24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Yesterday, in answering a question on the subject of three weeks’ annual leave, the Minister for Labour and National Service said -
As to the employers who are weakly capitulating to demands under threat of direct action, I believe that their actions are just as irresponsible, and that they, too, should observe the decision of the commission.
Is the Minister aware that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission stated in its judgment -
Our present intention is that an increase to three weeks’ annual leave generally in secondary industry should be granted as soon as we are satisfied that the economy is in a position to cope with such an increase.
Did not the court declare in favour of the principle of three weeks’ annual leave? In a period of automation, is it not a wise and sensible approach to full employment on the part of employers whose particular industry can conveniently apply the principle of three weeks’ annual leave to do so without being branded, in the words of the Minister, as “ irresponsible “ and “ weakly capitulating “ when they do what is fair in their own assessment?
– The statements contained in the first part of the honorable gentleman’s question are correct. If negotiations between employers and employees, without duress, come to a satisfactory conclusion, then I believe that their agreement should be binding. Conditions are different when the commission has stated that, whilst it agrees with the principle of three weeks’ annual leave, it does not think the time is ripe for it to be granted on a nation-wide basis and has held over a decision. In other words, it is the circumstances of the moment that determine whether or not the decision concerning three weeks’ annual leave should be implemented. So I adhere to what I said yesterday. I said that when employers, who are parties to proceedings before the commission, capitulate to duress or the threat of direct action they are not acting in accordance with the decision of the commission or in the spirit of the commission’s decision. I repeat that I would welcome agreement between employers and employees without duress. I do not think that that happened on this occasion.
– Has the Minister for Shipping and Transport seen a report of a committee established in f the United States of America on the costs of running automatic ships around the coast of the United States of America? In view of the high cost of running ships on the Australian coast, is he prepared to form a committee to examine whether there could be a saving to the community by constructing ships to operate automatically except in harbours and the approaches to them? Automatic operation might also make it possible to run Australian ships overseas more economically.
– Yes; I have seen the report to which the honorable member referred. On the Australian coast, even now, the system of remote control is in operation, to some degree, for propelling machinery. We are also investigating a Japanese ship in which the principle of automatic control has been carried even further than that, but while a completely automatic ship could be built it would involve great expenditure. Such a project is not even in the experimental stage, although a great amount of research has been done concerning it. The economics of such a ship have not yet been ascertained, because of the costs of maintenance through faults which perhaps could develop when the vessel was at sea. Several other factors are involved also. I agree that, in the ordinary way, the appointment of a committee to investigate the matter might be well worth while. However, I can assure the honorable member that the Australian Shipbuilding Board has this matter under its notice, and that any worthwhile developments will be brought to our attention by the board as soon as they are observed.
– I address a question to the Minister for Repatriation. Did he recently receive a deputation representing the Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers’ Association of Australia in connexion with a request - which incidentally has been consistently supported by the Opposition in this House - that free medical treatment should be granted to the wives of totally and1 permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen? If the Minister did receive a deputation on this question, can he now say whether the request of the association has been approved?
– It is true that I did receive a deputation from the Australian body of the Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers Association of Australia yesterday. I have also had discussions with this organization on several occasions in the past. In addition to many other matters the association raised1 the point regarding medical treatment for the wives of totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners. As the honorable member knows, decisions regarding repatriation benefits for this financial year were made during the framing of the Budget, which has already been announced. I did inform the members of the deputation from this association, for which I have great respect and whose representatives I see continually, that I am prepared at any time to meet spokesmen for the organization and to give careful consideration to any requests they put forward. I think it will be agreed that the T.P.I, war pensioners have received tremendous benefits since this Government has been in power. I have indicated to the association that this particular submission will be considered again during this financial year, and that if something can be done for these people, consideration will certainly be given to it in the next Budget.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. It refers to a Russian newspaper which is called, in English, “ The Voice of the Homeland “. Can the Postmaster-General take appropriate action to stop the circulation of this newspaper, which comes from a Communist country, through Her Majesty’s mail? Does he know that this newspaper not only endeavours to intimidate natural ized Australian citizens but also vilifies these people and this country in the most derogatory terms?
– This is a subject concerning which I have already had some preliminary discussions with the honorable member for Isaacs and others, and consequently I have made some inquiries into the matter. The investigations that I have made so far cause me to appreciate very keenly the distress of mind’ which must be caused to some new Australians through receiving such papers and letters. I have therefore applied myself to seeing whether it is possible to deal with this matter. In fact, not only have I invited the central office of the Postal Department to have a look at the type of matter that is coming through the mail, but I have also discussed the matter with my colleague, the AttorneyGeneral. The position is difficult, of course, because correspondence from overseas is involved, and there are certain phases of it which are covered by the provisions of the International Postal Union. Therefore, this material cannot be dealt with in the same way as can material posted in Australia.
I have seen some of the communications. The honorable member for Isaacs has made envelopes available to me and also some portion of the contents. At the moment, I am not in a position to say whether I have sufficient evidence before me to recommend some form of action, but I assure the honorable member that the matter is being closely examined, and if it is possible to do something to help these people, we will do it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade. In view of the need to find new export markets, will the Minister inform the House whether the Government has examined the potential export earnings of the Australian domestic rabbit industry? Is the Minister aware that domestic rabbit meat and white fur skins produced on farms in the Hills district near Parramatta and at Camden, New South Wales, are being eagerly sought by buyers in the United States of America, Japan and the United Kingdom?
– I cannot say that the Government has investigated this matter. To the best of my knowledge, the Government has not done so. But I once received a deputation of producers of the domestic variety of rabbits who put it to me that if they were permitted to engage freely in rabbit production, there was a market for the product in the United States of America and other places and they could earn a great deal of exchange for Australia. The critical issue in this matter is whether the antidote to myxomatosis which it is necessary to use in connexion with the breeding of these rabbits should be freely available or whether it might get out among non-domestic rabbits and reestablish the threat to the wool industry. There is a difference of opinion. The New South Wales Labour Government, for example permits the antidote to be used, but the Victorian Government does not. There really is no issue for the Commonwealth Government to decide while that is the state of affairs.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. Having regard to the statement by the Minister for Supply on the disposal of .303 rifles and ammunition by sale to America, can the Minister say whether these sales will prejudice supplies, particularly of ammunition, to rifle clubs?
– There are ample stocks of .303 rifles for the purposes of rifle clubs. Some rifles have been sold through the Department of Supply, but there is no need to fear that there will be any shortage of 303 rifles for rifle clubs. No .303 ammunition has ever been disposed of outside Australia by the Department of Supply or my own department. We have sufficient .303 ammunition to provide supplies to the rifle clubs in accordance with the agreement we recently made.
– I direct a question to you, Mr. Speaker, as custodian of the rights of members of this House. Are you aware that the member for Ballaarat is reliably reported to be suffering from a contagious or infectious complaint, and the fact that he is at large is contrary to the health regulations of the Australian Capital Territory? Also, are you aware, Mr. Speaker, that while suffering from this illness, the honorable member for Ballaarat entered the chamber last night and participated in a division? In these circumstances, will you, Mr. Speaker, take appropriate action to ensure that the honorable member for Ballaarat conforms to the health regulations? In view of the grave danger of an epidemic among the staff, and Government and Opposition members, will you arrange to have the honorable member quarantined and the chamber fumigated?
– I may say that the rights of the honorable member are being protected. As far as I could see, the honorable member for Ballaarat was a very welcome sight last night.
– Is the Treasurer aware that some exporters or potential exporters are in doubt regarding the application of the export promotion allowance to the cost of advertising in publications circulating abroad? Can the right honorable gentleman tell us the criteria used in determining when, and to what extent, the allowance shall be granted?
– The position is quite clear. If the purpose of the advertising is to create a demand overseas, or to widen an existing overseas market, for exported goods, then the development allowance shall be available. I understand that some confusion has arisen because advertising matter has at times been inserted in publications which circulate in Australia as well as overseas. It is the purpose of the advertising which forms the critical test. If the purpose is primarily and principally to sell goods overseas, and the proceeds from such sales would be taxable in Australia, the development allowance can be claimed.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. By way of preface I remind the Minister of representations which I made to the Australian National Line in May and June, to which I received no reply, and also to the Minister personally in July, regarding freight rates on goods shipped from Stanley, in Tasmania, to Melbourne. Is the Minister prepared to reduce the rate of £8 2s. 6d. a ton on goods shipped from Stanley, so that primary producers and other shippers will not be at a disadvantage as compared with those who ship from the Port of Burnie and pay a rate of only £6 12s. 6d. a ton?
– I know that the honorable member has made representations on this subject, and they have not passed unnoticed, by any means. The matter of freights cannot be considered lightly, because freight charges have a direct bearing upon the profitability of the National Line. The line makes every effort on all occasions to meet the wishes of the shippers. I can assure the honorable member that this question has not been overlooked. It is still being considered by the National Line, and as soon as I receive an answer from the line I will let the honorable member have it.
– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the genuine concern felt by many people in this country at the nuclear arms race, which, they believe, is being forced on the free world by Soviet Russia, can the Minister say whether there is any official confirmation of a report that Russia has, within the last few days, exploded a 12- megaton nuclear bomb?
– I have no official confirmation of the reports published in the newspapers and broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which I have read and heard, but that is not to say that I have any reason to doubt the accuracy of the reports. As to the preface to the honorable member’s question, I am sure the House will be pleased to know that a proposal has been made for bilateral talks between the United States of America and Soviet Russia with a view to exploring further the possibility of a test ban.
– I ask the Minister for Trade a question. Has the right honorable gentleman’s attention been directed to the report issued last week by the Australian Canned Fruits Board that there is to be a 5 per cent, increase of shipping freight rates for canned fruit exported from Australia to the United Kingdom and Europe, while Californian canners have just been granted a 20 per cent, reduction of freight rates on canned fruits shipped by them to the United Kingdom? What action has the Minister taken to prevent a deterioration of our competitive position in the United Kingdom canned fruits market, vis-a-vis the United States of America, as a result of these changes in freight rates?
– My attention has not been directed to the report to which the acting Leader of the Opposition has referred, but I am aware of the proposed increase in freight rates to which the Australian shipper interests - that is, the export interests - have agreed. The proposed increase arises from a set of circumstances which I explained to the House a week or two ago. In brief, there is an arrangement, which has existed since its introduction by the Scullin Government in 1930, by which the Australian Overseas Transport Association is constituted to negotiate between shipper and shipping interests on the matter of freights. Until, I think, 1955-1 believe I said 1957 when I last spoke - the export interests customarily from time to time invited the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, which was the equivalent of the Department of Trade in those days, to aid them in their negotiations. In 1956 they decided that they preferred to conduct their own negotiations on freight and, in fact, decided on a formula which, in my language, is pretty much a cost-plus formula.
At that time the Government, on its own initiative, suggested that if the shipper interests intended to conduct their own negotiations they should be as well equipped as possible to do so. We advanced a substantial sum of money to the appropriate association of shippers to help it to engage some skilled staff so that it would be fully equipped to conduct these negotiations. The shippers have conducted the negotiations themselves. The matter to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has referred is one of the results. However, notwithstanding their decision, the shipper interests know that the whole resources of the Government are available at all times to aid them in eliciting the facts, contriving arguments, or to help in any way that is desired in negotiations with the shipping interests.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Repatriation. Will an amendment to the Repatriation Act be necessary so that benefits can be .paid to Australian military personnel now serving in Vict Nam? If so, has the Government made any decision on this matter? I ask this question having in mind the report which has arrived from Saigon within the last 48 hours to the effect that Australian personnel have been engaged in fighting there.
– An amendment to the Repatriation Act would be necessary to implement the suggestion which the honorable member has advanced. However, this is a matter which concerns a number of my colleagues, including the Minister for Defence. It is also a matter of policy which it would not be appropriate for me to comment upon at present. The only assurance [ can give the honorable member is that the matter is under close consideration.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Social Services. Is it the general practice within the Department of Social Services to suspend the payment of unemployment benefit for the stated reason that the unemployed person is not making sufficient efforts on his own behalf to find employment? Who judges this matter? Does the Minister realize that in certain cases this savage decision by the department, which results in the termination of the unemployment benefit, creates grave financial embarrassment to mcn who are suffering from certain disabilities which are not serious enough to entitle them to an invalid pension?
– An applicant for unemployment benefit is required to pass what is called the work test, the terms of which are laid down by the Department of Labour and National Service. The work test requires that a person shall be able, anxious and willing to engage in employment wherever it can be found. At the same time he must do what reasonably can be expected of him to find employment for himself. When the work test is applied, applicants usually have no difficulty in satisfying the departments concerned that it has been successfully complied with, and the unemployment benefit is then paid. If, on the other hand, the Department of Labour and National Service, the Commonwealth Employment Service or the Department of Social Services is of the opinion that no attempt has been made to find employment, the Department of Social Services may suspend the unemployment benefit until evidence of a satisfactory attempt to find work is produced. If an applicant for the unemployment benefit is not in a fit condition to work and is not eligible for an invalid pension, the appropriate social service benefit available to him is the sickness benefit, and he should have no difficulty in qualifying for it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. Is it a fact that the right honorable gentleman recently held discussions with agricultural officers in West Germany about the likelihood of improving our export trade in mutton and lamb to that country? Will he inform the House whether there have been any significant developments in the matter?
– It is a fact that, whenever I or the officers of the Department of Trade get an opportunity, we conduct discussions in the hope that Australian trade will benefit. 1 am sure that the honorable member refers to certain discussions that I had when I went to Bonn for talks with the West German Government on the European Common Market issue. One of the matters for discussion was the improved opportunity that I was seeking for the sale to West Germany of Australian meat, in particular, mutton and lamb. The position is that we are permitted to sell to that country a yearly quota of only 500 tons of mutton and lamb. The West German officials suggested to me that, as mutton and lamb are not a popular item of diet in their country, we could perhaps conduct an educational campaign explaining methods of cooking mutton and lamb, and possibly develop a market there.
The truth of the matter is that the maximum quantity that may be sold annually - 500 tons - is not enough to warrant the conduct of major promotional activities. However, that is not said once and for all. It is said against the background of the fact that at present we are permitted to sell an unrestricted volume of mutton and lamb to the United States of America, where they are well known in the diet and where prices are better. In the ordinary course, the world’s trade goes where the opportunities are. If, by some unhappy chance, we were denied the opportunity to sell to the United States, the meat industry, I am sure, as well as the Government, would immediately see what could be done to exploit other markets.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. I ask whether it is a fact that the ships of the mercantile marines of the nations which constitute the European Common Market will, under the rules of membership, in fact become Common Market ships, with uniformity in freight rates, wages paid to crews and navigational standards, and even a common fleet flag. If this is so, does the Minister deny that the Common Market shipping combines will impose further crippling freight increases to protect their own exports, and that such charges will be detrimental to Australian exports? Finally, I ask whether, in the Minister’s opinion, the redevelopment of an Australian mercantile marine to assist in the promotion of our overseas trade by keeping freight charges to a minimum would be beneficial to Australia’s trading interests.
– I cannot speak with specific authority on the question of whether the intended application of the conditions of the Treaty of Rome would work out exactly as the honorable member suggests, but I would not deny his portrayal of the situation; it probably is correct. But it is also the position to-day that the United Kingdom-European conference lines do, or put themselves in a position to do, precisely what the honorable member is stating; that is, there is a conjoint arrangement under which scales of freight are charged. There are breaks away from these arrangements by certain lines which register themselves in such countries as Panama, as we know. But I do not expect that the state of affairs will be very different.
The honorable member, understandably I think, raises the question whether we would not be better off with our own shipping line. I think that is a fair question to ask. But the most disastrous outcome of such a venture would be for it to prove that the cost of shipping by Australia’s line was more than the freight being charged by other shipping lines. I cannot think of any more devastating situation for Australia’s export interests, which are trying to keep freight charges down, than to have it demonstrated that our own line was costing more - irrespective of what it might be charging - to carry goods than an overseas line was proposing to charge. That would really strip us naked of arguments in trying to defend our own interests.
The prima facie evidence that this would be likely to happen is in the figures I gave last night in this chamber. I mentioned then that a deputation, including trade unionists, came to me and said that an industry in Port Kembla was in desperate trouble because it could not purchase its raw material at a reasonable price; that the raw material was going from an Australian production point to Japan and not to an Australian factory. The explanation was that the freight on the Australian shipping line from Port Augusta to Port Kembla was two and a half times the freight on the overseas shipping line from Port Augusta to Japan.
– I would like to ask a question of the Treasurer. Has the right honorable gentleman seen a statement attributed to the Premier of Victoria, to the effect that he was disgusted with the Commonwealth Government because the Budget provided development for all other States but there was a blank for Victoria? Does the right honorable gentleman regard this as an accurate statement of the position?
– I saw a statement reported in last night’s Melbourne “Herald” attributed to the Premier of
Victoria. I can assume only that it was neither a complete nor an accurate account of what the Premier said. If it is an accurate account of what he said, it certainly is not an accurate account of the facts. The Premier is a great battler for Victoria, and I admire the way he has brought his State along to a point of such prosperity and strength during the years of his leadership. But for any Victorian spokesman to say that Victoria has been faring badly under the recent financial administration of this Government is completely at variance with the facts. This is not because we have set out to bestow any special favours on Victoria or, for that matter, on any other State. Our purpose throughout has been to provide for the balanced development of Australia. It so happens that Victoria, by the nature of its geography and the size of its population, shares very handsomely in Commonwealth expenditure.
The major development undertaking of the post-war years, the Snowy River project, has benefited Victoria, together with New South Wales and, to a lesser extent, South Australia, far more than other States. A total of just on £200,000,000 has already gone into this project, and we are not much more than half-way through the full programme. We have only just completed the construction of the standard-gauge railway line from Albury to Melbourne. When the Premier says that there is not £1 for development for Victoria in this year’s Budget, I am somewhat relieved, because presumably that means he will not press for more than the £14,500,000 we have already paid for this rail project. The expenditure on the Snowy Mountains scheme alone this year is to total £24,000,000. Victoria benefits disproportionately from Commonwealth works expenditures on its defence activities and war service homes. I hope the Premier will not press us to any further argument on this matter, because I do not think he will be doing his own State a service if he does. Of course, the revision of the sales tax on motor cars was of direct benefit to Victoria.
The report referred to two matters on which the Premier felt he had a grievance. One was the development of Tullamarine as a jet port. We have provided funds in the
Budget, and I should think there would1 be more there this year, for the acquisition of land in that area for this airport development. But the determination of priorities must rest with the Commonwealth Government, which has a mass of capital works to undertake throughout the Commonwealth.
The second point taken by the Premier was in relation to the capital provision for mental hospitals. The Commonwealth Government, following the receipt of the Stoller report, provided the capital sum of £10,000,000 for this purpose. It was not to be a continuing grant in the sense of being repeated, but Victoria, to its credit, expended its share of that money to considerable advantage, and now apparently considers that we should repeat the programme.
I do not really believe that there are grounds for grievance. I am sorry that the word “ disgusted “ has been used by the Premier. For our part we are sad to see this lack of appreciation of what we have been doing.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. The right honorable gentleman will recall that he described the reduction in the number of registered unemployed from 131,000 in January to 90,000 in July as “ a magnificent reduction in that period of time”. As I am sure the right honorable gentleman would not deliberately wish to mislead the public, will he tell the House how much of this reduction was due to the seasonal reduction in unemployment which takes place every year between the months of January and July?
- Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt whatever that seasonal problems enter into this matter, just as I, have no doubt that the number recorded in January was exceptionally high, for the variety of reasons mentioned by my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service. Those things tend to cancel each other out. The point that I had been making - I know it disappoints the honorable member - was that between January and July the actual fall in numbers, with all the difficulties of the circumstances, was quite remarkable.
– I wish to ask a question of the Attorney-General. Has the Minister seen a report that the Russian Embassy in Canberra, at the request of a ten-year-old schoolboy who asked for some information on Russia, sent him propaganda brochures on communism - several dozen copies - urging internal subversion and support for world communism? If the Minister has seen such a report, would he consider appropriate measures to stop the Soviet diplomatic mission in this country from influencing the minds of our school children with Communist propaganda?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable gentleman referred. I would be glad if he would give me the reference to it. I will most certainly speak to my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, to see what he can do!
– The Attorney-General will have noted a wide demand in Victoria for the removal of the provisions for capital punishment from the legislation of that State. In view of the fact that the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party in New South Wales and the Government of Queensland - also of the Minister’s political persuasion - are opposed to capital punishment, and in view of wide demands from various sections of the community that it be discontinued, will the Attorney-General consider removing capital punishment provisions from Commonwealth statutes? Perhaps he might introduce a bill for this purpose and arrange for members on his side of the House to exercise a free vote on it.
– This is an age-old problem which, as far as I know, no particular generation has solved. As far as I know, there is no particular pressure in the Australian Capital Territory on this subject at the moment. It is a matter of policy upon which I would not pass any opinion nor undertake any investigation.
– In view of the projected change of administration in West New Guinea, will the Minister for Territories recommend to Cabinet that Australia should make representations to the United Nations that quarantine regulations be strengthened to prevent such diseases as foot and mouth disease and rabies, which, I understand, are endemic in the Indonesian islands, from being introduced into West New Guinea?
– This is one of several administrative questions which have been receiving very close and careful attention by the Administration of Papua and New Guinea. We have also been in close consultation with the Commonwealth Department of Health, which administers animal quarantine, and with the Department of Primary Industry which has under its special care and concern Australian primary industries. As the honorable member suggested, in some of the adjacent islands there are animal diseases such as foot and mouth disease and rabies which, at present, as far as we know, are not present in West New Guinea. But with the change of administration - particularly during the United Nations period with the coming of troops and supervising officers from other countries - these diseases could be introduced, not only by live animals, but also by foodstuffs of animal origin. The three departments concerned and the Territory Administration have made a very close study of the problems involved, and submissions have been prepared for consideration by the Government. I have no reason to doubt that, in due course, the co-operation of the United Nations and, eventually, of Indonesia will be obtained.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Territories. Can aborigines in the Northern Territory apply for voting rights under the legislation recently enacted by this Parliament? If so, what happens to their status as wards if they are enrolled?
– Some aspects of this matter are under the administration of my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, but perhaps he will allow me to answer briefly on his behalf. After the passing of legislation by this Parliament, consequential measures were taken in the Northern Territory so that an aboriginal person could apply for enrolment for elections both for the Northern Territory Legislative Council and for the Commonwealth Parliament. The honorable member apparently also has in mind a Territory ordinance, in which the capacity to enrol was used as a test to exclude from the possibility of declaration as a ward certain classes of persons. That provision of the law has been repealed. A person who is a ward is entitled to enrol and to vote. An aboriginal person who is not a ward is equally entitled to enrol and vote.
– I wish to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question which is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Isaacs of the PostmasterGeneral concerning the paper, “ Voice of the Homeland “. Will the Minister take up with the Russian Embassy the matter of this scurrilous journal attacking naturalized Australian citizens, and will he ask that embassy whether it will act to have this terrorist activity terminated? For how long does the Minister consider that the Australian people should have to put up with increasing Communist activities of this type without some official action being taken?
– As the Postmaster-General said, he and I have had several discussions on this subject, and we have been exploring the possibility of our doing something of our own strength. When we fail in that objective it will be time to consider whether the course proposed by the honorable gentleman is suitable.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to Retiring Benefits for members of the Defence Forces of the Commonwealth.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The principal purpose of this bill is to adjust the pension entitlements of the majority of the contributors to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund in respect of salary increases which have taken place since 1959. The pension entitlements of members of the forces were last reviewed by the Government in 1959, following the Allison committee’s exhaustive review of the act, and the amending legislation of late 1959 restored the basis of pension entitlement to salary that was adopted by the Government in 1954 for both the Superannuation Act and the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act.
The 1959 table of pension entitlements was based upon pensions which, at age 60, would be 70 per cent of salary for those on lower and middle salary ranges, reducing to 40.9 per cent. of salary at the top level. The majority of servicemen retire at earlier ages than 60 years and their entitlements represent an appropriate proportion of the age 60 entitlement.
Since 1959 there have been further substantial increases in the salaries of public servants and servicemen. Within the limits of the scale of units contained in the Superannuation Act, public servants have automatically qualified for increases in their pension entitlements as their salaries have advanced. Servicemen’s pension entitlements, however, are at present fixed in amount by statute and remain at 1959 levels. The object of this bill is to adjust Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act pension entitlements to take account of salary increases which have occurred since 1959, to the extent that they have already been reflected in the pension entitlements of public servants. In order to avoid a repetition of the present situation, the bill also provides for automatic adjustments in these service pension entitlements upon new rates of pay being prescribed in the regulations. Thus, for any future general increase in servicemen’s salaries, increased pension entitlements will be applied without any delay.
