25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lucock) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Dr. 3. F. CAIRNS presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Commonwealth Government make further approaches to all countries bordering the Pacific, to the United Nations, and to the French Government itself to halt all preparations for nuclear tests in the Pacific by the French Government.
Petition received and read.
Mr. STOKES presented a petition from an elector of the Commonwealth concerning the appointment of a Governor-General and praying that consideration be given, when effecting such appointment, to distinguished citizens of any nation in the British Commonwealth.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Has a request been received yet from the Government of Western Australia seeking financial assistance for the relief of families affected by the recent floods particularly in the Collie area of that State? If so, what has been decided?
– I have received a letter from the Premier of Western Australia putting forward quite a few matters. One of them is the relief of distress occasioned by the events to which the honorable member has referred. We will, of course, deal with them on the usual basis because we have always accepted a responsibility in these matters. The other aspects of the Premier’s letter are still under consideration.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and
National Service and 1 do so bearing in mind the insistence of the Minister that there is a “ desperate shortage “ of skilled tradesmen in Australia. At the same time, the departmental news release of August makes it apparent that there were 8,160 vacancies for skilled metal and electrical employees while there were still 866 skilled personnel in the same categories registered for employment. In the light of the national importance attached to this question will the Minister, as a matter of urgency, prepare and present to the Parliament a statement showing the area and the field in which all these vacancies exist, the place of residence and the type of tradesmen at present registered? At the same time, will the Minister also have prepared for future examination by this House - I know that he will not be able to do it in a day or two - a statement of the number of apprentices in training in the skilled metal and electrical trades and the numbers coming out of apprenticeship in each field over the next four years?
– I think the House and particularly the honorable gentleman will know that apprenticeship is the function of State departments or authorities. We have to rely on them to a considerable extent for the information that is obtained, particularly in respect of industries like the building . industry in which awards are made by the State industrial authorities and not by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration . Commission. For the benefit of the honorable gentleman and the House, I shall try to obtain as much of the required information as I can get, in terms of both the skills that are needed and the. occupations in which they are needed. I think I shall be able to prepare a fairly informative paper for the honorable gentleman containing that information.
We have always had to make projections for the future, in terms of what we see when we look at the growth of particular industries and estimated population growth from year to year. We have had to make a well informed guess, as it were, about what the need may be in the future. I am not sure that I can meet the honorable gentleman’s wish, but I shall try to obtain particulars of the way in which we have prepared our appreciation of the demand.
– I wish to ask the Minister for National Development a question relating to the Ord River cotton crop harvested some little time ago. Was the yield satisfactory? How do the yield and quality compare with those of cotton crops elsewhere? Can the yield be improved? Does it appear that the cotton farmers in the Ord River area will be able to earn a reasonable income?
– When I was in the Ord River area about three weeks ago, I had an opportunity to see all the figures relating to the returns of the five farmers who are now there. These figures are particularly interesting, because, although cotton had been grown for a number of years at the Kimberley Research Station, this was the first occasion on which it had been grown on broad acres. The yield on the farms was perhaps a little low; I believe that the average was about 1,400 lb. of seed cotton per acre. At the Kimberley Research Station, a yield as high as 3,000 lb. per acre has been achieved, and it is believed that with a two-crop system an annual yield of more than 4,000 lb. per acre could be obtained. Naturally,, of course, one expects a higher yield on research stations than on broad acres.
The financial returns of the five farmers appear to have been remarkably good. I think the leading farmer received a gross return of just over £30,000, on which he showed a cash surplus of about £11,500. These farmers believe that their returns will improve, because this was the first occasion on which they had grown cotton. This year, there will be 20 farmers, 4 of whom are Americans who have grown cotton in Arizona and who will bring new techniques and skills to the Ord River area.
– My question is Addressed to the Treasurer. Does the lifting of the £6 duty on cathode ray tubes apply only to tubes for use in television sets or does it cover the entire field of use for these tubes? If the entire field is to be covered, would not the Treasurer’s estimates of the effects of the removal of the duty be seriously affected. As the removal of the duty appears to mean a saving to users of the tubes of about £1.75 million a year, will the right honorable gentleman intimate the steps he proposes to take to ensure that the ‘ public will benefit from this reduction? If not, is it to be accepted that the manufacturers will gain and that the users of the appliances in which the tubes are installed will receive no benefit?
– The first part of the question raises some technical considerations on which I do not claim to be well versed. A matter of this kind arises more directly from the technical department concerned, but I shall give an authoritative reply in writing to the honorable gentleman. As to the second aspect, I did offer a view, at the time I made the announcement about the changed arrangements, that in an industry in which competition was so strong the saving on the part of the manufacturer would, as a matter of practice, be passed on to the purchasers of television sets. I have been interested to note that in several instances reports have been published to the effect that manufacturers are immediately passing on the savings.
– My question, which I address to the Prime Minister, relates to” the Public Service. Is the right honorable gentleman aware chat in Tasmania members of the State Public Service who are members of the Citizen Military Forces receive only made up pay when carrying out their annual training? Is the Prime Minister aware that public servants of the Commonwealth and the other States receive full pay when training? Will the Prime Minister consider making a personal request to the Premier of Tasmania that he consider following the practice of the Commonwealth and other State Governments? 1
– I did not know this, but I will certainly make it my business to give attention to it right away.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Has the right honorable gentleman yet considered the proposals made by the Australian Council of Local Government Associations .to the Commonwealth earlier this year for an allocation to local government of a specific and guaranteed proportion of income tax revenue iri place of the present outmoded, inadequate and unjust system of financing local government? I remind the Prime Minister that on 21st April this year he undertook to provide the honorable member for Macquarie with an answer to a similar question.
– I will make lt my business to provide a precise answer on that matter as soon as 1 can.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. The honorable gentleman will be aware of the great interest shown by Labour Opposition members in advancing the welfare of the primary producers. Will the honorable gentleman initiate a Government-sponsored advertising campaign to inform the Australian public of the great health value as food of our vitamin-rich and nutritional dried vine fruits, particularly raisins and sultanas?
– We have a continual promotional campaign by the- honorable member for Mallee on this subject. That honorable member has succeeded in getting the Joint House Committee to provide, at full payment to the industry, these very beneficial dried fruits to honorable members in the parliamentary refreshment rooms. We all appreciate this. I appreciate also the assistance given by the honorable member for Watson to this valued industry.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service.” Because of the shortage of labour, both skilled and unskilled, can the Minister inform the House whether the incidence of over-award payments is spreading throughout the industry, thus adding to Australia’s cost problem?
– In the latest review published by my Department, I have indicated that overtime in some way related to over-award payments is substantially increasing throughout a wide range of industry. I will obtain further information about overaward payments for the honorable member. If he cares to read the report issued this week by the Commonwealth Statistician he will find details of the extent of labour turnover in industry.
– Has the Minister for External Affairs received any official reports about the anti-Government riots in South Vietnam? Is the staff of the Australian Embassy in Saigon in any danger? What are the reasons for the riots? Do the same or similar reasons apply in North Vietnam? Have anti-Government riots ever occurred in North Vietnam?
– The Australian Ambassador in Saigon is reporting daily by telegram on events in the city. There is no. immediate anxiety for the safety of Australian personnel and Australian property in Saigon. No damage has been done to Australian property other than the accidental shattering of the rear window of the Ambassador’s car which was near to where a bomb exploded. That damage was acci- dental and not done on purpose as the result of any action directed against Australian property.
Regarding events in South Vietnam, I invite the House and the honorable member to regard them as part of the attempt by the people of South Vietnam to establish a stable government. The Government of General Khanh is continuing as a caretaker government during such time as the Military Revolutionary Council, having withdrawn the charter which made General Khanh President, is considering what acceptable substitute may be found and what form of government may be workable. I do not think it is relevant to ask whether there are demonstrations against the Government in North Vietnam. I invite -the House to consider the situation in South Vietnam as one in which a people are trying to establish” a stable government and while doing so they are under the pressure of aggressive attacks from elsewhere and fomented subversive movements within their own country.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy a question. I have been informed that a Navy padre with 16 years service who, prior to the recent pay rises announced for Navy personnel, was receiving 6d. a day more; than a lieutenant commander of equal status, now receives, since the rises were made effective, £1 9s. 6d. a day less than a lieutenant commander. Will the
Minister investigate this situation? Does the Minister agree that, on the surface, this situation appears to be anomalous, since surely padres who preach and pray also serve as do lieutenant commanders?
– When the recent pay rises were announced for the three Services this anomaly was discovered because padres were under a separate rate of pay. I understand that an inter-Services committee is investigating the position and that it will eventually make some recommendation to the Government.
– I ask; the Minister for Territories a question. Does the Government propose to make an early review of the basic rates of pay fixed by Government ordinance for New Guinea natives working in the Bulolo timber mill and on the highland plantations?
– Reviews are made from time to time, and, from my recollection, these wage rates were reviewed a few months back. When the next review will be made, I would not be able to tell the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Trade whether he has seen in the “ Manufacturers’ Monthly “ of 15th April last the statement that -
A confidential survey by the Department of Trade in 1961 and 1962 revealed that about 700 Australian companies were parties to about 1100 financial and licensing agreements with overseas companies which in some degree provided for restriction of exports.
How does this journal get this confidential information? Will the right honorable gentleman be kind enough to provide me with a copy of this and other confidential reports of his department? If he cannot, will he supply this House with details of the manner in which these HOO agreements do restrict exports?
– Yes, I shall endeavour to ascertain what information there is that can properly be made available to the honorable member and to members of the House.
– Why are the reports confidential?
– I do not know, but I use the word “ properly “ to cover the contingency that some information may have been given to the Department on the understanding that it would not be disclosed. I point out to the honorable member that it is the desire of the Government that industries producing in Australia should not be inhibited in exporting by restrictive franchises. We have made this very clear indeed at the highest level. We have campaigned amongst industries to have restrictive franchises removed, and although we have had some success, we have certainly not had universal success. There are occasions when a manufacturing industry from overseas proposes to come to Australia to produce something hitherto imported and not produced in this country. The industry may say that it will come to Australia only on the understanding that the Australian company is not to export, and one has to decide whether it is better to go on importing or to have a company that produces only for. the Australian domestic market. It is not an easy choice to make.
JAPANESE CH1LDRFN OF AUSTRALIAN SERVICEMEN.
– As apparently some misapprehension exists in the minds of many people about so-called Japanese waifs left behind by Australian servicemen, I ask the Minister for Immigration whether he can say how many of these children there are and what is their average age. Are any of them actually neglected children? Has anyone actively interested himself in their’ plight? Do any experts recommend that these children be brought to Australia to live?
– This situation goes back over several years and has been investigated on a number of occasions. It is obviously a complex question and often an emotional one. Investigations have been made by various authorities, including International Social Services, and it has been found that, in all, there are approximately 90 waifs in Japan - I emphasise that it can only be an approximate number. As time has gone on, these children aged up to 17 years have grown up under supervision. The Commonwealth Government has allotted them £20,000, and other funds have been made available for their care. Taking the position as a whole, it is believed that these children will be far better off if they remain in their native surroundings. There are problems relating to adoptions and transfers which are not matters solely for the Australian Government; the Japanese Government has to be considered as well and, overall, the feeling is that the matter is best left where it is. Any applications by ex-servicemen who feel that they would like to have their children over here will be sympathetically considered. I emphasise again that in all the scrutiny that has been made of this question, the situation is as good as it possibly can be under present conditions.
– Did the Minister for Air see a report concerning a system called microvision being used successfully by the United States Air Force which enables the pilot of an aeroplane to see the image of a fogbound airport up to 10 miles away? The system is based on a series of microwave radio transmitters positioned along the sides of the runway which transmit an image of the runway to a screen in the cockpit of the aircraft. Will the Minister confer with the Minister for Civil Aviation and investigate the system with a view to having the apparatus installed at Australian airports? The Minister no doubt is aware of the irritating delays that take place due to fog. In Canberra members of Parliament and the public have been delayed for two or more hours on five out of the last six Fridays.
– I am sorry that I cannot help honorable members with their exodus from Canberra, that being the province of my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation. However, we collaborate on matters associated with airport control and aids to air navigation. We examine every new system from time to time and evaluate which is the best - and which is the best that we can afford - because these aids are very expensive. I will certainly look into this one and let the honorable member know the result.
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry inform the House when a decision will be made on the location of the long-delayed but eagerly sought Victorian wheat reasearch institute? Does the Minister know that Mr. Frank Symes of Warracknabeal has offered as a gift 20 acres of land adjacent to Warracknabeal in the heart of the Victorian wheat belt on which the institute can be built? What authority has the responsibility of deciding where the institute will be built?
– I am certainly aware of Mr. Symes* generous offer of a 20 acre block of land at Warracknabeal free of cost for the institute to be built there, because the honorable member wrote to me and informed me of it. Since it is not within my jurisdiction to make the decision in this instance I felt it my duty to pass on the information to the appropriate authority. I informed the Under-Secretary of the Victorian Department of Agriculture yesterday. He would pass the matter on to the Victorian Wheat Industry Research Committee, which has the final authority. I understand from the Under-Secretary that the Committee is meeting today and that a decision probably will be made today, following which there will be an announcement by the Chairman.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral advise when it is likely that the old post office at Innisfail will be replaced with a new one? Will it be in this financial year? If it will not, will he advise me as soon as possible when the new post office will be built? Will he take notice of the Johnstone Shire Council’s request that the architect consider the climatic conditions of the area and build the structure accordingly? In addition, will he include in the structure a town clock so that I may compete with my colleagues the honorable member for West Sydney and the honorable member for Herbert?
– I most certainly can assure the honorable member that the architecture of a new post office erected in a tropical area will be suited to that area. As to his suggestion concerning a clock, I would like to inform him that both in Sydney and in Townsville the clocks provided were replacements of clocks that had been installed in those places many years ago.
– He can have the one in Martin Place over the convenience.
– I think the honorable member for West Sydney might have something to say about the removal of the Sydney General Post Office clock. It is not the current policy of the Postal Department to install clocks at new post offices. As to the honorable member’s first question concerning the new post office at Innisfail, I will make inquiries and inform him as early as possible.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. I refer to the encouraging trend towards loans for the housing of migrants being made available to Australia by certain European countries. As repayment of such loan moneys would be spread by building societies over a period of 20 or more years, and as overseas governments may be concerned with the possibility of exchange losses, I ask whether the Government has been able to offer any acceptable formula to protect such loans from capital deterioration.
