House of Representatives
19 August 1964

25th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lucock) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

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Dr J F Cairns:

– I ask the Prime Minister a question about questions that were placed on the notice paper in October last year and which were repeated on 5th March this year dealing with the Croatian Liberation Movement or Ustasha. I ask the Prime Minister whether he said in answer to a question that I asked on 14th April this year -

The matter of an answer to the question on the notice paper has been before me over thelast week or so. At the earliest possible moment, when I have satisfied myself as to the terms of the answer, I will make it available.

Is the right honorable gentleman aware that again on 12th May this year the AttorneyGeneral promised to provide information that was in his hands so that the Prime Minister could reply to these questions? I now ask: When will an answer or perhaps a report be made on these matters? In view of what he said on 14th April this year, will the Prime Minister explain the delay that has taken place in the matter?

Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– It seemed to me that this matter required a great deal of careful investigation. I am sure that the honorable member will agree with that view. I propose to make a comprehensive statement on the matter next week. It may not be made on Tuesday next but, if not, it will be made on Wednesday.

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Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– Has the Minister for the Army seen a report that naval and military experts regard as a complete failure the conversion of the “ Sydney “ to a fast troop-carrying transport? Has the Minister any information to give the House on this matter? What is the opinion of the Army?

Minister Assisting the Treasurer · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– I saw the report referred to by the honorable member. It is completely untrue. The Army regards the “ Sydney “ as a very valuable addition to our capacity to take fairly large numbers of men, stores and weapons over long distances at a fast speed. I have consulted my colleague, the Minister for the Navy, about this matter. The Navy denies ever expressing such a view.

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– I ask the Minister for

External Affairs a question. Last Wednesday I asked the Minister for Trade and Industry a question about the famine in India and the need to provide food to relieve distress in that country. The Minister for Trade and Industry promised to take the matter up with the Minister for External Affairs. I now ask whether the Minister for External Affairs has discussed this matter with the Minister for Trade and Industry. If he has, what does the Minister for External Affairs intend to do to help the people of India, who are suffering severely from hunger?If a decision has not been made, will the Minister give this matter his urgent attention while the Minister for Trade and Industry makes up his mind concerning my submissions about credit sales of wheat to India?

Minister for External Affairs · CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– Parts of this question could more properly be answered by my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry. Dealing with the matters under my administration, I say that there have been interdepartmental discussions and discussion between Ministers on all aspects of this subject. As at the present time, the Indian Government has not indicated that it needs aid in the form of an outright gift. That Government has made inquiries, which have been handled through the Australian Wheat Board, about obtaining certain supplies of wheat on extended terms. The information placed before me - this is the point on which my colleague could speak more precisely - is that the Australian Wheat Board has dealt with that request in a very generous and eminently reasonable manner, and that some supplies will be going forward to India.

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Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes:

– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, or the Minister for the Army, whether it would be possible to provide replies to Questions Nos. 219, 324, 365 and 333, which are now standing on the notice paper. One cannot ask without notice questions which are already on the notice paper. The information provided in reply to those questions would be of very great assistance to honorable members in the discussion of the defence programme in the debate on the Budget. Not having such information makes it much more difficult for us to talk as reasonably and sensibly as we should.


– I have not had the time to ascertain precisely to whom the relevant questions on the notice paper are addressed. All I can do is assure the honorable member that if these questions concern my Department the information will be provided before the debate on the defence estimates occurs.

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– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Was the matter of further assistance to the gold mining industry given any consideration when proposals for the Budget were being examined? If it was, does the fact that the Budget is silent in this regard mean that the Government considers that no additional assistance is required, or does it mean that the Government is not prepared to go beyond what is provided under the existing Act? If it does not mean that, has the Government any intention of providing further assistance in the near future?


– Honorable members will be aware that a policy of assistance to gold mining has been adopted by the Parliament and is currently in operation. Representations have been received from the industry. They are examined when they are received. This matter did form part of the general body of matters requiring consideration leading up to decisions on the Budget that I have just announced. In the result, the benefits which the Government felt able to provide at this time were limited to those of which details have already been conveyed to honorable gentlemen.

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– I ask the Minister for National Development whether the Australian Water Resources Council has recommended that a survey be made of water resources in the river systems of the whole of Australia. Is this important work to begin immediately and are funds readily available to finance it? Will the Minister take whatever steps are possible to ensure that adequate stream gauging work is done on the coastal rivers in the comparatively high rainfall areas where droughts cause great economic loss from time to time?

Minister for National Development · FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– As the honorable member will be aware, the Commonwealth Government recently agreed to step up quite considerably the expenditure on water resources assessment throughout Australia generally. This work was being undertaken by the State Governments, but it was decided that it should be accelerated. An amount of about £402,000 is included in this year’s Commonwealth Budget for the acceleration of the assessment of water resources throughout Australia. I am sure that this will lead to very much faster assessment and certainly to stream gauging in the areas to which the honorable member has referred.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army. Has the Department of the Army yet arrived at a decision concerning the possible date upon which it will proceed with the resumption of land in the Shoalwater Bay area of central Queensland?


– The answer to the honorable member’s question is: “ No “. However, I expect this matter to be considered by the Government in the very near future.

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– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for External Affairs regarding members of the United Nations who have not paid their arrears. Does the Minister recollect that the International Court of Justice gave a ruling two years ago on this question that the United Nations had been correct in assessing member nations for their share of the cost of peacekeeping operations in the Congo, and that the opinion of the court was adopted by the Seventeenth Session of the General Assembly in 1962? Have any of the defaulting nations yet paid thenarrears? If not, when is this question to be finally resolved and nations in arrears precluded from voting in the Assembly, particularly in view of the vote registered on the matter yesterday by the Congress of the United States of America?


– This problem is still under examination. The Secretary-General of the United Nations and officers of the Secretariat are attempting to reach a solution of it. I imagine that if at the time of the meeting of the General Assembly there are still unpaid arrears a move would be made by one member or another in the Assembly to get a determination of this issue. So far as the Australian Government is concerned, we hope that the nations who may bc in arrears will find some means of paying their due debts, and 1 think it would be a most unfortunate outcome if cither the membership or the powers of members within the United Nations were to be suspended or affected as a result of the present situation.

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– I preface a question to the Postmaster-General by directing his attention to the fact that in New Zealand annual telephone rentals range from £31 to £18 for business and from £16 to £12 10s. for residential connections; that all local calls are free of charge whilst trunk calls cost only 60 per cent, of our charges; that the connection fee is £5 and that public telephone calls cost only 2d. as compared with our charge of 6d. ls the PostmasterGeneral aware of these charges? If he is, why can they not be applied here? Will he arrange for a select committee of the Parliament to visit New Zealand and investigate the telephone system there with a view to its adoption in Australia? Finally, is the substantial difference in charges brought about by the New Zealand Government treating its Postal Department as a means of providing service to the public and not regarding it, as this Government treats our Postal Department, as a source of revenue?

Postmaster-General · PETRIE, QUEENSLAND · LP

– I think it is wrong to suggest that the Australian Government regards the Post Office as a mere source of revenue other than for the purpose of recouping itself for the services it pro vides, whether postal, telephone or telegraph. I suggest that there is a very substantial difference between the conditions in a country of the size of New Zealand and those in a country of the size of Australia. From north to south New Zealand would probably measure no more than the distance from Melbourne to Brisbane, and its width would perhaps be no greater than 200 miles. The problems associated with the establishment of telephone services in that area are considerably less than the problems in Australia, which has an area of three million square miles in which enormous distances have to be covered. I have only to refer to the distance between Adelaide and Darwin and mention the costs involved in providing a service over that great distance to show that there can be no comparison between basic costs in Australia and basic costs in New Zealand.

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– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the agitation in Sydney regarding the provision of an international airport, will the Minister ask the Minister for Civil Aviation in another place to receive a deputation from New South Wales and explain to that deputation that the people of Sydney may have their international airport but not the Opera House and four weeks’ annual leave for all as well?


– I shall refer the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Civil Aviation in another place. I might just comment that if the people of New South Wales get four weeks’ annual leave they will have more time to play the poker machines so that the Government of New South Wales may, after all, be able to afford this white elephant, the Opera House.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact that a Cabinet luncheon was held yesterday in honour of His Excellency, Dr. MacWhite, recently appointed Irish Ambassador to Australia? Has an Australian Ambassador to Ireland yet been appointed? If not, what are the reasons for the delay and how long will it be before the Government of Ireland has an opportunity to return the compliment and give a Cabinet luncheon in honour of an Australian Ambassador to Ireland?


– The answers to the honorable member’s first two questions, in the order in which they were asked, are: “ Yes “ and “ No “. As to the third question, I am sure the honorable member will sympathise and be in complete accord with the Government in its desire to appoint the best possible Australian representative in Dublin. If we achieve that desirable result, a little time taken in choosing the right man will have been well spent.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. Has the Minister seen the article written by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition which appeared in a Melbourne newspaper this week, in which the honorable gentleman stated that the Australian Government’s only valid argument for not recognising the Government of mainland China is that the United States of America would be affronted if it did so? Is this statement correct or are there many other factors to be taken into account when considering recognition of the Government of mainland China?


– I did see this article and I read it with a great deal of interest. It seemed to me to be an attempt by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to describe the Government’s external affairs policy. Tested in that light, it was not a very successful article because I thought it gave a very inadequate and not wholly accurate presentation of Government policy. I think, also, that there would have been some disappointment amongst many readers that it was not the purpose of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to attempt the more difficult task of giving the external affairs policy of the Opposition. As to the honorable member’s second question, I am sure that every member of this House must be aware that repeated statements from the Government side have made it clear that the reasons for our not recognising the Government of mainland China cover other considerations than the effect such recognition might have on any of the countries with which we are in alliance.

One of the outstanding reasons, which has been stressed again and again, concerns the position of Formosa and our unwillingness to give a recognition which would mean the abandonment of Formosa.

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– By way of preface to a question addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, I mention that substantial funds have been made available for the reconstruction of the Townsville-Mount Isa railway primarily to enable it to handle the production of the Mount Isa mines. What financial assistance is the Government prepared to provide for the upgrading of the Broken Hill-Parkes railway to enable this line to handle effectively the increase in the production of the Broken Hill mines and, later, the demands of trans-continental traffic. The Broken Hill-Parkes line is an important link in the trans-continental railway now being standardised.

Minister for Shipping and Transport · FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– This Government received a request from the Government of New South Wales some time ago to assist in the upgrading of the Parkes-Broken Hill line, but the Government felt that this was a matter well within the competence and, particularly, the jurisdiction of the Government of New South Wales.

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– Has the Minister for External Affairs seen the report of a statement by a leading Japanese economist who has called on Western nations to give aid of a directly productive character to developing countries rather than aid on a purely humanitarian basis? Will this affect the type of aid now given by Australia to countries in South East Asia, either directly or through the medium of the Colombo Plan?


– As I recall, a statement with that general purport was made by a Japanese professor - his name escapes me for the moment - who was taking part in a seminar at the Australian National University. As I recall, what he was saying was that while humanitarian aid was worthwhile and did good in the countries so aided, there was also a need for the contribution of machinery, fertilisers, equipment and other capital goods which would have a direct relationship to increasing production within the assisted countries. These are sentiments with which the Australian Government is in complete accord. In fact, in our Colombo Plan aid there is a significant element of that kind of assistance.

I am sure that the House and the honorable member will realise that the giving of assistance is not a matter that is wholly and solely within the control of the giver. There must be a readiness and a capacity on the part of the receiver to receive that form of aid and to make use of it. Our disposition certainly would be to increase that form of productive aid, not merely as a supplement to but rather as a replacement for a purely humanitarian form of assistance.

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– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Health say whether the existing means test applicable to a pensioner medical entitlement card was discussed prior to the framing of the Budget? Can he also tell the House what reasons prompted the Government to retain the present severe means test, which deprives a large section of pensioners of this much needed social service?

Minister for Repatriation · DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · LP

– I do know that certain aspects of the National Health Scheme were discussed by Cabinet prior to the formulation of the Budget. I cannot give the honorable member any detailed information on the point he has raised, but I will discuss it with my colleague in another place and have an answer prepared for him.

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– By way of preface to a question addressed to the Minister for the Interior let me say that this Parliament is well aware of the inconvenience caused to members, the “ Hansard “ staff, the Press and the public by the inadequacy of accommodation in this building, an inadequacy which is not conducive to efficiency. A statement has been made in this House by the Minister to the effect that a new wing is to be built. Can the Minister give the House any indication of when the building of this wing is likely to commence and when it is expected that the wing will be occupied?

Minister for the Interior · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The Government announced during the last session that Parliament House would be extended on the eastern side. Since that announcement was made there has been quite a deal of activity, although it may not be obvious at the moment. Working drawings and tender documents have been drawn up. Tenders were called on 30th July and the closing date is 25th August. We hope to let the contract by 8th September and work should start immediately after that. During the parliamentary recess a contract was let to move the water mains from the side of the House. This job has been completed and we are now ready to go ahead with the extensions. It is hoped that the extensions to Parliament House will be ready for occupation in time for the Budget session in 1965.

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– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question, but first I should like to explain that a year or two ago the then Postmaster-General promised that he would restore on the Townsville Post Office the clock tower which was demolished during the last war. I ask the Postmaster-General: Now that the tower has been restored for some time, has his Department recovered the bell which was sold as scrap for 5s., and when we can expect to see the clock in the tower?


– Some time ago a contract for repairs to the Post Office at Townsville was let for approximately £40,000. Part of those repairs was the replacement of the clock tower and the clock. I believe the cost of replacing the clock is about £10,000. We have recovered the bell, and I understand that the clock will begin operating some time during October.

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– I preface a question to the Minister for the Interior by saying that I am fully aware that the responsibility for organising civil defence rests with the States. I ask the Minister, however, whether he is aware, in these days of great international tension close to our own northern shores, that in Sydney, a very vulnerable area, there are no apparent signs of any civil defence organisation established to meet an emergency resulting from a hostile bomb. In the interests of the people in Sydney and elsewhere, will the Minister inquire as to the level of organisation that civil defence has reached on a national basis? If he finds this to be unsatisfactory, will he call for or inspire appropriate action to provide a civil defence organisation worthy of the name?


– The honorable member was correct when he said that civil defence is the responsibility of State Governments. However, I should like to draw his attention to the fact that New South Wales has a very good organisation. I think the honorable member will find it quite rewarding to go along to the civil defence headquarters at 125 Kent Street, Sydney and look at operations there. The defence assessment of Australia is that it is unlikely that we will have a nuclear attack. Accordingly, our civil defence programme is based on that assessment, and we are progressing with the programme. The Commonwealth Government does help the States in this matter.

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Mr J R Fraser:

– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service: Is it true that there is no industrial agreement covering conditions under which hostel managers are employed by Commonwealth Hostels Limited? Is it true that some hostel managers are required to work a minimum of 60 hours a week, and in many oases more, with no payment for overtime and with only one and a half days a week off duty, and then provided only that a relieving manager is available? Is it true that hostel managers have been denied the opportunity to negotiate with the company on their conditions of employment? Is it also true that managers who have sought to form an organisation to negotiate with the company have been dealt with summarily by transfer to remote areas? Will the Minister inquire into the conditions of employment of hostel managers, and will he arrange for hostel managers to present evidence without fear of reprisal or victimisation?

Minister for Labour and National Service · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

Mr. Deputy Speaker, as the House would know, Commonwealth

Hostels Ltd. is an independent company. I do not interfere- (Honorable members interjecting) -


– Order! 1 suggest to honorable members who are interjecting that when a Minister is replying to a question he should be given the courtesy of being heard in silence so that, first of all, the questioner may hear the answer, and, secondly, the House may hear the answer. If the House is not prepared to come to order, then I suggest that appropriate action be taken to conclude question time. I call the Minister for Labour and National Service.


– I repeat that it is the policy of this Government to give the power of management to Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. That has been done. Personally, I have complete confidence in the board of Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. to manage that organisation satisfactorily. If what the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory says is true, what a regrettable fact it is that he has not personally come to me to explain the matter and to ask me whether I would write to Sir Tasman Heyes to let that gentleman know what has been said. These are very severe accusations and are of a type which should not be made if they are not true. I have the gravest doubts whether the statement made by the honorable member can be substantiated. If he would care to let me have a letter about it, I will send that letter immediately to Sir Tasman Heyes and, when Sir Tasman replies, his reply will be forwarded to the honorable member.

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Mr Kevin Cairns:

– My question which is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service concerns a persistent problem of Australian industry - the problem of providing employment for females. The latest details indicate that the employment position for women and girls is very satisfactory and that the percentage of vacancies in relation to the number of females registered for employment is nearly 60 per cent. In view of this situation, how does the Minister view future employment opportunities for women and girls not only in capital cities but also in country towns?


– In the employment statement I issued on Monday, it was shown that there was a big improvement in the month of July in the reduction of the numbers of people registered for employment. This applied both to the male and the female component of the figures. I can say to the honorable member that but for some country areas - in particular, the Wollongong-Port Kembla area - we have few problems relating to the employment of women. As to the future, I think I can say again that, excluding those special areas, we expect during the course of the next few months that the demand for female labour will expand considerably. I think I can put it in this way: At the moment there are very few employable people registered with the Department. We expect a demand for something like 30,000 male and female employees up until the second week of November. We will experience great difficulty in finding the required numbers of people to fit into the vacancies which we know will become available.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy and is supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Wannon. I ask the Minister: Is the Royal Australian Navy about to acquire a modern troop carrier? If so, will the Minister see that this vessel is built in Australia?

Minister for the Navy · PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– The purchase by the Government of any sort of vessel is a policy matter, As to the second part of the question, we have seen to it that a vessel required for Australia is built in an Australian shipyard if it is possible for the particular kind of ship to be built here.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. 1 ask: Is it true, as has been reported, that a rather large sum of what is probably conscience money was received by the Minister recently? Is this an isolated case, or has money been received in similar circumstances previously? Will the Minister state how it is made known that such money has been received, and whether it is held in a suspense account pending payment into the Consolidated Revenue Fund?

Minister for Social Services · RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– It is true that this week I received an anonymous communication that contained a sum in cash. I think the amount was £144. It is not unusual for the Department of Social Services or the Minister to receive anonymous communications of this kind forwarding sums ranging in excess of £400. The normal procedure is that the newspapers are notified that such an amount has been received by either the Minister or the Department and that the money will go through the normal processes and ultimately be paid into Consolidated Revenue. The honorable member for Mallee and honorable members generally may be interested to know that, in addition to receiving money in this way, the Minister or the Department is notified of bequests from time to time. These, too, are of considerable proportions. Not so very long ago, I was advised of a bequest in excess of £1,000 to be used for the benefit of pensioners. It is my invariable custom to refuse to accept such a trust, since the Department of Social Services has no facilities for giving effect to the testamentary intentions of the testator. The responsibility then falls on the executors, who have to appoint other trustees to enable the testator’s intentions to be carried out. The procedures adopted by the Minister and the Department in both instances are the best available for dealing with situations of this kind.

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– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. What redress, if any, has a telephone subscriber who is adamant that he is being charged for too many calls? Has the Postal Department a visible and easily readable meter which will record the number of calls made and which could be installed in a private home or a business establishment? If so, what are the cost of installation and the rental of such a meter?


– The Postmaster-General’s Department has been experimenting for some time with equipment for installation in homes to record the calls made by individual users of the telephone. As yet, we have not been satisfied that the equipment available is of sufficiently high quality. If a complaint is received by the Telephone Branch from a person who claims to have been overcharged for calls, investigations are made and the particular line and telephone are tested. If the mechanism is found to be faulty, a reasonable rebate is given. If no fault is found in the equipment the user is not given any rebate.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for the Navy. In view of some rather fanciful reports concerning the movement of Royal Australian Navy units in South East Asian waters, will the Minister say what role has been given to these units? Has there been any recent and rather dramatic change in the instructions given to the commanders of the vessels?


– I understand that some rumours were circulating this morning that R.A.N, ships in the South East Asian area had been given instructions to shoot on sight, or words to that effect. The facts are that the role of these ships is to perform escort and patrol duties. They operate under the ordinary rules of international law, and the only occasion on which they would be asked to use any weapons they possess would be in the case of an infringement of international law. That is standard practice. These instructions have been in existence for many years. No different instructions have been issued recently to any R.A.N, vessel.

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– I ask the Treasurer a question. In view of his statement to this House last night that an article which appeared recently in the Sydney “Bulletin “, to the effect that the Commissioner of Taxation was unduly favouring Mr. R. M. Ansett in respect of his taxation liabilities, and was pursuing this course under direction of the Government, was false, will he say whether he regards this attack by the “Bulletin” on a distinguished public servant as being criminally libellous? If he does, will he institute court proceedings against the proprietors of the “Bulletin”? If he will not, is it because he desires to specially protect these people and thus place them above the law?


– Yesterday in the House the honorable gentleman returned to some allegations which he had made earlier in the year.

Mr Calwell:

– I made no allegations against anyone.


– I am not talking about you, I am talking about the honorable member for Hindmarsh.

Mr Calwell:

– I see. You are out of place.


– I think you are out of place in the seat you are now occupying, and I think your own colleagues will tell you so in due course.

Mr Calwell:

– And you will never be in the place you are seeking to be.


– You seem to know more about me than I do myself. Yesterday, the honorable member for Hindmarsh having returned to these matters, I felt that as his statement had been made when the proceedings of the Parliament were being broadcast I should repeat in the House and over the air the text of a formal communication which had come to me from the Commissioner of Taxation, so that this matter could be put authoritatively on record. I have nothing to add at this stage to what I said then.

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– Has the attention of the Minister for Repatriation been directed to reports that a new electronic artificial arm is being developed in the United Kingdom? Does he know whether such an arm would be suitable for use by repatriation limb and appliance centres in Australia? Is it likely to be made available to Australian exservicemen and to children?


– Recently an electronic artificial arm was developed in Europe and we made extensive inquiries about it. The Central Development Unit of my Department obtained some literature regarding the manufacture of the artificial arm and we have ordered a sample for evaluation purposes. So far it has not been received, but we expect to have it in the near future. I did see a report in the Press this morning regarding another type of electronic arm which is being developed in the United Kingdom. I assume that this is somewhat similar to the other one. The report indicates that it is an improvement on the existing article. We shall make inquiries into this and obtain what information we can. When we do, if we find that the development is successful we shall ensure that a sample is obtained, if and when it is available, for evaluation here, just as we are doing in the case of the other artificial arm.

Finally, the point in relation to this is that we provide the best possible service. Only fairly recently a doctor from the Central Development Unit was sent overseas to investigate these very matters.

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– Is the Minister for Air aware that the TSR2 will have its first flight at Farnborough, I believe this week? Can he say when the TFX aircraft, now known as the F111A, will have its first flight? Will the Government review its decision to re-equip the Royal Austraiian Air Force with the F111 A with a view to seeing whether the at least equivalent performer, the TSR2, can be obtained in its place for the R.A.A.F. as soon as possible?

Minister for Air · FAWKNER, VICTORIA · LP

– I have not yet had any information about the flight of the TSR2 referred to by the honorable member. All I can say is that the prototype of the F111A is scheduled to fly before the end of this year and that delivery to Australia will be effected in 1968. All the information in my possession indicates that the programme given to the House by my predecessor will be adhered to and that we will have the aircraft on schedule, as we said.

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– I present the following paper: -

Audit Act - Finance- Report of the AuditorGeneral for year 1963-64, accompanied by the Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure

Ordered to be printed.

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Motion (by Mr. Adennann) agreed to -

That Government business shall take precedence ever General Business tomorrow.

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Reference to Public Works Committee

Minister for Shipping and Transport · Forrest · LP

– I move -

That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, the following proposed work, on which the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works has duly reported to this House, be remitted to the Committee for its further consideration and report: - Construction of the Top Springs to Wave Hill Road, Northern Territory.

When this matter was earlier before it the Public Works Committee agreed that there was a need for a beef road of recognised standard in the Top SpringsWave Hill area. However, the Committee considered that the evidence presented to it did not support the siting of the road as contained in the reference and recommended that it was not expedient to proceed with the proposal in its present form. Subsequent to the receipt of the Committee’s report further consideration has been given to the siting of the proposed road and a revised proposal has been prepared with the route of the road generally following the existing pastoral road.

I recommend that the revised proposal be remitted to the Committee for ite consideration and report. I table plans of the revised proposal.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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Second Reading. (Budget Debate.)

Debate resumed from 18th August (vide page 333), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment -

That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ the House is of opinion that the Budget does not adequately grapple with the problems of striking a realistic and fitting balance between the claims on national resources arising from defence, development and social welfare”.


.- With the indulgence of the House I would like to deal with Australia’s defence problem. There is no need for me toreiterate the well known fact that Australia has the most stable government of any country and that nature’s gifts and the energies of Australians, old and new, assure us of a magnificent heritage. In recent times Australia has been almost embarrassed by riches. We have discovered oil and natural gas, which, when proper!)” harnessed, will mean a reduction in the cost of electricity. Our great pastoral wealth - our wool and our meat - is finding ready markets all over the world. Annual export earnings of about £1,400 million make Australia one of the world’s great trading nations. The bulk of that export income - more than £1,000 million a year - is derived from primary industry. All these things make Australia an extremely desirable place. Businessmen from all over the world, and in particular from America, set out to discover the country with the highest rate of expansion and the most stable government. Australia won by many lengths. Australia is the fastest expanding country and has possibly the world’s most stable government.

Mr Peters:

– What does stable mean?


– After hearing the honorable member’s speech last night I fear that I would have difficulty in getting anything across to him, but people who believe in development and expansion know that Australia is a stable country. The Budget which was brought down last week is evidence of our stability. The Budget shows that despite an enormous increase in expenditure, very little new money has to be found because the economy is so buoyant. I was in agreement with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) when he said that this was a conservative Budget because I can well believe that at the end of this financial year returns from all sources will be very large indeed. I think the Government and the Treasury were inclined to be a little too conservative.

Australia is a very wealthy country. To some extent our wealth is an embarrassment to us. We are growing by leaps and bounds. Everywhere you look you find Australia is doing well. This country is attractive to other people. The situation to our north changes so rapidly that it is sometimes difficult to follow events there. Six years ago one would not have dreamed that Dr. Sukarno would now be in West Irian - what we used to know as West New Guinea. Today this is a fait accompli. He is there, and he is pursuing now a policy of confrontation towards the Malaysian Federation. Only last Monday he reiterated his intention to crush Malaysia. I remember being told in my school days in speeches delivered on Empire Day that Australia was safe under the protection of the Royal Navy based at Singapore, which is now part of Malaysia. We have been fed a comforting diet of protection by other people. This idea that we are protected by others persists to a certain extent today, but we may be passing through a transition period. Because events are happening so rapidly I think we are coming to realise that such a feeling of security and comfort is not altogether warranted.

China is now a Communist republic of enormous prestige and size. The people of South East Asia are impressed by Red China’s size and her abilitY to infiltrate her troops into other countries by employing guerrilla tactics. If she wishes, Red China could move down the South East Asian subcontinent into Malaya and could move into India. She could repeat in those countries the rape that she committed on Tibet. It is difficult to prove the widespread belief that Red China intends to dominate by violence this sphere of the world. Certain statements in ideological dialogues with Mr. Khrushchev led one to believe that this is what China wants, but Red China’s actions themselves are important. Red China’s actions on land so far have been to expand and to thrust outwards. She moved into Korea more than 10 years ago. She moved into Tibet. With the aid of the Vietcong she has moved into South Vietnam, destroying the fortified villages, picking off the chiefs from ambush and violating the resolution to keep the freedom of South Vietnam for the South Vietnamese people. The Red Chinese exert an enormous influence. They are said to be chess players. It is hard to understand why they attacked the American destroyers recently, because they must have known that there would be swift action by the Americans. They probably wanted to find out whether there would be swift action. The Americans delivered a salutary lesson by bombing the torpedo boat bases. We understand that that created a change of heart in South East Asia.

Be that as it may, Australians in the present generation and the one that is growing up have been fed continually with the idea that we are to be protected; that the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty is a certain protection; that the unspoken Commonwealth of Nations agreements are a protection; and that while we stick to Britain in Malaysia and while we have the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty we can enjoy a sheltered existence. I put it to the House that that position is changing, just as the position changed when the Singapore base fell, the great battle cruisers were sunk in a few hours and we had our protection taken away from us overnight. So it is possible that the American protection, which has caused such a tremendous amount of controversy lately in respect of what the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty means, may be taken away. Questions have been asked by members of the Opposition on the precise terms of the Treaty. The Americans want to keep the Treaty, but there could be a situation in which they could not keep it, just as the British could not keep their agreement when they were heavily involved on the continent of Europe and Singapore was destroyed and part of the Royal Navy went to the bottom of the sea under attack by Japanese torpedo bombers.