The Commonwealth Actuary has examined the rates of contribution which should be paid by existing members to qualify for the additional entitlement. Although it is still too early to estimate with accuracy the adequacy of the rates which were introduced in 1959, the Actuary reports that there are indications that the fund is at present accumulating some surplus. On his recommendation, the bill provides for existing contributors who were contributors prior to 1959 to pay, for the additional amounts of pensions now arising, additional contributions at a rate equal to 85 per cent, of the contribution rates contained in the schedules to the 1959 act. Existing contributors who joined the fund after the introduction of the 1959 act will continue to pay 5 per cent, of salary, or appropriate higher percentages for late entry, in respect of the higher salary now to be taken into account, but will not be charged arrears.
The cost of taking up the additional entitlement now becoming available will be heavy for some members who are approaching retirement. Subject to the same conditions as applied in 1959, they will have the option of declining some or all of the additional entitlement arising under the bill or of deferring payment of portion or all of the additional contributions until their retirement when they will be required to pay the outstanding amount, plus interest, in a lump sum. Provision is also made for existing contributors to elect, within six months, to take up any additional pension entitlement under the 1959 act which they previously rejected, provided they contribute for the full amount of the additional entitlement under the bill and are medically fit.
The bill also gives effect to two minor changes. The scheme of the act requires contributions on promotion to be paid during the period of service remaining to retirement, which in some cases is short and the contribution is accordingly high. Members will be permitted, in certain circumstances, to defer until the end of their service some or all of the contributions payable on promotion. At the end of their service most members become entitled to payments such as pay in lieu of furlough from which the deferred contributions, plus interest, may be met. The second minor change is to permit members who have attained the age for retirement applicable to their rank, but have been retained in the service, to contribute for any increases in pension entitlement which may become available within a period of two years after attainment of that age.
The Government believes that the changes embodied in the bill constitute a substantial improvement in the scheme of retiring benefits for members of the forces and I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haylen) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 21st August (vide page 529), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Opposition intends to support this measure and, as lengthy debate at this stage would curtail the debate on the Budget, we do not intend to say very much about it. However, it seems trivial that a sum as small as 4,600,000 dollars - after all that is little more than £A.2,000,000 - should have to be obtained by means of a loan. Australia ought to have sufficient current overseas resources to be able to pay this amount without recourse to borrowing.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has stated that the purpose of the loan is to enable Qantas Empire Airways Limited - an airline with a very good record, achieved over a comparatively short number of years, and I trust that in the foreseeable future that good record of service will continue - to purchase a Boeing 707- 138B aircraft which at present is leased to the company and has for some time formed part of its existing operational fleet of eleven Boeings. In other words, the aircraft, which was formerly leased directly from Boeing, will now be purchased by Qantas in the terms of an option under the lease, and apparently the payments for the purchase will be no more than would have been the payments under the lease.
I was rather interested, in reading the schedule attached to the measure, to note, in paragraph 5, that the Commonwealth represents and warrants that there has been no material adverse change in the financial, economic or political conditions of the Commonwealth from the conditions set forth in the prospectus dated 19th June, 1962. How it is to be determined whether there has been any material adverse change in the financial, economic or political conditions of the Commonwealth, I do not know.
For instance, who, among the parties to the agreement, can say whether the situation in Australia, economically or politically, is better or worse as the result of the recent Budget, which has been introduced since 19th June, 1962? That is by the way, but it would seem that whilst the Treasurer claims that Australia has a high credit rating overseas, it is still necessary to have onerous protective clauses in an agreement such as that which I have read out.
We offer no protracted debate at this stage of the measure. We agree to this foreign borrowing because at least it will pay its way and the amortization will be met from the activities of the undertaking itself. I hope that in the foreseeable future Qantas will continue its good record.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Administrator’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to approve the raising by way of loan of moneys in the currency of the United States of America to be lent to Qantas Empire Airways Limited, and for purposes connected therewith.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
Bill - by leave - taken as a whole and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time. it
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 21st August (vide page 570), 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.
.- Before referring to the Budget, I should like to take this opportunity of saying something about Australian policy in East New Guinea - that is, the Australian part of Papua and New Guinea. I do this because there has been no debate on this matter in the House and yet the Government must come to some decision on its attitude within the next few weeks because this matter will become the subject of debate in the United Nations Committee of Seventeen within the next month or two. Therefore, this is the only opportunity I shall have to refer to this matter.
It will be remembered by honorable members that a United Nations mission went to New Guinea recently and has since reported. The report is in the hands of the Government and of honorable members, and the contents are known to those who have chosen to read it. It will be remembered that the mission consisted of Sir Hugh Foot as chairman, and one representative each of the United States of America, India and Bolivia. I would like to say at once that Sir Hugh Foot is a very distinguished and able man who has had a lifetime of experience in high office in the British colonial service in Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean and elsewhere. Therefore, the opinion that is expressed by a mission of this calibre is not something that can be brushed aside by this Government or, indeed, by any persons who give their minds to this particular matter.
There are some people who have been arguing that the goal for East New Guinea should be to become the seventh State of Australia. This is a view that has been backed by some planters in the island and has been accepted by some people in Australia and even by members of this Parliament. To my mind, this is a completely misguided notion, because I cannot conceive that state-hood would be in the interests of this country or of the New Guinea people. The reason is that we are two different peoples at different stages of development, of different cultural backgrounds and of different races. I cannot believe that a marriage between two such diverse peoples could be in any way a harmonious one. Indeed, there would be in it the seeds of future troubles of every kind, future discontent and ultimately divorce or an unholy deadlock.
I cannot conceive that we would have the people of New Guinea passing freely as residents of another State into the rest of Australia in the same way as people may pass from New South Wales into Victoria or South Australia. I cannot conceive that this Parliament would work satisfactorily with representatives from New Guinea in the Senate and House of Representatives proportionate to the population of that island or, indeed, at all. One has to remember that whereas we now have an Australian population of something like 10,000,000 and New Guinea has a population in round numbers of something like 2,000,000, the population of New Guinea will tend to grow as public health improves. That is the first reason why I believe that such a goal as some have embraced is impractical. I believe we should set the feet of these people on the road to independence. That is a political reason.
The second reason is an economic one and that is the increasing cost, beyond our means, to develop New Guinea as it should be developed. This costs us at present between £20,000,000 and £30,000,000 a year. Any one who has read the report of the Foot mission will see that as the mission travelled round from one district to another in New Guinea, representations were made to it by the native peoples very much the same as the representations that are made by constituents of honorable members in this chamber. That is to say, there were continual demands for more public works, more services, and the expenditure of more money in a hundred and one ways; and just as we are not able to meet all these commitments on the mainland itself, so it would become increasingly impossible to meet them in New Guinea, particularly when you consider that New Guinea is even far less developed than is the mainland of Australia.
I do not believe we would be able to shoulder this increasing economic burden. So, we would find ourselves in a position where we would have greater demands made upon us for more political representation if we once set the feet of these people on the path to statehood. We should find greater and greater economic demands made on us as we embraced these people more closely to our bosoms. I believe that the object should be to set their feet on the path to independence.
The Foot committee has made three major recommendations and, of course, some others. It proposes a representative parliament within the next two years. Observing how fragmented the peoples of New Guinea are with all their different divisions and geographical areas, the committee felt that from a central parliament would radiate the idea of nationhood without which these people could proceed on the next step towards independence.
Let me say at once that the committee did not contemplate what is called independence in two years’ time. It contemplated rather that there should be a parliament where the chief Australian officials would still be the Ministers for some time to come and where, in the fullness of time, no doubt the natives, when sufficiently trained and educated, would take over but still with the assistance of the Australians who had the know-how they lacked and had their confidence. This would be a long process, but I believe it would be wise to take this step early rather than later.
If a child of three wishes to cross the road it usually understands that it cannot manage for itself, and it is prepared to take somebody’s hand. A child of ten may believe that it can manage for itself, and in trying to do so may run into all kinds of difficulties. At the present stage, New Guinea is more like a child of three, prepared to take the hand of somebody who knows how the administration should be carried on. It is, I believe, most important that we should proceed in advance of the local aspirations, rather than lag behind and incur all the odium that would be heaped upon us if we seemed to stand in the road of progress.
The second step that was proposed by the mission at this stage is that the World Bank should make a survey of the economic requirements of the area, and should consider how resources can be furnished to carry on the developmental work. This would mean the sharing by Australia of a burden that we are not in a position to shoulder ourselves, and it seems to me that it is entirely wise and proper that this should be done, in the interests not only of Australia, but also of the native people, who themselves must have the opportunity of promoting the development of their country.
The third proposal was that tertiary education should be greatly stepped up, and that the native people should receive such education, not only in Australia, but also in other countries.
I believe that these are salutary proposals, that they have been put forward by highly responsible people, and that it is in our interests to accept them. Of course, the happenings in West New Guinea must affect the situation and, without going into detail, because I have not the time to do so, I believe they will affect it in this way: We shall be forced to speed up our activities in order to keep in step with developments in the west of the island. I have no time to say any more on the matter at this stage. As I said at the outset, this is the only opportunity I shall have to raise what I consider to be a matter of urgent importance.
Now I turn to the Budget. I have nothing original to say on it, but it may be that I can make my comments in a somewhat different way from the way in which others have spoken on the subject. First, I would like to consider what a budget can do as an instrument of economic policy. On the revenue side, a government can impose taxes to curb expenditure by individuals or corporations, either generally or selectively. It can remit taxes to encourage spending by individuals or corporations, generally or selectively. Again, it can increase or reduce the money supply by budgeting for a deficit or a surplus. On the expenditure side, the Government can engage in public works, or assist the States and local government authorities to do so, either for their own sake or to encourage spending. Secondly, it can enlarge social services, either for their own sake or to promote spending. Finally, it can increase or reduce departmental expenditure. These are the things that a budget can do to promote the best interests of the economy.
What, then, is the state of the economy? An accurate answer to this question can show us how best the budget instrument can be used. The objective, surely, is to keep demand and supply in balance. It is like walking a tightrope. If you lean over too far on one side you can finish up with too great a volume of unemployed resources, including too many unemployed people. If you lean over too far on the other side you may find that inflation is gathering speed and prices and costs are going up. You have to walk this tightrope in the hope that you may promote both growth and stability. Let us be quite clear that it is a matter of walking a tightrope, and that opinions may differ on whether we should lean a little more on one side or the other.
Then I turn to the question of resources. These include, of course, labour resources, and to this extent the question has a bearing on unemployment. They also include plant and equipment, and we must consider whether plant is being fully used or is being overstrained at the present time.
Let me turn, then, to the subject of employment. What is the magnitude of unemployment and what is the trend at this time? In January, 1962, there were 130,000 persons unemployed - I am using round figures - while in July the number had been reduced to 90,000. In passing it may be observed that the reduction last month was the greatest reduction in July that has ever been recorded. Of course we will have school-leavers coming along later in the year. Their number has been estimated at about 80,000, but nobody can be precise about this figure. More young people are staying on at school these days, or they are going to other institutions of learning and not coming on to the labour market. At present the level of unemployment stands at 2.1 per cent, of the work force, and the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr. Monk, said at a Citizenship Convention two years ago that it was necessary to have, in effect, a mobile force, equal to about 1.5 per cent, of the work force, available for seasonal requirements. On the face of it, therefore, it appears that the level of unemployment at this time is something more than one-half of 1 per cent. I am leaving out of account those who may be called upon by Industry in the event of over-full employment, such as married women who normally are not employed, but who accept employment in those conditions.
How bad is the position in Australia, having regard to international standards? I have referred to the International Labour Review, volume LXXXV., No. 6, Statistical Supplement for June, 1962, and I have taken from this authoritative publication the latest figures, which happen to be for the month of March of this year, showing the level of unemployment in various countries. Taking North America for a start, we find a figure of 8.7 per cent, for Canada and 6.2 per cent, for the United States of America. Coming to the European countries, Belgium had a level of 2.2 per cent., West Germany 0.9 per cent, and the Netherlands 0.8 per cent. No percentage figures were given for France or Italy. The level in the United Kingdom was 1.9 per cent., and in Sweden, which is usually regarded as having a very progressive economy, 2 per cent.
It appears that the Australian figures are not badly out of line. I do not mean that our figures are satisfactory, but what we must remember is that we should compare our position not with what might be regarded as perfection, but with the position in other countries. We should see what we have done and compare it with what other human beings have succeeded in doing.
Now let me make a few remarks on the anatomy of unemployment. We must always have some degree of unemployment. As I have already said, we must have seasonal workers. Then there are people who change their jobs and who may be temporarily unemployed. Then we may have full employment for skilled workers but some unemployment for unskilled workers. I should think, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) suggested, that in this latter category there would probably be some unskilled immigrants who have difficulties with the language. There are the youths who might have trained when they left school during the boom of a couple of years ago, but who did not do so and now find themselves in difficulties because they are unskilled. Then there are over-age people who, because of inflation and the declining value of money, try to get jobs but find difficulty in doing so. Some of them may be classed as unemployed. You may have unemployed people in particular locations while jobs are available in others. You may have jobs aavilable for men but only women to fill them, or vice versa. Then there are, as I said before, married women who may be called on to fill jobs when labour is scarce. This has happened in West Germany, where women are doing all kinds of jobs. The divorce rate has gone up and homes are not happy. The price to be paid by the children has yet to be ascertained. But this is a social problem. I do not claim that the position in Australia is satisfactory, but I am trying to be factual about unemployment. I do not seek to diminish the tragedy of unemployment but at the same time the figures which the Prime Minister cited are worth repeating.
What is the position of those who are unfortunate enough to be unemployed? As the Prime Minister has said, in 1949, when a Labour government was in office, the adult breadwinner received £1 5s. in unemployment relief, his wife received £1, and 5s. was paid for one child. No provision was made for any other children. In addition, the breadwinner was permitted to earn an additional £1. In other words, a family of a man, his wife and two children was entitled to £2 10s., plus an additional £1 that could be earned. In 1962 the respective amounts were £4 2s. 6d. for the man, £3 for the wife, 15s. for each child - the benefit was not limited to one child - and in addition £2 could be earned. In other words, £8 12s. 6d. was paid by the Government and the breadwinner could earn an additional £2. Quite plainly, making full allowance for the decline in the value of money and everything else, this is a much more generous provision than the Labour government of the day was prepared to make. So let us cut out the nonsense about this Government being hard-hearted and callous and about the hearts bleeding of our friends opposite.
Let me mention in passing that in 1949 social service expenditure comprised 47 per cent, of the revenue derived from personal income tax. To-day it constitutes 72 per cent, of this revenue. So, the Government has not dealt unfairly with those who are unfortunate enough to require social services. Let us leave the matter at that.
The conclusion I draw so far is that there are too many genuinely unemployed people who need jobs to be created for them; but the number is not enormous and the requirement, therefore, is not for an enormous stimulus although some moderate stimulus to demand is necessary.
The second factor is plant capacity. I have not the time to mention this aspect in detail although the honorable member for Melbourne Ports made some reference last night to a survey by the Department of Trade in relation to manufacturing industries. The honorable member was somewhat selective, but I shall accept that there is in industry some spare plant, and that, if this plant were put to work, there need not be any inflationary consequences, whereas the goods produced would be of great value to the community. So there is need for some moderate stimulus because of some unemployment - not tremendous - and some spare plant capacity. This stimulus could be applied with advantage to the community and without inducing inflationary pressures.
I have dealt with the supply position in regard to labour and plant. What is the position in relation to demand? You can take various bases of comparison. You can compare 1960 with 1962, but 1960 was a boom year so a comparison with 1962 does not make this year look so good; or you can compare 1961 with 1962, but 1961 was a recession year so comparison with 1962 makes this year look better. You can even consider only the past few months. I have in my hand a publication by the Commonwealth Statistician entitled “ Monthly Review of Business Statistics, June, 1962”. These figures which are the latest available indicate an upward trend.
Let me deal with demand. I do not seek to conceal anything. Page 3 of the publication contains indicators of business activity. Taking June, 1961, and June, 1962, for purposes of comparison we find that the production of black coal increased from 2,146,000 tons to 2,324,000 tons. Total electricity generated increased from 2,266,000,000 kilowat hours to 2,495,000,000 kilowat hours. Production of ingot steel decreased from 330,600 tons to 326,700 tons. The number of new motor cars and station wagons registered increased from 14,200 in June, 1961 to 23,100 in June, 1962, while the registration of other new motor vehicles increased from 4,200 to 4,900. However, advances by private trading banks have remained almost stationary. I have not omitted or added anything. I have tried to be fair.
Turning to page 7 of the publication which relates to wage and salary earners in civilian employment, we find that 2,213,400 persons were engaged by private employers in June, 1961 and that by June, 1962 the number had increased to 2,261,000. The number employed by Government authorities increased from 807,500 in June, 1961, to 826,700 in June, 1962. The total number of wage and salary earners in civilian employment increased from 3,020,900 to 3,087,700 in the period under review.
Page 9 of the document deals with the number of wage and salary earners employed in factories. Even this number has increased in the twelve months under review. On page 11 is information relating to the value of retail sales. This indicates an increase of from £685,600,000 in the June quarter of 1961 to £710,100,000 in the June quarter of 1962. In the twelve months period sales of all building materials, with the exception of stainless steel sinks, have increased. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of new houses commenced. However, I have not the time to mention in detail all the matters covered in the publication. I have reached the conclusion that there is a very distinct upward trend. Some may think that it is too weak, but it seems to demand a stimulus which is not excessive although some stimulus is necessary.
What measures has the Government adopted to deal with this situation? I have set out the position and have mentioned the remedies available. The Government has remitted taxes, thus putting more purchasing power into the hands of private people. It has given concessions in the form of depreciation allowances to induce industry to spend more on plant than it has done recently, and it has budgeted for a deficit of £120,000,000- the largest peace-time deficit to date. Instead of increasing expenditure from increased revenues, which of course would have a depressive effect, the Government has increased the funds available to the States and to local government authorities from central bank credit. In addition, the Government will spend more on Commonwealth public works than it did last year. I think the Government’s proposal to spend £26,000,000 on various public works in itself will have advantages apart from increasing expenditure.
The Government also has increased substantially departmental spending. However, it has not increased social services. With this I agree. Social services represent an irreversible kind of expenditure. If you want tq stimulate the economy you need to pump more money into it, which the Government has done, but if the economy gets into a boom the process has to be revised and expenditure on social services is irreversible. It cannot be cut down.
Something should have been done for widows and about the provision of hostels for handicapped people. But these are lesser matters about which I shall have something to say during the debate on the Estimates. You should not, I believe, increase spending by increasing social services, particularly at a time when prices are relatively stable and within a couple of years of very substantial increases, especially in relation to the introduction of the merged means test.
I had hoped to say more on this occasion, but I shall not have sufficient time to do so. However, I have arrived at the conclusion that by and large there is some slackness in employment and in plant capacity which should be taken up, but the stimulus required to do this is only moderate. I believe that the Government has given the necessary stimulus. I have not had the time to dwell on what happens if you allow the stimulus to go too far and you have inflation with rising prices and costs, and all that this means to the primary producers - the exporters upon whom manufacturing industry depends - the people on fixed incomes, and the retired people who now are being compelled to seek work because the pensions that they receive are no longer adequate, having regard to the declining value of money, for their needs. Of course, these things are vastly important and must be so when Australia stands on the threshold of those adjustments which will become necessary if Britain joins the European Common Market.
.- Mr. Chairman, I think that taking July, 1961, as a starting point and suggesting that the Australian economy has since moved forward is rather a cheap sort of trick. We all know that in July, 1961, the economy had been brought to rock bottom by the effects of the Government’s previous attempts to strengthen it. Of the present Budget, I say, first, that it is a belated attempt by the Government to undo the damage that it had done on previous occasions and, secondly, that it is not sufficient. For these reasons, I support the amendment proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). My only regret is that the forms of this place required that he move for a reduction of £1 in the first item in the Estimates, whereas I should have liked to see a motion for an increase of, say, £50,000,000 in the expenditure proposed in this Budget. Later, I shall give the reasons why I suggest that so much more expenditure should have been budgeted for.
Quite a lot of statistics have been cited during this debate and, to some extent, it could be said that you pay your money and take your choice. However, Sir, I do not propose to enter into repetition of those statistics. I consider that it is sufficient to say that this Budget has been condemned on all hands. It has been condemned by economists, by political writers, by educationists and, generally speaking, by industrialists and bankers. Indeed, the condemnation has bee.n so strong as to put into the minds of the members of this Government the idea that this condemnation by all sections of society is in fact the real cause of all our troubles because it is destroying confidence. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the other evening, seeking some little let-out from his problems, analysed this Budget. He gave us what he said was the history of the work of his Government during the last twelve years, though not quite a complete history, as I shall demonstrate later. Then he said that everything would be all right but for the wicked Australian Labour Party! He said that what he described as the wicked Labour Party, with its calamity howling, had been responsible for the destruction of confidence.
– Hear, hear!
– I knew that I would not speak for five minutes without some ill-mannered lout in the Australian Country Party interrupting.
– Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
Continuing, I say that most of the condemnation - certainly, we on this side of the chamber have played our part in it - has come from people who belong to the sections of society that honorable gentlemen opposite really represent. I propose to quote some of the condemnation that has been published. The “ Taxpayers’ Bulletin “ is certainly not a Labour journal. In its issue of 18th August, 1962, that journal stated -
Now that the first reactions to the Budget have been expressed, the nation - and the Commonwealth Government - can resign itself to an uneasy, and short, period of “ wait and see “. That it will be uneasy is almost certain: The StockExchange quotations since the worst was made known are a pretty fair indication of the fact that the investing public is far from sharing the Treasurer’s optimistic view of the immediate future, while the latest figures on unemployment, issued early this week, will not do anything to create much of a silver lining to relieve the clouds marring the economic sky. (There was a fall of 3,037 in the registered jobless, but, of this, 2,089 was accounted for by seasonal recruitment for the Queensland sugar harvest.) That it will be short is definite: . . . So that journal goes on. If the “Taxpayers’ Bulletin “ is calamity-howling, for Heaven’s sake let the Government not blame the Australian Labour Party.
I turn now to the condemnation, not by the Melbourne Trades Hall Council or Mr. A. E. Monk, but by the secretary of the Victorian Employers Federation - a highly conservative body. The article in the Melbourne “Herald” of last Saturday evening, in which this condemnation is published, is headed, “ Employers say talks ‘Waste’”. It states-
This year’s Federal Budget gave little evidence of the much-publicized talks between the Government and industry, the Victorian Employers’ Federation claimed today.
The federation’s weekly service letter says the business world might well be pardoned for considering that the series of conferences were to all intents and purposes a waste of time.
The letter adds: “ Is the inference to be drawn that the Government is reluctant to override the recommendations of its departments, and are the departments out of touch with the realities? “
The service letter describes the Budget as one of the most conservative in Australian history, and Jacking in any spirit of enterprise.
The only conclusion to be drawn, it says, is that the business community is being left to provide the spur to confidence.
Again, that is not the Australian Labour Party talking. That is not the Australian Labour Party that is destroying confidence. “ Muster “, the official journal of the Graziers Association of New South Wales, is quite a conservative publication. In the leading article in its issue of 15th August, 1962, it talks in a similar strain. So, when the Prime Minister suggests that what he describes as the wicked Labour Party is responsible for the lack of confidence which we are assured exists in the community, and which I know exists, all I have to say is that quite a lot of other people are destroying confidence. I shall deal further with that later.
In this matter, we should take a fair cross-section of the community. Therefore, I turn to the “Australian Financial Review “. That journal, in its editorial in the issue of yesterday, stated -
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Government faces a crisis on unemployment.
Nothing in the Budget appears likely to do much to reduce the 80,000 to 90,000 jobless who seem to have become the victims of the current policy of “stability”.
It does seem, in view of the lack of positive action in the Budget, that the Government could be accused of preferring unemployment and easily manageable stability in costs and prices to full employment that brings with it the need for skilful Treasury management - skill that the Government evidently fears it lacks.
Not only the Australian Labour Party has come to the conclusion that the Government could be accused of that. The editorial continued in that vein and added -
But not only has the Government failed to cope with the present problem; it is evident that unless its attitudes change it will fall even further behind the struggle to achieve and maintain full employment.
The damning figures in the Treasurer’s Budget of the estimates of unemployment benefits, which indicate an average unemployment level of about 80,000 in the coming year, certainly provide no cheer either for those out of work or for manufacturers still operating below capacity.
You will recall, Mr. Chairman, that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition pointed out in the course of his remarks that the Government’s confidence in the restoration of full employment was such that in this Budget the Government had made an estimate of costs of social services covering an expected 80,000 unemployed. I suggest that the Government expects a figure of at least 80,000.
All sections of the community have condemned this Budget for what it has failed to do, for example for education and local government authorities. All honorable members, I think, would have received letters from education authorities about this, and also from local government authorities pointing out the burden that these authorities carry as a result of the refusal of the Government to make ex gratia payments to them in lieu of payment of rates on Commonwealth property and to give more aid for road works.