– This is a problem that we have looked at, not once, but several times over a long period. A consistent policy has been adopted by the Commonwealth Government of not giving what are in effect exchange guarantees - guarantees against movements in the exchange rate which would work to the disadvantage of some overseas lenders. What we have done has been to point to the general stability of the Australian exchange rate, our credit worthiness abroad and the general strength of the Australian economy. Although I am completely in favour of this kind of financial assistance for home building and can, indeed, claim to have given a start to it in respect of the advance made from the United States of America to, I think, the Netherlands authorities, we have not found it practicable to give the kind of guarantee to the Netherlands authorities which has been sought from us. That is where the matter stands.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Was the right honorable gentleman flattered last Friday week when the Chief Justice of New South Wales said in Sydney that the Prime Minister was greater than Cassilis Clay? Does he feel that this remark will cause him to lose favour with his friend Senator Barry Goldwater? Does he not think that the remark was unfair to Cassius Clay who was married for the first time on Saturday week last and is therefore not yet eligible to be called the father of the year?
– I think I ought to take refuge in the technical reply that I. do not administer the Chief Justiceship of New South Wales. But I did enjoy the Chief Justice’s remark about Cassius Clay. I thought it indicated a broad mind and, after all, Cassius Clay himself admits that he is the greatest man in the world. I would have thought that the honorable member and Cassius Clay had a great deal in common.
– Has the Minister for the Interior seen a recent report that in a shipment of scrap metal for Japan on the overseas vessel “ Milos “ there were hundreds of brass plaques commemorating Australian war dead, but nobody seems to know where the plaques came from? As the uncertainty about the origin of the plaques is causing grave concern to relatives of dead servicemen of the two world wars and the Korean war, will the Minister have an inquiry made so that he can inform the House whether any act of desecration has been perpetrated in procuring these plaques for shipment?
– I saw this report last week, and it received my close attention. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission investigated the matter of these plaques. It was found that they were not the property of the Commmisison They were brass plaques, whereas the Commission always uses bronze plaques. The inscription was not the inscription of the Commission. After close examination, it was not known where the plaques came from. But I can assure the honorable member that they did not belong to the Commission.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for National Development, relates to the question asked by the honorable member for Gippsland yesterday afternoon. I ask the Minister: Do the activities of the Forestry Departments include, apart from the planting of softwoods, the planting of hardwoods - in other words, the planting of our native timbers? If such planting is not part of the programme, will the Minister tell the House the reason for that policy? Having in mind the question that the honorable member for Mallee asked the Prime Minister yesterday, I ask the Minister for National Development not to be short-grained in answering this question, although it is a little knotty.
– The main plantings going on in Australia today are plantings of softwoods because they grow very quickly. Thinnings from softwoods can be made after about 10 or 12 years, and cuttings can be made after about 20 years. Even the very best of Australian hardwoods - alpine ash and messmate are the quickest growers - require about 65 years’ growth before they can be harvested. However, the various State Forestry Departments are seeing that Australian hardwoods are used in such a way that the forests are regenerated. As some forests are cut out, they are gradually regrowing. The scope for hardwoods is very much smaller than the scope for the planting of softwoods to increase our resources of softwood timber.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. As it is reported that the Liberal Party in Victoria is advocating an increase in the rate of excise on petrol, I ask: As taxation payments by motorists are now probably higher than those of other sections of the community and as there is a general desire to keep costs low, will the Treasurer reject any request to implement that advocacy?
– Perhaps I should explain to the honorable gentleman and to the representatives of other political parties in this place the highly democratic processes which operate inside the Liberal Party in relation to the formulation of policy. We have an annual meeting of the State Council of the party at which individual branches of the party are able to bring forward - frequently as a result of the advocacy of a particular matter by an enthusiastic member of a branch - a proposal for discussion. If the Council sees fit to adopt that proposal, it then goes forward to the State Executive for consideration. If the proposal relates to an issue of Federal policy and the State Executive feels that it is worthy of consideration by the Federal body, the proposal is referred to the Liberal Party’s Standing Committee on Policy. That Committee is made up of representatives of the six State divisions of the party and of the Parliamentary Liberal Party and two members of the Cabinet nominated by the Prime Minister. If after considering the matter we decide that it is worthy of consideration by the Government we forward it, not as a direction to the Government - which, I understand, is the procedure in the Australian Labour Party - but as a recommendation for consideration by the Government. If this proposal runs through the gamut of those processes and finally reaches the Commonwealth Government as a recommendation from the Standing Committee on Policy, the Government will give it appropriate consideration.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. I inform him that the Premier of New South Wales has announced that the New South Wales Government will this session legislate to grant full autonomy to the Newcastle University College as from 1st January 1965. I ask: Has the Premier advised the right honorable gentleman of this decision? In view of the recommendation of the Australian Universities Commission that full autonomy be granted by 1st January 1967, will the right honorable gentleman examine the proposal of the New South Wales Government and request the chairman of the Australian Universities Commission to review the Commission’s recommendation so that the necessary financial assistance can be given to ensure a successful transition to autonomy?
– It would not be sound for me to say that I have not received a communication, because ons may have arrived. As the honorable member knows, educational matters are now dealt with primarily by Senator Gorton, who is in another place, and he may have received a communication. I will make it my business to find out whether he has, and to find out, also, the attitude of the Australian Universities Commission on the point. At present I am not informed, but I will inform myself and then I will inform the honorable member.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister a question. The Press recently has contained reports that a certain cross parliamentarian from Queensland has sent quantities of used nylon stockings to the Prime Minister. Has the Prime Minister received these stockings? Has he examined them carefully? Will he cause additional and equally independent scientific examination to be made of the strength of the fibres used and of the possibility of stronger synthetic fibres of suitable specifications being used by the manufacturers of stockings?
– This is a very interesting matter. I have received a letter from the honorable member for Brisbane. Did you also send some stockings?
– I am bound to tell the House, as I told him yesterday, that my wife, on reading newspaper reports that a miserable bachelor was taking an interest in this problem and making these complaints, said to me: “Heavens! He is on to it, is he? I have been complaining about it for years.” I ended, as usual, by being wrong both ways.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Is it correct, as recently reported, that Australia still owes to the United Nations an amount of £36,500, the balance of the £94,000 pledged for the maintenance of the peacekeeping force in Cyprus? If the report is correct, when is it intended to pay the outstanding amount?
– I have not seen this report. My understanding of the matter is that Australia has paid both the first and the second instalments of the amount pro mised to the United Nations and is not in default in any way. In addition to making the payment promised, Australia is bearing, the major part of the cost of maintaining the police force there. As I said, I have not seen the report and cannot comment on it. However, on the rendering of it given by the honorable member, I would say that it is false.
– by leave - For some time, there have been references both in the Parliament and elsewhere to the activities of certain Yugoslav immigrant organisations. The Government is, and over a period has been, in possession of considerable information on these activities. Certain of this information is embodied in replies which are being made separately to the series of questions on the matter which were asked in the previous parliamentary session. This applies to questions asked by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), answers to which he should get today. However, I feel I should also take the opportunity to make some observations to the House about the Government’s general policy in relation to migrant organisations and about immigration from Yugoslavia.
In the years since World War JJ, Australia’s immigration programme has brought to this country people from all parts of Europe with a diversity of historical and cultural backgrounds. Many of these people were refugees from oppression. Many derived from happier circumstances. This flow of new citizens has played an important part in building the nation. It is something which has given us great satisfaction and we wish to see it continue. However, it is basic to our immigration policy that all these new citizens should be integrated as fully, and as quickly, as possible into Australia’s national life. The people of Australia endorse this approach and, as part of its migration programme, the Government has enlisted the help of community and public bodies throughout the Commonwealth in the vital work of assimilation. There has been a very gratifying response
In this regard and on the whole the programme of integration has met with great success.
The Government is not taking an attitude against immigrants from particular countries joining in their own associations. We do not expect newcomers to turn their backs on their original heritage. On the contrary, it is wholly understandable that immigrants should establish organisations amongst themselves for a variety of social and cultural purposes. It rather follows the precedents of the Irish and Scots in this country. These organisations, as honorable members will know, can also be a most valuable means of assisting migrants to become fully integrated into the Australian community. I have no doubt that the great majority of organisations and societies to which migrants belong come within the category to which I have just been referring. Hovever, the Government looks with disfavour on any activities of any migrant organisation which lend to frustrate integration.
The possibility always exists that at some point, the activities of a particular immigrant organisation, or the activities of individuals within that organisation, may transgress the law. As necessary, investigations are made, and will be made, into the activities of various organisations including some which are not organisations of migrants alone or even primarily. If, as a result of these investigations, there is evidence of illegal activities on the part of an organisation, or individuals within an organisation, evidence which would be receivable in a court of law, then steps will be taken promptly, as may be appropriate to the particular case, to appeal to the law of the State or to invoke the relevant Commonwealth legislation. I add however, by way of reminder to the House, that it is not and never has been the practice to make details of security investigations available or public.
I turn now to the matter of immigration from Yugoslavia. To understand the attitudes of these migrants it is necessary to remind ourselves that this part of Europe has an exceedingly complex and troubled history. Yugoslavia emerged from the political settlements of World War I. It brought together as a union a number of southern Slav peoples including Serbs, Croats and
Slovenes, under the Serbian King Alexander. The Serbs obtained their independence from the Ottoman Empire during the nineteenth century and were numerically the largest group in the new State. The Croats had formerly enjoyed a degree of autonomy within the Austro-Hungarian empire and retained a national identity dating back as early as the ninth century. Deep differences of religious, cultural and historical kinds have existed between the groups despite kindred racial origins.
Within the new State, the Croats sought a federal concept of government with a large degree of local autonomy. In 1923, the leader of the Croats, Stjepan Radic of the Croatian Peasant Party and two of his colleagues were assassinated in the Parliament in Belgrade. This precipitated a profound breach between Serbs and Croats. The Croats developed strong agitation in support of independence, Peasant Party leaders taking their cause to the League of Nations. Some Croat parliamentary repre.sentatievs were arrested, others, among them Dr. Ante Pavelic, went into exile.
It was at this time that a revolutionary movement called Ustashi, meaning “ insurgents “ was founded, both in Croatia and abroad, Pavelic being one of its first leaders. This movement, in common with other Croat organisations, took as its symbol the traditional Croatian emblem of a white and red check shield but associated with this emblem the letter “U”. The traditional emblem, both with and without the “ U “, is to be found in extensive use today by Croatian migrant groups throughout the world.
It is difficult for people coming to Australia easily to forget their historical backgrounds. Since the war a number of organisations opposed to the present Government of Yugoslavia have developed throughout the world amongst refugees and migrants from that country. It is understandable that some Yugoslav migrants of Croatian origin should continue to hope for the establishment of an independent Croatia and within a democracy like Australia they have a right to advocate their views so long as they do so by legitimate means. I wish to make it perfectly clear that the vast majority of the migrants from all parts of Yugoslavia who have settled in Australia have proved to be law abiding, hard working citizens and a real asset to this country.
Commonwealth and State authorities are continuing their investigations of Yugoslav and other organisations. Recently the Acting Premier of Victoria issued a statement on police inquiries in that State. He said that the police had found “ that isolated acts of assault and misbehaviour had occurred but found no evidence whatever to support allegations of Ustashi violence towards individuals of Yugoslav nationality from which systematic or organised attacks could be inferred”. That I take to mean that individual attacks have been noted but not an organised or systematic series of attacks. Similar allegations made in Cairns also were, I understand, found by the Queensland police to be unsubstantiated. The Commonwealth’s own investigations so far have not produced any evidence which would warrant legal proceedings.
I wish to make the Government’s position in this regard quite plain, however, Sir, and that is the real purpose of this statement, as well as to intimate at the same time that the particular questions asked in detail have been answered in detail, though not in this statement. So I make the Government’s position quite clear: This Government will not interfere with freedom of opinion. Equally, it will not tolerate any activities which constitute a breach of the law.
I present the following paper -
Yugoslav Immigrant Organisations - Ministerial Statement, 27th August 1964 - and move -
That the House take note of the paper.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I wish to ask the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) a question about this matter. He has said that answers - long delayed - to questions that were put on notice on 5th March last will be forwarded to the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) today, and, of course, made public. I ask: Will the House have an opportunity - indeed, will it be accorded the right - when the debate is resumed and this matter is discussed, to canvass the whole of the issues raised by the honorable member for Yarra in his questions, which may or may not in his opinion be answered satisfactorily? In other words, I want from the Prime Minister an assurance that the canvassing of any issues not covered in his statement, but related to it, will be in order from the
Government’s point of view, if we are to have the full discussion on this matter that we believe we ought to have.
– The answer to that is: “ Yes “.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) - by leave - proposed -
That Mr. J. M. Fraser be appointed a member of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs in the place of Mr. Howson, discharged from attendance.
That the foregoing resolution be communicated to the Senate by message.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I understand that the motion that weare discussing arises from the splitting of the Foreign Affairs Committee into two divisions - the first division and the second division. This is not a division, in cowboy fashion, between the goodies and the baddies. The Committee is split into two divisions each of which is composed of members who sit on the Government side of the Parliament. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) was appointed to the Committee the other day, and the discharge of the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) from it has necessitated the promotion of a member from the second division to the first division. So the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) is now to go into the first division.
– That will improve it.
– I do not know whether it will. This Committee leaves us completely uninterested. We have never said at any time since 1951 that we would not join a foreign affairs committee, but we have always said that we would join one only on our terms.
– On your terms!
– Precisely, on our terms. That is clear enough. The Government’s attitude is equally clear. It says: “These are our terms. We want you to join. We shall be very angry if you do not. But we will not change our terms.”
– That is not true.
– It is true. The Government has changed its terms in a very minor way, but this is still not the sort of committee with which we want to be associated. If it is to be a committee, let it be a real one, and not merely a study circle or kindergarten - not merely a body on which budding lawyers may practise. We shall think of joining the Committee if the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) will write me a letter stating that our terms are accepted. We shall even discuss the matter with him if he can find time to discuss it with us. But we certainly shall not join a committee on the take it or leave it basis that represents the approach that the Government has always adopted in this matter.
What is the purpose of the Foreign Affairs Committee? Is it merely to keep honorable members informed of overseas developments, or is it a body’ out of which the Government hopes a bipartisan policy on foreign affairs will grow or develop? Is that the Committee’s purpose?
– Why do you not try joining it and see?
– I do not know whether we should try it, because bipartisanship on foreign affairs is not a feasible proposition in Australia. A bipartisan policy on foreign affairs would mean that the Opposition of the day, whatever its political colour, would be obliged automatically to accept the views of the Government of the day, whatever its political colour.
– Not necessarily.
