25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hen. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to inform the House that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) left for overseas on 7th March. The main purposes of his visit will be to attend the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development commencing in Geneva on 23rd March and the Commonwealth Ministers’ meeting in London on 19th March. During his absence the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) will act as Minister for Trade and Industry and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) will represent Senator Henty in this chamber.
– I address a question to the Minister for Territories. Can he say whether the Government has set up a committee to study freights and the adverse effects that existing high freight rates are having on development in northern Australia? If such a committee has been set up, will it have a look at the policy of Western Australian governments, both past and present, of using the State shipping line to provide a subsidized service to people living in remote parts of Western Australia? Taking into consideration the fact that the Commonwealth Government has at its disposal the Australian National Line and the Commonwealth Railways, as well as a national airline, can the Minister say .whether the Government will allow those instrumentalities to function in the interests of development and not expect them to operate as profit-making organizations, as at present?
– I appreciate the honorable member’s interest in this matter, which is a very important one for the Northern Territory. The Government is contemplating setting up a committee to inquire into all aspects of transport in the Northern
Territory, and no doubt the matters he has raised will be considered by the committee.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of public disquiet in Hobart, is the Minister prepared to state positively that “ Empress of Australia “ will call at Hobart twice a month? If so, will he undertake to review the position after twelve months’ operation?
– I am not prepared to give an undertaking concerning the frequency of the visits of “ Empress of Australia “, but I remind the honorable member that last week I went to Hobart and discussed the problem with the members of the Marine Board and other interested organizations in that city. We found that there was no great difference between the views of any of the bodies regarding the available cargo tonnages, and that the position might well be served by two visits a month by “ Empress of Australia “. I undertook, as I repeat to the honorable member now, that after “Empress of Australia” had been operating for twelve months the whole question of the requirements of the port and the services to be provided by the ship would be reviewed in discussion with the interested organizations in Hobart. I hope, however, that the Australian National Line will be able to announce its schedules within a very short time.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Social Services a question. I preface it by stating that the Central District Ambulance Service in New South Wales last year transported 35,284 aged persons, representing 25 per cent, of all cases attended, at a cost to the service amounting to £120,000. Is any assistance granted by the Commonwealth for the transport of these persons? In accordance with the latest instructions on parliamentary procedure I further ask: If not, why not?
– I can assure the honorable member that there is no provision in the Social Services Act for payment to ambulance authorities for the transport of pensioners from time to time. The matter has been considered, both by me and by the Commonwealth Minister for Health. Indeed, it would be more appropriate to address this question to the Minister for Health. Up to this point there seems to be no merit in the intrusion of the Commonwealth Parliament into functions that are normally those of a State instrumentality.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport will be aware that I represent the greatest apple and pear growing area in Australia. Is he able to say whether, in the course of the assessment of potential cargo for the “Empress of Australia “, thorough inquiries were made to give as accurate a forecast as is possible of probable quantities of fruit which can be expected to be shipped from Hobart to Sydney by the “ Empress of Australia “ by a regular service?
– -To the best of my recollection, all the possibilities of cargo for shipment between Hobart and Sydney have been taken into account and, on that calculation, there is a very large amount of room for expansion of trade, so I have no fear that the fruit trade will not be catered for.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. When will the proposed legislation on restrictive trade practices, which he and his predecessor seem to delight in discussing with all kinds of outside organizations, be introduced into this Parliament?
– The legislation will be introduced as soon as all the matters that have to be considered have been considered and as soon as the drafting has been completed.
– I refer to a statement made recently by the Minister for Housing in relation to the £250 special housing grant. Included in that statement was a qualification that, before applying for a grant, the applicant must be married and must also have entered into a firm contract to buy or build a home. I ask: As the aim of most young couples is to build or purchase a home before the actual marriage date, will the Minister, before drawing up the legislation, include in it a provision whereby a single person may have a grant approved subject to the receipt of a marriage certificate?
– The grant, of course, will not be paid - nor could it be paid - by the Commonwealth until the parties concerned are actually married. There will probably be large numbers of cases where young couples wish to plan their house and have it ready to move into after they are married. There will also be a number of lending authorities which may not be able to lend a couple that last portion of money required unless they are sure that the £250 will be forthcoming. Those cases are well in mind and I have no doubt whatever that, whether in the legislation or by effective administrative arrangements at the time, this point can, in practice, be covered.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I ask: In view of the imminent danger of traffic congestion stifling our centres of population, does the Government propose to continue its policy of retaining its profits from petrol tax receipts? If the level of funds allocated under the new Commonwealth Aid Roads Act is to be restricted to that mentioned by the Prime Minister in his policy speech, how does the Government propose to meet the crisis on capital city roads referred to by the capital city lord mayors in a recent submission to the Commonwealth? Will the Government, bearing in mind that 85 per cent, of combined Commonwealth and State road funds is at present spent outside metropolitan areas, allow itself to be hindered by country influences in reaching a proper decision? If the Government suggests that the allocation of road moneys within States is a matter in which State sovereignty is exercised, does the Minister propose to eliminate from the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act the existing provision that 40 per cent, of road grants must be expended by the States on rural roads?
– The honorable member has asked a long list of questions that deal with policy. At this stage, I can only tell him that the Premiers of all the States are to come to Canberra this week to discuss the matters raised by him, and it would be quite improper for me now to canvass the field covered by his questions.
– I should like to address a question to the Treasurer. Will he consider the case for allowing an invalid who must use a car to get to work to claim as an income tax deduction the cost so incurred? I cite the case of a poliomyelitis victim in my electorate who is totally crippled below the waist and who works in a wheel-chair. He travels to and from work in this chair, which is in turn conveyed by a motor car. As a monkey operating a tractor has been looked on with generosity - at least as to the costs of fuelling the monkey - will the right honorable gentleman consider generously a disabled worker’s car costs, especially that portion of them that does not constitute the equivalent of ordinary fares?
– I do not know how seriously the honorable gentleman asks me to consider the illustration that he used. The cases are not parallel. An employer of a disabled person is able to claim as a business expense the cost of employing that person. I gather that this principle was the basis of the ruling in the case of the simian creature that the honorable gentleman has mentioned. This Parliament, by legislating for sales tax exemption, has already shown practical sympathy for persons who have been disabled by the loss of their legs and who purchase motor cars required for the purposes of their employment. So far, there has not been adopted a policy of allowing as tax deductions the expenses incurred by such people in maintaining or operating the cars. I shall have the proposal listed among the many that we consider as we determine details of the Budget, and I shall consider it carefully.
– I ask the
Minister for the Interior: Will he inform the House of his ministerial attitude and intentions about the supply of milk in Canberra?
– Perhaps the honorable member wants me to take up most of question time. This matter is being investigated closely by the Department of the Interior in relation to the prospects of establishing a milk authority in Canberra. I want to know all the pros and cons. When I have the department’s report, I shall be able to comment further.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, concerns the recent sale of the ship “ Burnside “ by Burns Philp and Company Limited. Since this sale leaves on the run between Australia and South-East Asia only one Australian ship - the Burns Philp vessel “ Braeside “ - and since this ship is losing money although it carries full cargoes, and may be sold soon, how does the Minister view prospects for the run between Australia and South-East Asia?
– The Department of Shipping and Transport is not primarily concerned with shipping operating overseas. I suggest that the honorable member might secure an answer if he directed his question to the Minister for Trade and Industry.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Will the Commonwealth support the appeal for funds amounting to £120,000 made on behalf of the 180 athletes who will comprise the Australian team for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics? If so, what amount will be contributed?
– This matter has not yet come up for consideration, but it will, of course, be considered in due course.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that the low level of wheat prices over the last several years has forced the Canadian Government to subsidize the Canadian wheat farmer, who is widely acknowledged as one of the most efficient wheat producers in the world? If so, what action, if any, is being taken to ensure that international wheat prices in future will be at a level which provides a profitable return to efficient producers in Canada and Australia?
– It is true that the Canadian wheat farmers have been benefiting from concessional rail freights in Canada. On wheat hauled 1,000 miles for export from Vancouver the concession amounts, in effect, to a subsidy of about 2s. 9d. a bushel. In addition, since 1954-55 the Canadian Government provided more than 300,000,000 dollars to meet part of the cost of storing wheat. The Australian Government’s approach to wheat prices in international trade is that the return to growers should be sufficient to obviate the need for direct or indirect Government subsidy. This Government will continue to press in the cereals group of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, as it has consistently argued in all other forums, for prices which are remunerative to efficient producers. I am confident that this approach will receive the support of the governments of all main wheat exporting countries.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether in an address to the National University Liberal Club on 4th March this year he criticized Australians who “lowered themselves to the level of Asians, and insisted that they were no different from Asians “. Did be say that this was self-abasement which he found silly and infuriating - like social workers going slumming? If he made this statement, does he consider that such remarks assist in our relations with the Asian people?
– The honorable member has relied upon a newspaper report which was incorrect, and which has since been corrected by a letter addressed to the editor. I suggest that the honorable member read the correction.
– I should like to read it.
– It appeared in the Melbourne “Age” which published the original incorrect and false report on Saturday last.
– Has the correction appeared in the Western Australian press?
– I do not think it is the practice of any Australian newspaper to correct errors that appear in other newspapers.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister seen a statement by a member of the Australian Wool Board, on his return from Peking, to the effect that contact has been made at a non-government level for engagement in international trade, not politics? If so, will the Minister inform the members of the Australian Wool Board that trade with Peking is conducted only through Government agencies, despite the fact that French wool buyers in Australia have been doing most of the purchasing for Peking? I ask the Minister also whether he will supply the members of the board with a copy of Peking “ Radio News “ of 28th December, 1962, which, inter alia, said -
Chinese and Japanese trade organizations signed a protocol en Japanese trade in Peking on Thursday. … In the protocol, both sides re-affirm their support for the three political principles for Sino-Japanese relations, the three trade principles and the principle that politics and economics are inseparable. Mr. Chou En-lai and Chen Yi both attended the signing ceremony.
– I have not seen the Chinese report, nor is it available at the moment to enable me to make to the Australian Wool Board such a statement as the honorable member suggests. But I have seen attributed to the chairman of the board, Sir William Gunn, a statement to the effect suggested by the honorable member, in relation to discussions on trade and not on politics. I shall present to the chairman of the board a copy of the honorable member’s question and his comments.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Does the Government support the representatives Qf Japanese manufacturers and the Australian graziers in their efforts to secure conditions that will immensely increase the quantities of manufactured cotton and synthetic textiles coming to Australia from Japan? Will the Government bow before the clamour of the graziers and the propaganda of Japanese exporters to the effect that a considerable restriction of Australian textile manufacturing industries is essential to promote the sale of Australian wool? Would not increased imports of textiles disastrously increase unemployment in Australia?
– So far as I understand, there are now applications being heard by the Tariff Board on these matters, and some of these statements were made in relation to those proceedings. The only bowing that the Government needs to do is in the direction of the Tariff Board, which has been set up to examine such claims and to make recommendations about them. I have no reason to believe that the Tariff Board will discharge that duty incompetently.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the fact that the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement expires on 30th June next, is the Minister able to tell the House whether the Government has any plans to extend this agreement beyond the period of five years? If the Government has not such plans, does it intend to make an early announcement of its intentions in relation to road grants under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act, to allow detailed planning of urgently needed projects to commence, without delay? Does the Government accept the principle expounded by the lord mayors of the capital cities that a substantially increased allocation should be made under the new act to finance the backlog of road works and the new works required in the capital cities of Australia to cope with the increased vehicle population, which is expected to double in the next ten years?
– I am sorry, but I cannot give the honorable member any more information than that which I gave an honorable member opposite a few minutes ago, which was to the effect that the Premiers are to come to Canberra this week to discuss possible renewal of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement. I am afraid that the matter will have to be left at that.
– I preface a question, which I direct to the Postmaster-General, by stating that it has been reported recently that an agreement on a shared cost basis has been reached by various interests using the television station at Mr Gambier. In view of this arrangement I now ask: What are the prospects of a similar agreement between the Postmaster-General’s Department and commercial television interests on the sharing of the facilities of the national station to be erected at The Bluff, near Port Pirie, in order that fringe viewers in that part of South Australia may obtain not only better viewing reception but also a wider choice of programmes?
– There are investigations from time to time as to the best method of providing for viewers the best possible programmes. Whether in particular areas there can be an arrangement suitable to commercial interests as well as to the Australian Broadcasting Commission must be investigated from time to time. I shall have a look at the matter raised by the honorable member in relation to The Bluff and shall let him have a reply.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he is aware of the economic circumstances that preclude capital from being made available by the Commonwealth Development Bank to farmers desiring finance for the early development stages. If he is aware of the circumstances, will he inform the House of the steps, if any, that are being taken to rectify the situation? If he is not aware of the circumstances, will he have an investigation made with a view to overcoming the difficulties?
– I take it the honorable gentleman is referring to the discussion that occurred to a considerable extent in his own State. I may say that I have been made fully aware of the circumstances by the rural committee of my own party. That committee has discussed the matter in considerable detail and, following this, I conveyed some advice to it, having brought the matter to the attention of the Commonwealth Development Bank. I have also raised with the Reserve Bank of Australia the question of clarifying the view held as to the desirability of stocking up some of the properties to an increasing extent.
I gather that, at an earlier point of time, there was some misunderstanding as to the value to be gained from the substantial stocking of properties. It has since been pointed out that the addition of trace elements or similar materials to soil which previously had been affected by somewhat peculiar conditions has considerably improved the carrying capacity and that the properties will now take far more stock than they would formerly. I say this merely to show that the matter has been under examination.
I will welcome any additional information the honorable gentleman cares to place before me. I shall see whether I can give a more detailed answer to him, not at question time, but when I have all the material before me.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. Is he aware that thousands of Sydney businessmen and residents are intensely frustrated by their inability to obtain telephone services? Is he aware that new firms with as many as 30 employees, and residents with urgent medical priorities, are being told that they will have to wait for twelve months or more for telephone services? Is this because many Sydney exchanges - eight out of sixteen in my area - have no numbers available and will not have any for a year or more, irrespective of the urgency of the application? If this is so, can the Postmaster-General say why Sydney has been singled out for this kind of treatment, and can be give any reassuring information to show that strong urgent action will be taken to clean up this mess?
– It would be wrong to say that Sydney had been singled out for treatment of the type suggested by the honorable member. I realize that within the Sydney area there is a lag in the installation of telephones. However, I point out that each year we are installing more telephones than were installed in the previous year. The Postmaster-General’s Department has available to it only the money that is provided by this Parliament. The department tries to give to the people the best possible service in relation to telephone installation. I regret that there is some backlog, particularly in the Sydney area, but I cannot promise that it will be overtaken in the ne.ar future.
– I desire to address a question to the Treasurer. Can he inform the House why Hawkesbury River has “been excluded from the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Bill 1964, which is presently before the House?
– The scheme, which is the subject of the legislation before the House, came to the attention of the Government after discussions with the New South Wales Government. The State Government specified the number of rivers that caused serious flooding from time to time in this area. To the best of my recollection, the Hawkesbury River was not included in the scheme proposed by the New South Wales Government. The total cost of the scheme will be just under £13,000,000. We have agreed to participate in the project. I presume that the Hawkesbury River was excluded for reasons which went to the substance of the scheme - the fact that we were trying to deal with a situation that was really unprecedented in New South Wales, or for that matter in any other part of Australia, in relation to the extent of damage and the frequency of occurrence.
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry say whether competition from margarine disturbs the dairy industry? Because of section 92 of the Constitution, is it impossible for State governments to control margarine sales interstate? Has the Commonwealth Government power to impose an excise duty on the production or sale of margarine? Does the Government intend to impose an excise duty which will be sufficient to result in a retail price for margarine that will enable butter to compete with it on more favorable terms?
– The fixing of quotas for the production of margarine has consistently come before the Australian
Agricultural Council. As the honorable member knows, the State Ministers concerned have imposed quotas on the manufacture of edible margarine. But some difficulty has been experienced in relation to interstate sales. With the exception of New South Wales, the legislation of the various States has been considered to be sufficient -to cope with the situation and to ensure that statistics will be available to enable a check to be kept on the manufacture of margarine. However, New South Wales has recently amended its act and the amendment has now been proclaimed. That is where the matter rests at the moment.
I might add that all the States have agreed not to raise quotas without advising the Australian Agricultural Council. The introduction of an excise duty is a matter of policy. It has not seriously been requested of the Commonwealth Government by the Agricultural Council. I do not think that such a duty would necessarily be the answer to the legislative deficiencies to which the honorable member has referred.
(Mr. Jones addressing a question to the Prime Minister and being ruled out of order) -
– Order! It is a matter of interpretation. One honorable member has referred to-day to a booklet that has been prepared for the guidance of honorable members in asking questions. I would suggest that most honorable members who have asked questions to-day ought to study it. According to my interpretation of the question being asked by the honorable member for Newcastle the subjectmatter of it does not concern the Prime Minister, particularly the reference to the Liberal Party. Therefore, I rule that it is out of order.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether, about eight or nine months ago, a Commonwealth factfinding mission visited the north coast of New South Wales to make inquiries into the banana-growing industry. If it did, has a report of the committee’s findings been issued and what was the main burden of the findings? If a report has not been issued, when will it be issued, and will it be available to the public?
– An economic survey of the banana industry was undertaken by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and was completed last year. The present position is that the report has been completed and is being assessed. The findings have been made available to industry leaders. The printing of the report has not yet been completed. As soon as the report has been printed, which I hope will be in the course of the next month or so, we will make it available to the public.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral procure and make available to the House the latest data o.i outstanding telephone applications in Australia, New South Wales and the city of Greater Wollongong? Will he examine those statistics to see what relative disparity there is, on a population basis, in relation to outstanding applications in New South Wales and in the whole of the Commonwealth? Will he further examine the data to ascertain the relative disparity between the city of Greater Wollongong and the State of New South Wales?
– I do not think there is any disadvantage in New South Wales compared with other parts of the Commonwealth, although a few years ago there was a greater backlog of telephone applications in New South Wales than in some of the other States. I inform the honorable gentleman that, in fact, there is a reasonable distribution of the resources of the Post Office within the States of Australia. The number of applications that we are receiving for telephone installations in New South Wales is, perhaps, a clear indication of the prosperity of that State.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the substantial increase in the cost structure of the dairy industry since the last cost of production survey was made, and having regard to the economic difficulties of dairy farmers in many parts of the Commonwealth, will the Government take urgent steps to institute a full cost of production inquiry?
– The Australian Dairy Farmers Federation has made a request for the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to make an economic survey of the industry. That would hardly be a costfinding inquiry in the true sense of the term. We have agreed that when personnel are available an economic survey will be undertaken. However, I must inform the honorable member that the bureau has quite a number of assignments on hand and to be undertaken, so this economic survey will not necessarily be made in the immediate future.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation state the reasons why the Repatriation Department constantly refuses to establish an eye bank, which is so necessary for the treatment of returned servicemen who require corneal graft operations? Is the honorable gentleman aware that doctors performing such operations are critical of the department’s failure to attempt to supply eyes for the operations? Will he give favorable consideration to the establishment of an eye bank in conjunction with the Sydney Eye Hospital?
– I have not heard any criticism in relation to operations of this type which have been carried out in repatriation hospitals; but I certainly will investigate the points that have been raised by the honorable gentleman and see what can be done.
– ls the Treasurer aware that the Hawkesbury River district has been settled for about ISO years and in that time has had at least SO damaging floods, but despite that no useful records have been kept even of the heights reached by those floods, let alone of stream flow rates and so on? Having regard to that serious situation, will the right honorable gentleman give thought to the possibility that the Go vernment of New South Wales may have omitted the Hawkesbury River from the proposed scheme out of ignorance or neglect, and will he consider the possibility of including it in the overall scheme for flood mitigation?
– The general practice in these matters is for the Commonwealth Government to consider proposals submitted to it by the State Government. It would not normally be the Commonwealth’s practice to inject some new element into a matter of this kind. This entire proposal is so novel that it is, I think, unique in my experience in this place. The Commonwealth has joined in a major programme of flood mitigation. The scheme that has been submitted by the New South Wales Government is one which it no doubt considers appropriate to the circumstances in that State and the Commonwealth has joined in the scheme. I do not claim to be expert in this matter. The ramifications of Mood in these areas is a matter outside my jurisdiction. I shall note the honorable gentleman’s interest in the matter but I point out that the legislation is confined to the present scheme. The scheme is a substantial one. As I said earlier, just on £13,000,000 is involved. I would think that the resources of the State are fairly fully engaged at present in coping with the current programme.
– I ask the
Prime Minister a question. In view of the decision of the New South Wales Government to review, after 60 years, the annual leave provision of New South Wales public servants and to increase it from three weeks to four weeks, will the right honorable gentleman take steps to raise this matter as soon as is possible with the Commonwealth Public Service Board so that the annual leave conditions of Commonwealth public servants will not be inferior to those of public servants employed by a particular State?
– If and when a claim for increased annual leave is made on behalf of the employees of the Commonwealth, it no doubt will be investigated by the Public Service Board. The claim may be referred to the Government for some consideration or it may be dealt with by the appropriate industrial tribunal. Until any one of these events happens I would beg leave to be excused from making a speech on the matter.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. In many instances when groups of rural manual telephone subscribers ask to be given an automatic exchange they are told that owing to rural automatic exchange equipment not being available, their request cannot be granted. Is any action being taken to speed up the manufacture of this necessary equipment? What is the prospect for overcoming the long-standing shortage of this equipment?
– I cannot be optimistic about overcoming the shortage of rural automatic exchange equipment. To meet immediately the demand by people living in rural areas for this type of equipment probably would cost £100,000,000. We do not have those resources. We have planned for the replacement of the manual system by rural automatic exchanges in a progressive manner. This work will be continued.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Air. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the report in to-day’s press to the effect that the Americans are unable to get their B-70 bomber off the ground or the TFX bomber off the drawing board? If the TFX never flies, what does the Minister intend to do about a replacement bomber for the Royal Australian Air Force?
– I do not know how many times one has to repeat the same thing in this House, but I shall say it once again for the benefit of those honorable members who did not hear both the Prime Minister and me state last week that there are no worries and there is no concern of any kind at the present moment about the TFX. A colonel of the United States Air Force is now stationed in Canberra and very shortly we shall appoint a group captain from the Royal Australian Air Force to be stationed in Washington as a project officer on the TFX. Only this morning the United States colonel told me that there is no reason to expect any delay of any kind. Naturally, in the production of all aircraft there are certain developmental problems. The TFX is experiencing nothing more than these developmental problems.
Debate resumed from 5th March (vide page 368), on motion by Mr. Kevin Cairns -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to-
We, the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
.- With the consent of the electors of Kingston I am privileged once again to speak at the beginning of this sessional period in the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. I thank the electors of Kingston for once again being so kind as to return me to the National Parliament. I congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your re-election to your high office, and the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) on his re-election as Chairman of Committees.
On this side of the House I congratulate the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) on his re-election, unopposed, as Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in this Parliament and the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) on his re-election as Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Australian Labour Party is privileged to be led by a great Australian like the honorable member for Melbourne. In 1961 he led the Labour Party to within an ace of victory. Only one seat separated government and opposition. The return of the Menzies Government was brought about only with the aid of Communist preferences in the
Moreton electorate. At the recent election the pendulum swung violently and the Government parties were re-elected with a good majority. But, strangely enough, in defeat the Labour Party was victorious.
– It is true, because for years the Government has refused to face up to its obligations in housing, child endowment and education. For years we have been pleading with the Government to do something about housing, to treat it as a national responsibility and to appoint a Minister for Housing, but the Government has refused steadfastly to accede to our request. Honorable members opposite continued to say, “ It is a State responsibility, let the States handle it”. They approached child endowment in a similar way. It was only when the Labour Party brought great pressure to. bear on the Government that something was done. Because the Government’s defeat was so close in 1961 honorable members opposite became afraid and realized that if they did not prepare a decent policy and face up to their obligations they would be thrown out of office, so belatedly the Government brought forth a new policy on housing and promised to appoint a Minister for Housing. The Government also took some steps in relation to child endowment and education, and was even forced by the Opposition to do something about a replacement for the obsolete Canberra bomber. It was only after the Leader of the Opposition informed the Australian people of what the Labour Party would do, if elected, to obtain a replacement for the Canberra bomber that the Government rushed the then Minister for Defence, Mr. Townley, to America. As one honorable member on this side of the chamber remarked at the time, the Government ordered a bomber quicker than the average fellow would go into a shop and buy a hat, because it knew that the Australian people would demand that something be done about defence. So we had victory in defeat. We forced the Government to do some of these things, but unfortunately it is once again becoming complacent and pushing things aside. The Government’s election promises about Commonwealth scholarships and other matters of education will not be implemented for twelve months and, despite the statements made by the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn), there is a doubt whether the replacement for the Canberra bomber will be available on the due date. We have no surety in that regard.