The Treasurer, in the course of his speech, suggested that in this Budget the Government had at least done a little more - not as much as it would like, but something more - to aid those who carry the burden of road construction. I quote from “ Federal News Letter “ No. 7 of the Australian Automobile Association, dated as late as 14th August. The article reads: -
The Federal Budget for 1962-63 contained only a passing reference to roads, nothing about road safety research or any other matter of special interest to road users as such.
A.A.A.’s President, Sir Norman Nock, said today he was very disappointed that the Commonwealth Government had completely rejected the Association’s representations for increased road grants.
Sir Norman goes on to expose some of the arguments that the Treasurer advanced in respect of aid for roads. Sir Norman Nock said, according to this report -
In his Budget speech the Federal Treasurer referred to an increase of £4 million in Commonwealth road grants for the current financial year. I would like to emphasise that there is nothing new about that.
The Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1959 provides that during the year commencing 1st July, 1962, the basic allocation shall be £46 million and a supplementary amount of £8 million shall be payable subject to certain conditions - that is, a total of £54 million. The corresponding figure for the preceding year was £50 million.
The extra £4 million referred to by Mr. Holt will be more than covered by increased revenue from Commonwealth taxes on motor spirit and automotive diesel fuel.
The Commonwealth Treasurer collects a little more than £4,000,000 extra and then gives back £4,000,000 to the States to help them in their road construction programme. Sir Norman continued -
The inadequacy of the 1959 Act has been proved quite conclusively by The National Association of Australian State Road Authorities, which has estimated that revenues available for roads, based on current scales of disbursement, will fall short of requirements by £810 million during the 10 year period 1960-1970.
The Treasurer by collecting a little extra revenue meets an approach for £181,000,000 with a dole of an extra £4,000,000 to the States. No wonder the States are up in arms. All honorable members have had communications from their constituents and local authorities about pay-roll tax levied on municipalities. I shall deal now with the continuance of the iniquitous payroll tax and taxes upon essential foodstuffs. No other country imposes taxes on essential foodstuffs. Australia is the only country that imposes such a tax, but the Government proposes to continue it. There is no suggestion that the Government in any way intends to yield to those who rightly and properly claim that assistance to education is vital if this nation is to exist as a European nation in an Asian setting. The Government’s plain answer to all such arguments is, “ No “.
The Prime Minister says that the Opposition is in error when it claims that this is a callous Government. Time and time again on the floor of the House we have raised one matter that should have received attention. That is the payment of a paltry £2 12s. 6d. a week to the wife of an invalid pensioner. The family receives the invalid pension plus that allowance of £2 12s. 6d. Quite frequently there is a sizeable family of children and they all have to exist - or starve - on this niggardly amount. So long as that situation is permitted to continue then this is a callous Government - and it does continue.
The Government’s treatment of widows whose husbands have been killed in the course of their employment is outrageous. This is a government whose worker’s compensation authorities have asked for, and have received, taxed costs in cases where a widow appeals against a refusal to award worker’s compensation. The Government on numerous occasions has asked for and has been awarded taxed costs against these widows. I want to say this: Not one single, solitary, private insurance company handling worker’s compensation insurance in Australia has asked for these costs except when the action taken by the widow has been frivolous - but the Commonwealth Government asks for taxed costs against widows. Not only does it do that, but in three cases that I have in mind it has refused appeal after appeal that I have made to the Treasurer. I have said that it is bad enough for a woman to have her husband brought home in a box, and bad enough that the children will be denied the future that apparently had been assured to them; but even worse is the fact that the AttorneyGeneral’s Department for two years persecuted these women for the sake of the taxed costs - a sum of about £200 each.
Of course, the widows could not pay that sum. They had been left with families of children and their bread-winners had been killed on the job. Finally, outsiders had to pay the money, not because they felt that the Government in any circumstances was entitled to it but because they believed that that was the only way by which they could relieve these women of their anxiety. These are only the cases I have cited.
Knowing that these things go on - and they have been brought to notice, but no action has been taken to correct them - the Government shows itself as callous. Can any one wonder if the Opposition says that you are a callous government.
– They have earned your title.
– They have earned the title, all right. The other night I had the opportunity of listening to the right honorable the Prime Minister. I was not very disappointed at what I heard. He wailed and grizzled about the wicked Labour Party destroying confidence. He went back to 1949, as I thought he would, and said, “ This was my year of grace “. It was his year of grace, because it was in that year that he secured office. However, if it suits Government supporters continually to hark back to 1949, there should be no reason why we should not hark back to a time a few years before 1949. Continual attacks are made on the Chifley and Curtin Governments by Government supporters and by Ministers.
Is it not right and proper, therefore, to remind them that prior to the advent of the Chifley and Curtin Governments a government of the same political colour as this Government reduced the country to such a state of impotence that we were completely at the mercy of the Japanese? Is it not right to point out that, having done this, that government deserted in the face of the enemy and left the Chifley and Curtin Governments to clear up the mess, to organize the country and to gear it for a war effort that had never before been achieved by this country? Is it not right and proper to point out that not only did the Chifley and Curtin Governments organize the defence of Australia - they were able to do this because the people had confidence in them - but also at the conclusion of the war they rehabilitated 1,000,000 ex-service men and women and absorbed them into employment without any dislocation of the economy and with full employment?
This Government has said that, because of its alleged programme, there has been great development in Australia. The Government claims that it has shown much initiative. But honorable members opposite try to show that the Australian Labour Party is a moribund party incapable of imagination and incapable of formulating a programme. It was the Australian Labour Party that established the Royal Australian Navy and the Fleet Air Arm. It was the Australian Labour Party that established the finest and safest airline in the world; but this Government has sought to stultify it. The Australian Labour Party developed, as far as it could, an Australian overseas shipping line; but this Government has destroyed it and left our export trade at the mercy of overseas shipping combines. The Australian Labour Party laid the foundation of most of our social services. It commenced the great Snowy Mountains project, the opening of which was boycotted by the Prime Minister. This is development and this is vision!
The Australian Labour Party started the preliminary work on the standard gauge railway. During the war, it saved the woolgrowers and instituted orderly marketing, as far as it could. It established the Australian National University. It set about the task of organizing for the war effort in most difficult circumstances. It carried out the task of rehabilitating the 1,000,000 persons released from the Services at the end of the war, without economic dislocation. It established the great immigration programme, on which so much of our development depended, and at the same time followed a policy of full employment. It established the aluminium industry at Bell Bay, which this Government has sold.
In Victoria, it commenced the great Eildon Weir. It established the Gas and Fuel Corporation which played a major part in the development of the La Trobe valley and rendered Victoria completely independent of imported fuels. It commenced the construction of the great Portland harbour. These are some of the basic development works that the Australian Labour Party initiated. In the field of industrial legislation, Labour led the way in workers’ compensation, and, as I said before, this Government has not yet caught up with Labour in this field. Labour introduced annual leave for workers. This was done by the Queensland Labour Party. The McGirr Government introduced long service leave and the 40-hour week. It also introduced equal pay for the sexes. 1 could go on listing the achievements of Labour in the few years it was in office. These achievements will stand to the everlasting credit of this party.
The picture I draw is a picture not of a moribund party but of the only party on its record, supported by the legislation and activity that stands to its credit, capable of leading this country out of the morass and mess into which the Menzies Government has thrown it.
.- The honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay) has really had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to list the achievements of the Australian Labour Party. Even though he had a list of the achievements and read it for more than five minutes, he could not make it extend over a period of more than six years. We on this side of the chamber have never denied the achievements of the Australian Labour Party. Indeed, we have paid compliments to the Australian Labour Party for its achievements. But what we have said is that the present people who head that party are not worthy successors of those who went before them. When we say that the Labour Party is moribund, we do not mean that it has always been so. What we do is to compare the people who lead and are led in the Labour Party with the Labour leaders and the people who were led in the Labour Party in the past. By those criteria, the Labour Party is moribund.
Quoting other people who indulge in calamity howling does not do the honorable member for Darebin any good. This does not absolve the Labour Party from responsibility for the prevailing lack of confidence in the community. All it does is to put the Labour Party in the same category as the people he has mentioned, who are all representatives of pressure groups - groups that exist for no other purpose than to serve the narrow interests of their members. All the honorable member for Darebin has done is to put the Labour Party in the same category - a pressure group and not a national party capable of understanding the interests of the country as a whole and of being the alternative government.
I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on this Budget. I congratulate him particularly for his courage in withstanding the very strong and often intemperate pressure from the expansion-at-all-costs school, which has been so vocal recently. The fact that this school includes a number of normally sensible and responsible organizations and people has not made the Treasurer’s task any easier. When it has been widely suggested that the whole political future of the Government rests on the production of a certain type of budget, it is not easy to produce a different budget. Yet the Treasurer has done so. In other words, the Treasurer has displayed not only courage but also a considerable amount of moral fibre.
Like other honorable members, I am disappointed that the Budget does not contain provision for certain matters for which I have argued over a number of years.
– That goes for every one.
– Just listen to what I have to say. I am disappointed that there is no provision for a superphosphate subsidy or for relief of the hard-pressed farming community. These are things for which I have pressed for a considerable number of years. However, Sir, my disappointment that these measures are not included is more than compensated for by the fact that the overall economic effect of the Budget will be to benefit the export industries more than any other section of the community.
It will do this by ensuring price and cost stability, which are of more value to the primary industries than any other type of assistance the Government could devise. Because he is obviously not in favour of price stability, it is not surprising to find that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) in an hour-long speech, extending over 7,000 words, performed the quite extraordinary feat, which I should have thought was not possible, of not mentioning the primary industries once. Not once were they mentioned in an hour-long speech of 7,000 words! One can understand why - it is because that is to the credit of price stability and the honorable gentleman docs not believe in price stability.
What in fact this Budget does, despite the bleating of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues who have a vested interest in making it seem otherwise, is to establish a basis for sound expansion with a reasonable chance of maintaining the cost and price stability which has been a feature of the past eighteen months. Ever since I have been a member of the House I have adhered to the view that cost stability and its concomitant, absence of inflation, are the crucial factors in our future greatness and expansion as a nation.
There is no conflict between expansion and growth, on the one hand, and cost stability on the other. One is a prerequisite of the other. I do not want to overstate the position, Mr. Chairman, and for that reason I hasten to add that the reverse of that proposition is not necessarily true. It is possible to have cost stability without growth, and cost stability with stagnation. I am concerned merely to make the point that to emphasize stability is not necessarily to advocate stagnation, nor to produce it.
I go further and say that, in the long run, growth is quite meaningless without a reasonable degree of price and cost stability. Growth is not something which can be measured in terms of selected statistics, but is measured in terms of both an increase in the sum total of the nation’s resources and in their better and more efficient use in combination to produce higher living standards for all people in this country. Because inflation distorts our resource pattern, it is inimical rather than conducive to growth in the sense I have described, however spectacular production figures in particular industries may be. I should have thought, Mr. Chairman, that the events of the last two years would have seared this into honorable members’ minds.
Whatever may be thought about the course of events during I960, some of the production figures for that year were spectacular. To many people this period represented growth in the grand sense, and yet, because these increases in production were associated with rapidly rising prices, in November the Government was forced to act, with every possibility of a loss, or accept the certainty of much greater losses when the inflationary boom burst. This meant that the so-called growth which took place during 1960, as represented by record production figures in certain industries, disappeared, and only now are such results beginning to return.
Honorable members may well ask: What price growth without stability? Indeed, it is not growth at all, because it inevitably disappears. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition recognized this fact - I say this to be fair to him - when he poured scorn on the Government for the loss of production that occurred. I think £700,000,000 was the figure he put on that loss. But does the honorable member draw the correct conclusions from these facts? Of course, he does not! At the same time as he castigates the Government for these losses, he castigates it for not pursuing a spending policy which would inevitably lead to another credit squeeze and the same losses again. There is not a word in the honorable gentleman’s speech to indicate that he recognizes the vital importance of price stability.
The ironical and amusing side of the honorable gentleman’s effort the other night was that in this context he should have criticized the Government for stop-go policies. Sir, stop-go policies on the grand scale are the inevitable result of expansion, which has no regard to price stability. That some restraining action by the Government will be necessary in these circumstances is as inevitable as night following day. Yet the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who advocates and presents to the Parliament a policy which would result in unrestrained inflation, has the temerity to castigate the Government for stop-go policies!
The Government has demonstrated, at least by its Budget, that it recognizes the clear connexion between price stability and the absence of stop-go policies, and the associated connexion between price stability and enduring national growth. This is something that honorable gentlemen opposite have not even begun to understand. It may be as well, for the benefit of those who remain unconvinced of the importance of price stability, to enumerate some of the advantages that stability in the last eighteen months has brought in its train.
– It brought unemployment.
– I will have something to say about that in a moment. Stability has made it possible for the Government this year, without injustice, to defer any increases in social service and repatriation benefits. These items, as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) pointed out, have become omnivorous consumers of revenue, taking 91 per cent, of all proceeds from personal income tax and 25 per cent, of revenue from all sources this year. Is it possible that the action by the Government this year is the harbinger of a fresh approach to this massive built-in rigidity in the Government’s accounts; that, given future stability in the consumer price index, future advances in the social services benefit will be of a narrow spread and designed specifically to give really worthwhile assistance to those most in need, such as the measures which gave assistance, at reasonable cost to the revenue, along the lines of the rent allowance granted to pensioners a few years ago?
However that may be, Mr. Chairman, my purpose is to emphasize that it is the price stability over the last year that has made this possible. Without price stability it would not have been possible for the Government, in justice, to hold a line on this. This stability, in turn has made it possible, in a year of falling revenue, to continue the considerable tax concessions granted in February, to increase considerably direct Commonwealth spending on national development projects, to increase the amount made available to the States and thus the basic services which are a condition precedent to business expansion, and, finally, to increase spending on defence.
All this, in itself, is an impressive testimony of the value of price stability, and when there is added to it the fact that price stability has brought a period of wage stability, with all that that means to the accounts of the Commonwealth and the possibility for even growth of the economy, how any one can remain unconvinced of the virtues of price stability is quite beyond me.
Is it loo much to hope, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that the Government, by risking its political neck for the past two years, has made it possible for the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to relate future wage increases to increases in productivity which are the only increases from which the economy and the wage-earner benefit? If this proves to be so, then the determination of the Government to put price stability at the forefront of its policy will be seen as one of the greatest break-throughs in our economic history.
When all this has been said, the problem of unemployment remains. As the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) pointed out, even though, by overseas standards, our record - even at the peak of last year - has been more than impressive, our advanced social conscience in this country demands something better than elsewhere. I am not unhappy about that. 1 am proud that this social conscience exists in my country. Indeed, I regard it as a tremendous tribute to this Government that people have come to regard unemployment of less than one and a half per cent, of the work-force as part of the natural order of things. I would like, however, to place on record my complete and utter disgust at the ruthless way in which the “Opposition has distorted and used this issue, and the Australian social conscience, for their political purposes.
Where, Sir, in the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on the Budget can you find any rational discussion of employment issues? Where can you find any recognition of the relationship between employment and other economic variables? Where can you find any recognition by Opposition members that there is such a thing as over-full employment and that if you pursue the senseless, stupid policies that they advocate, designed to increase demand without limit, not only will you get full employment, but you will get overfull employment, with inevitable inflation of prices and costs? Then there will be a necessity for further action in respect of almost certain further unemployment.
Where can you find any consideration by these gentlemen, despite their alleged concern with the unemployment position, of the imbalance between the skilled, the semi-skilled and the unskilled in our workforce? This imbalance produces shortages in the skilled and semi-skilled sections of labour which endanger price stability, while there is still a considerable number of unskilled people registered for employment. What has the Opposition to say about this? Not a word - despite its central, crucial importance to the problem. I believe that we should give urgent attention to the whole complex issue of righting this imbalance. Such consideration should cover apprenticeship conditions, margins, retraining programmes and the maintenance of workers while retraining. Only in this way, Sir, shall we have a chance of providing employment continuously at levels demanded by the Australian social conscience, without endangering price stability.
I notice, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is going to solve all our problems by planning. Not only did he criticize the Government for not producing a national plan with targets, but, throughout his speech, he undertook, if Labour came into office, to plan for this and plan for that. We all know what this means in the hands of a Labour government, because we have seen it before - the natural urge of the socialists to control the lives and activities of their fellow men - the dull conformity of everyday life as everything is forced into a pattern dictated by dogma - the planned shortages as the springs of initiative dry up and enterprise wilts - the massive failures as all the little decisions, some of which may be wrong and others right, are replaced by one big decision which is as likely to be wrong as it is to be right. This is what these people mean when they use the word “ planning “.
A few years ago, they would not have dared to talk openly of planning for fear it would awaken memories of the misery and degradation in which we lived when socialist planning was last being practised. Now, of course, planning has become fashionable in other than socialist circles, and the honorable gentleman was emboldened in his speech wholeheartedly to embrace the word. I hope, Sir, that those who are disposed to look on planning as the remedy for all their ills, and are conscious of the honorable gentleman’s embrace, will not allow themselves to go further and be seduced by him. Let them remember that when socialists say that they are going to plan they mean socialist planning - nothing less and nothing more.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro admits that.
– Let them remember, too, that we followed the road of Labour socialist planning before. As for the current discussion on planning, it is not my intention to explore it in detail. I would refer the committee to the brilliant speech made by my friend, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), to the New South Wales Institute of Management earlier this year. Compared with his analysis, the efforts of the heterogeneous collection of economists and others which that bastion of private enterprise, the “ Australian Financial Review “, has gathered together, are just petty pieces of panacea peddling.
What is more, these pieces themselves emphasize graphically the inherent limitations in all types of planning because it is these people who have burst into print in the “ Australian Financial Review “, or people like them, trained in the same skills and techniques, who would be making the plans and doing the forecasting. Yet few, if any of them, are conscious of the limitations of their own techniques. All economic forecasting is based on assumptions, yet few of them admit what is known to be true: That these assumptions are as likely to be wrong as they are to be right. Members of the Labour Party, of course, have not given any coherent thought to these problems. At least, the “ Australian Financial Review “ has opened its columns to a few people who have thought about them.
Mr. Chairman, I have a great deal of time for the type of planning which aims, in a broad sense, to create the climate in which energy and initiative can provide the driving force for economic growth. 1 have a lot of time for the type of planning which tackles individual problems pragmatically as they arise. I have time for planning in which governments and industry exchange views about present and future trends. I have no time at all for planning which attempts to assimilate all economic activity to patterns dictated by preconceived targets. That way, in my view, lies stagnation.
I am disturbed, Mr. Chairman, by the underlying attitude of mind of many businessmen which finds expression in the nostrum of planning. Essentially, it springs from a desire on their part for the Government to shoulder responsibilities which they should be shouldering themselves. It is a desire for the Government to take the risks out of business - to cushion it against overseas competition and changes in our external balances, and to underwrite the expectations of their own investment decisions, however bad they may be, and to secure them against changes in fashion and technology - in short, to underpin their profits without putting a ceiling on them. This may be an exaggeration, but something like it seems to be the unstated assumption of much business criticism of government omission and commission in recent years. If I am right, or even half right, business should understand the risks it is running by pursuing this line. By attempting to take the risks out of business these people are in great danger of incurring another kind of risk - government ownership and control. Let us make no bones about it, the rewards for successful enterprise in an expanding and developing country like Australia have been and will be - given a continuation of the enterprise - very great. But the only justification for large rewards for successful enterprise, both morally and in the terms of the economic dynamic which is the great virtue of the private enterprise system, is the acceptance by business of the losses when enterprise is unsuccessful.
In other words, business must accept the risks as well as the rewards and one of the risks which business must accept in this enlightened age is that government will take and implement economic decisions in pursuit of its clear responsibility to even out the economic fluctuations and protect the interests of the Australian community as a whole. I would regret it if the Australian businessman were losing his desire to venture and to risk, because I believe that no better economic dynamic has yet been discovered. My concern here, however, is to sound a note of warning and to indicate where the path is likely to lead if the businessman follows the comfortable and seductive note sounded by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition when he talked of planning. The businessman may lose his ulcers and coronary occlusions, but he will lose his rewards as well. He will wake up one morning with a less worrying day ahead but will find himself working not for himself but for the State.
.- I am very much afraid, Sir, that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) will be very disappointed in my contribution to the debate, because it will deal largely with the question of national planning. Before I deal with that aspect, however, I would like to comment on some of the matters which the honorable member for Barker introduced during his speech and with which we, on this side of the chamber, could not possibly agree. I feel that the honorable member placed over-emphasis on this question of stability, although not in the sense of price stability, because we are a responsible political party and realize, just as much as do supporters of the
Government - possibly even more - the necessity for price stability if we are to develop our export markets, particularly for the products of our great primary industries. But I think the honorable member’s political philosophy prevents him from appreciating some of the facts of political life in this country at the present time.
The honorable member for Barker referred to the stop-and-go policy. Government supporters have made much of this point, but we of the Australian Labour Party agree that there are times when it is necessary to apply the brakes. While honorable members opposite emphasize that they would not like to ride with a driver who never applied the brakes, I submit that it is also a most unpalatable experience to ride with a driver who does not use his gears. Many of the problems of boom that the Government’s economic measures have been designed to overcome were created by this Government, either by its deliberate policies or its neglect of those signs which should have taught it to go into second gear. So we have this stop-go policy, with all the harm it has done in the Australian community, not only to those people who have been out of employment and to whose fate the Government seems to be completely indifferent, but also to those business people who have lost the results and rewards of perhaps a life time of hard work and whose assets have been destroyed by the Government’s economic policy.
The honorable member for Barker referred frequently to the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). I can understand why he should try to call attention to some of the facets of that speech. By doing so he hoped to draw attention from the very dreary and unpromising Budget introduced by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). But there are some things of merit in what the honorable member for Barker had to say. I agree with what he said about re-training workers. I believe that the unemployment we have to-day, and the problem of so many of these people who can only seek labouring work, are not purely the result of the Government’s economic measures, but also are part of a long term trend in the Australian economy.
I feel that this Government, in conjunction with the State governments, has to come to the realization that we, in this country, need to set up a new level of education aimed at re-educating those people who, by virtue of progress, have lost their jobs. Many of them are process workers and the like and, having lost the jobs that they undertook probably in their ‘teens, they are unhappily in the position that the only employment they can seek is labouring work. I feel that this is something that this Government - and the incoming Labour government - and all State governments will have to give some attention to in the future.
The honorable member for Barker made one reflection with which I did not agree. He seemed to suggest something that has been suggested in this chamber previously; namely that money spent on social services is money wasted. He said that he detected some sign of a narrowing in the expansion of social services and he felt that any improvements made in this field in the future would be more reasonable than those made in the past. The Australian Labour Party believes that by increasing social services the Government would not be wasting money. The people who live on age or invalid pensions are not in a position to hoard their money. They spend it all and they spend it mostly on consumer goods such as food and clothing. In our view any increase in social services is a direct subsidy to the primary industries of this country, because most of the money derived from social service benefits is spent on food. Any one who disagrees with this view has not had much to do with age and invalid pensioners in this day and age.
I support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition because I believe that, apart from other shortcomings to which he referred, the Government has failed to make adequate provision for northern development, both by way of financial allocation and in its policy of immigration. I want to point out that in advocating these things we of the Australian Labour Party are not being parochial. I represent the electorate of Brisbane, which is not included in the area of the development I am advocating. I believe that this is the great national problem of the present time. I suggest that the Government should, as an initial move, have set up a plan to spend £1,000,000,000 on northern development over the period of the next decade with the object of placing a population of from 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 people in the north of Australia during the next 30 to 50 years.
I am not one of those who paint dismal pictures of Asiatic plans to descend on this country and take it from us, but I think we must face the facts of life. We live in a world the population of which will double before the end of this century. It is expected that by the year 2000 there will be about 5,500,000,000 people in the world. We have not only an obligation to our Australian people, but also a moral obligation to the people of the rest of the world to develop our national heritage and to provide population and development of all kinds in the northern area of this continent which, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) pointed out in his policy speech last year, contains 40 per cent, of the area of Australia and only 4 per cent, of its population. 1 believe that this matter of northern development is one that the Government has never honestly undertaken.
I suggest, first, that we should define a boundary of northern Australia. Many people have suggested that the 26th parallel of latitude might be a suitable southern boundary.
– Where does it pass through Queensland?
– It cuts approximately through Maryborough, and north of that line lies some 40 per cent, of the area of the Australian continent. I believe that the Government should tabulate in the Budget Papers every year the amount spent on northern development to enable us to assess just how much government expenditure is taking place in this great national task of developing the north.
In his policy speech last year, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said the Australian Labour Party would appoint a Minister for Northern Australia and would set up a northern Australian development authority. This Government, which in recent times has accepted so much of Labour’s policy in an endeavour to invigorate the economy to some degree, would have been well advised to adopt some other planks of Labour’s policy. It might well have taken this plank as a first step towards developing the north. I want to emphasize that this is a national problem and we members of the Australian Labour Party, including those from Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, do not advocate this in a parochial sense.
– Not much!