– Let me develop my argument. There is a very great gulf between the Government and the Opposition on questions of foreign affairs.
– There is not.
– There is. It is a very real and very great gulf. Why talk about having a bipartisan policy?
– You can say that again.
– We shall say it again. We stand for Australia, and we will not become involved in a Foreign Affairs Committee that may lead us to support the Government’s piecemeal policy on South East Asia. Honorable members opposite can defend that if they want to, and we may agree with part of that policy if we want to. But we shall never allow ourselves to be taken along the road where another Eighth Division could be lost in the jungles of Malaya. That is very obvious to anybody who realises the difference of opinion between the Government and the Opposition on foreign affairs. That has always been the situation since Federation. So much is this so that foreign policy issues - some of them real but most of them spurious - have figured in nearly every Federal election campaign. They have certainly figured in most campaigns over the last 40 years. Such issues figured very largely in the last Federal general election campaign, and they all were spurious. So what is the use of the Government’s asking us, after an election, to join it in a Foreign Affairs Committee because it wants our help or wants us to share with it the responsibility for maintaining a body that may have some usefulness in the public eye? How can we on the Opposition side of the Parliament do this? We are so often the target for abuse and character assassination by Government financed instrumentalities, agencies, splinter groups and the like. How can we, in honour and dignity, join in the work of any committee that deals with foreign affairs?
– What did you say about Jim last Thursday?
– About whom?
– About me.
– You should have been here to listen to it. However, I sent you a note afterwards, and I think that diplomatic relations have been restored
The Opposition would like to hear from the Government more about its present thinking on foreign affairs, because the foreign situation is not very healthy from the standpoint of world peace. We on this side of the Parliament want to play our part in the formulation of foreign policy, but we think it best at present to play that part on the floor of the Parliament in debate with the Government and not in meetings behind closed doors at which some diplomat attends to tell the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee what he thinks they ought to know about his country, or some newspaper pundit or foreign correspondent states a newspaper’s views on international affairs. The matter is now back with the Minister for External Affairs. We shall not oppose the motion for the appointment of the honorable member for Wannon to the Foreign Affairs Committee in the place of the Minister for Air. But we want to hear a little more about the matter.
In conclusion, I ask the Minister to check on a story that I heard only recently. It concerns a rumour of great gravity. This is the rumour that a Government supporter, while in the United States of America recently, asked an officer of the State Department of that country why the United States Government pursued the policy that it has adopted in relation to events in the Gulf of Tonkin and finished with the question: “Why didn’t you drop the bomb on them? “ That is serious enough. The gentleman concerned is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and he will tell the Minister about the incident himself if the Minister asks him.
– For once I find myself in agreement with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I think that in the circumstances it is desirable that the Opposition should not be represented on the Foreign affairs Committee. The reason is that the Opposition cannot get a bipartisan policy even within its own ranks.
– Order! I suggest that the House should remember that the subject matter of debate is the appointment of a member to the Committee. On a matter of this type the courtesy of the Chair is usually extended to the Prime Minister or the Minister in charge and to the Leader of the Opposition. I do not intend to allow the debate to develop into a fullscale debate on foreign affairs, on the international situation or on a bipartisan foreign policy.
– If I am not permitted to comment on what the Leader of the Opposition said I cannot see what the debate is about. All I want to do, if I may, is to agree with his conclusion and to give the reason for my agreement. My reason is that he cannot get a bipartisan foreign policy even within his own party.
– Order! The honorable member for Mackellar will resume his seat.
.- The speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is to be regretted. He has done what he has done on other occasions; he has suggested that the study of foreign affairs is without value. This is unfortunate. Quite clearly, no sensible person believes that the study of, any subject is a waste of time. A study of foreign affairs by the Foreign Affairs Committee would be valuable even if the Committee did nothing else. I think that every reasonable person would agree with that. The Leader of the Opposition argued that the Opposition could not possibly accept membership of the Committee except on terms that would allow it to evolve a bipartisan policy. I do not think that this is true at all. Indeed, when the former Minister of External Affairs, Sir Garfield Barwick, was negotiating with the Opposition with a sincere desire to bring Opposition members into the Committee, he made certain very important concessions which I believe would obviate the necessity for a bipartisan approach. If my memory serves me correctly, Sir Garfield made the provision that the Committee could bring down a minority report. If the Opposition took a different view from Government members on any issue, it was open to it, under the terms proposed by Sir Garfield, to express its minority view.
– In terms approved by the Chairman of the Committee.
– Yes, this is true. There was a safeguard against the abuse of this privilege. Sir Garfield was anxious to ensure that there would not be a minority report which proved to be a lengthy and polemical document. The Opposition made much play with this. I do not want to go over all these things again. All I am trying to say is that in my view it is unfortunate that the Leader of the Opposition has, by his speech today, made it even more difficult for the Opposition to join the Committee on terms that I think were reasonable as proposed by the former Minister for External Affairs. Perhaps the matter is still capable of negotiation. I do not accept the view that there can be no participation by the Opposition in this Committee unless a bipartisan policy is possible. Consequently, I feel that the honorable member’s speech is to be regretted. It was quite unnecessary on what is entirely a formal motion, and its only result has been to make rapprochement more difficult. This is unfortunate from the point of view of the Parliament and the country.
– This is the second recent occasion on which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has taken the moving of a formal motion for the appointment of a member to the Foreign Affairs Committee as the occasion for discussing the value of the Committee and the work that it does. The honorable member ended his latest speech by suggesting that perhaps there was occasion for further negotiation. With all respect to him, I suggest that at the present time he is so sensitive and flies off in such alarm whenever the name of the Committee is. mentioned that it is obvious that we need at least a cooling off period before any discussion of the future of the Committee can take place in a useful way. I do not want to enter into such discussion now. If on any future occasion - perhaps at the commencement of a new parliamentary session - the Leader of the Opposition would like to examine again the attitude of his party towards this Committee he will find the Government-
– I am not interested.
– I can scarcely make a mild suggestion in moderate terms without the honorable gentleman again showing that he has this sensitivity and that he is ready almost to flare as soon as the words “ Foreign Affairs Committee “ are mentioned. I suggest that a cooling off period is obviously needed. I merely add that the Foreign Affairs Committee does differ from other joint committees of the Parliament, such as the Public Works Committee or the Public Accounts Committee, in that whereas each of those committees examines matters which are susceptible to report on a single issue referred to the committee, the work of the Foreign Affairs Committee is very seldom of that character.
Of necessity, because of the nature of the subject and the matters traversed, a Foreign Affairs Committee will always be looking at questions of policy. It is not possible to have, and I do not think that even the honorable member, if he has some dreams of succeeding to office, would envisage, a situationin which the Govern ment hands over the determination of policy. Policy is the responsibility of the Government and if there is any argument over policy it has to be fought out on the floor of the House. It cannot be handed over to a joint committee which would have some power to make recommendations and reports on policy, with some obligation on the Government in respect of what it did with those reports. The subject matter dealt with by this Committee is different from the subject matter that comes before the other committees with which the honorable member draws analogies. The question before us is simply the appointment of a distinguished member of this House to the senior division of the Foreign Affairs Committee. We think it will be a good appointment. I repeat to the Leader of the Opposition only that if at some more suitable time, free of any excitement or strong feeling, he wants to renew discussions about the work of this Committee, he will find us ready to discuss it.
.- The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) has drawn a proper distinction between bodies which make policy and bodies which ascertain facts. I do not think that anybody on this side of the Chamber has ever suggested that the Foreign Affairs Committee should be a policy-making body. Such an idea has always been discounted by the Government itself. There is no confusion among honorable members on either side of the House that a foreign affairs committee or, in fact, any parliamentary committee in the Australian parliamentary system can be a policy making body. It cannot. Policies are made by governments, which are responsible to the Parliament. If the Parliament does not like the policies of the Government, it defeats the Government. But a parliament does not appoint a committee to determine policy. That is not our system; it is not even the congressional system.
In the field of foreign policy not long ago, one matter arose in which the facts are very important for members of the Parliament to know and for Governments of this country to allow to be discussed. It is important, also, that other countries know what are the facts as we see them and in the light of which we act. I refer to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. In 1960 - I speak from memory, not having had an opportunity to check “Hansard” - the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) suggested to the Minister for External Affairs, who was then Minister for Territories, that a parliamentary committee should be appointed to inquire into and report upon this subject. This was a matter of fact - a mater which it was competent and relevant for this Parliament to review. If one must talk about sensitivity in such matters I do not think anybody could say that the then Minister for Territories, now the Minister for External Affairs, greeted the suggestion with any cordiality nor with anything more than perfunctory consideration. The suggestion was completely ignored although it concerned a field of foreign affairs which, above all others, can affect Australia. The suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition was ignored by the Government and, in particular, by the Minister who is now Minister for External Affairs.
May I re-iterate - these matters have been discussed three times this year already - the objections which my party has to the present constitution and composition of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I concede that the former Minister for External Affairs, Sir Garfield Barwick, made the first attempt in 10 years or more to see what were the bases of disagreement, and he removed many of them. There remained, however, two. The first is that the Committee is not a microcosm of the Parliament. That is, the composition of the Committee bears no relation to the composition of the two Houses of the Parliament. In the British Parliament it is acknowledged in standing orders and, in the Australian Parliament, by tradition and practice, that parliamentary committees have a party membership which is in direct relation to the party membership in, the two Houses of the Parliament. This Committee does not bear that relation. Then there is the matter of difference to which the new chairman of the Committee, the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) referred - that if dissenting views are expressed by any members of the Committee, the form of the dissent has to be approved by the Chairman of the Committee. The honorable member for Bradfield used the term “safeguard “. I think this is somewhat of a euphemism but however one describes the process it is one which applies to no other parliamentary committee, whether it is a statutory committee, like the Public Works Committee or the Public Accounts Committee, or a standing committee appointed under the Standing Orders of this House, or a joint committee of both Houses. This process applies to no other committee. I believe - I speak for myself but I believe this is the view of my parly which has debated this matter thoroughly quite recently - that if this Committee had the same form of composition as every other committee of the Parliament and if the rights of members of the Committee as to the nature and expression of their dissent or any other rights were the same as are the rights of members of every other committee, there would be no objection to our members co-operating on this Committee as they do on every other committee of the Parliament.
As regards facts on foreign affairs - this is a fact finding committee at most - if one looks at questions on the notice-paper one will find that members of my party certainly have elicited more facts about foreign affairs than have been given to the House in any other way. My party suggested not only the formation of the committee on Papua and New Guinea in I960 but also suggested last year and again this year that missions of members drawn equally from both sides of both Houses should go to South East Asia to ascertain for themselves the facts which apply in circumstances which we can examine and debate ourselves.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 26th August (vide page 664), 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”.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I am amazed, after listening to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and other honorable members opposite, at the false impression that has been given to the people of this country. It is disgraceful that in a country like this the worker should have to fight to get a decent wage on which to live and that the pensioner should be forced to exist on his meagre pension. All that this Government can show for its 14 years in office is a list of shortages. If we examine this Government’s record we find that it has achieved nothing. The Government controls the purse strings of the nation but the nation is afflicted by vast shortages. About 100,000 people are waiting for adequate housing. There is a shortage of decent roads because of this Government’s consistent failure to hand to the States all of the petrol tax. There is a serious shortage of money for the building of schools and the training of teachers. Our defences are inadequate because of the Government’s failure to plan effectively. There is a lack of adequate airport facilities. There is a shortage of telephones. There is an inadequate supply of finance for the local government works that are so essential in the community.
These shortages do not occur just in one State but in every State of the Commonwealth, no matter whether it is governed by a Liberal government or a Labour government. Is this a record of which the Government may be proud? Recently the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission granted to the workers an increase of £1 in the basic wage. That was the first rise granted in the basic wage since 1961. The trade unions had sought an increase of £2 12s. a week. We must remember, of course, that in 1960 the Federal Government opposed in the court the application of the trade unions for an increase in the basic wage. It is my opinion that the recent £1 increase in the basic wage was absorbed in higher costs even before it was granted.
The first Budget introduced into this Parliament since the basic wage was increased will compel the low income earner to pay more for the installation and rental of a telephone, more sales tax on the purchase of a motor car, more for his television viewers’ licence, more in personal income tax and more for his tobacco and cigarettes. In his Budget Speech, the Treasurer said that a large packet of cigarettes would cost an extra 3d. but 12 hours after the Budget was brought down shops were charging an extra 4d. for a large packet of cigarettes. This indicates that the Government has no control at all over prices. The big tobacco combines increased the price of cigarettes by 4d. a packet instead of 3d. - an extra increase of 33i per cent. This can only mean that greater profits will go into their pockets. In this Budget, which provides for an expenditure this year of about £2,511 million - an increase of £224 million over last year - the only benefit granted to the community is to the extent of about £7.8 million this year for increased pensions and about £2.9 million this year for increased repatriation benefits.
As I have stated, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission granted an increase of £1 in the basic wage because it believed that the cost of living had risen by that amount. But this generous Government, out of its goodness of heart, gives the age pensioner an increase of only 25 per cent, of that £1 - an increase of 5s. a week or 8id. a day. I wonder whether Government supporters have ever given serious thought to how these unfortunate people ever manage to exist on these hand outs.
Let us look at what the pensioners can buy with this 8id. a day which has been so generously granted to them by the Commonwealth Government. They can buy either a tin of spaghetti or baked beans, a tin of sardines, one and half sausages, a cutlet - mutton, of course - a mutton chop, half a pound of sausage mince, four ounces of minced steak, a tin of baby food when it is a special, a pound of onions or half a pound of potatoes. They cannot even go to the fish shop and buy the minimum quantity of chips that the fish shop will sell, which is 9d. worth. What chance have they of buying a piece of fillet steak which costs 7s. per pound or a piece of sirloin or any other steak which costs 5s. per lb. They would have no possible chance in the world.
I have with me some advertisements placed in the capital city daily newspapers by some of the big stores. Honorable members will be interested to see them.
Not one of the articles mentioned in the full-page advertisement that I am holding up could be bought by the pensioner with his 8id. a day. In another full-page advertisement that I have, the only article that the pensioner could buy is a tin of baked beans at Aid., a tin of sardines for lid. or one jelly for lid. Of all the articles advertised in the third advertisement which I have, the only one that the pensioner could buy is a roll of toilet paper. It is only because of the good work being done by such organisations as “ Meals on Wheels “ and the various welfare centres which provide pensioners with a hot meal for 2s. that many of our pensioners are alive today. Again, this Government makes no provision for the building of homes for these aged citizens even though they are the Government’s responsibility. Why, it has even refused to grant to State Governments and local authorities the subsidy of £2 for £1 that it pays to charitable organisations for building home units for the aged.