Many analyses have been made of the reasons for Labour’s defeat. Last week a publication which attempted to analyse the reasons for Labour’s defeat came into my possession. It pinpointed clearly at least certain aspects of the election campaign. Speaking of the electors, an article in this publication states -
They were believing the distortions and halftruths from the Government and D.L.P, rather than the real Labour policy. . . . Voters were uncertain or confused, so they played safe - better the devil they knew . . .
The role of the D.L.P. in this election was one that we hope will never be repeated in Australian politics. Its campaign had a simple message - that a victory for Labour would mean ultimately a Chinese Communist takeover. And they put it over with piles of skulls and hordes of Chinese troops marching across the television screen.
Its advertisements were designed to shock the simple. No doubt they succeeded. But they shocked others in perhaps a different way - causing revulsion that allegedly responsible Christian citizens could so calculatingly set out to generate fear and hatred. The D.L.P. has made a gigantic contribution to the sowing of bitterness and distrust among people in a country which is fundamentally united.
A logical next step in this sort of political warfare would bc for the A.L.P. to depict the D.L.P. as a clerical party. . . . We sincerely hope that the D.L.P., in future, will direct its appeal to reason, not emotion. Emotion is an inflammable material in politics. Australia has an enviable record of sane and peaceful politics; we want it to stay that way.
– Which newspaper is that?
– It is not the “ Tribune “ nor one of the daily newspapers; it is the “ Catholic Worker “, which is published in Melbourne. It shows clearly what certain people of the Catholic faith believe of the Australian Democratic Labour Party and the tactics that it adopted during the last election campaign.
Undoubtedly the campaign was conducted on a fear basis. As stated in the article which I have just read, the D.L.P. played on the emotions of the people and their fear of communism, with the result that they voted not on policy but because of fear. Unfortunately, when you fight elections on that basis, and win, you introduce a state of affairs in which governments will be elected not on policy but on fear. At a time when the parliamentary system should be more respected than ever, the introduction of the fear complex into elections will bring it into disrepute. The parliamentary system is threatened if such a campaign continues.
Let us have a look at this Democratic Labour Party and see what it is. It comprises a strange bunch of people with strange policies. The members of the D.L.P. call themselves Labour yet they vote Liberal and support the Liberal Party. Then, so that they can be successful in their campaign of hatred and misrepresentation, they adopt the methods of Communists and Fascists. So the D.L.P. is a party that claims to be Labour, votes Liberal and works like the Communists and the Fascists. The Democratic Labour Party is prepared to adopt the methods of the Fascists and the Nazis - the big lie. Its members repeat a lie again and again until in the finish, they believe it themselves and hope that everybody else will believe it also.
The members of the D.L.P. adopt the same infiltration methods as the Communist Party. They believe that the end justifies the means. I am not happy about saying what I intend to say but I think is must be said. These gentlemen of the D.L.P. infiltrate every section of society where they possibly can. They have set themselves up and organized themselves within certain church organizations which conduct a system of monthly pledged collections - the Wells system, call it what you like. They have set themselves up as key men in these organizations. I am not saying that they were not motivated by the highest ideals in the beginning, but when they are in control they go among the church members who contribute.
I do not say that they approach Mr. Speaker and talk politics to him because they know he is a dyed-in-the-wool Liberal. Nor do they approach the Labour man who is steadfast in his allegiance. They will not try to convince such people. But they find some old lady or gentleman or an old couple who are not well-versed in politics and they sneer and smear and play on emotional fears of communism. They tell those people that they should not vote Labour because of an alleged taint of communism. These alleged Christians act in this way believing that the end justifies the means.
Let me move on now to what I consider is a major matter for the consideration of this Parliament - the Malaysian-Indonesian dispute, its effect on Australia and the continued bungling of the Government over the replacement of the obsolete Canberra bombers. Last week, we had a forceful speech from the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson). He gave the House some most interesting figures on defence. He pleaded with the Government and reminded us that twelve months ago we should have been trying to get the Indonesian-Malaysian dispute before the United Nations. The honorable member pointed out that we were pledging Australia to assist other nations and he asked pertinently, “ Assist them with what? “.
The House also heard a speech by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) who, in his own words, begged, prayed and demanded that the Government move much faster in the matter of defence. Let us look at what the honorable member had to say about the Government and the defence of Australia. The honorable member said that twelve months ago he was. in South-East Asia and, referring to a more recent visit, he said -
When I returned to South-East Asia this time, I found that Australians were still popular but their image was becoming a little murky, to say the least of it. One or two people even referred to the effects of the policy that we had adopted until 25th September last, when the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said that we were 100 per cent, behind Malaysia. One South-East Asian leader, thinking no doubt of a statement made five days earlier than 25th September in Kuala Lumpur by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) to the effect that we had no legal commitments towards Malaysia, said, “Your policy has only emboldened President Sukarno in his policy of confrontation towards Malaysia “.
Five days elapsed between the statements of the Minister for External Affairs and the Prime Minister. In another part of his speech, the honorable member for Chisholm said -
If we cease this piecemeal approach and treat South-East Asia as one strategic concept, the mere fact of our getting together with our allies, including Britain and the United States, and our friends in South-East Asia, would at once put on a shop-window display which would raise the morale of the South-East Asian people who do not think we are dinkum. Morale is sliding very rapidly in some areas.
They are not the words of a Communist or a member of the Opposition; they are the words of the honorable member for Chisholm who returned to Australia only a short time ago and said that some of the people of South-East Asia, were wondering whether we were fair dinkum. They have good reason to wonder. The honorable member concluded by saying -
Do not forget that our economic future, as well as our security is intimately bound up with our friends and allies in South-East Asia. Time is running out and it is not on our side.
The dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia has been going on for some time. Week after week, the Indonesian leaders repeat their pledge to destroy Malaysia. The Australian Government has pledged support for Malaysia if required. I know it is not popular to say that if that happened, we could be involved in war. But stripped of all verbiage, that is what our pledge means. It means that if the position between Malaysia and Indonesia deteriorated and open warfare broke out, and if we kept our pledge, we would be at war.
That leads me to the next question following the statement by the honorable member for Batman: With what do we go to the assistance of Malaya? If the position is as serious as it appears to be - and I believe it is - we should take this matter to the United Nations quickly and get some people in authority talking about it and trying to find a solution. The Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) said to-day that there was no doubt that the TFX bombers ordered from the United States of America would be delivered on time. He said there were no serious problems in that connexion. But if we are in trouble, what will be the good of a bomber to be delivered in three years’ time? If the position is as serious as it is said to be, we need replacements for the Canberra bomber now.
When I say the Canberra is obsolete, I do not mean that it will not fly or that it will not do a good job; but it is obsolete by comparison with the TFX bombers that we have ordered. It is obsolete in comparison with the B-47 bombers which have been offered to Australia by the United States Government. I know it can be said that the B-47 is obsolete by comparison with the TFX, but it is useless to make comparisons. We need bomber replacements now. Australia has given its pledge. In the circumstances, it is no wonder that some people in South-East Asia are asking whether we are fair dinkum.
The Government should find the bomber replacements now. Why has a decision not been made? It would be interesting to know what recommendations have been made by the Air Board and why the Government has not agreed to take the B-47 bombers. Maybe, as some people say, our airstrips are not suitable. If so, whose fault is it? The fault lies in the inadequate defence planning of this Government if we are not in a position to accept these bombers from the United States Government. By comparison with the Canberra bombers, the B-47’s are a much better proposition for Australia.
Do not think for one moment that I suggest that we should bomb Djakarta. But let us suppose we are going to the assistance of Malaysia and are sending our Canberra bombers. We would send them to Butterworth for use if a war broke out. Does the Government think that in such an event, Indonesia would not try to drop something on us if we were prepared to go into action against Indonesia? What would our Canberra bombers be able to do? They might strike at Djakarta and if they hurriedly had a quick look round, they might be able to get back to Australia. Is that good enough for the crews that have to fly such bombers to defend Australia? Is it good enough for Australia? The B-47’s can be made available this day. If necessary, they could fly to where this dispute is, stay there for some time and return to Darwin quite safely. If necessary, they could be refuelled in the air. There is no reason to doubt that the United States Government would make available to Australia the tankers to do the necessary refuelling, if they were required. The fact is that a decision has to be made and made quickly, if we are dinkum, to use the words of the honorable member for Chisholm. This Government stands condemned because of its lack of defence preparation. As I said earlier, the members of the Royal Australian Air Force deserve the best aircraft available - not in five or seven years’ time, but now.
I hope that the Government will take heed of the begging and praying and pleading of the honorable member for Chisholm and honorable members on this side of the chamber and get on with the job. Let it remember that it was elected on its defence programme, as well as on those matters that are needed for home affairs. If it does not get on with the job, then, just as the Menzies Government failed us and was thrown out of office at the outbreak of the last war because it had left Australia undefended, it will pay the penalty in the near future on this issue. It is little wonder that there is confusion, misrepresentation and little understanding of what our policy is on external affairs and defence. I understand that the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick), when speaking at the thirtieth annual summer school of the Australian Institute of Political Science, showed clearly the muddled thinking of the Government in matters of defence and foreign policy. He was reported as having said that the Government had to strike a balance between national development and expenditure on defence. If this country is in any danger and we mean it when we say that we will assist Malaysia and we are prepared to do something about it, we must think defence and be prepared to take whatever action is necessary.
The Minister went on to say that he admitted that Australia was unable to defend itself without outside help and, as an afterthought, he added that we should place some store on our remembered military prowess. Of course, when he remembers our great military achievements of the past he is paying a tribute to the Curtin Government because that was the time when Australia did have a fighting force and a decent defence programme. But the Minister should not look backwards; he should look forward and get on with the job of making this country something better than it is to-day. He more or less implied in his statement that Australians were quite comfortable - in fact so comfortable that they were complacent about the future - and that the Government would not dare to implement taxation to get the money that it is necessary to spend on defence. Let me say to him that we on this side of the chamber have unlimited faith in the Australian people. We believe that if you tell them the truth, if you tell them that they must be taxed for a certain purpose that is essential for the well-being of this country, they will not hesitate to pay that taxation.
I say, in conclusion, that the time is overdue for finding a replacement for the obsolete Canberra bomber, which is not good enough for Australia. If we accepted the United States offer of the replacement bombers and they arrived here to-morrow, it would take us six months to train the crews necessary to man them. Let us honour our pledge to Malaysia by showing that we are prepared to obtain the necessary equipment but, above all, let us be dinkum to Australia. Let us get the equipment quickly so that we can at least be fair to the men of the R.A.A.F. who, if necessary, would have to defend this country.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I should like to add my congratulations to those which have already been extended to the Speaker on his reappointment. From the remarks which have been passed it is obvious that he enjoys the confidence of members from both sides of the House. I hope that he continues to hold that office for many years to come. I should like also to congratulate those new members who have made their maiden speeches. The quality of some of them speaks well for the future standard of debate in this House.
I want to direct my remarks, in the main, to that portion of the Governor-General’s Speech which states -
Legislation will be introduced during this session for the purpose of giving effect to two policy changes in the health field, namely, that Commonwealth medical benefits be increased by 33J per cent, and that the existing limit of £10,000,000 applying to grants to the States for the building or equipping of mental health treatment centres will not apply for the next three years.
In particular I want to refer to the capital grants which are made to the States for expenditure on mental hospitals. But before dealing with this subject I should like to join issue with the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) who spoke last Tuesday on the Government’s health policy. As usual, he put a great deal of research into his speech but, as usual, although a great deal of what he said was factual, there were some glaring misstatements and he drew some entirely wrong conclusions from some of his information. In the first place, he said that the Chifley Government provided free milk for school children. I have always been under the impression that that scheme was introduced by the late Sir Earle Page as a member of the Menzies Government in 1951. lt is a matter of record that in the last year for which the accounts are available, 1962-63, the Government spent approximately £3,750,000 to provide this milk. Secondly, the honorable member said that in Australia there are no less than 188 benefit organizations. He said -
Thus we have duplicated services with duplicated staffs working in duplicated prestige buildings.
He has obviously added together a number of the funds conducted by these organiztions. For instance, I am a member of the Manchester Unity Medical Benefits Fund and the Manchester Unity organization also operates a hospital fund. I belong to both. But the honorable member, in computing the number of benefit societies, has regarded such associated funds as presenting two societies instead of one. It is pretty definite that there would not be 100 different medical funds. So far as the prestige buildings are concerned, I should like to remind him, in fairness to the friendly societies, that in most cases these buildings were erected long before the Government introduced a health scheme. I can say most definitely that no portion of the medical or hospital funds of friendly societies has been used in the erection of these buildings. Thirdly, the honorable member referred to specialists in public hospitals. He asked whether the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) had ever contemplated the employment of specialists in public hospitals on either a salary or a sessional fee basis. He said -
Is he at all anxious to ensure that the sick are cured by the assistance of competent people .
Apart altogether from the fact that this does not come within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government, I have always been under the impression that specialists do make themselves available in ah honorary capacity to all public hospitals, and I think the patients at those hospitals enjoy specialist treatment. Fourthly, the honorable member said that members of medical funds receive a refund of 18s. for each visit to a specialist. This is entirely wrong, as the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs) pointed out the other night. In the first instance, the refund is £2, and if the subscriber contributes to the higher table he receives £2 13s. 4d., provided that the refund does not exceed 90 per cent, of the fee charged. But the most glaring of all mistakes made by the honorable member for Hughes was made when he said that the Chifley Government made available allowances for mental patients in State mental hospitals, although he said, “ I admit that the payment was inadequate “. The truth is that the Chifley Government made not Id. available to patients in State mental hospitals. To prove that assertion I shall cite a few questions. On 27th March, 1947, Mrs. Blackburn addressed the following question to the Minister for Social Services: -
Will he give consideration to the payment of the invalid pension to patients in mental hospitals who suffer certain hardships through their lack of means and their inability to buy much needed comforts for themselves?
Mrs. Blackburn had not received a satisfactory answer by 30th September, 1947. On that date she drew the Minister’s attention to her earlier question and said -
On 17th October, 1947, Mrs. Blackburn asked -
Has the Minister now information which will enable him to reply to my question?
The Minister said -
I come now to June of 1949, and I remind the House that the Chifley Government went out of office in December of 1949. On 15th June, 1949, Senator Nash asked-
Can the Minister for Social Services inform me whether, in connexion with the payment of age and invalid pensions, there is any discrimination between the inmates of old men’s homes and the patients in mental institutions? Is it a fact that the inmates of “ Sunset “ Old Men’s Home in Western Australia receive from their pension 15s. a week pocket money; whilst patients at the Claremont Mental Hospital receive no allowance whatsoever?
Senator McKenna, who was then Minister for Health, furnished a lengthy answer. The following extracts have been taken from his answer -
In the case of a pensioner, whether aged or invalid, who goes into a mental asylum, the pension is. suspended, not cancelled . . . The Senate will agree that it is not appropriate to be making payments to people who have been certified as insane. … On the broad proposal that the care of insane people and people committed to asylums for the insane is a matter for the States and not the Commonwealth I should not at this stage, in the absence of further facts, be prepared to recommend that a change should be effected.
Unfortunately that is the same line of argument as is followed by the present Government. I do not agree with it, but let us nail for ever the unfounded statement that a Labour government paid to mental hospital patients a portion of their pensions. A Labour government paid lOd. a day to the State governments towards the maintenance of pensioners in mental hospitals. In June or July of 1949 this amount was increased to ls. 2d. a day. The Menzies Government carried on the scheme and in the last year of its operation Victoria received as a rebate approximately £158,000. The Menzies Government cancelled the scheme in 1954 and in 1955 introduced a bill for the provision of £10,000,000 as capital grants, on the basis of £1 for £2, to the States for the capital cost of the erection of mental hospitals. Victoria received under the new scheme £2,750,000. At the rate of £158,000 a year it would have taken Victoria a very long while to receive that amount.
I want now to deal with the general question of mental health and make it quite clear that although I intend to quote facts and figures I do not pose as an expert. However, I have taken an interest in mental health and I believe that if more members were aware of the extent of the problem they also would endeavour to see that the public is made aware of its responsibilities, both directly and indirectly through the government of the day. There is no doubt that most people lack knowledge of the extent of the problems of mental health. For that reason they display no interest
In a book entitled “ Mental Health in the United States”, published in 1960 in the United States of America, the author rejoices in the fact that between 1956 and 1960 the numbers of patients in mental hospitals steadily decreased. But she points out that one-half of the hospital beds in the United States are occupied by patients in mental institutions and that one person in every ten, twelve or fifteen persons born in the United States will spend some part of his or her lifetime in a hospital for the mentally ill. These are staggering figures. In a book entitled “ Trends in the Mental Health Services “, published in the United Kingdom in 1960, the number of mental patients resident in mental hospitals is given as 152,000.
According to the Commonwealth Statistician, at the end of 1957 more than 35,000 persons were residents of mental hospitals in Australia. Dr. Alan Stoller of the Victorian Mental Hygiene Authority said in an address at a Rotary Club luncheon in Victoria a few years ago that on the figures for 1953 the loss of wages of Australia’s 30,000 mentally ill persons, plus the cost of treatment, was £266,000,000 a year. The number of mentally ill persons rose to 35,000 four years later. It may be assumed that the figure to-day exceeds 40,000 and the cost to the nation is about £400,000,000 a year. Surely this is a problem which merits a high priority. Dr. Stoller said that to cope with Australia’s mental health problems, which would grow as the population grew, governments should build every four years three hospitals each with a capacity of 1,000 beds. In 1961 Dr. Cunningham Dax, chairman of the Victorian Mental Hygiene Authority, published a book entitled “ Asylum to Community “. Tables included in the book show that in 1960, when Victoria’s population was 2,891,000, there were 9,398 persons in mental hospitals and 1,090 children were attending 28 centres for retarded children. Expenditure by the Victorian Government on mental health treatment was £6,437,000.
The history of mental health reform is largely the history of changing public attitudes. Fortunately, as the public has become more aware of the problem, it has become more willing to do something about it. A public opinion poll conducted in the United States of America in 1958 showed that next to education the American people were more willing to be taxed for the care of the mentally ill than for any other public service. This attitude represents a startling change in 50 years, because people did not always think in this way. Only a few generations ago people were prepared to pay a few pence to amuse themselves by watching lunatics and imbeciles in the madhouse. Kenneth Robinson, a member of the British Parliament, contributed a chapter to a book entitled “The Public and Mental Health “. He stated-
Until quite recently the predominant mass attitude towards mental disorder was one of fear.
Mr. Robinson stated that the attitude changed gradually to a mixture of fear and sympathy and that it was only when a real understanding of mental illness began to penetrate the public mind that sympathy began to outweigh fear. He stated that people gradually became aware that mental illness could be treated and that admission to a mental hospital was not the equivalent of a life sentence.
For hundreds of years it was the custom to surround mental institutions with high walls, presumably partly to keep the dangerous inmates away from the public and partly to insulate the public’ from the problem. The latter motive is rather like an ostrich putting its head in the sand. What it cannot see it does not fear. What it cannot see it does not have to worry about- With the change in the public’s attitude, the madman became the lunatic, later the mental patient and in some cases the psychiatric patient. The madhouse became the asylum and later became the mental hospital. As a result, persons suffering from neurotic and psychiatric disorders became willing to undergo treatment. The stigma attached to mental illness began to diminish. Mental hospitals became more modern and open days were held so that the public could see that they were not the places of horror the public thought them to be.
The changing attitude also meant that mental hospitals began to merge with general hospitals. This is a good thing and is the reason why I want to renew my plea for the payment of pensions, or at least portion of the pensions, to patients in mental hospitals. In some States to-day mental patients are treated in general hospitals. I believe, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that your own State of New South Wales. is a case in point. In (his circumstance patients are eligible for social service pensions. Persons in benevolent homes and even in receiving homes receive their pensions, but patients in mental hospitals do not. I believe that this is an anomaly which ought to be corrected. Just as the National Health Act determines a patient’s eligibility for the payment of hospital benefits by the nature of the complaint and the standard of treatment given, so should, I believe, the nature of the complaint determine a patient’s eligibility for a social service pension rather than that it be determined by the type of hospital to which the patient is admitted. I believe that the principle involved in each case is the same. Dr. Dax has stated that the payment of even only a few shillings a week would do a great deal to lift the morale of a great many patients in mental hospitals, apart, of course, from helping to provide them with many amenities.
In the time that remains to me, I want to say something about the problem of mental retardation because mental retardation is not mental illness, although sometimes the two are hard to separate. Mental retardation is a growing problem which results in a considerable wastage of the nation’s human resources, apart altogether from an immeasurable amount of personal distress. The problem is not confined to any one section of the community. A mentally retarded child can be born into any family, irrespective of that family’s financial or social position. It is not a rarity for a mentally retarded child to be born of highly intelligent parents. About one-fifth of all severely retarded children are mongoloids.
A survey conducted in the United States of America in 1960 disclosed that there were then an estimated 5,400,000 Americans with below normal mentality, and it was calculated that by 1970 the number would be 6,400,000. The survey also showed that of 4,200,000 children bom every year in the United States, 3 per cent., or 126,000 are so retarded that they will never rise to an intellectual level above that of a twelve year old. The report stated that, of these, 12,600 will reach their peak of intelligence at the seven-year-old level and that 4,200 will spend their lives as completely helpless imbeciles unable to care even for their own creature needs.
All mentally handicapped people are not equally affected and a lot can be done to help a child to develop its limited powers. The degree of handicap may also be altered for better or worse by the conditions under which the child lives. Society to-day makes an increasing demand for education on its workers, so that the number of jobs that can be held by persons of low intellect is becoming smaller and smaller, and unless measures are taken to train those whose limited powers are still sufficient to learn a useful trade, the number who remain total dependants all their lives will become very formidable. There is a group of mildly handicapped children with an intelligence quotient of somewhere between 55 and 80, and, to’ me, it is a paradox that this group, which has the greatest potential, has the least facilities. These children attend special schools. I am speaking now of Victoria, because I am more familiar with what happens there. I understand that there are special schools also in New South Wales; but in Victoria, up to the age when they have to leave school, the children come within the jurisdiction of the Education Department. Never at any time do they come within the jurisdiction of the mental hygiene authority. They are compelled to leave school at sixteen years of age, and the Commonwealth Department of Labour and National Service does its best to place them in employment. In fact, it does place most of them, but the trouble is that their mentality is such that very few of them can hold their jobs, and until such time as other jobs can be found for them, they are in receipt of the unemployment benefit. If they are deemed to be 85 per cent. incapacitated, and if they are over sixteen years of age, they may receive the invalid pension, subject, of course, to the means test. If they are under sixteen years of age, the mother qualifies for child endowment of 5s., 10s., or 15s., a week, as the case may be. Again, if they are deemed to have prospects of regular employment within three years, the facilities of the Commonwealth rehabilitation service are available to them for occupational training. This is a good thing, but I believe that many of them could be better trained while at school if the sheltered workshop facilities, which are available to children who have a lower I.Q., were available to them. Some special schools in Victoria have sheltered workshops, but this is only because they are provided by the parents.
I think these children live in a half-way world. They are half-way between normal intelligence and severe retardation, and, for all practical purposes, they are in a world half-way between the administration of the State Education Department and that of the Commonwealth Department of Social Services. I believe that the Commonwealth should be doing more to assist these children and to ease the burden on the States. In the United States of America, the federal Government is spending money on research, health services and education for retarded children. For instance, expenditure there rose from 1,730,000 dollars in 1956 to over 26,000,000 dollars in 1962. This expenditure has been mainly on research. In 1958, the United States Congress authorized the Office of Education to make fellowship grants available to alleviate the shortage of teachers for the mentally retarded. We in Australia should be doing something on the federal level to investigate the causes of mental retardation which is costing the nation millions of pounds annually. [Quorum formed.]