– I do not live in the area in question and this is a task which, if undertaken and carried through to success, would be of great importance to every member of the Australian community, whether he lives in the sunny parts of the continent or the more populous areas of the south. We have a great number of problems which will require a great deal of government investment initially. I emphasize that I am not one of those people who believe that the north of Australia will be exclusively developed by government enterprise, but I do believe government enterprise has to create the economic pattern in which private enterprise can develop and flourish in the north. The greatest obstacle to northern development at present is the political philosophy of the Government, which is not prepared to use government enterprise as a means of development and consequently has no answer to the problems of development of the north.
I should like to outline some of these problems. The first is the lack of coordinated scientific investigation of northern development. In the past we have had an investigation here into, for example, the geology of an area. Somewhere else we have had an investigation of soils. We have had the excellent Forster report on the agricultural potential of the Northern Territory and an investigation into agriculture. But on too few occasions have we had any attempt to integrate all these investigations and to produce a balanced account of a region. This is something that is not done overnight. I advocate Commonwealth expenditure on a scientific investigation into water resources, soil surveys and the establishment of research stations, both agricultural and pastoral, in order to establish the most effective way to put people on the land.
I am one of those members of the Labour Party who agree with the comment made by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) recently when he indicted all parties for their failure to develop the rural areas. I also agree that much of the planning that has been undertaken for northern development in the past has been done on too narrow a scale and in too hurried a manner. I should like to compare the development schemes in the north of Queensland as examples of this sort of thing.
The first is the Burdekin River scheme. I am not saying that the Burdekin River scheme has not a great capacity for development, but I am merely giving an account of what has happened in the past. The Burdekin River is one of Australia’s great water-ways and in the 1940’s and early 1950’s, a great number of people were settled on tobacco farms at Clare, Millaroo and Dalbeg. Investigations were carried out by the State government at the time, and it was worked out that these people could make a sound living on 40 acres of tobacco soil. A preliminary weir of the Burdekin dam - the so-called Gorge weir - was built at the foot of the Burdekin gorge. These people were settled on the land - many of them were soldier settlers - with a maximum capital advance of £7,500.
Somewhere about eighteen months or two years ago, the present Queensland Government had to go to the rescue of these settlers because it was found that, in some cases, the blocks of land on which they had been settled, although 40 acres in area, contained only eighteen to 22 acres of tobacco soil. Therefore, there was not sufficient land for these settlers to make a living. It was also found that the advance of £7,500 that they could obtain under the war service land settlement scheme was about half what they would need in order adequately to develop a tobacco farm at this time. That means that, however praiseworthy the idea, these people were settled on land without any chance of success.
I do not believe the Burdekin scheme is a write-off. I believe that the Burdekin scheme is capable of a great deal of development; but I contrast what happened in the Burdekin with what has happened and is happening in the Mareeba-Dimbulah scheme in north Queensland. This scheme provides for the damming of the Barron River at Tinaroo. The waters can be taken by irrigation channels across to the Walsh River and from there, if allowed, may flow into the Gulf of Carpentaria. The advantages of this scheme are threefold. First, it will provide water for agricultural purposes. Secondly, as in the bad droughts of last year, reserves of water can be discharged into the Gulf rivers for pastoral purposes. Thirdly, it ensures that the Barron Falls hydro-electric project can be operated at capacity. It is, in every respect, a well-planned scheme and a highly economic scheme, and I would point out that it was established by a Labour government. It is one of Australia’s best examples of a balanced scheme of this kind and the sort of scheme that we oh the Labour side believe should be used more in northern Australia.
The Mareeba-Dimbulah scheme provided £8,000,000 last year from tobacco. This was £8,000,000 worth of prosperity. You can see it in the main street of Mareeba, in the motor cars, the shops and houses, both in the town and on the tobacco farms. Men are being placed there on 80-acre blocks of tobacco soil. They are able to get into production in a short space of time. Only recently when Queensland members of the Australian Labour Party visited this area we found places where men had seed beds under way within six weeks of taking possession of the land and, indeed, before a house had been erected.
This is an example of a well-investigated scheme. Unlike the Burdekin scheme which I understand was surveyed on a onemile grid, this area was much more accurately mapped, and a man gets 80 acres of tobacco soil which means he may own a farm of up to 100 or 110 acres. The important thing is that he has 80 acres of land which he can work by rotation for the cultivation of tobacco. I and other members of the Australian Labour Party believe that we should do more of this sort of thing in northern Australia. If we are going to develop the north we will have to build large dams and associated irrigation works. A great deal of preliminary work must be done. The Queensland Irrigation and Water Supply Commission believes that before a decision can be made on the most economically suitable site for a dam, streamgauging must be carried out over a period of between 30 and 50 years. Very few of the water courses in northern Australia have been stream-gauged. Even on those on which dams have been erected streamgauging has been carried out for only ten or fifteen years.
We must avoid this kind of haphazard planning, which has hindered the progress of northern developmental schemes in the past. Considering the amount of money that must be spent to erect a major dam, the proportion which is needed for streamgauging is very small indeed, and it is money well spent. Sixty-five per cent, of the Australian stream flow occurs north of the Tropic of Capricorn. I point out to honorable members from the southern States that, apart altogether from Queensland, more water flows into the sea from the Kimberleys and the Northern Territory in an average year than from all the rivers of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. It is time that we undertook some of this development on a national basis, instead of leaving it almost exclusively to the States. The States are doing all they can. They have strained all their resources. The Tinaroo scheme, which I have previously mentioned, was financed entirely by the State. It is true that a small amount of the money which was allocated to Queensland to help to alleviate unemployment, I think about £30,000, has been spent on irrigation channel construction during the past year. That allocation has now been used up. A little more money has been made available, but whether it will be allocated to irrigation work I cannot say.
For years we have been hearing about the potential of northern Australia. We know that it has great mining potential. There are great iron ore deposits in Western Australia and in the Constance Range area of the Northern Territory. We are aware of the achievements at Mount Isa. Northern Australia is capable of much more mining development, but I, and other members of the Australian Labour Party, hope that this development will not be carried out as it is to-day, simply for the purpose of exporting iron ore, bauxite and other raw materials.
– And coal. ‘
– Yes, and coal, as the honorable member for Petrie (Mr. O’Brien) has reminded me. These raw materials can be used to establish processing industries and manufacturing industries in Australia, and more particularly in the north of Australia.
We have a great opportunity in the north to increase beef production, but this will be delayed until better transport facilities are available. We can also develop our agricultural industries. Of course, a great deal of capital investment will be necessary. In this day and age we cannot expect people to go on the land without any of the amenities of life, and we must find money to provide transport facilities, water supplies, electricity, education services and so on.
I agree with the statement made by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) the other night, to his erring and straying colleagues of the Country Party, that the most important market of all is the home market. I visualize in the north of Australia a market which does not exist to-day which will be of the greatest advantage to the primary producers of this country, including those whom we can place on the land in northern Australia. At present we are faced with the problem of over-population in certain areas. People will go to the north only if we are prepared to induce a suitable economic climate by public investment. The Government is hindered because its members arc dedicated, purely and simply, to private enterprise. They do not seem to realize that private enterprise can never develop the north. As my friend, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) said, in this day and age private enterprise lacks the initiative and incentive to develop the north.
– How was Mount Isa developed?
– I am not opposed to developments that have taken place in the south-eastern corner of Australia, but 1 remind the committee that that area gained its impetus from early industrial development. Such development is continuing to-day. The impetus is lacking in the north of Australia. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) asked me, by way of interjection, about the development of Mount Isa. I thought the Minister would have been aware that Mount Isa Mines Limited owed a great deal to the State Labour Government of Queensland for the assistance it gave that company over many years. lt gave assistance by way of concessional rail freights and bank guarantees when Mount Isa Mines Limited found it very difficult to raise necessary investment capital. However, I give full credit to Mount Isa Mines Limited for the magnificent job it has done in that area. I would only wish that more of its profits remained in Australia.
The Government deserves to be indicted for continuing with this Budget, economic policies that have had serious effects on our important immigration programme. Immigration has helped the economic expansion of Australia probably more than any other factor over the last twelve or fifteen years. A stop-and-go policy cannot be applied to immigration, even if it can be applied in other directions. When there is unemployment in Australia migrants go back to their homelands. People in overseas countries lose confidence in Australia. A few years ago immigrants would come to Australia knowing that they would obtain employment. To a man who can obtain employment in this country anything is possible, even though costs may be high. Confidence in obtaining employment has been destroyed. The Australian Labour Party advocates a policy of immigration designed not only to bring people to Australia, but also to settle them in the north.
We should encourage settlement in the north, not only by immigrants, but also by people from the southern States. Under the present immigration scheme thousands of cane-cutters have been brought to Australia every year. However, cane-cutting is a seasonal occupation, and when the seasons have concluded these cane-cutters have been unable to find employment in Queensland and have had to go to the southern parts of the country. The only solution to this problem is to undertake some of the projects that I have suggested which would provide employment the whole year round, and keep these people in the north. The Australian Labour Party believes that our immigration policy should be directed at establishing a satisfactory level of population in the north of Australia. Queensland and other States are losing much of their population, particularly young people, because of a lack of job opportunities. The solution to this problem varies from area to area. It can be solved only by the Commonwealth Government accepting its responsibility in this matter. That is something which this Government has entirely failed to do.
I repeat what I said earlier in my speech, that the Government’s policy is a barrier to the progress and development of the north. The Government has failed to realize that private enterprise alone cannot develop the north. The Australian Labour Party believes that government enterprise is the answer to the problem. I have often heard people in the north say that when we in Canberra think of northern development, we turn around and get the sun in our eyes. The time has arrived for the Government to get the sun out of its eyes and adopt some of the proposals of the Australian Labour Party for the development of the north.
.- I find it very difficult to reconcile some of the points of view put forward by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cross). On the one hand he has espoused the dearly beloved socialist five-year plan, and on the other hand he has admitted the necessity for private enterprise to develop the north. He has said that this Government has done nothing to develop the north. Let me remind him that not only have large sums of money been allocated for the construction of beef roads, the work on the Mount Isa railway and for other purposes, but also this Government has recently made a nonrepayable grant to Queensland to give further stimulus to the development of the north. But let me utter a word of warning about this. I have been in our northern areas and I believe that we must ensure that what we produce there will not require subsidies and will not be difficult to market. We must move with caution.
I wish to refer to the Budget speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), and to direct the attention of the committee to some of his comments. He referred to the Government’s determination to follow through with its expansionary programme until the economy is operating at the highest level of activity we can hope to sustain. That is the Government’s first and predominant aim, and it is worth repeating to honorable members. The right honorable gentleman said -
But we must not concentrate the whole of our attention on the immediate future. We have to look to the period beyond and establish conditions and put action in train that will encourage and promote and provide a sound basis for continued expansion.
That is the foundation underlying the 1962-63 Budget. In budgeting for a deficit of £118,000,000 the Government has not sought any additional revenue by way of increased taxation. Instead it has limited our regular payments out of revenue, as far as possible, and has looked to those things which are non-recurring because nonrecurring expenditure does not tie us up for a long period. Labour’s proposals, however, provided for an expenditure of an additional £42,000,000, mainly on increased social services. It is apparent to every one that to inject this amount of money into the economy would have a completely detrimental snowballing effect. If the recurring expenditure which was proposed by the Labour Party were permitted, no government could bring the deficit back into balance in the immediate future.
The Treasurer also stated -
From the external standpoint, with trade competition sharpening and likely to sharpen further, and the unknown possibilities of the Common Market ahead of us, it is critically important that they should not happen.
He was referring there to proposals which would start a sudden upsurge of demand.
Much has been said about the European Common Market. There can be no doubt that in the immediate future the Government will be faced with expenditure to protect those industries, both primary and secondary, which will be disadvantaged when the final bargain has been struck in Europe. I refer in particular to the communities which surround certain industries such as the dried fruits industry. Action will be needed to assist those industries. -This means that not only additional funds will have to be made available but also that revenue may have to be reduced. For instance, the Government may have to abolish sales tax on dried vine fruits, or on other foodstuffs, thus reducing revenue. In the near future we shall be faced with increasing expenditure following Britain’s entry into the Common Market. The Government, by this Budget, has ensured that we shall not be led along by the nose by these socialist promises of a welfare state and that we shall not be diverted from the principles which the Treasurer and the Government have espoused. Of course, this is completely and directly opposite to the proposed profligacy of the Labour Party.
This Budget provides an additional £10,000,000 for defence. In other words, the allocation has been increased from £200,000,000 to £210,000,000. The proposal represents an increase of about £7,000,000 over actual expenditure last year. A goodly proportion of this proposed increase will be utilized in paying increased wages and in maintenance. Unfortunately, I must voice some disquiet at the Government’s defence policy, particularly in view of recent happenings in our north which have given us a common border with one of our Asian neighbours. My main criticism relates to the Army. The present organization of pentropic divisions may not be as efficient as its progenitors claim it to be. Nor am 1 fully satisfied that the second line of our Army defence, consisting of the integrated units of the Australian Regular Army and the Citizen Military Forces, will achieve in time the necessary cohesion and readiness to be efficiently on the spot as has been claimed by the planners.
Specifically, I am concerned about equipment. I understand that originally the Government proposed to adopt the United Kingdom .280 rifle, but then the United Kingdom followed America’s lead and adopted the FN rifle with a view to allowing interchangeability, but the Americans then changed their minds and produced the 30 rifle, which is roughly similar in calibre to the 7.62-mm. FN rifle. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) placed a question on the noticepaper addressed to the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) in relation to the interchangeability of ammunition between the American .30 rifle and our 7.62-mm. weapon. The Minister replied -
The Australian-produced 7.62 mm. ammunition is designed to be interchangeable with the American.
However, I understand that the American ammunition has not been subjected to a great deal of testing in our weapons. I believe that at anything like a rapid rate of fire difficulties could arise when using the American ammunition in our locally manufactured Lithgow rifle. I am sorry that the decision taken has been made. The British 280 weapon proved, in many exhaustive tests, that it acted particularly well, even in the hands of partially trained or, indeed, untrained people. As was claimed by Samuel Colt for his first revolver, it made the man behind it feel as if he were 9 feet tall. This is the sort of equipment which we need. With a sparse population and limited defence forces, we need exceptionally good weapons.
In this new programme, particularly in the Army, Sir, there has been a campaign to reduce the weight that the infantryman carries. This campaign has been particularly good. The infantryman’s equipment and ammunition have been lightened and, on all counts, he can move on his flat feet with much less discomfort than he ever could before. This, I think, is highly commendable and has been particularly effective. I compliment the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who is now at the table, on this achievement. However, there is one inglorious departure from this principle of reducing the weight of equipment. I refer to the field artillery, where the 105-mm. United States howitzer has been adopted. It is my opinion that the purchase of these weapons has been a retrograde step. Not only are these guns costing the Government valuable overseas exchange, but also they are heavy and cumbersome. Capable of a higher trajectory than are our 25-pounders, which they outrange, though not by very much, they have to be serviced with particularly heavy ammunition. As a matter of fact, a 3-ton truck can carry only 74 rounds of the ammunition for these guns, compared with about 340 rounds of 25-pounder ammunition. There may be many places where it is very difficult, in action, to get a 3-ton truck near the guns.
This American howitzer has another disability, Sir. The blast area of the shell is at least 250 yards in diameter, with a preponderance of back-blast. This sheil is not suited to close support for infantry, but, using 25-pounders, the artillery can range within 100 yards ahead of the troops. It is a matter of fact that no artillery concentration reaches saturation point on a target. This has been proved time and time again. Artillery must be used in close support. In such a situation, the enemy keeps his head down and the infantry are on him before the concentration of artillery fire has had time to lift. This sort of operation cannot be undertaken behind fire from 105-mm. howitzers. People have said, “ We have purchased the Italian howitzer, which is lighter”. As a matter of fact it is provided with shafts so that it can be pulled by a horse. It is light, and that certainly gets away from the cumbersomeness of the American 105-mm. weapon. The shell which the Italian howitzer fires, however, has the same blast disability as has the projectile from the heavier weapon. So, I repeat that we are still at a disadvantage in close-support operations.
Another point about the American howitzer is that it cannot be serviced in Australia. If the recuperator system fails, the assembly has to be sent back to the American manufacturers to be put in order. Things of this sort cause me a good deal of disquiet. I believe that if we had stuck to our 25-pounder weapons and perhaps used 4.2-in. mortars in conjunction with them, we would probably have had as much coverage as is provided by the American howitzers and would perhaps have been able to wait until a better weapon came on the market. The Canadians have a 75-mm. screw gun which, I am informed, is extremely good for the kind of jungle operations in which we can expect to be engaged.
One of the most important maxims of warfare is that all military arms exist to support the infantryman. Present aircraft of supersonic capability and performance cannot provide close support for infantry. They can only bomb big targets and so on. Artillery weapons and mortars are the sole armaments suited to supporting the infantryman in limited operations. High-angle guns such as the American howitzers have yet another disability, because enemy counterbattery radar can pick up a high-trajectory shell very easily, locate the battery from which it came and enable the enemy to put that battery out of action.
I think that we should have another look at these things. I am rather disturbed to learn that 200, I think, of the considerable number of 25-pounders that we still have were recently sold for about £25 each for scrap metal or for public display and by branches of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. I think it is time that we refused to let our military thinking be completely overwhelmed by and tied to United States logistics. We must see that our Australian forces have the flexibility and capacity needed by small forces operating in jungle conditions.
Another matter has given me rather grave concern, too, Sir - the problem of readiness. There is no doubt in my mind that the troops required to be at readiness can be at their stations in a short time. But what worries me is the fact that they will have to be moved by aircraft. We have twelve CI 20 Hercules aircraft available for transport work. One can say that, normally, about eight will be serviceable at any given time. The normal proportion of serviceability is about two-thirds. We have also H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “, the converted aircraft carrier, which will carry transport and heavy equipment. But we cannot move all the troops in aircraft. Some must go by sea. This means that we must have convoys of ships for the movement of troops. I am surprised to find that there seems to be no provision for the Royal Australian Navy to play its natural role in the protection of such troop convoys. Indeed, I doubt whether the Navy would have the capacity to protect troop convoys without calling on vessels already committed to the British Commonwealth Strategic Reserve.
All these matters represent real and very grave problems. They fill me with disquiet. J would hate to see us again go through the sort of frustrated fumbling that we went -through in 1939 should we be called on again to defend our country and our people. 1 mention these matters to the Minister for the Army, and I hope that my observations will not be forgotten. I know that we are committed to a certain degree, but I trust that some of these things will be looked at again.
I should like to turn now to the subject of housing and the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, Mr. Chairman. This Budget provides for further expenditure on housing. For the most part, the States allocate the funds provided under the agreement to the State housing authorities. Of these funds, normally, 70 per cent, goes to the State authorities and 30 per cent, to building societies for the construction of homes for rental or for purchase and for slum reclamation. At the present time, particularly in Victoria, State housing authorities are spending large sums on slum reclamation by the demolition of substandard cottages and dwellings in the inner suburbs of the capital cities or in the cities themselves, and the construction of huge blocks of multi-story flats up to four stories with what are known as walk-ups and up to thirteen stories with elevators.
This appears to me to be wasteful use of public funds. The only virtue in it is that facilities and services are available on the spot. The slum buildings having been demolished, the land is too dear for ordinary housing development, and multi-story buildings have to be constructed in order to get from rentals a return compatible with the value of the land and the cost of the building which is constructed on it. This seems to me to be a matter, not for governments, but for private enterprise, which will deal with the land within the requirements of the regulations or ordinances of the local authorities concerned and construct suitable buildings from which a reasonable return will be available.
I believe that the right thing to do is to use the public housing funds to acquire land in the outer suburbs, provide services such as roads, water and sewerage and anything else that is needed, and construct houses in which the people displaced from inner city areas can live in decent surroundings, with front and back yards suited to the typical Australian way of life. We should do this and get away from these cesspools which appartment blocks in inner areas overcrowded with population become. A thirteen-story block has been built in South Melbourne and no one with a child under the age of nine may live there. If a married couple living in one of these flats have a child they have to get out. Those are the sort of things occurring. People are compelled to pay rent; they cannot buy a home unit in a thirteen-story multi-unit building. This money should be used to build homes that the people can purchase. Previously, a condition against the erection of multi-story fiats was included in the agreement but apparently has since been removed. A case can be made out for a thorough examination of this approach. I have seen similar projects in overseas countries and it is really remarkable how fast these buildings become slums. If you put a man on his own plot of land with his own bungalow he starts to live a decent life. He should not be crowded into these multistory flats.
I want to deal now with social services. It is true that in this Budget no major departure has been made from the norm that pertained last year. I realize that we have had to curtail some things and I have mentioned the reasons. However, I believe some anomalies can be found in the Social Services Act, particularly in respect of “ A “ class widows. It would cost very little to adjust those anomalies, and I would have liked to have seen them adjusted. I refer first of all to permissible income, other than pension, for “ A “ class widows. If a widow has one child her permissible income is limited to £3 10s. a week, plus 10s. for the first child - or less if she has assets in excess of £1,000. If she has two or more children her permissible income is limited to £3 10s. a week plus 10s. a week for each child. That is not very much for a woman who has to bring up several children. If these limits had been fixed at a reasonable level so that she could earn, say, £6 10s. a week if she had one child, or £8 a week with two dependent children, she would have a fair chance to do something for her family. The cost to the revenue would not be more than £250,000 a year.
The “ A “ class widow faces also this wretched anomaly in respect of student children. A widow with three children is faced with the problem that when her first child reaches the age of sixteen, even if he is still at school, she loses the allowance. The same applies with the second child. Not until the third child reaches sixteen years of age and is still a student does the allowance continue until the child reaches eighteen. By this time the other two children are earning and can assist, but the time when she needs assistance is when the first child turns sixteen - yet her allowance for the child ceases. Why should any child of an “ A “ class widow be denied the opportunity of a university education - if the child is bright enough to undertake the course - simply because his father has passed on and the mother is in straitened circumstances? Here again, the cost probably would be no more than £250,000 a year.
I turn now to the definition of “ B “ class widow. If an “ A “ class widow is under 45 years of age when the youngest of her children attains the age of sixteen years she loses everything. Her pension is taken away and she gets nothing until she turns 50, when she qualifies as a “ B “ class widow. If, however, she is 45 years and one day old when the youngest child attains sixteen years of age she gets the “ B “ class pension. This limit could well be removed and the age fixed at 50 instead of 45, as at present laid down in the act. The removal of this anomaly would cost only about £100,000 a year, rising to about £200,000 over a number of years. I think something might have been done about telephone rents for blind persons. The waiving of rents in these cases would cost not much more than £60,000 or £70,000 a year. I know that some of these matters will be examined and I hope that during the coming year, without waiting for budgetary consideration, something can be done along those lines.
Another matter that worries me relates to repatriation pensions. An ex-serviceman who served in an operational theatre can at the age of 60 obtain an age pension for which the civilian has to wait until he is 65. But that ex-serviceman’s war pension is taken into account in determining his permissible income. Because he gets his age pension five years earlier he is restricted in the amount that he may earn. 1 do not quarrel with this arrangement during that five-year period1, but when he becomes 65 he finds that the civilian pensioner is able to receive a pension of £5 5s. a week and is allowed to earn, or have superannuation of £3 10s. a week. However, the exservice pensioner’s war pension is included in the income means test. This means that a man who receives a war pension as a result of a disability - he might have been wounded or his lungs might be affected - is at a disadvantage. His war pension is set off against permissible income and, if greater, then against his service pension. This is a complete negation of the idea of a war pension, which is given to the man to compensate him for his disabilities. I believe that at this stage, that is, at the attainment of his 65th birthday, we should not take the war pension into consideration when computing the permissible income of an ex-serviceman. A war pension is not taken into account for taxation purposes. A man might be a millionaire, but he does not have to include his war pension as part of his income. These are things that should be looked at.
I want to deal quickly now with defence forces retirement benefits. An anomaly exists with regard to single contributors, particularly women, such as nursing sisters, who contribute for many years while they are in the services. If they are killed in a car accident only their contributions are repaid to the estate. That is all that can be done at present. Something should be done to give a Commonwealth supplement of from 50 per cent, to 100 per cent, to those people who have for years made these contributions - particularly single women in the services.
Another matter is the question of roads constructed under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act. Originally, a case was put for extra money for rural roads. Pressure was brought to bear and under the agreement 40 per cent, of the allocation went to rural roads. That has been in force for quite a number of years and I think that now even the honorable member for Mallee has a good road right up to his front door. During this time highways in and about the capital cities have been suffering very badly. We do not call for additional funds, but we think it is about time that some re-adjustment of this 40 per cent, took place. I have a letter from the Lord Mayor of Melbourne from which I propose to quote. The letter reads -
The insertion in the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act of the provision that forty per cent, of the allocation must be spent on rural roads points to the fact the Commonwealth in the past recognized a Commonwealth-wide problem and legislated in an appropriate fashion. Today the pressing problem is not rural roads, but metropolitan highways, and it is equally appropriate that the Commonwealth should legislate in a similar manner to help overcome the problem.