I should like now to bring before the notice of the House the rentals which this Government charges pensioners for the units it builds for them in the Northern Territory. I refer first to Darwin where the cost of living is 25 per cent, higher than it is in any other capital city and where the residents are required to pay heavy freight charges. It might interest honorable members to know that the freight from Melbourne to Hamburg in Germany is less than it is from Melbourne to Darwin, in our own country.
– You were up there recently?
– That is correct. In Darwin, where the cost of living is 25 per cent, higher than it is in any other capital city of Australia, this Government charges the pensioners £2 a week rent for the Darby and Joan units that it provides. That is outrageous, especially when we realise that the average weekly charge by State Governments for pensioner units ranges from only 18s. 6d. to £1 5s. a week.
One type of pensioner who I feel is deserving of mention in this debate is the woman in receipt of the class A widow’s pension. She is to receive an increase of 5s. a week but I suggest that it is about time the allowance for children was also increased. According to the report of the Department of Social Services for the year 1963-64 there are 25,000 widows in Australia who receive the class A widow’s pension. Many of them, unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond their control and because of the ages of their children, cannot go to work to supplement their income. These women are expected to rear, clothe, feed and educate their children on a paltry 15s. a week. I remind the House that the wage earners of this country arc allowed income tax deductions of £91 a ‘year, or £1 15s. a week for the first child and £1 5s. a week for the second and subsequent children, yet the class A widow is expected to rear her children on a paltry 15s. a week. I say to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) that there are 25,000 of these unfortunate women who are urgently in need of help. 1 sincerely hope that he will give them some consideration in the near future.
There are many people in Australia today who, by contributing to superannuation schemes, are saving for their retirement and who, when they eventually do retire, will be denied full age pension benefits. The Australian Labour Party’s policy is that there should be a progressive easing of the means test applicable to social services with a view to its ultimate abolition. This Government has made no effort to ease or abolish the means test since it has been in office, nor has it announced any intention of doing so. Perhaps the Minister for Social Services will give us some indication of the Government’s intention when the Estimates for his Department are under consideration. I am sure that if this country had been governed by the Labour Party over the period for which the present Government has been in office, the means test would have been abolished. There are in Australia today 105,000 pensioners who, because of the means test are denied medical and pharmaceutical benefits, yet still the Government refuses to abolish the means test.
Once again the Budget makes no provision for an increase in the funeral benefit to age pensioners. The benefit is still to be £10, even though a funeral costs at least £80 today. Further, no taxation deduction for funeral expenses is allowed any person who pays the cost of burying his parents.
The Government has also failed to increase the maternity allowance. It certainly must be proud of the way in which the Minister for Social Services gives hand outs to the pensioners. He throws the nation’s money round like a man with no arms.
I should like to refer now to the proposals contained in the Budget for increased charges to be levied by the Postal Department. One must condemn the Government for these unjustifiable increases, and one must be critical of its policy of charging interest on capital expenditure on buildings. The interest charge will cost the Australian taxpayers £12 million this year. It seems an odd procedure when the Government, after first taxing the people, lends the money so raised to one of its departments and then requires that department to pay interest on the loan, especially when we realise that the interest charges are passed on to the people who use the particular instrumentality despite the fact that they provided the loan money in the first instance when they paid their income tax.
There appears to be a cry from the Country Party benches about the acute shortage of telephones in country districts, about the number of people who have to use party lines, and about the shortage of telephone exchanges. This seems odd. Have they short memories? I remind them that the portfolio of Postmaster-General was held by a member of the Country Party for many years and one must therefore wonder whether the state in which the Postal Department has been left is the result of maladministration. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) stated recently that there are 50,000 applicants at present waiting for telephones to be installed. I remind the House that the installation fee is to be increased by 50 per cent., from £10 to £15, and that the annual rental is to be increased by 33i per cent, or £5 7s. 6d. to £20; so, it will now cost a person who requires a telephone £35 in the first year before he makes even one phone call. One cannot help wondering whether the Government has decided to increase telephone rentals and the installation fee so as to discourage the many thousands of people who have been waiting for a telephone, because it has failed dismally to overcome the lag.
I should like to refer to “Hansard” of 20th August in which is recorded a question asked by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) of the PostmasterGeneral relating to the number of outstanding applications for telephones in the various States at at 30th June 1964. The Minister, replied that in New South Wales there were 29,471 outstanding applications, in Victoria 12,127, in Queensland 1,574, in South Australia 4,596, in Western Australia 2,085 and in Tasmania 487. In New South Wales the number of outstanding applications increased from 13,317 in 1962 to 19,547 in 1963 and then to the present figure of 29,471. Between 1963 and 1964 alone there was an increase of about 10,000 in the number- of applications outstanding. In Victoria the number fell from 15,556 in 1962 to 11,337 in 1963, a reduction of about 4,000, but last year it climbed to 12,127. In Queensland the number increased from 747 in 1962 to 825 in 1963 and to 1,574 hi 1964. Increases have also been in evidence in South Australia where in 1962 there were 3,446 outstanding applications, in 1963 there were 3,467 and in 1964 there are 4,596. In Western Australia the number increased from 1,042 in 1962 to 1,106 in 1963 and to 2,085 in 1964. In Tasmania, however, the 489 outstanding applications in 1962 fell to 353 in 1963 but increased to 487 in 1964. There was a fall of about 3,000 in the number of outstanding applications in New South Wales between 30th June 1961 and 30th June 1962- from about 16,000 to about 13,000. I remind honorable members that the Government applied its credit squeeze in November 1960. 1 do not know whether the Government took up the lag in that year but I feel sure that the fall in the number of applications was a direct result of the credit squeeze. So many people were unemployed that when the time came for a telephone to be installed in their homes they did not have sufficient money to pay for it. No doubt the same position applied in Victoria where the number of outstanding applications in the relevant period fell by over 5,000. As I have said, I have no doubt that the Government has applied the increases in telephone rentals and the installation fee to discourage people from having a telephone installed.
I am sure there are many of us, not only in Canberra but also throughout the Commonwealth, who are a little intrigued by the Minister’s statement that it costs £570 to install a telephone in the metropolitan areas and £620 in the country. A question relating to this aspect has been asked of the PostmasterGeneral and doubtless we are all keenly waiting to hear how he arrived at those amounts.
The increase in telephone rentals will cause hardship to many pensioners. Those who do not have a telephone at present probably will not be able to afford to have o:-.e installed, and those who already have one probably will not be able to keep it. They will not have the use of this amenity which is so necessary in case of emergency. The pensioners who need a telephone to call a doctor, for instance, should be provided with the service at a reduced installation fee or not be required to pay the increased rental.
The Government has decided also to abolish the £6 duty on cathode ray tubes. This will not benefit any of the 1.7 million owners of television sets who already have paid the tax. Over 70 per cent, of the population now is able to receive television programmes. These people will have to pay the additional £1 television licence fee. The television station licence fee has also been increased to bring in additional revenue of £320,000. No doubt this will cause many television channel operators to reduce viewing times. Can the Minister give an assurance that television station operators will not be permitted to reduce viewing hours? Viewing times have been reduced in New South Wales and shift workers who previously were able to see a midday movie have been denied this amenity because the stations do not commence televising until about 2 p.m. We all know that television stations are making a great deal of money. They should be required to give good service to the people of Australia. If they do not, their licences should be revoked.
The Treasurer announced that a combined television and radio licence will be available. Persons who buy this combined licence will pay £8 10s. and will save 5s. If the licences are bought separately they will cost £8 15s. Many families who live only from week to week will not find it easy to pay £8 10s. out of one week’s wages to bring their television and radio licences into line and so save 5s. They will find it much easier to pay the £6 on one occasion and the £2 1.5s. on another, so not many people will be able to take advantage of the 5s. saving that is offered to them.
I should like to refer now to the bombs before butter part of the Budget - the defence estimates. Proposed expenditure on defence this year is £296 million which is an increase of £36 million over last year’s allocation. But £20 million of the increase will be absorbed in salaries and allowances. The Labour Party does not oppose increased salaries and allowances, because wc believe that it is the only way to encourage people to join the Services. But the Labour Party is opposed to the reintroduction of national service training, because this is not recommended by the Service chiefs, and, in any case, such training has not proved to be successful. It is only a waste of the taxpayers’ money. We will not support the minority of back benchers on the Government side who are advocating the reintroduction of national service training.
As reported in Senate “ Hansard “ of 21st May 1964, Senator McClelland in another place asked the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) -
The Minister’s reply gave the following information -
When one considers the number of applicants who were rejected one must wonder whether the money that the Government spends on recruiting is not wasted, because out of 24,932 applicants only 6,478 were accepted. The Minister’s reply goes on-
It seems rather amazing that out of 18,000 applicants 4,000 were rejected because their educational standard was not high enough. We have heard it said that applicants have been rejected by the Army because of their spelling. We have heard many different reasons given for these rejections. Let me refer the House to an article that appeared in “ Muster “ of 27th May 1964. This journal is the voice of the Australian Country Party, and the article was written by Mr. Stewart Howard after he had read the Minister’s statement in “ Hansard “. The article read -
I think most Australians, if asked, would give it as their opinion that they belong to a highly literate and physically fit nation.
This was my assumption too - until I read last week, figures given in the Federal Parliament by the Minister for Defence relating to applications and rejections for enlistment in the Australian armed forces.
It came as a shock to learn that out of a total of 24,932 people who, in 1963, sought to join the army, navy and air force, 4337 were turned away because they were below the educational standard required, while 2,767 failed the physical tests.
If the 24,932 individuals seeking an army, navy or air force career can be considered as representative, these figures indicate that one in six among young, adult Australians is, at least, only semi-literate, while one in nine is physically of low standard.
So far as education is concerned, the disclosure made by the Minister might appear to be a further argument in favour of the current campaign for greater expenditure on education in general from primary school to university level.
But has the weakness been only in the lack of adequate educational facilities? Has the system itself, the method of approach towards the education of the young, not been in part responsible?
As I have said, the figures indicate that our education standard is low. Have not Labour Party members been saying in this Parliament that the Government should make more money available to the States for education - to overcome the shortage of schools, the shortage of classrooms and the shortage of teachers?
Looking at our defences over the past 14 years under this Government’s administration, we find that £3,000 million has been spent. What have we to show for this expenditure? Nothing. An article in “ Time “ magazine this year referred to Australia’s defence forces, saying that we had an obsolete Air Force, a Navy that is a memory and an Army the size of Cambodia’s. Recently the obsolete pentropic division of the Army - I say it is obsolete because it has been proved by other nations that Army units organised along these lines are obsolete - was sought to be disbanded by Australia’s Army chiefs. This was not allowed and the division went to New Guinea on manoeuvres, which, according to the Army, were quite successful. But when the troops were to be returned to Australia the Army had to charter civilian aircraft to bring them back. The Air Force did not have enough aircraft to do the job.’ The Hercules aircraft were grounded at that time for repairs.
I have listened to many Government supporters criticising the Australian Labour Party for its stand on the MalaysiaIndonesia question. Let me say that 1 support the action taken by the Labour Party. I would ask some honorable members opposite who do a lot of smearing what their actual policy is. I would ask them to explain why this Government has arranged for the training of Malaysian officers in Australia along with Indonesian officers and why Australian Army officers are training with the Indonesian Army. Could anyone claim that these things reflect the actions of a sincere Government? Do honorable members who sit opposite support these actions? What is their attitude?
How long will it be before this country gets a replacement for the obsolete Canberra bomber? Air Force chiefs maintain that it would be suicide to use these aircraft against the latest types of fighter bombers. Are we in a position similar to that in which we found ourselves in 1941, when our airmen had to fly Wirraways against the enemy then attacking this country? When are we to receive the much talked about TFX aircraft? Will it be in 1968, 1969, 1970 or 1971? Nobody seems to know - not even the manufacturers. No payment for them will be made this year. Why is this? It is because the Government is simply trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the people, lt just does not know. In conclusion, let me say that although the Treasurer presented this Budget with a taste of honey to thousands of Australians it has only the taste of sour grapes.
.- It is certainly an experience for a new member to come into this House and listen to a debate on any subject. It is probably an even more interesting experience when the debate is a Budget debate. One of the disadvantages experienced by a new member is that he has not the advantage of a personal knowledge of the history of Budget debates. He has not heard personally the Budget debates of previous years. Those of us who suffer from this disability find it worth while on occasions to read our history, and especially the history of Budget debates. I have done some of this reading and I have found it interesting and very entertaining.
When we read the history of Budget debates we find that most of the changes proposed by members of the Opposition in the economic state of the nation depend upon their choice of adjectives. Their understanding of some hard economic facts and hard economic decisions is shown in terms of adjectives. A number of choice ones have been used from time to time. When we read the. speeches of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), which are certainly entertaining, we find that in every year except 1962, when he was not here, he has either referred to the Budget under discussion as a “horror” Budget or forecast a horror Budget for the following year. He has used some delightful turns of phrase. For instance he has said that either the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) or the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has come to the Budget debate pachydermatous as ever. I did not have time to look up some of these words in the dictionary, but I am sure their significance is quite outstanding.
– You are right there.
– You have evidently looked that word up in the dictionary. You must have had the time; I did not. We find, also, that whenever a leap year arrives the period becomes significant and instead of referring to horror Budgets they talk about leap year madness. During the last election campaign, the Leader of the Opposition constantly spoke of the coming leap year madness of the Government, particularly in respect of its economic policies. He forecast with a great deal of hope, I thought - more hope than sense - that we would have a credit squeeze this year. It is now late August, and if the Government is to satisfy the hopes of the Leader of the Opposition the time for it to do so is fast running out. But of course he can again make these forecasts in 1967.
– There is still a chance for him to be proved correct.
– Apparently, that reflects your hope, too. The best way to consider a Budget is to ask the question: What has a Budget to do with the overall increase in economic growth of the country? Must a Budget be designed to increase, to change or to revalue the rate of economic growth of the country? Overall, this Budget has re-assessed the rate of economic growth. The rate of growth which has been sustained last year and this year certainly cannot be sustained in the long run. That is impossible. A rate of growth of 8 per cent, a year just is not tenable in the long run.
So, quite clearly, the basis on which one has to consider this Budget is the change, or rate of increase, in the real deficit involved in the Budget. This year the change in the real deficit is a decrease of about £46 million or £47 million. That means that the rate of growth will be altered to an extent somewhere between the alterations brought about by the 1959-60 Budget and the 1960-61 Budget. This is sensible economic policy. It will ensure economic growth in the long run. This is important, because social welfare cannot be administered unless there is a satisfactory long-term rate of economic growth. That is why the Government is budgeting for an increase in real deficit of about minus £46 million or minus £47 million.