The Australian people want defence and security in depth. First, we want to stand firmly by Britain in Malaysia and to have Britain stand firmly by us. Secondly, we want to stand by the Americans and to have the Americans stand by us. Thirdly, we want to stand on our own feet and to have a defence force of our own. Surely the last election was fought precisely on this issue. Perhaps the Labour Party unwittingly made a contribution to Australia’s defence and security by doing what it did last year in the dreadful scene at the Hotel Kingston, when it showed clearly that it was uncertain-

Mr Benson:

– The Government has adopted our policy.


– If the honorable member wants to interject, I will remind him that the Labour Party fell into what was almost a prepared trap when the Federal Executive of the Party, at its meeting at the Hotel Kingston here in Canberra, had an equal vote on whether the

Americans should be permitted to go ahead with the North West Cape naval communications station, whether there should be a qualification to the agreement and whether Labour would re-negotiate the agreement and make the conditions for the Americans more difficult. I remember honorable members opposite saying: “This is only a nine days wonder; it will disappear”. But it did not disappear, because the people of Australia took it to heart. They said to themselves: “This Labour Party is not as Australian as it has said it is. This Labour Party has some Communist association. This Labour Party is prepared to talk the way men talk in South East Asia. If is prepared to talk the way the Red Chinese talk, to write books on Red China and to say the things that the Red Chinese are saying. We want security. We want to preserve our military alliance with the United States.”

But, in my opinion, at this stage that is not enough. Australia is determined to have a strong defence force. This idea of being protected by other people, of sending American troops, who are conscripted for two years’ service, anywhere in the world to fight Australia’s battles, leaves many Australians a little ashamed. We are dedicated to freedom. We do not want to compel anybody to do anything. But maybe the time has come when the young men of Australia are saying to the Government and to the Parliament: “Do not put on us the onus of volunteering. You are the Government. You send us”. There is something to be said for that line of thought. Maybe our young men are saying: “ If you want to be the Australian Government and if you want to be in the Parliament, then take the responsibility. Do not talk to us about politics. You know the position; you know it better than we do. It is too much to expect us to volunteer because we do not know what is in the reports from abroad on external affairs. We do not know what is going on in China, South East Asia and Indonesia. Therefore, you make the decision. You send us and we will fight, just as young Australians fought at Milne Bay in the Second World War and covered themselves with great distinction. “ Australian conscripts went to Milne Bay and did a great job under the Curtin law. We have laws now.

Let me discuss the question whether we can get enough men into our defence forces. I think it is agreed that there is no shortage of recruits for the Navy and there is never any shortage of recruits for the Air Force. There is no shortage of enlisted men or volunteers for those two Services. Figures that I have received from the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) show that the Navy has had 900 enlistments in the last few months and has lost 500 men. That represents a net increase of 400. Do not let us forget that we are told that only one out of every seven applicants is good enough, intellectually, mentally and physically, to go into our armed Services at this time when a high percentage of equipment is of a very technical nature. The Army is geared to the targets that have been laid down by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). From what we can find out, this year the Army has put men on at a rate which will mean that the target of 28,000 will be attained. But the position has changed so much that 28,000 men is not enough.

Dr. Sukarno has 300,000 men under arms. He is telling the people of Indonesia that he is in an all-out war and that he is fighting on all fronts. He is carrying on the old Hitlerite idea of saying: “ We are encircled and we have to fight”. He is compelled to do that because of the economic situation in Indonesia. He has 300,000 men. He went in and took West New Guinea. Will he stop at East New Guinea? He says that he is determined to crush Malaysia. We hope that he cannot crush Malaysia. But Malaysia is an infant confederation. The words used in our statements on defence, security and external affairs - “ instability in South East Asia “ - are an understatement because an all-out war is going on in South Vietnam. It is all-out, powerful, highpressure, high-powered guerilla warfare’, which is extremely effective.

We have to get more men. I believe that it is right, in this involved and delicate situation, for the Government to tell the young men of Australia that the time has come for selective military training. They are the words that are used. I do not think anybody is sure of what “ selective military training “ means today because so many factors are involved. We are told that if we start compulsory military training today we will so weaken our present forces, by taking instructors, officers and so on, that they will be ineffective. I do not believe that the Parliament should put up with such a situation. We should commence immediately to get ready for some form of compulsory military training. We are told that we can take only 8 per cent, in an intake. At present we are accepting only one applicant in seven, which is not much more than 14 per cent. So, if the standard is raised a little, we will take only 8 per cent, of the young men offering each year. At this moment we should commence to provide the appropriate instructors to enable young men to undergo training for a much longer period than three months. This training should be effective. Of course, a new volunteer reserve is being assembled now. Most Australians would be glad to help if they could; but this is a time of very high employment. It is now certainly difficult to get volunteers.

At this stage we must see that everything possible is done to make the Services attractive. Australia has never accepted the idea of a standing army, such as is known in America, which has two years’ conscription. Conscription has lately been dispensed with in Great Britain, but Great Britain has a big Territorial Army. Army service in Great Britain has a much higher standing than it has in Australia. Australians do not seem to find service attractive during peacetime. They have shown, as they did in 1939 and 1940, that they are slow to enlist as volunteers until the country is really in danger. War was declared in September 1939, but the great mass of enlistments did not take place until May, June or July of the following year when Hitler broke through into France. For nine months, or even a year, after hostilities started, Australians did not rush to enlist. I think the army number NX 13000 was given out only in May 1940; so only 13,000 men enlisted in the nine months after hostilities started.

War may come at any time. I do not mean the type of war that we have in South East Asia - a small, limited war of guerilla tactics. Any large war in which rockets with atomic warheads were used would be over in a few minutes. We must, therefore, change our thinking. A big rush of volunteers eight or nine months after the war had started would not be of much value. If we want security in depth we must h:ive more men in our forces. This cannot be achieved overnight. We must provide now for people who might enter the Services next year. But let us be certain that everything possible is done and that we offer good conditions and housing. In the next three years 3,600 houses will be provided for Service personnel. Pay has increased, and some of those in the lower ranks have had a rise of £5 a week. The provisions of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund are engaging the attention of many honorable members. I propose to deal with this Fund during the debate on the Estimates. The approach should be completely revised so that servicemen will know how they stand, what will be deducted from their pay each week and what benefits they will receive. We find appalling ignorance about the provisions of the fund everywhere, although some £3 million or £4 million will be paid into it each year, lt is a good fund and it has some good benefits, but the men in the Services are completely bewildered about it. They do not know how much will be deducted from their pay each week. This is a silly situation; the whole approach must be brought up to date.

We must do everything possible to make voluntary enlistment in the Army attractive. Enlistment in the Air Force is attractive enough, and enlistment in the Navy is almost attractive enough, but enlistment in the Army is not attractive enough. After all, we want men, and to some extent women, in the Services. Australians on active service have always acquitted themselves well, even when on patrol in the jungles. I venture to say that Australians are the best men in the world on patrol work. In the jungles to our north they really do a good job of wearing down the enemy and they acquit themselves with great distinction. We want more people in our Army, even though at this time we are experiencing enormous expansion in the business and commercial worlds and unemployment is at the lowest level it has been for many years. Employment opportunities will increase all the time, because this country is prosperous and is deriving all the benefits of good government and of good and buoyant prices for its exports. Australia is enjoying good conditions and it is difficult to induce people to enter the Services. However, the time has come when we must alter our approach to this problem.

The Constitution does not prevent the passage of legislation which would enable conscripted troops to be sent overseas. In 1943 the Curtin Government passed the Defence (Citizen Military Forces) Act, which provided that conscripted members of the Citizen Military Forces could be required to serve outside Australia in the south west Pacific as far north as the Equator. This Act continued in force until six months after hostilities ceased. The Curtin Government’s action mct with general approval and with public understanding and awareness of the situation. Hostilities were at their peak and the Japanese were advancing southwards on Australia. Before hostilities commence again, and before any enemy force attacks Australian territories, it is important for us to carry out action to deter the enemy in places like South Vietnam and to confine him to his own area. He must be shown that his long lines of communication will be threatened if he starts action against Australian territory. After all, the operation in South East Asia is a prestige operation. Wc should take note of the effect of the recent American action on the people of Cambodia and Laos. They thought the Americans were paper tigers, but now they probably think that the Red Chinese are paper tigers who are not willing to extend their lines further. The Chinese have been quite happy to continue with their tactics of infiltration, knowing that they can probably destroy the South Vietnamese. They probably have almost destroyed them now.

If wc expect the Americans to stand by us, and if we expect the British - perhaps under a Labour Government - to stay in Malaysia, we must stand by them. We cannot stand by them if we have a target of only 28,000 mcn for the Army. If these mcn were lost, as they could be practically overnight, where would we turn? We have two divisions in the C.M.F. It might take months or even a year - or possibly eighteen months - before two divisions could be brought into action, and probably by that time the need for them would have disappeared. The C.M.F. must now be shored up and given better treatment. The pay received by men in the C.M.F. should not be taxed. One of the complaints of these men is that the money they have earned in the C.M.F. has been taxed, and that the addition of their C.M.F. pay to their normal income has sometimes taken them into a higher tax bracket, with the result that they have lost money through their service. We must see that our voluntary C.M.F. are built up into a strong force. If we had two divisions of 14,000 or 15,000 men, or about 30,000 men all told, our strength would be doubled.

I am glad that Opposition members are looking at this problem in a thoughtful and, I hope, a co-operative way. We should go all out for the full defence of Australia. We should not leave to men in the Services the decision to serve abroad, but we should use the knowledge that we have, or should have, to make the decision ourselves. This is a very big decision for the Parliament to make, but the situation has changed and is changing rapidly. Taken over a period of days, a change may appear to be slow, but we should be aware of the inevitability of gradualness over a period of months or years. We should be aware of the Communist way of handling the situation. We are fighting a rearguard action in a war of attrition, trying to hold back hundreds of thousands of troops. Sukarno now has over 200 Russian fighters and fast Russian jet bombers. He has Russian naval vessels. Recently a group of Russian vessels came down from Vladivostok.

Sukarno has this equipment. He is said to have brought out his first jet engine. The man is openly telling everybody that he has these things. You may not believe him, but at least he is making these statements and he is doing things. He has troops in action. Here is Sukarno doing all these things and having ten times the number of troops that we have available in Australia, and here are the Chinese supporting the Vietcong, and Ho Chi Minh and the Vietminh coming down into South Vietnam. Of course, honorable members in this House know these things and they are better aware of the dangers than the people outside are.

We are told that the Americans will stand by us. We are told that the members of Congress and the people in the Pentagon and in the Administration will stand by Australia. But we are also told that the American people hardly know that we exist. They think of this country as a drought stricken land inhabited by kangaroo and platypus - a curious place that they can come to on a tourist ship. Would we not be considered expendable if America got into trouble? If a political issue were involved, would America stick to a country that it hardly knows exists? I suppose that the wish is father to the thought. We hope that the Americans will stick to us. We believe that they will in ordinary conditions. But we have to be certain. We have to be a little bit tough about this. We have been fed on a comforting diet of protection by other people’s flesh and blood, such as American conscripts who fought in New Guinea in the last war, and the British. We have been told all our lives that we can expect this protection. But the time has come for us to face the situation. We should do everything possible to retain the sort of co-operation that now exists. We should try to ensure the continued existence of A.N.Z.U.S. and of the Commonwealth of Nations. But, at the same time, we should have our own troops whom we believe, and whom I do not doubt, are among the best troops in the world.

Being an enlightened country and a free country we have a horror of violence and of the neurotic behaviour associated with war. We have been very fortunate. A century ago we were untouchable because there were great oceans around us. But now in the days of jet planes we are a few minutes away from our enemies and only a few seconds away from them if rocket attacks are launched. The people of Australia believe that, at this time, the Parliament and the Government should act definitely and strongly. I agree that the amount of money provided in the Budget for defence was surprising. It was surprising in the sense that most of us thought it would have been much larger. It could have been much larger. Almost immediately after delivering his Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) started to tell us that the Government is having another look at defence and may have another bite at the cherry. Perhaps the conservatism shown in the Budget accounts was designed to ensure that we would have further money for defence expenditure, so that we may be able to spend another £100 million or £200 million on defence. Let our Australian manhood face the situation squarely, rather than depend on American manhood to be conscripted and sent overseas to protect us.


– I suppose that only in a Budget debate would the House be asked to listen to such a mixed contribution as we have just heard from the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate). At one stage he spoke about the virtual disappearance of mankind in a matter of minutes in a nuclear war. Then, towards the conclusion of his speech he made a point which, if it had been made by an honorable member on this side of the House, would have resulted in that honorable member being called disloyal. He asked whether we can expect America to come to the aid of a country that it does not know anything about. He said that we have been fed for a long time the story that our great friends will look after us in times of war. Then he suggested quite firmly that the time has now arrives for us to be doing something about compulsory military training. It is difficult to understand how a person can believe that total destruction would come in a matter of minutes in a nuclear war and still argue that we should re-introduce compulsory military training which was tried by this Government and thrown aside because it was considered wasteful.

The honorable member reached the point of praising the Curtin Administration for what it did in 1 94 1. He seemed to come to the conclusion that today we should adopt a similar kind of wartime approach to the situation as that which was adopted by the Curtin Government in 1941. 1 should have thought that if the honorable member for Macarthur believed that we were likely to bc concerned in a conventional war he would have concentrated on discussing what we in Australia might do if we were called upon to defend ourselves against the army immediately to the north of us about which he spoke. If the situation in which we now find ourselves means that, in some future time, a war is inevitable - and I do not think it is - and if the honorable member believes we should re-introduce compulsory military training and prepare to defend ourselves in a conventional war, then he, as an honorable member who frequently advises the Government on trans port matters, should have told us what we could do to improve our transport system to meet the requirements of the conventional war that he believes to be likely.

Many a time in this House I heard the late Eddie Ward praised or condemned - depending on the view taken of his remarks by different members - for what he said about the Brisbane Line. If we were called upon today to defend ourselves in the north we would be lucky to get as far north as Brisbane and the Brisbane Line. We talk of spending £41 million on providing a standard gauge railway from Kalgoorlie to Kwinana but it seems, from the answer that was given to a question in this House this afternoon, that the Government does not believe it should provide finance to bring up to standard the other end of the east-west railway system which is controlled by the New South Wales Government. We heard the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) say today that the railway line between Parkes and Broken Hill was, in the opinion of this Government, the responsibility of the New South Wales Government.

At no time since I have been in this Parliament has the Government given any thought to transport requirements in Australia from the defence point of view, and when we hear an honorable member on the Government side talking about the need for adequate conventional weapons in Australia, without adverting to the transport problem, we must surely pause and wonder where we are going in respect of defence policy. An article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ this morning referred to the Federal Cabinet giving consideration to additional defence mobility, lt was headed: “ Mobility to be Stressed in Defence”, and it went on to state -

Apart from the manpower problems for the forces, the new defence plan is expected to concentrate on far greater transport facilities.

Then we come into this House and hear answers such as those that were given today by two different Ministers. We heard the Minister for Shipping and Transport saying that the link between Sydney and Broken Hill, considered a component part of the east-west line, is a matter for New South Wales. Shall we completely forget our constitutional responsibility if the situation envisaged by the honorable member for

Macarthur actually develops? Do honorable members forget that we in this Parliament have complete control of all the railways when it comes to transportation for naval and military purposes in a time of war? I emphasise that this is a Commonwealth responsibility; yet at this stage we hear the Minister for Shipping and Transport saying that responsibility for the greater part of the only east-west link we can possibly have rests with the States, and with New South Wales in particular. I said in this House last week that this Government had failed to accept its responsibility to meet our transport requirements on a national basis. Until the Government does accept that responsibility, it is of no use to talk about mobility of defence.

I cannot help but be impressed by one thing that has emerged from the Prime Minister’s setting up of a committee to investigate transport costs in the north. I have before me a most enlightening letter which the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia proposed to circulate to every honorable member of this House. One of the first things it says is -

For inland areas, an area nearly half as big as N.S.W. is served by one railway and three towns - Magnet, Cue, Meekatharra. Average station supplies cost by rail to Meekatharra almost £20 a ton.

Then a most important fact comes to light. The letter continues -

Very little road haulage is done for under lOd. per ton mile.

That is, from the rail heads onwards. That is the situation in Western Australia. The cost of haulage there is lOd. per ton-mile beyond the end of the railway line. The letter goes on to detail what happens because of lack of transport, and when we analyse the statement it is most interesting. I propose treading a full paragraph, because I do not think that even those honorable members who are interested in transport in Australia could state the position better. The paragraph reads -

Transport is the life blood of industry. There is an inevitable difficulty in keeping transport development in step with economic development of new countries. In its early stages it is generally uneconomic and its services must be continuously expanded and improved to keep pace with the country’s growth. With uneconomic working it is very tempting for Governments to curtail expenditure. The Transport Administration comes to be looked upon as an end in itself whose budget must be made to balance. This is an entirely wrong outlook. The function of the Transport Administration is to serve the country, the primary duty is to see that it does so fully and adequately so that the country’s economy may develop freely. The balancing of budgets is a requirement of secondary importance. It can and should in the long term be fulfilled by collecting on the basis of an equitable taxing system whatever revenue is necessary to balance the accounts. The “criterion should never be what transport can afford but what the country requires to encourage a full development of its economic potential.

Mr Cope:

– What is the Country Party doing about it?


– In point of fact, this statement was made by a Country Party organisation. After 15 years of administration by the Menzies Government we have not one mile of railway line connecting the north with the south, nor is one penny of Commonwealth money being provided for the construction of what might be regarded as a defence road or a defence railway line. The transport side of defence is being completely neglected and as a result the inland development of the nation is being neglected. When I heard the honorable member for MacArthur talking about preparing our manpower to fight a conventional war, I thought of the late Eddie Ward and the Brisbane line. We are no better off today with regard to moving troops by rail in Australia than we were in the Second World War. In the Second World War it took 14 days to transport troops from Melbourne to Perth and they were transported in cattle trucks. It is true that by 1968 we hope to be able to travel from Sydney to Perth by rail in a matter of 60 hours, thanks to dieselisation and to the efforts of the Government of New South Wales in particular and, to a lesser extent, of the Governments of South Australia and Western Australia. However, we are told that the responsibility for hundreds of miles of what will be the only defence railway line we will have in the country rests purely on the State Governments. Surely when the honorable member for Macarthur talks about the possibility of a conventional war in Australia he, as a member of the Government Members’ transport committee, should have in mind the points that have been mentioned by the Pastoralists and

Graziers Association of Western Australia and the points that I have raised.

It was not my intention earlier to deal with this subject. However, when dealing with a Budget one looks at first things first, and the matter with which I have dealt really is of first importance to the nation at the moment. When I look at this Budget and find that, in a time of great national progress and at a time when there is great wealth in the community, it is proposed to increase the telephone rentals paid by those pensioners who find it necessary to have a telephone in order to call a doctor and order medical requirements, I can only brand this as the most callous Budget we have ever seen in this country. It is certainly the most callous Budget that I have seen in my parliamentary career. Again, the fact that it is proposed to take from 3s. to 4s. a week from the lower paid wage earners, who recently received an increase of £1 a week in the basic wage to bring them up to a standard commensurate with modern requirements, brands this Government as one that cares little or nothing for the ordinary working people of the community.

Let mc look at further proof of the Government’s inability to face up to its responsibilities to the ordinary working man. I refer to what is proposed in connection with the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. In his Budget Speech, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said that it was proposed to increase the lump sum payable to dependants upon the death of a Commonwealth employee from £3,000 to £4,300 and that the amount of £100 payable in respect of each child under 16 years of age would be replaced by weekly payments until the child reaches 16 years of age, subject to a minimum total payment of £100. Why is it that the House is not told the amount of the weekly payment of compensation for each child? Is it because the Government does not yet know what it is going to do? Let me say right now that instead of the Commonwealth Parliament leading in the field of workers compensation, it has the doubtful honour of having passed the worst compensation act in Australia. I say to the Prime Minister, or to the Treasurer, whoever will be handling the matter, that if it is proposed to amend the Commonwealth Employees* Compensation Act then, let us not amend it in one or two respects only; let us review the whole Act in order to give it some basis of equity. Let us bring it into line with modern requirements. Let us abolish the anomalies about which I am concerned.

I point out that the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act applies to people who joined the Services after 1st July 1947. Therefore, it deals not only with ordinary workers but also with people who will be engaged in military operations in time of war. For that reason, the Act should provide for a freer and easier approach to the question of compensation than is provided by any other compensation act in Australia. Let us consider the provisions of sub-section (7.) of section 4a which states -

This Act docs not apply in respect of the service of an aboriginal inhabitant of a territory of the Commonwealth who is a member of a part of the Defence Force consisting, or consisting mainly, of such inhabitants and raised in that Territory.

So the Act contains a special provision to exclude any Aboriginal who may be in our service. Then we find in section 5 - (I.) For the purposes of this Act there shall be a Commissioner for Employees’ Compensation. (2.) The Secretary to the Treasurer shall be ex officio Commissioner for Employees’ Compensation.

The compensation payable to an employee should be a matter completely divorced from the Treasury or from any other governmental control at a ministerial level, if the compensation scheme is to work as it should work. The act gives the Commissioner complete power to decide upon the merits of any claims. Sub-section (3.) of section 6 reads -

In the determination of matters and questions, the Commissioner shall be guided by equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case without regard to technicalities or legal precedent and shall not be bound by any rules of evidence.

We have the position that an officer of the Treasury has in his hands the complete decision affecting any Commonwealth employee covered by this Act. That situation should not be tolerated for any longer than it takes to amend the Act. I do not want to spend any more of my time on this matter, other than to say that section 10 eliminates completely any consideration of the aggravation, during employment, of an injury previously sustained. A person who enters the Public Service and suffers an aggravation of an illness or malady is outside the provisions of this Act. This should be remedied by the Prime Minister or Treasurer, whoever is in charge of this matter. I ask the responsible Minister to begin discussions immediately with the High Council of Public Service Associations and the Australian Council of Trade Unions to bring this provision into line with modern requirements on employees’ compensation.

The next matter to which I wish to refer is the adult training scheme, which has been raised in this House on two or three occasions and which is under discussion today at the trade union level. In replying to the honorable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin), the Minister for Labour and National Service said -

I want to emphasise for the benefit of the honorable gentleman that we are desperately short of skilled manpower in this country. If members of the Opposition had any sense of public responsibility, they would be rising to their feet and helping the Government rather than attempting to jeopardise the scheme.

On the following day, in reply to a question from me, the Minister said -

The true area of dispute as between the trade unions and my Department was primarily as to whether or not there was a deficiency of skilled men in the metal and electrical trades. Our answer to that was that on the current statistics in these occupations there are eight vacancies registered for every person who is available.

Let us look at the relevant facts. Do not let us condemn honorable members on this side of the House who were at one time apprentices, and do not let us condemn those who are anxious to find an answer to this problem but who find great difficulties in their way as a result of the approach made by the Minister. First, let us look at the Minister’s claim that we should be assisting the Government and not taking the stand that some honorable members are taking. Secondly, let us consider whether this matter can be gauged merely by looking at figures and whether we are desperately short of skilled manpower.

If we look into the matter we find that the shortage of tradesmen did not begin yesterday. If we g0 back to 27th October 1961 we will find that in the skilled building and construction trades there were in Australia at that time 3,930 men registered for employment, but only 900 jobs available. By November 1962 the position had changed somewhat. In the skilled building and construction trades 1,583 were waiting for jobs and 1,448 jobs were listed. That is the time when attention should have been given to the apprenticeship question in Australia so that as vacancies occurred apprentices would be coming out of their training ready to fill them. It is not sufficient to look at the figures and to say, to use the Minister’s term, that we are desperately short of apprentices. That kind of thinking will not provide an answer to this problem.

Let us consider the figures as at 26th June 1964. By this time we had 824 skilled building and construction tradesmen registered for work but 1,900 vacancies. In the skilled metal and electrical trades 971 were registered for work but there were 7,800 vacancies. For the other skilled and semi-skilled manual jobs 8,395 were waiting for work and there were 8,001 vacancies, so the figures almost balanced. At that time, so far as the semi-skilled workers were concerned, there was about an equal number waiting for work as there were vacancies, but in the skilled building and construction trades there was a shortage of about 7,000 in a male workforce of 2,461,000. The picture is not as it was illustrated by the Minister. We are not desperately short of skilled tradesmen, but what we do need desperately is a realignment of our requirements to make sure that we have skilled tradesmen available.

Surely at this stage we should have 8,000 apprentices completing their training and available to fill the vacancies that now exist. I hope that we will not ever get back to the situation that existed in 1961 when we had men waiting for vacancies to come up. This problem will have to be approached in an orderly fashion. In a period of automation, which is what we are now approaching, the tendency of employers is not to train apprentices. When I was in America about five years ago I visited Detroit. While there I inspected the Chevrolet motor works. At the end of my inspection I asked about their training schemes. They were quite blunt about it. They said: “We do not train men any more. Our machinery is completely automated, and we buy the highly skilled technicians that we need. We buy them in Canada or in England. We get them from anywhere we can buy them, but we do not train them.” That is the approach of the automotive industry in America to the training of employees.

I throw a challenge out to the Minister, if he is sincere about the need for training apprentices. Next year, for the cost of £1 million, the New South Wales Department of Railways will double the number of apprentices it is at present training. It has the facilities to do so. In two years it will have all the funds necessary to finance the training of apprentices for five years. It is this kind of approach, and this kind of organisation used by government instrumentalities, that contains the answer to the apprenticeship problem’. In this time of automation there would be no great difficulty in training the number of apprentices that would be required, if we were organised in that fashion. I am very pleased that the Minister has now come into the Chamber, because 1 want him to know that the opposition that conies from the trade union movement can be met in a way that the A.C.T.U. will provide in the long run. A solution will not be provided, however, unless the unions receive some assurance that the situation that existed in 1961 will not be repeated. I refer to the Minister’s own document in which he said that at October 1961 in the skilled building and construction trades 3,930 people were waiting for 900 jobs. In the electrical trades field, there were 3,454 skilled people waiting for employment. There were only 3,124 jobs available for them. That kind of situation should not be allowed to continue in a rapidly developing country. With the Department of Labour and National Service on top of its job, and with that great organisation of the trade union movement, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, fully aware of the number of apprentices that were required in industry from year to year, there would be no difficulty in organising to meet the situation.

A retraining programme at a time of Increased automation is essential. Surely nobody will argue against that proposition. But the problem of retraining will not be solved by. the setting up of a system that will impinge upon the apprenticeship rights of our young Australians. Broadly, the position in regard to automation is this: Industry should carry the responsibility of retraining mcn who are displaced as a result of automation. It is essential that any man replaced by machine should be re trained. If that is not done, a state of affairs similar to that which is building up in the United States will arise in Australia. There is a great wave of feeling at the .employer profit making level in the United States today that it is better to keep 6 or 7 million people on the unemployed list than to try to retrain them at their age in life. I hope that kind of feeling never develops in this country, because it is the kind of feeling that leaves no hope for those who find their employment opportunities diminishing through automation. Even at this stage in Australia at a time when the Minister for Labour and National Service is using the type of language he has in his latest reports, we find that there is a surplus of semi-skilled and other skilled workers. At 30th June 1964, in the semiskilled and other skilled category, 8,395 persons were awaiting employment and there were 8,000 vacancies. The number of applicants for employment and the number of vacancies at that stage just about balanced one another but, for some reason or other, they could not be brought together. So, at this stage, the number of semi-skilled and other skilled male employees is just about equal to the number of existing vacancies. This situation will have to be watched very carefully.

There must be also closer co-operation between industry and the Department which is providing these figures. We must not look at the figures only. We must look at the industry or the authority in which a shortage occurs and men must be trained to fill vacant positions. Of course, there will be fluctuations in the building trade, but there should not be the same sort of fluctuation in the electrical trades or on the manual side of the engineering trade. If in point of fact we are to strike a correct balance, the A.C.T.U. should be provided with all the information to meet the requirements so that it, with the assistance of the trade unions, can organise a system of apprenticeship. If that is done this country will never be, as the Minister said, short of trained artisans. But do not try to bring in a scheme with the background that I have illustrated with the knowledge of what automation docs to manpower.