Again this is something that the Government should look at. The Treasurer in his speech said -
It would be easy enough to wreck all this by some ill-judged stroke - some action that caused a sudden upsurge of demand or a sweeping addition to costs in industry. It could be eroded, too, by the edging up of prices and costs over a widening field until a rising spiral began again.
In other words, the Budget has been brought down to achieve and maintain stability. It provides an economic plan well suited to sustain stability, from whence sound progress can emanate in the future.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- A variety of views has been expressed by honorable members opposite on the relative merits of the Budget, but I think the practical test of its value is whether it can achieve the results that the Government hopes it will achieve. I do not think it can. Therefore, Opposition members criticize the arguments that have been advanced in support of it. I join with Opposition members in supporting the censure motion that our deputy leader has moved.
In my view, posterity will show that the 1962-63 Commonwealth Budget is one of the most austere documents ever presented to the Parliament. It is not only austere; it is also uninspiring and lifeless. This year, large numbers of people will be much worse off than they were previously. In a speech lasting one hour and 21 minutes, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) not only put some Government supporters to sleep, but he shocked others into silence by the barrenness of the Budget. In that one hour and 21 minutes he committed the nation to spend £2,087,760,000 without providing one new concession for those who so badly need help. Some 2,000,000 people, including school leavers, pensioners and the unemployed, who live either on the dole or base pension or receive wages of less than £700 a year, will be much worse off this year than they were previously. Despite what may be said to the contrary, living costs have not been stabilized, but are still rising. Power and fuel prices, as well as rates, taxes and rent, are continuing to rise, and already this year there is evidence of an increase in transport costs in various States.
The Budget can be simply described as a budget of fear and procrastination - fear, because the Treasurer is afraid of booms and prosperity, procrastination, because the right honorable gentleman has a penchant for stop-and-go policies. These policies have brought some industries to the brink of bankruptcy and have completely destroyed others. The Treasurer, in my view, has done more to harm and retard Australian industry and the economy than did any other Commonwealth Treasurer. He never has been able to make up his mind about, or correctly assess, the needs of the nation or understand the difference between progress and expansion on the one hand and inflation on the other hand. 1 know that Government supporters argue that the Budget provides the maximum funds that will be available to the Government this year both from Consolidated Revenue and loans, and that it is designed to promote employment opportunities as much as possible. I violently disagree with this contention. I think that the Government is riding for a fall; its monetary policies are unpopular. The Budget shows an amazing manipulation of revenue disbursements and the use of credit, which the Treasurer often describes as loan moneys. The Government has always had a happy knack of juggling the figures to suit its policies, but the failure of the Treasurer to provide something for the under-dog in this Budget is the beginning of the end for the Menzies Government.
It will be remembered that about this time last year, when unemployment was at its peak of about 130,000. the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) challenged the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), when speaking in the Budget debate, to state where he would get the money he would need to restore full employment if the Australian Labour Party were returned to office. When the Leader of the Opposition said he would, if necessary, budget for a deficit of more than £100,000,000, the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and Government supporters alike cried in horror that it could not be done. They said that if the Government resorted to the extravagant use of central bank credit, the country would be ruined. But in this very Budget that we are debating now, the Treasurer has budgeted for a deficit of £118,000,000! Yet it has not provided one penny piece for the widows, for child endowment, for the unemployed or for pensioners.
The Budget is so bad that one would think the Treasurer had been got at and I say to the right honorable gentleman, in race-course parlance, that he ought to be swabbed to find out whether he is fair dinkum.
The Budget papers show that, while the national debt has grown to £4,500,000,000, in the last five or six years the Commonwealth debt has been gradually reduced. The State debts are rapidly increasing, and in my view this shows that the States are being badly treated by this Government in the division of revenue. It is true that £422,500,000 is to be made available to the States from the Consolidated Revenue Fund this year, in addition to loan raisings for conversion purposes. But it is also true that State expenditures are increasing rapidly each year. Consequently, the effective funds becoming available to the States for domestic purposes are nowhere near as great as the Treasurer, the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) would have the Parliament believe.
Increased interest payments by the States each year bite deeper and deeper into the funds that are made available to them by the Commonwealth. For instance, the 1961-62 interest commitments of the Commonwealth were £55,455,000, while the States had to pay between them £130,663,000. The New South Wales share of the interest payable in 1961-62 was £45,042,000. In 1959-60, it was £37,830,000. This is an increase in three years of £7,212,000. It will be seen that the financial position of the States is steadily growing worse in the face of increased interest commitments.
In my view, the States are not being treated fairly. The Commonwealth unloads thousands of migrants on to the States each year. It then lends the States funds for housing, roads, local government and so on, and charges the States interest on these funds. The Government claims to be finding £35,000,000 each year for war service homes. This, of course, is true. But it says nothing of the £12,500,000 returned to it in interest payments on the loans made to the ex-servicemen each year, and these interest payments will continue to increase as the years go by.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. Chairman, prior to the suspension of the sitting I had been dealing with the division of finance among the States and had indicated that while the Government claimed to have provided £35,000,000 for war service homes each year, no mention had been made of the £12,500,000 which had been returned to it last year by ex-servicemen in interest payments.
On the other side of the picture, the Government, having complete control of the Reserve Bank of Australia, is able to use its resources to suit its own political ends. In an article in yesterday’s press the Treasurer announced that in this financial year the Government would pay £106,000,000 off the national debt. In the same article he said also that the Commonwealth had created new debts to an amount of £281,000,000. Any one reading that statement must assume that the country is going from bad to worse financially - and so it is. However, the Commonwealth, being able to tax and float treasury-bill loans, is able to use those instruments of finance to help itself out of trouble. Ever since 1956 the Government has had a very handsome and rich harvest of funds, taken from the taxpayer, in the form of the Loan Con solidation and Investment Reserve to an amount of nearly £738,000,000. Another source of supply of money has been, of course, that of treasury-bills.
It is in respect of the movement of the funds under the two headings to which I have just referred that the Government manipulates its monetary policies, for which the States suffer. It will be remembered that the financial year 1961-62 ended with a deficit of £27,000,000. One may ask how that was made good. The Budget papers showed that the deficiency was financed by the issue to the central bank of £22,000,000 in treasury-bills and by a reduction of £5,010,000 in cash balances. That is central bank finance. The deficit does not and will not form part of the national debt.
Similar funds have been used for defence purposes and, in my view, if they can be used by the Government in that manner to suit its purpose, then more could be used to provide work for people, and in flood mitigation, home-building, roads, schools, and a multiplicity of other works and services.
Sooner or later the public debt liability of the States will have to be tackled, otherwise it will strangle them. It is fast reaching the stage when State governments will be unable to cope with their interest payments while, at the same time, providing full employment and amenities for those who need them.
In my view, Mr. Chairman, it is somewhat paradoxical to see the people of this country paying huge amounts to this Government in direct taxation year after year and, at the same time, being taxed indirectly for consumer goods and services. In addition to that, of course, the people pay extra for health services. Is it any wonder that State governments have been obliged to impose various forms of taxation on the people in their States for mental institution charges, State social welfare, education at various levels, assimilation of immigrants, and so forth, to make good the deficiencies in Federal Government assistance? For many years now State governments have encouraged local government administrations to support the establishment of free public libraries, baby health clinics, tuberculosis X-ray clinics, assistance to pensioners in the matter of rates, formation of clubs, swimming pools, recreation centres and youth organizations. All those activities have become part of the Australian way of life, and I am of the opinion that the youth and people of Australia will not allow them to be taken away simply because the Government will not face up to its responsibilities in employment and finance - especially in a country which has so much to offer and so much to do.
This year’s Budget is the first in Australian political history that has exceeded the £2,000,000,000 mark, and I think it is worth mentioning, for the purpose of the record, that just twenty years ago, after the country had been three years at war, the federal Budget amounted only to £210,000,000. This Budget is approximately ten times as big as the 1942 Budget, and nearly four times as big as the 1949 Chifley Budget. To my mind it highlights the extravagance with which this Government operates, especially if we keep in mind the huge army of unemployed, the new labour constantly coming on to the labour market, and the thousands of pensioners who live on the base pension only.
It is my opinion that the increased expenditure provided for in the Budget will not materially or substantially alter the depressed state of the economy because employers, employees and business leaders alike have lost confidence in the Government.
It is quite apparent, judging from what the Treasurer said, that he is doing some kite-flying. Rather than face facts, he appears to be relying on good seasonal conditions to take up any slack that may appear in seasonal employment, and on the re-employment of unemployed. The Treasurer completely disregards the adverse effect that mechanization of industry and a diminution of trade are likely to have on future employment in this country. He completely disregards the mounting number of school leavers who each year are becoming available to the labour market. This year that number is estimated to be more than 200,000. By the end of the year it is quite possible that more than 150,000 people will be seeking employment, and the budgetary position is that for an extra £100,000,000, which has been made available by the Treasurer this year, he expects miracles to happen.
The Prime Minister, in defending the1 Budget a few nights ago, described it as an adventurous Budget. The right honorable gentleman went to great lengths to explain that the Government had budgeted for a £118,000,000 deficit, which, he said, meant that the Government would pay out to Australian citizens this year more than it collected from them. He said the money would create new works and services, which would re-employ large numbers of men and women in industry. The Prime Minister then accused the Opposition of crying stinking fish in the hope that every one would believe every one else to be in utter poverty and misery. What utter rot! The Prime Minister, in his assessment of the Budget, grossly distorted the effects it would have on the community. He completely disregarded the fact that thousands more than the 90,000 now registered for employment are out of work. I have known many young people to have been deregistered for employment by Commonwealth employment officers because, they have claimed, the persons concerned had not been trying to get employment. Hundreds of new Australians are not registered for work because they are scared of employment officers. Many married women are available for work but cannot be registered because their husbands are in employment.
Here is a typical case of a new Australian woman, aged 61 years, who has been in Australia just over three years. She is unable to obtain the unemployment benefit. I have in my hand an application form that she gave me this week. She has to return this form to the employment officer in Newcastle, but is still unable to obtain the benefit.
The Prime Minister apparently refuses to acknowledge that some 200,000 youths and girls will leave school at the end of the year or that 125,000 migrants will come to this country during this financial year. Does the right honorable gentleman know that thousands of seasonal workers will move out of shearing sheds and from the cane-fields, and from other seasonal occupations, before the financial year closes? Does the Prime Minister imply that these people can live off their fat for some months during this year? What will he do to provide employment for seasonal workers? The Prime Minister’s assessment of the Budget is distinctly dishonest. No one knows better than he that the £100,000,000 by which expenditure has been increased over last year’s Budget will not provide national economic stability.
If we examine the manner in which the greater part of the year’s expenditure is appropriated we shall see that there is very little prospect of much improvement being made in the employment field, because departmental expenditure alone will absorb more than half of the increased amount of money that has been made available this year. For instance, social service expenditure is to be increased by £22,382,744; departmental expenditure by £8,637,335; repatriation expenditure by £6,362,606; broadcasting and television expenditure by £1,319,880; and expenditure on Territories by £4,878,825. Those five items cover about £43,000,000, and if we add almost £7,000,000 for defence we find that half the Budget increase is accounted for. Increased costs incurred by State governments in one form or another will absorb much more of the remaining £50,000,000 without employing one single person. The Prime Minister conveniently forgets that of the £422,000,000 which the States get this year, large sums will be eaten up in increased costs and increased interest payments both to the bond-holders and to the Government. To my mind, it is the Prime Minister who is crying “ stinking fish “, not the Opposition.
The continued unemployment of the thousands of unskilled people who constantly seek work throughout the country must surely cause concern to every member of this committee who has any conscience at all. Unfortunately, not many members on the Government side of the Parliament make any sustained effort to ensure that something tangible is done by the Government to re-employ those who have only their labour to sell. I should have thought that members of the Australian Country Party would have had a special interest in full employment, because consumption of primary production solves the problem of the farmers’ surplus production, but apparently they have no such interest. There is not one single, legitimate reason why any person should be drawing the dole. Nor is there any reason why some people are described and accepted as being unemployable. 1 believe that every person, unless he be an invalid, should be and could be gainfully employed if the Commonwealth Government would only make it possible by providing the necessary funds for employing authorities.
Canada, to-day, is concentrating on immigration so that she can expand her home markets for primary and secondary goods. But this Government refuses properly to feed its unemployed and its pensioners so that it can export primary products and manufactured goods. That illustrates the difference in the economic thinking of the governments of the two countries. Statistics show that Canada is by far the best off economically. In this Parliament, we are always told by Government supporters of the impracticable approach of Labour to monetary policies, but I suggest that time will show the members of this Government to have been the guilty men of this decade because of their failure to provide full employment for the people and thereby utilize our natural resources to the fullest extent possible.
In every city and town throughout Australia urgent work needs to be done, and in practically every city and town some people need employment. Local government and semi-government departments could absorb all the unemployed that we have. Road works, bridge repairs, kerbing and guttering, reclamation and hundreds of different types of work are all waiting to be done if funds were provided, yet thousands go hungry, waiting for work. In every city, and in a great many towns throughout Australia, the health of the people suffers through lack of modern hygienic facilities such as water, sewerage and drainage. I challenge Government supporters to state why extensive sewerage works could not be undertaken in cities, particularly capital cities, all over Australia, and especially in those which have outlets to the sea.
Lack of sewerage in the major cities of Australia is a disgrace to this Government. In Sydney and Brisbane, within a few miles of the general post offices, are thousands of homes, some of which have been built for more than 30 years, that are still without sewerage. In many places, the sullage water runs down the street gutters.
I believe that to be a possible cause of many types of illnesses such as hepatitis and golden staph, which are so prevalent from time to time and which have caused so many deaths. Generally speaking, the health of the people is being undermined, and this warrants the censure of the Parliament and the people upon the Government for its failure to do something about it.
Because this Government has failed to make available sufficient funds to the New South Wales Government for sewerage and other works, the water and sewerage authority has sewered some areas while leaving others unsewered. It has been compelled to concentrate on the less difficult terrain so that the maximum number of homes may be sewered with the money available. But the occupants of the homes that have been by-passed in these instances are the victims of this Government’s monetary policies.
Mr. Chairman, what are the basic elements in the employment of unskilled labour, especially in the work to which I have referred? May I suggest that they consist of raw materials, food and labour? This country has an abundance of all of them. Practically every water board and local government authority in the country has the trained personnel to undertake major sewerage or other semi-government work. The same authorities have surplus plant and machinery available and the staff to maintain it. The raw materials needed, such as clay, coal, cement and timber is in plentiful supply. Farmers are producing a surplus of food which is going to waste because it cannot be sold. The Government is screaming out about the loss of overseas trade, while our own people starve for food and are unable to find work. Yet this Government refuses to find the money to employ unskilled labour. In my view, Mr. Chairman, the Menzies Government stands condemned before all decent people for its failure to provide an opportunity for people to obtain work.
The Prime Minister boasted that his Government was assisting the States in the standardization of the railway system, and in effecting improvements to port facilities for the export of coal and for the quick turn-round of shipping. I am delighted with what the Government is doing, but it has been a long and painful extraction. It was difficult to convince the Prime Minister that port improvements were really necessary. If a study is made of “ Hansard “ it will reveal that many Opposition members, over the past ten years, have consistently directed the attention of the Government to that very problem. We have been warning the Government for years that Australian ports have been deteriorating rapidly, and that it was beyond the financial capacity of State governments to effect improvements. But what was the reaction of the Prime Minister to my pleas, and those of the late Mr. Rowland James and Mr. David Watkins? We were told over and over again by the right honorable gentleman that harbour and port improvements were the responsibility of State governments and that the Commonwealth did not intend to do anything about it. Then, after about six years, the Government has tried to win credit for itself by announcing, last year, that it would provide financial assistance for port improvement at places where export coal is loaded for overseas trade.
While appreciating, Mr. Chairman, what the Government is belatedly doing, I regret that the Prime Minister has left his run about three or four years too late as far as the permanent export of coal to the East is concerned. At the present time, a Japanese trade mission is in continental China negotiating the purchase of coal for use in Japanese industries. In my view, if political differences can be overcome between the two countries, Japan is certain to sign an agreement to purchase coal from China, because the Japanese would be able to purchase it at a price far lower than that at which Australia can supply it. Japan needs coal and China needs steel. Therefore, I believe that an agreement is a certainty between the two countries.
Mr. Chairman, in 1957, I was able to see something of Chinese industry and of that country’s vast mineral resources. The Japanese have an extensive knowledge of Chinese mineral resources, especially those in Manchuria. In China there are various grades of coal, much of which is of very high quality. Steaming and coking coal is most plentiful. I saw open-cut coal being mined which, after washing, was sent all over Manchuria in great quantities to industrial plants. In my view, should Australia lose its coal markets in Japan, the blame for that can and will be placed fairly and squarely on the shoulders of this Government, for its failure to assist financially in port development in the States much earlier than has been the case. Another aspect of unemployment with which I wish to deal briefly is the demoralizing effect it has on the youths in our cities.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman, listening to the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths), one would think there is not one good thing in Australia. In fact, he did not have one word of commendation for any aspect of Australia’s development, except for the tribute he paid to the assistance given by the Commonwealth Government towards the development of port facilities in Newcastle, because that development is of benefit to his own electorate. An honorable member opposite says, by interjection, that the honorable member for Shortland was eulogistic. I did not hear him eulogize in any way. Although this Budget provides for the expenditure of over £2,000,000,000, the honorable member for Shortland had not a word of commendation for any aspect of it. Let us look at the Budget more positively than he did.
Among other things, the honorable member said that Canada was better off than Australia, economically. He was talking about unemployment. As he has judged Canada by its degree of unemployment, I would remind him that there is about 6 per cent, of unemployment in that country. That is a conservative assessment of the present position. Comparatively speaking, Australia is much better off than Canada in that regard. The honorable member also said that this Budget is four times as big as the last budget of the Chifley Government, and I accept that statement. That shows the expansion and development which have been undertaken since we became the government of this country.
I do not want to be unkind, but I must say that I think the honorable member was irresponsible when he spoke of using treasury-bills for all manner of things - to meet all the needs of this country, such as development and social services. There is always a day of accounting. Deficits have to be paid back and accounted for. Surely the honorable member’s view is irresponsible in the extreme.
I wish next to deal with the question of loans and their use by the States. The honorable member talked about the Commonwealth’s use of loan moneys, but he knows that the record of the Commonwealth towards the States is very good in this regard. Last year and this year we did use some overseas loan money for the Snowy Mountains scheme, but previously all the loans raised were passed over to the States for their use and we guaranteed from Consolidated Revenue any requirements in excess of the loan raisings. I think we should put the record straight on these things.
I believe that this Budget, showing a deficit of £118,000,000, signifies the determination of the Commonwealth to follow through with its expansionary programme until the economy is operating at the highest level of activity that we can hope to sustain. We have decided to continue at full strength all the expansionary measures that we have adopted progressively since 1960-61. This Government believes in more and more development. We believe that development in so many spheres gives the basis for more and continued employment. Unless we make the right approach to development we might have employment for the time being, but it will not be sustained employment. The purpose of this Government is to have the type of development which will sustain full employment in this country.
The aims of the Government are to open up new and great resources, to enlarge and modernize existing facilities in our economy and to enlarge the sources of our export income. Every honorable member opposite knows that that is true. That has been and continues to be our policy. This is indeed a Commonwealth development Budget.
One honorable member opposite asks who wrote my speech for me. I do not have to go to outside executives to get notes for my speeches, and then read them badly, like some honorable members opposite. In my notes I have only headlines. If I did not know the details of my department, I would retire from it. Although the honorable member opposite who interjected has to get somebody else to write his speeches for him, he need not think that that applies to members on this side of the chamber, because it does not.
The development of Australia is reflected in the increased allocation of funds to the States. As the honorable member for Shortland said, payments to the States this year will represent £422,500,000. That is £26,000,000 more than the comparable figure in the last financial year. Financial assistance grants to the States this year are tentatively estimated at £305,000,000, in round figures, an increase of £13,000,000 over last year’s figure. Commonwealth aid roads grants this year will amount to £54,000,000. These grants have been increasing at the rate of £4,000,000 each year, and that is the increase in this year’s Budget as compared with that of last year. Commonwealth assistance to universities, which was not known in the time of the last Labour Government, will rise this year by £1,733,000 to a total of almost £16,000,000. The amount of the special grants to Western Australia and Tasmania recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission for this financial year is £11,250,000, which is slightly more than the sum recommended for this purpose by the commission last year. Legislation to authorize these grants will be introduced by the Government later this session.
Within the total figure for payments to the States from Consolidated Revenue there is an interest-free additional grant of £12,500,000. This, of course, is in addition to the £10,000,000 voted for similar grants in February of this year. The Commonwealth is making these grants to the States to finance employment-giving activities. There is also provision for several amounts of Commonwealth assistance for developmental projects in certain States. Expenditure in the Northern Territory is expected to rise by approximately £1,500,000. The Commonwealth is giving special financial assistance to the States, and at the last meeting of the Loan Council the Commonwealth agreed to support a financial programme for State works and housing, reaching a figure of £250,000,000, as against £92,000,000 under the Labour regime in 1949-50. Over the past eleven years the Commonwealth has provided from its own resources £800,000,000 to support State activities and development.
As regards new phases of development, we have projects for certain purposes, more particularly the increase in exports which we require to maintain and better our economy. We have had a record year, with £1,078,000,000 of exports. We seek to open up new resources and to facilitate the transport of exportable produce because we believe that if we provide the means of transport in the inland of this country, the initiative of the Australian people will be such that they will open up the country. You cannot expect them to do that if transport facilities are not available.
Then we seek to promote the development of the outback including the north and the north-west. The net result will be the provision of additional employment in areas where employment is difficult to find to-day or where it is inconvenient to get employment. We seek to decentralize our industries in that way in addition to building others in the larger cities as we have done since we became a government. These projects include the Mount Isa railway. We have guaranteed two-thirds of the finance so that the railway may be reconstructed and so assist considerably the employment position in that area through the expansion of the Mount Isa company and its activities. This year the vote will be £8,195,000. Last year it was £3,750,000.
– Queensland has to pay back the money.
– I thought it would be amortized and be paid back by those who use the railways. Why should the taxpayers have to pay back something that is being used by a company to increase its profits? The honorable member has a queer outlook. This is a matter of business expansion. We believe in business expansion which assists employment. We have a progressive outlook. The Opposition talks a lot about unemployment but it does nothing to assist the unemployed.
The beef roads are another project. We have undertaken to provide £5,000,000 in five years for this work in Queensland, but on top of the guarantee given last year, and which indicated that they could spend the money as fast as they could use it, this year we have provided another £250,000 so that the roads that are being constructed can be sealed. Otherwise, they would deteriorate. The amount allocated to Queensland in the Budget this year is £1,480,000 compared with £650,000 last year. If Queensland asks for more, we are in honour bound to supply it.
We have a record for opening up the north and north-west of Western Australia. This year the State is to get £700,000 for beef roads, compared with £500,000 last year. This is in addition to £5,000,000 to be found over five years for the development of Western Australia. In the Northern Territory, this year we are providing £1,000,000 for beef roads. So we have a plan to link up the whole of the north and centre of Queensland and the Channel country wilh the Northern Territory and the northern part of Western Australia. In this way, the whole country will be developed more expeditiously. In addition to the £1,000,000 for beef roads in the Northern Territory, more than £1,000,000 will be spent on new construction, improvement and maintenance of roads other than town roads in the Northern Territory in 1962-63. The financial provision for the three to four-year programme of beef roads in the Northern Territory totals £4,500,000.
In addition to this programme of development, we have assisted in the improvement of Newcastle port facilities and the port at Gladstone in Queensland. We have helped in opening up the coal-mining areas in Queensland also. But time will not allow me to develop these matters and I turn now to cost stability.
Much has been said about Australian costs and the need to keep them under control, the assumption being that cost stability has not been achieved. It is time we stopped living in the past. This Government has stabilized costs. For the past fifteen months, the factors that make for costs have been stabilized or have fallen, thanks to this Government’s economic policy. The consumer price index was the same in June, 1962, as it was in March, 1961. The wholesale price index declined from 1 1 1 at the end of 1960 to 105 in May, 1962. The overall index of prices paid by farmers has been stable over the past year. There have been some declines in prices of equipment and supplies while wages, rates and taxes showed some rises. The import price index has remained stable since early 1961.
In these respects, we have done much better than most of our major competitors and our markets overseas during the past year. The wholesale price index, as I have said, fell by 7 per cent, in Australia but rose in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan. It fell slightly in the United States of America and New Zealand. While the consumer price index of Australia had no movement, it showed rises in all countries I have named except Canada, where it was stable. The index of prices paid by farmers was stable in Australia and Canada but rose by 1 per cent, in the United States of America. This is an achievement of which this Government can be justly proud.