After considering the various adjectives used by the Leader, of the Opposition and his economic advisers - many of them are academics - we also note that from time to time, not so much the Leader of the Opposition, but his advisers have made prophesies in respect of budgets. On looking through the report of the Budget debate last year, I find that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) did not like last year’s Budget. He never likes the Budget when he is in Opposition. He described that Budget - this detestable thing - as a “ dead, neutral Budget “. That was obviously the way he felt about it.
I could not help picking out of that delightful little phrase the word “ neutral “. On that occasion he was using the word “ neutral “ to describe something with which he was not very happy as being akin to something that is dead. I can only reflect on the difference between the interpretation that he gives to the word “ neutral “ when describing a budget that he does not like and the connotation that he gives to the word when he proposes a foreign policy which he says is good. Apparently his neutralist foreign policy, which the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) supports, is a dead foreign policy.
– We have never used the word “ neutral “ to describe our foreign policy.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Reid not to interject.
– There are some other very important considerations in relation to the Budget, which tie in with the monetary policy that the Government has pursued over a number of years. Clearly the Government has set its face, as far as possible, against promoting deliberate inflation. From time to time a little inflation can occur. The Government cannot always control these things. The Government has set its face against promoting deliberate inflation, whether it be the 3 or 4 per cent, mentioned by the Leader of ‘Che Opposition on occasions, or the 5 per cent, mentioned by other members of the Opposition who are not so close to the top of their party. The Government knows that once inflation is deliberately promoted, it tends to run away. Anybody who reads the history of these matters and knows what happened in the 1940’s, particularly the late 1940’s, realises that.
What is more important than that is that a deliberate rate of inflation hurts the people who can least stand being hurt. I wish to quote from Hobart Paper 10, published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, which has something to say about this matter. It says -
Anyone who knowingly promotes or condones a policy that leads to persistently rising prices-
The calculated inflationary policy of the Opposition is such a policy -
That is what a deliberately promoted, policy of inflation, such as that which the Opposition would impose, would lead to. It would plunder the savings of the poor. We try to keep inflation down as much as possible, and year in year out we have been criticised for doing that.
Nevertheless, in Australia at the moment there is some cause for concern about economic affairs. I refer particularly to the slight rise in the consumer price index for the June quarter. This rise of about 1 per cent, must give some cause for disquiet. We should consider this matter by comparing the events of this year with those of 1959 and 1960. Earlier this year, as we know, the Reserve Bank of Australia made certain calls to the statutory reserve deposits. I think the calls represented about J 4 or 15 per cent. It became obvious that the Reserve Bank wanted to restrict the rate of bank advances. When we are considering this action of the Reserve Bank, we must also consider its actions during 1959 and 1960. One of the reasons why we ran into trouble in those years was that the rate of bank advances was not impeded until very late in 1960.
So we have to consider how the rate of bank advances is going now. There, too, is a little cause for disquiet. When considering the rate of bank advances, we must deseasonalise the figures. On that basis it seems that the rate of increase of advances between January and June this year was not very dissimilar from the rate during the appropriate six months of 1960. The figure for this year was £79 million or £80 million; the figure for 1960 was only a little less than that, but it was on a smaller Budget. These matters cannot be considered in isolation. For instance, we have had a far more flexible bond rate and the rate of increase in hire purchase outstandings has not given the same cause for disquiet. Whilst the rate of bank advances between January and June this year must be a slight cause of worry, the worry may be alleviated by the figures for July, August and September. They will need to be watched very closely.
There is another respect in which banking policy has been much “more sensitive than it was in 1959-60. I refer to an article in the June 1963 issue of “Australian Economic Papers”. The article, which was written by two Adelaide men, Davis and Wallace, is entitled “Lessons of the 1960 Bank Credit ‘Squeeze’”. Their argument, which I find very appealing, is that one cause of the difficulties of that period was not so much the overall rate of bank advances during the financial year 1959-60 and the rest of the calendar year 1960, as the variability of the excess liquidity that the banks had during that time. The excess liquidity of the banks varied between 6 per cent, and 19 per cent, over the minimum. That was the real worry. Some banks could not restrict their advances without getting themselves into trouble in respect of their minimum liquidity ratios. Of course, that was what happened.
What was the position between January and June of this year in respect of the variation of excess bank liquidity? When one considers the position, one sees that the cause for disquiet rather vanishes because the variation is extremely small. The average excess liquidity of all the major trading banks is now about 24 per cent. Generally the A.N.Z. Bank has a low figure and the National Bank of Australasia or the Bank of New South Wales has the highest figure. The variation between the figures for those banks is only about 3 per cent, in June.
If these variations in the L.G.S. ratios were a cause of the great difficulties of the 1959-60 financial year and the 1960 calendar year, and the facts seem to support that possibility, then things are much happier now. We should be very grateful that the policy of the Reserve Bank is certainly far more sensitive to changing Australian conditions now than it was during that era.
While mentioning these matters of monetary and economic policy, it is well worth while to reflect once again on what has happened in real terms during this year. Last year and the year before, the Budgets were consistently called dead, neutral Budgets. No matter how these words are interpreted, the meaning seems to be very clear. The Budgets were said to be dead, neutral Budgets and could not be responsible for any significant increase in Australia’s growth of production. Of course, this is not correct. The last figures released by the Commonwealth Statistician show that quite a number of the 35 items in his production list have increased tremendously. One can go through them quickly and see such items as woollen yarn, motor cars and electric motors, both small and large. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) would be pleased to see that there has been a very significant rise of some 35 per cent, in the production of tobacco, cigars and cigarettes. Of all the 35 items in the list only two show a decrease for this year compared with the previous year, and many of the items show an increase of about 30 per cent. Nearly all of them show an increase of well over 7 per cent, for the year. If dead, neutral Budgets are able to create the conditions in which rises of this nature can occur, we should have more dead, neutral Budgets.
The employment situation certainly invites comment. Last year and in 1962 we were told ad nauseam that there would be no significant rise in employment and that there would be unemployment at the end of two years because this was the policy of the Government. Apparently the Opposition members who made these remarks had not listened to one of their very close economic advisers, Professor Arndt. In 1963, at one of the quarterly economic forums conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, he said that if Australia had some 70,000 to 80,000 persons registered for employment we could regard this as close to full employment. This was said by a gentleman who is not unfavorable to the Opposition; this was his definition of full employment. I hope he gives Opposition members the same advice as he had to give during the broadcast at that time. He said this during the March or April forum for 1963.
The present unemployment figures are far below the level set by Professor Arndt, but even here there is some cause for disquiet. This arises from the relationship of the vacancies in the skilled metals and electrical industries to the number of men registered for employment in the industries. I choose these fields particularly because this is where the greatest shortage exists and experience has shown that a shortage of this nature in the skilled metals and electrical industries creates bottlenecks that endanger employment in most other fields of industry, even in tertiary industry, in building and construction and in transport. If there is a consistent bottleneck created by the number of men available for employment in the skilled metals and electrical fields, there is danger of unemployment in the various other fields of industry. When Opposition members make their response to various requests for a change in personnel training schemes which will .help to break this bottleneck, I hope they consider that they are playing around with the employment of people in the other six or seven principal fields of industry. If this bottleneck is not broken, unemployment in the other fields will rest on the conscience of Opposition members, and I think they should keep this in mind.
Two of the States in which this bottleneck is occurring rather more than in other States are Victoria and my own State of Queensland. In Victoria, the ratio of vacancies available to men registered for employment in these fields is between 17 and 18 to 1. This is just too high.
– Eighteen to one?
– Tt is 17 or 18 to
A rather special employment problem exists in the dispersed areas, in the country towns of Australia. I am not here referring to suburbs on the outskirts of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide or Newcastle; I am referring rather to towns that have grown up as trading centres and now have a substantial population. I have in mind such places as Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Mackay and Cairns. It is very clear that the patterns of employment that are developing in these places pose special problems. Let me put it this way: In Australia, and in most countries of our type, increased employment opportunities will not occur so much in manufacturing industries as in tertiary industries. I think we know this from experience. The proportion of the population in Australia engaged in tertiary industries increased by some 9 or 10 per cent, between the Second World War and the early 1960’s.
What has happened in the relatively isolated country towns that have a fairly immobile work force? Is there the same room to manoeuvre in respect to tertiary industries here as there is in the big centres of population such as in the capital industry-intensive capital cities? I could take us an example the Newcastle-Adelaide economic unit. There does not appear to be the same room for manoeuvre in the big country towns of Queensland as there is in the capital cities. I take the Queensland towns as an example; the situation here is reflected in towns of similar size in other parts of the world. Even during the 1930’s and 1940’s the poportion of the work force engaged in tertiary industries in these towns was between 70 per cent, and 75 per cent. If we hope to increase the proportion of people employed in tertiary industries we must remember that there is not much room for manoeuvre when the level of employment in these industries is already 70 per cent, to 75 per cent. It would be more difficult to increase a proportion of 70 per cent, to 75 per cent, than it would be to increase a proportion of 40 per cent, to 50 per cent.
It seems that we need a special study of the employment patterns in these country towns where the work force is relatively immobile. If one has to sit and wait and hope that manufacturing industries will go to these places, I think that one will sit and wait and hope forever. An analysis made in the United States of towns west of the 100 degree meridian - towns in such States as North Dakota, South Dakota and Kansas - shows that the proportion of the population of these towns engaged in manufacturing industries, which are the basis for generating future employment, does not tend to increase, or if it does tend to increase it increases minimally.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I believe that it has become clear that the patterns of employment which have developed in those isolated country towns - for example, towns with a population of 20,000 and over - are unique and produce problems of their own. A lot more work should be done to investigate the changing patterns of employment in these places. It is clear than one cannot draw conclusions from the situation in industrial communities or closely settled areas and then say that the patterns of employment developing there, particularly with respect to tertiary employment, provide opportunities for the future. One cannot say that the present employment pattern, unassisted or unaltered, will look after employment opportunities in these isolated areas in the future. This is particularly important in a State such as Queensland where there is a relatively dispersed population. Towns such as Mount Isa are built around a particular industry but others - the towns to which I am referring - have grown up as trading centres providing employment for about 30,000 or 40,000 people. It is very difficult for workers to move from one place to another. This is a problem which is not unique to Queensland, and it should not be neglected.
From the advice given from time to time by honorable members opposite it has become clear that when they discuss a Budget they are, like the sorcerer’s apprentice, approached by all kinds of groups in the community - and like the sorcerer’s apprentice they always promise more and more. Of course, it is clear that they just could not keep their promises. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Devine), who spoke before me, made, I think, between a dozen and twenty promises during his speech. How he would finance these promises if the Opposition were to become the Government would be his own problem. I hope that when the Opposition says that it will finance its promises it remembers the propoganda it spread during the last election campaign stating that it would not change the rates of tax in Australia. It said this ad nauseam. How could the Opposition, if it were in office, keep its promises without radically altering tax rates? And the increased taxation Opposition members would have to apply would fall very heavily upon people in the lower income groups in a way that is beyond imagination.
Honorable members opposite have said a great deal about education. Being very keen on education they say they are going to set up a Commonwealth Ministry. When the Opposition says this - it has said this from time to time - the parents of this country should beware, because it has been written by one of the members on the Opposition front bench that finance for education would not be forthcoming - and these are his own words - “ if what is taught is significantly inconsistent with socialism “. The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) said this. Finance would not be forthcoming if what is taught is significantly inconsistent with socialism.
– Have you a reference for that?
– It is in the magazine “ Dissent “ in its autumn or winter issue last year. When he talks about what this Government should do, what would be taught would have no relationship to the Christian socialism which the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Cameron) mentions in passing from time to time. The parents of this country should beware, because if a government of the character with honorable members opposite in it were elected and were to appoint a Commonwealth Minister for Education, blinkers, figuratively speaking, would be placed on the mind of every child in this country - otherwise there would be no finance forthcoming. Of all the things that could be dangerous in this country that is probably the most dangerous.
Whatever has been done by the Government in this Budget we regard as part of the economic history of the country. The Budget fulfils a part of the country’s history. We have not produced a dead neutral Budget, but a very active one. We do not let economic events ride over us willy nilly - we harness these events, in a way which is best for the community. The Government is popular for what it has done. The Opposition admits this. The Budgets brought in by this Government over the years have been for the common good of the people of Australia, and the people realise it. While the Government continues to do these things and brings in Budgets of this character, members of the Socialist Labour Party sitting on the front bench opposite, or wherever they may be, will regret for a long time that the Government is so popular. The Government appreciates what the people want and appreciates what is best for the common good.
– Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns). He said that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. Cairns) and I advocated a neutral foreign policy. I state very clearly that we have never used the word “ neutral “ in regard to foreign policy. What I have said is that Australia should have an independent and conciliatory foreign policy, not anti-British, not antiAmerican, not anti-Russian, but proAustralian. I have criticised the Government for having a rubber stamp foreign policy following the foreign policy of the United States of America. I have agreed with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) when he said that Lord Casey took his instructions from London from Saturday to Monday and from Washington from Tuesday to Friday.
– I take a point of order.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Failes). - Order! The honorable member for Reid will resume his seat.
– My point of order is that the honorable member for Reid is going far beyond the bounds of a claim to have been misrepresented. I do not think the honorable member has even spoken in the debate.
– I continue to say that I agree with the Leader of the Opposition-
– Order! The Chair rules that the honorable member for Reid must not debate the matter. He claims to have been misrep resented and he is entitled to state the point of misrepresentation but not to debate the matter.
– I do not desire to debate the matter. I am trying to explain what I have said about foreign policy. I have not used the word “ neutral “. I am trying to explain what I did say.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER.The honorable member is not entitled to repeat what he did say. He is entitled to dispute the claim that he said certain things.
.- On this, the last day of the Budget debate, I propose to devote most of my time to the subject of defence. This subject has been canvassed by most speakers during the debate. The reason for this is, I think, that the thinking of members of this House reflects the thoughts of most of the Australian people today. Wherever one goes in the course of business or pleasure one finds that in conversation with taxi drivers, bakers, butchers, the businessmen and even housewives, inevitably the question of Australia’s defence arises, together with the general world situation at the present time. People are worried about the situation in South East Asia which seems to always threaten Australia. The clouds of war seem to be constantly over us. Our geographical link with Asia means that every crisis in that area, particularly in South East Asia, brings a darkening cloud over Australia and causes people to think about our defence and our foreign affairs policy.
