonesia, Kuwait or SouthEast Asia. The Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) repeatedly speaks of his wish, and the Government’s wish, that the Dutch and Indonesian people will peacefully settle the dispute which is at our northern door. I fail to see how it can be settled peacefully when firearms of this type are being taken from this country with marks identifying them as Australian. They could fall into the hands of the Dutch, for instance, who would see that Australian rifles were being used against them. I think this is a serious matter because, if these rifles are being used in Indonesia, as we have every reason to believe, it would affect our relations with one of the countries in the dispute in our near north. I understand also that this man Vickers, who I say operates for a big American business cartel, bought these rifles and ammunition for a negligible sum. 1 well recall that the Government was asked some months ago to make available again, free of charge, a certain quantity of .303 ammunition to rifle clubs. The Government had withdrawn that privilege from members of rifle clubs as well as the opportunity to purchase additional ammunition cheaply.
To my mind that privilege was justified. It encouraged rifle club members throughout the country to engage in healthy recreation at week-ends, particularly on Saturday afternoons. I am somewhat disgusted to learn that the Government permits what I say is a racket - or semi-racket - to be carried on by this man Vickers who represents this international gun cartel and to make big money for people who 1 claim are unprincipled and are not interested in how they make their money, what countries they offend, or what the rifles or ammunition would be used for.
This is particularly so at a time when we have moving demonstrations in support of peace such as we saw yesterday when hundreds of very honorable and publicspirited citizens came here with a petition to try to prevail upon this Government to do all in its power to promote world peace and to implement Labour’s policy of creating urgently a nuclear-free zone in the southern hemisphere. I ask the Government to probe the allegations and let this House know whether they are true or untrue. I claim that they are true and that the exports are not in the interests of Australia’s relations with other countries. I hope that in the immediate future some responsible Minister will explain to the House what he knows of the matter that I have raised to-night.
.- Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has made some high, wide and handsome charges regarding gun-running, as he alleges, and talks about it being conducted with the aid of the Government. He was very careful not to disclose the source of his information. Without having the source of information it is not possible for me to say whether these charges are proven or whether indeed they are mere allegations - and of course he is used to that word.
I can tell him, however, for his comfort - mental and otherwise - that ammunition and rifles are prohibited exports under the customs and excise laws. No permit to export is given unless the fullest inquiries are made about the bona fides of the deal and the country to which they are to be exported. Only when these inquiries have been satisfied is it possible for a purchaser to gain a licence to export rifles and ammunition from Australia. One of the conditions also is that we shall sight a permit of entry to the country to which they are to be consigned.
This Government has two alternatives. One is to dispose of the rifles at home, if possible, for the purpose of export abroad under these carefully controlled conditions; the other is to destroy them. The member for Hunter talks about rifles having been bought cheaply. I am not prepared to disclose the price because all these rifles are sold at auction and it would be unfair to the purchasers of army surplus equipment if I were to disclose the price at which they bought their stocks. Inevitably, they are for re-sale. However, I can tell the honorable gentleman that, so far as I have been able to check, his assertion that millions of rounds of .303 ammunition have been exported from this country is simply not correct. There have been minor exports of 303 ammunition. I undertake to check this matter and give the honorable gentleman an answer to his submissions. lt is true that in 1961 an American firm purchased 5,500 rifles. It took delivery of 4,300 of them and exported 3,500 of them, which satisfied considerably less than half the import licences it had from the United States of America. Outside of that there are no deals - cither sales or exports - traceable to this particular company, so I think the allegations are slightly overdrawn. However, I merely give these facts for the information of the honorable gentleman and other honorable members.
I point out again that once these rifles have landed in the country of consignment, that is, in the United States, they come then under the control of the United States Government. As I say, there is the most careful check by the Government generally, and by the Department of Customs and Excise in particular, to see that the rifles are not put to the sort of use to which the honorable gentleman has referred. I must point out that these rifles are now completely superseded and that other countries, particularly the United Kingdom and some Continental countries, have disposed of stocks compared with which the number I have mentioned would be a very small stockpile indeed.