As the Minister with the responsibility of administering the Department of Primary Industry, I noted with interest that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), when leading the Budget debate for the Opposition, made no reference whatever to primary industries. I think it is a crying shame that the Opposition did not recognize these great industries through the speaker who led for it because our economy depends so much upon that sector. One has to look to another speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to see his approach to these matters. In his speech on the European Common Market, the honorable member made great play of the newspaper comments in the United States that Australia was tending to place too much emphasis on the damage to Australian trade which could result from the United Kingdom’s admission to the European Economic Community without proper safeguards for Australian trade.
This argument indicated the approach to this matter of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He does not think it matters very much to primary industries if we lose this export trade as the result of the United Kingdom’s admission to the European Common Market. One can only judge him by his remarks and the inferences to be drawn from them. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said nothing about primary industries in his speech on the Budget, and his other speech on the European Common Market was all against any suggestion that damage could result to Australia. Now the honorable member has cited the United States of America and its opinions. Nobody suggests that the judgment of the United States in this matter would be unbiased anyhow because the preferences we have secured from the United Kingdom and on which we have based our trade were brought about by the isolationist policy of the United States in the first place and its decision not to trade normally with countries that wanted to trade with her. So when we study the approach of the United States now to this matter, we know that America wants preferences annihilated or eliminated, whichever word one wishes to use.
The Americans are biased to that degree and naturally they would voice that opinion through their newspapers, But does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition say that it does not matter to the Australian butter producers if the European Common Market absorbs the United Kingdom trade and leaves us stranded? The honorable gentleman gave figures about the canned and dried fruits industry. He said we supplied almost all our canned and dried fruits to the United Kingdom. Does the honorable gentleman think it does not matter if we lose that trade because our preferences on the United Kingdom market will not be preserved? Does he think it will not matter if the European countries can supply the United Kingdom duty-free while we have to pay heavy duties? Does he say it is of not much moment? Is that the view of the Australian Labour Party? Do the members of that party believe that all these things do not matter much, and that we are really exaggerating the case for the primary producers? 1 want to emphasize that it is our right and our duty as a government to put up the best possible case and to get the best possible deal.
I gay. also that we have not fallen down on the job of seeking other markets. No one can accuse us of neglecting that task. If I have the time I shall prove to the com mittee how we have found many new markets overseas while we have been fighting to retain our existing markets.
Referring to particular commodities, 1 shall mention, first, canned fruit. In the United Kingdom market Australia has enjoyed a 12 per cent, preference over her main competitor, the United States of America. Unless a satisfactory solution is found to problems that have now arisen, Australian fruit will face a 25 per cent, duty in the United Kingdom. Italy, which is in the Common Market, and in which country the production of canned fruit is increasing, will have free entry to the United Kingdom market. How can our American friends, or the members of the Opposition, who take the American rather than the Australian viewpoint, claim that we are exaggerating the possible damage of Great Britain’s entry into the Common Market? From a position in which we enjoy free entry to the United Kingdom market, we will be forced into a position in which we will face a 25 per cent, duty. We will lose our 12 per cent, advantage over the United States of America and we will face Italian competition on much worse terms than exist to-day, with our tariff advantage reduced to the extent of 37 per cent. Despite these facts, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition implies that this primary industry will not be greatly harmed by Britain’s entry into the Common Market.
Let me refer also to the possible effects on exporters of apples and pears. They will lose existing preferences and will have to meet duties of 8 per cent, and 10 per cent, respectively for these exported goods. In addition, if they want to export to Europe at all they will have to comply with a series of regulations drafted to cover European conditions and European varieties of these fruits. Exporters pf dried fruits will face a duty of 8 per cent, and will be placed at a disadvantage to this extent with exporters in Greece and probably Turkey, over whom they have enjoyed this degree of advantage in the past. Who among our critics will tell me that in these circumstances the dried fruits industry will not suffer export losses?
Our coarse grain exporters will lose their present 10 per cent, preference in the United Kingdom and will face punitive levies on shipments to Europe and the United Kingdom.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Chairman. Is the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) entitled to show his lack of interest by reading a daily newspaper?
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– An honorable member who spoke for the Opposition told us that the six countries in the Common Market produce 98 per cent, of their own requirements of butter. He admits that they could expand their production. He admits that world markets are limited. He admits that the Asian countries have economic problems which make it difficult for us to sell our products in those countries. But he offers no suggestions for solution of the problem.
– On the point of order, Mr. Chairman, I think, with great respect, that I am right when I say that the honorable member for Barker is out of order in reading a newspaper.
– Speaking to the point of order, Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) had better have a look at “ Hansard “, to see where I have got my information regarding the contents of honorable members’ speeches. Let me say that this Budget makes available £13,500,000 for a subsidy-
– Order! There is no foundation for the point of order raised by the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
– I do not want to be difficult, Mr. Chairman, but I would like to make a personal explanation. I have been misrepresented.
– Order! There has been no misrepresentation. The honorable member will take his seat.
– It is obviously the honorable member’s intention to disrupt my speech because members of the Opposition do not want to hear the truth. They do not like the facts of these matters being brought to light. There is one statement I wish to make before concluding. I notice that my time is running out - in respect of this speech only, of course. Whilst we have been determined to fight as hard as we can to get the best possible deal for Australia’s primary producers, because this is of vital importance not only to those producers, but also to the Australian economy as a whole and to our overseas balances, we have also endeavoured, through the Department of Trade and various export organizations, including primary producer organizations, to diversify outlets for Australian exports.
– Order! I call to order the honorable member for Barker. I am surprised at his behaviour, especially after the Chair has tried to support the honorable member.
– The Commonwealth Government has diversified outlets for Australian exports, and these new markets are already showing very good results. An analysis of Australian exports during the past five years to seventeen of our most important customers overseas shows that our trading patterns are changing significantly. In 1957-58, the United Kingdom was by far our best customer, taking 27 per cent, of our total exports. The proportion rose to 32 per cent.’ in 1958-59, but since then the proportion of our exports that went to the United Kingdom has fallen fairly steadily. In 1961-62, it was 19 per cent. Our next best customer in 1957-58 was the group of six countries which now form the European Economic Community. Their share was then 22 per cent. For the past two years it has been 16 per cent. In other words, in 1957-58, the United Kingdom and the countries which now form the Common Market took 49 per cent, of our total exports. The figure fell to 35 per cent, in 1961-62.
Japan rose to second place among our overseas customers last year, taking 17 per cent, of our exports. In 1957-58, Japan took 13 per cent. The United States of America has moved up from fifth to fourth place, taking 10 per cent, last year as against 5 per cent, in 1957-58. On the other hand, New Zealand’s share of our exports dropped from 7 per cent, five years ago to 5 per cent, last year. Mainland China’s share of Australian exports rose from 1 per cent, to 6 per cent, in the same period. Eight other countries which are quite substantial buyers of Australian commodities have nearly all increased their imports from Australia to a significant extent in recent years. This has been particularly noticeable in the case of South-East Asian countries.
This change in trading patterns has come about during a period of substantial rises in our exports. Australia’s total exports in 1957-58 were worth £818,000,000, while last year the value was £1,078,000,000.
One of the markets in which we have been particularly successful in widening the range of our exports is Japan, which now takes 17 per cent, of our total exports. We exported to that country in 1957-58 a total of £102,700,000 worth of goods. By 1961-62, the figure had risen to £187,000,000. In this five-year period the value of our wheat exports to Japan more than doubled, our exports of hides and skins increased nearly fivefold and of wool by about one-half, while the value of exports of meats just about doubled. The value of exports of coal to Japan increased sevenfold, of copper ores more than sixfold, and of metals and metal manufactures about fivefold. There was some falling off in the value of sugar and lead ores exported to Japan, whilst barley exports fluctuated considerably during the period. Looking back to when we made the trade agreement with Japan five years ago, we remember that the members of the Labour Opposition voted against the agreement. If we had followed Labour’s lead we would not have been diversifying our export markets. The same position applies to Asian countries. In co-operation with the industries concerned - more particularly the dairy industry - we have invested funds in Asian countries to build processing factories with a view to exploiting those markets to the full by using some of the surplus butter which is available at present and which will become available in the near future should market conditions alter.
All in all, we believe that it is our duty - and we are fighting to this end - to protect our markets in the United Kingdom should Britain decide to enter the European Common Market. I have shown that over recent years we have also so diversified our exports that instead of 49 per cent, of our production going to that area we now send only 35 per cent, there and the balance to other countries.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has attempted to deride the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and has accused the Australian Labour Party of adopting a negative attitude towards the possible results to Australian industry, both primary and secondary, of Britain joining the European Common Market. Unlike some members of the Government which he supports, members of the Australian Labour Party have never denied the possible effects on our industries of Britain entering the Common Market. We have asked the Government to act rather than to adopt a policy of waiting to see what the effects will be.
The Budget, which is the subject of the present debate, has been referred to by honorable members on the Government side as a bold budget. The boldness of the Budget is as nothing when compared with the boldness or brazenness of people who ten months ago described Labour’s proposal to introduce a deficit budget of £100,000,000 as wild and inflationary and now support this Budget, which provides for a deficit of £ 1 1 8,000,000. Perhaps honorable members opposite excuse themselves by claiming that they are businessmen and financial geniuses and that in other hands deficit budgeting would be inflationary but in theirs it is acceptable. They have admitted once again that Labour’s proposals last year were the correct ones to adopt. In fact, Labour’s policy was supported by more than 300,000 electors at the election on 9th December last.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has asked the people to have confidence. The Australian Labour Party and the Australian people have never lacked confidence in Australia but they do lack confidence in this Government. The Liberal and Country Parties, despite their defence of the Budget, have admitted their lack of confidence in their own ability to remedy the economic ills of which the Treasurer has spoken by their refusal to contest the Batman by-election. They prefer to hold fast to government even with the very slender majority given them by Communist preferences. Surely they should keep faith with their supporters and contest the by-election, but they know the reception that the Budget has received and they know that it neither invites nor encourages confidence. The confidence of the people has been shaken so much by little budgets, supplementary budgets, precautionary measures, sales tax increases on to-day and off in 90 days, that I would not be the only person in Australia who is wondering whether there will be another supplementary budget early next year.
In his speech on Thursday last, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) mentioned how unemployment benefit had increased from 25s. in 1949 to £4 2s. 6d. to-day. It is quite obvious why he did not make a similar comparison in relation to child endowment rates which, with the exception of payment for the first child, have not been increased since 1950 to keep pace with rising costs and the consequent loss of purchasing power. It should be remembered that the unemployment benefit was increased only in February last after the Liberal and Country Parties had recovered from the shock they received from the electors on 9th December, 1961.
The fall in the number of unemployed has been too slow for the progress of the nation. In fact, a comparison between the number of registered unemployed in similar periods in 1961 and 1962 does not indicate any reduction. On Thursday last I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) whether he could say that his forecast that unemployment in Queensland coastal towns would be reduced had proved to be correct and whether unemployment had in fact been reduced. His lengthy reply was to the effect that unemployment had been very substantially reduced. Let me now compare the number of recipients of unemployment benefit in the coastal towns and cities of Queensland on 13th August, 1962, with the number in August, 1961. These are the districts which would be affected most by seasonal employment and unemployment in the sugar and meat industries. In Rockhampton there were 192 recipients of unemployment benefit in August, 1961. In August, 1962, the number had risen to 374, an increase of 182. At Bundaberg the number had increased from 314 in 1961 to 321 in 1962, an increase of seven. At Maryborough there was an increase of 122, from 198 in 1961 to 320 in 1962. At Cairns the number of recipients of unemployment benefit decreased by 68 from 382 in 1961 to 314 in 1962. At Townsville there was an increase of 87, the number having risen from 257 in 1961 to 344 in 1962. At Mackay the number of recipients of unemployment benefit remained static at 218, while at Ayr the number decreased by thirteen, from 119 in 1961 to 106 in 1962. Despite the Minister’s plausible excuses the position has worsened over twelve months. In only two areas has the number of recipients of unemployment benefit fallen. Overall there has been a substantial increase.
The coastal country of Wide Bay is referred to as Wallum country, being of light sandy soil with odd patches of rich volcanic soil near the mouth of the Burnett River. From Maryborough south the Labour governments of Queensland saw fit, since the end of the war, to commence forestry projects, thereby giving employment to the men in the area. To-day those forestry blocks extend from outside Maryborough 60 miles south to Tin Can Bay. Although the present Liberal-Country Party State Government has restricted plantings in this area, the nation soon will reap the rewards of the work that has been done over the years, when merchantable timber will be cut from those blocks. Similar country extends to the north but it has never been developed in this way. The establishment of pine forests between Maryborough and Bundaberg would ensure off-season work for many men and would assist in the production of softwood, which we now import in large quantities to the detriment of local sawmills and saw-mill workers, not to mention that we are exposing our own forests to the risk of infestation by such pests as the sirex wasp.
The Commonwealth Government can suggest to the States, and even direct them, how Commonwealth funds can be used in the best interests of the nation, but often it hands money over and hopes that the State will do the right thing. I believe that the Minister for Primary Industry did no credit to himself by mentioning the Mount Isa railway, because the best comment on the Mount Isa railway project was made by the Premier of Queensland, the Leader of the State Country Party, who described the Commonwealth Government’s contribution as niggardly. It is interesting also to remember that when the Queensland Premier was spurred into action by the State Labour Opposition and, accompanied by the Deputy Premier, made a hurried trip to Canberra for consultation with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and the Treasurer, the Commonwealth Government made an appeasement offer of £5,000,000 to be spent at the rate of £1,000,000 a year for five years on the construction of beef roads in the north of Queensland.
– When was that?
– Last year. The allocation to Queensland for roads for the transport of beef cattle this financial year will be £1,480,000, and £250,000 will be provided for the sealing of such roads. It is very important that these roads be sealed, not only to prevent deterioration, as the Minister for Primary Industry mentioned, but also for another reason of which I have been told by men engaged in the transport of cattle by road trains. They find that the cattle carried on the lower deck of trailers at the rear of these road trains are subject to suffocation by dust from the roads. So sealing of these roads is very necessary. I ask the practical men: How many miles of road would £250,000 seal?
The shipyard at Maryborough where I formerly worked is urgently seeking orders to maintain its work force. The management fears that it will not be able to hold skilled tradesmen in the city. Many workmen have been asked to take what long service leave is due to them so that the lessfortunate workmen may be able to continue their employment with the firm until it receives an order for the construction of a vessel.
– What is the name of the firm?
– Walkers Limited. 1 particularly ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) and the Minister for Labour and National Service urgently to consider the placing of an order with this shipyard in the next few weeks. This is the most northern shipyard in Australia and a vital establishment for the defence of northern Australia. It is a heavy industry which provides considerable employment and contributes in no small way to the progress and prosperity of an important provincial city. We speak of decentralization. All parties claim to support the principle of decentralization. At the shipyard of Walkers Limited, we see decentralization in practice. But, if nothing is done within a month, another industry in the north could be lost.
I turn next to the absorption of labour by local government authorities. Much play is made with this. Much is said of the part that local government authorities are being asked to play in the relief of seasonal unemployment. The only provision for this made by the Government has been through loans to the States and States grants. But the Country-Liberal Party Government in Queensland has reduced by as much as 10 per cent, the subsidies to local authorities. So the burden on the ratepayer is increased, because local authorities have to raise their rates in their efforts to absorb some of those who are unemployed, and thereby bring about some measure of stability and help the economy of the various cities. But it is not the duty or the purpose of local government to relieve unemployment. This Government, by its inaction during its terms of more than twelve years in office, has contributed substantially to the increase in unemployment, and it is quite apparent that the reference in the Budget speech made by the Treasurer on 7th August to a policy of full employment was an afterthought.
The primary producers and the manufacturers to-day are losing a home market tor their products which is much more valuable than is any overseas market. I am very pleased to note the importance placed on the home market by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who is leader of the Australian Country Party. At present, our primary producers and manufacturers are subject to the loss of a home market worth at least £100,000 a week, that being the difference between the income received from the unemployment benefit and part-time work and normal income. This results in a loss to the Government in taxes of £5,000,000 a year. I name that figure because the income of those who are registered as unemployed would be far below the average minimum taxable income, and the tax paid on incomes reduced by part-time work, as you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, well realize, would be much less than the average rate of tax paid in Australia. So at least £5,000,000 a year is being lost to the federal Treasury in income tax. Furthermore, there is the loss of the indirect tax which would be paid if those who are unemployed or earning reduced incomes were receiving decent wages, not to mention the loss of national product, which is never made good.
As a representative of Queensland, I am pleased to see some recognition of that State’s need for Commonwealth assistance. Earlier to-day, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Cross) directed the Government’s attention to the urgent need for us to populate the northern parts of Australia. He advocated mass migration to the north i.i order to populate it and make sure that we hold it. We have heard in to-day’s news that many thousands of Indonesians are already leaving Indonesia for West New Guinea to assist in the development of that country. General interest has been shown in the grant of £1,750,000 for the development of the brigalow lands in Queensland, and there has been much conjecture, particularly in Queensland, about how this money is to be used. Is it to be used in accordance with the policy of the Queensland branch of the Australian Country Party, which is in the majority in the Queensland Government, or in accordance with the policy of the Queensland branch of the Liberal Party of Australia - a policy which Mr. Muller, the former Country Party Minister for Lands in the State Government rejected, losing his portfolio as a consequence? We note that the policy of the Liberal Party on land development was espoused by the Queensland branch of the Country Party at its convention at Southport earlier this year.
The Prime Minister spoke of the interdependence of primary and secondary industries. On this matter, his remarks were correct and consistent. The prosperity of primary producers depends on the ability of those in industry to purchase their produce, just as those engaged in industry depend on primary producers for a market for manufactured goods. Many primary producers, because of difficulties in obtain ing finance, are indebted to hire-purchase companies. I am at a loss to understand why members of the Australian Country Party support a policy of increased interest charges. People on the land, particularly those engaged in agriculture, depend to a considerable degree “n bank credit, and high interest charges are not in their best interests. There is nothing in the present Budget to give hope of the control of hirepurchase and fringe-banking institutions. Such control would greatly assist primary producers and persons wishing to expand their businesses, and would thereby create more employment opportunities.
The president of the Queensland branch of the Australian Primary Producers Union made a significant comment when he said -
The family is the backbone and lifeblood of Australia’s economy. Therefore we should help the family man with more generous child endowment and liberal tax allowances.
He was commenting on the present Budget. Mr. Temporary Chairman, this Government has clearly shown that it is addicted to stop-go policies and that it has no definite plans for full employment, the restoration of purchasing power to families by increases in child endowment and the maternity allowance, and in allowable income tax deductions for wives and children rather than the tax rebate at the flat rate of 5 per cent. The Government has made no review of pensions or the funeral benefit for pensioners. It has no bold plan for the development or defence of the north of Australia. This is a tired government which is not prepared even to defend its policies, as indicated in this Budget, before the Australian people, in particular the electors of Batman. Once again, the Government adopts the policy: “ Wait and see how this works out.” The people of Australia have demonstrated their faith in the policies of the Australian Labour Party and they only await an opportunity to return the Labour Party to the ministerial bench.
– I was interested in the description given by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) of the needs of his area, and my only regret is that I cannot yield to a similar temptation to deal with the developmental requirements of my own electorate of Forrest. However, if every honorable member in this House were simply to dwell on the picture of his own electorate in the same way as the honorable member for Wide Bay - interesting and important as his speech was - the national picture would be lost in a welter of competing claims. I want to go back to some of the general features of the Budget as they affect the economy as a whole. Although a number of arguments have been raised about the figures in the Budget no one has attempted to deal with the wide range of economic circumstances and conflicting national fortunes which have occurred during the last thirteen years, and the consequent wide variety of budgets that have been introduced successively in this House.
Through all those thirteen budgets introduced by this Government one feature has remained monotonously the same. Whatever the total expenditure the Government has proposed, the Opposition has inevitably proposed that there be more; whatever the total revenue that the Government has proposed to raise by way of taxation, the Opposition has always proposed that the figure should be something less. Perhaps it is a little bit of a relief that the Opposition is running true to form on this occasion. One can only comment that, taking Labour’s form during budget debates in the past thirteen years, there is far greater evidence of bidding for popularity than of forming an independent economic judgment of the nation’s needs. Of course, another element is common to the thirteen budget debates that 1 have seen in this House. On every occasion when the Opposition has set a cash figure for its proposed budget result, it has been quite clearly demonstrated that the policies proposed by the Opposition cannot be contained within that cash figure. This year is no exception.
When one comes to survey the national picture as revealed in this debate on what does one concentrate - the cash figure of f 160,000,000 which the Opposition formally proposes as a deficit, or the wide range of policies which cannot possibly be contained within that cash figure of £160,000,000 deficit? Let us look at this figure of £160,000,000 - a mere £42,000,000 more than the deficit that the Government proposes. This is not so fantastic or extravagant if one says it quickly. If that figure were rigidly adhered to as a result of a short fall in Labour’s meeting of its other promises - if Labour had a chance to implement its proposals - I must say that it is rather more modest than many of the bids for popularity that the Labour Party has made in previous years. Even so, the deficit that Labour proposes is a large one; it would certainly be the largest in post-war years. Its validity rests on the assumption therefore that the economy requires a stimulus greater than in any of the last thirteen years. Surely no one believes that that is the situation.
In this Budget debate arguments have ranged around last year’s Budget result of a cash deficit of only £27,000,000 as against this year’s proposed deficit of £118,000,000 and Labour’s counter bids of £100,000,000 and £160,000,000 a year. The Labour Party has argued that we have disproved our own charges about the irresponsibility of Labour’s last year’s proposal for a deficit of £100,000,000 because we ourselves this year have budgeted for a deficit of £118,000,000. The whole fallacy of this argument is that there is a tendency to look at these figures of the deficit in the Budget by themselves as if they were the only consideration that had to be taken into account. Of course, the benefit or detriment to Australia of a particular cash result in the Budget depends entirely on the total amount of money in circulation throughout the economy. That in turn depends on many other factors beside the cash figure shown in the Government’s accounts for the year. The Opposition, for example, has entirely disregarded the fact that in the twelve months ended on 30th June this year the trading banks increased their advances to the public by £162,000,000. Here we have a situation in which the total amount of money in circulation was increased not only by the Government’s cash deficit of £27,000,000, but also by an additional £162,000,000 in trading bank advances.
It is well known that because of the relatively large subscriptions made to Commonwealth loans by the trading banks and insurance companies the Government’s cash deficit was kept to a minimum. I have heard some members of the Opposition attack the policy under which trading banks are permitted to subscribe to Commonwealth loans. Those honorable members have alleged that because a trading bank counts
Government loans as part of its cash resources, the effect is inflationary in that these loan subscriptions can be regarded as backing for bank credit issued to the public. I do not propose to canvass the whole of the arguments for and against this proposition, bur the good Budget result and the increased supply of money in the community were achieved by Government policies which brought about a high degree of bank liquidity last year, quite apart from the actual deficit figure of £27,000,000 which appeared as the net Budget result.
The kind of stimulus thus given to the economy I hope to illustrate in a moment. When we look at the figure proposed for the deficit this year we have to have regard to the fact that on all the real evidence the only factor that calls for some further stimulus is the degree of employment. Even on that there is room for a considerable amount of doubt. The Commonwealth Employment Service issues figures showing the number of persons registered as unemployed, but although there is a figure of 2 per cent, of registered unemployed in my own State of Western Australia, a State Government mission is now in London seeking to obtain skilled tradesmen, for whom there is a real and urgent need in Western Australia. There is a real shortage of skilled tradesmen. I have before me a statement by the federal president of the Australian Metal Industries Association. He claims that there is a shortage in sixteen classifications of tradesmen needed in the metal industries. He claims -
Employers are unable to obtain workers they need for many skilled and, in some areas, semiskilled occupations.
The position throughout the economy is a little uncertain even with regard to the registration of unemployed people. When one has regard to the fact that the number of registrations has decreased by 40,000 or over 30 per cent., since last January, one has to say that the additional stimulus needed over and above that already provided must be fairly modest. Imports are increasing. That is obvious. As surplus stocks were used up last year, we would be quite unlikely to make the same spectacular gains in our overseas balances as we made last year. This all has the result that bank liquidity is hardly likely to be as high in the coming year as it was last year. Therefore, it is natural to assume that the banks will not be able in the year ahead to expand their credit to the same extent - that is, to the large sum of £1 62,000,000- and so match the figure achieved last year. This is one illustration - there are others - showing why the Government’s cash deficit last year of £27,000,000 was not unrealistic, when one considers the proposed deficit of £118,000,000 this year. This year’s figure has regard to all the circumstances likely to affect the total volume of money in circulation throughout the economy. That is a point, as far as I can see, that has been entirely missed by every Opposition member who has advanced arguments relating to this Budget deficit.
I turn to another word that has been overworked in this Budget debate - “ stagnation “. The Opposition has suggested that this is synonymous with the stability for which the Government claims some credit - stability that has resulted in no increase in costs over the last eighteen months. If that is correct, then surely the other proposition is correct - that if we are to have expansion there must be some degree of inflation. It is quite true that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) did not put it quite as bluntly as that. He did not give us the plain choice between stability and stagnation or expansion and inflation; but this was implied in what he said. He said that the Labour Party would rather run the risk of overshooting the mark.