Australia has forces stationed in South Vietnam and Malaysia. The fortunes of the minor wars in those places fluctuate day by day. The attacks by guerrilla forces on South Vietnam are somewhat similar to the experience which Malaya went through some years ago and which Malaysia may yet have to undergo. While Indonesia continues to confront Malaysia and Communist forces threaten to push down into South Vietnam, no relief is possible. Yet, until some kind of truce is obtained in Vietnam, it is impossible to bring about economic or political] stability there. While our troops remain in these areas, there is always a possibility that Australia will ultimately be involved in a much wider conflict. As both the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) have stated, it is imperative that the position in Vietnam be held.
In addition to our defence obligations as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations - this is the reason why we support Malaysia in its trouble with Indonesia - we have defence commitments under both the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty and the treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America, which is known as the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact. This, of course, is in addition to our first responsibility to provide defence forces adequate to defend Australia if they are required to do so. We must not be unmindful of the possibility that, in the not too far distant future, Australia may well have to play in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea a defence role similar to that which Britain today plays in Malaysia.
What is our defence position today? Is there one of the Ministers in charge of the defence forces who can honestly say that he is satisfied with the present position? Perhaps the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) will intimate whether he is satisfied. Last Thursday, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), a former distinguished Minister for the Navy, pointed out clearly the way in which the Menzies Government has allowed the Royal Australian Navy to run down. Because of our geographical position, a strong Navy is of paramount importance to Australia.
The honorable member for Kennedy dealt very thoroughly with the overall strength of the Navy, so I intend only to touch on our submarine strength in contrast to that of other nations that patrol the seas near our shores. In making this comparison, I do not suggest that we shall necessarily one day be at war with those other nations. What I suggest is that Australia’s strength should at least be comparable to that of other nations whose submarines operate near our shores. History records that the friends of today often are the enemies of tomorrow. If a major war were to break out, or even if there were an extension of the present dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia, Australia could find herself opposed to Indonesia in a war much wider than the minor skirmish that is going on in Malaysia today. No-one wants this to happen or suggests that it will, but this must be considered a possibility so long as the present tension continues and Indonesia persists in threatening to destroy Malaysia. If the present dispute were to extend or a major war were to break out, two of Australia’s main shipping routes would be extremely vulnerable to submarine attack.
Australia’s submarine strength is represented by three vessels which are on loan from the United Kingdom, and which are used mainly for training purposes, and four on order. Let us contrast this with the number of submarines known to be in the service of other nations that have submarine patrols operating close to the Australian mainland. It is reported that Indonesia has a minimum of at least 20 submarines and China the same number. The strength of Russia’s submarine fleet is estimated to be about 450, with a minimum of 200 in the Pacific area. While we ponder on the size of their fleets, let us think back to the outbreak of the last war, when Hitler’s total submarine strength was only 59 vessels. What havoc he caused with that relatively small number! It may well be argued, of course, that it is most unlikely that Australia will ever be confronted by combined Russian, Chinese and Indonesian forces. But who can be sure? Who can with any certainty say what the future holds even in 12 months or 2 years ahead, much less 5 or 10 years? We cannot be at all sure of the future.
Some may argue that we at least have the protection of the United States submarine fleet that . is patrolling the Pacific. At this point, I am reminded of a newspaper article published some time ago which clearly pointed out the way in which submarine fleets are playing a game of hide and seek not far from the Australian mainland. Under the heading, “ Pacific Hide-and-Seek War “, the article stated -
In an intriguing, hide-and-seek game, the US Navy and ships of its allies are relentlessly stalking hundreds of Communist-bloc submarines above and below the 85m. square-mile face of the Pacific Ocean. At this stage it’s a silent war, testing men’s nerves and skills, demanding development of new undersea tactics and amazing electronic detectors.
Daily the danger comes closer to Australia as Russian submarines, more venturesome, longerranged, probe its northern waters and regularly patrol our eastern seaboard.
This is the disturbing picture of the red undersea menace which only a few days ago, in the war room of his Pearl Harbour (Hawaii) Headquarters, I heard unfolded by Vice-Admiral John T. Hayward, Commander of the US Pacific Fleet’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Force.
The world’s oceans, he explains, are the last great “ cloak “ for the secret movement and strategic placing of tremendously destructive weapons.
– In what newspaper did that appear?
– In the Adelaide “ Advertiser “. That is an interesting article. It makes it clear that we are extremely fortunate to have the United States of America as our ally in the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact. It is comforting to remember that American forces assisted to defend our nation from invasion on the only occasion in our history when we have been threatened. In recent times, the Royal Australian Navy has rightly concentrated on anti-submarine forces, but these are still pathetically weak. The honorable member for Kennedy dealt with this aspect of defence so I shall not discuss it further. Suffice it to say that we would rely heavily on Uncle Sam to keep our shipping lanes open if the need ever arose. I am relieved and, I believe, the vast majority of Australians are relieved to know that as well as the great number of Russian, Chinese and Indonesian submarines in the Pacific and Indian Oceans there are also a great many American submarines.
I sincerely hope that the Americans will not take the advice of those people who frequently cry: “ Go home, Yanks “. I remind those who offer this advice that they are not alone in tendering it, for many Americans say: “ Come home, Yanks “. But the reason is very different. Americans are a little tired of paying high taxes to defend other countries and to assist those that are under-developed. Indeed, in most cases, America’s only reward for doing this is much abuse and very little thanks. Yesterday, the House heard, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) say that, under the
Colombo Plan, the United States was contributing £17 for every £1 put into the pool by all other nations combined. So that country is playing its part well in assisting the under-developed countries.
The arguments that one hears when America’s role in international affairs is discussed are sometimes remarkable. One sometimes meet the sort of character who loudly proclaims that the Yanks are a lot of war mongers. One may argue with such a person until one is black in the face, and perhaps finally make the point that at least it is a very good thing that we have the United States as an ally, in view of the weakness of our own defences. The same character who proclaims that the United States is a war monger will then proceed to inform one that one cannot really rely on the Yanks. He will say that the Americans did not enter the First World War until it was nearly over and that they entered the Second World War only after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. This character, more than likely, will then return to the argument that the Yanks should stay at home. All this is part and parcel of an argument which, regrettably, seems to be part of an antiAmerican campaign. Australians should never forget the ready response by the United States to John Curtin’s call for aid during the last war. When the need was urgent the assistance came quickly.
The A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty is without doubt of major importance to Australia. Unlike the S.E.A.T.O. Pact, which binds the United States of America only to resist Communist aggression, the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty provides for collective security against aggression from any quarter. The A.N.Z.U.S Treaty binds Australia, New Zealand and America and, as I have said, it is our most valuable defence pact. The reason is easily understood. We all speak the same language. We all believe in parliamentary government. We have fought together in two world wars. We all realise the importance of collective security against a common danger. What is most important, in my opinion, is that the bonds are so close that any one country can freely criticise the other when it believes that mistakes are being made and can do so without fear of being misunderstood.
Some people in Australia today hold the opinion that if necessary Australia should scrap the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty, cut our ties with America, and negotiate exclusively with countries near our shores. For instance, some people express the view that a friendship pact with Indonesia would be of far more importance than a pact like A.N.Z.U.S. with America. In my opinion, such ideas are extremely foolish. National interests must come first and I believe that American support is essential to our nation. It is, perhaps, essential, even for our survival. What Australia requires is friendship with all nations. We should give the highest priority to immediately negotiating treaties of friendship and security with as many nations as possible. I am sure that we all agree that Australia covets no other nation’s territory and seeks to attack no other nation. We hold out the hand of friendship to all, but friendship is a two way partnership. Just as you soon discover in your everyday life whether you can accept the word of your next door neighbour, so too it must be in the wider scale of international relations. Old friends in time of trouble, even if there have been disagreements at times, are far more reliable than a. newly found friend who has yet to be tested in time of need.
In his speech in this debate, the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) made it clear that he is satisfied with the present strength of the Army. But he went further and indicated that the Government had geared its Army needs to what he termed the “ cold war “. The Navy is obviously not even geared to the needs of a cold war. The Air Force is happy to live in an airyfairy world, believing that Australia will not be involved in a hot war before 1970 at the earliest. In the view of the Air Force, it does not matter if there is no replacement for the obsolete Canberra bomber before 1970.
Australia’s defence demands a replacement of the obsolete Canberra as quickly as possible. The Canberra may be useful in Malaysia in carrying out our obligations as a member of the British Commonwealth, but, as a striking force for Australia’s own defence, it is simply not good enough. On Friday, 1st November 1963, in an editorial, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ pointed clearly to the danger that confronted us and to the urgent need to acquire an interim replacement for the Canberra.
– Do you agree with everything said by the “Sydney Morning Herald “?
– No. The Minister for the Navy may be happy with the thought that we will not need to defend this country but, without a decent bomber force, Australia has no defences. It would be criminal folly to askk Australian airmen to strike at another nation knowing very well that the bombers or, at least, very few of them, having in mind their range, would come back. The editorial to which I have referred, under the heading “We Need an Interim Bomber Now” stated -
The statement that “ we may not need tha B47s “ made by the Minister for Defence on his return from Washington must reinforce the uneasiness caused by the Prime Minister’s intimation that Australia might continue to rely on the Canberra bomber until the TFX went into service with the R.A.A.F. The earliest date for deliveries of the TFX is said to be 1967, which means that, at best, they could not be in squadron service until the following year. That is to say, there will be a minimum five-year period before the R.A.A.F.’s selected new bomber becomes operational.
This may well be a very dangerous period for Australia, because it is obviously the period in which the Malaysian crisis will be resolved ohe way or another. The increasingly bellicose Indonesian attitude towards Malaysia and the announcement that the Indonesian armed forces on the Australian border have been placed on the alert because Australia supports Malaysia carry a warning which no Australian Government can alford to ignore. . . . The Canberra bombers now in service do not supply such a force.
That was last year, but the need is more urgent today. On 22nd April 1964 an article which will interest the Minister for the Navy appeared in the “ Daily Mirror “. The article was headed: “ Admiral Blasts Services. Suicidal to Face Enemy.” and read -
Rear-Admiral G. C. Oldham said today Australia’s Navy was inadequate, the Army immovable and the Air Force impotent. “ The R.A.N, has been relegated to an inadequate escort force,” he said. “Without fighter aircraft the Navy cannot approach enemy shores or enemy forces at sea except at suicidal risk.”
He described the Navy as the Cinderella of the Services. “What’s the use of talking about raising three or four Army divisions if the Navy can’t take them where they are needed and support them when they get there.’*
– Who said that?
– Rear-Admiral Oldham. This was not a Labour supporter. This was not a view antagonistic to the Government but an urgent call for the nation to do something about its defences. On 8th March this year in an article headed “What’s Wrong with the Navy?” the “Daily Mirror “ reported -
In 1946 the R.A.N, was the strongest Navy in Asia.
At that time the honorable member for Kennedy was the distinguished Minister for the Navy. The article continued -
Today, although our population and wealth have zoomed, the R.A.N, is overshadowed by the navies of China. Indonesia, Japan and India.
In other words, we are a fifth-class sea power. What a comment on the strength of our Navy. This eighth Menzies Government seems determined to repeat the record of the first Menzies Government and leave Australia undefended in time of danger. The Budget provides a substantial amount of money for recruitment for the defence forces. So far there has been no spectacular success in fee current recruiting campaign. I wonder why. Perhaps the answer is partly because, as the Minister for the Army said, we are prepared for the cold war and show our position by not providing the tools to do the job should the cold war develop into a tepid war or even hot war. Our run-down Navy holds no attraction for recruits. The reply given a few days ago to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) by the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) was interesting. The Minister said -
The chief demand on us at this time is to help our friends to our north, to meet any requests for assistance that they may make to us. At this stage we regard that as our first priority.
Where the Australian Labour Party differs from the Minister for Air is that we, on this side of the House, regard Australia as our first priority in defence. We believe that we should honour our treaty obligations, that we should be adequately equipped to give what assistance is required, but that our first priority must be adequately to defend Australia itself. This is where we differ with the Government. The Air Force will not have a bomber force adequate to defend Australia until 1970.
The many anomalies arising out of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund are causing the Government a lot of concern. An article in the Adelaide “ News “ of 12th August stated-
Some Army majors now pay £30 6s. 8d. a week retirement pension contributions.
This follows recent pay increases.
With an average salary of £56 a week, this left many majors due for retirement with less in their pay packets than corporals, Central Command public relations officer, Captain F. G. Read confirmed.
Majors are paying £30 6s. 8d. into a superannuation scheme and the take-home pay left in their packets is less than that paid to corporals.
– I am not saying it. Captain F. G. Read, public relations officer of Central Command, said that it was an average of £56 a week. I do not know, but I accept the word of this Army officer. I do not think he would issue a Press statement if it was not accurate.
– I am not disputing it. I wanted you to repeat the £56 a week.
– He says that out of an average salary of £56 a week they pay £30 6s. 8d. As the Minister well knows, that is only one of the many anomalies in this Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Scheme. It is to be hoped that this matter is dealt with urgently because, while this trouble and this discontent exist men will not be induced to make a career of the Services. In addition to the general discontent on that particular score, we know that in recent times officers have taken court action in an attempt to clarify the position relating to whether they can resign from the Services. Is it any wonder that recruiting is falling when we are so casual in our approach to the needs of the nation? In the national interests, Australia must act first in the field of foreign affairs and defence, but I am afraid that today we are neglecting our national needs. I have stated my own firm belief that we need America’s friendship and help. I am not pro-American, nor am I anti any other nation. But I am pro-Australian.
While it is essential that we be adequately defended, this does not and should not prevent us from endeavouring to build up peaceful relations with Indonesia and with other countries near our shores. Expansion of trade, as was suggested by the former Indonesian Ambassador, BrigadierGeneral Suadi, is most desirable and Australia should take up the challenge. Any easing of the tensions, not only in South East Asia but throughout the world generally, is most desirable. The Australian people are most unhappy about the Budget. More than that, they are most worried about Australia’s future. The people of Australia, and this great land of ours, deserve something better in the way of security. It is far better to have a strong defence force, whatever the cost, and not require it, than to have no defence and perhaps suffer in an hour of need.
The Menzies Government deserves censure for its failure to provide for the nation’s needs, and it would be a great step towards security for the people and the nation if this Parliament carried the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. If we can defeat this Government, then at least we can get back to a really effective defence force. The Australian Labour Party has a proud record in the defence of this country. It founded the Royal Australian Navy, it established the Royal Military College at Duntroon, and it established the Woomera Rocket Range. That record will take some matching at any time in Australia’s history. It is the glorious record of the John Curtain Government, which carried Australia through its darkest hour in the last war.