.- At the commencement of a new Parliament, and at the time of debating the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, the people and honorable members of this House have a right to expect that the main issues confronting the nation will be discussed. The Australian nation does have great tasks to perform to-day. Not only must we provide increasing standards for our people, but we must also provide for an increasing number of people in the future for we have a great continent, a large share of the world’s surface to develop. In addition, we have to prepare for our own defences and to contribute to the economic progress and security of the rest of the world.
These are great tasks. These are the things that the nation would expect us to be discussing during this debate. Recently, the people of Australia were called upon to elect a national government and many of these tasks were made central themes of that election campaign. The present Government and its Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) were elected to face those tasks and, by their own choice, to tell the Australian people how to solve them. That was what the election was supposed to be about.
Last Thursday night the Prime Minister made his first speech in the National Parliament since calling an election so that these great tasks facing the nation could be examined and so that his Government could be tested with respect to them. But in that first speech he had little to say about any of these matters. Like a prima donna who has been offended by some chance remark, he came into the House and spent his time defending himself against criticism which had been levelled at him by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), and in turn, attacking the Leader of the Opposition. This type of performance might be very clever. It might even be very popular. It might have an appeal similar to that of the Beatles. Just as the Beatles have an exultant audience, the Prime Minister may have had one on the other side of the House, and he may even have had a popular appeal to voters outside. The Prime Minister may be a great election winner, as the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) reminded us, just as the late Stanley Baldwin, who was Prime Minister of Great Britain, was a great election winner; but our Prime Minister is just as capable as Baldwin of avoiding all the great issues that face the nation. Why does he do this? I suggest it is because to face these issues might mean that he had to do some unpopular things. He would have to risk losing votes, and the right honorable gentleman who leads- the Government has never been prepared to risk losing votes. This he will not do. So he remains as popular as the Beatles and just about as fundamental.
What, then, are the great tasks facing the nation? They may be summed up in one proposition. They are to increase our strength and power as a nation as rapidly as we can. Why? To provide increasing standards for our people and also to provide for more people in this country; to develop the share of the world’s surface that we happen to possess - what I think we ma ycall a great historic obligation - to defend ourselves from any threat or attack from outside, and at the same time to build up goodwill in all our external relations and to contribute as much as we can to the economic progress and security of the outside world. How can we do this? That question was not answered by the Prime Minister. He had no time for such things when, as a slightly offended prima donna, he came in to catch the spotlight for threequarters of an hour and talk about himself. First, I submit we can do it by building up our economic strength. That is equally vital for all our objectives - improvement of living standards and defences, increasing goodwill and providing assistance. Economic development is just as important to defence as are the Navy, the Army and Air Force. It is just as important in providing assistance for poorer people overseas as it is in raising standards in Australia. It is just as important as goodwill in our relations with other countries, because we cannot have goodwill unless we have strength. Each is the opposite side of the same coin.
What can the Commonwealth Government in this country do to help build up our economic strength? First, it can act in a way which is mostly indirect but is no less important for that. It is indirect because the Commonwealth Government in fact carries on directly only a small proportion of our economic activity. I hope that in the future it will rapidly increase the amount of our economic activity that it carries on directly. Its indirect tasks relate first of all to what the economists call the level of activity in the economy and, secondly, to the allocation of resources within that aggregate. Much has been done by the Commonwealth in recent years in respect of the level of activity. There has been a reasonably effective system of controlling the trading banks but not an effective system of controlling the equally significant new set of fringe banking institutions. The Commonwealth Government has contributed a great deal in direct spending on the welfare services and on defence to keep up the level of activity. These are important differences from the conditions that existed before the war, but little has been done in respect of the allocation of activity within the total.
Before looking at that matter let me say something about the limits in respect of the level of activity. During the last ten or twelve years Australia has suffered inflation in which prices have risen by as much as 20 per cent, in one year. The cumulative effect of that was described correctly by Sir Arthur Fadden, a Liberal-Country Party Treasurer, as far back as 1950 when he said -
The internal consequences could be very disruptive unless firmly controlled. (Inflation) would increase competition for available supplies and divert resources still further from developmental into less essential uses. This would weaken the national effort at a time when it should be strengthened . . . property values would soar . . the long term position of the wool industry would be weakened because of higher costs . . . and there would be higher prices for clothing and meat which in turn would lead to higher wages.
That description of what was likely to happen in the next ten years, by the Treasurer of a Government that has been in office during the time, was exactly borne out by events. It came to pass. The damage was done. The Menzies Governments have the major share of responsibility for that damage.
The point I want to stress is that the nation to-day is no better equipped to handle a sudden inflation now than it was in 1950. Should the condition recur there will be inflation again, and there will again be damage. But even if we are fortunate enough to escape the effects of a sudden inflation there is creeping inflation going on all the time. J. K. Galbraith. the leading American economist, has stated the selfevident reason for this. He put it in this way -
In that sector of the economy where firms are large and control over prices by individual firms is substantial there is opportunity for large discretionary increases in prices whenever demand is favorable … So long as demand is at, or near full employment levels, we must expect that, in industries characterized by strong firms and unions prices and wages will react upon each other in a steady upward spiral. Even with considerable idle capacity, the spiral will continue in some industries.
That is the view of a leading American economist, but there is no person in this Government, or presumably advising the Government, who indicates the slightest familiarity with this situation.
Not only is there the disadvantage of creeping inflation, but there is idle capacity and demand lower than is necessary for rapid growth. People outside the House are to-day becoming increasingly concerned with this matter. Hence, with an economy such as ours we cannot get rates of growth of more than about 2 per cent, or 3 per cent, real per annum. In the present circumstances, this is the best result that we can expect. That is not sufficient in the situation that we face in the world to-day. But that is not the end of it. Sooner or later the boom stage, although it is never more than a level of activity with much idle capacity and with many sectors of the economy below boom levels, must be brought to an end. This happened in November. I960. It will happen again. Already there is a credit squeeze to the extent of £100,000,000, as the Australian Labour Party predicted during the election would occur if the Government were returned to office.
What is the cost of this situation? Professor Lydall of the University of Western Australia stated the cost in March, 1962, at page 7 of the “Economic Record “. He said -
Broadly, it appears that in the slump of 1961 Australian gross national product fell by about 5 per cent, (about £360 million), industrial production by 11 per cent. . . . houses and flats by 20 per cent, and gross private fixed investment in plant and equipment by IS per cent.
These losses, once they occur, have gone forever. They cannot ever be made up. The costs of checking a boom in Australia amount to about £350,000,000 in one year, or twenty times the cost of all industrial disputes that have occurred during tha fourteen years of office of Menzies Governments. Not only are we still exposed to the damage of sudden inflation, so correctly described by Sir Arthur Fadden in 1950, but also we are exposed to the erosion of creeping inflation and to the cost of checking it. We cannot be satisfied that this kind of economic system is strong enough to meet the needs either of peace or of defence. Whilst I would not expect conservative members to be concerned about this matter for reasons of peace, I would expect them to see that this condition weakens us as much for defence as if our military forces were being effectively sabotaged each year.
Sufficient, then, for the weaknesses of the Australian economy in respect of the aggregate level of its activity. What of the composition of that aggregate? We all know of the continuing and urgent demands of education, development, defence and so on. We know, too, that the percentage which these essentials represent of the gross national product shows a stubborn refusal to rise We all want relatively more for those things, but we cannot get it. We must examine this question much more closely. Our economic power depends upon investment and yet there has been no upward trend in the share that investment takes of the gross national product. Gross fixed capital expenditure, public and private, amounted to 24.8 per cent, of the gross national product in 1951-52. Ten years later it was 23.5 per cent, and in 1962-63 it was 24.3 per cent. In the meantime it had fallen as low as 22.7 per cent, and it has never been higher than 24.8 per cent. It has proved impossible to direct relatively more resources into the foundations of the economy. Hence the economy continues to show many of the features which justified Sir Douglas Copland calling it a milk bar economy over ten years ago, except that the non-essentials are a little more noxious to-day than they were a decade ago.
Some people such as the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) and the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) say that the way to get more investment is to make sure that the incomes of the people who do the saving rise more rapidly, so that they can save more.- There is no truth in this opinion. The White Papers on National Income and Expenditure show that the capital funds accruing have almost always been substantially higher than the funds actually used in investment. In 1951-52, available capital funds were 36 per cent, of the gross national product, and the actual investment was 24.8 per cent. - the highest level. Capital funds exceeded actual investment in every year since then, except 1956-57 and 1961-62 and they were recession years. Between 1951-52 and 1962-63 capital funds available were £17,677,000,000 while actual investment was £16,577,000,000- an excess of £1,100,000,000 of funds available. If we could have had that much more investment, how much stronger would we have been? The rate of investment is not likely to be increased by making available more funds for higher income savers or even by increasing demands for the products of investment.
The basic trouble in this country is that investment decisions depend not upon objective conditions, but upon a large element of speculation. They depend very much upon what goes on in that part of the economy which is little better than a casino - the stock exchange and money market. It is not too much to say that the affluent society is one geared to meeting less and less essential wants created for the consumer by a mass advertising system over which he or his government has little control. This may be all very well in a fool’s paradise or a wonderland where there are no great historical obligation and no external challenge or danger. But this is not the Australia of 1964.
Our national strength and progress depend upon gearing our economy to meet rapidly its more essential needs. I cannot understand why the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and those like him, who are so concerned over defence, never have anything to say about the weakness of the economic system upon which our defence is based. We can do this only, I believe, if we establish a set of priorities, place them in a national plan and develop the means necessary to achieve that plan. Why can we not do this? The answer lies in the fact that our national elections are conducted as a popularity contest. We try to outbid one another in promising most to everybody. Beatlemania has got us all. We all want to be popular. The pace is set by the old showman who stands - to quote the honorable member for Bradfield - at the pinnacle of his achievements - the largest beatle of them all. It has suited the parties constituting the Government to set this standard. Never again will we face any great national or individual problems, according to the Government. Pioneering and unemployment are things of the past. To-day we have prosperity, affluence, stability and progress. Everything is the best in the best of all worlds. It is all because of Menzies, McEwen and Holt. They have changed the face of Australia.
The truth of the matter is that we face great national problems to-day and those gentlemen are not helping us much to solve them. The world we live in is a faster moving, more urgent world, a more pressing one than we have lived in before. It is a more challenging and more interesting world. There is no more reason to react in fear and suspicion - a reaction which is shared a little too much in this House - than there is reason to relax in apathy and comfort - a reaction which is shared far too much outside. We must act, and act resolutely. There must be a greater sense of urgency and priority. We can easily identify our priorities. They have been identified as science, education, housing, development, defence and good relations with other countries. Those priorities have been identified by almost everybody for years. The only thing wrong is that we cannot achieve them. I submit that to achieve them we need a system of priorities. We need a national plan to contain them and we need the means to achieve that plan.
Let us have a look at defence, in passing, in respect of this matter before we look further at the circumstances of the plan. That can be judged by the relative amount allocated for defence. It is now a wellknown fact that defence expenditure has been rated low. I express it as a percentage of the gross national product. In 1952-53 it reached its post-war high point at 4.8 per cent. In the years since the figures have been: -
Even last year’s expanded defence programme will not take it to any more than about 3 per cent, at the end of that programme.
At first sight it appears that the Menzies Government has been knowingly fooling the Australian people. It may have been exaggerating the danger which exists to Australia for purely political reasons. It is well known that a conservative government seems to do best out of fear, suspicion and war. But that may not be the reason. The reason may lie in the Government’s defence policy; so what is that defence policy and what has been done about it? The late Minister for Defence, Mr. A. Townley, is reported on 24th October, 1962, at page 1877 of “Hansard” as saying that the- strategic basis of policy was a continuing risk of limited war in areas of tension throughout the world.
He went on to quote, as examples, Cuba, the Indian border and many areas in SouthEast Asia. There was no reference anywhere in his statement to the defence of Australia. There was no reference to what Australia herself might do. Everything was confined to areas far away from Australia and everything was confined to what a few Australians - sometimes only three or four, sometimes a dozen and sometimes a battalion - might do in these faraway places. This kind of defence policy is not convincing. To be convincing, a defence policy would have to be based on what the Prime Minister said on 22nd May, 1963 -
The condition of an effective defence programme is that it should be based upon as accurate an assessment as can be made of the probable source and nature of the apprehended attack, the area of possible conflict and the nature of operations and the nature of the co-operation we may expect from and give to the United Nations in general and our allies in particular.
This was one of the very few occasions when the Prime Minister has placed the United Nations first. What is the probable nature of any apprehended attack? It is not something that happens in Cuba or Viet Nam. Where these are military matters, and where they are more related to defence policy, they are not primarily matters for Australia. They are not primarily military matters in any case. Most of them are economic, social and political matters, and the evidence is now overwhelming that they can be dealt with only by economic, social and political methods. They are mainly the relatively slow-moving forces of economic and social revolution.
But leave that aside and let us look at the source and nature of an “ apprehended “ attack upon Australia. It is from the north.
No one need identify any particular country. Japan made a classic attack upon Australia. Any other attack which suggests a basis for an effective defence programme must be precisely that form of attack. Australia would take seriously that form of threat. Australia will never take seriously becoming involved in what the late Ben Chifley called wars fought up and down the coast of Asia, very often in support of some outmoded and reactionary form of feudal government. The classic form of attack upon Australia should be prepared for by every Australian. It cannot be ignored by any one, no matter where he appears in the political spectrum. It is an attack which may come upon any side of a triangle to the north of Australia. Part of the apex of that triangle is in New Guinea. The left-hand side of it is along the northwest coast of Western Australia and the other side is along the coast of Queensland.
Australia has limited resources. We may not be able to do all that is necessary. We may have to rely on the United Nations first and upon allies. But that is a matter of foreign policy. Defence policy covers what we can do. We can do much, but we are not doing it. Present defence policy has given us much that is inappropriate, much that is no answer at all. It has given us a small professional force, which numbered 51,484 in 1963, compared with 57,243 in 1953. Is the threat now less than 90 per cent, as great as it was in 1953? We are providing now only 90 per cent, as great a force to meet it. Such a small professional force may be appropriate for working with the Americans in Viet Nam or with the British in Malaya, but it is not appropriate for the’ defence of Australia.
Secondly, our defence forces are equipped with arms and vehicles that are not designed to meet Australian conditions. They have come from British and American patterns of development. Some of them may be appropriate for fighting in South Viet Nam or Malaya. Some of our equipment, such as the Mirage and TFX aircraft, may have a wider use. But it is not appropriate for New Guinea or the coasts of Western Australia and Queensland.
Thirdly, the weakness in the Government’s defence provision is that most of the equipment is imported. Practically none is made in this country. The fate of the Centurion tanks in Queensland recently suggests that the French AMX-13 tank, weighing 13 tons, capable of travelling at 40 miles an hour and carrying a gun as big as that carried by the Centurion Mark III., or the American T-92 tank, weighing 18.7 tons and carrying a bigger gun, may be more appropriate for Australian conditions. Furthermore, the French AMX-13 is a vehicle fitted for the role of tank, armoured car, personnel carrier, anti-aircraft gun carrier or howitzer carrier.
We have to look at the water round Australia. Perhaps, instead of spending money on vessels that cost 50 times as much, we should adopt the latest Swedish motor torpedo boat, which weighs 200 tons, is capable of travelling at about 40 knots and can carry six 21 -in. torpedo tubes. A class of vessel like the Swedish one would be more appropriate to the work for which it is required, but not for admirals to ride about in. Similarly, the present type of small British submarine propelled by hydrogen peroxide, or the small Swedish submarine of the Draken class, weighing 800 tons, may be much more appropriate than the British Oberon class of submarine that we are to get. But the Oberon vessels are available in Britain; so the Government gets them.
Has any real thought been given by anybody to the point that I want to make clear? That is the point that this Government’s defence policy is not convincing. It is not related to the defence of Australia any more than the Government’s economic policy is related to what is necessary for Australian conditions.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, once again 1 find myself very disappointed in the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). A few moments ago, I heard him citing figures that I had quoted previously in this House relating to the percentage of the national income spent on defence. I thought that perhaps I was witnessing a conversion - that he was advocating that Australian defence preparations be speeded up. I thought for a moment that here was the lost lamb returning and that he should be welcomed back into the fold. Then, as I listened to the honorable member, I had the unworthy thought that perhaps we were seeing, not the lost lamb but the wolf in sheep’s clothing creeping into the fold.
We have just heard well-mannered and well-professed protestations by a man whom I myself have heard describe Dr. Castro as doing in Cuba what any Labour leader - I think his actual words were “ any decent Labour leader “ - would do in Australia. As I listened to the honorable member’s speech, I found him coming round to the view that Australia really had no need to do very much about defence except, perhaps, to refuse to co-operate with its allies, and to isolate itself. It may be that we should be making preparations to defend ourselves, but, surely, that would be to make a last-ditch stand. Surely it is better for us - safer for the Australian people - to cooperate with our allies instead of smacking them in the face as the honorable member for Yarra would have us do.
We have heard nice protestations by the honorable member. I wish that there were more substance behind them. I wish that, behind these beautiful words about what we should do to raise our own standard of living - words with which every honorable member on this side of the chamber would agree - there were also a realization that Australia is in danger and that the Australian people may need to make new and extraordinary efforts if we are to ensure our own survival. Perhaps there ‘should have been greater recognition that if we expect our allies to come to our aid - and we do - we also have a responsibility to discard the old Labour philosophy of isolationism and to aid our allies when they need our help.
I want to return, if I may, Sir, to something that was said earlier in this debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. I refer to some remarkable observations that were made by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart). He waxed indignant at the fact that accusations have been made that certain elements in the Australian Labour Party - perhaps in the executive, perhaps in the parliamentary section of the party - had associations with communism. He said that he and the party would see that smear was returned for smear. Fine words, again! They would be fair enough, were it not that the definition of the word “ smear “ on his side of the Parliament is different from the definition on this side.
When the honorable member referred to the smears that he alleged the Labour Party had been subjected to, what did he mean? He meant that there had been an exposure of the truth about Communist associations with certain - by no means all - members of the Australian Labour Party and its executive. Details of those associations have been given in this House. I myself have given them often enough. I recall giving to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) actual unity tickets indicating the co-operation of known Communists and senior members of the Labour Party organization in union elections. What was the result? He refused to look at them. He said: “This is Labour’s business. We shall not investigate these things.” And they were not investigated; there was only white-washing. Time and time again, not general, vague allegations, but chapter and verse, including all details, have been given in this House concerning the Communist associations of some of the notorious 36 men. What has been the reply?
– You are nothing but a crazy, stupid-
– It comes very badly from the honorable member for Hindmarsh, who has just said that I am nothing but a something or other-
– I said that you are nothing but a smearer. That is what I said.
– This is what honorable members opposite mean by a smear - the exposure of the truth about Communist associations with certain parts of the Labour machine.
– I take a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I challenge the honorable member to name the alleged members of the Australian Labour Party concerned. Let him do that instead of making the kind of speech that he has been making.
– Order! I point out, first, that there have been many interjections from my left and that the honorable member for Hindmarsh has been interjecting from a seat other than his own. I ask the honorable member for Mackellar, in response to the question raised, whether he is referring to particular members of the Labour Party or to a general group within the Labour Party.
– I am referring to those people whom I have, named in this House previously. I am not going to reiterate their names; they stand on the record. I refer to what I have said in this House about certain members of the faceless 36. I have named them time and time again. I refer to the unity tickets which I myself gave to the Leader of the Opposition over the table, and upon which no action was taken. Those tickets had names on them.
You know very well, Sir, that 1 never make personal attacks in this House. Any attack that I make is made on a political ground and is a proper attack to be made in this political Parliament. But what does the word “ smear “ mean when it is used by honorable members opposite, one of whom has said that he is going to trade smear for smear? By “ smear “ they can mean the same as the Communists mean - the exposure of the Communist organization, particularly in its association with the Labour Party. But when they refer to smear in the other sense - the smears they will give and the smears they will trade - then the definition is quite different.
I refer particularly to what was said in this House last week by the honorable - if I can use the word - Leader of the Opposition. He made upon me, not merely a personal attack, but an attack based on a member of my family who died 40 years before I was born.
No defence of mine is necessary for my great-grandfather. He was a member of the first expedition that crossed the Blue Mountains. He was a leader in this country in the fight for trial by jury, for a free press, for the establishment of a university and for parliamentary government itself. Sir Henry Parkes, in his autobigraphy, named him as the first effective advocate of Australian federation. For such a man surely no defence is necessary in the Australian Parliament.
But what were the charges levelled against him after more than 100 years? It was said that he had endeavoured to buy land in New Zealand for a small price. This is something which must be measured against the customs of those times. Most of the land in Australia - 90 per cent, of it and more, including the land on which this House stands - was acquired from the natives, not at a small price, but at no price at all. It is perfectly true that Governor Gipps may have attacked my great grandfather, but it is also true that at that time he was embroiled with Governor Gipps in a political fight for Australian parliamentary institutions. It may be that there were Calwells even in those days.
It is said, in the second place, that my great-grandfather attacked Parkes. So he did - as a politician. But I notice that years afterwards Parkes, who succeeded my greatgrandfather when he resigned bis parliamentary seat in Sydney, referred to him, certainly as being a political opponent, but also as a man with “ great talent and patriotism “ who had rendered “ great services “ to his country. In Parkes’s autobiography there are generous tributes. Those are the words of a man who is called into the witness box posthumously by the Leader of the Opposition.
It is said against my great-grandfather that in 1851 he was calling people Communists. That is true, and I ask the House to remember the date - 1851. Three years before, in 1848, Karl Marx published his “ Communist Manifesto the original seed of the Communist conspiracy and disaster. I make no apology for the fact that my greatgrandfather - perhaps, as far as I can see, alone among his contemporaries - saw the monstrous significance of the “ Communist Manifesto “ published by Karl Marx in 1848. Of course he called Karl Marx a Communist. He realized with some prescienceand I have no need to apologize for it - what this would lead to. For three quarters of a century the Labour Party laughed at communism, which was almost respectable - not almost respectable, but quite respectable - because most of the Labour Party was formed and fashioned when the Communist Party was still within its ranks. The Leader of the Opposition, who has a long history in the Labour movement, should be able to look back to his formative years. He has never quite disabused himself of the feeling that communism is in some way respectable.
These miserable charges made by the Opposition - miserable charges which should never have been made - have miscarried. What a method of attack! How this illustrates the real meaning of the word “ smear “ in the mouths of members of the Opposition when they use it as a weapon against other people! What is worse is that this method of attack on me, through a man long dead, has been used by the Communists. As honorable members will know, the Communist candidates at elections in my electorate regularly use the same material. It was incorporated in the notorious” Document J “ which Rupert Lockwood wrote. The second bad thing is that this attack on me was not made offthecuff. It was premeditated. The material had been prepared, to be trotted out on the first occasion in this Parliament on which I should say anything about the association of the Labour Party with communism. This is a dreadful thing to say, but for the Leader of the Opposition to stoop to such premeditation, to prepare this kind of vicious attack in advance, makes it far worse than if it had been made off-the-cuff.
I am sorry that the Leader of the Opposition has lost the sense of decency which once he had. I will not elaborate upon that reference, but he will know what I mean. Ihave reason to know that at some stage in the past he did have some sense of decency. I wonder why he did what he did. I think he did it in a desperate attempt to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of his own party. He knew that he was sick. He knew that he no longer had the loyalty of his men, and he thought that if he could join in some kind of underhand attack on me in this way it would help to rally at least the left wing of his party on side.
It is true, I think, that I have done more than anybody in this House over the years to expose this link between communism and Labour, and members of the Labour Party do well to be sensitive about it. Whilst there was no one reason why they lost the last election - there were many reasons - I think that that was perhaps the main reason. The electors realized the truth that although the Labour Party contained a number of sincere anti-Communists it was, nevertheless, infected with communism and Communist policies. It is of the essence of this thing that one should stand up to the origins and parallelisms of one’s public policy, and if this is the same as the Communist Party’s policy then the public has a right to know why.
A thing is not necessarily bad because the Communists advocate it. They may, indeed, from time to time advocate many worthy things, as they have an acrobat’s facility for jumping on band wagons. But when you find that things which the Communist Party in Australia advocates have a bad twist, and you will find official Labour policy running in parallel with this Communist policy, then the public has not only the right but also the duty to scrutinize the background of those events.