Mr. Mackinnon

– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) during his speech advocated the reintroduction of national service training. He pointed out that if a world war occurred between powers using nuclear weapons the world could be devastated in a matter of minutes. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) in criticising the honorable member for Macarthur asked, in effect: If a war would decide events in a matter of minutes, what would be the good of having national service training? The fact that a nuclear war could cause such devastation and loss of life in a matter of minutes is the very reason why a world war involving the use of nuclear weapons is unlikely. But, at the same time, this is the very reason why a local war involving the use of conventional weapons is a possibility. At one time, the great world powers could be expected to act as the police force of the world and stop local wars. Now that those powers are equipped with nuclear weapons, the devastation that would result from a nuclear war would be so great that, naturally, those powers will hesitate to act virtually as policemen and to do anything- which would result in a world war. Therefore, we have to look at the position of the possibility of a local war which may be a threat to Australia. That means that we must have manpower as well as equipment.

All efforts that have been made to secure manpower by voluntary means have failed, in my opinion. Therefore, the time has arrived when we must bring back national service training. Personally, I think it was a mistake ever to have abandoned national service training. I did not support the action in this House when national service training was abandoned. I have consistently stated that, if Australia is to be adequately defended, every one must be prepared to serve this country in time of war. Therefore, as a first step, we must have an amendment to the Defence Act to enable national service trainees to serve anywhere in the world. Secondly, I believe that everybody between 18 and 25 should be liable for national service training. All young men in that age group should register, be medically examined and have their blood group ascertained. All the preliminaries that it is so essential to know in time of war should be ascertained at the time of registration. The military authorities would then have to decide how many of the 80,000 men, approximately, who would register each year, would be required to be trained for military service. I believe that the training period should be for two years, to be made up of one year of recruit training and one year as part of the Regular Army.

I believe that there should be substantial benefits of rehabilitation following upon national service training. Those who are called up or who volunteer should be the privileged class in the community. It should be a privilege to serve, and it should be recognised by the community that those who have served are entitled to privileged treatment in the way of training, whether it be university training or training under a scheme such as the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. If we had a system such as that I believe that, of the 15,000 men that would be required each year, there would be at least 10,000 volunteers because I think a lot of young men would realise first of all, that it was their duty to serve their country, and secondly, that, having served their country through national service training, they would then be entitled to the privileges of a free university education, free training for an apprenticeship, or something of that nature.

I believe that if proper conditions prevailed, a number of those liable to compulsory military service would volunteer. I assess the number at something like 10,000 a year. This would leave about 5,000 a year out of some 70,000 to be called up. Obviously, this number would be only a small proportion of those liable to be called up. I do not think that, there is any alternative to the system adopted in the United States of America, where those to be called up are selected by ballot from among those who are liable. I believe that this system is essentially fair. The Australian likes a fair deal above all, and he is prepared to accept a decision when it is made by lot.

I believe it is essential that we proceed with national service training immediately. Where could we get sufficient manpower for the forces at present if a local war were to threaten Australia? We have our small Regular Army and our Citizen Military Forces. No doubt, they would do a first class job. But where could we find the reserves to fill their places if they were committed to action? I believe that, all other courses having been tried, we should take action immediately to institute national service training on an effective basis.

I now want to discuss this Government’s economic aims and the economic position in Australia, Sir. The economic aims of the present Government, which have been so successfully pursued, have been designed to provide the kind of economic climate and administration that will ensure rapidly rising prosperity in this country. The history of the last few years is complete proof of the success of the Government’s policy. In no other country has prosperity increased so rapidly during the last four years. We have had rapid growth, full employment and price stability. It is not easy to achieve rapid growth and at the same time maintain price stability, because rapid growth itself generates certain forces that can have an inflationary effect and cause prices to rise. It is a great tribute to the present Government that, during this period of rapid growth, price stability has been maintained.

The Government’s policy is that all sections of the community shall share in our rising prosperity. The task of ensuring that the employees or wage earners share in this rising prosperity is entrusted to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. That tribunal is entirely independent of the Parliament. From time to time, it examines the economic position of Australia and decides what share of the increasing prosperity shall go to the wage earners. Recently, after such an examination of the economy, the Commission decided to raise the basic wage by £1 a week. I do not propose either to support or to criticise this decision. We have made the Commission the umpire, and the umpire has considered the position and recommended this very substantial increase in the basic wage. The base rate having been increased by £1 a week, margins for various skills are adjusted accordingly. The wages of almost all employees throughout Australia either have been increased or are the subject of applications for increases now before the appropriate tribunals.

I have said that I do not question the decision of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, which has added £100 million a year to the wage costs of industry. However, I point out that certain sections of the community do not benefit from wage increases. I refer particularly to those persons in receipt of pensions and superannuation. Not only do they receive no direct benefit from a wage increase, but also they face rising costs consequent upon wage increases. It is well known, Sir, that wages represent probably the greatest item of cost in respect of any commodity. If wages are increased, it is extremely likely that prices will rise. It is true that higher efficiency sometimes enables wage increases to be absorbed without raising prices. But, as we have seen in the few months that have elapsed since the basic wage increase became effective, prices have tended to rise as a direct consequence. Tram fares were raised within a week or two of the basic wage increase and the prices of milk and other essential commodities also are being increased. In many instances, the blame cannot be laid at the door of wicked proprietors of businesses. The first increases were made by nonprofit organisations such as the tramways - organisations mainly controlled by governments or municipal councils.

As I have pointed out, pensioners and those in receipt of superannuation benefits not only are denied the benefit of wage increases awarded by the arbitration tribunals but also are likely to be called on to bear increased costs as a result. Therefore, the policy of this Government has always been to adjust pensions upward not by the amount of basic wage increases but always in a certain relationship to the basic wage. If we examine the relationship between the age pension and the basic wage, we find that in 1923, when the Commonwealth basic wage - that is, the basic wage for the six State capitals - was first compiled, the age pension represented 18.6 per cent, of the basic wage. The age pension for a single person is now 39.9 per cent, of the basic wage. Since 1923, the ratio of the age pension to the basic wage has not merely been maintained, but has risen from 18.6 per cent, to 39.9 per cent.

If honorable members would like to see the comparison each year since 1923 I refer them to page 107 of “Hansard” of 11th August 1964 whore for each year since 1923 is set out the percentage of the age pension to the then basic wage. Taking 10 year intervals, the figures are as follows: In 1924 the age pension was 20.7 per cent, of the basic wage; in 1934 it was 26.9 per cent.; in 1944, 28.1 per cent.; in 1954, 29.7 per cent.; and in 1964, after the relevant legislation is amended, it will be 39 per cent. The percentage of the age pension to the basic wage has increased steadily in every 10 year period since 1923. Further, additional benefits have been provided such as the pensioner medical scheme, a very substantial liberalisation of the means test, help in building aged persons homes, the reduction of the qualifying residential period, and a tremendous number of other ancillary benefits that I have not time to mention.

As one who has taken an active part in endeavouring to see that the aged and the sick enjoy their fair share of Australia’s rising prosperity 1 am extremely proud of this Government’s achievements. Pensioners today are, relatively speaking, better off than they ever have been. I will continue the efforts that I have made since I first came into this House to see that their benefits are continually improved. But at the same time I am not mean enough not to acknowledge the tremendous improvements that have taken place in social services in this country, particularly under the Menzies Government.

Pensioners are sensible people. They know that the money to pay their pensions comes out of taxation. They know that the basic wage earner and all other wage earners, as well as self employed persons, are taxed to pay the pensions. Therefore, the pensions must bear a relationship to the earnings of those who pay the taxes. If taxation were so high that industry became depressed, there would not be the money to pay the pensions that are now paid. The pensioners with whom I am in touch - I probably see more pensioners than does any other member of this House - do not want to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. They want a fair deal. They want their fair share of the rising prosperity of this country. I believe that they have received it.

Apart from the most recent alteration, the basic wage was last altered in 1961. It increased by £1 a week, and the age pension for a single person increased by the same amount - £1 a week - so the pensioner receives 100 per cent, of the increase in the basic wage since 1961. The age pension for a married couple has increased by 10s. each. As the basic wage is the wage that the court considers should be paid for a family unit we can see that even with the pension for a married couple the increase - 100 per cent. - has been the same as the increase in the basic wage since 1961.

Since 1923 the pension has averaged about 33 par cent, of the basic wage. Now it is to be 39 per cent, of the basic wage, so anyone who claims that the age pensioners have not received a share in the increasing prosperity of this country and that their pensions are falling back in relation to the basic wage would be wise to look at the figures on the page of “ Hansard “ that I mentioned earlier. They will see that not only have pensions kept their proportion to the basic wage but also that they have advanced substantially in relation to the basic wage. If Labour members are trying to claim that they are the great fighters for the pensioners perhaps they will tell us why, in the eight years of the Labour Government, pensioners never received more than 28 per cent, of the basic wage, whereas under this Government the pension for a single person is now to be 39 per cent, of the basic wage.

Rising prices can hurt those in receipt of pensions more thar anything else can. The pensioners have got along quite comfortably during the last three years, when prices have been stable. If prices now tend to increase it will be the age and invalid pensioners who will be hit harder than any others. Therefore, all those in receipt of superannuation payments and pensions have a very vital interest to see that prices do not rise. We all know that inflation causes rising prices. Inflation has been described as too much money chasing too few goods. We know the definition given by the Labour leader, Mr. Scullin, when he warned the Labour Party against inflation which, he said, robbed the worker of the fruits of his wages. We know that inflation can rob the pensioner of his pension. Therefore, I say that it is far more important to the pensioner to take steps to see that inflation does not set in, that prices do not rise rapidly than it is to be concerned about a few shillings increase in the pension.

All benefits to pensioners can be brought to nought if the prices of the goods they have to buy to live on rise rapidly. Therefore, those in receipt of social service benefits have a vital interest in the policy which has been adopted by the Government of taking such steps as it can to prevent an increase in prices.

There is no secret about this Budget. It is clear that it is framed to apply the brakes to excessive spending - to stop too much money being used to buy too few goods. Taxes have been increased to withdraw certain moneys from the public. The Government has budgeted for a surplus. This means that for the time being a certain amount of money will be frozen. The Government has been most conservative about its loan raising estimates. I think much more money will be raised from loan funds than the Government has estimated. If I had been Treasurer I would have budgeted for a surplus not of £15 million but of £115 million, because this is how I think matters will turn out.

The Budget is an extremely good one in the sense that under present conditions with so many inflationary tendencies the Government has put a brake on excessive spending in order to stop pensioners and wage earners from being robbed of the fruits of their pensions and wages by rapidly rising prices. The Government has done a magnificent job in providing full employment in Australia. In many industries there is a shortage of suitable labour. We are employing all migrants as soon as they arrive in Australia. We have employed all of last year’s school leavers. Any demand for labour greater than the present demand will lead to competition for labour. Any tendency for employers to bid against each other for labour or to lure employees from other employers may lead to an increase in costs, which will react detrimentally to wage earners and pensioners. The measures adopted in the Budget are mild but they are sensible. They are designed not to cause a deflationary situation, as the Leader of the Opposition contended, but to prevent the development of an inflationary situation. In making out a case for those in receipt of social service benefits I say that you can provide no greater benefit for them than to take such steps as are necessary to prevent a rise in costs and prices.


.- In 1959 the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) presented his first Budget to this House. His most recent Budget is his sixth. The purpose of each Budget has always been carefullly concealed. The real intention behind each Budget has been revealed only at the end of each year. In this respect the present Budget is no different from it predecessors. This is a Budget of doubtful estimating, dissipated opportunities and concealed policy. The provisions which increase taxis and charges are unnecessary.

A review of the Treasurer’s past performances indicates clearly how little reliance can be placed on his estimates. A Treasurer cannot be expected to be absolutely accurate in his estimating. He must be allowed a reasonable margin for error, but the Treasurer’s record in this field clearly shows that no reliability can be placed on his estimates. A budget should incorporate, among other things, prediction and performance. Prediction is very important because upon it accomplishment depends. A degree of responsibility should be displayed in budget estimating because failure in this field may be most injurious to the economy, leading to a refusal of social service increases and tax reductions or the unjust imposition of increased taxes and other financial charges.

This year the expenditure is expected to increase by £224 million. Loan raisings are expected to decrease to £275 million. The estimated surplus this year is £18.5 million. The Budget provides for increased taxation and other charges. Before going any further I should like to recite to the House the record of the Treasurer since he took over the portfolio. That recital will support my earlier statement that little reliability can be placed on his estimates. In 1950-60 the Treasurer budgeted for a deficit of £61 million. The actual deficit for the year was £28.9 million. In 1960-61 he budgeted for a surplus of £15.5 million and had a surplus of £15.8 million. That was the only year when the result was anywhere near his estimate. In 1961-62 the Treasurer budgeted for a deficit of £16.5 million but had a deficit at the end of the year of £27 million. In 1962-63 he budgeted for a deficit of £118.3 million but achieved a surplus of £16.1 million. In 1963-64 he budgeted for a deficit of £58.4 million but achieved a surplus of £27.7 million. Those figures show that in four of his six Budgets the Treasurer budgeted for deficits. Some people would call him the apostle of deficit finance, but he would strenuously deny, as he has done in the past, that the term applies to him. In view of his record he can hardly accuse people of misrepresenting him on this score. His record shows clearly how little reliance can be placed on his estimates.

Let me illustrate my argument further. In 1959-60 his estimates were out by £32 million. In 1962-63 his estimates were astray by £134 million. In 1963-64 his estimates were out by £86 million. In three of the five years from 1959-60 to 1963-64 the Government gained a total of £252 million more than it budgeted for. That is a colossal gain to the Government and no regard was paid to it when the various Budgets were discussed. The present Budget provides for a surplus of £18.5 million. When one studies this Budget, the surplus must rank as one of its most extraordinary features. Since a surplus is the result of this Budget exercise, how does the Government justify many of its proposals that provide for the raising of additional revenue? This leaves one completely bewildered. The Government, on its own figures, is collecting £18.5 million additional to its own stated requirements. This is the area which shows how vulnerable the Treasurer is when he refuses to grant increases other than those that have been granted in the sphere of social services, and which further demonstrates how unnecessary are a number of the additional charges that he proposes.

The Government has granted a rise of 5s. a week to certain recipients of social service and repatriation benefits. If the Treasurer doubled that rise, the extra cost would be £10.75 million. He could quite easily do that and still finish with a surplus of £7.75 million, on his own figures. The recent judgment of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission means that the cost of living has increased, and the Commission has granted workers a rise of £52 per annum to meet that increase. But that is not quite accurate because following the granting of the basic wage increase there has been an upsurge in prices. The pensioner still has to purchase the necessities of life and he still has to pay the same price for them as would a millionaire. In order to meet this situation the Government has said to the married pensioner couple: “ We will give you a £26 per annum increase”, and to the single pensioner: “ We will give you a £13 per annum increase”. Those increases are supposed to meet the rise in the cost of living, although the Commission has declared that £52 a year is needed. The Treasurer’s surplus makes his failure to be more equitable in this field incomprehensible.

In the light of the surplus, how does the Government justify the imposition of additional charges on tobacco products? The yield from these additional charges will be £12.5 million. The Treasurer stated that they would increase the price of a packet of 20 king-size cigarettes or a 2-oz. packet of tobacco by 3d. But the tobacco companies have now increased the price by 4d. If the Treasurer’s figures are correct, it means that the tobacco manufacturers will gain for themselves an additional £4.33 million. When will this Government do something to protect the consumer from such malpractices? Up to now the Government has never displayed the slightest intention of bringing such acts to a stop. This is not the first time that something like this has occurred. Some years ago this Government reduced the entertainment tax. But the public did not benefit. Many businessmen completely ignored passing on the reduction. They kept their prices at the pre-reduction level. The people in the motion picture industry were the most glaring offenders. In no country is the consumer less protected than he is in Australia.

The reasons given for the increase in television viewer’s licence fees are about the most inept I have ever read. I will read to the House the reasons that the Treasurer gave for the increase. He said -

To compensate for the loss of revenue involved-

He was talking about the abolition of the duty on cathode ray tubes -

  1. . it has been decided to make an increase of £1 in the television viewer’s licence fee, thus preserving the concept that the cost of the National

Television Service should be met by special levies on those for whom it is provided, namely, persons with television sets.

From reading that one could quite easily gain the impression that people are not paying taxation for the privilege of owning television sets at present. To compensate for the abolition of a duty which the Treasurer has stated is very difficult to administer, he has increased the licence fee for individual viewers. This taxation increase will affect no less than 62 per cent, of the home owners in Australia.

The Government abolishes the duty of £6 on cathode ray tubes and, to compensate its own revenues, increases another existing charge. It is a reasonable assumption that what has happened in similar circumstances in the past will happen again in this instance. The manufacturers will not reduce the cost of television sets, and this action will represent a handsome windfall to them. The increase in the viewer’s licence fee represents a gain for the Government of £1.725 million. Again, in the light of the expected surplus, the reasons given by the Treasurer are very difficult to accept. Increases in Post Office charges will give the Government an additional £8.5 million. Why cannot some of the surplus be directed to minimising those increases? The same question can be asked in respect of taxation increases, and increases in stations’ licence fees and air navigation charges.

Furthermore, the Treasurer, in his Budget Speech, stated his intention to borrow an additional £10 million from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to carry on the Snowy Mountains scheme. That seems to me to be a little redundant, in view of the fact that on his own figures he will have a surplus of £18.5 million. It means that as a result of borrowing overseas our overseas balances wil be reduced by a figure corresponding to the borrowing. In view of the fact that the Treasurer proposes to finish the financial year with a surplus, it is very difficult to know what reason prompts him to borrow more money overseas.

I realise that all of these matters, added to others that I have not mentioned, would more than absorb the proposed surplus. But the question that the Government has to answer is: Why are these increases being imposed on such a wide scale and why does the Government propose to finish the year with a surplus? I believe that it will finish the year with a surplus greater than the estimated one. It is apparent from the Budget that the Government is expecting an advance in the economy at least matching that of 1963-64. If that is the premise for its estimating, then I believe that the present Budget figures are misleading.

The Treasurer has advanced quite a number of opinions on the question of raising money. I believe that these opinions are completely impossible to justify. He has estimated that there will be a fall of about £43 million in subscriptions to Commonwealth loans this year compared with last year. What prompted the Treasurer to make that estimate, I do not know. There is no indication that anything has happened to the internal loan market. Last year, when every appeal was made, the loans were over-subscribed, and I do not know why the Treasurer should expect such a deficit on this occasion. He also makes the assumption that next year more people will redeem their bonds than will convert them, and this of necessity will add to his problems. However, none of these factors was present last year, and I find it very difficult to accept his point of view and the provision he has made in the Budget.

The Government has failed completely to make adequate provision for defence. It has been in office now for 15 years and its policy has been one of programmes and promises. Both the programmes and the promises have been changed constantly and in a few moments I will give some of my reasons for saying this. It appeared to me that the Treasurer, when presenting the Budget, was slanting his remarks to the Senate election that could be held later in the year. He tried to introduce a defence atmosphere into the whole of his proposals. Strangely enough, when presenting his Budget he devoted a comparatively short time to the question of defence. Defence did not occupy an extraordinarily large part of the Budget, but over the weekend in a television interview he brought defence into greater prominence. In my opinion, the provisions in the Budget do not in any way provide for the adequate defence of the country. Of course, Government supporters are in the habit of talking constantly about past performances; they forget that we have to live in the future.

On the question of defence the Treasurer said, among other things -

The £297,000,000 provided for this year amounts to an increase of £99,000,000 or 50 per cent, over expenditure in 1960-61 . . .

Why was 1960-61 chosen for this comparison? Apparently the Treasurer likes to use high-sounding figures, as does the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who prefers to refer to 100 million dollars rather than £44 million. To find an increase of £99 million, the Treasurer went back five years. This is precisely the kind of thinking that has cluttered up the defence performance of the Government.

The Government has constantly changed its policy on defence. It has been unable to come to grips with reality. As a result of the conflicting opinions, either amongst the Government’s advisers or in the Cf.binet itself, we are only now, after 15 years, about to get something that has been advocated by Opposition members for 12 years. I can remember that as far back as 12 years ago Opposition members tried to impress upon the Government the need to obtain submarines. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has figured prominently in the demand for these vessels. However, it was only last year that the Government placed an order for four Oberon class submarines, but these will not be available for another two years. This procrastination and the obvious division of thought that no amount of talking can conceal have retarded the defence effort of the Government.

Before I conclude I wish to refer to two other matters. The first is the policy of permitting appeals to go to the Privy Council. Australia is one of the few Commonwealth countries that is still clinging to this means of appeal. Most other Commonwealth countries no longer use it. There is no doubt that it imposes undue hardships upon litigants. It is true that all people are equal before the law, but there is no question of there being any equality in getting before the law. Litigation is very costly. It has been said that a person facing a criminal charge who eventually goes before the Privy Council will have to meet costs amounting to £10,000. The ordinary person just could not pay such costs. Furthermore, members of the legal profession have told me that some of the Privy Council’s judgments on matters of law, as they affect the operation of Australian courts, have given rise to a considerable dissatisfaction amongst our judiciary and have evoked considerable criticism here.

AU this makes it impossible to understand why the Government maintains this very costly process. The Government never attempts to justify it and will never try to argue it out. On many occasions the Government has been asked whether it would consider following the policy that has been adopted in most Commonwealth countries, but no satisfactory answer has been given. Because some people in the Parliament prefer to retain this system, many citizens are faced with unnecessary and very costly litigation.

The remaining matter with which I wish to deal is the appointment of an Australian to the position of Governor-General. I understand that in the very near future this position will become vacant and the Government will be required to fill it. I remind the House, and especially Government supporters, that gallup polls on this matter have shown that no fewer than 70 per cent, of the people of Australia favour the appointment of an Australian to the position. Here again, as with appeals to the Privy Council, the Government will not argue it out. Whenever the Government is asked whether it believes that an Australian is not a fit and proper person to occupy the position of Governor-General, it immediately denies that such a charge can be laid at its door. But it has shown in a very determined way that, irrespective of the wishes of the Australian people, it does not propose to appoint an Australian to the position. In view of the support that such an appointment would receive from the people, the time is long overdue for the Government to change its attitude on this very important subject.


.- It is always interesting to listen to the speeches of Opposition members on the Budget and to form an opinion as to whether they really want to investigate the propositions put forward at Budget time or whether they merely want to rattle the party political bucket.

At the commencement of this debate, it was obvious that some Opposition members wanted simply to criticise the Budget proposals for party political purposes. It seemed to me that their idea was not to discover from the Budget Papers something that would be a guide to them during the coming year as to the progress that Australia might make. In introducing the Budget, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) based his figures and proposals on performances in the year just passed. That is a very fair proposition. It shows that the Government is saddling up to its responsibilities and estimating what advantages might flow from the position in which Australia now finds itself. The Treasurer said -

Altogether, 1963-64 was a year of notable economic achievement for Australia. Admittedly we had a fair share of good fortune. At home, the seasons stood to us again.

I might interpolate here that, although seasons generally may have stood to us, there are always patches <“f our continent where the seasons are not as favorable as in other parts, and we must make provision for those circumstances. However, broadly speaking, as the Treasurer said, we had good seasons. He continued -

Abroad, the prices of a number of our main exports rose and some commodities, like wheat and sugar, found wider markets than we would normally have expected.

This has been reflected in farm incomes which, as honorable members know, have improved, although not to a very great extent. This improvement has largely been the result of the better markets that we have found abroad. The Treasurer went on -

Conceding that, however, I think it fair to say that the economy put up a good performance in terms of enterprise and effort and output.

After all, that is one of things we are proud of in Australia. We are proud of the way in which people rise to the occasion and take advantage of the opportunities available. The Treasurer then said -

As opportunities showed up, industries and the people who work in them responded quickly and effectively.

We can well be proud of the position in which we find ourselves at the moment, which has resulted from the enterprise of our people in years gone by. There is no denying, even by members of the Opposition, that the economy is in a good, solid, sound state. We now have a record provision for social services. Despite the criticism levelled at our defence efforts, we have set out to provide Australia with the defence forces and equipment that the country is capable of providing and maintaining. At this stage in our development it would be impossible to say what is required for the defence of this country. It would probably be impossible for us to make full provision entirely from our own resources. So we have arranged for our friends and neighbours to share the responsibility of maintaining Australia as a free country.

Over the years, this Government has set out to look after the country’s affairs at home as well as abroad. I do not want to go back too far, but I may say in passing that in the last year or so the Government has, through its Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), done those things for the wool industry that the wool industry needs and has asked for. There have been occasions in the past, as I recollect very well, when the wool industry was inclined to say: “ We will look after our own affairs. We have our own product and we would prefer to manage our own affairs.” But in the changing world of today, a changing world of commerce and of communications, the wool industry has had every reason to say: “ We think it would be a good idea if we took the opportunity to consolidate and stabilise our industry and see that it is profitable.” After all, profitability and stability must go hand in hand, and profitability was sadly lacking some years ago. However, I am pleased to say that at present the industry is in a better position than it has been in for a long time.

The wheat industry has profited by the continuation of the stabilisation scheme over the years. There was a time when we were paying into the fund established under that scheme to build it up against the day when we could not sell our wheat profitably. Then we reached a time when the fund was exhausted and the Government had to come in and help us in the terms of the contract. That stage has now passed and the shareholders in the wheat industry, as the farmers might well be called, can now receive a price arrived at under the provisions of the stabilisation legislation on a sensible basis. We do not have to indulge in the gamble that was necessary in years gone by. We members of the Australian Country Party in this Parliament have welcomed the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey), who was at one time a member of the Australian Wheat Board. We know that the members of that organisation have worked very hard and very well in the service of the industry.

The dried fruits industry, which is so well represented in this place by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), today also has a stabilisation scheme which is the admiration of everybody in the industry. I understand it was selected by the industry itself, and the Government, through the Minister for Primary Industry, has been able to make it possible for those in the industry to benefit from this principle of profitability together with stability.

A great deal of marketing assistance has been given to primary producers by the Department of Trade, which has been unceasing in its efforts to build up overseas markets which are so necessary for the proper development of Australia. Taxation concessions have been granted to enable farmers not only to build up their plant and equipment and so increase production, but also to give their share farmers, farmhands and other employees homes worth living in on the properties on which they work.

All these things have been aimed at building up a bigger and stronger primary producing industry which is so necessary in Australia today and which will be necessary for many years to come. But this has not been done at the expense of secondary industries which are complementary to our primary industries. This is something that must be well remembered. If we of the Country Party appear to have some bias towards primary industries, that is understandable. But I remind the House that no hand has ever been raised by this Government to do anything which would put secondary industries at a disadvantage. It is pretty well recognised that secondary industries could not carry on as they do today without the help they get from the overseas sales of our primary products. Although the proportion has decreased over the years, at present about 80 per cent, of our export income is derived from primary products and, of the money received from the sale of primary products, about 80 per cent, is used for the purchase of equipment and raw materials used in secondary industries.

So we see these two sections of industry complementing one another. This arrangement has worked very well and will continue to do so. But it is necessary for us to remember that there must always be some balance between the price that the primary producer gets for his product and the price he has to pay for the secondary products necessary for him to carry on. If there is an imbalance between these two we will be forced back to the position in which we found ourselves some years ago when, because of high production costs, primary producers were unable to achieve the volume of production that was required in the interests of Australia as a whole.

As I have said, evidence of the successful year that we have passed through, and which was referred to by the Treasurer, can be seen all round us. In my electorate of Lawson which is one of the very fine producing electorates of New South Wales-

Mr Dean:

– Hear, hear!


– Thank you. In my electorate, as I have said, we have seen other improvements as well as an increase in the production of farm products. We have not only seen the people living under better conditions on the land, we have not only seen the cities and towns building up, sharing in the prosperity and preparing for the decentralisation to which we look forward, but we have also seen science move out into the country. Only 20 miles from my own home town a field station of Mount Stromlo Observatory has been established. It is operating with one large telescope from Mount Stromlo and with another that was used at Mount Bingar. The station has established a remarkable reputation and has been the subject of inspection by the Astronomer Royal. As a result of that very eminent gentleman’s visit and also as a result of the energetic efforts of our own Professor Bok, who is in charge of Mount Stromlo, it has been suggested by the Academy of Science in Australia and by the Royal Academy that an international 150-inch telescope should be set up in the southern hemisphere, with a view to making a complete study of the section of the heavens that can be seen from this part of the world. I am very hopeful that if this project is agreed to, the site of the field station in my electorate, a place called

Siding Springs in the Warrumbungle Mountains, will be selected on its merits, and for no other reason, as the site for this large telescope.

But in order to have all these developments, it is necessary that we have other things as well. For that reason, not far away an airport of very high standard indeed was constructed recently. That work was financed partly by the local shire council and partly by the Department of Civil Aviation, under a scheme that may be availed of by other towns which are in similar circumstances. As a result of the assistance which the shire council has given, there is today in my electorate a very fine aerodrome and an excellent observatory on a remarkably good site, serviced by good bitumen roads and located near a national park which is the envy of all who have travelled through the electorate.