.- The presentation of the Budget is a very important event in the parliamentary year because, on the funds that the Budget provides and on the way those funds are distributed, depend the work of the Federal Parliament and the progress of the nation. I believe that the Commonwealth Government has a very important role to play. By means of taxation, tariffs and other charges it is able to accumulate the revenue that is required for the administration of our economy, which includes the regulation of the flow of exports and imports.
If this country is to progress, it must progress very quickly. If we are going to pay for social services and education, we must make this country thrive and progress. We must make this a very strong country if we want to hold it. We must show our allies, on whom we must depend, that we are strong and prepared to do our part. We must show that, in the event of war, we are prepared to provide food, supplies, transport and effective bases. We hope that we shall never have to do these things but we must show our allies that we are prepared and able to do them if we expect them to do their part. If this country is to progress - I believe that fast progress is absolutely vital - then we must increase ouse exports, for only by increasing our exports can we give employment to large numbers of people, and so develop our strength and our resources.
First, we must look at our rural exports to a very great extent. It is well known that even today from 80 to 90 per cent, of our export income is derived from the sale of our primary products. If our population continues to increase at its present rate, before many years have passed wc will not have surpluses of a great many primary products to send overseas because we will need them here. Many people have talked of a population of 25 million or 30 million, but Professor Leech, the very well known authority, recently talked of Australia being able to support a population of from 300 million to even 500 million. Who knows what the potential for our development is? Why, only in the last few years in my district alone we have seen the wheat yield increased from an average of from seven or eight bags to the acre to an average of sixteen bags to the acre. Pastures that once carried from one to one and a half sheep to the acre are now carrying from five to seven sheep or more to the acre. We have a potential to develop many more acres of land to this degree of productivity.
If we are to develop we desperately need long-term finance because developing rural properties is a very costly business. Properties need fencing, water and plant, and with improved carrying capacity they need fodder. Then, having spent money on all these things, the farmer needs stock if he is to reap the benefit of that expenditure. Shortterm finance is of no use whatever in developing rural properties. It must be longterm finance. The farmer needs not a reducing overdraft but an increasing overdraft. This is not something that is just plucked out of the air. It has been proved over and over again that sound progress - the sound development of rural properties - is a very good investment.
As I said before, our potential has hardly been touched. This is true of not only wool, beef and wheat, which are our most profitable exports, but also of fruit and vegetables, especially the canning of those products. Very often in this country we have great surpluses of such vegetables as potatoes, which are perishable. In one season they are too dear for the housewife to buy, and in the next season they are too cheap for the grower to dig. The potato growers are asking for some overall stabilisation plan, but before we can have a stabilisation plan for a product such as potatoes, we must have a market for it, and, before we can market a perishable product, we must process it. In the near East, there are millions of people who are looking for more and more food. Here is our opportunity to stabilise many of our vegetable growing industries.
On the land today, we require more skilled men and better types of workers. This means that we need better housing in country areas. We will not get the better type of worker unless we have better housing. We in the Country Party have been pushing for years to get a fair share of housing for people in the country. We need it desperately. In my own town of Harden where there are several secondary industries we have found that those industries cannot expand because they cannot obtain houses for their married employees. The New South Wales Government said that the workers must be in the district for a certain number of months before it will do anything about providing housing. So we have a stalemate. Yet we have all this talk about decentralisation.
Another avenue in which the Commonwealth Government could assist in decentralisation is by allowing rural workers a better deal over their motor cars. Every rural worker depends on his car for transport. He has no public transport available and he cannot move without his own car, yet he pays the same high registration rates as people in the metropolitan areas, and a very much higher price for his petrol, despite the fact that public transport is available in the metropolitan areas and many people there use their cars mainly for pleasure. The Government should extend the depreciation allowance to rural workers in respect of their motor cars along similar lines to the depreciation allowance now granted to primary producers, because although a motor car is absolutely vital to a rural worker he must bear the additional cost involved merely because he lives in the country.
If we are to develop our country as it should be developed, and if we are to hold it, we must have better roads. Main roads, developmental roads and roads of that, nature must be looked upon as a long term investment and not as something that will give us a return tomorrow. We must build for the future and provide the roads that are necesary for our development. You cannot move produce; you cannot move men and materials; you cannot move superphosphate, that vital commodity which possibly has meant more to Australia than has anything else in the last 20 years, unless you have good roads. You cannot move goods to and from the country without them. Roads are necesary too for defence purposes. You cannot move men and materials to where they are needed, and you cannot evacuate people from the great cities, unless you have good roads.
During a recent debate I mentioned the Canberra-Tumut Road which would be a developmental road along which food could be transported to Canberra, a tourist road and a defence road because it could be used to evacuate the people of Canberra in time of war.
– This is Arthur Fuller’s idea.
– It started long before Arthur Fuller, and he did not get very far with it either. If we are to make this country grow we must invest in the future. Today we have 11 million people; tomorrow we will have many more. We must build for our future generations. We must take our courage in our bands and invest in the future. We should not expect to pay for everything today, but unless we do something practical there may not be a country for our future generations to inherit.
Quite close to Canberra there is a menace which could reduce our production tremendously. I refer to serrated tussock, which is getting completely out of control. We must consider the eradication of this menace on a national basis. Its eradication is beyond the resources of individuals, shire councils or in some cases even State Governments. We must all get together and deal with this menace even though it will cost many thousands of pounds.
As was mentioned a day or two ago by my colleague the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) we must spend more money on expanding our extension services by which scientific knowledge, of which we have a great deal today, is taken to our primary producers. Because our extension services are more or less restricted a good deal of our scientific knowledge is not getting through to the people who need it. Exports are absolutely vital if our country is to grow and progress and if we are to hold it. Today exports of our primary products provide between 80 per cent, and 90 per cent, of our export income whereas 82i per cent, of our imports are machine tools and equipment for our secondary industries and only 171 per cent, are direct consumer goods including motor vehicles. We must pay with our exports for the necessary imports for our secondary industries. The people on the land are making it possible for our secondary industries to exist and to give employment to many thousands of people. That is why it is tremendously important that we spend more money on developing and expanding our country areas.
It is important too that we diversify our exports. Over the last few years Japan has become our best customer. That is a very good thing in many ways, but I do not think it is a good thing in the long term. We must diversify our exports so that we do not depend on one country to buy our goods. We saw only a few days ago what happended with our meat trade with the United States. Fortunately, we are expanding our beef exports to Greece, France, Italy, and even to parts of the Orient We are sending mutton to Japan and South East Asia, and beef to the Middle East. The future for beef particularly, and meat generally, is very sound, because whenever the standard of living in any nation rises the people eat more meat. When the standard of living is low they cannot afford to eat meat. The very large peasant population in Europe is now moving into a higher income group so it is eating much more meat than it did. The potential for our meat exports is practically unlimited. With better pastures, more irrigation and improved fodder conservation we can produce vastly improved quantities of wool, beef, and mutton.
Not only is it important that we diversify our primary exports, it is important also that we build up and diversify our exports of secondary products, because in the long term it is not sound for any country to be almost completely dependent on exports of primary goods. Not so long ago a group- of Japanese businessmen came to Australia and said that if we increased the tariff on their cotton they would not buy as much wool from us as they have been buying. Japan pulled out of the wool market for a time recently and the market dropped sharply. If we .are to be a great nation we cannot forever depend almost completely on primary exports. We cannot be at the mercy of seasons and prices all over the world. There need only to be a very big wheat crop in some of the major wheat producing countries and we would be in trouble trying to sell our surplus crop.
First, we must expand our primary exports so that we can import more materials to expand our secondary industries and afford more employment to our population. This will then put our secondary industries into the position of being able to export more. Although our exports of secondary goods are increasing, they represent only a very small proportion of our total exports. Mr. P. J. Ross, President of the Industrial Development Association, said the other day that even now we have the capacity to employ another 100,000 skilled workers in industry without any additional investment. But we have not those skilled workers, and we are unable to get them at present.
There are markets that as yet we have not touched. We have Papua-New Guinea right at our door, which imports about £26 million worth of goods a year. Although we could supply most of those goods, our share of that market is worth only about £15 million. Hong Kong imports about £114 million worth of the type of goods that we could supply, but our share of that market is only £14 million. That is an indication of the possibilities. The same position applies in the East and even in Europe. According to trade journals, there are untold opportunities.
We must cut our prices. To do this we must increase our output, because when you have volume you can cut prices and produce an article more economically. We are already breaking into the secondary products export market, if, perhaps, only in a small way. We are very successfully exporting lawnmowers to England, farm machinery to South Africa, South East Asia, Israel and many other countries, and fuel pumps - this is an interesting one - to the United States of America, Canada and Great Britain. I am told that these pumps are better and cheaper than the pumps that can be produced in those countries. We can do these things if we set our minds to it.
If we are to develop our industries it is important for us to decentralise, for economic reasons. We find our great capital cities becoming uneconomic units, because it costs too much to move men and materials. We must decentralise for defence reasons and for social reasons. Australia is not the only country that has realised this necessity. Even England is spending vast sums of money to encourage industry to move out of the congested areas for the very reasons I have enunciated. A great deal has been said about decentralisation but not a great deal of practical work has been done on it. I think this is mainly because we people in the rural areas and the country towns constitute a minority. If we are to be heard we must become a pretty vocal minority. We are looking at the overall picture - the national picture of decentralisation. Today one of the most difficult tasks is to get industries to establish themselves in country towns. We get very little help in our efforts to do this. I have had quite a lot of experience of this matter in my own area and have made a few suggestions. I have asked the various councils and the Chambers of Commerce to come forward with their suggestions. I have suggested that something might be done to reduce freight rates. I believe also that a depreciation allowance could be offered to secondary industries on the lines on which it is now available to primary producers, farmers being allowed 20 per cent, per annum depreciation over five years. Perhaps an investment allowance could also be given. I have discussed this with managers and owners of industries in country towns and they consider it an excellent suggestion.
Another necessity is to standardise the price of petrol throughout the country. We have made an improvement so that the difference in price between one area and another is to be no more than 4d. a gallon. But this is not good enough. Petrol should be sold at the same price throughout Australia. Every man, woman and child in country areas depends on petrol for transport, as does every country industry. Tax concessions could also be offered to industries prepared to establish themselves in country centres. This is something of national importance. It is no longer a parochial or district question, but a national question, and something practical has to be done about it.
Then there is the matter of telephones. Here there is a problem that perhaps strikes a lot of people as being of not very much concern, but I assure the House that it is of great concern to many industries in country areas. In my electorate there is a packing house at Batlow, a very successful and solid industry giving employment to a large number of people. That industry finds its telephone charges quite a burden. Its bill for trunk line calls is about £4,000 a year. A factory in Orange pays about £6,000 a year for trunk line telephone calls alone. Telephone charges themselves are enough to make it difficult for industries to establish themselves in the country.
If we are to increase production we have to look for greater efficiency. It is of no use raising wages unless you raise production. That is basic economics. Those who cry for higher wages and shorter hours, more amenities and more social services, without more production are misleading the people. Those who work in industry should have a fair share of the fruits of their labour if they are prepared to work and increase their efficiency and their production. Incentives should be offered to such persons and in some industries there are such incentives. The incentive system has proved most successful where it has been introduced. It has resulted in increased production and efficiency and higher wages for the men working with their hands.
Primary industry has gone quite a distance in this direction. Figures given recently showed that primary production has increased by about SO per cent, in the last 15 years while the work force has been reduced by 9 per cent. Yet we find that there is only about £2 worth of high quality wool in a man’s suit which might cost anything from £25 to £50. Efficiency is sadly lacking in some secondary industries, while efficiency has been greatly improved in primary industry. I do not know whether honorable members realise that the average worker in primary industry in Australia produces about twice as much in goods and value as his counterpart in the United States and three times as much as his counterpart in Great Britain. I know that we have climatic conditions, that help us considerably here, but the fact remains that our primary industries are very efficient. I am not saying that they could not be more efficient. They could. But I think we should look for a greater efficiency drive in secondary industry because primary industry has no control whatever over the cost of materials produced in secondary industry which must be bought by those engaged in primary industry. We have no control over those costs but we have to sell on a world market. We cannot govern our selling price. There is no cost plus system in the primary industries.
As I said before, those who call themselves socialists and advocate less work, more money, shorter hours and more social services, without any suggestion that there should be more effort, are insincere opportunists who very often preach these things for political advantage. Even in Russia today, there is quite a move away from the old ideas. In Russia payment is now made for efficiency, ability and skill. There are vast differences in wage scales because of different abilities, differing determination and differing degrees of drive in various sections of the community.
In Australia, where we have so many unfilled jobs for skilled workers, it is hard to understand the opposition that has been shewn to the adult training scheme. Let me again quote Professor Leech, a prominent engineer employed by the Snowy Mountains Authority. He said that, because the Authority could not get skilled men, it recruited 700 .unskilled men aged between 25 and 62 for technical jobs. He said: “We trained them and 96 per cent, were successfully trained as efficient tradesmen.”
Quite recently, as most of you know, I joined a migrant ship at Fremantle so that I could learn the story of migrants coming here. 1 went to Bonegilla and went through all the processes of interviewing the migrants and so on. I sat in on the interviewing of these migrants by the Commonwealth employment officer. I was amazed to find that there were at least six jobs available for every skilled migrant. We cannot get enough of these migrants but we have many men out here in middle age who would be prepared to train if given the opportunity. Why should we bring people here and give them all the best jobs if we can train our own men? I do not see how we would endanger our apprenticeship scheme. I think the adult training scheme could be additional to the apprenticeship scheme. There are thousands of these jobs available.
One of the greatest difficulties in placing skilled migrants is to find adequate accommodation. This is more difficult in New South Wales than anywhere else. Houses are much more readily available in all the other States and, in most cases, at much lower cost, perhaps because there is no rent control. Private enterprise has built houses so one can readily buy a house in Perth or in South Australia and for a good deal less money than is required to buy one here. I know this because I took the trouble to check the figures with banking inspectors.
Churchill once said - although I do not think he originated the saying - that he who was not a socialist at 18 had no heart but that he who was a socialist at 30 had no head. Socialism does not work, If we want people to work we must give them some incentive. Anybody who suggests that any businessman or industrialist does not want full employment is talking through his hat, because everybody knows that the working man spends what he earns. As a result of my experience in my home town and the work that I have done on our decentralisation committee, I know that each working man puts at least £1,000 into the town. Every time we get another working man wc get another £1,000. We must remember that we have to have additional butchers, bakers, chemists and doctors to supply and serve additional working men. The working nian is our best asset. But he must earn the wages that he receives, or wc have inflation.