Now, there are some people who say: “ Well, the Communist issue happened to beat Labour at the election. So much the better for it.” I do not say that. I do not think that the defeat of the Labour Party is as prime an object of policy in Australia as the rooting out of the Communist Party. There are some people, perhaps, who feel glad that the Communist Party exists and has connexions with the Labour Party, and so keeps the Labour Party in permanent opposition. I am not one of these people. If the Labour Party would purge itself of these associations, then I would no longer hold the view that I hold now, that it is chronically, congenitally unfitted to hold office in this Parliament.
So it may be that we should be doing more about this in the Parliament. It may be that, with the help of those people in the Labour Party who are genuinely antiCommunist - and there are such - we should be constituting a standing committee of this Parliament to bring to light the associations of any political figures with communism. Do not let us spare any one. Let us go where the truth takes us. This thing is too dangerous to be ignored. Australia does stand in danger, as the world stands in danger, for this reason: All our enemies can be powerful against us only if their activities are set out in this Communist framework. The Communist should be the enemy of every reasonable and decent Australian.
I appeal once again to those honorable members of the Opposition whom I know to be genuine opponents of Communism, to help in the exposure of Communist connexions in any part of the political field. Do not let us be digging up always a distant past. A distant past is relevant only when it is correlated with events and actions in the present. What a man has done in the past and his associations in the past may be irrelevant, but they become relevant if one finds at the present moment that his policies and associations continue still in the same way.
These are things which the House would do well to look at, and perhaps those members of the House who have goodwill in this matter - they are not all on one side of the House - will consider what can be done to extirpate Communist influences from Australian politics. They should help in that first thing, the exposure to the public of all the facts in regard to Communist influences.
.- I rise to to make my contribution to this AddressinRepIy debate. Like previous speakers on both sides of the House, I congratulate the new members on their maiden speeches. Naturally, one does not wish new members on the other side a long term here. Nevertheless I wish them and their families good health and happiness during the remainder of their lives. I congratulate also the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) on his very logical and sane speech of a short time ago. It was in keeping with his ideals, and we of the Australian Labour Party are very proud of him.
I want to make brief reference to the speech of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). It is a tragedy that in his make-up he has such a terrific hate towards other peoples of the world who hold differest political ideologies. I feel sure that it warps his thinking, and when a person’s thinking is warped, it is hard for him to impart to this National Parliament anything based on sound logic. He has never been known to rise in this chamber and protest about the Government’s sales of wheat to the People’s Republic of China, although because of the hate in his make-up, he would sooner see women and children die from starvation, because their political ideology is different from his, than supply them with the necessaries to keep body and soul together.
The honorable member criticized Labour speakers. He regarded references to his great-grandfather as being indicative of something reprehensible - although he did not use that word - in the make-up of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I remind the House that it was the honorable member for Mackellar who cast the brickbats, as he frequently does. He accused honorable members on this side of the House of being Communists and fellow travellers of Communists. It is evident to me that he is one who can dish it out but cannot take it. A person who lives in a glass house should not throw stones. The honorable member for Mackellar should not make the smearing accusations that he frequently makes.
I remind him and other honorable members that the People’s Republic of China to-day is the fourth largest buyer of Australia’s goods. We are an exporting nation. We produce far more than we can consume. Although home markets are always the best, they cannot take all our products and we must depend on other countries to buy our goods. The wheat industry would suffer grievously if the People’s Republic of China did not buy our wheat. The attitude of the honorable member for Mackellar suggests that he would prefer to have the rats and mice eat our wheat than feed it to human beings. He should realize that the world’s problems will never be solved with hatred. It is a tragedy that a man like the honorable member for Mackellar, who is far senior to me in this House and has had the opportunity to gain a far better education than I have had, cannot change his make-up and rid himself of some of the hatred that is so obvious in his approach to these problems and which hinders his success in the Liberal Party of Australia.
I want to direct the greater part of my remarks to the problems that beset the people of my electorate of Hunter. I again pay a tribute to them for returning me with one of the largest majorities obtained by any member of this House at the last election. I will continue to serve the people of Hunter with all my mental and physical resources. 1 Since becoming a member of the Parliament I have concerned myself mainly with helping my constituents. Since last speaking in this House, further coal-mines have closed and more men have been thrown out of work. The people in the electorate of Hunter are mainly mine workers, employees of small factories, industrial workers, small shop-keepers and businessmen and unemployed. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited recently stated publicly that it is in dire need of labour. However, only last night I was told at a meeting at Wallsend that many labourers who offer themselves for employment at the steelworks are turned down. The company has become very selective, and unfortunates retrenched from the coalmining industry who are over 45 years of age have great difficulty in finding work at any of the Newcastle industries. Newcastle is a considerable distance from the coal-mining areas of Cessnock, Paxton and Bellbird, where these men have built their homes.
– How many coal-miners in your area are unemployed at the moment?
– I will answer you later. Many men are still unemployed in the Cessnock area and only six or seven mines are continuing to operate. I continue to be concerned about the men who are working in the coal-mines now. They are in constant fear of being retrenched. They are worried not so much about themselves as about their wives and children, who must be educated, . and about the payment of instalments on household goods that they are purchasing.
– Why are you not anxious when they are on strike?
– The honorable member for Warringah lives among the wealthy on the north shore in Sydney. They are able to live their lives of ease because of investments they have made in industries that exploit labour. He interjects now, but any time he wants to debate this subject he can come to the electorate of Hunter. He will certainly be dealt with there.
Some of the retrenched mine workers have suffered a physical injury in years gone by. They have recovered sufficiently to be able to continue with their normal work in the coal-mining industry and have even engaged in vigorous sport. But they cannot obtain work in the heavy industries in Newcastle because the employers fear that the old injury may come against a workman and that this will place a financial burden on the industry. The present situation in the coal industry, particularly in the north, has undoubtedly resulted from this Government’s lack of planning. The changes that would flow from automation and mechanization must have been obvious to the Government, but it took no action to cope with them. The records of the coalmining industry show that in 1952 20,310 men were engaged in the industry in New South Wales and that they produced 15,000,000 tons of coal a year. At February of this year, 11,400 men were employed in New South Wales and they were producing 19,000,000 tons of coal a year.
I have referred to the insecurity of those engaged in the northern coal-mines. I also feel deeply about the mine pensioners. They were the pioneers of the old slave method of extracting coal. They now look years older than their term on earth would warrant and they are coughing as a result of years of toil in foul or dusted air and wet or damp conditions. Mine pensions are contributed to on a per capita basis by the miners, the coal-owners and the Government. Their value to-day is only a small part of their value at the time the scheme was introduced. To-day, there are almost as many mine pensioners as there are men engaged in the industry. The Government should show some sympathy to these unfortunate pensioners in the evening of their lives by stabilizing the miners’ pension fund and increasing the pension to an amount that would be equal to its original value and would have regard to the rising cost of living. The need to do this is urgent and pressing. The Government should place an excise duty on the production of coal and use the amount so raised to pay an increased rate of pension and to stabilize the pension scheme. The New South Wales Government has seen fit recently to increase the pension to miners by 10s. a week, but this amount does not restore to the pension the value that it had when the scheme was introduced.
Another matter that screams for action by this Government is the urgent need to impose an excise duty on residual oil. This matter has been raised previously by Opposition members. Such a duty is needed to prevent the foreign oil companies from engaging in unfair competition with Australia’s indigenous fuel, coal. As recently as January last, the Queensland press reported that the Queensland Coal Board was to confer with representatives of the mining industry on the possibility of placing an excise duty on residual oil. Mr. McCarthy, chairman of the board, is reported to have said that he would make a thorough investigation of the advantages of this duty and of all its implications. Last November, the acting Minister for Mines in Queensland said in the Queensland Parliament that his Government would consider asking the Commonwealth Government to impose an excise duty on residual oil to protect the coal industry.
The great majority of those who are connected with the industry as employees or dependants believe that the time is long overdue when this Government should urge the Joint Coal Board to exercise some of its powers to introduce a quota system for the production of coal in order to save the jobs of those who are living in constant anxiety and to safeguard their incomes and economic future. In Queensland the State Coal Board and the colliery owners have agreed upon a quota system. During the hearing of a log of claims by Mr. Justice Gallagher in October, 1963, Mr. Thomas, the secretary of the Queensland Coalowners’ Association, said that he wanted the existing quota system in Queensland to be retained. Such a system does not operate in New South Wales. Cut-throat competition between the coal-owners exists in New South Wales. Of course, the State mines have restricted their production, but it would be expecting too much to ask the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to restrict at its mines coal produced for use at its other undertakings. But I believe tha- a quota system could be introduced in many of the other mines. If such a system is good enough for Queensland and has been beneficial to those engaged in the industry in that State, it should be beneficial to those who are still retained in the industry in New South Wales. It would relieve their anxiety.
The Nattai-Bulli Colliery is producing coal on four days of the week and on one day the workers are carrying out mechanical repairs and are servicing machinery. I know of no reason why a similar practice could not be adopted by other collieries, particularly in the Hunter electorate. If that were done, employees would be relieved of the fear of being cast onto the scrapheap or of being placed on the dole. I have brought these matters before the Parliament on many occasions and I shall continue to do so in the hope that this Government will show greater sympathy to the unfortunates who are still engaged in the industry in my electorate. I understand also that one mine on the western coalfields of New South Wales is producing coal on three or four days of the week and that for the remainder of the time the men are engaged in doing mechanical repairs. If the economics of the coal mines do not permit the owners to do that sort of thing, the Government should consider subsidizing the mines or the employees from the welfare fund for which provision is made in the Coal Industry Act.
I know that the coal-owners have spent £60,000,000 on machines in the last ten years, but this Government has been rather kind to them by making provision for a taxation deduction of 12) per cent, pursuant to the purchase of such machinery. It would be true to say, therefore, that the people of this Commonwealth have provided the machinery for the mines. Although the coal-owners are receiving higher profits than in the past, they have shown very little sympathy to the employees by retaining them in the industry. Men who are dismissed experience great difficulty in finding employment elsewhere.
I have been asked to limit the duration of my remarks to twenty minutes to allow other honorable members to speak during this debate. So I shall now refer to other matters. In the dying days of the last Parliament the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) made a statement to the House about the purchase of the TFX bomber. When it was suggested by members of the Opposition that the Government should consider purchasing the TSR-2 bomber from our mother country, Great Britain, the right honorable gentleman said -
As I have said before, I am British to the bootheels
But at the same time he was buying bombers from the United States of America. I direct the attention of honorable members to an article which appears in to-day’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ under the heading “British Writer Sees Doubt on TFX”.
Most of us make a study of the Prime Minister. We agree that he is a silvertongued orator. But when one studies him rather closely, one sees his inconsistencies standing out as does the Australian War Memorial opposite Parliament House. I recall asking him in this place in 1960 what the Government’s policy was in relation to the granting of financial aid to denominational schools. We know that the right honorable gentleman is very skilful in answering questions. I try to keep my questions as short as possible so that his active brain will not have much time to work out an evasive answer. After I asked my question the Prime Minister jumped to his feet as though he had been struck on the head by Cassius Clay - I do not want to be regarded as being a Cassius Clay - and he said, “The honorable member well knows that the matter raised by him is one for the State governments “. But in his policy speech before the last election he broke into what he earlier had regarded as being the area of State responsibility - the granting of aid to denominational schools.
– What is your view on that subject?
– I shall give you my view when you give me yours.
– I have given you mine. Now you give me yours. Or have you to wait for the 36 faceless men to tell you?
– My party will be deciding that matter in a proper, democratic way; but you will be taking your instructions, as you always do, from the Prime Minister. You have not a mind of your own; you cannot think for yourself. You are a part of the great white father. You always have been and you always will be while you remain a member of this House. The people of Warringah have never been served worse than they have been since you became a member of this Parliament.
– I did not say anything.
– I say to the honorable member who interjected: If you want any more, let me know and I will shout a bit longer. You would take a man to the dining-room and reject an attractive plate of tongue because it came out of a sheep’s mouth and would order boiled eggs instead. That is what I think of you. If you want any more, just say so.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I hope that this Parliament will seriously consider the problems of the people in the Hunter electorate which I have outlined to honorable members. Let me say in conclusion that I hope that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) will cease smearing honorable members on this side of the House. I assure him that we will always play the game cleanly and straight. We never resort to the filthy tactics that supporters of the Government employed prior to the last election. If we had wanted to do so on television we would have put forward a slogan like this: While Russia jumps into space the Liberals jump into bed. We did not .hit honorable members opposite with the Profumo affair, because we do not believe in gutter politics.
.- The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) invariably produces some wisdom for the benefit of the people who are listening. At the outset of my speech, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I ask you to convey to Mr. Speaker and the Chairman of Committees my congratulations on their re-election to their high offices. In my two years in this Parliament, I have come to expect both wisdom and tolerance from those two honorable gentlemen, and I know that they will continue to display those qualities in the next three years. I congratulate the honorable members who have been through the ordeal of making their maiden speeches in this debate. I know what making a maiden speech means. There is no doubt that the maiden speeches that have been made in this debate have offered a variety of views. We can expect some great things from the new members of the Parliament. I wish them - particularly those on this side of the House, a very long stay in the National Parliament.
In the Governor-General’s Speech mention was made of the state of the economy. There is no doubt that at the present time the economy is running at a very buoyant level. Overseas balances are the complete reverse of what they were twelve months ago. At the moment they are at a very high level. Hire-purchase finance is absolutely booming. The export markets for our great primary commodities have been fairly satisfactory. The dairy industry will have a total clearance of its 1963-64 production; all wheat produced will be cleared; and wool has been selling at fairly satisfactory prices. Employment is improving rapidly. In fact, there is a shortage of skilled labour, and in some quarters there is a shortage of unskilled labour. All of this has brought about a very high-running economy. That has been recognized by the Reserve Bank of Australia which has decided that the st-te of liquidity requires the call-up of funds from the major trading banks to the statutory reserve deposit accounts. The bank has called up nearly £100,000,000 in three call-ups. That must be a psychological warning to the nation about what the Reserve Bank and the Government think of the state of the economy.
But I wonder whether this method of monetary control is totally effective. It seems to me, on investigation, that, whilst the major trading banks certainly do the major part of the lending, outside those banks there is a field in which the hirepurchase companies are getting an increasing proportion of the total monetary activity. In 1946 the estimated hirepurchase debt was about £6,000,000. In 1964 the amount is £456,000,000. In addition, of course, many retail firms handle their own hire-purchase transactions. The estimated debt in this category is about £216,000,000. So the total is about £675,000,000, without considering the State banks which also are not controlled by the Reserve Bank. I refer to the State Bank of South Australia, the Rural Bank of New South Wales, the Rural Finance Corporation in Victoria and the like. When we compare that amount of £675,000,000 with the present trading bank lending of about £1,098,000,000, we see that the activity of the unfettered and uncontrolled finance companies is growing proportionately. Recently the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin) said that in 1963 bank advances were only £27,000,000, but the hire-purchase companies’ advances totalled £52,000,000.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Government are responsible to the people for the control of the economy. It seems unfortunate that the most reputable lending authorities should come under control when there is a growing proportion of monetary activity which is uncontrolled and which actually booms because of restrictions placed on normal bank lending. I refer to the fringe finance companies which lend mostly for the purchase of consumer goods. The major trading banks lend to the export industries, including the rural industries, the manufacturing industries and commerce. It seems unfair that we have to use the type of control to which I have referred over the most responsible lending section of the money market; yet we let the hire-purchase companies get away uncontrolled. This is a field to which the new Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) could well apply his mind. I know that the control of the hire-purchase companies is a State responsibility and that they are terribly difficult to control. I also am aware that State Treasurers do not like to accept what they say is a Commonwealth responsibility - control of the economy. In fact, on many occasions State Treasurers of all political colours are quite happy to pass the buck, as the saying goes, on to the Commonwealth in regard to economic control.
I believe that something will have to be done to control this growing octopus outside the major trading banks - that is, the hire-purchase companies - because in the long term, if their growth rate continues there is no doubt that they will be the Achilles heel of monetary control for any government. I ask the Attorney-General to apply his mind to this question, in association with the State AttorneysGeneral, to see whether something can be done to bring these companies at least under restrictions similar to those that apply to the responsible trading banks.
In the past, the banks have asked for flexibility in interest rates. They argue - probably quite rightly - that if they were allowed to offer higher interest rates to depositors they would attract a greater proportion of the money market compared with the hire purchase companies and, therefore, would be able to compete far more successfully. They say that then they would have to charge higher interest rates on overdrafts and that this, in itself, would curb lending and liquidity. I oppose that for one reason. I believe that the export industries - certainly the rural industries - could not stand higher rates of interest being charged on their overdrafts.
I know that the banks have said that they are prepared to accept the recommendation of the Reserve Bank or the Government and not increase interest rates on overdrafts to the farming industries. But I can Imagine myself going along to a bank and asking for £2,000 and the bank manager’s saying: “I would like to lend you £2,000 at the existing rate of 5i per cent.; but now that we have flexibility in interest rates I can get 8 per cent, by lending that money to a businessman down the street”. I believe that, as a result of such a policy, lending to export industries would be curbed. If the bankers can come up with an answer to that, I will be prepared to listen to it.
There is no doubt that Australia has a buoyant economy. That gives the trade unions a good argument for going to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and asking for a rise in the basic wage. I do not think anybody in the Parliament argues that the man on the lowest wage scale does not deserve a rise. I believe he does. But the result of these basic wage and marginal increases always worries me. Inevitably, we see a rise right through the wage scales until the people in the higher wage brackets receive increases of hundreds of pounds a year, whilst the man at the bottom of the scale receives, perhaps, £1 or £2 a week. Then we have increases in costs as a result of that, and the ultimate result is that there is no real wage benefit to the man who originally applied for the wage rise and who really deserves it. The Australian
Labour Party does not seem to be able to solve that problem either.
When Australia has a buoyant economy, the trade unions certainly can make the most of the criterion that is used. That criterion is capacity to pay. It seems to me that the Commonwealth is not backing the right horse when it supports that criterion. It is stated in the Governor-General’s Speech that the Government wants to see an increase of 25 per cent, in the gross national product over the next five years. Such an increase would be at the rate of 5 per cent, per annum. In order to bring that about, the Government is prepared to inject hundreds of millions of pounds into the economy over that period. Therefore, over the next five years, if the Government has its wish - which is the wish of the people, as is apparent from the result of the 1963 election - we can expect the economy to be in this buoyant state. This being the case, the trade unions will continue to have a perfect argument to put before the arbitration tribunal. They will be able to say that having regard to the capacity of industry to pay, there should be a rise in wages.
I believe that in determining the basic wage more consideration should be given to the consumer price index. After all, the basic wage should have close connexion with the cost of living and it is the consumer price index which gives that connexion. 1 know that there are faults associated with adopting the consumer price index as a criterion in determining what should be the basic wage. I know that a variation in the price of one or two stable items can vitally affect the index. If potatoes are in short supply and, as a consequence, costly, the consumer price index rises. Meat is another commodity which affects the consumer price index. If there is a shortage of meat and a consequent rise in price, the consumer price index is vitally affected. Whenever the index has been affected it has been because of a rise in the price of one or two commodities. Surely these faults in the system are known and surely, if the index rises because of a rise in the price of potatoes or meat, the arbitration tribunal could be told that the shortage of the commodity and the consequent higher price will exist for only a relatively short period. The shortage may be non-existent after a few months. I do not think serious anomalies could arise in using the consumer price index as a criterion in determining the basic wage.
In determining wage increases greater reliance must be placed on productivity. I know that in doing this many practical problems arise. It is hard to assess whether a man has earned an increase in his pay because of increased productivity. But surely somebody has enough brains to work out a formula so that productivity can be related to the basic wage. There is no doubt that under the present set-up, if the Government’s aim of increasing the gross national product by 5 per cent, a year is realized, the trade unions will be able to go before the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission time and time again and claim that the Government’s policies have been successful, that the economy is buoyant, that the criterion of capacity’ to pay should be applied and that there should be a rise in the basic wage. The Government is responsible to the people for the results of its economic policies, yet under our present system the arbitration courts can hand down decisions vitally affecting the economy and the Government has no control over this situation. The Government is faced with the difficult position that its task is to keep the economy running at a certain level but decisions can be taken outside the Parliament which can vitally affect the economy. There is no doubt that if a certain decision is reached in the current basic wage hearing strong inflationary pressures will be brought to bear on the economy.
I turn now to the subject of Commonwealth aid for roads. The current five-year agreement with the States provides that 40 per cent, of the total finance allocated under the agreement must be spent on rural roads. Certain pressures have been exerted on the Government, particularly by the lord mayors of the capital cities, to have a special grant made for roads in the cities. We cannot argue that the cities do not deserve a hearing in this matter, but I direct the attention of this Parliament to the fact that policies of decentralization have in the main been controlled by the States. If the State governments fall down on their job and if large concrete cities are permitted to grow uncontrolled, it should not be the responsibility of the Commonwealth to save the States from embarrassment. In the past, the 40 per cent, allocation for rural roads has been used for developmental purposes, and it cannot be denied that rural areas continue to need development. If there is any likelihood of achieving decentralization and if the Commonwealth Government has any interest in the matter it should continue to press for more money to be spent in outback areas. After all, ease of communication is the first and most vital matter in decentralization.
I do not want members of this Parliament to get the idea that shires in outback areas are having a honeymoon on the money that is provided for roads under the Commonwealth aid roads scheme. I would like to explain what happens. I can speak only of the situation that exists in Victoria. The money that is provided under the agreement goes into what is called the Commonwealth Aid Roads No. 3 Account. Victoria is divided into ten divisions by the Country Roads Board. Victoria’s share under the agreement is apportioned amongst the divisions. It is at this level that the grant ratios are decided. In Orbost Shire the ratio for a particular road may be £10 of Government money to £1 of local contribution, but in respect of a similar road serving the same purposes in the Woorayl Shire the ratio may be £6 to £1. The ratios are decided on ability to pay. In other words, the Country Roads Board determines what it thinks the shire can afford and fixes the ratio accordingly. I do not for one moment believe that all outback or rural areas have received the full benefit of the 40 per cent, of Commonwealth finance earmarked for rural roads, but if the Commonwealth does not continue the 40 per cent provision it will be giving the States a blueprint for centralization. It will encourage the States to build large cities instead of tackling the problem of decentralization.
Finally I turn to a matter that I consider vital to this Parliament and to the people of this nation. I refer to redistribution of electoral boundaries. The Labour Party has had a lot to say about gerrymandering. One honorable member on this side of the House referred to a gerrymander, but I think the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) effectively dealt with that. I will say no more about that matter except that the honorable member concerned may be a headline hunter. I am disappointed not to see more members in this Parliament representing the rural areas speaking on this subject. In the two years or so that I have been here I have been told that it is not only the Country Party that represents rural areas. Members of the Labour Party have claimed that they too represent rural areas. The same claim has been made by some members of the Liberal Party. I would expect more support for the redistribution proposals, particularly from the Liberal Party, seeing that it was the Prime Minister who introduced the proposals. There is no gerrymander about these proposals. There is no change in principle.
– How do you know?
– The Prime Minister has explained the proposals. If the honorable member would care to read the Prime Minister’s explanation he would understand the proposals better.
– Ask the honorable member for Capricornia whether he spoke against Queensland losing a seat.
– I do not think the honorable member for Capricornia did so when this matter was last under discussion. I hope that in the weeks to come we will hear something from members of the other parties about the redistribution proposals.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Failes).Order! I call the honorable member for Cunningham and remind the House that this will be the honorable member’s maiden speech.
.- I rise to address the House as no parliamentary neophyte. I have had the advantage of thirteen years’ experience, in the legislature of New South Wales. I rise, as men of my party have for over 60 years, to present the case for Labour and the case for my constituents. I do so with my political faith undimmed and my ardour undiminished. I may state my political credo in the simplest of terms: There can be in any community only two groups - those people who are satisfied with things as they are and those who desire a change on a constructive and democratic basis. To people of my age and experience it is obvious that the scientific and technological changes that have occurred in the last half century have presented new problems, new opportunities and a new perspective to the people of the world. That being so, any party which does not stand for the preservation of privilege and self-interest must secure ultimately the support of the nation.