Mr Curtin:

– Thanks to the State Government.


– I invite my colleagues and my friends on the other side of the House from round about my area to advise their constituents to travel over the good roads that have been built through the electorate of Lawson right down to the coast and to call in as they pass through and inspect these modern developments of which we are so very proud.

The honorable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin) seems to think that the New South Wales Government has been responsible for these developments. Let me assure the honorable member that very shortly I shall tell him just how much Commonwealth aid roads money has been poured into the States by the Commonwealth to assist them in carrying out road works. We do not want any more party politics in this matter, because it is only by universal co-operation that we can hope to put Australia right at the top of the tree as the years go on.

The honorable member for KingsfordSmith suggests that the State Governments have been responsible for all the improvements that have taken place in the States. If he cares to look at a publication which was issued today - the Auditor-General’s report - and at the Budget Papers he will see some very illuminating information. For his benefit, I shall refer briefly to some of it. Over the last 12 months advances by the Commonwealth to the States for housing amounted to £50 million, and the total contributed so far by the Commonwealth by way of advances over the years for housing for the benefit of the States is £574 million. That does not support the argument that the States alone are responsible for all the things that have been done. Again, over the last 12 months, £17 million was made available to the States by the Commonwealth for universities. The contribution under the Commonwealth aid roads scheme, to which I have just referred, amounted to £58 million in 1963-64 and the total amount contributed by the Commonwealth over the last five years was £250 million. So do not let the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith claim that the Commonwealth has not made any money available or that the State Governments have done all these things on their own. i admit that the money comes from the taxpayers and from loans subscribed to by people who are prepared to help the Commonwealth and the States by lending their money.

This is only a small part of what the Commonwealth has done. By means of grants to the States the Commonwealth has assisted meat production to a great extent. It has assisted Western Australia to carry out jetty work at Derby and it has also assisted that State with its northern development. The figures contained in the Budget Papers give the lie direct to anyone who says that we have given no thought to the north. The Commonwealth Government has given assistance for the construction of beef cattle roads in Western Australia and in Queensland. It has also assisted in the development of the brigalow lands in Queensland. I am going through the list quickly but the figures are all contained in the Budget Papers and anyone may read them. The Commonwealth has assisted both Queensland and New South Wales with the installation of coal loading facilities. It has helped New South Wales in connection with the Blowering water storage scheme. I might mention that in the Blowering water storage scheme the Commonwealth has helped the New South Wales Government to do something about a matter that has been on its lap for years and years, and about which it had made no attempt to do anything. Now, thanks to the Commonwealth Government, the New South Wales Government is finally honouring its obligation to build that reservoir. I would not have been so emphatic in mentioning these matters if the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith had not raised them. The Blowering reservoir will now be built, and it will be built partly with funds contributed by the Commonwealth and partly with moneys provided by the Government of New South Wales.

The Commonwealth Government has also made a great contribution towards a flood mitigation scheme in the northern part of New South Wales, lt plans to grant assistance over the next six years in the carrying out of a flood mitigation scheme along those rivers in northern New South Wales which, year after year, flood the countryside. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, know just how badly those areas need assistance. By this scheme the Commonwealth is assisting to prevent the damage and waste that have occurred in those districts over past years.

So far I have mentioned only those things that we have done within our own shores and from which our own people will benefit as time goes on. But we have also great responsibilities overseas. We are something like the twelfth largest trading nation of the world and we have a responsibility to take our place with other nations in helping the under-developed countries which have things to sell but which encounter great problems in getting their produce on to the market. Many conferences aimed at helping these countries have been attended by the right honorable member for Murray (Mr. McEwen), the Leader of the Australian Country Party and the Deputy Prime Minister. As a result of the work he has done, the bigger nations of the world are now taking an interest in the lesser developed and developing countries and are trying to help them to derive some benefit from the products which they have not been able to get on to the world’s market. We have a very proud record in that field. We can also be proud of our achievements in the last 12 months in bringing Australia to a position as sound as she has ever been in since

Federation. We are sure that that state of affairs will continue.

In view of all these things, let us hear no more talk about the Treasurer miscalculating in his Budget or about the Treasurer having hidden things. Let us hear no more suggestions that this Budget will not have the results that are expected of it. During the course of the Budget debate, there will be mention of many things on which honorable members are not all in agreement. One of the beauties of our democratic system of government is that men can come to this Parliament and, on behalf of their constituents, point out that there are some things that do not line up as well as they should. If we voice certain opinions we do so in the belief that something may be done about the matters we raise or that some assistance may be given in the directions requested. In a great number of cases particular note is taken of the opinion expressed, and something can be done.

It can be appreciated that until the Budget reaches this House the average back bench members, other than Cabinet Ministers, have no opportunity of expressing their opinions, other than in the form of recommendations to the Treasurer. After these recommendations have been expressed Cabinet has the great responsibility of sorting out the problems and producing, without any reference to anybody outside, a Budget of expenditure and revenue for the coming twelve months. Only when the Budget is presented do we have an opportunity to express opinions on what is proposed, and sometimes proposals have been modified.

One of my great problems has been to get better communications for country people. I refer not only to people who live in the country and to those working on the land, but also to those who live in towns or cities in country areas- people whose lives are wrapped up in the country, people who share problems and disabilities with the man out of town, and people who are anxious to help him with his problems. One of the greatest boons that country people can have is proper telephone services. The Treasurer announced that Post Office charges will be altered. We have been told that the costs of installing and maintaining a telephone are so great that the minute the telephone is installed it becomes a liability to the department. We have been told of the great lag in the provision of telephones, that quite a number of people are still without telephones and that there are people without a telephone line near their properties. Honorable members who live in the country know that to be correct. We know that many people are using party lines. Their individual service has been disconnected and they have gone back to having a party line, which is most unsatisfactory. We know that in some cases people on the land have to build their own lines for quite a distance to meet the P.M.G. departmental line because the department will not take its lines right out to farms.

In many cases people on the land have to wait a long time for telephone services to be connected. It irks people to have to erect their own line, perhaps to a road junction up to which it is proposed to lay the P.M.G. line, and then in some cases still have to wait 12 months before getting a connection. I must draw the PostmasterGeneral’s attention to this situation because it is very upsetting to country people to be placed in that position. Consequently, these people write to their Member of Parliament and ask: “ Why is the Department wasting time explaining away the problems that it has? Why doesn’t it give us the connection it promised? “ The Department says: “ When your line reaches your boundary we will run the Government line to it.”

Complaints about this go back as far as 1950. I have taken up this matter with the Postmaster-General on previous occasions and have referred to the non-availability of telephone services in rural areas. He has said that he appreciated my representations. On one occasion he said -

With the object of overcoming the disabilities inseparable from the present system of establishing and operating exchanges in rural areas, as well as to afford continuous telephone services, it is proposed to establish rural automatic exchanges in country districts to the utmost extent practicable. Due to the world wide demand for rural automatic exchanges, the rate at which such facilities can be obtained and installed throughout Australia is limited to some extent, but you may be assured that the Department is pursuing the matter vigorously and installations will be provided in as many cases as possible.

The Postmaster-General gave me that reply in 1950, but we are still asking for automatic exchanges. The demand is increasing, day by day and year by year, so there is good reason for people to ask “ Why is the Department wasting time explaining away its problems? Why doesn’t it get down and do the job for us?”. This is a reasonable question, but the reply sometimes refers only to the amount of work involved or the large number of similar projects requiring attention. The Department says: “ Because of these things we are unable to indicate precisely when services will be connected.” That is not very satisfactory to the man living out of town when he has no telephone communication with his place of business or with people with whom he wants to be in contact. We understand that these problems exist because of the tremendous number of applications for telephone services, but we understand also that many applications have been deferred. The figures for deferred applications are rather disturbing because they show that on 30th June 1946 in the Sydney metropolitan area there were 23,973 deferred applications, and at that time in the country there were only 2,093. But in 1963 the number of deferred metropolitan applications had fallen to 15,607, whereas the number of deferred country applications had increased to 3,940. In other words, the number of deferred applications in the metropolitan area had fallen considerably while the number in the country had almost doubled.

In the whole of the Commonwealth in 1946 deferred applications in metropolitan areas totalled about 58,000 while in the country the number was 11,700. In 1963 the number of deferred applications in metropolitan areas had fallen to 27,000, but the corresponding figure for the country had fallen to only 9,200. In view of the number of deferred applications the Department has determined that it will have to increase charges for telephone connections so that more money will be available to meet the outstanding applications, which are growing in number year by year. They have increased considerably. I could speak for quite a long time on this great problem of better communications for country people, but unfortunately the time allotted for a Budget debate is all too short. However, I want to say that I do not agree with the section of the Budget Speech under “ Post Office Charges “, where the

Treasurer said, speaking of the Postal Department -

It is essential that its activities be conducted in accordance with sound business and commercial practice. . . .

I have no fault to find with that, because that is desirable, but I do not agree with the remainder of the sentence, which was - that is, that it should be required to meet its normal operating costs from its own resources.

If people are living under disabilities in the country they should be assisted by the Government. There are many places where they receive no assistance. I believe that the proposition of trying to raise enough money from the subscribers to enable the Department to reduce the number of deferred applications is quite wrong. The Treasury should assist the PostmasterGeneral’s Department to overcome the present lag, and the Department should try to build up a better and more complete telephone service throughout country areas. The country is crying out for something of this sort to be done, and we are hoping that something will be done in this regard.

Many of the people affected are either primary producers or are involved with primary producers in maintaining the stability of this country. One of their greatest needs is good and efficient communications, not only with local towns but also with the cities and with the suppliers of machinery parts and things of that sort. For years they have put up with a very poor and inefficient telephone service and it is high time that something was done to correct the position. While it is left to the subscribers to pay enough money in the form of rentals and charges to meet the normal operating costs of the Department we will not achieve any improvements in our communications system. The Department says that the demand for individual telephone services is at an all-time high, due principally to the provision of services at less than operating costs. That may well be, but the fact remains that if telephone charges are increased, as has been proved in years gone by, people will not be deterred from having the benefit of this great facility to which they are so much entitled.


.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, this Budget is a defla tionary Budget. All of us would agree with that statement. But it is deflationary to an extent that is not justified in the expanding economy of Australia at the present time. If honorable members read the judgment that was given in recent months that resulted in the increase of £1 a week in the basic wage, they will see that the argument for justifying the increase was that the economy, especially in the private enterprise section of it, could afford to bear the cost of that extra £1 a week. Therefore, it is dangerous at a time like this to bring down a deflationary Budget rather than a Budget to encourage expansion in the various sections of the community.

Secondly, this is a taxation happy Budget. The highest tax increase in any single year in our Commonwealth history is imposed by this Budget. Not many people would realise that until they examined the figures. I would like to repeat the illustration which was given by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) on Tuesday evening with respect to a basic wage earner with a wife and two children in order to show honorable members how it works out in practice. Ten years ago, this worker would have paid 5s. a week in income tax. This year, he will pay 10s. 6d. a week ;n income tex. His real income is only 4 per cent, higher than it was 10 years ago while his income tax has almost doubled. The average wage earner with a wife and two children pays 179 per cent, more tax today than he did in 1954; while a person receiving £5,500 a year today pays only 105 per cent, more in income tax than he did in 1954. This is an anomalous situation.

Mr Turnbull:

– Give us the two amounts.


– I have not the figures. The only fair way to work out the difference between the increase in the taxation paid by the basic wage earner and the increase in the taxation paid by the man on £5,500 a year is on percentages. The percentages show that the basic wage earner has been hit to leg. You would think that Simpson or Vievers was batting when you read the story of how this Budget will deal with the basic wage earner. One week, the poor basic wage earner receives a £1 rise. Three months later he is worse off than he was before. As honorable members know, everybody is taking a piece out of that £1 increase. Everybody who sells anything to the wage earner is increasing his prices. There is no control on costs or prices in this mad economy, this crazy system, under which we live where wages and salaries are pegged on one side and there is no control of prices on the other side. The illustration I have given demonstrates that this is quite a vicious Budget, although it was brought down in a form that would lead people to believe that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) was only patting them on the back rather than thumping them in the solar plexus.

I shall now refer to the reaction of the “ Taxpayers’ Bulletin “.

Mr Whittorn:

– Oh!


– I am glad the honorable member for Balaclava gave a cynical laugh when I mentioned this document. These people are not Labour supporters. This journal was published when our government was in office, and we know what it did to us. Now it has done the same thing in many respects in regard to this Government. On the front page of the “Taxpayers’ Bulletin” dated 15th August, 1964, this statement appears -

Last week we quoted what Mr. Holt had said at the 1964 Australian Tax Conference - “the greatest incentive that can be given is a comparatively low rate of taxation for both individuals and companies. It may well be that in order to allow private industry to expand in the nature we would wish, some moderation of government expenditure may be necessary in the near future. This is not a prospect that fills me with gloom. 1 am happy about it.”

That was the Treasurer speaking at the 1964 Australian Tax Conference. He speaks with two voices, as does his Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), when they speak after a very expensive dinner, and all that goes with it. It is marvellous how some people speak differently when they come into the Parliament or are preparing a budget.

Mr Turnbull:

– That is not worthy of you.


– What do 1 mean? I said that they had been to dinner and it was a very cosy atmosphere.

Mr Turnbull:

– You know perfectly well.


– I do not mean what you think, so I would like you to apologise.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– Will you tell us what he thinks?


– No. The article in the “ Taxpayers’ Bulletin “ continues -

We also said that - “We have a needling fear that it is the voice of the ‘ backroom boys ‘ - the Treasury Officials, the academic economist, the departmental administrators - that finally carries the day”.

It seems that in preparing the 1964-6S Budget the backroom boys did in fact carry the day.

Against a background of a sound and buoyant economy, astronomical revenue collections, actual and in prospect, Mr. Holt increases personal income tax, raises the rate of company taxes to a height never before reached (even in the war years), increases sales tax on motor vehicles, raises the cost of telephone facilities and T.V. licences and has a crack at that evil doing class - “ the smoker “.

Expenditure in all directions is increased, despite what Mr. Holt said to our conference and what he refers to in his speech, namely, that expenditure by public authorities is far in excess of expenditure in the private sector of the community.

So the Treasurer speaks with two voices on the matter. He told the taxpayers conference a different story from what is told in the Budget. One would think that he had very little to do with the planning of the Budget. He read it. He provided some of the items for it. But the actual composition of it was not his. The backroom boys again had had their dominant say in what this Government is to do to the people at this time.

The heading of the editorial on the Budget in the Melbourne “ Sun NewsPictorial “ read: “ Brake On Progress “. The editorial begins -

It was a depressing, distressing, unimaginative Budget that Mr. Holt produced last night.

Further down, it says -

People felt that Sir Robert Menzies and his Ministers would have learnt the lesson of the restrictive economic policies of 1960 that threw Australia into such serious reverses.

But they seem to have forgotten their lesson . . .

Most people had hoped that the occasion was one for bold, far-sighted positive measures- not for more taxes, more restraints.

The editorial continues -

It is sad that repressive thinking should again be dominating the Cabinet and the Treasury.

There were many critics of the Budget of course, but even if the Government taxed some people 19s. in the fi, they would still vote for Sir Robert Menzies. They think he can do no wrong. But they did come out and criticise the Budget in the newspapers. They, too, are speaking with two voices. They do not carry their criticism in the Press to the ballot box. So, I take their criticism with a grain of salt, five grains of salt and a thousand grains of salt, because it is not worth twopence. These people who are criticising this Government in the Press are the ones who go along to the ballot box and vote again for Sir Robert Menzies and his Ministers.

This is a giving and taking Budget. But it gives much less than it takes. Pensioners are to receive a rise of 5s. a week. The Opposition will have a lot more to say about this 5s. rise when the Bill comes before the House. However, I mention in passing that this concession will cost the country less than £4 million, and the price rises following on the basic wage increase of £1 a week have already taken some of that increase in the pension away.

Mr Cockle:

– How much do you say pensioners should get?


– They should be getting an increase of 10s. a week at least at this time to compensate them in some measure for what the basic wage has already done to the cost of living. I do not suppose we will ever find what we call an all round, agreed upon, equitable amount to pay pensioners under the present setup, but I do feel that an increase of 5s. a week is totally inadequate considering what the Budget will do to them now.

Then we come to the taking part of the Budget. I shall show how this will affect invalid pensioners who want telephones, for instance. The Treasurer has given pensioners an additional 5s. a week on the one hand and, on the other hand, he has increased rentals and installation charges for telephones. Members of this Parliament receive requests for assistance from many sick people who present a doctor’s certificate stating that they require a telephone. It is absolutely scandalous and callous for a Government to charge an invalid pensioner as much for the installation of a telephone as will be paid by a top ranking businessman. The poor invalid pensioner will have to pay £15 for the installation of a telephone, and the same charge will be paid by a businessman who earns £8,000 or £9,000 a year. Further, both will pay the same rental. To me, this is a wicked thing to do to invalid and age pensioners, who represent the unfortunate people in our comminity

Now I shall demonstrate more of the taking ways of this Budget. The Government will receive an additional £35 million in a full year from the increase in income tax, for that is all that the removal of the 5 per cent, rebate represents. It is merely a tax increase. The increase in rental and installation charges for telephones will bring in another £9.5 million in a full year. Business people will pass on to the good old consumer the increased charges imposed on businesses. The increase in television viewers’ licence fees will return the Government an additional £1,725,000 in the financial year 1964-65. The increase in broadcasting and television station licence fees will bring in only £320,000 in a full year. The people who watch television programmes so often truncated by commercials, however, will pay in total in the current financial year an additional £1,725,000, as 1 have pointed out.

Now I come to the increase in the excise on tobacco and cigarettes. I foresaw this; I gave up smoking eight months ago. It gives one a great feeling to be able to say: “ No “, when one’s constituents pass round cigarettes. They think it great, too. The feeling is indeed wonderful. Honorable members opposite ought to find out for themselves sometime. The increase in the excise on tobacco and cigarettes will increase the Government’s revenue by £14,100,000 in a full year. But who will pay this? It will be paid by the poor old consumer again. Indeed, the prices of cigarettes and tobacco have already been raised. Almost before the Treasurer had finished his Budget speech, prices of these products had increased. The increase of 6d. in the £1 in company tax will return to the Government an additional £22 million in a full year. Most of this will be paid by the consumers, because businesses can pass on these increases.

The next item in the taking that is so characteristic of this Budget is the increase of 2i per cent, in the sales tax on motor cars. The poor old car owner is to be slugged again. He is slugged every time. No section of the community is hit so hard by State and Federal governments as are car owners. The increased sales tax will raise the Government’s revenue by £6,250,000 in a full year. All these increases in taxes of one kind or another will return the Government an additional £87,012,000 in a full year.

The Treasurer has budgeted for a surplus of £18.5 million. Why should he go to all this trouble to budget for such a surplus? He could have presented an Even Steven budget. There need not have been any increases in telephone charges or sales tax on motor cars. Had the Treasurer refrained from imposing increases in these two revenue items alone, he would almost have wiped out the estimated surplus and broken even. He need not have budgeted for a surplus. The fact that he has done so is merely indicative of the callous things he does. Last year, he budgeted for a deficit of £58,400,000. But what did he get. He had a surplus of £27,700,000. Every time the present Treasurer has budgeted for a deficit, he has finished the financial year with a surplus. He could have done the same again this financial year.

Mr Luchetti:

– It is a confidence trick.


– It is just a high level confidence trick. The Treasurer could have refrained from increasing taxes and many of these charges that I have mentioned, and could have budgeted for a deficit. With the economy expanding as it is, he would still have finished the financial year with a surplus.

I turn now to employment. Thank goodness unemployment has declined. None of us would be so callous as not to be grateful for this fact. However, Tasmania, which is my State, still has unemployment of nearly 3 per cent. The State Government was returned to office on 2nd May with the highest majority since 1941. Unfortunately, the population growth in Tasmania is not being matched by industrial growth and job availability. So there is still unemployment of nearly 3 per cent., which represents more than 3,000 workers unemployed. I wish this Government had catered for the needs of Tasmania with another special unemployment grant to help us over the next six months. However, it is clear that the Government has no intention of doing anything like that.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.


– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was making a special plea for Tasmania, which has an unemployment problem unequalled anywhere in the Commonwealth. 1 also expressed pleasure that the unemployment figures were much lower than they were say, 18 months ago. None of us, whatever our politics, would want to have a vested interest in unemployment, but Tasmania, where it is so difficult to get big industries established rapidly, is finding it hard to keep up job availability in proportion to its population. So our unemployment figure at present is over the 3,000 mark, nearly 3 per cent, of our work force. I appeal to the Government to give Tasmania some special consideration in the form of a grant to relieve unemployment. Last year the Government granted £20 million to the States to help relieve unemployment. We shared in that grant. It was a great help to us. However, because through no fault of our own we have this excessive unemployment we believe that the Government should give us special consideration.

The next matter I want to raise is rather new. In my opinion there is a dynamic new feature in Australia today, what I would call a new colossus - nationalisation by monopolisation. In the Chifley era - I was in this place during the last three years of Labour’s term of office - the Liberal Party screamed about Labour’s attempt to nationalise industries, big and small, including corner shops and farms. Sir Arthur Fadden waxed very eloquent on this theme during the election campaign of 1949. He made some shocking statements about it. Our attempt to nationalise the banks in 1947 was like stepping on an ant bed. Some quarters have not got over the effect even yet. Our proposal led to the wildest predictions, the most extravagant warnings and the uttering by certain spokesmen of the Liberal and Country Parties of the greatest lies of a decade. This is what the Liberals said just prior to 1950 -

We are bitterly opposed to nationalisation, lt is evil, lt is ugly. It is Communistic. It is devilish. It will destroy freedom.

What has happened in the last 10 years, and particularly in the last five years? Organised takeovers in this country have been on a frightening scale. They have wiped out dozens of small businesses. The mammoth process of nationalisation is going on night and day as monopolisation, like an octopus, grabs more and more industries and puts them in the hands of fewer men.

What has happened in the process to that sacred concept known as free enterprise, the goddess of Capitalism? Vicious restrictive trade practices, huge takeovers and monopoly growth have well nigh torpedoed the old-fashioned concept of free enterprise. It is being slowly nationalised by the process of monopolisation. We are witnessing nationalisation by private enterprise instead of nationalisation by public enterprise. This Government is allowing this process to go on without protest. Where is its criticism of nationalisation now?

I believe that in the next ten years this process will be speeded up to such an extent that this colossus will be striding across the country and dictating to governments, and we shall have a form of nationalisation by big business by means of monopolisation which, I am sure, none of us, on this side of the House at any rate, wants to see. I have not time to develop this subject further tonight, but it is a really serious problem which must be looked at by the Government. Certain steps could be taken on a national level to halt this vicious nationalisation of the country’s resources by private enterprise engaging in monopolisation.

I want to mention now one aspect of defence. In the Budget Speech the Treasurer became eloquent when he said that an additional £36 million will be spent on defence. However, when we analyse the figures in the Budget Papers we find that one-half of that amount will be used to meet the cost of increased pay and allowances for members of the Services, and of the provision of homes for servicemen. These objectives are all good in themselves, but that is not the kind of expansive defence expenditure that we or the people generally had in mind. As my leader said when he dealt with this aspect, this Government has tricked the people on the subject of defence. We agree with him wholeheartedly. The Government has indulged in trickery by saying that an additional £36 million will be spent on defence, without saying in which avenues the money will be spent. It will not be spent on new weapons because one-half of it will be devoted to other purposes. Is the remaining half of the increase enough to spend on new weapons if we are in such peril in Vietnam and from Indonesia as Government spokesmen have led us to believe? If the Government’s story of what is going on to our north is true, and if the Government’s story of what is in store for us is true, surely the proposed expenditure is not enough to meet our requirements.

The situation in Vietnam was mentioned last Thursday. I spoke on the subject for twenty minutes but did not have time to finish one theme that I was developing. I want to do so now. It relates to what is going on in South Vietnam. The “ Australian “, our new and very successful daily newspaper, on Tuesday, 11th August carried a remarkable article written on the spot by Peter Smark, who has spent years in the area. The article is headed: “ The Chinese won’t risk an open move “ and says -

How goes the war? The U.S. is losing. The Vietnam war -

Which, by the way, we claim is really a civil war - is net to be won by international flexing of muscles, by first statements which ring right across to Moscow and Peking from a strong man in Washington, lt is shadowy conflict with no front, a thing of stealth and treachery, setting brother against brother, father against son.

In a thousand ricefields in a thousand villages, small men in simple, black, peasant garb can afford to laugh at Washington. They are winning the war. Strong U.S. action has taken the thoughts of American military men here on to a higher plane, where the U.S. can manoeuvre vast fleets and massive air power.

But soon they will have to think again about the war, and thoughts of the war bring back frustration, stifled gnawings of despair.

In plain facts, the U.S. is constantly deepening its military commitment in men, material and money in South Vietnam and yet the situation is steadily deteriorating. Vietcong guerrillas are constantly boosting their strength and the nation grows daily more weary and sick to the soul of conflict.

Peter Smark goes on -

At present almost 2,000 Vietnamese die each month in the ricefield war. Nearly half are Communists, mostly southerners. Despite this death toll, the guerrilla strength has risen from 20,000 well armed regulars two years ago to 35,000. There are also perhaps 70.000 irregular guerrillas who ambush and attack in areas near their homes.

Also, perhaps four million South Vietnamese shelter and assist the Vietcong or at least refuse to inform on them through fear of persuasion or through indifference.

In the cafes of Saigon Vietnamese intellectuals split into small meaningless political groups, argue and plot, agreeing only in their opposition to General Khanh’s Government. The army itself is split through jealousies and rivalries of senior officers.

The ricefields run with blood but still the Communists grow stronger. The V.S. action has given a general boost to morale, but unless there is a quick improvement in the military situation inside the country, this is likely to be short-lived.

The author of that report emphasises that the war cannot be won militarily. In a debate last week I said that we must deal with the problem in Vietnam from the ideological viewpoint and must fight the Communists with ideological weapons. The war in Vietnam will not be won from the air and cannot be won from the sea. There is grave doubt that it can be won on the land. In the past, wars of the kind being fought in Vietnam have lasted for years. The war in Malaya lasted for about ten years. The war in Korea dragged on for several years. Fighting has been going on in Vietnam for almost ten years. It is a war of attrition and gobbles up men in thousands. The Labour Party contends that any effort to win this war on a military basis must fail. We must do something else in the conflict. Ways to improve the economic situation of the people must be pursued and the idealogical weapons must be used in man to man discussions throughout all the villages in this war torn region. Idealogically, we fiddle while Asia burns.

I turn now to something that is not strictly apposite to the Budget but which, nevertheless, I think should be recorded in “ Hansard “. It refers to the deaths of President Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln and directs attention to the remarkable coincidences surrounding the murders of those two American Presidents. A London newspaper recently reported on an American document that dealt with the phenomenon of history repeating itself. The newspaper reported on the following amazing coincidences -

Both Presidents Kennedy and Lincoln were concerned with civil rights. Lincoln was elected in 1860, and Kennedy in 1960. Both their wives lost children through death while in the White House. Both were killed on a Friday in the presence of their wives and both were shot in the bead from behind.

Their successors, both named Johnson, were southern democrats, both in the Senate. Andrew Johnson was born in 1808; Lyndon Johnson in 1908.

John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s killer, was born in 1839. Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy’s killer, was born in 1939.

Mr James:

– Alleged killer.


– Well, alleged killer. The report continues -

Both were southerners favouring unpopular ideas. Both were assassinated before their trials.

Lincoln’s secretary, whose name was Kennedy, advised him not to go to the theatre. Kennedy’s secretary, whose name was Lincoln, advised him not to go to Dallas.

John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in a theatre and ran to a warehouse. Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and ran to a theatre.

That is a remarkable story of coincidences revealed by a historian.

I know that we cannot defeat this Budget but we believe that our protests are supported by our many friends throughout the Commonwealth. I hope that before very long we will see in Canberra a Labour government bringing down its first budget. We have had the Liberals and all their works.

Minister for Labour and National Service and VicePresident of the Executive Council. · Lowe · LP

Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, we have just listened to the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) speaking about some of his parochial problems - the problems of his State. He referred to monopolisation and later referred to the assassination of President Kennedy. I remind the honorable member that tonight we are debating not the problems of one State but a Budget which is the supreme instrument of national economy and financial policy. We should be directing our attention to the effect of that policy on the national welfare, thinking about its effect on, amongst others, trade unions, businessmen, consumers and pensioners.