Other Opposition members have had no hesitation about quoting with approval all the various claims that have been made for an inflationary economy in the year ahead. They have quoted Sir Douglas Copland with obvious approval. This gentleman to-day claims that there is nothing to be feared from a mild degree of inflation. We must admit that there is a school of economic thought that subscribes to the belief that full employment and steady growth can only come with some mild degree of inflation or erosion of money value. But then there is another school which sees financial stability as a far sounder foundation on which to base economic growth. I am glad that the Government has decided that this is the sound approach.
I should like to quote a few remarks of Mr. Per Jacobsson, the chairman of the
Executive Board and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund. In the course of the Jayne Lectures of the American Philosophical Society for 1961, he had this to say -
But even if the increase in prices is limited to 2 to 3 per cent, a year, over a period of ten years - which is not a very long time - it reduces the real value of savings by one quarter. People soon discover what is happening, and at least want to keep their savings in real assets rather than money claims; and when that happens, “ creeping inflation “ can quickly turn into “ galloping inflation “.
Sir Douglas Copland, of course, was not always of his present frame of mind. It was he who, in 1949, coined that picturesque phrase which I am sure all honorable members will remember - “ the milk tar economy “. He was on record as having criticized the then unhealthy trend towards inflation, the over-emphasis on consumer goods and the lack of emphasis on basic industries and fundamental development. Those are the objectives towards which this Government is working to-day. Without being unduly critical of that eminent gentleman, perhaps I could comment that he manages, by accident or design, to express views that are, to say the least, provocative and which consequently ensure the maximum publicity for him.
Rightly or wrongly, the Opposition has come down four square on the side of a programme which approves of inflation, even if only to a mild degree, and that is stretching charity as far as it can go. This is consistent with the first comment I made, that in every Budget debate in thirteen years, the Opposition has advocated greater expenditure and less revenue. This, I think, is the first time that the Labour Party has openly approved an inflationary result.
The one fact that the primary producers of Australia see as a ray of hope is that costs and prices have been stable over the last eighteen months. They are hoping quite desperately that their ever-narrowing margins of profit over production costs can be held by continuing price stability. They will not fail to have noticed the cheerful willingness of the Labour Party to gamble with the whole of their future.
The difference between the approach of the Government and that of the Opposition to this Budget is that the Opposition believes that the economy must be blown up
like a balloon to achieve expansion. I think the Government prefers to regard it as a tree based on firm ground with healthy branches extending in all directions. The necessary stimulus applied by this Budget is in the nature of fertilizer spread at the roots to give a boost to the normal growing processes. The simile can, I think, be justified when one considers the nature of the deficit spending this year. It is applied to the basic developmental needs of the Australian community. It is applied to those activities which will result in a healthy growth if the community takes advantage of it. Beef roads will not be used by the Government; they will be used by the people who produce beef, or, in other words, private enterprise. The gold development bounty will not be used by the Government; it will be used by gold producers throughout Australia. This argument applies equally to all aspects of the developmental finance that the Government is putting into the economy this year. This is a healthy fertilization of ground which will produce sound growth in the economic tree.
This overworked word “ stagnation “, which we have heard so often from honorable members opposite, quite clearly has no real application in the economy to-day. Much has been made of the state of the stock market as reflecting the true state of of the economy and the sins of the Government. I recall that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition relied on the fact that the Sydney Stock Exchange index of share prices was lower now than it was before the last federal election. But only the previous Thursday, when he was speaking about the European Common Market, he referred to “ the refreshingly enlightened and ebullient Administration in Washington “. If the Government is responsible for the situation in the stock market in Australia, what about this refreshingly enlightened and ebullient Administration in Washington? The latest Wall-street journal describes the stock exchange position in Washington in this way -
On June IS stock prices fell to their lowest level since December 12, 19S8. The Dow-Jones industrial average was 563.00 points. This was 171.91 points or 23.39 per cent, below the record high of 734.91 points set last December. 13.
The market has since climbed slightly to 589.06 points on July 12 and 592.32 points on. August 13. The market is still sluggish and uncertain.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has referred to the Administration in America as enlightened, with the stock market in that position! All one can say is that the only thing consistent about the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is his consistency.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) fell into a similar trap last night when he attacked the state of this economy and the results of overseas investment in Australia. He said -
Eventually, we shall have to pay the price for that because these people have not invested in Australia for the good of their health. They have invested in Australia only because they see this country as a profitable place for their capital.
Sir, could any better proof be offered than the admission out of the mouths of honorable members opposite that this country is not economically stagnant?
The final demonstration of the liveliness and rising tide of activity in Australia can be seen from the financial pages of those very newspapers that have been clamouring for inflationary finance. In July, as various company reports came out, I culled some of them and they hardly indicate economic stagnation. The first of these on 3rd July is the report of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited under the following heading: -
C.S.R. Group Assets Rise over £3m.
In a newspaper of 18th July -
Coles Makes a Record £3,300,000 Profit.
On the 19th July-
I.A.C. to Make Bonus Issue.
On 21st July-
A.C.I. Group Net Profit Nearly £3m.
On 2nd August -
Esanda Profit Jumps.
On 28th July-
On 11th July-
A Big Jump in Finance Co. Profit.
On 28th July-
Lend Lease Issue After Profit Jump.
On 31st July -
That is a reference to the dividend of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney. On 4th August -
A.G.C. Profit Jumps to £1,614,419.
On 24th July-
Rothmans Has Record Sales and Earnings.
Automobile and General Finance Company Limited had a record profit. Other headings were -
Assoc. Securities Nets £473,845.
Mary Kathleen Earnings Up.
Those are items taken from various newspapers. In case honorable members opposite should think these are only the good ones and I have neglected the bad ones, I took headings on two successive days last week, 16th and 17th August, from the finance pages of the Melbourne “Herald”. On 16th August, there were seven references to record profits -
Repco Profit is a Record.
Deposit and Investment Profit up 50%.
Buckley again 12i%.
That is a reference to Buckley and Nunn Limited. -
Ring Grip turnover is higher.
Coates Payout is 10%.
Hopkins Odium Better.
There was only one company whose profit was lower, Consolidated Quarries Limited. On 17 th August, there were other examples of higher profits -
Hawke (Aust.) profit jumps 56%. a pretty stagnant sort of economy, isn’t it? The reference to Swallow and Ariell Limited is -
Swallow sees export gain.
Another heading was -
Merica Profit Up 36%.
On that day there was one firm that bad a lower profit - Unilever.
These are all large industries in Australia. One can hardly conclude, really, that the Opposition has any substance whatever for its claim that the economy is stagnant, in the face of these remarkable figures. All these companies are among the giants of Australian industry, and I say that when the general picture of the economy shows such buoyant activity it would be sheer foolhardiness for the Government to risk the stability of this country by inflationary finance of the order proposed by the Opposition. There should be an end, once and for all, to this stupid talk of stagnation. It is true that prices on the stock exchange are quiet. Every investor knows that this is in part a world-wide reaction to the large slide on the American stock exchange, and in part an uncertainty about the European Common Market.
There is one further point I should like to make with regard to the success of the policies of this Government in the past few years. It has become fashionable for the Opposition to allege that the policies we are adopting are basically the policies of the Labour Party, but not carried out to the same extent that Labour would carry them. If people really believe that, what short memories they have. Let us look back to 1960, a year which left its economic mark on Australia.
– The credit squeeze year.
– Yes, indeed. The Labour Party opposed during the whole of that year - before you were in this Parliament, my friend - all the measures we took to restrain inflation. When the situation became critical, in November, 1960, the official Labour policy - admitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) - was to correct the very real crisis in our balance of payments by re-imposing a system of import licences. It is very important to remember that this import licensing was to be re-introduced at that point of time by Labour simply as a mechanism to protect foreign exchange. It was only some months later that this policy became transformed, in a bid to capture votes from Australian industry, into one not of protecting trade balances hut of protecting local industries. In the result a new name “ quantitative import licensing” became a political issue and an election bait.
In addition, the Leader of the Opposition, during the debate on the last Budget, had the temerity to say that the measures of November, 1960, need never have been taken - and it was faithfully echoed by his deputy leader (Mr. Whitlam) this year. Nobody denies that there was a foreign exchange crisis in November, 1960. The Leader of the Opposition himself said, and I quote from page 2861 of the relevant “ Hansard “-
Unless the Government can balance our overseas funds - unless we can export enough to pay for our imports - we may be able to get by this year and for a little longer, but after that the crash will come.
Very well. Are we to assume that at that time the Opposition would have re-imposed blanket import licensing? Now, gifted with hindsight, Labour Party spokesmen claim they would have done nothing, because nothing was necessary. I ask honorable members: What would the bargaining position of this country have been in the present Common Market negotiations if we had put ourselves in either position - first, that in trying to protect our overseas balances we imposed blanket import restrictions and, second, that we had then gone to the Common Market countries and asked that we be given preference in their markets? There would have been preferences for our products at a time when we had import licensing to a degree which would not allow their exports to come here. We would have looked pretty foolish. Alternatively, if we were in the position, having regard to existing preferences, where our own trade balances were in such a poor shape that we could not say we could manage our own affairs, again we would have looked pretty foolish.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, two significant events have occurred in the last few days. As the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) has just said, this is the thirteenth Budget introduced by this Government. That is unlucky for many people in Australia, and it is unlucky also for the Government, because on its performances to date this is the last Budget it will introduce as the Government of this country. To rub further salt into the wound, I think we should also record that a few days ago snow fell in Canberra. The critics and the residents of Canberra say that when snow falls here there is always a change of government. It happened in 1949 and with the introduction of this Budget I do not doubt that those two events will coincide again.
To-night, we listened to the Minister for the Interior reading from a prepared script. It is significant that, in connexion with this debate, the Liberal research group has been working overtime. Not only have Ministers been brought in in an attempt to defend the Budget, but each has read from a prepared script - and none of them has read it very well. We heard the Minister for the Interior tell us of numerous finance companies which had made profits running into millions of pounds. He gave the names of the Shylock companies which exploited the workers by charging exorbitant interest rates, uncontrolled by the administration in which he is a Minister. On this side of the chamber we have never doubted that the wealthy friends of the Government have done very well out of it. We have never doubted that these people who exploit the workers and use money only for the purposes of gain, as instanced in the Minister’s weak case to-night, have been the real beneficiaries under this administration. These companies - and this Government - go to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and fight the Australian Council of Trade Unions and other union organizations and tell the commissioners, who have been put on the bench by this administration, that they cannot afford a shilling a week increase for the workers.
Mr. Temporary Chairman, have you ever heard anything like the case presented by the Minister for the Interior? It was a dull dirge about what the Government has done and has not done. Then he tried to bolster up his case by citing the profiteering and exploiting finance companies as the basis of good government. I wonder whether the Minister ever thinks of the fact that his Government has a majority of only one in this chamber simply because the people realize that this is a wealthy man’s government and an exploiters’ government. It does not stand for the Australian people. It has lost their confidence because it cares little for the national welfare as long as the wealthy exploiters instanced by the Minister, who put the Government into office in 1949, continue to gain at the expense of the average man and woman.
The Minister related a great story about what the Government had done in this Budget, and what it intended to do for the people. Let me tell him again that the people do not believe him. The Government has a majority of only one, and it has scuttled away from a by-election in Victoria because it knows its policy would be totally discredited as a result of the vote of the people in that by-election. To-day, members of the Government are running away, frightened and ashamed. They are not prepared to submit their policies to the test of the ballot-box. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) stated, thy have sunk to the level of fighting by-elections by proxy.
To-night revealed completely the attitude of the Minister for the Interior. He said that the Opposition’s policy was inflationary. During the last general election campaign the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that promises made by Labour were fantastic and inflationary. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) said that Labour was trying to buy votes. To-night the Minister for the Interior said that Labour’s policy was inflationary - that Labour had tied itself to inflation in this country. The truth of the matter is that the people and the economists of this country know that our policy is not inflationary. The tremendous majority vote for Labour at the last election proved how wrong were the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister. The vote at the next general election, be it next month or next year, will prove how close to the mark are Opposition members in claiming that our policy is capable of fulfilment. This worn out, tired, old man administration is incapable of giving effect to a policy such as ours.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has moved that the first item in the Estimates be reduced by £1, as a motion of censure against the Government. To-night, the full programme and policy of the administration is under review - not only what has been put forward in the Budget. So, first, let me examine the provisions of the Budget. It is not only what is in the Budget that is important to the Australian people, but also what has been left out of it. The Budget provides for an expenditure of more than £2,000,000,000- a record budget. But it also provides for a deficit of £118,000,000. I should like to have a few copies of speeches delivered by the Minister for the Interior during the last general election campaign when he told the people that deficit financing was inflationary and something which the Liberal Party could not support at any time. Yet this Budget provides for a deficit of £118,000,000. This is something else which has been stolen from the policy of the Labour Party, which this Government condemned prior to the last general election.
The Budget provides for no income tax reduction except for a miserable 5 per cent, cut which will mainly benefit wealthy people at the expense of the average man and woman. There is no pension increase for the age invalid pensioner, the widows or the men who fought for this country, and their dependants. There is nothing for them in the Budget of this Government which boasts of the great profits made by the Shylocks and the finance companies under its policy. There is no increase of child endowment in the Budget. It is now twelve years since 1950, when the Government gave an increase in child endowment to people who were rearing families. There is no cut in sales tax for the people. These are provisions that should have been included in the Budget if it was to be really worth while and if it was to increase spending and the purchasing power of the people.
Amongst other things, this Budget provokes a feeling among members of the Opposition that the Government has no conception of what is necessary to stimulate the economy and provide full employment for the Australian people. The Budget does nothing to restore confidence not only to industry, but to the average man and woman, that there is any hope for full employment while the Government is in office. 1 sincerely do not believe that this Government believes in full employment. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said that the Government is seeking a high level of employment. The Minister for the Interior glossed over the question of full employment. Let him remember that almost twelve months ago the Prime Minister promised the Australian electors that by next Christmas there would be full employment. To-day, 90,000 people are unemployed. We have seen the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) in action. We have seen how inactive he is. Do you think, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that he - little human dynamo that he is - can possibly put another 90,000 people back in work within the next 90 days?
The Minister for the Interior said that only 2 per cent, of the work force in Western Australia were unemployed. Figures show that 5,500 people are unemployed there. That does not matter, of course, if you are not one of them. But by next Christmas the Government will have the responsibility of telling those people why they are not back in jobs in accordance with its promise. This Government does not believe in full employment. I have here a document which the Government parties issued during the last general election campaign and which is titled “ We Believe “. It is written by Mr. Willoughby, a director of the federal secretariat of the Liberal Party. He is highly paid from the funds of the private banks and others who support the Liberal Party. This document says, “We believe in God”, and “We believe in the Crown “. It says that they believe in everything except full employment. Nowhere in that document, which sets out the philosophy and faith of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party, is there talk of full employment as the policy of the Government. I mention these matters because the Government does not like to be reminded of the position in regard to employment.
When the Government took office in 1949 it had golden years before it because the Labour Government had laid the basis upon which this country might progress and prosper and upon which security might come to the people. Only 700 people were receiving unemployment benefits when the Labour Government was defeated by the propaganda machine of the private banking interests whose pawns are in this Parliament to-day. In June, 1950, just after the Labour Government went out of office, 12,000 people were registered for unemployment benefit. These figures are from an answer to a question which I asked in Parliament the other day. At that stage, just after Labour had been defeated, and thanks to our programme, there were 103,000 vacancies in industry. In other words, every unemployed man had eight or ten jobs to choose from. From that day forward, with the exception of December, 1950, the number of registered unemployed increased and the number of job vacancies fell. In December, 1961, there were 115,000 people out of work and only 24,000 jobs available. In January, 1962 - in this day and age when the Minister for the Interior speaks of the Government’s dynamic progress - there were about 132,000 people out of work and only 25,000 registered vacancies. In July, 1962 - a time when every country that believed in full employment and in the right of men to work should have had full employment - there were about 93,000 people unemployed in this country and only 18,000 vacancies listed in the employment offices. That is a classic example of the policy of this Government, which does not believe in full employment. Yet the Minister for the Interior praises those who make money from high interest rates while we have about 100,000 men and women out of work. I understand that the Minister is even sacking employees from his department. In the course of this debate we pointed out to the Prime Minister that the allocation in the Budget for unemployment benefits is such that apparently the Government expects that there will be an average of 35,000 people in receipt of the unemployment benefit all the year round. This means that the Government must be expecting that roughly 100,000 people will be unemployed by January of next year. This Government is determined that there shall be a permanent pool of unemployment while it is in office. That is beyond doubt, in view of its policy in regard to the unemployment benefit. When the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) challenged the Prime Minister about having a permanent pool of unemployment, and referred to the allocation in the Budget for unemployment benefit, the right honorable gentleman replied -
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.
I asked the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) what was the estimated and the actual expenditure of unemployment benefit for the year 1961-62, and what was the actual expenditure for each month of that year. The reply I received was that for 1961-62 the Government had allocated £5,780,000 for unemployment benefit and that the actual expenditure for that year was £12,636,766. If that does not destroy the Prime Minister’s argument, nothing does. In other words, the Government spent about £6,000,000 more last year than it had envisaged spending on unemployment benefit.
These matters are important. The Labour Party believes that every man and woman is entitled to work. However, the figures show that, in view of the continued growth of unemployment, and with boys and girls leaving school, there can be no possibility of there not being a permanent pool of unemployed until such time as this Government has given a real stimulus to the economy. On Tuesday last the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) showed that, without doubt, the Government’s policy is such that it sees no hope of reducing the number of people who are unemployed at present and who will continue to be unemployed. As he said, the number of unemployed has risen sharply since this Government came into office. In July, 1962, there were 93,000 people registered as unemployed, and in 1960 the number was 44,000. That shows an increase of about 50 per cent. These figures do not take into account the migrants who are coming into this country. The Government keeps the figures shrouded in secrecy. It is difficult to know what the position is, and just how many of the unemployed people are migrants and how many are our own people. It is significant that the migration programme is suffering because the policy of the Government on full employment has failed to meet the needs of the people.
Whatever the Government may say, it cannot escape its responsibility in this matter. It is denying the people of this country employment opportunities and it shows no sign of giving effect to a policy which will increase employment. I will pass on to other matters, as my time is somewhat limited, but I say that the Government must realize that the people of this country expect to be employed and will not tolerate for all time a government which will not give employment to every one who is willing to work. The policy of the Government, as announced by the Minister to-night, indicates that it has no solution to this problem and is running away from its responsibilities.
During the course of this debate I have heard about a lot of things which happened years ago but do not happen to-day. We are told that so many people now have motor cars, so many people have television sets and certain other amenities that they never had previously. Let us look at other things which have happened under this Government. Let us look at items on the other side of the ledger in order to show that things are not as they ought to be. In 1948-49, in the last year of office of the Labour Government, £471,000,000 was collected in taxation. This amounted to £60 per head of Australia’s population. Under this Government - a so-called tax reduction government - every citizen in Australia is paying double that amount, or £132 a head.
I have here a Liberal Party dodger, which was, among other things, responsible for the Government Whip being brought into this chamber. Among other things, it says that in 1949 a house cost £2,000. Today a ten-square house costs £5,500 or £6,000, and £2,000 would not be sufficient to pay the deposit on it. That is the basis of the success of the hire-purchase companies which the Minister mentioned a moment ago. This dodger also states that it took £10 to buy a suit under the Labour Government. I turned up the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ a couple of days ago. It showed that the prices of suits ranged from £22 19s. 6d. to £32 19s. 6d. on 15th August, 1962. So the old Labour regime was not bad for the purchaser. We find that infants’ shoes cost from 58s. 6d. to 63s. in 1949, under the Labour Government, but that the price had risen to £5 19s. lid. by 15th August, 1962 - and I suppose the leather in them is not as good.
Then we come to the things found on the table of every breadwinner, pensioner and sick person in the country. Under Labour, bread cost 8d. for a 2-lb. loaf, but it costs ls. 9id. under this Government. In 1950, rump steak cost 2s. 6d. per lb., and to-day it costs from 7s. 4d. to 8s. In 1950, tea cost 3s. 6d. per lb., under the Labour Government, but the minimum price under this Administration is 6s. lOd. per lb. The price of sugar has risen from 5d. to ls. per lb. in that period, and that of eggs from 3s. 4d. a dozen to 5s. or 6s. a dozen. Sausages, the poor man’s breakfast, which every member of the Country Party should eat in any case, have risen in cost from ls. per lb. under the Labour Government to 2s. 4d. per lb. under this regime.
Coming now to the great institutions which make huge profits, and of which the Minister spoke so highly to-night, we find that the outstanding hire-purchase debt in 1953 was £89,000,000. Under this Government to-day it is £375,000,000. The meagre wages of men and women under the LiberalCountry Party Government have forced them to go to the finance houses. They cannot afford to live on the wage which is available to them under this Government, which boasts so much of the wealth in the community. These are matters that we should bring home to the Government. Despite unemployment, rising prices and the loss of purchasing power that I have mentioned, with no increases in pensions or in endowment payments, the Liberals put out a dodger with a photograph of the Prime Minister on the cover, under the title “This Is What We Have Done “, and in another instance, “ We’ve Never Had It Better ‘. Would you read about it? The Government is lucky to have a majority of one in this chamber, and should be thankful to the Communists. These are matters of importance, Mr. Chairman, and I mention them in order that you will know the position.
The Labour Party is not a negative party. The Deputy Leader of Opposition outlined the other night, on behalf of the Opposition, what could be done in this country, and gave a programme of development.
The Labour Party has plans to increase the purchasing power of the people and to give assistance by way of tax concessions to those who really need it. It has a programme for defence expenditure not only in a military sense but also for the development of certain important defence projects. The broad programme that has been outlined by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition leaves no doubt in the minds of thinking Australians that it is possible to give effect to policies that will assist the people generally.
Members of the Australian Country Party and other supporters of the Government are always criticizing Labour’s approach to problems and the unity of the Labour Party. I wonder whether there is a more disintegrated, distressed and unhappy family gathered in this Parliament than the coalition we see sitting opposite. The former Minister for Air, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), now sits on a back bench. It is not a month since he was smilingly giving us answers concerning an air force about which he knew little. Now he has returned to a back bench. Why? He is there because the Country Party demanded his head. I have in my hand newspaper headings reading -
Bury’s Head on Block. McEwen Calls for Axe.
These are the people who say they are a happy family. On everything from the European Common Market to economic policy they are at one another’s throats. On all issues, these people fight because they are disintegrating. They know they are not wanted by the Australian people and have no future in the political life of this country. They talk about unity and solidarity, but theirs has never been anything more than a shot-gun wedding. The Country Party is a free trade party believing in long hours and low wages. It does not believe in a fair deal for the people who work for a living.
We heard from a Minister the other night that the other section of the coalition stands for the wealth, power and influence of the exploiters. It could not care less about the aged, the sick and the infirm or the men and women working in industry and rearing families. That is why to-day this unhappy dying coalition Government is on its last legs. It has been too long in government. It is devoid of ideas and has no intention of doing anything for the Australian people. That is why this Government is on the defensive in this chamber and cannot give effect to policies that matter.
This Government has had plenty of opportunities to test its popularity. We know the Government’s attitude on the Batman by-election. The battered state of the parties opposite is evident when the Government is so short of numbers that it brings into the chamber the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), whose head is swathed in bandages. A sick man, he came here in order to keep this dying Government in office. I have shown to-night that the Government is not happy and that the members of the Country Party and the Liberals are at one another’s throats as they always have been. Their reign is coming to an end. The honorable member for Bruce, who is interjecting, looks bad enough without our having to listen to him talk. When he walked into the chamber I thought somebody had come from outer space. I can understand him wanting to be in the Parliament as much as he can because the way the elections are going in Victoria, he will not be with us much longer.
In the few minutes remaining at my disposal, I want to say that I agree with those members of the Opposition who have said that this Budget will be condemned by all sections of the Australian community. It will be condemned by the people who formerly supported this Government and who have savings or private income. They cannot help being disappointed at what is not in the Budget. It will be condemned by those people who depend on pensions, by those who are rearing families, by the men and women working in industry, and by those who look for benefits to stimulate the economy. To those who are looking for employment, this Budget is a sheer downright disappointment and a disgrace to the Government.
I say finally that this guilty Government came into office accidentally, thanks to a few Communist votes, and has temporarily returned to the scene of its political crimes. It is discredited and bankrupt of ideas and plans. Like political scavengers, without honour and without shame, members of the Government stoop from time to time and plunder the policies of Labour. Humiliated and incompetent but unrepentant, the Government stumbles blindly along the path that leads to political oblivion. This pathetic document mistakenly called a national Budget closes another grim chapter in the life of this panic-stricken Administration. I support without reservation the censure motion in the hope that it will hasten the impending political doom of this demoralized Government.