Before passing to other matters that are of immediate concern to me may I touch very briefly on the most exquisitely courteous welcome to the House that I was given last week by the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) and the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). I was deeply impressed indeed by their courtesy and by their most delightful and delicate welcome. I enjoyed their diatribes. In fact, I was touched in the extreme by their bucolic whimsy and their frenetic spleen. Neither McCarthy nor Goldwater at his best could have excelled the contributions of both those honorable members. To my constituents they represent reaction incarnate. They have indeed out-Heroded Herod. I have no doubt that in the fullness of electoral retribution they will pass from this chamber unwept, unhonoured and unsung.
I did not come to this chamber, however, to bandy epithets with political lightweights. I came to state a case for Labour. As of old, we shall make and unmake social and economic conditions by the traditional procedures of a democratically elected parliament. As for myself, I am the son of a worker, educated by the sacrifices of my parents and, in Australian terms, a graduate from the university of life in the faculty of hard knocks. I yield to none in my national pride as a fifth generation Australian. Equally, I am proud of my party, conscious of its traditions and certain of its future and its destiny to govern, mould and develop Australia as the greatest social, economic and political democracy of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
I have the honour to represent a city of steel in an age of steel. It is the youngest of the major cities of Australia, and one which is destined to give social, industrial and political leadership to this Commonwealth. Captain James Cook, on his voyage of discovery, was gifted with prophetic insight because when he saw the verdant valleys and the mountains - commonly called the Illawarra Range - of what is now the electoral division of Cunningham, he gave to eastern Australia the name of New South Wales because of the similarity that he saw between that district and South Wales. I believe that it was more than historic coincidence that beneath those same mountains were vast deposits of magnificent coking coal on which the future greatness of the city of Greater Wollongong will be built.
I speak for the seventh city of Australia; for a city which in terms of industrial production has an astonishing record. In 1961-62 the value of industrial output from the city of Greater Wollongong was £234,000,000. For purposes of comparison, let us remember that Australia’s wheat crop for that year was valued at £180,000,000, and that the value of the golden fleece was £372,000,000. That is the contribution of my constituency to Australia’s gross national product; that is its contribution to Australia’s future. And only a start has been made. In the port of Kembla, which incidentally is the fifth port of Australia, having inwards and outwards cargo of some 7,000,000 tons annually, we see the ships of the world. They take away some of the best steel that can be made in the world - steel made with Bulli coal which has the property of producing metallurgical coke of a physical strength which is able to stand up to the weight of the charge in a blast furnace without crushing under the extreme of temperature, and which will permit the full course of the blast of air through the furnace. That is the foundation of Greater Wollongong.
My constituency is the greatest coal producer in Australia, having a production of 7,000,000 tons a year from some of the most efficient and highly mechanized mines in the nation. Its stature is not merely to lead Australia because 3,200,000 tons of steel were produced there last year out of a total Australian production of 4,500,000 tons; it is the greatest single centre of heavy industry in the southern hemisphere. It is a fact known to economists that deposits of coal - the product of the carboniferous age - are relatively limited in the southern hemisphere. Consequently, the deposits in my constituency are of the utmost importance. They are of such importance that Australia’s future strength in defence and development will be based on them.
During the course of this debate much has been said about defence and the need for strengthening our Navy, Army and Air Force, but if we want to get down to the realities of defence and determine the strength of a country we must look at its industrial and agricultural bases. Despite the fact that we have a population of only 11,000,000 people, our industrial strength is very great indeed and we rank with many European countries with populations ranging from 35,000,000 to even 50,000,000. The fault for not properly mobilizing and harnessing our resources for the production of what is needed for the defence of Australia rests not on my constituents but on this Government.
Greater Wollongong has a population of 150,000. I have been amazed that various honorable members in this place are pathetically unfamiliar with the size, location and industrial significance of my constituency. I extend to one and all, irrespective of party, an open invitation to come to my electorate and to see the future of Australia in the process of creation. You will see not merely a city of steel but also a new Australian nation being welded together. It is to the eternal credit of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), a former Minister for Immigration, that we have had an influx of migrants who have made a most notable contribution indeed to the wealth, strength and prosperity of Greater Wollongong and of Australia. If you wish to see the future of Australia you will come to my constituency. If you wish to see the manner in which people of other nations and other allegiances can be welded and integrated so that they will absorb the Australian spirit and be proud to be Australian, come to Greater Wollongong. There the future of this country will be surely welded.
Greater Wollongong is not a mere entity. It is part of a huge conurbation which is occupied by industry, because the industrial strength of Australia is confined within a strip 100 miles in length, stretching from the Hunter River in the north to Lake Illawarra in the south. Within that area are 3,000,000 people who produce 40 per cent, of the gross national product. The future of Australia is the future of that area. If there were war - and God forbid - that area would be the prime target for attack. Consequently, it must be the prime area for development.
I speak from thirteen years of experience as a State member of parliament, and I know the contribution that the sovereign State of New South Wales has made to the welfare and the development of Greater Wollongong. In twelve years the New South Wales Labour Government has spent £75,000,000 on the construction of a new harbour, 5,000 homes, eight high schools, primary schools too numerous to mention, hospitals and all the other impedimenta of a modern and highly developed city. In the same period we have had a direct contribution by way of grant of only £1,250,000 from the present federal Liberal Government and that was for the coal loader which was recently put into operation at Port Kembla.
There are new groupings in the world to-day and Australia has to make a reassessment accordingly. In particular, Britain itself is no longer able to maintain the status and stature of a great power. Of course, Britain will continue to lead the world in political and social development, in scientific and technological discovery and progress; but with the virtual disintegration of the Commonwealth of Nations, even Britain is forced to make its accommodation with Europe and the European Common Market. When it does, surely there will be a vast reservoir of trained artisans who will want to leave Britain and come to the southern seas to build a new and greater Britain here. That will be our opportunity, and it is one we must seize through the united action of the Commonwealth and State Governments, because it will permit the translation of whole industries, of whole towns and cities to this country. We have to think in mighty terms.
I am not afraid of our ability to defend, populate and hold Australia, but we want these skilled artisans here. We want them in groups. We want their skills, their children and their production for the defence and development of Australia. We have a unique country in Australia, and we have a unique place in history. I know of no other country that has possessed a whole continent with one people, with a common language, a common set of traditions, a common culture. This is our opportunity.
There has been a transference in the balance of power. Two-thirds of the people of the world live adjacent to the Pacific and Indian Oceans. There is a new centre of gravity in world power, and Australia can be in the very heart of it, not in terms of aggression or self-glorification but in terms of leadership, fairness, decency and democracy. It has been truly said that we in Australia are the most eastern of the Western nations and the most Western of the eastern nations. We have the opportunity to be the bridgehead between the east and the west. We are not so big or so great that the countries of the east have need to fear aggression from us; but they are prepared to learn and to imitate. They are prepared to send their students to Australia to absorb all we can teach them and to take back the lessons of a free, enlightened and democratic Australia.
The future of Australia can lie only with Labour in control, because the Australian Labour Party is the only party with a sense of political continuity. It is the only party that can speak, think and act in the name of the whole Australian people. We are not a party standing for privileged interests or sectional advantage, or a party of coalition. We are not a party of compromise. We have the knowledge, the ability and the skill to govern Australia in the interests of all the people without respect to privilege or to selfish or sectional interests.
I have heard the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and many supporters of the Government refer to the menace of the population of Asia. The hard reality is perhaps that the very hugeness of the population of Asia and its fantastic rate of growth form the pathetic weakness of Asia. To-day, Australia is being asked to send from its plenitude wheat to feed the people of Asia. We are prepared to send it, and rightly so. Since 1960 there has been an increase of 600,000,000 in world population. The annual increment to world population is of the order of 45,000,000, nearly the population of the British Isles. There is a population explosion which has yet to be checked or coped with. Are we in a position to do that? I doubt that we are, because as I see the situation in Asia to-day the newly emerged countries, liberated and thinking in national terms, are unable to meet their problems with their present leaderships, because of their pathetically weak economies and the revolution of rising expectations of the masses.
It will be our function to be one of the bread baskets of Asia. We will be able to do our part because of our vast farming areas, the degree of mechanization and our advanced techniques of farming. There is no subsistence farming in Australia. One of the most remarkable of the post-war phenomena has been the remarkable reduction in the number of men employed on the land associated at the same time with the most remarkable progress in productivity.
As for the needs of my constituency of Cunningham, there is one matter of outstanding importance. Port Kembla, although it is a major terminal port, lacks a floating dock. The provision of such a dock is beyond the financial competence of a State government alone. It is a matter in which there should be joint consultation between the Commonwealth and State Governments. Marine survey work is impossible at Port Kembla. Urgent repairs cannot be done and the needs of Port Kembla in that regard cannot receive attention. The provision of such a dock means the nucleus of a modern engineering industry. Although there is remarkable production of steel and coal and certain other metals - notably copper - there is at the same time a deficiency in the number of general engineering and fabricating industries which are normally associated with the production of steel. We have just completed one of the biggest plate mills in the world and that, in turn, means that we are ready for the development of shipbuilding. Australia must be the common carrier of the Pacific. Australia is an island continent. We have the means, we have the capacity, and I believe also that within my constituency will be the heart of a major ship-building industry in Australia.
In another field, too, we have to think in terms of ourselves and use national hardheadedness. We speak of the golden fleece, but a mighty proportion of the gold from the golden fleece never passes through the hands of Australians. That is because we have perpetuated, unfortunately, the tradition of exporting the raw or semi-processed wool. With the entry of Britain into the European Common Market there will undoubtedly be major unemployment in her textile areas. We must be ready for those artisans to come to Australia. The Robertson plateau situated 30 miles from Wollongong has the ideal climate and the ideal environment for the establishment of a major Australian wool and cotton industry.
In another field, too, we lead the rest of Australia. I refer to the production of copper. May I remind honorable members that the price of copper is quoted in Australia to-day as ex Port Kembla. In other words, we still lead in that field. We lead also in the production of superphosphate. I could go on with the almost endless list of commodities that the 40,000 trade unionists of Greater Wollongong produce. After all, those people are our greatest national assets. Those people, too, are confronted by the balance-sheets which are published from time to time by certain local monopolies. Those people are determined, through their collective strength, speaking through their trade union leaders, to secure for themselves a little more of the world’s pleasure, a little more of the world’s treasure and a little more of the world’s leisure. They are entitled to a just and fair reward for their labour, but they are not getting it.
In the few minutes left to me, may I cite a few facts about the average worker in Greater Wollongong. He has a productivity which is two and a half times that of the national average. At the same time, he is conscious of the traditions of trade unionism. He is conscious of its history and the vicious attempts which have been made through the years to repress it. He is conscious also of the delays and frustrations of an outmoded and cumbersome system of arbitration. He is conscious that he has only one commodity to sell, that is, his labour, and that he has the right to sell it, free and untrammelled, in the best market that he can find. I have no doubt that the struggle will continue with the same intensity and with the same dedication until social and economic justice has been secured by the trade unions of my area.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. Speaker, the AddressinReply debate has been addressed to the Speech by His Excellency which contained the promise of a very busy programme. The Government has moved briskly to give effect by way of performance to the undertakings it gave at the time of the election. I think it is fair to say that no government has acted more promptly or more vigorously to give immediate effect to its undertakings which were put so clearly before the people during the election campaign.
Before I begin the substance of what I have to say, may I pass on my own personal congratulations to the new Ministers who have already impressed the House with their ability, earnestness and obvious determination to do the best that lies in them. I, at least, can claim that on this side of the House we must congratulate the recruits who have come to us and who have already demonstrated a level of performance in discussions which have so far proceeded such as to open up promise of big things from them in the years ahead.
We believe that we have in our own party a reservoir of talent to draw upon which has not been surpassed at any time in my experience. I offer my personal welcome and congratulations to those members who have been added to our ranks as a result of the last election. Before concluding a by no means exhaustive list of pleasant references, may I also say that the House would do well to congratulate the leader of the Australian Government, Sir Robert Menzies, who has added to an all-time record length of leadership as Prime Minister another term of office confirmed by the substantial majority returned at the last election.
As we were counselled by Sir Winston Churchill to be defiant in defeat but magnanimous in victory, let us be magnanimous to our Opposition. I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) for haying successfully navigated the perils which awaited him after his own not very happy result at the last election. He is here with us again as Leader of the Opposition. I have never hesitated to pay public tribute to the work contributed by the Leader of the Opposition as Minister for Immigration in launching the large migration programme. He has displayed a robust Australianism which has commanded our respect, but as I shall explain as we proceed, when it comes to national leadership he has made errors in judgment and performance which have effectively disqualified him from that high office for all time.
So far, the Address-in-Reply debate has been devoted very substantially to an analysis of the last general election result. I believe that it is important to conduct such an analysis while the events of the campaign are fresh in our minds and their implications are vividly with us. Every now and then Australia faces an election in which is involved a critical decision - one which is decisive for the future of the Australian people. I believe such an election was held in 1949 when Australia stood at the cross-roads and had the choice of the socialist programme of the Australian Labour Party of those days or the programme offered to it by the present Prime Minister and his supporters. The Australian people chose the programme of the Menzies Government, the programme of the Liberal philosophy. With fluctuations of strength, the Australian people have supported the leadership of the Prime Minister uninterruptedly since 1949.
The Government came close to defeat in 1961 and at the last election the country was again at the cross-roads. Again, a decisive choice has been made by the Australian people. Understandably, this choice has led to some soul-searching by the Opposition. When confidence has been so optimistically and bouncingly expressed, disappointment at defeat is more acutely felt and penetrates more deeply. At the last general election, as in 1949, the Australian people were offered a choice of widely differing policies.
The Leader of the Opposition said in a recent speech to a section of the Australian public, “We had a good policy, but there were mysterious factors at work “. In the limited time available to me I want to be magnanimous, at least to the point of trying to reveal to the honorable gentleman some of the factors which to him are mysterious, but which to the Australian public are crystal clear. Not only has the Leader of the Opposition been affected, but many other members of the Labour Party have also become bemused by their own propaganda. They have looked at Australia with eyes myopic and befogged by their own party bias to such an extent that they have developed an almost pathologically or psychopathically morbid view of the Australia they see. We have sat here and listened to a description of what has been occurring in this country which was quite unrecognizable when set against the facts of the situation. Right up to the time of the general election we heard the story that Australia was in the grip of a depression. I took the trouble to take out the figures relating to the depression. In 193 1- 32, when we were really in the grip of a depression, our gross national product was £633,000,000. Last year, when honorable members opposite were still talking about a depression, our gross national product was £7,889,000,000. We have listened to members of the Opposition talk to us about the dreadful unemployment which has been occurring. Over fourteen years of office, there have been minor fluctuations in unemployment which has never represented, so far as I can recall, above about 2i per cent, of the work force. For most of the period we have maintained a level of employment which is unsurpassed in our history. In depression times unemployment reached 30 per cent., compared with less than 2 per cent, last year. Yet last year the Australian people were still being told that they were in the grip of a depression. They were told there was an employment crisis when they were finding it hard to get a plumber, an electrician, a painter, a shearer or a farmhand.
– Or a politician.
– Or a statesman - from the Labour side, at least. The Opposition has constantly defeated its own objectives by under-rating the intelligence of the Australian people in telling them these things. The Australian electors can make their own assessment of what they find in the country around them. They were telling the Australian people that there was a housing crisis, although, during the term of office of this Government, more than 1,000,000 new homes have been constructed and the young people now have a better prospect of getting finance and getting homes in the early stages of married life than had any generation in the history of the English-speaking world before them. Those are the facts of the case.
Honorable members opposite have invariably spoken in terms of the processes of power. The Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and the more vocal of their supporters always talk about the need for greater powers to do this or greater powers to do that. They always say, “ Let us change the Constitution so that we will have more powers over this or that”, even though it means riding rough-shod over the interests of the States and of particular industries or sections of industry in this country. That is in marked contrast with the philosophy that we offer from this side of the House. We have gained a good deal of experience over the years. We have learned that you get positive, reassuring and effective results not by the naked exercise of power, but by the processes of consultation, discussion and persuasion. In a democratic federation, that is the way in which affairs should be conducted. Increasingly throughout our period of office we have turned to those processes, and people have come to trust us and our methods.
The Opposition wonders why this is. I read that the Leader of the Opposition rather plaintively asked: “ Why do we not get the women’s votes? Why do we not get the young people’s votes? “ He and his supporters do not get the young people’s votes because the young people know that they are living in a country of opportunity, and they want it to go on being a country of opportunity. They do not want to live in a regimented society, with the State controlling all the major instrumentalities; they want a country which offers incentive, opportunity and reward for effort and skill. It is because this Government offers these things in its policies that we are finding the younger generation of Australians turning towards us. I know there are traditionalists who grew up in a period when, if you worked in a particular occupation, you* became a Labour voter automatically. Those people still vote Labour, but what has shaken the Labour Party to its foundations is the discovery in this last election that the younger generation of Australians turn to this side of politics because it is on this side of politics that they find a hopeful future.
Take the electorate of my colleague, the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden). It is three times the size of the electorate of the Leader of the Opposition, and has more than 98,000 people on the roll. What has happened is that people from Labour voting households in the inner suburbs have moved into that outer area of Melbourne. Did they vote for the Labour Party when they had established themselves there? They did not! The younger generation of people, who had come from traditional Labour households, voted for our side of politics because it spelt opportunity, incentive and a growing Australia led by a Government with a national, not sectional outlook - a Government not influenced by the sort of sectional or class differentiation which has embittered the policies of the Opposition through the years. They voted for a Government which was prepared to attach importance to the situation of the individual and to offer him incentives and rewards for the skill and effort that he puts into community life.
The Leader of the Opposition said that his was a good policy. But to which policy was he referring? You see, Mr. Speaker, first there was a general election policy in which he hopelessly over-reached himself in a financial sense. All around Australia on the following day you could hear people, many of whom were quite openly Labour voters, saying, “ Where does he expect to find the money? “ The immediate reaction throughout Australia was that the honorable gentleman’s policy was impracticable and quite unreal, and that he was attempting to bulldoze the Australian public into voting for him on the basis of a series of promises which could not be honoured. That was one policy, but that is not the traditional policy of the Labour Party.
The Leader of the Opposition says, “ We have a good policy “. Does he mean the policy announced in his election speech or does he ..mean the policy to which he has given his pledge? As I understand the position, every honorable member opposite has given his pledge to an official policy, an official programme, an official platform. Of course, the Leader of the Opposition gave another pledge and said, “ I will not honour that policy during the life of the next Parliament “, but he revealed his thoughts when he informed his supporters that the tactics were to secure office on the basis of a series of attractive promises and then, in the second Parliament after the election, to give full effect to the pledged programme of the party. Why cannot the members of the Labour Party come out openly and say to the Australian people, “ Our policy is the official printed and recorded programme and platform of the party” or, “We have thrown that policy overboard “? Until they do one or the other, the people of Australia will not trust them with their votes. There is an honest way of going about these things, which it is up to the Labour Party to recognize and put into effect.
Then there is a third policy, about which we do not hear very much. Inside the Labour Party - and if honorable members opposite were honest in their hearts they would admit it - there is a right wing as well as a left wing. We are told now, after the election, that in the caucus the left wing and the right wing are just about equal in numbers. We know that the left wing of the party has a very different foreign policy and a very different political policy from the right wing of the party. The public are not fools. They can sense these things for themselves. They can draw conclusions from the kind of debate that went on about the North West Cape and about our relations with the United States of America. If there is a country which has to be clear as to where it stands with a great and powerful ally, it is this country in its relations with the United States of America. I do not say that the Leader of the Opposition and his deputy do not wish to see the warmest and closest of relationships between Australia and the United States of America, but there are those in the caucus of the Labour Party who have a “ Yankee go home “ mentality. We have seen it expressed here from time to time, and it has become well recognized by the public as well.
Then there is the problem of outside control. I wish I had the time to develop this subject. In the course of the last election campaign I remember being asked by the Press on one occasion in Adelaide to comment on a statement by Senator Kennelly that the Liberal Party had its own council, which dictated the party’s policy. Any one who knows the workings of the Liberal Party knows just how unrealistic that criticism was. We have a council and we have a standing committee on policy. Both the council and the standing committee make recommendations, but they have never attempted to dictate to the party the policy that it should pursue. Another Labour spokesman was reported as saying: “ Menzies is a dictator. He decides his own policy”. On the same day, in the same newspaper, there was a full page advertisement saying: “ They talk about faceless men. Here are your six men from South Australia. They are not faceless men; here they are.” Labour had missed the point; it was still outside control which was the essence of the argument. Here we have a political party which, if it were elected by the people, still could not decide for itself the policy it wanted to pursue. Its leaders do not now have to wait in the corridor. They are given a seat inside the room, but they are not allowed to vote. When they come back to caucus they pipe the message into their dutiful supporters, and so the policy is given effect.
The Australian people are not fools. They see these things occurring. They do not want a government that is dictated to by people outside their own democratic control. Until the Labour Party cleans up that aspect of its administration it will not attract the support of the Australian people. During the election campaign the supporters of the Labour Party were preaching that this country was in a dreadful economic state. I do not suppose many of them would have read the London “ Financial Times “ of 31st January, 1964, but to those who follow these matters closely it was rather significant that Lombard, who is probably the most authoritative writer in the English financial press and who consults with a committee on these matters each year, awarded to Australia an oscar for the best economic performance of the year. He said -
Best all-round economic performance. This much coveted award has been won by Australia.
She earned it by managing to resume economic expansion at a fast rate while maintaining the balance of payments in robust condition and preserving a close approach to economic equilibrium in the internal field. The Committee recognized that Australia had been greatly helped by the heavy inflow of overseas capital but came to the conclusion that, allowing for the fact that this itself was partly explained by the efforts she had made to make such investment welcome, she was still entitled to the premier award.
The supporters of the Labour Party may not read the “ Financial Times “ but many Australians do read “Time” magazine. In the 10th January, 1964, issue of “Time”, in a review of world economy generally, the following statement was made about Australia: -
Australia started off slowly in 1963, finished with a dream year - G.N.P. up nearly 8 per cent., prices stable, international trade in near-perfect balance. 1964 looks just as good.
While people throughout Australia were reading those comments they were told by honorable gentlemen opposite that the country was in a dreadful economic state. 1 repeat, Sir, that the Opposition has consistently underrated the intelligence of the electorate. The electorate showed its appreciation of the Australian situation when, at the last election, it returned the Government with its present strength.
We have heard lately a lot about defence from honorable members opposite. Almost as long as I have been in this House I have listened to members of the Labour Party attacking the Government on the score of defence expenditure. They have attacked the Government not because the expenditure was too little but because it was too great. I can remember the first £100,000,000 Budget which was introduced into this Parliament by the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). To-day, our Budget is more than £2,000,000,000. The defence vote at that time was about £16,500,000. To-day it is £260,000,000.
Over the whole area of Australian government we have tried to demonstrate a balanced approach for a country which is rapidly developing, which is seeking to grow in conditions of a stable currency and where there is a need to protect the savings of the people and to guarantee social welfare for all sections of the community. We have looked to the education needs and the housing needs of the family, and at the same time we have guaranteed the freedom of the individual and have assured him or her of incentives for the effort put into the development of our country. It is because the people want that kind of government and not a whole series of socialist experiments by a regimented caucus-dominated government with outside control, that they have turned from the Labour Party and given the present Government parties overwhelming support. So long as the Labour Party maintains the policies I have mentioned, so long as there are outside control and a refusal to face up to the challenge and the needs of the growing Australia of the 1960’s, just so long will the talented recruits on this side of the House have an opportunity to show Australia that we can produce the men and the women who are capable of carrying us on to a greater destiny in the years ahead.
.- Before I refer to the remarks of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), I should like, Mr. Speaker, in common with other honorable members to congratulate you on your re-elevation to the dignified post of Speaker. I also wish to congratulate the Chairman of Committees on his reappointment to that office. I offer my congratulations to all the honorable members on both sides of the chamber who, being new to the Parliament, have had to go through the ordeal of making their maiden speeches.
I had expected better from the Treasurer, a man who is supposed to have in his hands the financial destiny of the Australian nation. I expected that he would do more than merely denigrate his opponents. He said nothing whatever about the intentions of the Government. His Excellency the Governor-General stated -
It is the objective of Government policy that the nation should achieve over the next five years a total increase of at least 25 pet cent, in the gross national product expressed in terms of constant prices.