It is wise to put this Budget in perspective. We should look at the Budget not as the sole instrument of financial and economic policy. We must bear in mind that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission fixes wages and salaries and can have a very decisive and important influence on the trend of events in this country. We must bear in mind also that the Reserve Bank of Australia, whose actions are to some extent but not completely controllable by the Government, determines monetary policy and, particularly in some fields, the interest rate policy.

In looking at the Budget against this background we must remember that last year the margin of a fitter was increased by 10s. a week and three weeks’ annual leave was granted to all workers under Federal awards. This year the basic wage has been increased by £1. In viewing this Budget we must remember, too, that recently the Reserve Bank has been calling into reserve accounts deposits of the trading banks and, what is much more important and even novel for us, has been experimenting - successfully - with interest rate policy. All of those elements must be considered. Most people will agree that over the last three years - I am now dealing only with the last three years - those combined policies have met with conspicuous success.

What are our objectives? What are we attempting to achieve? Our objectives have been stated frequently in this House by my senior colleagues, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen). I know they bear repetition. They should be repeated for the benefit of all. Without any doubt our first objective is growth. Most people will remember that last year in his policy speech the Prime Minister committed the Government to a growth rate of 25 per cent, over the next five years. Last year we achieved a rate of growth of 8 per cent, or 9 per cent., so the Prime Minister has made a very good start towards ensuring that his electoral promise will be fulfilled. We must achieve an average rate of growth of at least 5 per cent, a year, if you will forgive me for using that figure, if all of our other objectives, including our goals of national development and a greater defence effort, are to become accomplished facts. It is fundamental that if the Government is to do more along these lines it must receive more in taxation revenue. To enable the people to pay those taxes the producing sectors of the population must play their part and ensure that production is increased.

We make no apologies when we say that considerable growth and expansion remain the major policies and objectives of the Menzies Government. There is a second factor to which I want to refer. Some people are all too prone to criticise those who speak of monetary restraint and price stability. They seem to have forgotten the evil effects if prices rise rapidly and if inflation gets out of control. We have never been dogmatic about inflation. We realise that sometimes it is not possible completely to control infla tionary forces. Our recent experience has proved, and proved beyond any doubt, that if we have stable monetary conditions - in other words, if we have an absence of inflation - we have the ideal conditions under which growth can proceed at the maximum and most efficient rate. So we have another objective of policy; that is, to keep prices stable and to keep the purchasing power of our money as stable as it is practicable to keep it. We make no appologies for that objective. Those people who say the the prospect of inflation dominated this Budget do not know what they are talking about. Of course we realised that inflation was a possibility. We wanted to minimise the possible effects of inflationary trends; but it was not a dominant factor and did not dominate our thinking when the present Budget was being designed. Those are the objectives and the policies that have been set by the Menzies Government.

I wish to mention some of the problems that face my Department, the Department of Labour and National Service. It is wise for me, as Minister for Labour and National Service, to men lion some of them and again to refer to the problem of inflation and how it in a peculiar and particular way affects my thinking as Minister for Labour and National Service. Whenever we are debating the problem of cost and price increases, naturally enough I have to take the view that it is my obligation to ensure that we take all possible measures designed to keep purchasing power stable. I do that because I know that, if the basic wage and margins rise and if overtime rises, it is my responsibility to try to ensure that the worker will retain the real benefit of the increases, in other words that the increases won by the working man will not be lost by inflationary influence or extravagance. I am glad that for once members of the Opposition are able to say: “ Hear, hear! “ That is one of the objectives that I set myself when considering this problem.

I refer now to some of the problems that will face my Department in the immediate future. In the statement on employment that I issued yesterday I pointed out that in the future, when we are looking at the gross figures that are issued each month, we must look at the male and female figures separately. As I pointed out in the statement, at various times male employment figures can be rising and at other times they can be falling while the opposite trend can be occurring in female employment figures. The point I make is that, as we are moving into a difficult employment period, it is wise for employers particularly manufacturers and the employers in government, to consider employing female labour where this is practicable. I suggest to employers that if they want to get the additional labour that is so necessary, they should examine the possibilities to see whether they can employ women. They can, for example, move men into the heavy industries and move women into the lighter industries, particularly into the production of textiles. That is an important point which must always be kept in mind in policy-making and future planning.

Secondly, I make the point that, when shortly I release the figures relating to the rate at which school leavers have been absorbed into employment, I will be able to prove to the House that, although last year we were remarkably successful - I want to stress that - in putting school leavers into employment, this year the figures will be even better. Despite the fact that this year we may register more than 82,000 school leavers, they will be absorbed into employment more quickly than the school leavers were absorbed into employment last year - and last year’s figure was an all-time record.

Also, I will be able to point out - again I regard this as being of critical importance - that this Government has led the way in trying to establish the fact that, unless we provide the skilled labour for our expanding industries, unless we provide the skilled labour that is necessary in a technological and changing age, we cannot hope to achieve, let alone better, the growth targets that have been set by the Prime Minister. 1 have not the final figures yet. They are being compiled now. I will be able to show that the Government’s approach to apprenticeships has meant that never before in our history have we had such large numbers of indentures as we have had in the course of the last year. If we can supplement that by supplementary trade training, I am sure that this Government will have made a notable contribution - a contribution never attempted by any previous Federal Government - and will ensure that skilled personnel are found at a time when industries are expanding so rapidly and technological development is taking place so quickly.

Thirdly. I point out that last year what is called our work force increased by between 100,000 and 110,000 people and the number of registered unemployed fell by 33,000. This year, whilst it is hoped and confidently expected that the work force will increase by about 120,000, we cannot hope to achieve as great an increase in the employed work force as we achieved last year, because we have not the reserves of people registered for employment that we had between 1962-63 and 1963-64. In other words, although last year the civilian work force rose very substantially, it rose because we were able to reduce the number of people unemployed by approximately 33,000. Those 33,000 people will not be available this year. So we will have to rely almost exclusively on the natural increase in the local population and the increase from migration, not on the registered unemployed, for workers to put into our expanding industries.

I make one cautionary remark about the prospects in the labour market and in industry generally. We now have a state of full employment. Under conditions of full employment, we frequently find - as I am sure we find on this occasion - that manufacturers and trade unionists have great responsibilities thrown upon them. The Government has accepted enormous responsibilities for defence and the growth of the country; so we should be able to expect, and to base our assumptions on the belief, that we will have responsible action by the trade unions and by the entrepreneurs. As demand is likely to increase, and to increase substantially, there is the possibility that the manufacturer, knowing of the prospects of increased demand and knowing that he can sell his commodities, will become less efficient in his production and less concerned about his costs of production. Equally, too, is. the manufacturer likely to charge the market what it can bear. That is understandable but regrettable. This is an appeal to the entrepreneur not to exploit the market under the conditions that exist today.

Equally there is an obligation on the trade union movement. In conditions of full and almost overfull employment the trade union movement - or sections of it - is placed in a position of extraordinary great industrial power. We have over-award payments increasing continually. Overtime also in increasing. If to these are added excessive wage demands and wage increases it will be difficult to ensure that our maximum goal of growth is achieved. The very fact that wages increase faster than productivity, that prices increase, that difficulties emerge for our exporters and that pensioners suffer because of the loss of value of money, will be an obstacle to growth, and inefficiency and inflation deprive the worker of the full benefits of wage increases. The individual wage earner may benefit immediately, but in the long run great harm could be done to all members of the community and to the wage earner himself.

If we are to achieve the maximum goal of rapid growth, and to achieve it with justice to all, the time has come for an appeal to be made to the entrepreneur and to the trade unionist in a position of power to exercise restraint and to accept his share of responsibility. I think this appeal is overdue and I am glad that I have had the opportunity to make it here tonight.

Now I turn to the arguments that have been put to us by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and by other members of the Opposition. I think the speech of the Leader of the Opposition can be summed up by quoting three of his statements. First, he claimed that this was a non-growth and disinflationary Budget; secondly, that it was without justice to the people on the smaller incomes; and thirdly that we had misrepresented the position so far as our defence is concerned. As to the first of these propositions, let me draw attention to the fact that this is not the first occasion on which the honorable gentleman has accepted the role of prophet. Last year, at Budget time, he said - it seems clear enough that the Government does not expect any marked improvement in the employment situation . . .

He went on to say - . the manner in which the concessions it provides are distributed fails to ensure the restoration of a strong basic demand.

Let us look at the first assertion, that we did not expect any improvement in the employment situation. I have pointed out that registered unemployment fell by 33,000. 1 now go further and point out that last year’s Budget, as we said at the time, had a strong stimulative effect, so much so that our gross national product increased by 9 per cent. This was an all-time record.

It shows that the prophecies made by the Leader of the Opposition were false, and we are justified in having doubts as to whether his prophecies on this occasion will turn out to be true.

Let us see whether this Budget docs in fact provide a stimulus. Is it a growth Budget? I think that an examination of the facts must show that the Budget is predicated on growth. I have already mentioned the greatest stimulus to growth that we have, and that is the increase in population, particularly the increase in the workforce. The workforce should increase by 120,000. In this figure is included the increase due to immigration. I think the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) gave the figures yesterday and said that we expect an increase of 127,000 in the number of new settlers. If we have this increase - we must keep in mind that a large number of these people will be skilled workers - this will be the most dynamic of all influences and will have been induced by the positive actions of the Government.

I will now turn to the Budget. By now what was said during the course of last year’s debate will have become well known and accepted by most thinking members of the community. When we look at the influence of the Budget and its stimulating effect we must look at the figures for the net capital indebtedness of the Commonwealth. These are the figures that truly determine the kind of stimulus - it is not the exact measurement - that the Budget will give. The figures in one of the supplementary statements presented by the Treasurer show that this year the increase in the net indebtedness of the Commonwealth is of the order of £202 million. This proves that it is a stimulative Budget. In the same way as the Leader of the Opposition was wrong last year on the issue ot growth so will he be wrong on this occasion. There is a marked stimulus in terms of population growth and workforce and, as I have said, a stimulus will be provided by the Budget itself. I repeat that the prophecies made by the Leader of the Opposition this year will be just as wrong as those he made last year.

Now let me deal with the second argument put by the honorable gentleman, that this Budget is contrary to and does not protect the interests of the people on the smaller incomes. I know that all kinds of figures can be quoted when drawing inferences about justice to people on smaller incomes. Arguments can be made about telephone charges and about the increase in tobacco and cigarette prices. I do not regard these as the dominant or even the important factors. It is probably a little difficult to argue that the lower income earner receives positive benefits. We can argue precisely and effectively that the people who are paying for the increases in this Budget are the people in the more wealthy groups or those in the upper income brackets. I would like to put the argument in this way: The most strictly progressive tax we have, the one that rises more steeply as the income increases, is income tax. Last year, the Leader of the Opposition said that the rebate should be removed. It has been removed and consequently this one tax, which is a greater burden on the man with the higher income than on the man with the smaller income, falls exactly where it should fall. Justice is done to the man on the smaller income.

Secondly, one argument that has long been left unsaid relates to indirect and direct taxes. It is generally accepted that indirect taxes fall most heavily on the man with the smaller income, and particularly on the man with a family. In the last few days I looked at the figures relating to direct and indirect taxes. I looked at them for the purpose of proving that by design and over a period of years there has been a conscious shift of taxation from the indirect field to the direct field. When the late Mr. Chifley produced his last Budget, direct taxes represented 55.3 per cent, of all taxes; today, direct taxes represented 61.1 per cent. Under the late Mr. Chifley, indirect taxes represented 44.7 per cent, and today they are 39.9 per cent. This shows the conscious and deliberate movement to direct taxes from indirect taxes for the benefit of the people in the lower income groups. I also mention that company tax has been increased from 8s. to 8s. 6d. in the £1. All these factors show that the discrimination that has occurred has favoured the man on the smaller income and has operated against the man on the larger income. Again I repeat that, contrary to what has been said, justice has been done to people in the smaller income group.

I want to produce one more set of figures to drive home the argument I have been pressing. In 1949-50, social service pay ments amounted to 3.4 per cent, of our gross national product. That was the last year in which a Labour Government was in power. In 1963-64, with the Menzies Government in office, social service payments amount to 4.8 per cent, of the gross national product. The proportion of gross national product represented by these payments has increased by 40 per cent, in the last 14 years. It is obvious that no-one in his senses can argue that this Government has been unfair to those in the lower income groups. We are entitled to be proud of that claim. This Government has acted in the interests of all and has consistently lifted the living standards of those on minimum wages and salaries and minimum incomes.

I shall refer to but one other matter before I conclude. On defence we have been accused of misrepresentation and of some inconsistency. I believe that the misrepresentation comes not from us but from the Opposition. Let me put my argument in this way: Priorities for national objectives change from time to time. Three years ago we were all most concerned with the problem of full employment. A year later we were all fascinated by the problems associated with national growth. Last year I think more speeches were made about education than about any other subject. I want to say clearly and with the maximum emphasis that now and for some years to come the greatest priority will be given to foreign affairs, to defence preparedness and to defence expenditure. The policy of the Menzies Government can be stated simply and clearly: What we should do we will do. There will be only one limitation that will be placed upon our defence effort. That limitation is inherent in the question: “ Is it within our resources and can it, in fact, be done? “ So I repeat that what we should do we will do. Expenditure will not be a restricting factor.

Let me point out where the misrepresentation arises in regard to our defence spending. All too frequently, it is thought that figures contained in the Budget are unalterable, that there is an element of holy writ about them, that once they appear in the Budget they cannot be touched and will not be altered. I want to point out to the House that the figures that appear in the Budget may bc changed frequently. In May of 1963 the Prime Minister made a statement on defence. He pointed out that our estimate of defence spending for 1963-64 was £237 million. Actual expenditure was £260 million. He said that our estimate for 1964-65 was £253 million. Now the estimate in this Budget is very close to £300 million, showing an increase of nearly £50 million on what had been estimated a year before. The Prime Minister also said in his statement that the estimated defence expenditure for 1965-66 was £269 million. I have already said that defence expenditure this year is estimated in this year’s Budget at nearly £300 million. Here is clear evidence of the fact that we are not restricted to the amount actually stated in the Budget. That is simply an estimate of present commitments, not an estimate of potentials, not an estimate of possibilities or even of probabilities. If it is necessary for us to increase our defence expenditure 1 can assure the House that this will be done.

I conclude on this note: This is a Budget based upon confidence in the Australian people, based upon confidence that we have a destiny and that we will achieve it. I am certain that if responsibility is shouldered by the Governments, entrepreneurs and trade unions, not only responsibility for defence but also in production and industrial relations, the goal of 25 per cent, improvement over five years set by the Prime Minister will not only be achieved but will be exceeded.


.- I rise to support the amendment so ably moved last night by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Before I address myself to it I would like to answer one or two of the points made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). Let me say, at the outset, that his attack on the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) for sticking up for the rights of Tasmania was typical of him and typical of the actions of the Government. Everyone knows that the proportion of unemployment in Tasmania is higher than it is in any other State. At the present time it is very close to 3 per cent, of the work force. The Minister has brushed aside the request of the honorable member for Wilmot for a special grant to Tasmania to relieve this unemployment problem. I direct the attention of the House to the fact that when unemployment rose in Western Australia a few years age to a level approaching that now operating in Tasmania a special grant of £2 million was given to relieve unemployment in Western Australia. The Minister’s remarks are to be regretted. They are typical of the attitude of this Government towards the island State of Tasmania over the last 14 years.

The Minister spoke of adult training. The other day he was appealing to honorable members on this side of the House to refrain from entering into any discussion of adult training. Now he has raised the matter and thrown it open for discussion by honorable members on this side. The Minister did not want us to come in on this subject because he was afraid it might have some effect on negotiations that are proceeding. Let me say this to the Minister: It is well known that half the employers who should be employing certain numbers of apprentices throughout this Commonwealth have refused to employ their full quotas of apprentices.

When I asked the Minister recently whether he was prepared to take action against these employers similar to that taken against offending employers in Britain and France, forcing them to employ their full quotas of apprentices, he turned the question aside and said that the Government would not have compulsion of employers. Yet he expects the workers and their representatives to break down the apprenticeship system. He does not mind how their standards are broken down as long as there is no interference with the employers. The Government has had plenty of time to do something about this. Recommendations were made in 1954 that apprentices should be paid a percentage of the rate payable to tradesmen. Nothing has been Jone about this, and this is one reason why trained men are leaving industry. There is more remunerative employment for them in other quarters. They can earn more at other jobs than they can at their trades.

The Minister also suggested that women should move into industries in which men are usually employed. I am sorry to see the Minister leaving the chamber because I wanted him to answer one of these points. I will have the House remember that towards the end of the last sessional period the Minister got up in the House and opposed the granting of equal pay to women performing work of equal value. He and the Government will not ratify the International Labour Organisation Convention providing for just this, nor will they accept the recommendation of the International Labour Organisation that females in Government employment should be given the same payment as men doing work of equal value. They even opposed such payment, a short time ago, for females in the mail room at the Sydney General Post Office.

Mr Anthony:

– We did not.


– You opposed that in the court. Through your representatives you opposed the granting of equal pay to those female employees.

Mr Anthony:

– Public servants get equal pay-


– That may be. I am talking about these sections of industry that you have done nothing about. Coming to the Budget itself, I want to direct attention to some details that were given by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). First let me remind the House that on the morning following the presentation of the Budget the new newspaper, the “ Australian “, carried a cartoon depicting the Treasurer as King Richard II. The caption was: “ Methinks I am a prophet new inspired “. It will be remembered that in the cartoon the Treasurer was depicted as carrying a banner with a strange device. On it were the words: “ Prepare to meet thy boom “. The cartoon was a good one which illustrated very cleverly what the Opposition has been saying about the Treasurer ever since he has been the Treasurer of this country.

The stop and go policies of the Treasurer and the Government have been for some time regular features of the Budgets and little Budgets that have been placed before this Parliament. No sooner is the green light given for the economy to go ahead than the red light appears and everybody is told to slow down. As a result, the community does not know whether it is coming or going and each year, for several weeks before the Budget is brought down, a damper is placed on business activities. As a matter of fact, earlier this year it was suggested that a credit squeeze should be applied, and in fact one was applied by the

Reserve Bank. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) mentioned this a few moments ago. In one newspaper there was an article under the heading: “ Prepare to slow down, says Coombs “. That is typical of what happens each year, and on that occasion Dr. Coombs was acting on behalf of the Government. Only twelve months before that, Dr. Coombs had stated that Australia should aim at greater economic growth. Mr. Staniforth Ricketson, who could not be said to be a supporter of the Australian Labour Party, in an address which he gave as chairman of a number of companies in which he is interested, said this about the Government on 22nd June 1964 -

Although the Commonwealth Treasurer has stated that the aim of the Government is to keep the economy moving strongly and steadily forward, the Governor of the Reserve Bank has been reported as suggesting that Australia must be prepared to slow down its rate of growth. In these circumstances, it is not surprising that a degree of uncertainty exists in the business community.

That supports what I have been saying. For some weeks prior to the presentation of the Budget, there was uncertainty in the business community, and everybody knows that that is so.

As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said, this is clearly a deflationary Budget. Income tax is being increased, especially on small incomes, the sales tax on motor vehicles is being increased, the tax on tobacco is being increased and television licences and telephone rentals are to go up. Certainly there is to be an increase in pensions, but that is to be only a measly 5s., which will be more than swallowed up by the increases that have taken place in the cost of living since the previous Budget was introduced. I suppose a pensioner is entitled to have a smoke if he or she feels like it, but the extra 3d. or 4d. on a packet of cigarettes will mean that the pensioners are losing out still further. Surely, too, those pensioners who may be suffering from ill health, or who may be blind and who need a telephone should not be saddled with an increase of £6 a year in telephone rentals.

Mr Cockle:

– What increase would you give the pensioners?


– I will have you know that the pensioners will be a great deal worse off under this Budget than they were under the Budget for 1963-64. That is clearly shown by the evidence that has been placed before this Parliament already. The Treasurer claims that we are doing well. In the course o’ his Budget Speech, he said that w; are doing so well that personal consumption expenditure increased by 6 per cent., public authority current expenditure increased by 11 per cent, and private fixed capital expenditure increased by 11 per cent. Then he said: “All this adds up to a very formidable growth rate in demand, and there is every sign that this is continuing to increase “. If that is the case, one was entitled to expect a reasonable increase in pensions. Certainly, with their meagre incomes, the pensioners cannot be accused of creating any inflationary trends. Their pensions are spent on bread and butter items, the purchase of which cannot affect the economy under any circumstances.

The Government turns a deaf car to the plight of the pensioners. The advances in medical science and medical knowledge have led to a rise in the standards of health, with the result that people are living much longer now than they did 60 years ago. That is a good thing, but what we should be concerned about is the way in which they are living. If the majority of pensioners are living in poverty, if they are in dire straits, that is a reflection on our society. Who can deny that a pensioner who has nothing more than his pension to exist on is living in dire poverty?

It has been said that a country’s standard of civilization can be assessed from the way in which it treats its old people. I am afraid that there are very many old people who are being treated most shabbily by this Government and who have been so treated by it ever since it has been in office. Science may be helping them to live longer but the policy of this Government seems to be directed towards making their additional years ones of misery.

I should like to refer briefly to some other social service benefits, the purchasing power of which has not been increased by this Government for some years. I take the funeral benefit first. This is another matter that affects pensioners. It was introduced by the Curtin Government in 1943, when the basic wage was £4 16s. a week. As honor able members know, the basic wage is now £15 8s. a week, but the funeral benefit is still only £10 - the figure at which it was set twenty years ago when the benefit was first introduced by the Curtin Government - despite the fact that a funeral costs anything from £70 to £80 today.

The next matter with which I wish to deal is the permissible income of pensioners. That is still only £3 10s. a week. Surely any reasonable person must agree that this is unfair to many people. For instance, the worker who pays into a superannuation fund is actually paying twice for his pension because in addition to contributing to the superannuation fund he pays into the National Welfare Fund. When we remember this, we must admit that he is being treated harshly. I understand that recently the superannuation pension in Western Australia was increased to £4 7s. 6d. a week, which meant that the age pension of the single pensioner was immediately reduced by 17s. 6d. a week. Instead of enjoying an age pension of £6 a week, as proposed by this Budget, a single pensioner who is in receipt of a superannuation benefit of £4 7s. 6d. a week will receive a pension of only £5 2s. 6d. a week.

I come now to the allowance for a dependent wife. This is another important matter that I think cannot be ventilated too often in this Parliament. The dependent wife’s allowance is still to be £3 a week. I think all honorable members know that this allowance is paid to a wife who is under 60 years of age and who has an invalid husband. The total income that she and her invalid husband will be able to enjoy will be £9 a week. Why should a couple in such circumstances have to live at a substandard rate? Why should they have to be satisfied with less than the amount provided for a pensioner couple, small as that is? Whenever I and other honorable members mention this matter to the Minister he says that the wife can go out to work. I remind the House that in many cases the husband may be too sick to be left alone while the wife goes out to work. Another important factor to remember is that a woman who may have been out of industry for perhaps ten or twenty years does not find it easy to get back into industry. This is a matter that should be given very close consideration by all honorable members opposite.

The same considerations apply to a pensioner who marries a woman who is, say, ten years younger than he is at the time of marriage. Therefore, before a man proposes to a young lady, he ought to make certain that she is, at the most, not more than five years younger than he is; otherwise, when he reaches the age of 65 years, he may have to continue to work for another five years in order that he and his wife may enjoy a reasonable standard of living, or, when the wife is 55 years of age she may have to go out and work in order to help keep the home going. This is asking people to look ahead. When you see the lovelight in their eyes, you do not think about much else, but this is one factor that all young people should consider.

Child endowment is another social service that has not retained its purchasing power over the years. Although the rate was increased recently by 5s. a week for the third and each subsequent child, it still has not the purchasing power that it had in 1949-50. The maternity allowance is another social service benefit that has not been increased for many years. The present rate of benefit was introduced by the Curtin Government in 1943. This benefit, which ranges from £15 to £17 10s., has continued at those rates for more than twenty years, but during that time the basic wage has risen from £4 16s. to £15 8s. The wage is now over three times higher than it was when the maternity allowance was introduced. That is another matter that should be given every consideration by the Government.

The Government boasts about the amount it is spending on social services. It is true that over the years since this Government came into office the amount has grown, but the two factors mainly responsible for that growth are the increase in population and inflation. Last night the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) and tonight the Minister for Labour and National Service tried to draw some parallel between what applied when the Chifley Government was in office and the conditions that apply now. The Minister for Housing said - and I think the Minister for Labour and National Service made similar remarks -

In the last Chifley Budget the proportion of gross national product provided for social services v/as 3.4 per cent. By 1959-60, the proportion had risen to 4.3 per cent, and in 1963-64 it was 4.8 per cent.

That may be so, but honorable members should remember that in 1949 Australia’s population was 7.8 million and now it is more than 11 million. It should be remembered also that during that period the consumer price index has risen from 61 to 125.8, which shows that the value of money has been reduced considerably. The total bill for social service benefits does not reveal the value of the benefits to recipients. The simple question that we should ask ourselves is this: Are mothers of children getting as much value in child endowment today as they did in 1949? The answer to that must be: “No”. The same applies to the maternity allowance, funeral benefit and almost all social service benefits. The purchasing power of these benefits has been clipped since this Government has been in office. That cannot be denied.

I regret that no mention was made in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech about the establishment of an overseas national shipping line. I think it was important that that be mentioned. Merchant ships, both passenger and freight, are urgently required for our overseas trade so that Australia will cease to be at the mercy of overseas shipping interests. It is essential also to have our own shipping fleet for defence purposes. I emphasise that point as strongly as I can.

The proposal that Australia should have a national shipping line operating vessels in overseas trade brings the cry from Government supporters that the cost would be prohibitive. They say that the cost of manning the vessels with Australians, building in Australia and servicing here would add such enormous burdens to the cost of operation of the ships that Australia’s ability to trade would suffer dire consequences. These arguments completely ignore so many relevant facts. For example, the vessels of all the major trading nations ply to our coast. Vessels from England, America, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Holland and other countries come to Australia. I have not been able to obtain details of wage rates for seamen from all of those countries, but I have been able to obtain some. The American able seaman receives, in Australian currency, £179 16s. a calendar month. An able seaman from Denmark employed on a ship operating on this coast receives £98 a calendar month. The Australian able seaman receives £74 2s. 7d. a calendar month. After all factors are taken into account, the New Zealand able seaman receives within £1 of the Australian rate. The “Fairplay Shipping Journal “ on 25th July 1963 shows that the English able seaman receives £48 15s. a month plus £1 5s. efficiency pay, a total of £50.

Vessels from Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Holland are operating in . direct competition with Japanese and English vessels on which Chinese and Indian crews are employed. How they meet this competition is determined by a number of factors which include efficiency of operation and government policies. Many a government has decided that the operation of a nationally owned fleet is fundamental to the independence of the country and to its defence effort. Governments either own the fleets or assist private enterprise to operate them. In many cases governments own the majority or shares in shipping companies. These policies are based on the need to preserve and develop their trade by retaining a measure of control over freights, the preventing of other countries from forcing them out of competitive markets by increasing freight charges and by the necessity of moving troops in time of war. India, soon after acquiring independence, established its own international fleet, and most of the newly independent African nations have done the same, or arc in the process of doing it.

The “ Shipbuilding and Shipping Record “ of 1 9th September 1963 reported that Russia was building a massive national fleet of merchant ships and in a few years would be one of the world’s foremost sea powers. From 1954 to 1960 the Russian fleet increased at the rate of nearly 450,000 tons deadweight a year, and in 1961-62 by nearly 1 million tons. By 1st May 1963 Russia had 236 merchant ships under construction or on order in yards in other countries. American shipping interests complained that the rate of construction was not nearly so great in the United States as it was in Russia. In the past the United States had realised the importance of nationally owned fleets. The United States Government is part owner of the President Line and in the national interest heavily subsidises shipping. A United States Government document dealing with the Federal Maritime Board and Maritime Administration gives at page 5 details of subsidies that are made available for the building of ships. I do not propose to go into this matter in great detail; I merely give the reference to enable honorable members to see the figures if they wish.

The reasons given by the United States Government for assisting its national fleet are as follows -

Provision for such a Merchant Marine was made by the Merchant Marine Act 1936 and other maritime laws which established the national objectives for an American Merchant Marine. These objectives are to provide for the development and promotion of an American Merchant Marine -

Sufficient to carry the domestic waterborne commerce and a substantial portion of the foreign commerce of the country;

Capable of serving as a naval auxiliary in time of war;

Owned by, and operated under, the United

States flag by citizens of the United States;

Composed of the best equipped, safest and . most suitable types of vessels; and

Manned by trained and efficient citizens of the United States.