I should also inform the honorable gentleman that there is a very extensive market in the United States for these rifles, which are re-tubed to smaller bore and used by sporting rifle clubs. Mr. Speaker, I think the allegations in these circumstances have been completely overdrawn.
.- Mr. Speaker, the matter I raise concerns you and members of the Government and relates particularly to the provision of telephones for blind pensioners. For some time I have been endeavouring to obtain these services for these people, and some members of the Government parties, notably the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) have been associated with me. No doubt other honorable members also have been concerned in the matter. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) has received deputations and has given consideration to it. But that is as far as it has gone. To date this facility has not been given to these people who are blind and urgently need a telephone.
I have been advised by blind persons that the provision of a telephone in the home is almost like having a sighted person there. It is of great assistance to them in their ordinary way of living and is almost in the nature of a companion in the home. For those who are not blind this, possibly, is difficult to understand, but it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Postmaster-General and to any one who has been greatly interested in this matter.
I raise the matter again because to-day I received a letter dated 14th August, 1962, from the Commonwealth Blind Communication Committee, signed by Mrs. Joyce M. Joy, the honorary secretary of that organization. In the course of the letter she said -
The above Committee have asked me to advise you that at a meeting held on the 14th inst. it was decided to send telegrams to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition asking for his strong support, and to the Speaker of the House asking his permission for two representatives of the Committee to plead their own case from the Bar.
Failing this could you arrange as you did on a previous occasion for Mr. Wilston, Mr. Black and myself to be allowed on the floor of the House during the Budget debate so that when supporting the claim of the blind you have the evidence of blindness and its helplessness before the Government who find it easy by correspondence to refuse assistance but when faced with it may find the task a little more difficult.
Honestly, Mr. Daly, the courage and determination of these people is amazing, and I thank you personally, not as their honorary secretary, but as a sighted person, for your fight on their behalf, and ask if possible that you convey to the Members of the House of Representatives who have also given their support not only my appreciation but that of the blind community, who depend so much on the understanding and support of sighted people to make them individuals and not a separate part of the community. By means of the telephone this is possible, not in its entirety, but quite a big step in giving them independence.
That letter speaks for itself. I know that their case would receive the support of both sides of this Parliament if honorable members could see for themselves at first hand the sufferings of these people and their need for the service. It would be commendable of you, Mr. Speaker, and a really grand gesture if you could grant their wish and allow them to come to the bar of the House to plead their case, provided that the Standing Orders allow you to do so. Seeing these people in their blindness would bring home to us more forcibly than anything else what a great benefit it is to have our sight and what a great loss is suffered by those who are not blessed with it. You might well give consideration, Mr. Speaker, to this just request from these people. Not only would it signify your support for their cause, and your tolerance and understanding of their problem, but also it would bring home in a real and .practical way to the members of this Parliament and the people of Australia whom we represent the reason why this request should be granted.
I understand that not more than 3,000 or 4,000 blind persons are involved. Many already enjoy the benefit of a telephone and the cost of providing this facility to the blind persons who do not have it would not be very great. I think that the provision of this facility should be covered by social service legislation. The PostmasterGeneral’s Department is making considerable profits from increased charges for telephone and postal services, and the small amount involved in providing this service to blind persons would hardly be noticed in a budget such as the one which is at present under discussion. The Budget provides for an expenditure this year of, I think, £2,190,000,000 and for a deficit of about £118,000,000, so the cost of granting this facility to blind persons is comparatively negligible.