The Government stated that that was its intention. I wish to refer to some comments made by Dr. H. C. Coombs, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, in a paper delivered in Perth in 1963 entitled “ Some Ingredients for Growth “. He said -
It is one thing to argue that a growth rate involving a 3i per cent, per annum increase in productivity could be supported by the Australian economy, but this demonstration can do little to ensure such an increase.
I want to point out that, in my opinion at any rate, there are many aspects of the Australian economy at the moment which belie some of the suggestions that are coming from the Government side of this Parliament.
If the parties were agreed on anything during the recent general election campaign it was about the blessed new term “ economic growth “. If economic growth means anything so far as the people are concerned it means that at the end of the year, as against the beginning of the year and taking into account the fact that the population has increased, the total goods and services per capita has increased o ver the period. The figures that we were given during the election campaign varied a little, but I shall adopt the figure that was used by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). He referred to a growth rate of 5i per cent, per annum. That growth rate is made up of two components. There is the reality that the Australian population, including the working population, is increasing at the rate of about 2 per cent, per annum. With 2 per cent, more people working to-day than there were previously, the total product should increase by 2 per cent But linked with that is another factor which is called the increase in productivity. The Labour Parry stated that the increase in productivity would be of the order of 3± per cent, per annum. In other words, with so many more machines and so much more know-how having been acquired by the labour force, and with 2 per cent, more people and an increase in productivity of 3i per cent., there would be an annual growth rate of 5i per cent. In many ways this 5i per cent, is not a very meaningful concept. To some people it smacks more of the unpleasant side of a mortgage than of the bright prospects for the nation’s future. But a growth rate of 5i per cent., compounded, means that in a space of thirteen years the total gross national product would have doubled. In the same thirteen years, of course, the population of Australia would have increased - again on a compound basis by about 30 per cent., so that, with 30 per cent, more people there would be twice as much in goods and services to be distributed among the population. This should mean quite substantial rises in the standard of living of the community as a whole.
I want to say, later, something about the rather difficult position that arises in an economy such as ours, where the majority of the people who derive income are wage earners. After all, if prices do not rise - and do not fall either, but remain constant under this concept of constant prices which is a new factor in the argument - the only way in which wage earners can get an increased share of the prosperity that is supposed to come is through an increase in wages. Yet that is the very thing that this Government seems to be resisting. Apparently there is nothing wrong in the community if the terms of trade give the farmers an increase of £100,000,000 or £200,000,000 in rural income, but there is something wrong when it is suggested that the basic wage should be raised by £2 12s. I ask those who have this concept in the back of their minds: How else, in what is characteristically a wage-earning economy, can the majority of the people in the community take more out of the pool except through an increase in their weekly wage?
There are two things I wish to say, in passing, about economic growth. First, despite what the Treasurer says about the performances of the economy at the moment, the performance of the Australian economy in 1964 is not so good as it ought to be, becauses of events which took place in this country round about 1960-61. Secondly, I ask: What are the things underneath it all, which make for economic growth in a community? The Treasurer, in one or two recent utterances, has been pleased to cite figures about the gross national product and what the Commonwealth Statistician calls constant prices. When one is trying to compare prices over a period it must be remembered that, inevitably, fashions and the goods which are produced change. One has only to recall, for instance, that we will shortly be sending an Olympic Games team to Japan. Most people will recall that about the first thing that we saw on television in 1956 was the Olympic Games. Prior to 1956 the television set did not rank as a factor when we were computing the wealth of Australia, but in 1964 it is an accepted part of life. It is estimated that from one-third to 40 per cent, or thereabouts of the goods to be sold in shops in the United States of America in 1975 - and it is in 1964 and 1965 that we should be planning for what might happen in 1975, and not, as this Government does it, three months or so before the event - will be goods of a kind which are now not even being produced. This indicates what can take place in an economy where there, is this factor of growth.
– It also indicates a rise in living standards, which you are ignoring.
– I am not ignoring it. Tell me how the wage-earner gets anything of the increase in the standard of living except through an increase in wages. That is the point I want to look at first.
– Tell the whole story.
– I am telling it. You can tell it in your own way later. I do not like people suggesting that I am hiding something. You can tell me, afterwards, where my argument is deficient, but please do not doubt my good faith in the matter. It is just as good as yours, any day, I should hope. The gross national product of Australia, expressed in current prices - that is, allowing for price increases - was £6,754,000,000 in 1959-60 and in 1962-63 it had risen to £7,844,000,000, an increase of about £1,100,000,000 in three years. Proportionately that is an approximate increase, in terms of prices - not constant, but fluctuating prices - of 5 per cent, a year, or about a 15 per cent, increase in the three years. But let us look at the picture when we calculate it on what are called constant prices. Again, the starting point is the same in both instances. In 1959-60 the gross national product was £6,754,000,000 and in terms of constant prices three years later, in 1962-63, it was not £7,844,000,000, but £7,396,000,000. In other words, it was £450,000,000 less. That £450,000,000 can. be said to be what is called an inflation factor, arising from the fact that prices had risen to the extent of some £450,000,000 over that period. Again, if the honorable gentleman likes to work out the sum he will find that the price increase over that threeyear period is of the order of 7 per cent. That 7 per cent, does not sound very much but it meant that, in that three years, ls. 6d. of the value of every £1 that anybody earned was taken away. This, means that the basic wage ought to be 21s more to make up, not for an increase in productivity, but for the price increase alone. So the wage-earner gets no share whatever of the productivity increase until he has been compensated for that 21s. price factor. But to get the 2 per cent., as well, which is supposed to come from the growth factor, he should be getting an increase of 30s. or so. That is one point which I think ought to be noted.
An interesting aspect, which was brought out this afternoon by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), is that in terms of constant prices the gross national product was £7,037,000,000 in 1960-61 and a year later, in 1961-62, it had risen by the minute sum of only £1,000,000. Because of the credit squeeze there was no real growth in Australia between 1960-61 and 1961-62. One thing which ought to be learned about a credit squeeze is that if you have tried it once you should not be silly enough to try it a second time. I am not suggesting that this Government is so silly as to want to try it again. Nevertheless, some of the signs are. there already. Restrictions have been placed on credit. I would not argue that every calling-up to special account denotes a credit squeeze. That is far from being the reality of the situation.
The issue of “ Quarterly Estimates of National Income and Expenditure “ for the December quarter of 1963 shows that the biggest factor in the rise in the gross national product in the second quarter of the financial year 1963-64 was a spectacular rise of 13 per cent, in the sales of motor cars. I ask those who like to go back into history: What was the genesis of the credit squeeze that was applied in 1960? It was a suggestion that the motor car industry was expanding more rapidly than it should relative to the economy. But the worst performance in the whole economy still occurs in respect of the items included in the term “ Other fixed investment “.
This brings me to the question: How do you get economic growth in a community? You get it by putting more machines and more technical know-how behind the hand of every worker. As the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) said the other evening, you replace man-power by horsepower. ‘ That is’ how ‘ you ‘increase productivity. Of course, you then begin to have on your hands a social problem. This problem may not be the responsibility of individual industries, but it certainly is the responsibility of governments. The problem posed is stated in the question: What do you do with people who are made redundant in this process?
Basically, an increase in the total output in the community depends on two factors. The first is increased capital formation. That is the thing that has flagged most under the administration of this Government. Although, according to this document, “ Quarterly Estimates of National Income and Expenditure “, motor car sales have been rising by 13 per cent., gross fixed capital expenditure has been rising at the rate of only about 4 per cent. If we read between the lines and compare that with the growth rate that was talked about in the election campaign, we can see that the Government will have to do a lot of rethinking. I suggest that it is time this Government settled down to some forward planning. At one time, of course, “planning” was a dirty word - at least, in the vocabularies of honorable members opposite. Now, however, even countries so conservative politically as France have resorted to planning.
Only the other day, I received a document entitled “ France and Economic Planning”, which outlines the economic programme in France for the years from 1962 to 1965, inclusive. That country is postulating economic growth at the rate of 5$ per cent, a year. This is similar to the figure that was talked about by the Australian Labour Party in the recent election campaign. As the document points out, this will mean a total increase of 24 per cent, over the next four years in the gross national product of the French nation.
The French plan at least has targets for every category of industry and these are designed to make it a reality. I challenge this Government to announce its programmes for the next three or four years in various categories of industry. In France, it is expected that the output of agriculture, for instance, will increase by 19 per cent, over the four years from 1962 to 1965. Has the Australian Country Party any idea of the programme for increased rural output in Australia over the next four years?
Is the target to be left, as always, to guess and to God? Will honorable members opposite just hope that the guess will be right and blame God when it is wrong? That kind of attitude in 1964 is not good enough. In France, the growth in energy output - that is, power - is expected to be 24 per cent, in the period from 1962 to 1965, inclusive. The growth in the output of metals is expected to increase by 23 per cent., of chemicals by 29 per cent, and of processing industries by 23 per cent. Expansion in the category described as “ Construction, public works, building materials “ is expected to be 32 per cent., in transportation and telecommunications 21 per cent., in housing 23 per cent, and in “ Other services “ 27 per cent. It is hoped that in the aggregate this expansion will yield an increase of 24 per cent, in the gross national product in France.
What are the prospects for Australia? I was interested to receive recently a very impressive document entitled “ The Development of Australia “ which was prepared by the Stanford Research Institute, of California. This appears to be a very useful publication, but I suggest that it contains no information that could not have been compiled by similar researchers in Australia. I raise for the consideration of honorable members one or two things that this document suggests are wrong in the Australian economy. I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Connor) suggest that in his electorate, where industry employs the latest methods, productivity is two and one-half times the national average. At page 225, the report by the Stanford Research Institute states -
It has been estimated that the United States produces 2.S times as much added value per £ of investment and 3 times as much per worker as Australia.
When are we to improve our performance? At page 188, the report declares -
If a fleet of air cargo planes specially constructed to maintain service to the West Coast of the United States . . , were available, it is estimated that present freight charges across the Pacific could be halved.
What are the Government’s plans in that respect? At page 171, this report comments -
The most rapidly growing industries are those which employ the largest proportion of designers, draughtsmen, engineers, and technicians and also pay the highest wages.
What has the Government to say now about its opposition to wage increases in the Australian community? Let us contrast the attitude of the President of the United States of America as expressed in his State of the Union Message on 8th January last. No one laments more than I do the recent tragic event in that country. However, government must go on. President Johnson said -
One thousand dollars invested in salvaging an unemployable youth today can return 40,000 dollars or more in his life-time.
But our complacent Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) is not worried about the nature and structure of unemployment, which, small though it may be, as it occurs in the Australian economy to-day has three characteristics. First, there is more youth involved than there ought to be. Will anybody in this Parliament say that any person who has left school in the last few months is unemployable? If a person who has just left school is unemployable, the processes of education are irrelevant for him. Such a thing would point to incomplete co-ordination between the aims of education and the needs of industry. The second factor is the large number of young females at present unemployed. Any one who has read the signs of the times in the United States and Canada might suggest that this condition has been inherent in the structure of our economy for several years now. But we are still educating young girls to do jobs that are no longer wanted.
The third characteristic of the existing unemployment is that there are shortages of labour in some industries at the same time as there are workers unable to get jobs in other fields of activity. Some of the people who are unemployed may be unemployable, but, if they are, this is a social problem that ought to be faced. We on this side of the House say that the existence of unemployment, together with under-employment - and there is underemployment in Australia to-day - and unemployable persons, does not make for full employment. The present situation does not promote what all political parties consider should be the destiny of the Australian people - proper economic growth.
– I call the honorable member for Denison and remind the House that this is the honorable member’s maiden speech.
.- The very first day that I took my seat in the House I was privileged to indicate what an honour it was to me to represent the people of Denison in place of the late Athol Townley. This evening I understand that, according to the traditions of this House, I am entitled to make, not my first, but my maiden speech. I believe I am the youngest member of the present House. I think it is important that the decisions of the House should be leavened by views of younger people. The business of government to-day is no longer something to which to retire. When I was settling in during the first week in this chamber I took occasion to look around the House and I noticed that on this side of the House particularly there were younger men, even on the ministerial bench.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has of recent weeks spent some time - as well he might after his confident prediction of victory before 30th November - in analysing the reasons for Labour’s failure. I would urge the Leader of the Opposition not to spend too much time in deciding how to catch the female vote, important as that may be, but to appreciate why his party has nothing to offer the younger people of Australia to-day. As a new member, I should like at this stage to say how much I appreciated the assistance I have received, not only from members on this side of the House, but also from those on the other side. This friendly rivalry within the House is in keeping with the true traditions of this place. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) in his contribution to the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, when replying to an interjection, made the comment, as I recall it, that it was not necessary for him to comment on the Denison by-election. He said that he did his best to keep me out, but as I got here just the same he wished me good luck in any event. May I respond by reciprocating his good wishes and by saying that I hope that we keep our respective sides of the House for many years to come.
When I found my way to the room to which I had been allotted I discovered that I was sharing it with three other new members. They were the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns), a dentist; the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs), a surgeon; and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes), a Queen’s Counsel. All these men are able men in their own profession and it would not be a difficult guess to say that they are making a considerable financial sacrifice to represent their respective electorates in the National Parliament. I would hope that the House has the opportunity, in the not too far distant future, to consider, on a non-party level, whether or not it will raise the level of parliamentary allowances commensurate to the status and responsibility of the members of this federal House.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have no particular hobby-horse to ride across the pages of “ Hansard “ this evening. I listened with interest to the Speech of the GovernorGeneral and I noted especially His Excellency’s remarks, first in relation to the introduction of the Tasmania Grant (Gordon River Road) Bill; secondly, to the advent of the “ Empress of Australia “; and thirdly to the approval for Qantas Empire Airways Limited to place orders for supersonic jets to go into service in the 1970’s. I therefore wish to address the House this evening on the importance of the tourist industry with particular reference to my own State of Tasmania. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) recently, when opening the 1964 conference of the Pacific Area Travel Association in Sydney, pointed out that since the 1957 conference in Canberra, Australia’s estimated income from overseas tourists had grown from £6,000,000 to £27,000,000. I would point out that tourism has become an industry which ranks ninth amongst Australia’s major income earners. It has now reached the level of an industry and the stage is set for an increase in tourism within Australia. I would say that this stage has been set as a result of the work of a strong government. The economy is now sound despite what honorable members on the other side of the chamber may have to say.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) took the words out of my mouth earlier this evening when he referred to the Oscar that the “ Financial Times “ awarded to this Government. The awarding of that Oscar represents the opinion of an independent assessor. The assessment did not fall from the lips of the Treasurer or myself, but from the lips of a sound economist in London writing for, perhaps, the leading financial journal in the world to-day. As a result of our strong economy, Australians have a greater opportunity to travel. They have more annual holidays, a higher standard of living and higher wages. However, our present problem is that Australians overseas spend far more money than the amount that short-term visitors spend in Australia. How can this imbalance be rectified? Not by cutting down on the money taken out of Australia by Australians - nobody wants to return to those times - but by a greater promotion effort by Australians overseas. The answer is quite simple. If we attract more tourists, they will bring more money to this country, they will spend more money here and we will obtain a more favorable balance of payments. Having said that, I admit that it is easier to say than to put into effect. The world-wide development of tourism over the last ten years has made the travel market highly competitive.
Are we in Australia doing our best? I think we must bear in mind that this is a two-pronged problem. The first prong is the necessity to promote an attractive image overseas to attract tourists. The second prong is the problem of keeping the reality within Australia close to the image which we project overseas. There is no point in having dissatisfied tourists. That would be the worst possible thing. We must, if we are to attract tourists, give them an honest boost and send them away more than satisfied.
The job of promoting tourism overseas is done by the Australian National Travel Association. As honorable members will probably recall, this is an honorary and independent body. It is a board of 29 honorary members comprising Federal Government members, State Government members and members from various walks of private enterprise. In my opinion this body does not need to be replaced by a government department. It is doing an extraordinarily good job on a very small budget. This is one of the rare occasions in this country on which we get close co-operation between the Commonwealth Government, the State Governments and private enterprise. In the very essence of the word, this is a community industry. It seems to be the tradition of honorable members opposite to go back into history. If I might be permitted to do the same, when the nation’s founders were working out our Constitution in the conferences prior to 1900 they did not have in mind that we might wish to attract tourists to our shores. No one had it in mind that the Federal Government might see fit to make grants to an independent body for the express purpose of attracting tourists from overseas. Therefore, constitutionally, the question of encouraging the tourist industry has been left to legislation passed by the respective States. However, organized travel promotion was not carried out effectively until 1929 when, at the instance of the Bruce-Page Government, the Australian National Travel Association came into being, with an annual grant of £1,000.
Since then the association has had its ups and downs. Obviously, world wars interfere with tourist activities. But since 1958 the present Government has given the association increased financial support. For the current financial year the Government has given it, first, a direct grant of £220,000; secondly, a matching grant on a £1 for £1 basis, to a limit of £90,000, to meet contributions from private enterprise and State governments; and thirdly, a special grant of £10,000 to assist towards the cost of staging the Pacific Area Travel Association conference. The Government has also opened the way for greater contributions from private enterprise by making such contributions deductible items for income tax purposes. I urge the Government not only to increase its direct grant for the next financial year but also to give a much larger matching grant.
This independent body, which has the job of promoting Australia overseas, must be given sufficient financial support to do the job which it has in hand. It can do this only if it is given sufficient funds to enable Australia to get a larger share of the very rich market of American tourists. We are getting American tourists, but we have only just touched the surface. We now have an A.N.T.A. office in New York. I feel that, by giving it a greater budget on which to work, we could get more tourists from the dollar rich area. Also, in the coming financial year we shall need extra funds to attract to our shores the growing number of German tourists. Moreover, as from April next, the Japanese Government will lift the restrictions on bona fide tourists from Japan. They will be permitted a spending allowance of SOO dollars or its equivalent, on top of travel fares. It will occur to honorable members that gentlemen from Japan will wish to travel in the Pacific area. It therefore behoves Australia not to be behind in the race to collar this attractive corner of the overseas travel trade.
Australia has everything to offer tourists. I need not extol the virtues of other States. Their representatives are here to do that very thing. This evening I wish to beat the Tasmanian drum a little. The Australian climate ranges from the sub-tropical to the sub-antarctic. I am just recovering from influenza and I must concede that at this time of the year the Tasmanian climate is a little closer to the sub-antarctic than to the sub-tropical. In Australia, and particularly in Tasmania, we have unique flora and fauna. These are great selling points. Not a penny needs to be spent on these things; they exist. They need to be much more publicized overseas.
My own State is facetiously called the island State, although we regard it as the smaller of the two islands that make up our continent. Being small, it is an ideal holiday and tourist island. The question that I pose, not so much for the consideration of the House as for the consideration of the Tasmanian Government, is: Is this potential being utilized? This is mainly up to the State Government, but I point out that the Commonwealth Government has given Tasmania good treatment over the past few years. Thousands of years ago the first Tasmanian aborigines walked into Tasmania. The only thing that the modern tourist cannot do is to walk over to our State. Once he is in Tasmania he can do as much walking as he likes if he does not intend to hire a car. To-day, quicker and more convenient alternatives make Tasmania much more accessible to tourists. Frequent flights are available. By the courtesy of the Australian National Line, we. now have’ an excellent ferry service by the “Princess of Tasmania” across Bass Strait, and in the near future we shall have another ferry service by the largest roll-on roll-off ferry of its type in the world. The “ Empress of Australia “ will make a 620-mile voyage from Sydney to Hobart, which will be the longest ferry trip in the world.
I direct attention also to the projected Gordon River road, which will open up a hitherto inaccessible area. The House will need no reminding of how, after the opening of the Snowy Mountains area, tourist activity increased there. In deference to the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) I point out that Tasmania is sometimes known as the apple isle. One point which is nut generally known is that the first apple trees in Tasmania were planted in 1788 by Captain Bligh, when he was on his way to Tahiti. It is with Tahiti and the breadfruit plant that Captain Bligh is mainly associated. I regret to inform the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) that, unfortunately, Captain Bligh’s visit in 1788 in no way contributed to the present Tasmanian chart.
In conclusion, I wish to refer to the ordering by Qantas Empire Airways Limited of supersonic jet aircraft. It is worth pointing out that by 1971, when it is hoped that these aircraft will be in operation, the flight from Sydney to Hong Kong will take less than three-and-a-half hours; from Sydney to Tokyo, five hours; and from Sydney to San Francisco, five-and-a-half hours. The old barriers of distance and time are receding. We are now well and truly on the way from the jet age into the supersonic age in international travel. I understand from Qantas that it will be able to maintain its present fares, so although we shall get to places more quickly in the 1970’s, this will not cost any more.
Finally, I should like to make a point which was made much better by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) recently in opening the Pacific Area Travel Association conference, namely the civilizing influence of tourism. International travel contributes to world peace by breaking down the prejudice caused by ignorance. We Australians must realize that we are a nation of Europeans on the Asian side of the world. I was privileged to travel through Asia in .1962. Iti. my travels I. found the basis.! differences.- which 1 had expected. More than that, I found basic similarities which I had not expected. I feel that this aspect of international travel and tourism is often neglected by governments when considering the amounts of money that they will allocate to their respective overseas promotion bureaux. I urge very strongly that the Government give a larger grant to the A.N.T.A. in future, in the interests of Australia.
Through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I thank honorable members, and particularly those opposite, for their indulgence.
– I call the honorable member for Bonython and remind the House th:it this will be his maiden speech.
.- I would appreciate it, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if you would inform Mr. Speaker that I join with other honorable members in congratulating him on his appointment unopposed to the high position that he holds in this, the Twenty-fifth Commonwealth Parliament. I trust that he will show to new members as much tolerance as his position will allow, taking into account the enthusiasm which members will bring to the representations that they will voice on behalf of their constituents. I take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the electors of Bonython for the outstanding vote recorded in my favour at the last election. It will be my earnest desire to justify this confidence by service to the electorate, and to contribute to the affairs of the nation in accordance with the aims and aspirations of the Australian Labour Party.
It is indeed a privilege to follow my illustrious predecessor, the Honorable Norman Makin. His long and meritorious service in public affairs must be known to many people. He was Australia’s first Ambassador to the United States of America, a member of the War Cabinet, Minister for the Navy, Minister for Munitions, Minister for Aircraft Production and Speaker of the House of Representatives. Equal with this fine record of public achievement is his service as a member of the Australian Labour Party. At various times in every political party we witness incidents of a controversial nature.’ Some members, be cause of the very strong views they hold, have a tendency not to accept the majority point of view. It is the unique record of the Honorable Norman Makin that not once in 50 years of membership of the Australian Labour Party was he ever off side with the official thinking of the Labour movement. This is the remarkable career of my predecessor. I am sure that honorable members will understand that it is my fervent desire to pattern my political career, to the best of my ability, on the distinguished record of achievement of my predecessor.
I pay tribute to the magnificent part played by the local government authorities in the nation’s progress. The activities of these authorities are most noticeable in the electorate I have the honour to represent. The Bonython electorate has in recent years experienced a tremendous acceleration of housing development. This is substantiated by the fact that, in 1955, when the Bonython division was established following a redistribution of boundaries, it had a total of 38,361 electors. To-day, this figure has increased to 73,000 and I have been informed by the Divisional Returning Officer that by the end of June of this year another 3,500 electors will be enrolled.
This situation has placed an enormous strain on the limited resources available to the local government bodies within my electorate in providing the necessary public facilities for the community. The demand for roadways and traffic works also has changed dramatically in recent years. This is particularly so in the areas administered by the Elizabeth, Salisbury, Gawler and Munno Para councils and by the corporation of the city of Enfield. In addition to normal requirements for the annual maintenance of main thoroughfares and the development of private streets, these organizations are continually confronted with the need to reconstruct roads completely to a higher standard to satisfy the greatly increased traffic requirements. The combined resources of local authorities and State governments are completely inadequate to cope with the urgent demands created by the district’s growth.
I listened with particular interest to an answer given during question time last week by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who informed the House that he had met a delegation of lord mayors from all States and discussed this important matter with them. It is with pleasure that I join with the delegation in urging the Government to give serious consideration to the request made by the lord mayors. I understand that in the near future the Parliament will consider an amendment to the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act and I sincerely hope that honorable members opposite will join with Opposition members to ensure that the legislation will provide the additional funds that are urgently required by all the States. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth, as the chief tax gatherer, to ensure that the maximum funds available are allocated to the States to relieve the serious position that is faced by all local government bodies.