Canada also has seen the need to protect its trade. In the “ Shipbuilding and Shipping Record” of 11th July 1963 is an article which deals with the methods by which Canada intends to build up its shipping fleet.

In addition to the subsidies that have already been paid by the Japanese Government, in 1963 another step was taken to assist shipping in that country. The “ Shipbuilding and Shipping Record “ of 7th May 1964 said-

The Government last year took the intiative to strengthen the nation’s shipping industry by relieving it of its financial plight and reducing domestic competition.

It goes on and deals with what Japan is doing in regard to this very important industry.

New Zealand has its own shipping line operating in international trade - the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand. It is true that that company is a subsidiary of P. & O., but it is registered in New Zealand and operates with New Zealand crews and under New Zealand standards. This company has vessels trading to India, Singapore, Canada and Australia. This company has a monopoly of the trans-Tasman trade. Recently, P. & O. transferred a refrigerated vessel to the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand to operate on the New Zealand-Singapore run. This would seem to give the lie to the proposition that Australian wage rates would prevent economic operation of an Australianowned international fleet, bearing in mind the fact that the wage rate paid to New Zealand seamen is within £1 of our own wage rate for seamen.

According to the information supplied by the United States Department of Commerce, many countries subsidise their international fleets in various ways. I have a list of those countries here. They include Denmark, France, West Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The different types of aid provided by those countries are also given in this document. If I had the time, I would quote those types of aid to honorable members. 1 draw the attention of honorable members to a very important fact. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) asked the then Minister for Immigration, Mr. Downer, a question late last year. Part of that question was -

What amount of money has been paid yearly to shipping companies for transportation? What is the total amount paid out to date to all transporters of settlers coming to Australia?

The Minister’s answer was that in 1962-63 the amount of money spent on the transport of assisted passengers was £6,092,443 and, over the period from 1946-47 to 1962-63, the total amount was £70,358,164 which is almost enough money for Australia to build its own shipping fleet. As mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition last night the establishment of an overseas shipping line would save the Australian people at least £200 million a year in invisible exports. Australia is one of the few countries of the world which has not an overseas shipping line. This is to be regretted considering that Australia is the tenth trading nation of the world. The only time Australia has not been plundered by overseas shipping interests was when a Labour government established a line of Commonwealth steamers. It was established by buying, chartering and constructing ships. The ownership of the Australian fleet stimulated the Australian shipbuilding industry and construction costs were lower than elsewhere. The Bruce-Page Government sold the fleet at bargain prices and even then did not get the price agreed upon. As a result, Australia was again at the mercy of the overseas shipping lines. Great harm has been done to Australia’s cost structure by the sale of its Commonwealth line of ships.

The policy of the Australian Labour Party also provides for the establishment of an overseas shipping line in addition to the existing coastal shipping line. Australia is one of the largest trading nations of the world, but it is the only one of the important countries that has not any ships engaged in overseas trade. Australia is wholly in the hands of overseas interests. We cannot afford to leave our in the hands of interests, some of which are British and, in other cases, European. The Australian Labour Party believes that Australia should immediately commence an extensive shipbuilding programme and extend its existing shipyards and construct new ones. Australia should buy suitable ships that may be offering at reasonable prices in order to restore the Commonwealth shipping line. It should charter suitable vessels which may be available to commence competition with overseas shipping interests. In the national interest, I appeal to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) to give serious consideration to the establishment of an overseas shipping line. I emphasise again that, in invisible exports alone this move would save over £200 million a year and would enable Australia to keep down and control shipping freights for goods to and from our shores. The huge expenditure paid to overseas shipping companies, which amounted to over £6 million last year, for bringing migrants into this country could be saved. In the interests of defence, it is essentia] for Australia to have its own overseas shipping fleet. The Government owes it to Australia to establish a national overseas shipping line.


.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I do not propose to follow the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) who has just resumed his seat or the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), who preceded him, into the interesting paths where they have been bemused and bewildered by male and female figures or, indeed, to follow them along other well-trodden paths. But in the cloistered cosiness of the House, untroubled by an unseen audience or even by a seen one, I may open my mind even if I do not fill others on matters that seem important to me.

The purpose of a Budget is to deploy the real resources of the community - that is, manpower and materials - in such a manner as best to serve the interests of this country. The Government by means of its Budget can influence the total situation as well as those matters with which the Budget itself deals. There must always be reactions, of course, upon the private sector of the economy; and through economic policy, the Budget, monetary measures and other means open to it, the Government must seek to prevent competition between the public and the private sector of a kind that would drive up prices and create inflation which, in the long run, would unsettle the economy and make it less efficient, and create injustices for many citizens who do not have flexible incomes. I do not propose to deal with these matters. They have been covered very adequately by other speakers. Indeed, it is the duty of the Government and its Ministers to support its Budget in these respects.

I think I have never taken part, in my 25 years in this and another Parliament, in a Budget debate that was so utterly dull. The important matters have not been discussed. I want to look at the reasons for this, and to discuss these important matters. One might have thought that the Labour Party would seize upon what undoubtedly is, in the present atmosphere and in the present situation, the Achilles heel of the Government. One might have supposed that this would be the obvious thing for an Opposition to do. The Opposition has a grand and glorious tradition. It was Fisher, a Labour Prime Minister, who established the Australian Navy.

Mr Benson:

– Hear, hear!


– It was Fisher who rejected the idea of a British squadron in Australian waters and established the Australian Navy. It was under the Fisher Government that compulsory military service was instituted in the years prior to 1914. This was the foundation of the military prowess of Australians in the war and produced some of our greatest soldiers. You would think, therefore, that the Opposition, a party with a tradition such as this, would have reverted to that tradition in the present circumstances, but not at all. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has proposed an amendment to the motion that the Appropriation Bill be read a second time, in these words - “. . . the House is of opinion that the Budget does not adequately grapple with the problems of striking a realistic and fitting balance between the claims on national resources arising from defence, development and social welfare”.

O, what a fall was there, my countrymen. How are the mighty fallen. These are the heirs of the great Fisher tradition. In circumstances like this, they give full opportunity to their divided forces to talk about deficiencies in the field of defence - not seriously but as a means of having a crack at the Government. This the Government deserves, of course.

Mr Galvin:

– Are you satisfied with the defence programme?


– No. I shall speak about defence. Honorable members opposite can talk about development, social welfare or any other matters of that kind. They have become experts. They have really become expert paperhangers who are able to cover up any cracks - one should rather say crevasses - that exist in their various branches.

What is the Government’s attitude in defence matters? The honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin), by way of interjection, has asked whether I am satisfied with the Government’s defence proposals. I am not, but why it should devolve on a supporter of the Government to criticise them as they ought to be criticised is for the Opposition to say. I take as my starting point a leading article in the Melbourne “Age” of 19th August 1964. It states -

With more rhetoric than good reasoning, assorted pressure groups continue to exhort the Federal Government to reintroduce compulsory military training if only on a limited and selective basis. With equal perseverance, the Government should continue to resist these pressures and uphold the considered judgment of its military advisers. The world situation has not deteriorated to an extent that demands a drastic change of policy, let alone panic measures inspired by popular clamour.

. today’s circumstances require more than the mass battalions of past years.

Apparently we only need press buttons - . . The Government should reject the dictates of the back seat drivers.

Is this the attitude of the Australian people? It may or may not be, but, for the moment, 1 assume that it is. What, then, is the task of leadership? I recall the leader in the French Revolution who was outdistanced by the mob. Reaching a street corner and not knowing where the mob had gone, he inquired of a bystander: “ Where is the mob? I am their leader and therefore I must follow them.” Is it for leadership in this Government, Sir, to follow the crowd - to follow the kind of pressure that the Melbourne “ Age “ represents? If what I have read to the House represents the attitude of the people of Australia, is it the task of leadership to follow this line or should leadership bring home to the people the realities of the situation and lead from the front instead of from behind? 1 believe that the mood of the people is this: They are perturbed about the things that are happening to our north. This is not panic. It is a quite natural fear. Indeed, only last week we were debating the incidents that had happened in the Gulf of Tonkin and in South Vietnam. The sound of the guns from the Gulf of Tonkin is still ringing in my ears, Sir, and I can still smell the burning villages and sense the tears and blood very close to us in the north. I cannot quite get these things out of my senses. That is why this debate seems to me so utterly unreal. The Australian people are concerned about these things, but they say: “ If the Prime Minister is not concerned about them, we suppose that all is well.” I am not so sure that we can adopt the old saying -

God’s in his heaven - All’s right wilh the world!

The people are uneasy. Yet they say: “ If the Prime Minister is not concerned, why should we be concerned? “ So, against their better judgment - I repeat “ against their better judgment” - they relapse into apparent unconcern. The Government, of course, has great wisdom. AH governments have. They have at their command information obtained from their intelligence sources and elsewhere that is not at the command of backbenchers. Therefore, I suppose, backbenchers and those who doubt must be regarded as idiots. Yet sometimes even an idiot may be right, though perhaps for wrong reasons. Sometimes, a person regarded as an idiot in one generation may be regarded in another as a wise man.

The question for us, however, may be: Will there be another generation to do justice to the idiot who is right today?

What is the Government’s responsibility in its relations with its military advisers? The “Age”, in the leading article that I have mentioned, and others say: “This is the advice of the military men. Why should the Government depart from it?” Somebody has said that war is too serious a thing to be left to generals. This is very true. Those familiar with the history of World War I will know that the architect of the strategy of the British forces in that war was in fact a lawyer - Lord Haldane. The British plan was not prepared by the military men, and it was a very effective plan.

What is the theory about our defence preparations? The theory is that South East Asia is Australia’s front line and that, if it falls, the enemy will be on our doorstep at Darwin. The theory is that all we need are forces consisting of military, naval and air components, co-ordinated for the one purpose of dealing with what the Americans describe as brushfire wars in South East Asia. For this purpose, of course, our forces must be highly trained. They must be ready to go into action at once. They must be mobile, for they must be able quickly to reach the scene of operations. This involves appropriate naval and air forces, of course. And our forces must be very well armed. With our limited resources, they must necessarily be small. So they must make up in firepower what they lack in manpower. These forces must be available for service in South East Asia. The Citizen Military Forces probably are not, for Australia has always adhered to the old fashioned notion that nobody should serve outside Australia unless he has volunteered to do so. Therefore, our forces must be composed of members who have volunteered to serve outside Australia.

In reality, what forces do we have? I shall not concern myself with the Air Force or Navy. I want to concentrate on the Army. I think we have something like 24,000 men in the Army, with a target strength of 28,000. Suppose our Army had to go into action tomorrow. I suspect that the 24,000 would be reduced to something like half this number of combat troops. We would have to subtract all the lines of communications troops and the base wallahs. We would have to subtract the number of those who, on compassionate or medical grounds, could not be sent into front line service. So we would have a spearhead of perhaps 12,000 men - a very small spearhead. I do not know how sharp it would be, but it would certainly be very small. Where would reinforcements come from? Suppose these forces went into action in jungle conditions. Many honorable members recall from personal experience, and others will find no difficulty in imagining, that casualties are very high in these conditions owing to tropical illnesses and the like. These front line forces would have to be re-inforced from the C.M.F. by men who would nol be able to go in as units, because there are practically no C.M.F. units at anything like full strength. They are depleted. The citizen units are weak in numbers and they are untrained. Many months would have to pass before assorted members of the Citizen Military Forces could be trained and put into action.

This is the theory and these are the forces designed to meet the needs of the situation. What are the contingencies? A war is in progress in South Vietnam, as we all know. We are not entirely certain that the Americans will stay in South East Asia. France has no interest in this part of the world, except possibly a small trading interest, and General de Gaulle would like to see neutralisation of South East Asia. At the present time, this could result only in surrender. If the United States followed this line, as some Americans like Mr. Walter Lippmann are urging her to do, then she might withdraw completely from South East Asia. There might be political forces in America at the present time which would hold this same view. If America withdraws from South East Asia this would be a pretty serious situation for Australia. We should find that we had on our doorstep an Indonesia, aided by Russia and/ or China, with perhaps the strongest Communist Party in Asia in government. That would be the situation confronting us, quite apart from our obligations under A.N.Z.U.S. and S.E.A.T.O.

May I say a word about our attitude to the idea that South East Asia is our front line and to the idea that we should make an effort similar in kind, if not in degree, to the effort that America makes? We suffer from what I would call atavistic colonialism. We have heard a lot about neo-colonialism. I suggest that the Australian Government and the Australian people suffer from atavistic colonialism. Let me explain. For centuries we were protected by the British Navy and the broad oceans. We had a “ moat defensive “, as Britain had, to protect us against “ the envy of less happier lands”. The moat has shrunk considerably and the British Navy has gone. But we became accustomed to the idea that Britain would look after us. We did not have to worry. We could be children; we could be colonials. Hilaire Belloc wrote a nursery rhyme that exemplifies the position. He said -

Never leave the hand of nurse

For fear of meeting something worse.

We had nanny to look after us. But she has gone so we have had to look for someone else. In our anguish and our fear we turned, of course, to another parental figure. Children must always have a parental figure. This one was Uncle Sam. We took him by the hand and said: “ We need worry no longer. We were protected by Mamma Britannia, and now we take your hand, Uncle Sam “. That is what I call atavistic colonialism. We are still looking for someone to look after us.

Suppose the undoubted abilities of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), who has been described as a journalist and an historian, were devoted to writing a book in defence of the Government’s attitude and of the attitude of the Australian people, called “Allies, Not Arms, or Defence Without Weapons”. In other words, let us have alliances to protect us, but do not let us do anything about it ourselves, because this is quite unnecessary - our mother or our uncle will look after us. The book, of course, would appear in the well known series, “The Secrets of Other People’s Jobs “. He could dilate upon the secret of why it is America’s job to defend Australia.

I think that this altitude on the part of the Australian Government and the Australian people must make most genuine Australians feel ashamed of their own country. We are still colonials at heart. We still have not grown up. It is the job of other people to look after us.

Mr Webb:

– Speak for yourself.


– You tell me to speak for myself. Yes, I do speak for myself. 1 know that honorable gentlemen opposite do not speak for themselves; they speak for 36 others. I ask: Is the Government in earnest? We have just heard from the Minister for Labour and National Service that the Government has in mind certain plans that have not yet been announced.

The Budget adds up to a very considerable total. I suppose £2,500 million is a fairly sizable amount. Defence accounts for £242 million of that total and this represents an increase of £36 million over last year’s allocation. It is a whole 16 per cent, more than it was last year. In fact, the increase in the allocation for national welfare is a comparable figure, £35 million. I am not quarrelling with that; I merely indicate the scale of values. What the honorable member for Stirling described as this measly increase of five bob for pensioners adds up to £35 million, which is almost the same as the additional allocation that we are making for the defence of Australia. I do not know whether anyone asks me still to speak for myself. Is this the attitude of a self-respecting people?

Then you find, of course, the usual rural handouts for wool promotion, petrol price stabilisation and superphosphate bounty. They come to almost another £10 million. Then there is the additional amount to be raised for State borrowing programmes for works and housing. This is an addition that the Government takes from the people in the form of taxes and hands back to the States with the words: “We cannot raise this on the loan market, but we do not mind taxing the people. You can have it. It is only £21 million.” In other words, shake the tree and the millions fall out of it, but not for defence.

What are we doing in the field of defence? The Minister for Labour and National Service gave some figures. I shall quote now from a table prepared by Professor R. I. Downing, Professor of Economics at the University of Melbourne, which shows the proportion of their gross national product that various countries have devoted to defence in recent years, particularly in 1961, which apparently is the year for which the latest figure was available. According to Professor Downing, the United States devoted 9.7 per cent, of its gross national product to defence, the United Kingdom 6.6 per cent., Canada 4.8 per cent., France 5.5 per cent. Even a small country like

Norway devoted 3.2 per cent, to defence, whereas Australia devoted only 2.8 per cent, to this purpose. There you have a comparison with other countries.

Mr Benson:

– Shame, after 15 years in office.


– It is a shame, but I have not heard very much from the Labour Party about this.

Mr Reynolds:

– We are always raising the matter.


– I think the honorable member for Barton is much more concerned about schools and about raising teachers’ salaries. That is fair enough, but 1 do not want to waste time on schools and teachers’ salaries. We are talking about defence. This is serious. It is not just a matter of jacking up someone’s pay. I turn now to a table prepared by our own Parliamentary Library which shows our gross national product and the expenditure on war and defence in the years from 1948-49 to 1963-64. This latter section shows the relationship to current prices, as a percentage of the gross national product and the relationship to 1948-49 prices. This information belongs to the Parliament, and I believe that it should be available to all honorable members. Therefore, with the concurrence of honorable members I shall incorporate this table in “ Hansard “.

National Income and Expenditure 1948-49 to 1962-63, and the white paper National Income and Expenditure 1963-64.

  1. The figures for Current Expenditure on War and Defence given in column III are somewhat less than those given in the Department of Defence’s Defence Report 1963.
  2. For the period 1950-51 to 1962-63 Service pay and allowances and Civilian Salaries, wages, &c, represented about 39 per cent. of total defence expenditure [c.f. Defence Report, 1963 pp. 60-61].

The expenditure on War and Defence (column III) was divided notionally into two parts.

  1. 40 per cent. representing Pay, Salaries, etc., which was deflated using the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics’ “ Index of Average Weekly Earnings “ and
  2. 60 per cent. representing Other Expenditure, which was deflated by using the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics’ Wholesale Price (Basic Materials and Foodstuffs) Index.

The results of these two calculations were added to give the figures in column V.

Because of the method used to derive them the figures in column V can only be expected to be very approximate. The figures therefore should be used with caution.

Compiled by officers of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library Statistical Service.

I do not propose to say any more about this table except that it indicates that in 1963-64 Australia devoted 2.77 per cent. of its gross national product to defence and that in terms of 1948-49 prices this represents only an extimated £104.7 million. Honorable members will see for themselves how this stands in relationship to expenditure in other years.

The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) has asked that recruiting figures, showing the number of recruits and the wastage of recruits up to 30th June last should be given to the House. I suggest that these figures should be given to the House and to the public of Australia month by month. Let us have no doubt but that our potential enemies will have these figures very accurately. Accordingly there is no reason why the information should be concealed from the Parliament or from the nation. Honorable members may remember the story of how the Duke of Wellington reviewed the troops who had come under his command in the Peninsula War. Having reviewed them he addressed them and said: “ I don’t know what effect these men will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they terrify me “. I do not think that the revelation of our recruiting figures will frighten an enemy but they may terrify the House and the people of Australia.

We have heard that the Government intends to have a review of Australia’s defences. It had a review in October 1962. I well remember the then Minister for Defence, the late Mr. Athol Townley, coming into the House and telling us how much was to be spent on defence over the next five years. A few months later in May 1963 the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) produced completely revised figures. Why Mr. Townley went through the exercise in the previous October I do not know. Now we are told that there is to be yet another review. Welag far behind the needs of the situation from year to year and month to month. I am not impressed at this stage with talk of another review when I note the provision for defence in the Budget.

In his speech the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) indicated succinctly what was needed as far as national service is concerned. He said that we need an intake of about 15,000 men a year serving for two years and that these men must be available for service anywhere. If South East Asia is our front line, these men should be available for service in the direct defence of Australia. Of course, there will be problems as to who should be called up - whether they should be people in one age group or people in another age group. Problems will arise from the fact that we will need perhaps only 15 per cent. of the men eligible to be called up in any one year. This situation may give rise to a sense of injustice to those who are not called up. All I can say is that this precise problem exists in the United States but nevertheless America calls up 15 per cent. each year.

I agree that any system of national service will involve negotiations with employers. At a time of full employment, when employers as well as the Services are seeking manpower,negotiations are called for. Those negotiations should have been taken in hand long since. We cannot afford competition between industry and the Services. Also, there must be talks with employers about the reinstatement of employees after they serve their terms of training.

Service in the armed forces should carry with it prestige. At present there is no prestige for a young Australian unless he gets into the uniform advertised for a business executive and carries as his weapon a briefcase. The time has come when the leaders of industry must see, if they wish to lead, that there is some prestige for those who serve their country and not merely for themselves.

Of course, what is said by a backbencher who knows nothing may fall on deaf ears. But if he had the eloquence of a Demosthenes, a Cicero, a Pitt or a Menzies still the Cabinet would not hear. If he argued with all the logic of Aristotle or Einstein, or even Sir Mark Oliphant when sometimes he talks about the physical sciences, still he would not be heard or understood. Nevertheless, I believe profoundly that the things I have said are ture. Despite the fact that they may not have been said from the Labour side of the House or, if said, said with tongue in cheek merely to score a debating point and not because they were meant, they should be said from this side of the House. If on this side of the House there are many Ministers who can say nothing and many others who prefer to say nothing, it devolves upon those who see the need and who do not hesitate to speak to say the truth that is in them.


.- The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) charged the Opposition with lack of appreciation of the defence needs of Australia and a lack of appreciation of what is happening to our north. I agree with the member of the Opposition who interjected during the honorable member’s speech and said that he must have been asleep during the debate last week on international affairs. I submit that the honorable member for Bradfield must have been asleep for the last 15 years because in that time the Australian Labour Party has continually directed the Government’s attention to our defence needs. We showed our apprehension of Australia’s defences at the last elections when we highlighted the inadequacies of our defence forces. Our allegations were denied by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and other Government supporters.

The truth of our claims has been conceded by the action that has been taken by the Government in the last few weeks and by the increased provision for defence in the Budget, which give the lie to the allegations of the honorable member for Bradfield. During the last election the honorable member probably claimed that our defence forces were adequate, but tonight he holds a contrary view. It would have been refreshing to hear him make tonight’s statements during the election campaign when the Australian Labour Party charged the Government with shortcomings so far as our defence resources were concerned. But, as ever, the honorable member is a roaring lion when he can speak with comparative safety but a paper tiger if statements such as those he has made . tonight affect his position in the Parliament.

The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and other speakers from the Government side have tried hard to convince themselves and the people of Australia that the budget will not affect the man in the street. But statements made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) prior to bringing down the Budget do not confirm the statements of other Government supporters. So do not let them claim that there is any variance of opinion in our ranks because we can see a variance prominently displayed in the Government’s ranks. Speaking at the opening of the technical division of the General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. plant at Fishermen’s Bend, Port Melbourne recently, the Treasurer said that due to the increase of £1 a week in the basic wage inevitably prices must rise. He was saying, in effect, to those who had control over prices that they did not need to worry about the increase in the basic wage because they could increase prices and take back from the worker the £1 a week increase that had been granted by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.

Mr Curtin:

– Who said that?


– That is, in effect, what the Treasurer said recently. He has made similar statements since he brought down the Budget. Those statements have been made despite the fact that after an exhaustive examination by the Arbitration Commission of the cases presented by the trade union movement and the employers the judges of the court saw fit to rule that the profits of the employers could stand, without the slightest strain on the economy, an increase in the basic wage of £1 a week. The Treasurer’s remarks on price increases prior to the Budget remind me of the old adage that coming events cast their shadows before. The Budget has emphasised the thoughts of the Treasurer when he made forecasts of price rises and gives credence to the old adage.

This Budget is a budget for the wealthy. It is a deceitful budget. The increases in taxes and telephone charges are impositions that the people should not be called upon to bear. Big business can absorb those increases and even profit by them, but the ordinary man in the street cannot. At the invitation of the Treasurer the increases in telephone charges and taxes will be passed on to the wage earner in the form of increased prices for consumer goods. Thus the worker will pay double for the privilege of having a telephone in his home. He will pay double for what is considered these days a household necessity. That is in addition to the extra taxation that he must bear. What about the pensioners, the sick and the suffering who rely so much on the telephone in order to obtain assistance in times of need? The privilege that they will obtain will be 5s. a week given to them in one hand and 5s. a week taken back by the other hand - the grasping hand of the Treasurer.

The overall picture of this Budget is that the Treasurer, in the space of a few minutes, took back from the worker the £1 a week increase which took years of advocacy and cost many pounds in legal fees to obtain. In other words, the Budget means a reduction in the wages of the worker and a reduction in social service benefits, too. No-one can deny that the prices of the food we eat, the clothing we wear, the rents we pay, the medicine we buy and the wood we burn will all rise in response to the call of the Treasurer to the big business interests of this country that the pillage of the worker is now to be the order of the day. Looked at against the reality of those things, the Budget means that the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. This type of Budget highlights just how insincere the Government was in relation to the £250 housing gift. Speakers on the Government side said that that gift, which is on the basis of £1 for £3, would encourage young couples to save. However, one can visualise the effect that this Budget will have in that regard, because underlying the Budget Speech and the remarks made by the Treasurer since he brought down the Budget is the threat that more sacrifices will have to be made in the very near future.

The Budget contains nothing in the line of national development and makes a mockery of the statements that we hear from time to time from speakers on the Government side about this exciting age of development in the history of Australia. The enthusiasm displayed by those speakers about this exciting age has disappeared in the welter of excuses for a Budget of fear and futility. A total of £330 million is to be spent on defence, but there is no mention of defence as it relates to national development. The vast possibilities of the Northern Territory are ignored, although that Territory has great potential in terms of defence and national security. I could probably draw some consolation from the fact that the honorable member for Bradfield agrees with me in that regard. This type of policy can create only a lack of confidence on the part of people interested in affairs within the Territory. It can create only an attitude of despair at a time when so much concern is being shown about affairs to the north of Australia.

I have some recollection of the former Minister for Territories saying in 1959 that the Northern Territory was a dependent area and a dependent community. The Minister also said -

That is not a shame to the Territory; it is a shame to the nation that has allowed such a condition to prevail for so long, but we have to face the fact that, in order to bring about the greater development which we all wish to see, the Territory will have to rely for some time to come on both private and public sources outside the Territory.

I agree that it is a shame to this nation. I also say that it is a shame that five years after the Minister made that statement we still have no master plan for the development of the Northern Territory and that under this Budget the conditions that have prevailed there for so many years will continue to prevail, to the detriment not only of northern development but also of the nation in general. The empty north will remain empty. The projects that have been started will now languish.

If the reports and recommendations that have been submitted to this Government in relation to the Northern Territory were slacked together, they would reach quite a height. This is one feature of the development of the Northern Territory that we can be sure will increase. Words have always been a feature of the development of the Northern Territory, but action has been limited. The enormous mass of information that has been accumulated shows without doubt that the Territory is no longer a remote area and that it is not an area that is better forgotten. It is no longer the despised area of Australia. It is capable of being transformed into a food basket for Asia. It could be the means by which Australia could reach the hearts and minds of the countless millions to the north of us by humane means, which are far more desirable than means which fill graves and not bellies.

In relation to national development the Country Party Premier of Queensland said -

The added tax burden could have the effect of retarding development. I realise the need for increased expenditure on defence, but there is also a need for incentive at this stage of Australia’s development. In the long run some of the tax increases could reduce the return to the Government.

The Liberal Premier of Western Australia said - 1 can only say we are disappointed. There is no provision for money to be spent on the £30 million second stage of the Ord River irrigation project.

The Queensland President of the Federal Taxpayers Association said -

The taxation increases go against the pattern of a virile developing nation.

A director of the Queensland Employers Federation used these words -

  1. . a completely uninspiring Budget typical of the Budgets produced by Mr. Holt in the past.

The people who made those criticisms are not Labour supporters; they are supporters of this Government.

That is the cost of criticism that is levelled at a time when all over the world vast changes are taking place in the structure and magnitude of population. These changes are taking place particularly in Australia. It is admitted that the population of Australia will increase by 25 per cent, in the current decade and will double in the next 30 years. These circumstances make it imperative that expansion must not be retarded. On the contrary, it should be encouraged. The framework in which an economy develops is one that provides a blueprint for transport needs, housing, power and fuel, water and sewerage, irrigation, health, schools, universities and technical colleges. In fact, in terms of a national economic policy there is one feature that should not be retarded, and that is national development or, in other words, public works.

Speakers on the Government side talk a lot about the challenge ahead. This Budget and the adverse comments made on it by supporters of the Government leave little room for doubt that such talk by members of the Government parties is just empty vapour. In fact, they indicate that the Government has reverted to the dark days of 1960 when the Treasurer said -

The pace of expansion has become rather too fast and we have to ease it off a little.

We know the tragic results of that policy and what it cost Australia. It is true to say that history has the habit of repeating itself. This Budget of futility and fear could be the very instrument that will bring about similar results to those of 1960. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) stressed that feature. I support him by saying that the big issues facing Australia today are not covered by this Budget. Evidently that is the view of the honorable member for Bradfield. I refer to issues such as our population problem, particularly in relation to our older folk and their needs in an economy which can change drastically overnight at the whim of this Government. Another aspect of the problem is that by 1975 there will be an increase of 29.8 per cent, in people in the 5 to 14 years age group; an increase of 51.7 per cent, in people in the 15 to 19 years age group; an increase of 65.5 per cent, in people in the 20 to 24 years age group; and an increase of 63.5 per cent, in people in the 25 to 29 years age group.