.- One of the things that puzzles me about the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) is what will happen if the Australian Labour Party ever gets into office, because the honorable member has read the closing oration of his speech on every occasion he has spoken in the past twelve years. I am afraid that he has got into the habit of reading it and if, in twenty years’ time, the present Opposition reaches the treasury bench, the honorable member will probably automatically read that closing paragraph again without realizing that he is on the government side. I do not know whether that will happen but I warn him to take notice of my advice.
On a more serious note, before commenting on the Budget, I want to say something about portion of the speech that was made last week by the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren). The honorable member discussed most parts of New South Wales and mentioned among other things the flooding of certain areas. I said by way of interjection -
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 Cowper then said -
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.
The honorable member for Cowper has been in this Parliament only a short time, and I am surprised that he should make such a statement.
– Did you get the Commonwealth Government to do anything in the matter?
– The honorable member for Darling should know a few things about the procedures of this place. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King) interjected after the honorable member for Cowper had made the statement I have quoted and said, referring to my speeches -
Have you read all his speeches?
The honorable member for Cowper then said - 1 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.
– Read the rest of the report.
– If some of the speeches the honorable member for Mitchell has made here are any indication, he is not able to read. The honorable member for Cowper went on to say that nothing had been done. That statement is incorrect also and it shows that the honorable member has not the full facts before him. I would have expected him to be more careful before making such comment.
During one of the floods to which the honorable member has referred, the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) and I toured the area that the honorable member for Cowper has mentioned. The honorable member for Macarthur was then on the executive of the Bushfire and Flood Relief Committee of New South Wales. I had hoped to mention while he was there certain factors concerning matters in my electorate and in relation to the situation in New South Wales. I repeat what the honorable member for Cowper said in his speech on 16th August -
If something is not done about the work I have mentioned, (he honorable member for Lyne will have to answer to his constituents.
What makes the honorable member’s comment even more reprehensible is that he was in my electorate not so very long ago and he and I attended a meeting at which I made certain remarks about these matters to the people assembled there.
– Under duress!
– Not under duress. Unlike the honorable member for Cowper, perhaps, I am not used to taking action under duress. Let me remind the honorable member that during my period in this Parliament I have been elected by the people five times. The Country Party is different from the Labour Party in that its members do not have to be bribed to do things. They have, as I hope they always will have, the courage to act in the best interests of the people of the electorate and, above all, in the interests of the welfare of the Commonwealth as a whole. To mention one or two distinguished members of the Country Party, the ex-member for Hume, Colonel Anderson, and the late John Treloar, who was the member for
Gwydir, particularly showed their adherence to the Country Party’s high principles, not only in their speeches in this House but also in their actions in their electorates. These principles that are espoused by members on this side of the House are not well understood by members of the Labour Party.
Let me say this to the honorable member for Cowper: If the honorable member wishes to challenge me on this matter, I can tell him that if he is prepared to resign as member for Cowper I will also be prepared to resign as the member for Lyne, face the electors and see whether the people will again return me as their representative.
One of the most tragic aspects of speeches made by honorable members opposite has been the constant pressure on the Commonwealth Government to do everything while the State governments evade their responsibilities. I find it hard to understand why honorable members opposite who represent New South Wales electorates keep putting forward this proposition, because the New South Wales Labour Government has made a hopeless mess of running that State for twenty years. It seems to me that the people of New South Wales must be gluttons for punishment, because they keep returning a Labour Government. Much of the criticism that we have heard from members of the Opposition has been based on the suggestion that the Commonwealth Government has not given the States enough money to do certain things. I hardly believe that the people of Australia would accept a situation in which the Commonwealth Government collected more and more taxes and was so devoid of responsibility as to hand the revenue to certain State governments to be wasted, as money has been wasted by the Government of New South Wales. This Government, as I say, is responsible for the collection of taxes, and I would like to see more restriction placed on the State governments, particularly the New South Wales Government, so that we might be able to prevent money being wasted.
– Tell us how they waste the money!
– I will do that in a moment. Honorable members opposite say, “ Let us give the States another £100,000,000 for education. Let us give them another £100,000,000 for this purpose and that purpose “. If the members of the Labour Party were realistic they would realize that during the time this Government has been in office, since 1949-
– Too long!
– In answer to the interjection, I think by the honorable member for East Sydney-
– I didn’t say a word!
– I apologize to the honorable member if he was not the one who interjected. However, if there are people who think this Government has been in power for too long, I wish they could have seen the exhibition yesterday evening by members of the Opposition. It was an exhibition that was certainly not in keeping with the prestige and the dignity of this Parliament.
– If the honorable member for Mitchell has so little appreciation of decency that he cannot realize the significance of last night’s exhibition, I shall not take up the time of the committee by trying to explain it to him.
I was about to point out that since this Government has been in office, over a period of twelve and a half years, it has not taken its share of available loan moneys. The Government has been entitled to 20 per cent, of loan moneys that it has given, as extra finance, to the State governments. I would have preferred to see the Commonwealth Government take that £20,000,000, and then hand it over to the States while retaining some control over its expenditure.
The honorable member for Bowman (Mr. Comber) asked me, by way of interjection, how the New South Wales Government had wasted money. I shall give him one or two examples. The Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of 2nd March, 1962, contained an article on the cost to New South Wales taxpayers of the State Government’s public works programme over the last 21 years. It said-
The total original estimated cost of nine major Government projects was £85,589,000. The total cost on completion, or estimation for completion, is £250,824,357. The difference of £165,235,357 represents public money wasted through delays, postponements and abandonment of the projects.
In 21 years £165,000,000 was wasted, Mr. Temporary Chairman, by a government that said it could not do certain things because the terrible Commonwealth Government had not given it sufficient money. The fact is that each year the Commonwealth Government has increased the amount allocated to the States and has accepted many responsibilities that were accepted ten or fifteen years ago by the States. Yet the Opposition says that we should give more money to the States. This is one reason why I say to the honorable member for Cowper, who talks about this Government not giving enough money to the States for this and that and something else, that the people of the electorate of Lyne have enough intelligence to know that if we give the New South Wales Government extra money, that money will be wasted, as money has been wasted in the past.
Let me give one or two illustrations ot this waste. The honorable member for Cowper, of course, was not a member of this Parliament when I brought a deputation here to see the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) to find out what money had been made available to the State Government and why it had not been used in the area in which the members of the deputation resided. They found that the State Government had jacked up on a promise that it had made, and had evaded a responsibility that it had agreed to accept. I know the main reason why the honorable member brought this up in the Parliament. I must say that I was rather surprised at his bringing it up. Unfortunately, because of certain circumstances in the electorate of Cowper, a certain thing happened there during the last election campaign, but I am sure that when the people look into the matter they will realize that a major responsibility is that of the State Government.
Let me refer to a few projects in connexion with which money has been wasted. The Burrendong Dam was originally estimated, in 1946, to cost £2,000,000. It had cost £14,000,000 until June, 1960.
Work was suspended on it from 1952 to 1958, and it was scheduled for completion in 1965. The Menindee Lakes scheme was estimated in 1949 to cost £2,300,000. It had cost £4,100,000 at 30th June, 1960. Work on the scheme started in 1949 and was suspended from 1952 to 1957. All stages were completed last year.
– Tell us about the Opera House.
– We do talk about culture, and perhaps there was some justification for the Opera House in New South Wales, but there has been so much in the newspapers that I need not make any further comment on it.
Members of the Opposition have said that we should give the State governments additional funds. I know why. It is because many members of the Labour Party desire centralized control. I mentioned this aspect on another occasion not so very long ago. I wonder whether the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) and other honorable members opposite really appreciate what they are doing, and what the State Labour Government of New South Wales is doing, by constantly harping on the need for the Commonwealth to allocate additional funds to the States and for the Commonwealth gradually to take over control of this and that. They are advocating and encouraging centralized control. If that process went on, we would ultimately reach the point at which the State parliaments abolished themselves. When we on the Government side claim that the States have a responsibility we have two reasons for doing so - first, because we believe that the States have a part to play in this Commonwealth, and secondly, because we do not believe that the people of this Commonwealth should be milked any further to allow some State governments to waste money, to pour it down the drain.
Some Opposition members the other evening mentioned the stability of New Zealand. In a way, New Zealand has tremendous advantages over Australia - it is a small country and has only one parliament. Many of the things which have been done since our parties have been in power and many of the steps which have been taken to give stability to Australia have been nullified by the stupidity of State governments, particularly the Labour Government of New South Wales. They have undermined a tremendous amount of the work that has been done by this Commonwealth Government to stabilize our economy, and have compelled the primary producers to face up to a far greater problem than need have confronted them. The stupidity of the State governments has been responsible for this. Many people in the country areas know how fortunate they are, and have been, to have these parties in office in the Commonwealth at this time, which is of such vital importance to the future of the primary industries.
Honorable members opposite have been asking, “What has tha Government been doing about the Common Market? “ That is the kind of thing we have become accustomed to hearing from the Opposition.
– What has the Government done about the Common Market?
– That question shows that members of the Opposition do not listen to anything that is said to them and have no appreciation of what is happening in this twentieth century. Whether the Opposition agrees with them or not, statements have been made in this place by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), by other Ministers and even by some of us on the back benches about what has been done and about our thoughts in relation to the Common Market, yet Opposition members now ask, “ What has been done about the Common Market? “
I have a tremendous admiration for the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) and I believe that his behaviour in regard to this matter has been of a kind of which he and all members on this side of the chamber can be proud. If the Opposition has in its ranks some one who proves in the future that he can behave as the honorable member for Wentworth has behaved, it also will have the right to be proud. Irrespective of all other considerations, the honorable member for Wentworth was entitled to his opinion, but I say quite frankly that in a matter such as this there is a time to speak and a time to remain quiet. The unfortunate thing is that this was a time when the honorable member should have been quiet. As I have said, I have a tremendous admiration for him. Honorable members opposite can chirp as much as they wish, but they are deluding themselves if they think that because of the situation which arose there is a possibility of the coalition which has ruled this country for so long disintegrating. The main reason why the coalition will not disintegrate is that every member of it has a sense of responsibility. We believe that, above all else, the future of this country is important. For that reason alone - it is not the only reason - we would not allow anything to break the coalition. We know how the Australian people would suffer if the Opposition ever became the Government.
I would have liked to see increased funds being made available to the Commonwealth Development Bank and, as I have said on previous occasions, I would have liked some consideration to be given to action designed to lower our costs - namely, a reduction in the sales tax on foodstuffs. This matter has been advanced on a number of occasions. I hope that the Government will consider it and in the not too distant future will take steps to reduce the sales tax on foodstuffs.
I believe that some anomalies exist in relation to social services. As the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) and the Government have remedied some of the anomalies which have existed in the past, I am confident that they will continue to do so at the appropriate time in the future. I hope to see a further development in the legislation relating to restrictive trade practices being prepared by the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) for presentation to the Parliament. As I have said previously, this is a matter in which the co-operation of all the States with the Commonwealth is necessary. I hope that those responsible in the State governments will play their parts so that the legislation can be introduced in the near future.
I want to refer briefly now to the situation in West New Guinea. I regret what has happened there in recent months. Seven years ago I stated that I believed a mistake had been made in not presenting to the United Nations a stronger case for the independence of the indigenous people of Dutch New Guinea. I shall not traverse at this stage the rights and wrongs of the case presented by Indonesia or of the case presented by the Netherlands. What disturbs me is that recently we have seen the standard of international morality again lowered or even forgotten. The recent agreement was signed by Holland and Indonesia while Indonesian troops were still in Dutch New Guinea. That is an unfortunate continuance of the lowering of the standard of international morality. We saw a parallel to this case in 1932, 1933, 1934 and 1935, and we know what happened in 1939. I do not want to see that pattern followed again. India took control of Goa. After a period of aggression India said, “ It is all over; we have achieved what we desired to achieve “. No voices were raised in the United Nations against the aggression by Indonesia in Dutch New Guinea. Let the Opposition take no comfort in this matter. I believe that it has contributed in no small way to this attitude within the United Nations and to this line of thinking by some people. 1 believe that the time has come when we must stand firm on the conviction that aggression cannot pay, no matter who uses it. In this respect, the United States of America has a great deal to learn about the international situation. That country has played a tremendous part in world affairs and has assisted greatly in the rehabilitation of Europe, but I believe that, in certain aspects, it has not yet come to realize and appreciate the danger that lies in what we may term a policy of constant appeasement, of not standing firm by one’s convictions.
I say to the people of Australia at this time: This is another reason why we must go forward firmly determined to work and plan so that our economy may be on a stable basis and so that this great land of ours may develop and progress to the limit of its promise. With these things that I have mentioned happening overseas, we need stability in our economy and a determined effort by all sections of our community to hold fast to those things that have been given unto us. And, in the international sphere, we must stress with all our power that we, as Australians, will hold firm to the principles of international morality.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Mr. Speaker,I wish to raise to-night the subject of the Lord Howe Island air service. For the benefit of the new members on both sides of the House I point out that the island lies 420 miles northeast of the spot where the clock should be restored on the General Post Office in Sydney. The only connexion between the island and the clock is that I have advocated the construction of an airstrip at Lord Howe Island just as long as I have advocated the restoration of the clock at the Sydney General Post Office. Lord Howe Island takes second place to no resort. Some people may like the Gold Coast in Queensland, or Honolulu, which I saw last year, and other resorts, but none is as good as Lord Howe Island. Seven miles in length, the island has a surf beach on each side.
Only a privileged few can visit this island in present circumstances. I have introduced to various Ministers for Civil Aviation at least four deputations which made representations for the construction of an airstrip. I remember bringing a deputation from Lord Howe Island here to discuss the matter with the late Senator George McLeay, when he was Minister. Despite all our efforts, we have got nowhere so far. The air fare between Sydney and Lord Howe Island is £16 9s. each way. One has to get out of bed at 2 o’clock in the morning to catch the flying boat at Rose Bay. If the wind is blowing the right way the aircraft will depart on time. If the wind is not blowing the right way the intending passenger will hang about for hours at Rose Bay waiting for departure.
I see that the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Jack) is nodding his head. When he visited Lord Howe Island on one occasion, he promised that he would do what he could to help the residents obtain a better air service. I hope that I shall have his support in these representations sooner or later on behalf of the islanders who have suffered so much. They have paid all their taxes, including income tax and pay-roll tax. The Commonwealth Government has a very great interest in the island because it has there a weather station which transmits weather information to Sydney. The New South Wales Government has tried time and time again to get the Department of Civil Aviation interested in the project for the construction of an airstrip at Lord Howe Island.
A young man named Kirby, who ran the largest guest house on the island, came to Canberra on three occasions to make representations for the construction of an airstrip. Unfortunately, he passed away two years ago leaving a widow and four children. The widow and three of the girls have to run the guest-house business as best they can, at enormous cost in getting goods from Sydney, for exorbitant freights are charged. On the last occasion on which I visited the island, Mrs. Kirby showed me a receipt which established that market vegetables worth £20 had cost £24 in freight to land on the island. A shipping service operates only at two-monthly intervals.
I have in my hand a letter from the present Minister for Civil Aviation (Senato Paltridge), dated 7th January, 1961, replying to representations that I had made on this subject. He told me that in the financial year 1958-59, this Government had spent £90,000 on the existng facilities for travel between the mainland and Lord Howe Island, and £102,000 in 1960-61. Where the money is going, nobody knows. This Government is paving bie money for f - vilifies and a stretch of foreshore at Rose Bay. If an airstrip A.re constructed at Lord Howe Island and a plane service operated from Mascot to the island, overseas visitors could slip over there for a day or two. With the present facilities, they would take a week to get there and they could not be sure when they would get back. The Minister for Health in the New South Wales Government was marooned over there on one occasion for two and one-half days. On one of my visits to the island I wanted to return on the Saturday, but I did not get back until the following Tuesday, because the flying boat could not land at the island on account of the weather.
When travellers arrive at the island, they are taken off the flying boat or the ship in a rowing boat, or something very like one, and rowed to the land by islanders who do the job for the small wages that the proprietors of the guest houses can afford. All the proprietors have an interest in the foodstuffs and passengers carried by the aircraft or ship, and they join together to meet the expense of trans-shipment. The existing travel facilities represent real drudgery for the islanders. When children are old enough for higher schooling, they have to go to the mainland.
I have tried repeatedly to enlist the -id of the Department of Civil Aviation in providing an airstrip in order to improve the lot of the islanders, and I was told that £500,000 was voted for expenditure by the Department of Civil Aviation. I went to the records section of the department in Canberra, which was most helpful. The officers there did everything they could do for me, and searched their records to see whether any funds had been allocated for expenditure on the island, but they could find nothing. They then sent me to the office of the Minister at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon, and I asked him whether he could inform me about any provision that had been made for the project in this year’s Estimates. The man I spoke to told me he would make inquiries, and he had to send to Melbourne for the information. That was at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon. At 4 o’clock this afternoon this gentleman - I think his name is Richardson - rang me and told me he could give me no information whatsoever. Is that the way to be treated? It is bad enough not getting anything done there, but when we come here to Canberra and ring Records Branch to get something on what is happening we are refused information. That is where the matter stands at the present time. Honorable members have read in the press that one company has offered £100,000 if the Government will make a move.
I want to make the point that if the Government is paying out £100,000 a year on improving facilities for the island it could pay for the strip in four years. The estimate of the civil aviation authorities is that it would cost only about £400,000 to build a strip there. I think a thorough investigation should be made. I used to tell people that they could find no better place for their holidays than Lord Howe Island, but I am a little wary of telling them that now because of the poor facilities provided there. The flying boat used on the service is the only one of its kind in the world and it was built 40 years ago. I refuse to accept the blame should a tragedy occur. I have warned the people here and on the island that a tragedy is likely. An old tub of a boat, run for private profit, is the only means of unloading. I think the whole matter should be looked into. Mr. Middlemiss has said that Ansett Transport Industries would give £100,000 towards the building of a strip if only the Government will move in the matter.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at10.43 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
e asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
What was the total amount spent on commercial advertising on television in Australia during the financial year 1961-62?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
I have consulted the Australian Broadcasting Control Board which informs me that this information is not available because the board has not yet received the accounts of commercial television stations for the year 1961-62. Similar information for 1960-61 will, however, be published in the board’s annual report for the year ended 30th June, 1962, which is now being prepared. It is not the practice to make such information public prior to the tabling of the board’s report in Parliament.
m asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. “ Living with a Giant “ - a study in United States/Canadian relations. The production of this documentary was subsequently undertaken by Associated-Rediffusion Limited of London, which is also a member of the Intertel Federation.
e asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
What action is he taking regarding the possible introduction of hovercraft into the Australian transport system?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
On 17th July, the Prime Minister decided that initially the registration and licensing of prototype hovercraft would be the responsibility of the Minister for Civil Aviation. The Minister for Civil Aviation advises me his department is keeping in close touch with overseas developments and chiefly through the Civil Aviation Liaison Officer on the staff of the High Commissioner in England where the greatest activity in the development of experimental air-riding vehicles is taking place. The Minister for Civil Aviation emphasized the point that all work done to date and in hand was chiefly experimental and it will be some years before production vehicles will be available.
b asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
What is the freight on the transport of a ton of cargo between (a) Fremantle and Wyndham, (b) Brisbane and Cairns, and (c) Fremantle and Melbourne?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The general cargo freight rates charged by the shipping companies regularly engaged in the trades are- (a) Fremantle-Wyndham, 162s. 6d. per ton; (b) Brisbane-Cairns, 238s. per ton; (c) FremantleMelbourne, 215s. per ton.
d asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– It is not in accordance with the practice of the House to furnish, in reply to a question, opinions on matters of constitutional law. Nor for the most part are the legislative provisions about which the honorable member seeks information within either my own administration or that of my colleague, the Minister for Health. I understand, however that all States exercise legislative control, in some measure, of the advertising of medicines and of patent foods. The statutes of all States are available in the Library. So far as concerns medicines, manufacturers, advertisers and the press have accepted voluntarily a code of rules drawn up by an expert committee appointed by the National Health and Medical Research Council. This code reads as follows: -
d asked the Minister for External
Affairs, upon notice -
Rules Relating to the Advertising of Proprietary Medicines.
Advertising is an important commercial procedure in marketing products and no group of commodities receives more attention in this respect than proprietary medicines.
In the public interest and in the interest of reputable advertisers of these commodities a code of rules is necessary as a guide in the preparation of advertisements.
Labelling and packaging must comply with State requirements and, before a commercial script is submitted to the censor, care should be taken to ensure that State legislation controlling advertising is not contravened.
While the advertising and displaying of goods in an attractive manner is essential to the vendor in this competitive world, it is also helpful to the consumer if fairly and honestly done. On the other hand, it may be abused in such a way as to deceive the consumer through the employment of unfair and dishonest practices. Such objectionable methods are a disadvantage to ethical competitors and detrimental to trade as a whole.
The following principles should be observed: -
This Code applies to proprietary medicines for which a therapeutic use is claimed.
Therapeutic use means use for the purposes of-
No advertisement may contain any reference to the following: -
Anaemia (all forms)
Arthritis (all forms)
Cardiovascular disease, including low or high blood pressure
Central nervous system, diseases of the Consumption and allied conditions
Convulsions of any origin
Development of the bust
Granular ailments of any kind
Impotence or virility
Kidneys, diseases of the Lupus
Raising the height
Ulcers in the mouth
Whooping cough and any others which may be determined by the agreement of all parties.
Accepted with Limitation.
Only claims to relieve the sufferer, or to alleviate the conditions, are permissible in the following: -
Bladder conditions (advertising prohibition in certain States)
Colds and coughs
Fungus infections, except ringworm
Vitamin deficiency and any others which may be determined by the agreement of all parties.
When advertising from any source offers in its copy a booklet - paid or unpaid - the advertiser must submit such booklet or book to the censor together with his proposed advertisement. If the booklet does not conform with these censorship regulations, the advertising copy will not be accepted.
It should not be assumed that new copy prepared is in conformity with rulings on previous copy. It is necessary to submit all new copy.
Reference to a published statement will be disallowed if the passage has been removed from its context leading to distortion of the original sense.
Words such as piles, constipation, flushing the kidneys, scabs, excreta, &c, are not acceptable in headings or display lines.
Offensive words are not permitted in any advertising copy.
Illustrations or diagrams of the human body shall not include the area between the shoulders and the knees, except when approval is specifically obtained. An illustration will be barred if it depicts excessive pain or suffering, or is for any other reason unsuitable for publication.
False and misleading statements are specifically prohibited. Statements such as the following are generally regarded as false and misleading: - “ Vanishes like magic “ “ Disappears overnight “ “Never fails” “ Infallible “ “ The ideal remedy “, &c.
The use of superlatives will not be approved, nor should disparaging references to other preparations be made, overtly or by inference.
Where a scientific claim, such as “Laboratory tested “, “ Science has proved “, &c, is made, concerning which the censor has any doubt, he should consult an appropriate scientific authority.
Diagnosis or Treatment by Correspondence.
No advertisement should contain any intimation that the person advertising is prepared to diagnose or treat by correspondence, diseases, conditions or symptoms of ill health in a human being.
Money Back Guarantee.
Money back guarantees are prohibited.
Additional Items, not involving the use of proprietary medicines.
No advertisement may contain any reference to therapy by HYPNOSIS OR TO RESTORATION OF MORE EFFECTIVE EYESIGHT BY EYE EXERCISES.
Amendment to Rules.
This code is to be revised every five years or as required, by the agreement of all parties.
This is a voluntary code and has no legislative implications.
I refer the honorable member also to the report of the Commonwealth DirectorGeneral of Health for the period 1st July, 1958, to 30th June, 1960, which, at pages 61-63, explains the censorship of medical talks and advertisements relating to medicines which is carried out in respect of sound broadcasting and television by the Department of Health under the Broadcasting and Television Act.
West New Guinea.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What treaties have been drafted or reviewed at conferences attended by Australian representatives or observers in the last year?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
List A hereunder indicates the treaties which have been drafted, and List B those which have been reviewed, at conferences attended by Australian representatives or observers since August, 1961.
m asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
There have been negotiations with the United Kingdom in connexion with the Reciprocal Agreement. These negotiations extended over a lengthy period and covered not only the implications of the reduction in the residence qualification for Australian age pensions but also many other matters. I am pleased to be able to inform him that on 30th May last I was advised that the United Kingdom had agreed not to disturb the provision which ensures that persons receiving Australian age pensions without the aid of the agreement receive retirement pensions at the full rate if they go to the United Kingdom to live. With the completion of the negotiations, we have entered into a Supplementary Agreement on Social Security with the United Kingdom which will liberalize some of the provisions of the 1958 agreement. The new agreement, which will come into force on 1st October, 1962, was signed in Canberra on 16th August last. Sir William Oliver, the British High Commissioner, signed the agreement on behalf of the United Kingdom and I signed on behalf of Australia. At this end the new agreement will be brought into effect by regulations under the Social Services Act which will be tabled in the course of the next few weeks.
Steel Distribution in the Australian Capital Territory.
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 August 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620822_reps_24_hor36/>.