During the last federal election campaign, our Liberal opponents and their allies, the D.L.P., were loud in their criticism of the policy of the Australian Labour Party, which included a provision for first-past-the-post voting for elections for the House of Representatives. This item was placed in the platform of the Australian Labour Party by the federal conference as far back as April, 1961, but on no occasion did our opponents refer to it during the campaign for the election held in December, 1961, during the credit squeeze.
The present system of voting, known as the preferential system, was introduced in Commonwealth elections by the Hughes Nationalist Government - the Nationalist Party is now the Liberal Party - in November, 1918. This is contrary to the generally accepted view that a Labour government was responsible for the introduction of the system. Mr. Ulrich Ellis in his book “A History of the Australian Country Party ‘ makes clear who were responsible for this form of voting. He says that on 9th May, 1918, there was a by-election for Flinders and the Victorian Farmers Union nominated a candidate, J. J. Hall, to contest the seat against G. J. Holmes, the Labour candidate, and S. M. Bruce, the Nationalist candidate. Earlier in 1918, the Australian Farmers Federal Organization, which was replaced by the Australian Country Party in 1926, requested the Prime Minister to introduce preferential voting. There was no immediate response; hence the nomination of Hall. A few days after Hall was nominated the Victorian Farmers Union offered to withdraw its candidate if the Government agreed to introduce preferential voting at an early date. Two days before the poll the Parliamentary Nationalist Party met and agreed to the request. It was then too late to withdraw Hall’s name and the Victorian Farmers Union advised electors to withhold their votes from Hall - their own candidate - and support Bruce, the candidate of the Nationalist Party. Hall polled a bare 362 votes and Bruce was elected.
A weakness of the system of preferential voting is that it provides for electors supporting the candidate who polls the lowest number of votes, where required, to have their votes counted twice. But the greatest weakness of the system is that it allows for major political parties to be subjected to pressure by splinter groups. That this is so is borne out by the Government’s proposal to introduce legislation to make finance available for science buildings and laboratories for independent schools. It is also borne out by the reference in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to the amending of the Commonwealth Electoral Act to provide for no fixed differential quotas for electoral districts in the House of Representatives. This will undoubtedly favour members of the Australian Country Party at future elections.
To be more explicit, it will allow the Government to introduce a system of gerrymandered seats in the Commonwealth Parliament on a basis similar to that which exists in my own State of South Australia. This factor alone has enabled the Playford Government to remain in office for 30 years against the wish of an overwhelming number of the people. I warn members of the Liberal Party that they should consider this matter with special care before it is introduced if they wish to retain their identity as a political party. Their counterpart in South Australia became a forgotten force many years ago.
An analysis of the voting figures for the last election shows that the views of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on Labour’s policy of first-past-the-post1 voting are completely incorrect. He stated during the election campaign that if this system of voting were adopted for Commonwealth elections, a Labour bureaucracy would be established in the Commonwealth Parliament for the next twenty years. This view is completely exploded by the fact that only in the electorates of Hume, Corio, Maribyrnong, Bowman, Lilley, Franklin, Canning and Moore would the result have been different and the Government parties would still have retained office with an overall majority of ten.
The Australian Labour Party offers no apologies for its policy of first-past-the-post voting. Such a system is in keeping with the practice that is followed in determining elections in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America. It would be interesting for our opponents to study Sir Winston Churchill’s views on the preferential system. I feel sure I am correct in saying that nobody would accuse that right honorable gentleman of being imbued with socialist thinking. Sir Winston has described the preferential system in these words - the worst of all voting systems, the stupidest, the least scientific and the most unreal. The decision is to be determined by the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates.
Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I come to a matter in relation to which I have waited with extreme pleasure ever since my election to say a few words. As one of the so-called 36 faceless men I welcome this opportunity to answer, on their behalf, the campaign of untruths, distortions and slanderous accusations which our Liberal opponents, jointly with the Australian Democratic Labour Party, engaged in during the last federal election campaign. The federal conference of the Australian Labour Party is constituted of 36 delegates, six being democratically elected by each of the six State branches. The conference meets biennially and it determines by majority decision each of the items on the agenda which are forwarded by members of the party. The majority view, having been determined, becomes policy. Individual members and affiliated organizations of the Labour movement give a pledge to observe and to abide by such decisions.
Let me outline one of the conference decisions which, as policy, is upheld by all members of the Australian Labour Party but which has received very little publicity in the daily newspapers since it was adopted. It is headed “ Repudiation of Communist Party “ and reads -
We affirm that the Labor movement offers the most effective and safest methods of preserving democratic liberties, of protecting and improving workers’ living standards, and we -
Movement who are carrying on a persistent and determined campaign against Communist influence in their respective organizations; and
The South Australian Branch delegation which attended the special conference held in Canberra in April, 1963 to discuss Labour’s attitude to the establishment of the North West Cape base at Learmonth was represented by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Birrell), Senator Jim Toohey, Mr. Don Dunstan, who is a member of the House of Assembly in the South Australian Parliament, Mr. Eric O’Connor, the secretary of the South Australian Branch of the Australian Workers Union, and myself. Contrary to what has been said in the smears of our opponents, the views expressed by those delegates were in conformity with the democratic decision of a special meeting of the South Australia branch of the Australian Labour Party which was held prior to the special conference and which was attended by delegates representing 80,000 members of affiliated organizations. In other words, the six South Australian delegates who attended the discussion on the North West Cape proposal did not put forward their own views but those of the South Australian branch of the Labour Party. In addition, the branch decision was publicly reported in every daily newspaper throughout Australia.
The conference decision was further supported by the electors of South Australia who at the recent federal election cast 54 per cent, of the total number of recorded votes in favour of the endorsed Australian Labour Party candidates. A gallup poll which was conducted by Roy Morgan after the special conference decision - nobody would say that Mr. Morgan’s views are influenced by the Australian Labour Party - revealed that 70 per cent, of the Australian people were in full agreement with the thinking of the so-called 36 faceless men. The truth about this policy decision was deliberately ignored by our opponents in their campaign to create a fear complex in the minds of the Australian people. The malicious attempt that was made to persecute conference delegates certainly misfired in the case of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, the honorable member for Port Adelaide and myself, because each of us considerably increased the previous record Labour vote in our respective electorates. It is true that each of us was not opposed by a Liberal candidate, but that is all the more indicative of just how our Liberal opponents are. On the one hand they slandered us as delegates and on the other hand they left it to the Democratic Labour Party and the Communist Party to oppose us. The campaign tactics and propaganda of the Liberal Party and the D.L.P as ventilated in the daily press and on radio and television programmes will go down as being the most scurrilous in federal political history
I completely exonerate the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) in these remarks. He, on behalf of the Australian Country Party, at least had the decency to reject the scare propaganda by saying -
We do not believe in election campaign tactics designed to create- fear and hatred of the
Australian Labour Party. Such tactics would tend to divide the Australian people rather than to unite them.
Finally, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I issue this warning to the people of this country: If ever our opponents can successfully establish in the minds of the Australian people hatred and fear of the Australian Labour Party by medium of the big lie, the people will experience a situation identical to that which preceded the rise of fascism in Nazi Germany and which led to so much misery amongst and degradation of the people of that country.
.- The standard of this debate generally has been very impressive. I congratulate the new members from all sides of the House on their contributions. One of the main themes of the debate, apart from reminiscences of the last election - some cheerful, some not so cheerful - has been defence. The fact that so much emphasis has been placed on defence reflects the general spirit of the Australian public - a spirit of concern at Australia’s position in an area that contains the only power which is dedicated to war as an instrument of policy and which has as its immediate neighbours some newly emerging nations which constitute a most unstable zone.
I also am concerned about the defence of Australia. Our position is a very singular one. Australia is the most thinly populated continent in the world. As an example of the lack of population spread, I point out that half our people live within 100 miles of two cities - Sydney and Melbourne. The trend of the population movement towards those cities is increasing to such an extent that it is estimated that in 40 years time three-quarters of the Australian population will be living within 100 miles of them. Only one of our major provincial cities - Townsville - lies outside a 100-mile radius of the capital cities. The capital cities are increasing in size very rapidly. In the six years up to 1961 the population of Sydney increased by a figure equal to the total population of Tasmania.
Because of this lopsided settlement of the continent, our situation is a very unusual one and a very dangerous one. Not only is it economically unsound, not only does it present ‘ us with” tremendous burdens in maintaining large and widely dispersed cities and not only does it present us with enormous problems in the transport of goods from the hinterland to the outlets in the large cities; but it also makes us militarily vulnerable. Any aggressor, however powerful or weak, could immobilize Australia in a very short time because our cities lie on the sea-board and there is no way in which we could satisfactorily defend our essential industries. Even if our defence forces were double in size, our weakness would still be apparent. I am concerned about this problem just as every one else in this chamber is concerned about it. But I approach it, not from the direction of increasing or improving our defence forces, but from the other direction of decentralizing our people and our industry. Means must be found of settling Australia more adequately than it has been settled in the last 180 years.
What can be done about decentralization? Decentralization of population and industry cannot be achieved by undertaking sporadic development projects such as the beef roads scheme, the Ord River scheme, the Gordon River road scheme in Tasmania or the standardization of rail gauges. All those projects are worthy enough, but they do not lead to permanent settlement of people in the wider reaches of the Commonwealth. We cannot leave this task to the States because over the years it has been proved to be beyond their capacity to do anything worth while in the direction of decentralizing population and industry. The vested interests in the capital cities are far too powerful to permit this decentralization.
Even in the sphere of parliamentary representation we find that it is not possible for this Parliament to give a bias to political representation of the country areas. But without a deliberate bias in favour of the large areas of the continent we will continue to have in this chamber far too much political pressure from the representatives who come from the capital cities. The Governor-General, in his Speech, spoke of proposed amendments to the Representation Act and the Commonwealth Electoral Act. This matter touches me quite closely because in the last Parliament it was proposed, under an earlier redistribution scheme, to eliminate my seat of Gwydir. The changes to the Representation Act which are now forecast will prevent that absurdity from being perpetrated. It would be absurd to see the number of members in this chamber reduced, because of a mathematical formula, at a time when the population of Australia is increasing so rapidly. Therefore, I have no argument at all with the forecast changes to the Representation Act.
However, the changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act are significant. The major change envisaged involves giving the electoral commissioners an injunction to observe trends in population changes. If those words mean anything, they mean the concentration of people in the cities. So we are to have political representation following at an accelerated rate the concentration of people in the capital cities. I say this in sorrow, but not in despair. If it is not acceptable to have a bias in favour of the wider areas of Australia in representation in this chamber, then we must find some other means of achieving political representation for the areas which need development. It has been proved in the past that development follows political representation.
So I look to the Senate in order to obtain adequate representation of the areas which have a potential for development. I do not know whether it is possible for senators :o be allocated specific regions of States. It is quite apparent that senators^ drawn from the larger States have too big a task to carry out. If it were possible for them to be allocated regions within the larger States - say, three regions in New South Wales, three in Queensland and two or three in Western Australia - we would have a kind of representation of the undeveloped or yettobedeveloped areas of the continent which would be very desirable.
However, whether this be possible or not, I am sure that the ultimate solution is the creation of new States. The creation of new States has been discussed in this chamber over a long period. There are some formidable obstacles in the way of creating new States. I recognize those obstacles and concede that they would be difficult to overcome. But if we believe in decentralization we must believe in the creation of selfgoverning States as the essential first step towards achieving decentralization of industry and people. The principal obstacle is the fact that it is said to be impossible for the Commonwealth successfully to carry a referendum throughout Australia if there is a substantial amount of opposition to the proposal contained in the referendum. In the case of new States we could expect a substantial degree of opposition to come from the State Parliaments and from vested interests in the States. The degree of opposition that would come from the Labour Party is a moot point because, as yet, nobody has been able to fathom what is the Labour Party’s policy with regard to new States. Its policy, as propounded so far by various spokesmen, has been of a most ambiguous character. It is interesting to note that even in the course of the last debate on this subject in this chamber in October, 1961, the present leader of the Australian Labour Party and his deputy differed on some paints. One would agree to a referendum being held on one basis and the other would not. So we cannot say with any certainty what the Labour Party’s attitude would be towards a referendum held on the issue of new States. But if there is some degree of opposition to a referendum a doubt is created in the public mind and the public votes against the proposal contained in the referendum. That has been past experience and there is no reason to believe that it would be any easier to carry a referendum in the future.
Another obstacle to the creation of new States is said to be the multiplication of parliamentarians and the increased cost of appointing top administrative officers which could be involved. Those are problems. Another obstacle which is frequently cited is the extreme difficulty which would be encountered in arriving at a fair solution to the problem of dividing the commitments of the new State and the old State - the problem of deciding what would be the obligations of the new State and what obligations would remain with the old State. These are said to be insuperable obstacles. If we really believe in decentralization and if we really believe that the creation of new States is the way to decentralization, we must be prepared to slay dragons. There must be ways of overcoming the obstacles. If we cannot surmount them, then we must go around them.
I would look, first, at the possibility of the Commonwealth’s taking over some of the functions of the States. Ever since the introduction of uniform taxation, the area of State sovereignty has been gradually whittled down. This year we have taken a large chunk out of State sovereignty. The Commonwealth is moving in a large way into the spheres of education and housing. If we believe in federalism and if we believe that this is a matter which should be tidied up once and for all, we should bring this problem out into the open and have it discussed by a convention or a commission in order to determine how it would be best for the functions of the States to be allotted and how it would be best for the functions of the Commonwealth to be limited. In this way I am sure we would put an end to the gradual erosion of State functions. We would have a strengthening of federation. We would have a strengthening of this Parliament. But we would also make it possible to carry a referendum successfully on the issue of carving the Commonwealth into a dozen more States.
This is a very complex matter. This is not the time to argue it in detail but I feel sure that, if the problem were approached with a spirit of determination, ways would be found of achieving what we aspire to in Australia - a fully developed and efficient economy. The inevitability of gradualness is a very useful slogan to adopt at times but, in this connexion, if we allow things to drift as they are drifting it will not be long before Australia is nothing more than a colony, unable to defend itself and unable to speak for itself in the councils of the world.
-I call the honorable member for Port Adelaide and remind the House that this will be the honorable member’s maiden speech.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I would be obliged if you would convey to Mr. Speaker my congratulations on his re-election to the high office that he holds. I am certain that his great experience and great sense of fair play will maintain the dignity of this House on a very high plane.
I wish to express my thanks to the electors of Port Adelaide for the magnificent Labour vote which they extended to me and at the same time to assure them that, as their representative in this House, 1 will apply myself to the job on a full-time basis to the best of my ability. It is a pity that the populace of Australia as a whole did not have the political good sense of the electors of Port Adelaide.
On behalf of the people of Port Adelaide - I feel sure that in this instance I speak for all of them - I convey sincere appreciation to my predecessor, Mr. Albert Thompson, for the outstanding public service that he has rendered both to the South Australian Parliament and to this Federal Parliament over a long period of years. As honorable members on both sides of the House well know, Mr. Thompson is a man of the highest calibre. He is a man of solid religious principles and great moral courage. He has served the electorate of Port Adelaide and the people of Australia honestly and fearlessly. I extend to him and his good lady our best wishes for a long, happy, healthy and well-earned retirement.
While I stand four-square with my colleagues on this side of the House in their criticisms of the Government’s plans, in the time allotted to me now I desire to make a personal appeal to the Government on a few issues not included in His Excellency’s Speech which I believe to be of the utmost importance. I might add at this stage that there is an old but true saying that many times useful advice comes from the most unexpected quarter. Consequently I hope that all, or at least some, of my thoughts will find fertile soil in the Government’s ranks.
The first issue that I raise with the Government is automation. What, if anything, is being done at the government level to ensure that the great benefits to be obtained from this industrial technique are being properly shared by all sections of the community? For this or any other nation to progress every one willing and able to work should be found a job, not only from the humane and moral stand-point but also because of the cold, hard fact that industry can continue to progress only while the populace has the wherewithal to purchase the goods and services available. So far, unfortunately, in countries where automation has made, inroads there is clear evi dence that while output has increased out of sight employment is falling. This social problem has been left to solve itself. In America, for instance, an executive of the Ford Motor Company told the United States Congress Joint Economic Committee in 1955-
In the forward march of technological advances whole new industries are being created which will provide new job markets for all industrial workers.
Mr. Ralph Cordner, president of General Electric, told the same committee -
From all that we can foresee, it appears that there will be a shortage of men and women to fill the work opportunities of the following decade.
These and similar predictions have since been proved entirely wrong, as can be seen from the fact that in 1960 the motor industry in America produced 500,000 more passenger cars than it did in 1953 and the same number of trucks and buses as it did in that year with 172,000 fewer production workers. While total manufacturing employment fell by 800,000 from 1953 to 1960, output increased by 17 per cent.
This trend is evident not only in manufacturing industry, as is disclosed by a United States Department of Labour study of private industry offices which found that one year after the installation of computers in eighteen offices employment had fallen by 15 per cent. Automation in America has also reached out into the nation’s retailing and service operations. Devices such as automatic sales clerks, automatic law clerks and the like are affecting employment opportunities in these fields. Some honorable members may ask, “ What is wrong with that? “ So far as increased production is concerned, that is good. But it is the other side of the problem that concerns me and should concern the Government.
The social problem is a complex one as we have no pattern to guide us and the answer may be difficult to find. Perhaps as a first step the Government may be prepared to support a shorter working week or a guaranteed annual wage in selected industries in which employment is affected by automation, and at the same time establish special trade schools to teach displaced workers new skills. Other ideas too may be canvassed, but in the first instance I believe that the Government should establish some authority to watch the position closely
I therefore respectfully suggest to the Government that a section of the Department of Labour and National Service be established as a permanent organization, equipped to deal with the effects of automation and mechanization, and to co-ordinate the remedial measures that must be taken to replace labour and overcome the social problems involved. Such a section should establish an advisory committee consisting of representatives of the trade union movement, employer organizations and Federal and State governments. When problems concerning any particular industry are involved representatives from that industry on an employer-employee basis should be co-opted. It seems to me that the only persons not affected by automation are managing directors and politicians. Perhaps if automation entered these spheres something would be done speedily along the lines I have suggested.
I now wish to refer to a particularly sad problem in the field of social services - the unfortunate plight of married age pensioners whose wives have not reached pensionable age. In the district of Port Adelaide we have a large number of unfortunate people in this category. In most instances the men have received all the hard knocks and setbacks that society can give. During their working lives most of them, being unskilled or semi-skilled, have been the first out of work and the last to be re-employed every time the economy has become unbalanced. Now in the evening of their lives they and their wives are expected to exist on a mere pittance until the wives reach the age of 60 years. The vast majority of these men have been good honest citizens and good husbands and fathers. Many of them are exservicemen. To me their present plight represents a standing disgrace to Australia. I urge the Government to reconstruct its social services programme to provide a better outlook for people in this sad category.
During the last few months I have noticed in the press reports that several overseas motor corporations contemplate commencing assembly operations in Australia. While I have no objection to this, provided the country is able to accommodate them satisfactorily, I believe that the appropriate Minister should watch the position very closely. The motor industry, while buoyant and flourishing at present, is easily affected by economic changes. The slightest setback to the economy seems to react quickly and heavily on this industry and its associates, with resultant heavy retrenchments. Having in mind the Government’s record of creating every few years an economic change, I strongly put to the appropriate Minister that should the need arise in the future to curtail or cut back vehicle production due to economic circumstances, effective steps be taken to ensure that these proposed new assembly companies, whose outlay to commence business is only token in comparison with the costs of complete car manufacture, whose employment potential is likewise, and whose operations will affect our overseas balances, will be the Government’s first target.
I now turn to the problem of local government in relation to road construction and maintenance, a problem that is insoluble unless some additional finance is forthcoming from the Commonwealth Government. I understand that the appropriate Minister has had discussions on this important issue with the lord mayors and, as a consequence, it is hoped that the new Commonwealth Aid Roads Act will provide new life and hope for local government bodies.
The district of Port Adelaide has its own particular problem in relation to road construction and maintenance because as well as providing the major sea port in South Australia the district also includes some of the best beaches in Adelaide. Accordingly our roads, particularly the main highways, are used more by outside industry transferring goods to and from the docks and by outside people going to and from the beaches for pleasure and relaxation, than they are by local ratepayers from whom the whole of the local government revenue is drawn. As these outside industries and people all contribute to the Commonwealth Government by way of the various taxation mediums, we in Port Adelaide believe that in our particular case a greater share of federal revenue should be granted to us to enable us to provide the essential road works for the use of outside industry and people who do not contribute directly to our local government bodies.
To further elaborate on this matter I should like to read some extracts from a letter I received from His Worship, the Mayor of Woodville, an important suburb in my electorate, which points out some of the real difficulties our local government bodies are confronted with on the issue of road construction and maintenance -
The demand for roadway and traffic works within the municipality has changed dramatically during the last few years. Instead of the normal requirements for annual maintenance of our main thoroughfares and the development of private streets as and when required, we hove been suddenly confronted with the necessity of completely reconstructing some roads to higher standards; of installing traffic signals and channelisation schemes; of purchasing areas for off-street parking and improving street lighting. We have been faced with the necessity of appointing staff to administer road traffic regulations and to police peak-hour parking bans. We can see our own citizens driven away from local shopping centres to supermarket developments because of traffic congestion.
Yet we look ahead knowing that within the next few years traffic volumes will double and then double again as our metropolis expands and our vehicle numbers increase . . .
So far as this Council is concerned it has many main roads passing through its area, the most important of which is the Port Road which is the link between the city and the chief shipping port. Traffic studies have been made and even on this road alone a considerable amount of channelisation of traffic and the provision of traffic lights is urgently required . . .
Whilst it is admitted that Local Government is a creation of the State and controls the legislation given to Local Government it is pointed out that because of restrictions of the borrowing powers in the Local Government Act and provided further that the assessment of the Municipality does not increase to any extent that by 1971 Council will have taken up the whole of the loan moneys permitted by that Act and will be unable unless it receives some assistance in the form suggested in this letter to complete this fifteen year programme.
I trust that the Government will accede to the request of the lord mayors and that from the increased grant, the Port Adelaide councils will receive additional amounts to cover their particular circumstances. Before concluding on this matter, I would point out, particularly to country members, that it is not the desire of the metropolitan local government bodies to obtain a greater proportion of the current grant to the detriment of rural areas. Their aim is to obtain an additional amount over and above the present aid roads grant.
During this debate, I have been struck by the number of Government supporters who have expressed the view that communism and Communists in Australia constitute the big danger to this country. At the same time, they have endeavoured to portray the Labour Party, in part or wholly, as either Communist associates, Communist sympathizers or Communist stooges. In reply, I ask all Government supporters to say what they have done personally - other than to smear the Labour Party - to eliminate communism in Australia. The facts are perfectly clear. On the one hand, the Government parties have confined themselves to making speeches against communism. For political gain, they have endeavoured to associate Labour members with Communists.
On the other hand, the Australian Labour Party and its members consistently over the years have taken the fight into the industrial battlefield. They have really tried to defeat internal communism at its source. This is the truth, and every Government supporter knows it. If Government supporters are really sincere about the dangers of internal communism, they should pray every night that the Australian Labour Party will remain a strong and virile force because, without an active Labour Party, the Communist influence in Australia would be much stronger and more powerful.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Cleaver) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Roberton, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Over the years, the Liberal-Country Party Government has had an outstanding record in the field of social services and, indeed, can take the major credit for the beneficence of our social service laws to-day. For the past decade we have quite properly been concentrating our efforts and resources in improving mainly the income-maintenance benefits, where the need has been greatest. I refer, of course, to our age, invalid and widow pensions and unemployment and sickness benefit schemes which have now been developed to a level of which we are justifiably proud. Progress in those fields has by no means been completed, but with so much now achieved, the opportunity arises to turn our attention to child endowment which, in our whole system of social services, touches on more homes in Australia than any other benefit. Let me say in passing that it was the Liberal-Country Party Government which was responsible for the introduction of child endowment on a Commonwealth basis in 1941 and for the extension of the scheme to include the first child in 1950. It is fitting that it should be the Liberal-Country Party Government that again brings before this House measures to liberalize and further extend the scheme.