Stemming from those increases are problems of employment, secondary and tertiary education, technical training, housing and many others. It is estimated that by 1975 the demand for primary school accommodation will increase by 40 per cent., for secondary school accommodation by 35 per cent, and for university accommodation by 100 per cent. How then can we visualise Budgets that retard the national growth and retard these essentials also? Indeed, the growing numbers in the marriageable age group emphasise more than ever the need for a greater stability of approach to

Budget matters. Although much is said about home ownership in this country, it is true to say that a home is not your own until you have finished paying for it, and in this regard requirements are still below the demand of those seeking to marry and raise a family. No-one will deny that homes are an essential in a modern community.

These are the very human interests confronting us in Australia today, and 1 think it is time that Budgets became more human documents and not just documents of figures and fiction. The Treasurer said that all Budgets are guesswork. Indeed, in answer to an interjection when he was delivering the Budget Speech, he said: “ Your guess is as good as mine “. The maintenance of Australian development in the last decade and the development that must take place in the decades ahead require planning and not guesswork. The problems of growth of population and age distribution, national development, education, health, power and transport are clearly outlined, and the time has come to take stock of these problems on a national basis. We cannot do this without a plan based upon the correct assessment of future requirements and an assessment of the resources available to meet these problems. Unfortunately, this Budget fails miserably to measure up to these requirements.

Continuity of operation is essential and desirable. I think, therefore, that it is timely to ask whether the Budgets of this Government are always to be deflationary. The Prime Minister and others on the Government side of the House have spoken of the exciting times ahead. It would be much more exciting if we had an organised plan for the development of the north, embracing not only the Northern Territory but also the north of Western Australia and Queensland; if we had a national roads plan and a national roads construction authority; if we had a virile national housing scheme and a national health scheme; if we had a social service scheme of which we could be proud; if we had an overseas shipping line; if we had a government with th. courage and the imagination and the enterprise to carry out these schemes. But, as the Budget suggests, the Government does not possess the capacity to think of national growth and public welfare.

While the Government dithers and talks of inflation, marriage grants and the like, the Brotherhood of St. Laurence informs us in its report that families with an income of £20 a week or less, especially those with more than one or two children, have almost no hope of finding suitable accommodation on the current housing market, either through purchase or rental, at a price that they can afford. The vulnerable group of families in receipt of incomes of less than £1,000 a year numbers in Victoria somewhere in the region of 55,000, plus some thousands of families who are dependent on social service benefits. This is the state of affairs in this affluent society. These people and the pensioners are the forgotten poor, the people who will be made poorer by this Budget while the rich get richer.

We have it in our own hands to make this generation the best that has ever lived on this earth and we have it in our hands to make it the last. To make this generation the best that has ever lived on this earth will always be the desire and the ambition of the Australian Labour Party. To make it the last generation is a thought that is too dreadful to contemplate. The desire of the Australian Labour Party and the principles we stand for are laid down very clearly in the book, “ Labour’s Role in Modern Society “ written by Mr. Arthur Calwell, who is Leader of the Opposition. In this book he said -

We want a society in which the people are not divided by social barriers or by extremes of wealth or poverty.

We want a society bound together by a common objective of maximum welfare for all citizens; a society /narked by co-operation, not by mutual antagonism based on what different groups believe to bc their own as opposed to the common interest.

We want security for all, and genuine equality of opportunity for all.

We want a society in which the old and the young and the sick are accepted ungrudgingly as the responsibility of the community as a whole; where those who are handicapped in brain or body do not have to pay the penalty of lifetime social rejection; a society in which the only social distinctions are the genuine ones of ability, talent, intellect, or artistic power and character - gifts which, to those fortunate enough to possess them, after all, bring their own reward and should not require an extra bonus from society in the form of extreme wealth.

We believe that the human spirit is too noble a thing to be shackled for a lifetime by harsh economic necessity.

At a time when our knowledge and power have placed prosperity within the reach of everybody, we wish to see each man and woman enabled to reach the high dignity of being a human being, a child of God.

I conclude by saying that this Budget falls far short of those ideals and requirements. I say further that no-one can deny that those requirements are the demands of the society in which we live today.

New England

– Despite all that has been said by the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor) and other Opposition members tonight, I think we in Australia today enjoy a greater measure of prosperity than we have ever had before. The very fact that the basic wage was increased not many months ago shows that it is not only members on this side of the House who appreciate that this measure of prosperity currently exists in Australia. Probably one of the main reasons for this economic prosperity is the enlightened financial policies that have been introduced by this Government. Despite all that has been said in the past about some budgets, I think that there are few Opposition members who would not agree that the Budget for 1963-64 contributed considerably towards the prosperity that we enjoy today. One of the reasons for this is that the Budget helped to promote expenditure in the private sector of the economy, it helped to promote growth of companies and, of course, it was assisted by a number of fortuitous factors. Though these factors were not expected the policies contained in the Budget made it more easy to take advantage of them.

In the short time that is allotted to me I would have no chance of mentioning each aspect that is dealt with in the Budget, but like many other honorable members I found it extremely helpful to have the abundance of literature that was presented with the Budget, containing comparative details, figures that enable one to look back at the results in previous years, and figures that help us to analyse trends in the economy. This highlights one of our problems as parliamentarians, lt is very difficult to take an abstract look at the economy; it is very difficult to take anything other than a partisan attitude when examining financial trends. Most of us come from a sector of production and we still have a personal interest in what happens in that sector. For that reason, I think that each and every one of us perhaps has a slanted outlook towards the continuing prosperity of that industry.

If we hope to continue to expand the services that are provided to the community it is absolutely essential that funds be made available. This, of course, is effected by increases in taxation, whether it be increases in income tax on individuals and companies or increases in indirect taxation. If we hope to provide the services that we feel the community should have we must be prepared to pay for them. Although honorable members of the Opposition have levelled criticism at this Budget, I think even they appreciate that it is essential to raise these funds. The very fact that this Budget provides for raising the funds from so many different sections of the community makes it a Budget deserving of praise.

One of the aspects that intrigued me in going through the figures contained in the Budget was that the only item of revenue which it is estimated will decrease in the coming year is estate duty. I do not know whether the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in his wisdom, has been able to foresee a considerable reduction in the number of deaths during the next 12 months. However, I suggest that when he next looks at the Budget he might consider some lightening of the incidence of estate duty in cases in which lands are left to members of a testator’s family and the estate is largely tied up in rural property. Many people in the country find themselves in a most invidious position when their parents die. The Treasurer might give consideration to a variation of the rate of estate duty in the case of estates consisting primarily of rural lands. If there are a number of beneficiaries, I suggest estate duty should not be levied at the rate applicable to the total estate, but should be levied at the rates applicable to the proportions of the estate left to the various beneficiaries, at least when those beneficiaries are male members of the testator’s family. This could result in a considerable lightening of the existing burden on members of the rural community.

I now go on to comment on some other aspects of rural productivity which, I noticed with interest, were mentioned by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia in the “ Australian Financial Review” published only this morning. This Committee has forecast that, from the long range viewpoint, the rural industries with the best long term export prospects are the wool and beef industries. I think there are a few people who would not agree with that statement.

I noticed that in the Budget papers the preliminary estimate of wool production for the ensuing year shows an increase of 6.5 per cent, on the production for last year. The figure given is about 1,782 million lb., greasy equivalent. From the trends that are apparent in overseas wool consumption, 1 think that, even at this early stage, it can be seen that the promotion efforts of the Australian Wool Board will probably be highly successful. This being so, it can bc reasonably expected that Australia’s wool cheque during the next 12 months will be at least about equivalent to that of the last 12 months. For the wellbeing of every section of the community it is essential that this should be so, because such a large proportion of our export income still comes from the sale of wool overseas.

As to the beef industry, in the last few days, unfortunately, some uncertainty seems to have developed as to long range prospects in the United States market. Production at home seems to be on the increase. In the

I I months to the end of May 1 964, production was 1.52 million tons, representing an increase of 2.2 per cent, on production for the corresponding period of 1962-63. I think that if we take into account the tremendous potential for development in every part of Australia there is a reasonable prospect of this rate of increase improving in the future. At least, if production does not improve on the numerical standard, I feel quite certain that it will improve in terms of quality of stock for sale.

I was quite impressed with the experiments being undertaken at the Kimberley Research Station. I trust that these experiments, together with those being undertaken at Katherine in the Northern Territory, which arc certainly only in the preliminary stages, will produce some kind of revolution in the beef industry in the northern area of Australia. The livestock themselves in that area, I am afraid, leave very much to be desired when looked at by anyone from the south. But when one comes down to the more productive areas of Australia - if one can use such a term at this stage - one finds that the numbers of stock are very much greater than is the case in the north. For example, I understand that, even now, within 200 miles of Rockhampton there are more beef cattle than in the whole of the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region. As you go south, you find that although there may not be such great numbers in a similar concentrated area, the numbers are certainly continually expanding.

In the interests of this expansion, it is necessary continually to improve farming methods and particularly to effect improvements in the use of farming lands. In this connection, we come back to the subject of superphosphate and other fertilisers. Speaking on the motion for the adjournment of the House last week I mentioned that I was rather suspicious of the reasons for the recent price rise of superphosphate in New South Wales. I said that 1 drew the inference from statements made by Mr. J. G. Schroder, General Manager of Australian Fertilisers Ltd., that the increase in the price of superphosphate in New South Wales was imposed to raise funds for the construction of the new plant, to cost £3.2 million, at Port Kembla. It would appear from a Press announcement tonight of a new share issue of three for five by Australian Fertilisers Ltd. that this may not be the case.

At the same time, however, 1 very much doubt that (he company had much concern for national interests when it not only raised the price but also removed the off-peak rebate at this crucial stage. While our production is improving it is absolutely essential, particularly in the higher rainfall areas, that we do not cut down our use of fertiliser. This applies not only to the section of the industry concerned with livestock production. There are very many aspects of the agricultural industry in which it is absolutely essential for us to use fertilisers, and not the least of the fertilisers we are using is superphosphate. If we want to continue to expand agricultural production it is essential that superphosphate not only should be available in adequate quantities but also should be reasonably priced. I trust that it will not be long before the price in New South Wales is reviewed so that it will compare favourably with the price at which this product is available in other States. I also hope that companies now established in Slates other than New South Wales will consider the possibility of establishing themselves in that State, even if it requires the assistance of some internal capital. In this way New South Wales producers will have an opportunity to attain the high level of productivity of which I feel they are capable.

There is one other matter connected with rural industries to which I should like to refer. I want to mention extension services and the need for some greater degree of correlation of the activities of State Departments of Agriculture, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the universities. In my electorate, we are extremely fortunate in that the University of New England has a very active rural section. It has two rural faculties, one of rural science and the other of agricultural economics. Both are at present attracting a great deal of attention, not only within Australia but also overseas. These two faculties are doing a wonderful job, not only in training young men for a future career on the land, but also in enabling local graziers and landholders to get some benefit from the research being undertaken within the university. Unfortunately this benefit is not available in all parts of the State, and certainly it is not available in all parts of the Commonwealth. There are a number of crying needs in this regard. One matter that I think the Government could well look into in the near future is the absolute necessity to have a central body, or, if not an independent central body, a separate organisation, possibly within the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or the universities, which could, if not completely correlate research, at least provide an opportunity for persons who wished to do research an any field to find out the nature of any other research that might be going on in that field in Australia. I feel that at present duplication of research is one of the greatest deficiencies in our extension and research work. It is a great pity that we do not have some central liaison authority to correlate all the research work being done at various places in Australia.

There is also a need for greater extension services to enable the men and women in rural communities to find out just what research is being done and to apply the results of that research to their farms or in their particular areas. At the moment, I think that it is only through local farm management clubs that graziers or farmers can hope to keep even partially abreast of what is being developed in either C.S.I.R.O. establishments or universities. Unfortunately, although the State Departments of Agriculture - I speak mainly of the New South Wales Department - do their utmost to contact members of the grazing and rural communities, they seem to be falling down sadly on the job, mainly through lack of staff. There is an organisation called the Agricultural Bureau of New South Wales which is doing a good deal of work in this direction, but it is unable to do anywhere near enough. I suggest that this is a matter that the Australian Agricultural Council might consider in the near future, with a view to extending the correlation of extension services and promoting the dissemination of knowledge to the rural communities.

One of the great problems of the rural industries seems to be that by the time they get information about experiments that have been undertaken either much of the information is of no use or the nature of the research work being undertaken has changed. This delay in receiving information virtually negates the value of research, and for this reason I think it is essential that there should be a considerable speeding up of the dissemination of information relating to the results of research.

Another matter to which I wish to refer briefly is that we seem to be embarking upon a period of capital intensive agriculture. The demographic trends indicate that there is a gradual decline in the work force in rural areas. The population in the rural areas is declining, and the populations of the larger towns and cities in the country are not increasing at the same rate as the populations of the towns and cities closer to the seaboard. Although this problem has been talked about and thought about by both Federal and State Governments for many years, and attempts might have been made to do much, very little seems to have been achieved.

I think there are a number of things that can be done. We could do a number of things which, although initially they might appear to be costly, would be of tremendous intrinsic worth not only in the present but also in the future. Whilst we might feel that there would be difficulties in the way of providing incentives for the establishment of industries in the country such as, perhaps, the duplication of the additional 20 per cent, depreciation allowance on new industrial equipment that was made available to primary producers last year, I am confident that, although such incentives might be costly, the benefits to be derived would be great. If we could provide some type of incentive for the establishment of secondary industries in country areas, we might be able to stop the unfortunate drift of population to one or two capital cities.

But this is not a matter for the Commonwealth Government alone. On a number of occasions the Commonwealth Government has discussed the matter with the various State governments, but I feel that, at least in my own State of New South Wales, a tremendous amount could still be done and should be done by the State Government. For instance, State governments could offer freight concessions. 1 feel that a tremendous amount of worthwhile development could be achieved in the country areas with cheap transport of rural products to city markets and of raw materials to country areas. For example, cheap rail freights for the carriage of raw materials might be an incentive for the establishment of a superphosphate works in the country, close to the point of use of the manufactured product. There are many fields in which the State governments could encourage the development of industries in the country.

Another matter to which I wish to refer briefly is that of local government finance. This is something which concerns most of us who come from country areas. Fortunately, thanks to Commonwealth aid roads funds, country roads have improved tremendously in recent years, but local governing bodies have demands made upon their funds for many things in addition to the development and maintenance of roads. They are called upon to undertake many community services. I feel that there is a need for some revision of the method of financing local governing bodies. Unfortunately the State governments, certainly the New South Wales Government, have entered extensively into the field of land tax. Whilst some arguments could be raised against the rating of land, I feel that in this field local governing bodies have some opportunity of financing the services they provide for the community. I believe that if the State governments were to make available to local governing bodies the funds that they raise by land tax, those local governing bodies would be in a far better position to finance their projects than they are at the present time.

I come now to defence, which has been dealt with extensively tonight. This is a matter with which each and every one of us must be greatly concerned. We in the country are just as concerned with defence as are the people in the cities. Because of a number of economic circumstances in recent years, less money seems to have been made available to Citizen Military Forces establishments and Citizen Air Force establishments in country areas. In my part of Australia, there is tremendous enthusiasm for the re-establishment of detachments of the citizen forces in country towns where, in the days before the last war, there were Light Horse squadrons and detachments of other troops. 1 suggest that when any review of defence expenditure is undertaken greater consideration bc given to the possibility of extending our citizen forces, lt is not only by some form of national service training that we will be able to improve our defence preparedness. If honorable members were to look at the opportunities available for the training of our citizen forces they might find that a tremendous amount more could be achieved than is at present being achieved.

It is not only in the training of citizen forces but also in the extension of school cadet forces that we could make greater use of available man power than we are doing at present. Full employment and the consequent unavailability of recruits arc among the major problems in extending our defence preparedness by the provision of some form of national service training. I understand that from the commencement to the end of the last comprehensive training scheme in 1950-51 there was a 200 per cent, increase in expenditure on defence, primarily to provide the facilities that are absolutely essential in order to ensure adequate training. I do not believe that the form of national service training previously adopted was by any means adequate or helped Australia’s defence preparedness. Nevertheless, I believe it provided a form of community training for many young men who otherwise might not have had the opportunity of living together under Service conditions and of meeting men from other walks of life. For the development of good citizens there is no better form of activity, but that should not be the only purpose of national service training. It is because of the previous scheme that I am a little suspicious of any national service training scheme which is intended to accomplish what was hoped for when the previous scheme was introduced. There is no doubt that a comprehensive scheme would be far more satisfactory, but before such a scheme is decided upon there is a grave need for considerable improvement in our citizen forces establishments.

I refer now to education, in which the Commonwealth is becoming increasingly involved. One of the fields of education about which I am particularly concerned and which I feel is not given enough attention is technical education at the tertiary level. Whilst I appreciate that a committee is investigating tertiary education and that its findings have not yet been made public, I feel that there are several aspects of technical education which need to be considered by every member of this Parliament and by the community. One aspect is the extension of so many diploma and technical college courses to a university degree level. Although there is an advantage in establishing and maintaining high standards in many fields, many people who in the past have been required to have only diplomas at the university or technical college level have been particularly proficient and have performed a notable service to the community. They would continue to do so without working for an additional year or more to obtain a university degree. Accordingly, I hope that the concentration of expenditure on universities will not be at the expense of technical colleges. At the same time, it is essential that we expand our universities. To do this we must have the funds that the Commonwealth Government is making available through the Australian Universities Commission.

There is one aspect of technical training in which the Commonwealth Government might assist. In New South Wales my State member has raised the question of students, from rural areas in particular, who have left school but have decided to attend a technical college to get some form of tertiary training. These students arc not provided with any form of free transport to the technical colleges. They have to meet the considerable expense involved, and many find it extremely difficult to attend daytime technical school courses unless they are provided with some form of assistance with fares, or by some other means, to enable them to have a little with which to keep the pot boiling. Until recently this problem was accentuated for students who left school at the age of 15 years and whose parents were not in receipt of child endowment after the child’s sixteenth birthday. No other assistance was available for them. Now, fortunately, this situation has been changed. By lowering to 15 the age limit for children entitled to receive child endowment, and by extending the student training scheme to that age, we may be able to accomplish more. This is a suggestion which I trust the Government will consider when preparing the next Budget.


.- Budget night is one of the few occasions on which the eyes of all citizens in Australia turn to Canberra, and Tuesday night of last week was no exception. The Budget presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has been received with mixed feelings in this House, and people throughout Australia have expressed their feelings about it through the daily Press. I think I would be correct in saying that the Budget has not been well received by the Australian public. In Queensland, the State from which I come, the Premier was not slow to condemn the Budget. This Country Party leader in Queensland said that the development of his State would suffer as a result of this Budget. The finance editor of the “ Courier-Mail “, the leading Press supporter in Queensland of this Government, said that business would be disappointed. Here we have condemnation of the Budget by two of the Government’s leading supporters.

Last weekend I spent a considerable portion of my time in that section of my division called Woolloongabba. The citizens whom I mct there were a little more forthright in their condemnation of the Budget. Unfortunately, the rules of the House will not permit me to inform the few honorable members who are listening now just what my constituents think of the Budget. I enthusiastically support the amendment moved by my leader, and I hope that honorable members will take full advantage of the brilliant leadership given by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in his speech delivered last night in criticism of and in opposition to the Budget.

Government supporters have for a long time been speaking in glowing terms of the prosperity of this nation. It is only natural that this country of ours should prosper. The seasons have been good; the nation is becoming more industrialised; and development is taking place generally throughout the nation. In Queensland, oil has been discovered and is now being piped to the coast for delivery to the refineries. I imagine that within a very short time vehicles will be running on Australian roads using Australian produced oil. So, truly prosperity unlimited should be abroad in Australia today. But the attitude of the Treasurer seems to be that prosperity has to be limited, that a limitation must be placed on the availability of the products of our nation and on their use by our citizens. The Treasurer by his Budget has decided to exclude the little people of this nation from the prosperity that has grown up over the years. Pensioners have been penalised. Motorists have been menaced and mulcted. In short, the Treasurer says, in effect, that prosperity is too good for the masses and that the good things in life are for the rich. By the loading of costs, and by increased taxation and excise, life is being made much harder for the little people of this country.

I am most disappointed with the statement regarding pensions. I, with many members of my Party, did expect a liberal increase in pensions payable to the aged and other recipients of social services. But such has not been the case. Pensions, as we all know, are to be raised in the social services scale by 5s. per week. As the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) pointed out only last night in this House, if the increase of pension in relation to the basic wage were in the same ratio as applied in the last years of the Chifley Labour Government the pension would be raised by Ils. per week. Truly again, the pensioners of this country - the pioneers who built the nation in difficult days - are receiving merely crumbs from the rich man’s table. Only recently, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission decided to increase the basic wage by £1 per week. This decision was based, amongst other things, on the productivity and prosperity of the nation. But the rewards of that productivity and prosperity are given to those who, on this occasion, have the benefit of the Commission to see that they get them. Where this Government could take a hand and arrange for some of the prosperity and productivity to be shared by the senior citizens of this nation, it has faltered. Instead of giving those senior citizens the reasonable increase to which they are justly entitled, the Government makes the miserable contribution of 5s. per week. So, in terms of actual purchasing power, those in receipt of social services are going further back. This is not something of which the Government should be proud. I am somewhat disappointed, as I have said, with the scale of social service increases. I hoped that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) would be more active in the Ministry in pressing for a larger increase for those people who are justly entitled to much more than they are to receive under the Treasurer’s proposal.

Already, big business is plundering the pockets of the people by increasing prices. In my own State of Queensland, since the basic wage has been increased, the business section of the community engaged in the retail trade has been in uproar about the increased prices that have been announced by the wholesale section of the community. The prices of more than 200 lines of groceries have already been increased. There is uproar in Queensland because the effect of increases in the price of bacon has been to remove this commodity from the breakfast tables of the workers. Since 1st June, there have been three increases in the price of bacon. These increases total ls. 4d. per lb. The last increase was 6d. per lb.

Mr Nixon:

– It does not go to the farmer.


– The farmer, according to Mr. Kajewski, the Queensland President of the Australian Pig Society, seems to be doing pretty well. He has made a long garbled statement about the increases in price. I do not think he wants an inquiry into them. All that the people of Brisbane know is that prices have soared enormously. The people can see no reason for the outlandish, outrageous increases in the price of this very desirable food. Generations of Australians have regarded it as their right to consume this food at breakfast time. Neither this Government nor the Queensland Government is interested in controlling prices or keeping them within reasonable limits. It is idle to say that the farmer is not getting some return from the excessive charge that is being made for bacon. In Queensland, we have what is alleged to be a farmers’ Government, led by a Country Party Premier, and dominated completely by members of the Country Party. Are they failing in their duty when the returns from the exorbitant prices being charged for bacon - the pigs are slaughtered in many cases by farmers’ co-operatives - are not going back to the farmer himself? As a city dweller, and as one who represents a city constituency, I express my horror at the reluctance of this Government and the Queensland Government to take action to stop the plundering of the pockets of the people by these increased prices for commodities.

This Government, I am afraid, has gone even further into the depths in the plundering of the pockets of the people. 1 refer now to the action of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) in increasing the prices of telephone services. Many honorable members over the years have made appeals in this place for a concession to be granted in respect of telephone services to those in receipt of social services. Of course, from the cold business point of view everybody should be placed on the same level; but, thank goodness, some people in this House, particularly those on this side of the Chamber, do not apply business principles to all the activities of government. Opposition members feel that the wealthier section of the community should be prepared to subsidise the granting of telephone facilities to those in receipt of social service benefits, and particularly to age pensioners. There is an urgent need for these people to have telephones. Many of them are handicapped by age and infirmities. They cannot move about as younger people do. The telephone provides them with a greater opportunity of keeping in touch with their relatives. It keeps them in the swim of life. But the charges that have been levied by the Postmaster-General, I am sure, will prevent the installation of a telephone in the future in any pensioner’s home, and also will cause many pensioners who are enjoying the facility today to give it up.

Worse than that is the position of blind pensioners. In my constituency there are many blind persons. The industrial institution that provides them with employment is in my electoral division. Over a long number of years, I have been in close association with this section of the community. If there is no reason why age pensioners should be given any concession, there does exist a reason for blind men and blind women to be given the concession. Their position is absolutely pitiable. Many blind men are married to blind women. These people are confined to their homes and cannot get about without the aid of a guide. Some of them are independent enough to make their way about alone, but, in these days of wild motorists, they take their lives in their hands if they go out at night alone. Consequently, telephones are essential for them. These people, who are in the poorer section of the community, will now be unable to afford this essential feature of modern life. If sickness occurs in the home, they are helpless and have no means of communication except trying to call some neighbour. It is to the eternal disgrace and discredit of the Minister for Social Services, the Treasurer and ail members of the Government who support the increases in telephone charges that the Government has refused to grant concessions on telephone installation charges and rentals to blind pensioners. The high installation charge of £15 and a rental of £20 a year in the cities will deny the facility of a telephone to pensioners. They will find it economically impossible to meet the cost.

I wish to direct the attention of the House to the action of the Postmaster-General in trying to justify the increased installation charges and rentals for telephones by saying that the average cost of installing a telephone service is £570.

Mr Curtin:

– That is a bit of bunk.


– I think it is a bit of bunk, as my honorable friend has said. I find this figure very difficult to accept. I am sure that it does not cost £570 to install a telephone in the city, but I believe that it costs more than £570 to provide some telephone services in country areas. I would not attempt to deny this modern facility to country dwellers, but I do not believe that residents of the cities should be penalised and asked to subsidise from their own pockets by way of higher rentals the cost of telephone services for country dwellers. I believe that this subsidy should be paid out of Commonwealth revenue. On behalf of the residents of the city Division of Griffith, I protest at their being asked to subsidise country services by paying heavy increases in rentals.

Let us look at some of the increases in rentals that have been proposed by the Postmaster-General. The annual rental for a table handset in a residence in a local service area with up to 2,000 lines will be increased from £6 12s. 6d. to £8. That is a moderate increase. In local service areas with country exchanges of 7,501 lines or more, the rental will rise from £8 17s. 6d. to £12. The increase in areas like those represented by my good friend, the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin), and me is much greater. In my Division, the rental will be increased from £13 17s. 6d. to £20 a year. Age pensioners, blind pensioners and other private citizens in Brisbane will pay as much as businessmen will pay.

Mr Curtin:

– This is a charge that recurs annually.


– That is so. Businessmen can pass on the increase, as many of them have already done, by raising the prices of the goods that they sell. But the private citizen in Brisbane will be mulcted of an additional £6 2s. 6d. a year. It is a shocking state of affairs when the Government discriminates so much against the less fortunate section of the community and differentiates so greatly between city and country dwellers. 1 am a firm supporter of a policy of decentralisation, but I believe that city residents should not be asked to pay the cost of decentralisation. The cost should be met from Commonwealth revenue.

I turn now to other increased charges imposed on the community. We should say a prayer every night for those people who risk their lives by indulging in what many regard as the pleasant habit of smoking. Last financial year, smokers contributed to the Commonwealth Treasury by way of excise £73 million. But the Treasurer, greedy man that he is, was not satisfied with this. He has decided to hit smokers a little harder this financial year by raising the total collections of excise on tobacco and cigarettes by 18 per cent. As a result, smokers will contribute to the Treasury an additional £14.1 million in a full year. It would be disastrous for the Treasurer if the smokers of this country were to take the advice of the American Medical Association and regard smoking as a cause of lung cancer, for this would probably cause them to give up the habit and bring on a financial crisis in the Government. I suppose it would then be compelled to turn its attention to drinkers of beer and spirits, who, last financial year, made a notable contribution of £124 million to the Treasury by way of excise on beer and spirits.

Mr Cockle:

– ls the honorable member referring to the little men?


– This Government hits the little men very hard. They have no ability to hit back and therefore the Government really hits them. As the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) has just remarked to me, it is a pity that the little people do not remember at election time who their friends are and use the ballot box accordingly. Unfortunately, many of the little people seem to be misled into believing that their friends are those who support the present Government. Though you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, may not be prepared to admit openly that the friends of the little people are to be found only in the Australian Labour Party, you well know that is so. We who belong to the Labour Party have proved our friendship for the little people by our administration during the relatively few years for which Labour has governed the Commonwealth.