I admit that the request is somewhat unusual. Probably it has not been made previously by any organization pleading the case of the blind people, but I believe it should receive the support of members of this Parliament. I submit to-night in all sincerity that you, Mr. Speaker, should give these people the opportunity to plead their case and in a practical way demonstrate to this Parliament that the service that they seek should be granted to them. I do not doubt that I have the support of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and of my other colleagues, and I ask honorable members opposite to lend their weight to my request. I commend the appeal t» you, Mr. Speaker, and urge you to meet the wishes of these people if it is at all possible for you to do so.
.- I know nothing of any previous speech in this Parliament by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) in relation to an alleged traffic in arms, but I am deeply concerned at the admission made by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) that at least 3,500 rifles and some ammunition have been shipped from Australia to an armaments purchaser in the United States of America. It must be perfectly obvious to any one who reads and thinks that the armaments traffic is the filthiest traffic imaginable, particularly when the armaments are sold to individuals. It is bad enough when they are sold to governments, but once they get out of the hands of governments and into the hands of private dealers the traffic becomes even more horrible and filthy.
It has been revealed in the past few years that even government-to-government traffic is filthy. We know that the Indo.nesions have been armed in turn by the Dutch, the British, the Russians, the Americans and Lord only knows whom else. Possibly at some time they have been armed by the Australian Government. But imagine 3,500 rifles of .303 calibre being sold to a private armaments trafficker in Los Angeles! Although it is alleged that the United States Government has control over armaments once they are landed in America, any one who has visited the United States knows that you can go into any store - I think it is called a drug store - and after the most cursory examination and questioning you can buy a revolver, a .606 gun or any other weapon of death that you choose. Every one knows that under the American Constitution every person has the right to be armed. The Australian Constitution carries no such provision. Every one knows that the best customers for these armaments are the Latin-American and central American States, and every one ought to know that from time to time they indulge in deathdealing activities and revolutions - red, white or blue, call them what you will. Every one knows that inevitably there is a traffic across the border of the United States into Mexico, and no doubt by sea to the central American States and to other places.
It is reasonable to expect that when these armaments arrive in the United States they will be pushed across the border into Mexico. The name of the purchaser happens to be Vickers. He is no better than any one else and I do not know whether he has any connexion with the armaments firm of that name. I have been in El Paso and 1 know that there is no difficulty in crossing the border. When I crossed the border into Mexico with my party some one said to me, “ I am not too sure that we can get out of this place “. I looked at the Rio Grande and said, “ There would not be any difficulty in sneaking across this almost dry river at night “.
You can imagine .303 rifles exported from Australia to America being smuggled across the river by dirty armaments traffickers who are interested only in profit, not the protection of human life. You can imagine these armaments falling into the hands of undesirable people in America - people of the right, left and centre, I do not care what their political allegiances are - and ultimately filtering through to the South American states and being used by either Communist or Fascist factions. It is horrible to think that the Australian Government is participating in this filthy traffic for the sake of a few lousy pounds for the Federal Treasury. If the armaments are not required in Australia or by any friendly government - their sale in those circumstances should be questioned, too - they should be dumped into the sea. Every man with a streak of humanity should protest at their sale.
I hope that the press of Australia will take up this matter and that some additional information will be furnished to the Parliament so that we can be fully informed of the position. I hope that in future the Government will dump its surplus armaments into the sea. I say that from the depths of my heart. For the love of Mike, let us get out of this horrible traffic and refuse to be associated with it again.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.48 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
e asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
What is the estimated shortage of tradesmen and apprentices in Australia in each recognized trade?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
There are no official statistics available which would indicate the extent of the shortages in each trade. However, some relevant statistics concerning shortages of tradesmen in the metal, electrical and building trades, and references to shortages of tradesmen and apprentices are contained in a publication “Training for Skilled Occupations” published by my Department on 26th February, 1962. A copy of this has been forwarded to the honorable member.
y asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The numbers of persons registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service in each of the past twelve months at the dates on which statistics were prepared were -
y asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The numbers of persons registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service in each State as at 27th July, 1962, were-
Notes. - (a) Includes Australian Capital Territory. (b) Includes Northern Territory.