In this connexion, may I be permitted to interpolate here that my attention has been drawn to a book entitled “Our Pacific Neighbours “ by Professor N. D. Harper, of the University of Melbourne, which has been set for Queensland senior high school students for the current year. In it the learned professor asserts, inter alia, that child endowment was introduced by a Labour government. That, like most of his references to social services, is lamentably -if not maliciously - wrong. Perhaps Queensland members interested in education will be able to inform the senior high school students in that State of that and any other imperfection in their text book.
As honorable members will recall our proposals were outlined by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in the joint policy speech on 12th November, last year. In fulfilment of the policy as then stated, it is my privilege, as Minister for Social Services, to introduce the bill now before us. Mr. Speaker, this bill has three main purposes: It increases from 10s. to 15s. a week the rate of child endowment for third and subsequent children under sixteen years of age in families; it provides for the first time in the history of child endowment in this country for the payment of 15s. a week to the parents of full-time students aged sixteen to 21 years who are attending schools, colleges, or universities and who are not employed; and it increases from 10s. to 15s. a week the rate of endowment for children who are inmates of institutions approved for child endowment purposes.
Under our existing laws the rate of endowment is 5s. a week for the first or only child under the age of sixteen years and, irrespective of the size of the family, 10s. a week for each other child under the age of sixteen in the custody, care and control of the endowee, usually the mother. Thus where there are, for example, three such children in a family endowment is paid at the rate of 25s. a week, increasing to 35s. a week for four children, 45s. a week for five, and so on. Under the bill, endowment will be payable at the rate of 30s. a week where there are three children under sixteen years of age and will increase by a further 15s. a week for each additional child. It will not be necessary for endowees with three or more children under the age of sixteen years to apply for this increase which will be paid by the Department of Social Services to all eligible persons from information available in existing records.
The proposal to increase to 15s. a week the rate of endowment payable to children under sixteen years in approved institutions needs little explanation other than the fact that before a decision was reached I addressed a letter to the Premiers of the States seeking an assurance that if child endowment paid to children were increased to the maximum rate of 15s. a week there would be no compensating reduction in State expenditure on child welfare. Honorable members may be interested in the text of that letter. It was expressed in the following terms: -
My dear Premier,
Perhaps you will be good enough to remember that, in the course of his Policy Speech, the Right Hon. the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies K.T. C.H. Q.C. M.P., said, inter alia: -
Child endowment will be raised to 15s. per week for third and subsequent children 1 am happy to say that it has been the practice to pay child endowment for all children in institutions at the rate applicable to second and subsequent children of a family - i.e. at 10s. a week.
There are currently some 25,000 children in institutions throughout the Commonwealth for whom child endowment is being paid at this higher rate involving an expenditure of some £663,000 p.a.
I am tolerably certain that 1 could get the Government to agree to extend the provisions of the amending legislation - which will increase child endowment to 15s. a week for third and subsequent children in a family - to include all children in institutions if I were in a position to give an assurance that the increase would be used to improve the circumstances of the children and that State expenditure on child welfare would not be reduced as a direct consequence.
The additional cost to the Commonwealth would be some £331,000 p.a. and the total expenditure would therefore approximate £1,000,000 p.a. on the basis of the present number of children in institutions. 1 should be greatly indebted to you if you could help me in this matter by indicating that any increase in child endowment paid for children in institutions would be used to the exclusive advantage of the children concerned.
That is the text of the letter I addressed to the six Premiers. I am happy to say that I have received unequivocal assurances from each of the State Premiers that there will be no compensating reduction in State expenditure on child welfare and that the increased endowment will be used to the exclusive advantage of the children concerned. It is sufficient to add that this measure will be of great benefit to the many less fortunate children in religious, charitable and government institutions throughout the Commonwealth. As in the case of families the increase will be made available by the Department of Social Services without the necessity for an application to be made by the institutions.
Mr. Speaker, the effect of the two measures which I have just outlined will be to increase by 5s. a week the rate of endowment payable in respect of over 900,000 children under sixteen years in 520,000 families. In addition it will increase by 5s. a week the rate payable in respect of some 25,500 children in institutions. The benefit of the measures will therefore spread widely throughout the community and without doubt will be welcomed by the larger family groups and the institution authorities.
Turning now to the proposal relating to student children, may I first explain that under the existing provisions of the Social Services Act endowment ceases to be payable when a child reaches sixteen years of age. The scheme is thus confined to providing some assistance towards the financial burdens imposed by the rearing of children up to that age. As such, of course, it has always occupied an important place in our pattern of social security and has been of assistance in maintaining standards of living in countless thousands of families throughout Australia. With the growing demands, particularly over recent years, for the greater development of our human resources to match the needs of progress made in technological and other fields, the advancement of our growing generation to higher levels of learning has become not only a matter of national importance but also a matter of great concern to all parents conscious of their responsibilities for the education and future of their children. Mr. Speaker, it is in recognition of these facts, and as one of several measures aimed at raising the level of education of our young people, that the Government proposes to extend the child endowment scheme to assist parents who desire their children to receive a higher education. To this end the bill before the House provides for the payment of endowment at the rate of 15s. a week to the parents or guardians of students aged 16 to 21 years who are receiving full-time education at schools, colleges or universities and who are not employed. Students who are inmates of institutions and who are undergoing full-time education will also come within this provision.
As. in the case of endowment for children under sixteen years, there will be no means test on the payment of endowment for student children. The receipt of a scholarship or other educational grant by a student will not affect the payment of endowment to his parent or guardian. The prime qualification will be that the child is a fulltime student. Part-time employment is not necessarily inconsistent with full-time studies, especially if undertaken outside normal education hours or during vacations. The bill gives the Director-General of Social Services a discretion to direct that employment may be disregarded and where a fulltime student is employed the case will be looked at and treated on its merits.
Full-time employment, being incompatible with full-time studies, will be a disqualifying factor. Bearing in mind that the purpose of this payment will be to assist parents with their educational responsibilities to their children, full-time students who are undertaking their studies - other than secondary school studies - as a condition of employment, and who are receiving a normal wage or salary, will not be covered by this new scheme. This will also apply to cadets, apprentices, trainee teachers and nurses and others who receive education and training as part of their employment or who are bound to an employer or future employer.
As in the case of endowment for children under sixteen years, payment will be made to the person having the custody, care and control of a student. A wide interpretation will be placed on the term “custody, care and control “ and in most cases payment will be made to the mother. As the Department of Social Services has no information available from which to arrange this payment it will be necessary for qualified persons to lodge applications with the department. Application forms are available at all post offices and at offices of the Department of Social Services. It is proposed to make payment by cheque at twelve-weekly intervals.
Existing endowees who have a child turning sixteen years of age after 9th March, 1964, will be invited by the department to apply for student endowment if after reaching sixteen the child will be continuing with full-time studies. On lodgment of a claim qualified persons will be paid the higher rate of endowment from the commencement of the endowment period after the child reached the age of 16 years. This will mean that there will be a break in the continuity of payments in respect of the child. It is estimated that the parents or guardians of some 140,000 students will directly benefit from the provisions of the bill relating to endowment for student children.
That concludes the outline of the main provisions of the bill. It remains only to mention two subsidiary items. First, in pursuance of our responsibilities to protect public moneys the opportunity is being taken to include in the bill a provision requiring persons in receipt of endowment to notify the Department of Social Services within fourteen days of the occurrence of certain events affecting their continued eligibility for endowment. Notification will be required where a child ceases to be in the custody, care and control of the endowee; leaves Australia; dies; or marries; or if a student child, ceases to receive fulltime education or commences employment. This provision will overcome a serious defect in the existing law.
Secondly, to ensure that the benefits of the bill will accrue to eligible people as nearly as possible from the beginning of the school year, provision is made for both the increase for third and subsequent children and endowment for student children to commence from 14th January, 1964, for those who were qualified on that date, which is the beginning of the endowment period in which schools generally opened. This will enable the necessary arrangements for payment to be completed in time for the first payment to be made on endowment pay-day 7th April, 1964, with twelve weeks’ arrears. For those who become qualified later than 14th January, payment will commence from the beginning of the next endowment period after the date on which they become so qualified.
Honorable members will be interested in the costs involved in the measures I have outlined. First I should mention that quite apart from this bill, expenditure on child endowment for 1963-64 has been estimated to reach £76,600,000 which is an increase of £8,900,000 over the expenditure for the previous year. This increase will occur because of the natural increase in the number of children and because an extra pay-day, including an extra pay-day for endowees receiving payments by quarterly credits to bank accounts, falls due in this current year. It is estimated that the increase to 15s. a week for third and subsequent children in families and for children in approved institutions will increase expenditure by approximately £12,100,000 in a full year of which approximately £5,700,000 will be spent in the current year. Provision of endowment for student children is estimated to cost £5,600,000 in a full year and £2,600,000 for the balance of this year. The total cost of the proposals is therefore approximately £18,000,000.
Mr. Speaker, I mentioned earlier that child endowment for student children is but one of several measures the Government proposes as a means of providing assistance in raising the level of education of our younger generation. It is not my intention to discuss the other measures which will be brought before the House in due time and of which I am sure most honorable members will be aware. It is fitting, however, to conclude my remarks by reminding the House that financial asistance by the Commonwealth in respect of children is not confined to the payment of child endowment. The Commonwealth provides assistance at a uniform rate of 15s. a week for each child under sixteen years of age in the care of a person receiving an invalid or widow’s pension or an unemployment, sickness or special benefit under the Social Services Act or a tuberculosis allowance under the Tuberculosis Act. The same amount is also payable for each child in the care of a permanently incapacitated age pensioner. In the case of children receiving full-time education who are wholly or substantially dependent on a pensioner, the allowance or additional pension, as the case may be, of 15s. a week is continued up to the end of the year in which the student attains eighteen years. This also applies in respect of a student child in the care of a person in receipt of a tuberculosis allowance. These payments will not be affected by the proposed endowment for student children.
Apart from this direct form of assistance there are also various forms of indirect assistance made available by the Commonwealth to parents with eligible children. For example, in arriving at a person’s taxable income, a deduction of £91 is allowed for the first child under sixteen years and £65 for each other such child.
An additional deduction of £91 is allowed where the taxpayer has a student child between sixteen and 21 years, plus a deduction of up to £150 to cover the education expenses of the student. The Commonwealth scholarships scheme also provides different kinds of assistance to meet the expenses associated with the education of children.
The passage of the present bill will represent another notable advance in the history of social services in this country. It will make a further contribution by the Government to the incomes of larger families and thereby help to build for them a more healthy and secure future. It will, as the Prime Minister has said, assist parents to meet their educational responsibilities - responsibilities that grow heavier each year with the march of progress. With expenditure from the National Welfare Fund already expected to exceed £411,000,000 this year, we believe the further £18,000,000 a year now recommended as an additional permanent and increasing commitment is in keeping with the principles of financial responsibility and good government in a world where we must advance or stagnate. We believe, above all, that the distribution I have outlined will meet with public approval and be of great benefit not only to all recipients but ultimately to the whole community. Mr. Speaker, I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Daly) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 426).
.- This debate has now extended into the third week of the sitting of the new Parliament, and it is my understanding that I have the privilege of making the final speech before it comes to a conclusion. At this stage, no doubt like every one else who has spoken to-day, I still rise with the rather pious hope that there might be some word I can say which has not been said previously. Most of us like to observe the courtesies that relate to these debates on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, and I link myself with others as I nod in your direction, Mr. Speaker, and convey congratulations to you and our gratitude for your leadership.
Then I quickly turn, as others have done, to the newly elected members on both sides of the chamber and have a few words to say by way of encouragement. We know that, on the other side of the House there are men who have come here, just as our colleagues have come, with eagerness and with gratitude, and we have been impressed with their enthusiasm and the quality they have presented as new members. So, to them, as well as our own colleagues, we express our thanks and our words of encouragement.
But permit me to say that, as far as the team that has come to swell the Government ranks is concerned, we who have been here for more than a few years feel that here we have a splendid team of men who can reinforce the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) as leader of the Government parties in this thought: While he was strong before, with plenty of experience in the Government ranks, here, now, with the addition of men who are highly qualified and who have expressed themselves so outstandingly in their maiden speeches, he should feel that the strong has become stronger. The maiden speeches have been noteworthy. I have also noticed the keenness with which our new colleagues have entered into committee activity which, of course, has now commenced in the new parliamentary session. We would extend to every new member, from whichever side he has come, the very sincere wish that he will find deep and abiding satisfaction in his parliamentary representation.
One thing has been done by the officers of the House to which passing reference has been made and which I suggest to the House should be of outstanding help to the new members. I refer to the short description of business and procedures produced by the Clerk of the House and those associated with him. I find, as I think other members have done, that this is something which the House has needed for many a long year. Those who have had the opportunity already in the busy opening weeks of the parliamentary session might have been able to glance through its pages and to assess that here we have the result of many years of special training and experience which have been the privilege of the clerks. In the absence of an orientation week for new members, I would like to suggest that there were many of us who had no help of this kind when we came here. There was no handy book of reference. We found, as is usually found in the parliamentary system, that the new member finds out best by his own searching. Here I do want to underline the value of the work which has been done by our Clerk and the Clerk Assistant. It is my understanding that this work has been done at great sacrifice to these men. I want to suggest that it simplifies quite an involved procedure for those who are new and even for those who have been here for any length of time. It does away with so much of the verbiage of the Standing Orders, and it will undoubtedly help to train more quickly better members of Parliament. With those thoughts in mind, I am sure I do not exaggerate, Mr. Speaker. I am sure I have your personal approval when I suggest that the House is greatly in debt to the Clerk and those associated with him.
Now, more on the party political level, I move on to say a couple of things in passing about our friends of the Opposition. Some one has said there should be no party politics, but even in the final speech of the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, there should be an answer to some of the things which have been said this very day. One of the new members on the opposite side tried in his maiden speech to-night to defend that which was not defensible. I was amazed when the honorable member for Bonython (Mr.
Nicholls), coming from South Australia, tried to use his own membership of the team of 36 faceless men to defend that which has been so openly criticized - a criticism which has been endorsed by the vote of the people at the recent election on 30th November, last. I want to say that the mind of the people was clear in that vote. The people on the opposite side of this House can keep on talking if they wish, but they will not meet with very much success, I am sure, even with the passage of years, in maintaining their present attitude.
I also want to draw attention to the fact that when we start again to think of the 36 faceless men, the leaders of the Australian Labour Party, our minds must, of necessity, go back to the things said in this House in opposition to the claims of the Labour Party about the establishment of the United States naval communication station at North West Cape. Just recently. in my own State of Western Australia there was an annual Labour Day procession and I found in the press an apt reference to what was noticeable last year and the contrast this year. This very procession indicates the change which the Labour Party has found it has had to bring about because of the assessment of the voting public. The people have not appreciated and certainly have by no means endorsed the attitude of the Australian Labour Party to the United States naval communication base. Last year we had something to say about the banners which were displayed in the Western Australian Labour Day procession. While the demonstrations have been modified, a few days ago in a procession a banner was carried with the following words on it, “ No U.S. base in W.A.”. There was another doubtful one which bore the words, “ Trade and friendship is our best method of defence “. That, of course, will give rise to a very definite question mark in the minds of many people, because it seems to have a familiar ring about it. I direct attention to this matter to point out that the Australian Labour Party must put its house in order. There must be a cleaning up process.
Another new member of the House in a maiden speech to-night criticized the Government parties, as have so many of his colleagues, for what is called a smear campaign during the recent general election. I am amazed that the members of the
Australian Labour Party should follow this line with such insistence. One might think from their attitude that there was no scope for criticism of any of their propaganda or campaigning. We know that suggestion to be perfectly wrong.
If I had adequate time at my disposal to-night, Mr. Speaker, I should deal fully with some of the features of this country’s sound economy, as confirmation of the policy speech of the Prime Minister and of what supporters of the Government parties said during the election campaign. We have only to turn to the “Treasury Information Bulletin “, the most recent White Paper on the subject, to obtain the facts. I believe that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) always endeavours to be genuine, but notwithstanding his claims to-night about the problems of the Australian economy the logical reader surely can find in the statistics that are published in the bulletin the answers to all that the honorable member put forward.
I do not want to detain the House for any length of time, and I shall refer only briefly to the information on bank lending. I remind honorable members that the statistics relating to savings bank deposits indicate the increasing savings ability of our people. At the end of December last, savings bank deposits amounted to £2,113,000,000, representing an increase of no less than £143,000,000 in the first half of this financial year. Other aspects of the bulletin relate to loans approved for housing - to savings bank lending for housing. At page 17 there is a reference to new capital raisings, which is a matter of great encouragement. I shall refer only to the improvement for the September quarter of last year compared with the preceding quarter. Capital raisings increased from £32,800,000 to £46,800,000.
I am one of those who think that the wealth and the investment of our people are reflected not only by deposits in savings banks but also by life assurance. This Government has again and again encouraged our people to follow this line of investment because of the taxation concessions that we have been glad to approve. In the bulletin, we find reference to the fact that for the four months to October of last year sums insured under new policies issued by Australian life assurance com panies totalled £386,000,000, compared with £339,000,000 in the corresponding period of 1962. I suggest that those figures should give great satisfaction to the Government. How contrary they are to the gloomy fore-, casts of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Our balance of payments situation has been referred to on a number of occasions during the debate. Our overseas balances now stand at £795,000,000, one of the highest figures in this respect that we have ever seen.
In the Governor-General’s Speech which we shall shortly be acknowledging there are references to education and the scholarships scheme which the Government announced as a part of its policy. During the debate many honorable members on the Opposition side have criticized the Government for failing to introduce the scholarships scheme immediately. I admit that, on first thought, I was concerned lest there should be young people who, having heard of the scheme last November and having discussed it with their parents, were hopeful that they would be rewarded with scholarships on the results of their examinations last year. My first thought was to raise my voice and say: “ Where there’s a will there’s a way. Perhaps something can be done.” But I was wise enough to seek out more information before I made an accusation in line with that of members of the Opposition. I want to make my position quite clear on this matter. I am satisfied that many injustices would have arisen had there been hasty action along the lines suggested. Fortunately, the Government’s policy speech did not promise anything in that direction. It simply indicated that 12,500 new scholarships in the secondary and technical education fields would be made available.
The benefits of the scheme are most attractive. They should hold out great encouragement to the young people and families concerned. There was a clear indication that the scholarships would be awarded on a competitive basis. We find, perhaps to our surprise, that the various education systems of the State Governments are widely divergent and that there could not be a true competitive examination system at the moment. It would have been virtually impossible, on any fair basis, even with a minor portion of the announced total. to have done anything in the first few weeks or months of the new education year. Undoubtedly, a carefully prepared plan will be evolved during future months, and I am sure that at a later stage the House will endorse it and that it will afford encouragement to all of us. I know that many genuine requests have come from members of the Opposition for the scholarships to be made available to the youth of Australia.
In the remaining time available to me I want to express my concern, as a Western Australian representative, at the fact that one of my colleagues on this side, who is a representative of South Australia, should recently have had some critical remarks to make about the magnificent developmental programme in the north-west of Western Australia. It is extremely easy to be a critic, but it can be fundamentally dangerous to criticize without being in full possession of the facts, or without having undertaken sufficient research to indicate whether or not one is on firm ground. I want to express my disappointment that the outburst should have been made. I support the members of the Western Australian Parliament who have been quick to attack the unsound statements to which I have referred. The work that is being done in the north-west of Western Australia is a tremendous challenge. I think that the support already given by the Commonwealth Government is an endorsement of the faith and imagination of the Western Australian Government. In the western State the task of developing the north has been accepted as a challenge in engineering, in agricultural science and practice, in the problems of transportation, and also in overcoming the difficulties associated with life in tropical areas.
I suggest that there has been awakening of the public and the official conscience on the need to develop the north of Australia, not only the north of Western Australia. The Prime Minister stated in his policy speech, and the statement was endorsed in the Governor-General’s Speech that is now before us, that there would be further development of the north, with a readjustment of the organization of the Department of National Development. I am sure that that was one of the features of the policy which attracted the support and the votes of a considerable section of the Australian people. - I.want -to stress that if we. limit our thinking on northern development, we shall fail. If we stumble over the expenditure of a few million pounds, if we forget the vision, if we forget that nothing worth while can really be accomplished unless we spend £16,000,000, £20,000,000 or perhaps £30,000,000, we will find that restrictions on the programme of development will inevitably bring failure and disappointment. When we attempt something big we have to think big and act big. We must be ready to spend a large amount of money because imagination, fertile land, water, power, finance and effort are the ingredients for this, probably the greatest development scheme that Western Australia has ever faced.
That is the concept of the Ord River scheme. Close settlement and intense cultivation, united with the existing pastoral industry of that area will convert the East Kimberleys into a vital, integrated primary and secondary producing area.
I want to draw particular attention to a pictorial review of Western Australia produced in one of the very commendable printing establishments of our State and supported, no doubt, by the Western Australian Government. This is one of the finest productions that we have seen dealing with recent development and activity in Western Australia. Here, in this excellent booklet, are these words -
The future of the Kimberleys has captured the imagination of many eminent men. Some observers consider that the measures now being taken have set in train a century of progressive development in one of the areas where Australia needs it most.
I stress that this is the concept. This is the task. This is the view of some of Australia’s most eminent and prominent men. Why then, would one of my Senate colleagues from another State, at a time when the Western Australian Government is making this appeal for another very substantial grant to further this work, say that this is not worth while? And so I make a plea that we in this chamber, whether we be on the Opposition side or on the Government side, should recognize that we have laid our hands to a tremendous project. We have already spent some millions of pounds of Commonwealth and State Government money on it, but this is only the start. Even if, in the long run, difficulties that we cannot see- to-day are encountered) let us be big enough to recognize that any task that is large and full of challenge must have some difficulties.
I trust that my colleague the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) will give us all the encouragement and the scientific assistance that he and his department can offer. I hope that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), when he meets the Premier of Western Australia again later this week, will listen sympathetically to all that is suggested. I hope there will be no unnecessary whittling down of this plan for another £30,000,000 to be spent in this area. In other words, I claim this last few moments of a very important debate - a debate which is indicating the pattern of this year’s activity on the part of the Federal Government - to urge that we give our endorsement to one of the finest and most challenging schemes of development that this country has ever known.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Presentation of Address-in-Reply.
– I shall ascertain when it will be convenient for His Excellency the Governor-General to receive the Address-in-Reply and will notify honorable members accordingly.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent four customs tariff bilk-
being presented and read a first time together and one motion being moved without delay and one question being put in regard to, respectively, the second readings, the committee’s report stage, and the third readings, of all the bills together, and
the consideration of the bills in one Committee of the Whole.
Bills presented by Mr. Fairhall, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bills be now read a second time.
We have before us for discussion a bill to amend the Customs Tariff 1933-1963 and three complementary tariff preference bills. These bills will enact the Customs Tariff Proposals which are now before the House, namely, Customs Tariff Proposals Nos. 1 to 6, Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Proposals No. 1, Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals Nos. 1 to 4, and Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference) Proposals No. 1.
I think I should make it plain that these bills cover the items presented as proposals on 27th February and cover safflower seed and soy bean oils, synthetic organic pigments, timber, pillow-cases, weedicides and insecticides, iron and steel tube and pipe fittings, electric lamps, knives with forged stainless steel blades and syringes and needles.
Honorable members will recall that full documentation was distributed at the time the proposals were introduced into the House and additional copies of the documents are available if required.
I commend the bills to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr. J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.57 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
b asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The task of accurately reporting weather conditions on such a scale would involve the R.A.A.F. in the purchase of new specially equipped aircraft and the creation of a special weather squadron. Even a very modest plan of aerial reconnaissance for this purpose could only be undertaken at the expense of the operational efficiency of the R.A.A.F.
The R.A.A.F. will continue to provide assistance to the Bureau of Meteorology when it is practicable to do so without detriment to the service flying programme.
b asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. These are matters for the United States Government on which it would not be appropriate for me to comment.
d asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– I understand the honorable member’s questions refer to investigations into the Japanese tuna long-line method and the answers are as follows: -
n asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Civil Aviation. (Question No. 75.)
rns asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 March 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19640310_reps_25_hor41/>.