I now wish to dicuss the overseas investment that has taken place in Australia in recent times. It is quite alarming to realise how the control of Australian industry has passed out of our own hands. We are told that we must hold this country. But this does not mean merely holding it physically. We must hold it industrially and financially, but we are losing the fight in the industrial and financial fields. In a journal that is to be found in the Parliamentary Library we see that 20 per cent. of company earnings in Australia are already American controlled. Industrial and food processing undertakings have been taken over by American investors. United Kingdom investment over the years since the war has amounted to £662 million. As these investmentsare being made in industries which give a very high profit return, vast sums of money are going out of Australia to foreign investors.

Already the Japanese have taken over many of our large mining leases. Coal mining leases in Queensland have been handed over to the Japanese, as have leases of iron ore areas in Western Australia. With the control of these mining activities in the hands of foreign investors there is always the risk of a move to impose the will of the foreign investors on the country in which the investment is made. Japanese investors are already sending out coal hoppers made in Japan to be used on the Queensland railways to haul Queensland coal to the coast. Japanese investors in mining leases in Western Australia have had the audacity to throw out feelers on the prospect of allowing Japanese coolie labour to be brought into Western Australia to work the leases. Fortunately, the Government of the day has been strong enough to resist the pressure, but how long will it be strong enough to resist such pressure, which will mount in strength as it goes along?

The pastoral industry in the Northern Territory is now dominated by European, American and Chinese capital. Absentee landlordism is very rife in a Territory controlled by this Parliament - the Northern Territory.

Mr Nixon:

– What are you talking about?


– Unless you are dumb you should be able to follow this. There is another sorry commentary on conditions in Australia, particularly in view of a question asked today by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) relating to the Emerald Isle. A station in the Northern Territory, known as Tipperary Downs, which covers an area of 2i million acres, has been sold to Chinese investors.

That is the way things are going in the Northern Territory. In one of the trouble spots of the world- South America - where revolutions are almost a daily occurrence, figuratively speaking, the main reasons for the revolutions against established governments - revolutions which in their turn produce dictatorships - are foreign investment and the imposition of the will of the foreign investor on the government and on the people of those many countries which comprise the South American continent.

I, as well as other members of the Labour Party, have expressed opposition to and horror of what has been taking place over the years. It is all very well for the Government to speak in very persuasive terms of what has been going on in relation to foreign investment, but we believe that the Australian content of investment should be much higher than it is. in many cases the Australian investor is completely frozen out. He is not permitted to make any investment in certain undertakings alongside American and British capital. The position is very serious. I hope that the Government will display an awareness of this situation by making some move to ensure that Australian investors are given a greater opportunity to associate themselves with foreign investment, and that the inflow of capital from overseas is not permitted to remain the exclusive right of the people who are exploiting our very wealthy nation. I emphasise that Australia is a very wealthy nation, and the right of investment in this country’s development should be in the hands of the Australian people. If this were permitted and encouraged by this Government we would be a much better people and a much better country.

Debate (on motion by Dr. Forbes) adjourned.

page 413


The following Bills were returned from the Senate without requests -

Customs Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1964.

Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Bill (No. 3) 1964.

Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 3) 1964.

Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference) Bill (No. 2) 1964.

page 414


The Parliament

Motion (by Mr. Snedden) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.


– When this House adjourned on 20th May last for the recess there was some unfinished business on its hands. Honorable members will recall the matter that I raised during the adjournment debate on that day, which is reported on page 2198 of “ Hansard “, relating to the Yugoslav Settlers Association. Doubts were cast on the veracity of the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). Those doubts have not yet been allayed. At that time he said something which, in my view, was untrue. It is difficult to see how he could not then know it to be untrue.

Last week the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said that when matters of this nature were raised we should be quick and specific. I shall be quite specific tonight. The only reason for the delay so far in raising this matter during this sessional period is that although I have sent numerous messages to the honorable member for Yarra he has failed to show up in the House for the debate on the adjournment. I am willing to lay on the table of the House the full text of any document from which I now intend to quote in order to prove the point that I am making. Honorable members will remember that I tried to do so on 20th May last, but was prevented by the Opposition from doing so.

I want to recall the events of 13th May last. The House will remember - this can be seen on pages 1803 and 1806 of “ Hansard “ - that in questions asked by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn) and the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) reference was made to the presence of the honorable member for Yarra at a meeting of the Yugoslav Settlers Association, and to his close connection with that association. Allegations were made of certain Communist activities. The honorable member for Yarra did attend that meeting. In point of fact, there is a published photograph which shows him there. He was, in fact, closely connected with the Yugoslav Settlers Association which, I understand from what was said by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in the House, has described him as one of its patrons.

I should like honorable members now to look at page 1887 of “Hansard” of 13th May where the honorable member for Yarra is reported to have made the following remarks -

I tell the Attorney-General now that I am associated with an organization that was formed only a few weeks ago to protect its own members from the threats and attacks that have been made upon them by theUstasha.

That statement was false in two respects. It was false first as to the date of formation of the Yugoslav Settlers Association and secondly as to the circumstances of its formation and therefore as to its nature. There is evidence that the honorable member for Yarra must know this.

As to the date of formation of the organisation, the honorable member said that it was formed only a few weeks ago. That was not a slip of the tongue because on the previous day the honorable member made outside the House a statement which was reported in the “ Daily Telegraph “ on 13th May in these words -

Outside the House of Representatives today Dr. Cairns said the only organisation with which he was concerned was called the Yugoslav Settlers Association, established in Melbourne alone a few weeks ago.

The Yugoslav Settlers Association was formed apparently as a result of a change of name by a previously existing Dalmatian Settlers Association, but even if we accept the date of the change of name as the date of formation, the honorable member for Yarra was guilty of misrepresentation when he said that it was formed “ only a few weeks ago “. The change of name was made early in October 1963, just a few days before the honorable member for Yarra began his propaganda on these matters in the House.

The association was active by 7th November 1963 as can be seen from a report in the Communist “ Guardian “ of 14th November which states that on 7th November a member of the Yugoslav Settlers Association addressed the Eureka Youth League. As all honorable members know, the Eureka Youth League is a Communist organisation.

The honorable member for Yarra knew that the Yugoslav Settlers Association was formed more than “ a few weeks ago “, and I will prove it, because on 19th February he was one of the signatories to a letter received by the Liberal Party. In that letter he referred to the Yugoslav Settlers Association and said -

On 29th November 1963 members of the Ustashi planted ether bombs at one of the association’s meetings.

The honorable member therefore knew that the association was in existence at least on 29th November 1963. The date “a few weeks ago “ given to the House was false and the honorable member surely must have known it was false.

As to the circumstances surrounding the formation of the organisation, here also is a falsity. Remember that the honorable member for Yarra had close connections with this association. He gave two mutually incompatible versions of the circumstances of its formation. One version was given in the House. 1 have already referred to that. The other version was given to the Press the previous day, which reported it in these words -

Dr. Cairns said that it was established for the purpose of giving -publicity to the activities of the Nazi-type Ustasha organisation.

In the House the honorable member said that the association was formed to protect its members from Ustashi attacks but in the Press he said it was formed in order to attack the Ustasha. Those are statements which are mutually incompatible. Which is true? In a letter dated 15th February 1964 the chairman of the Yugoslav Settlers Association, Mr. Jurjevic, wrote to the Liberal Party and said that the association was formed in order to attack the Ustasha. He wrote -

Last year we issued a leaflet dealing with the past of the Ustashi organisation and their present activities here . . .

He said that his Association made public attacks on the Ustasha. The letter continued -

However, because of our progressive and democratic stand we became the first target of Ustashi terrorist attacks. On 29.11.1963 they attacked and tried to disrupt our celebration . . .

Honorable members will see that the chairman of the association in that quite specific letter gives the lie to the statement made-


– Order! 1 ask the honorable member for Mackellar to withdraw that remark.


– Right. The chairman of the organisation has said something quite incompatible with the statement made in the House by the honorable member for Yarra.

Mr Webb:

– I rise to order. All the honorable member for Mackellar said was: “ Right “. He did not withdraw his remark when you called upon him to do so.


– I withdraw the word. What the honorable member said in the House was incompatible with what he said outside, lt was incompatible also with the version given by the association itself. Now, 1 say that what he said in the House was false and I cannot see how he did not know then that it was false, lt may be said that this is a small matter-


– Order! I suggest that the honorable member for Mackellar, in making out his case at this stage, moderate the tone of his accusations against the honorable member for Yarra.


– Very well, Sir. It may bc said that these are small matters but a member’s veracity in this House is not a small matter. In these two things together it seems to me that the honorable member for Yarra was guilty of a deliberate and calculated misrepresentation and, further, that he had a motive for that misrepresentation. He wanted to pretend injured innocence for this association. He wanted perhaps to cover up the great interest taken in the association by the Communists, which has been evidenced by the numerous references to the association in the Communist Press. Let him now apologise to the House for having given it false information. Let him also explain how it is that he came to do so, because in the circumstances, and having regard to the documents that I have referred to, he must surely have been aware of the falsity of what he was saying. Let him explain why he gave the House this false impression.


– Order! 1 suggest that the honorable member withdraw his last phrase.


– Which phrase?


– The phrase in which the honorable member accuses the honorable member for Yarra of deliberately falsifying the statement that he made to the House.


– That is my view, Sir.


– Order!


– I will allow the honorable member to answer and show why-


– Order!


– I withdraw the statement and ask the honorable member to answer and show why he made this false statement.


– Order!

Dr J F Cairns:

– Often when visiting the zoo I have noticed that before the monkeys in the cage put on their performances they begin to scratch and before the hyenas begin their quite inane laughter they are in the habit of pacing up and down their cages for some time. The House will be aware that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) put on his preparatory performances last week for his demonstration this evening - a demonstration which you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, found to have exceeded on several occasions the standard of parliamentary behaviour that one expects from an honorable member.


– Order! I suggest that the honorable member for Yarra bear in mind some of the comments that I have made to the honorable member for Mackellar.

Dr J F Cairns:

– The honorable member for Mackellar was apparently so concerned that I should receive notice of his demonstration tonight that he sent messages around the House a couple of times last week. Of course, he well knows that he has made a number of statements that are detailed and that in order to examine those details properly I will need to check the record in “Hansard”. If I am to answer completely the matter in detail I will have to do so on another occasion. This aspect, .of course, did not deter the honorable member for Mackellar from seizing the opportunity to obtain publicity for himself by pretending that it was necessary for me to be here this evening or at some other time to hear what he had to say.

Let me look at the matter he has raised insofar as I can look at it at this stage. He claims that on 13th May, at page 1887 of “ Hansard “, I said in the House -

I tell the Attorney-General now that I am associated with an organisation that was formed only a few weeks ago to protect its own members. . . .

The honorable member for Mackellar says that three things are wrong with that statement; first, that the organisation was not formed a few weeks ago, secondly, that I knew that; and thirdly, that it was formed, not to protect its own members but to attack the Ustasha. The evidence of that is a statement made by the President of the organisation that that was what the organisation was formed for.

Mr Stokes:

– And your own statement.

Dr J F Cairns:

– No, not my own statement at all. The honorable member for Mackellar has quoted from newspaper reports which, from my own knowledge of what was said and done at the time, are not accurate reports. But on the basis of those inacucurate reports he is prepared to say that I have made false statements to this House. I deny the one or two reports that I heard him mention tonight. They were not accurate.

As far as the President of the association is concerned, to say that this organisation was formed for the purpose of attacking the Ustasha is not inconsistent with the statement that the organisation was formed to protect its own members. When the President of the association says that it was formed to attack the Ustasha, he does not mean physically. He made that clear at the time. He means to attack by exposing; he means to attack by claiming that we must have an inquiry; he means to attack by having got the inquiry which in fact has been ordered after long delay and neglect by this Government and by the State Government in Victoria. He means all of those things. He means to attack the Ustasha by bringing out the truth in relation to it. That is not in any way inconsistent with the proposition that this association was formed for the purpose of protecting its own members. There is no inconsistency in those two statements and there is no need to explain anything in respect of them.

With regard to the formation of the association, my knowledge of its existence at the time I made the statement on 13th May was that it had come into existence only a few weeks before. I had first attended a meeting of this association, I think, on Sth March of that year, and, from my knowledge at that time, it had come into existence just a little while before that. I first had personal knowledge of its existence when I was asked to become a patron of it some little time before 5th March. As far as I knew at that time, that was when the organisation came into existence. Any supposition that the honorable member for Mackellar claims to make on the basis of the statements that he has made tonight is purely and simply his own supposition. There is no evidence whatever to contradict that.

My association with this Yugoslav body began, in effect, on Sth March of this year. I began my association with it by attending one of its meetings. What its officials or anyone associated with it might have done before that, in addressing the Eureka Youth League or releasing statements that have appeared in the Communist Press, is their own affair. As far as releasing statements is concerned, each and every one of the statements that were released at least after Sth March was released to all the Press. Very frequently the Communist Press has chosen to give publicity to those statements. Sometimes the daily Press and other newspapers have not done so. But the fact that the Communist Press has given them publicity is something which has not been chosen by the association. It has been prepared to get publicity of the evil that the Ustasha represented in this country wherever it could get it.

There is nothing whatever in the propositions put to the House this evening by the honorable member for Mackellar which requires any rebuttal on my part in relation to fact. He has coupled together some inaccurate newspaper reports and his own suppositions about what these things mean, and upon that he has made claims. I will have a look at the report in “ Hansard “ when I see it in print. 1 will examine each one of those matters in detail. If there is any further need for me to make any answer to this House or to explain my association with the Yugoslav Settlers Association or any other matter that has been brought up in this House by the honorable member for Mackellar, in due course I will do that. I have informed him of that before. I assure him that there was no necessity, except for personal publicity for himself, to attempt to present this matter as if it were a matter of substance and importance.

The exact date of the association of myself with the Yugoslav Settlers Association is not a matter of substance. The thing that is important is that the Yugoslav Settlers Association, soon after the beginning of this year, began a public campaign to expose the nature and operations of the Croatian Liberation Movement or Ustasha in this country. As a result of its activities, inquiries were eventually caried out by the Victorian State Government and by this Commonwealth Government. As a result of that, the acts of violence that were taking place regularly in Victoria have now ceased, although they are still taking place in some other States, such as Queensland, at the present time. Had it not been for the activities of this Association, I am quite sure that the violence shown by the Croatian Liberation Movement would not have ceased, but would have become aggravated and would have grown. At the present time in Queensland there is a Yugoslav who, the evidence shows, is in fear of his own life.

When, after nearly six months of continuous inquiry and pressure on my part in this House, I reached the stage this morning of having to ask the- Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) when questions which had been on the notice paper for six months were going to be dealt with, he told me that next week some time he would make a statement. When that statement is made, 1 expect to see a detailed answer to those questions which I have placed on the notice paper in respect of the activities of this organisation in Melbourne; I expect to see some information about the bomb explosion in Sydney some weeks ago; I expect to see some information about what is going on in Queensland at the present time; and I expect to see on the part of the Government a determination to put an end to the activities of this organisation and not to shield it.


– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Mr Wentworth:

– I ask for leave to lay on the table of the House a copy of a letter dated 19th February 1964 and signed by G. Bryant, J. F. Cairns, S. Cohen, D. Elliott, C. Holding, J. O’Connell and J. Tripovich. I also ask for leave to lay on the table of the House a copy of a letter dated 15th February 1964 and signed by M. Jurjevic, Chairman of the Yugoslav Settlers Association of Australia.

Leave granted.

Mr Wentworth:

– I lay on the table the following papers -

Copy of letter dated 19th February 1964, relating to the Yugoslav Settlers Association and the Ustasha, addressed to the Secretary, Liberal and Country Party, 108 Queen Street, Melbourne.

Copy of circular letter dated 15th February under the address of the Yugoslav Settlers Association of Australia.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 11.28 p.m.

page 418


The following answers to questions were circulated -

Fluoridation of Canberra Water Supply. (Question No. 268.)

Mr Gray:

y asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -

  1. If fluoride is introduced into the domestic water supply of the Australian Capital Territory, from whom will it be purchased?
  2. Who would be the manufacturer of this fluoride?
  3. What would be the price per ton?
  4. What is the estimated cost of installing the necessary machinery and buildings?
  5. What is the estimated annual cost?
Mr Anthony:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -

  1. The initial supplies are being purchased from

Laporte Chemicals (Aust.) Pty. Ltd. in Sydney.

  1. Britain.
  2. £129 per ton f.i.s. Sydney, plus an estimated £6 per ton delivery charges Sydney to Canberra.
  3. Alterations to the Cotter Pumping Station (see Commonwealth Gazette dated 18th June), £2,900. Supply and installation of fluoridation equipment (see Commonwealth Gazette dated 18th June), £3,504 5s. 9d.
  4. It is anticipated that the necessaryfuture supplies of sodiumsilico fluoride can be obtained at prices which will cost an estimated £2,000 per annum.

Commonwealth Railways. (Question No. 301.)

Mr Beaton:

n asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -

  1. Were tenders called in the last twelve months for the construction and supply of Sulzer diesel engines for the Commonwealth Railways?
  2. If so, who were the tenderers, and what were their respective tenders?
  3. Which tender was accepted?
Mr Freeth:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -

  1. No tenders were called by theCommonwealth Railways for Sulzer diesel engines during the period mentioned. However, in July 1963, tenders were invited for the manufacture, supply and delivery of three diesel electric locomotives and the tender eventually accepted was for locomotives powered by Sulzer diesel engines. 2 and 3. The tenders received were for locomotives with a number of different engine types and the lender prices are therefore, not directly comparable. The locomotives ordered fromTulloch Ltd. are regarded by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner as superiorin performance to the other locomotives offered. They are also specially suitable for the operations of Commonwealth Railways, as locomotives of a similar type are already in use, stocks of spares are held, and servicing facilities are available. If any unsuccessful tenderer is interested in the tender price of the successful tenderer, he may obtain the information on application to Commonwealth Railways. However, it is not ordinarily the practice of Commonwealth Railways to disclose the tenders received.

Local Government Finance. (Question No. 304.)

Mr Gray:

y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Does the Government impose any restrictions on the expenditure of money provided by the Commonwealth to local government authorities under the federal rural road aid grant scheme?
  2. While there still exists in a local government area a need for rural roads which are as yet unmade, but are required by primary producers, does the Government approve that finance made available under the scheme should be used to provide suburban roads in built-up areas or to construct scenic roads for tourist purposes?
Mr Harold Holt:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -

  1. The Commonwealth does not make road grants direct to local government authorities. Road grants are, however, made to the States under the authority of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1959. That Act requires each State to spend not less than 40 per cent. of the total moneys received in each year on rural roads, “ other than highways, trunk roads and main roads “. This proportion of the moneys provided by the Commonwealth must be expended - “ (a) on the construction, reconstruction maintenance and repair of rural roads or on the purchase of road-making plant for use in connection with rural roads; or

    1. in making payments to municipal and other local authorities for the construction, reconstruction, maintenance and repair of rural roads or for the purchase of road-making plant for use in connection with rural roads”.

A similar provision is included in the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1964.

  1. The Government considers that, in keeping with existing constitutional arrangements relating to roads, the State Governments and their local authorities should be free to determine the specific projects upon which Commonwealth Aid Roads moneys, including those amounts reserved for rural roads, are to be spent. This view is understood to be shared by the State Governments and local government authorities themselves.

Pensioner Medical Service. (Question No. 333.)

Mr Collard:

d asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that where a married pensioner couple are both entitled to pensioner medical service the normal practice is to issue only one medical entitlement card to serve both pensioners?
  2. If so, can this often cause considerable inconvenience to the pensioners, not only in regard to medical and pharmaceutical services, but also in regard to travel on State transport where a medical card is usually accepted as proof that the person is a pensioner?
  3. If this is the case, will the Minister take whatever action is necessary to ensure that medical cards are made available to both pensioners?
Mr Swartz:

– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies -

  1. Generally, a single entitlement card is issued to a married pensioner couple to cover their medical needs except in the case of a couple living apart.
  2. In the majority of cases, it is considered that this does not impose any inconvenience upon pensioner couples so far as the Pensioner Medical Service or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is concerned. The question of travel on State transport is a matter for the State authorities, and it was never intended by the Commonwealth that the Pensioner Medical Service Entitlement Card should be adopted by such authorities for the purpose of identification.
  3. Where special circumstances exist which render it desirable for a pensioner couple to have separate entitlement cards, a separate card is issued on receipt of an application setting out the reasons for the request.

Taxation. (Question No. 347.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Did the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation recommend that the taxable income of a friendly society should be deemed to be 10 per cent. of (a) amounts received from the Commonwealth under the National Health Act in respect of the supply of pharmaceutical benefits and (b) the gross proceeds received from the sale or supply of medicines and other goods in respect of persons who are not members of a friendly society?
  2. If so, will he give consideration to amending the Act on the lines recommended?
Mr Harold Holt:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -

  1. The Commonwealth Committee on Taxation made a recommendation in these terms in relation to the taxable income of a friendly society dispensary.
  2. The Government has implemented a large number of the Committee’s recommendations. The remaining recommendations are still being considered.

Taxation. (Question No. 351.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Treasurer upon notice -

  1. Did he state on the 11th March 1964 that he was giving consideration to the recommendations of two independent committees that friendly societies’ dispensaries should not be subject to taxation on business conducted with their own members?
  2. If so, what was the result of that consideration?
Mr Harold Holt:

– The matters raised by the honorable member are substantially similar to those dealt with in my reply to an earlier question asked by him on the same day. I refer him to my reply to that question.

Cigarette Smoking and Cancer. (Question No. 358.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a report that the United States Government has ordered that all cigarette packets must contain a warning that cigarette smoking is dangerous and may cause death from cancer?
  2. Will he take the necessary steps to adopt a similar procedure in Australia? If not, why nol?
Mr Swartz:

– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies -

  1. Yes.
  2. 1 have stated on several occasions that I favour action towards education of the public as to the risks attendant upon smoking, directed particularly towards young people, rather than direct action as taken by the United States Government. The Slate Governments have had discussions directed towards the development of co-ordinated action for an education programme and of course Commonwealth co-operation will be available should a co-ordinated programme be formulated.

X-ray Equipment. (Question No. 359).

Mr Webb:

b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -

Will the Minister consider the introduction of uniform legislation to regularise the use of X-ray equipment in the Slates?

Mr Swartz:

– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -

The control of the use of ionising radiation, including the use of X-ray equipment is the constitutional responsibility of the sovereign States. Each State has enacted legislation based on a model act and regulations recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council in 1954 and 1957 respectively. This legislation differs in some details between States, however, and the desirability of having more uniform legislation throughout the Commonwealth to regularize the use of ionizing radiation is under consideration. A committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council is at present reviewing the model act and regulations with this aim in mind.

Drugs. (Question No. 360)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. Did the Minister state that some drugs in Australia were approximately three times dearer than in Britain, and that action was being taken to reduce their cost?
  2. What has been the result of negotiations with the drug companies?
  3. How does the cost of drugs in Australia now compare with similar drugs in Britain?
Mr Swartz:

– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies -

  1. In response to a previous question from the honorable member, I advised him that in some few cases drugs are in the order of three times as costly in Australia as in the United Kingdom, but that in many other cases the difference is smaller. On a number of occasions I have stated that action was being taken to bring the prices of drugs in Australia more into line with the prices ruling on world markets. This action is continuing.
  2. During the year ended 30th June 1964, negotiations with drug companies resulted in price reductions estimated on the basis of current prescribing levels to yield savings of approximately £2,700,000 in a full year.
  3. Complete parity between Australian and British drug prices is not practicable because factors such as smaller usage and higher freight costs must be taken into account. However, for quite a number of frequently prescribed drugs the price differences are now more reasonable than in the past, and in some cases (he Australian price is even lower than the British price.

Drugs. (Question No. 361.)

Mr Webb:

b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. ls it a fact phenacetin can be harmful?
  2. Does the drug Disprin contain phenacetin?
  3. Why was Disprin removed from the Pharmaceutical Benefits list?
Mr Swartz:

– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies -

  1. The National Health and Medical Research Council some time ago referred to the Royal Australasian College of Physicians the question of the possible ill effects of phenacetin if taken in excess. The College’s Therapeutic Advisory Committee examined the matter, and the results of the Committee’s findings were reported to the National Health and Medical Research Council in May 1953. The outline of the Committee’s report was released by me in the form of a press statement on 4th June 1963. Briefly, the Committee did not feel justified, on the evidence available, in recommending that phenacetin should be banned or that the sale of analgesics should be restricted. The Committee did, however, consider that anyone who wishes to take these preparations daily should be warned not to do so except after obtaining medical advice and sanction. I am informed by my departmental medical advisers that no additional scientific evidence relating to the possible harmful effects of the long-term use of phenacetin has since been forthcoming.
  2. No.
  3. Disprin, a brand of acetylsalicylic acid soluble tablets, has never been listed as a pharmaceutical benefit. However, on the advice of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, tablets of the same chemical content made by the manufacturer of disprin and by other manufacturers are available as pharmaceutical benefits for the treatment of pensioners.

Taxation. (Question No. 372.)

Mr L R Johnson:

son asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Did the committee established by the Commonwealth to inquire into taxation anomalies recommend that friendly societies’ dispensaries and pharmacies which are at present taxed on a turnover basis, should be exempt from taxation on the sale of -goods and non-Government medicines to members?
  2. If so, what action has been taken to implement these recommendations?
Mr Harold Holt:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -

  1. The Commonwealth Committee on Taxation recommended that the taxable income of a friendly society dispensary should be deemed to be 10 per cent, of the following -

    1. amounts received from the Commonwealth under the National Health Act in respect of the supply of pharmaceutical benefits; and
    2. the gross proceeds received from the sale or supply of medicines and other goods in respect of persons who are not members of a friendly society.
  2. The Government has implemented a large number of the Committee’s recommendations. The remaining recommendations are still under consideration.

National Welfare Fund. (Question No. 388.)

Mr Collard:

d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -

What would be the additional .cost to the National Welfare Fund if the means test in relation to pensioner medical and pharmaceutical benefits was (a) lifted from the present £2 per week to £3 10s. per week and (b) abolished?

Mr Swartz:

– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -

The information in respect of part (a) of the honorable member’s question is not available. In regard to part (b), at 30th June 1964, there were 103,163 pensioners not enrolled in the Pensioner

Medical Service. If the income means test were abolished and all these pensioners were enrolled in the Service, it is estimated that the net additional cost to the National Welfare Fund would be approximately £1,300,000 per annum.

Pensioner Medical Service. (Question No. 389.)

Mr Collard:

d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -

How many pensioners are at present debarred from receiving medical and pharmaceutical benefits purely because of the means test on incomes?

Mr Swartz:

– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -

At the 30th June 1964, there were 738,885 pensioners enrolled in the Pensioner Medical Service. Pensioners not enrolled at this date totalled 105,163. As enrolment in the Pensioner Medical Service is voluntary this latter figure includes those pensioners who, although eligible, have not chosen to enrol in the service, as well as those not eligible for enrolment.

Dental Health. (Question No. 413.)

Mr Daly:

y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to a statement attributed to a leading American dental authority to the effect that Australians’ teeth were in a shocking condition?
  2. If so, will the Minister state if, and when, he proposes to introduce a national dental scheme?
Mr Swartz:

– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies -

  1. No.
  2. The honorable member is doubtless aware that the provision of adequate dental facilities is the responsibility of State Governments, just as the States are responsible for providing the medical and hospital services within their borders. The Commonwealth is already making a very substantial contribution towards meeting the costs of health services and is providing financial assistance at a rate of approximately £95 million per annum. I have given and will continue to give earnest consideration to ways and means of improving the health of the Australian community by means of the National Health Services to the full extent of available finance.

Pharmaceutical Benefits. (Question No. 414.)

Mr Daly:

y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that the drug laroxyl is not available as a pharmaceutical benefit.
  2. If so, will the Minister take the necessary steps to have this drug added to the list?
Mr Swartz:

– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies -

  1. Yes.
  2. Laroxyl is a brand of the drug amitriptyline hydrochloride. Under the terms of the National Health Act no drug may be added to the list of pharmaceutical benefits without a recommendation to that effect from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. The question of whether amitriptyline hydrochloride should be added to the list of benefits has been referred to the Committee for consideration, but the Committee’s recommendation on the matter is not yet available.

Homes Savings Grants. (Question No. 416.)

Mr Daly:

y asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice -

  1. How many applications for the home savings grant have been received to date in (a) each State and (b) the Commonwealth?
  2. How many applications have been (a) approved and (b) rejected?
Mr Bury:
Minister for Housing · WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -

The numbers of applications for home savings grants which have been received, approved and rejected up to 14th August 1964 were -

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 August 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.