The figures are of persons who claimed when registering with the Commonwealth Employment Service that they were not employed and who were recorded as unplaced at 27th July, 1962. The figures include those who, since registering, may have obtained employment without notifying the Commonwealth Employment Service, and persons who had been referred to employers with a view to engagement but whose placement was not confirmed at the date shown; they also include persons receiving unemployment benefit.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: - 1 and 2. The following table shows expenditure since 1946 under the principal headings of the National Health Scheme: -
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Is the Minister able to say whether the Australian Veterinary Association has issued warn ings that dairy farmers were using penicillin and other antibiotics in treating their cows?
z.- The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
Papua and New Guinea.
k. - On 15 th August, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) asked a question without notice regarding recruitment of teachers for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. In my reply to the honorable member I said I would obtain for him detailed figures on teacher recruitment in the coming year. The figures are as follows: -
Recruitment of Expatriate Teachers with the Junior Certificate: (a) Twenty-two trainee teachers graduated last week and commenced teaching in village schools immediately; (b) 40 trainee teachers will commence six months’ training in the Territory at the end of this month and will be available lo take up teaching duties in village schools early in the 1963 school year.
Certificated Expatriate Teachers: (a) Fifty certificated teachers are now being recruited with the view to their commencing leaching in the Territory at the beginning of the 1963 school year; (b) Five technical instructors are also being recruited to commence teaching in the Territory at the beginning of the 1963 school year.
Cadet Education Officer Scheme: Fifty-six cadet education officers will complete their training in Australia at the end of this year and will commence teaching in the Territory at the beginning of the 1963 school year.
Indigenous Teachers: - One hundred and twentyseven indigenous teachers will complete their courses of training at the end of this year and will commence teaching at the beginning of the 1963 school year.
d asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The sum of £10,000,000 is allocated amongst the Stales on a population basis. Two States (Victoria and Tasmania) have drawn in full their entitlements under the act. The care and treatment of the mentally ill in the States is a constitutional responsibility of State governments. Hence the Commonwealth has no direct responsibility for assessing the need for mental institutions in the Stales or for the provision of funds beyond those authorized under the Stales Grants (Menial Institutions) Act 1955 specifically to meet that need. Nevertheless, by ils substantial support of annual Loan Council borrowing programmes for Slate works and its general financial assistance grants to the States, the Commonwealth will continue to contribute indirectly towards the provision of mental hygiene facilities and the treatment of the menially ill.
s asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The honorable member’s question does not represent accurately either the inquiry of the United Nations Secretary-General, U Thant, or my reply to him. The substance of his inquiry is contained in the first paragraph of my letter to him of 15th March, 1962, which was tabled in the House on 5th April, 1962. I am satisfied that my reply answered all the points which he raised.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
If the West New Guinea issue was a world peace peril at the time Australia presented Indonesia with two Chipmunk training aircraft, why was such a gift made?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The two aircraft referred to were requested by Indonesia under the Colombo Plan in 1960 and were shipped from Australia in September, 1961. The “ presentation “ reported in the press in June, 1962, was a purely formal hand-over ceremony. The Chipmunk aircraft are light civilian training machines; they are incapable of any military role and are unsuitable for the training of air force pilots. They were provided for, and are being used by, the Indonesian Civil Aviation Academy which is staffed largely by the International Civil Aviation Organization (I.C.A.O.) and by Canadian instructors provided under the Colombo Plan.
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
What would be the total cost to revenue if the National Health Act means test on pensioner pharmaceutical and medical benefits was abolished?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
It is estimated that the additional cost to the National Welfare Fund for a full year would be £1,600,000 if the Pensioner Medical Service was extended to cover those persons m receipt of age, invalid, widow, and service pensions, and their dependants, who have not been issued with Pensioner Medical Service entitlement cards.
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 August 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620816_reps_24_hor36/>.