I believe that Australia is facing a tremendous challenge which carries with it tremendous opportunities. Archbishop Eris O’Brien, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, said recently that he firmly believed that Australia had an opportunity second to none to give a lead to countless millions of people, and that, it might well be that in the not very distant future, Australia would be the centre of civilisation.
– Who said that?
– Archbishop Eris O’Brien said that recently. He is a very thoughtful man and he has travelled widely. That is a very stirring thought. We are situated in a part of the world in which teeming millions of people are underfed and underclothed but have a rising standard of living. We are situated right alongside the greatest potential market that the world has ever seen. I believe that that market is tailor-made for Australia. These people want food first. When a man gets a few shillings in his pocket, he wants a feed, first of all; then he wants a coat to put on his back; then he wants a house; and having got a house he wants to put amenities in it and he wants a motor car, a television set and many other things.
– ls there any reason why he should not have them?
– No, no reason at all. I am saying that he should have them. I say that we have an opportunity to give these people these things. We have an opportunity here and now to feed and clothe them. We have an opportunity to develop our primary industries by giving them food and clothing, and to develop our secondary industries by supplying their other wants. These people will progress; they must progress; and we have an opportunity to make Australia grow with them.
If I have any criticism of the Budget, it is that the Government may have been a little too cautious. We have not much time it we are to hold this country. I believe that the mood of the people is to accept greater calls on them for the purposes of defence and development. We have the best country in the world - I think we are all agreed on that - but it will not remain the best country in the world unless we do something definite about its defence and development. We all have to put our best foot forward and do what we can to make Australia grow faster and faster.
Wc have advanced to a very high state, but sometimes we tend to sit back and not to realise the dangers that face us. Greater civilisations than i -irs have been completely submerged and have gone into oblivion. It is not impossible that that could happen to us unless each and every one .of us puts his best foot forward. We face a tremendous challenge, but we can become a very great nation; a leader in this part of the world; a nation which could give the lead to many millions of people and help them to a better way of life, and help the “ havenots “ to a better, fuller and happier life.
.- One statement of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Pettitt) alone justifies the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). That statement is that housing is much cheaper in Perth than in the eastern States. If that is so, the increase in the Federal basic wage is not justified in Western Australia. The Leader of the Opposition’s amendment, which I support, reads - the House is of opinion that the Budget does not adequately grapple wilh the problems of striking a realistic and fitting balance between the claims on national resources arising from defence, development and social welfare.
Having listened to the numerous speakers in this debate, including the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), who is the Leader of the Australian Country Party, I suggest that the Labour Party’s amendment could not have come at a better time. That is illustrated by the fact that every newspaper in Australia received the Budget with gloom and reserve. At the same time, Government members have tried to explain away the reasons for greatly increased taxation in the face of the meagre increases in social service and other benefits. I would have thought that a £2,511 million Budget would have earned the praise of some sections of the Press under any circumstances, but this Budget has not done so.
The Minister for Trade and Industry spent much of his time telling us that the Australian economy is far stronger, sounder and better balanced now than it was in 1959-60, and that those people who compare the two periods are making false comparisons. Of course the economy is stronger now than it was four years ago; and so it should be. Have we not about half a million more people now than we had in 1959-607 In addition, are there not about 120,000 fewer people unemployed now than there were a couple of years ago?
The right honorable gentleman also made the startling admission that the Treasurer had budgeted for a surplus to ease down the demand for goods and services. He stated that demand would outstrip production and that, as a result of that, imports would overflow into expenditure and cause renewed hardship in several directions, and therefore it was far better to apply the brakes gently at first signs of overacceleration. That is an amazing admission for a responsible Minister to make in the light of the continued prosperity about which the Government always boasts.
Are we to assume from what the Minister said that the Government now is unable to balance the movement between production and consumption, or is unable to control the importation of goods to ensure that Australian employment and production and consumption of goods and services are not again allowed to be sabotaged as they were in 1959-60? If that is to be the Government’s policy, I say that the Labour Party’s amendment should be reframed and made an outright censure of the Government.
There is a saying that the people are only entitled to get the Government that they deserve. Once again that seems to be the position in Australia. Year after year our people have been putting up with increasing taxation in the face of extraordinarily good seasons, prolific incomes and an expending economy. Again this year the Treasurer has the temerity to bring down a Budget which imposes further increased taxation on all sections of the community and also imposes on some taxpayers unreasonable sectional taxation for the services that those taxpayers have to use.
In that regard, on behalf of the residents of Newcastle, I protest against the partisan and sectional treatment that the Treasurer and the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) have inflicted on the people of that city in the telephone and telegraph charges which are about to be imposed. The new charges are not warranted, and ultimately they will cause the cancellation of telephone applications and the disconnection of many existing services. It appears to me that the PostmasterGeneral wants people to cancel their applications and disconnect their existing services. If he does not, why has he inflicted such savage increases in telephone rental charges and fees for the installation of new services? I believe that colossal blundering in the Postmaster-General’s Department’s planning of its services is the major cause of the proposed increases. I shall deal more fully with that aspect a little later.
In the meantime I want to comment on the guile that the Treasurer employed in his explanation of his £2,511 million Budget. In my view, he used every trick he knew to bolster up the reasons for the Government continuing to increase taxes at a time when it should be reducing them. However, the right honorable gentleman correctly pointed to the good fortune and good seasons that the Government has experienced for some years past. He also pointed to the way in which wider markets for primary produce and stimulated migration have helped the expansion of employment and the building of a stable economy. With great gusto, the right honorable gentleman told of the spectacular external trading of the nation and how this had resulted in our overseas balances reaching an all time record of £854 million. We were told how unemployment had been absorbed, of the great demand for the working of overtime in industry, and how this in turn had meant a great improvement in the volume of money and credit that was now available to the public. The right honorable gentleman mentioned the enormous increase in savings bank deposits during the year. He said that these deposits amounted to £268 million and that he expected the same forward trend to continue into the the next year.
Having said this, the Treasurer expressed a fear that the demand for goods and services might rise excessively and force costs for labour and materials to rise, and that this in turn would cause speculation and increased competition, thus creating higher costs and inflationary spirals once again. I suggest with all respect that there is absolutely no foundation for the Treasurer’s fears. There is a surplus in Australia of almost every known material and commodity that we need. The Treasurer followed the line that he did only to cover up his own incompetence as a Treasurer. I remind him that the Government was within one seat of defeat in 1961 and that this was the result of its i : -handling of the economy which led to industries closing down and unemployment spiralling. Indeed, the Government was saved from defeat only by the preferences of its allies, the D.L.P. and the Communist Party. Two years later, or some eight months ago, the Government was swept into office again with an overwhelming majority on issues which, in my opinion, can only be described in the light of this Budget as being crafty, dishonest and politically bad in their application.
Neither the Prime Minister nor any of his colleagues ever indicated in the election campaign that the Government would increase taxation. However, the Prime Minister did make an appeal and a very powerful appeal, to a section of the electorate on the issue of educational aid to denominational schools. In my view, the Prime Minister deliberately made this appeal knowing that it would swing thousand of voters to him at a time when, at all costs, he had to retrieve the political ground he had lost in 1961. I believe also that at that time the right honorable gentleman had conceived the idea of increased taxation, knowing that if he won the election he would be able to meet the increased expenditure by increased taxation. The Prime Minister gives with one hand and takes back with the other. Unfortunately for everyone, the Prime Minister was succesful in playing oh the susceptibilities of people who, in their eagerness to obtain improved educational facilities for their children which would at the same time ease the family financial burden, had wrongly trusted the Government to do the right thing for them.
It is true that an investigation into finance for education is badly needed, but in my view the manner in which the Government recently approached the problem leaves much to be desired. It appears that in the city of Canberra funds can be made available for education from pre-school to university level. Educational aids are provided in schools here that are the envy of schools throughout Australia, and to my mind such a state of affairs is not nearly good enough. I would not deny to the Canberra children their modern educational facilities, but I believe that all children should have equal educational opportunities. As I see it, it was not until the New South Wales Labour Government had actually contemplated a programme of aid that the Prime Minister became aware of the need for something tangible to be done for primary and secondary education. Every child throughout his school life should receive assistance for education by the provision of necessary school aids, finance for clothes and to meet the costs associated with transport, sport and text books. In my view, assistance of that kind transcends the need for governments to provide finance of a capital nature to private schools, which in effect would add further to the assets of private institutions. As I see it, the Constitution prohibits the use of public moneys in this way, and the quicker we realise it the better it will be for everyone.
The Government, having promised to provide finance for science facilities, technical education and increased scholarships, has soon found out that the cost of doing the job thoroughly will be very much more than was ever expected. Already pressure groups have been at work demanding an extension of the scheme and provision for the teaching of science in more schools. Of course, this means still more and more finance. So, in the first year of the scheme, the Treasurer has set out to recoup the Treasury for its outlay by increasing taxation in such a way as to compel everyone - pensioners, basic wage earners, industry, the rich and the poor alike - to dip in and make good the extra expenditure.
The dishonesty of which I believe the Government is guilty in the framing of this year’s Budget lies in the fact that the Treasurer does so much switching and moving of funds, apparently to confuse or mislead laymen. If an examination of the Budget Papers is made over a number of years, it will be seen that a completely different presentation of the statement is made now from the presentation in earlier years, and in my view this is politically dishonest. For instance, new accounting methods are being applied and here and there throughout the Papers can be found footnotes such as “Excluding payments to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve “, “ Excludes State domestic raisings “, “ Excludes redemption of Treasury Bills”, and “Excludes capital works and services “. Why is the Treasurer unable to present a simple straightforward statement divested of all the tags he places in the Budget? Year after year, the right honorable gentlemen’s estimates of revenue have been hopelessly wrong; yet it is elementary knowledge that with full employment, bountiful seasons, record home and export markets and a continuing high immigration intake there must be ever increasing revenue available to the Government. In addition, the mineral, industrial, agricultural, financial and property resources of the nation add to its potential wealth. But despite all our prosperity, the Government places crushing taxation on people who can ill afford it and socks the little man worst of all.
For the record, I point out that income tax statistics released by the Treasurer with the Budget Papers show that in 1961-62 there were 2,253,691 wage earners whose gross wages were less than £20 a week. These wage earners represented 51.16 per cent, of the total work force at that time of 4,405,108 people who were required to pay income tax on earnings of £105 a year or more. The point I wish to stress arises from the assertions about the average wage repeatedly made in the Parliament by Government supporters, particularly the Treasurer and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). As recently as 19th May of this year, the Minister for Labour and National Service said in this Parliament that, though the average income of male wage and salary earners in 1949 was less than £10 a week, it is now £26 17s. a week. It is evident from this statement that some Ministers consistently distort the financial position of workers. I hope that the 2,253,000 people, and the 750,000 pensioners, whose incomes are less than £20 a week will remember the utterances of these irresponsible Ministers and their complete indifference to the welfare of low wage earners when the Senate election is held possibly later this year and will take the opportunity to vote the Government out of power in the Senate.
The Treasurer expressed concern about the excess volume of liquidity that circulates throughout the banking system, but he never reveals the extent to which he may be responsible for it. For example, in presenting the Budget for 1963-64 he estimated that he would need to use loan funds to the extent of £62,250,000 for defence purposes and £13,100,000 for capital works and services. However, with revenue flowing freely, the Treasurer actually used only £38,715,000 and £11,701,000 respectively for those purposes. In addition, the right honorable gentleman redeemed £18 million of treasury bills and paid £18 million into the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve.
The point I make is that the Treasurer, who is unable to fix the final figure of his revenue income until the financial year has actually closed, used and allocated about £73,350,000 of treasury bills to defence and capital works spread over the preceding 12 months. I ask the Treasurer, therefore, does he not contribute in a major way to the excess liquidity that is to be found in the financial institutions of the Commonwealth from time to time? Proof of what I say lies in the fact that earlier this year, the right honorable gentleman directed banking and financial institutions to deposit 15 per cent, of their profits in the Statutory Reserve Fund. The amount involved was about £111 million.
I remind the House that while the Treasurer is able to provide finance for defence and capital works from the Loan Fund and pay hundreds of millions of pounds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund into the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve, the Government refuses to do anything of account in the field of education or to increase allowances to pensioners or the unemployed. Every school, university and college in the Commonwealth is crying out for more finance for education. The Government dwells on the need for more apprentices in industry. Industrialists urge that increased technical training be undertaken. Yet in the face of an increasing and expanding economy in which profits are sky-rocketing, the Government remains complacent and refuses to heed the need to provide the increased funds for these purposes.
This year the Treasurer has budgeted for a surplus of £18± million from an expected income of £2,529.6 million. However, before he achieves that result he will have helped himself to £65,222,000 of our taxes through the medium of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and placed it in the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. The balance of that reserve, which was established only in 1955, stands at £229,255,481. Therefore, its balance can be expected to rise to about £300 million this year. I often wonder, Mr. Deputy Speaker, why the Australian electors allow a Government to lead them along the garden path and inflict crushing taxation while it manipulates the finances in the interests of investors and big business. That is the best way to describe this stupid method of financing.
If we have a quick look at one of the trust fund statements of the AuditorGeneral, it will be seen that about £209 million belonging to the National Welfare Fund is invested in 1 per cent, treasury bills together with other large amounts, yet nothing can be done to provide the increased money needed for housing, local government, education and other purposes. I only hope that, sooner or later, some of the bright boys who constantly challenge and ridicule Labour’s financial policy will wake up and study what this Government is doing. I hope they will really go to town about the policy of increased taxation which is extortion of the worst kind in the circumstances.
I suggest, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the attack made by the Government on the clients of the Postmaster-General’s Department by means of a vicious increase in charges is absolutely unwarranted and is a disgrace to the Government. The Australian Post Office is a business undertaking of the Commonwealth Government but it never produces a balance sheet and its reports are produced only in group form. In my view, a parliamentary committee should be set up to study every aspect of activity of the P.M.G’s Department especially in the light of the latest increases in charges. For the life of me, I fail to see why a Government department which will this year be given about £203 million of taxpayers’ money to spend on salaries and the purchase of equipment and for building purposes, should be charging itself interest and depreciation to the extent of £22 million and £23 million respectively on the capital it has had appropriated into it, especially when the Postal Department is expected to earn more than £185 million in the course of the year. Had the capital which is used by the P.M.G’s Department been subscribed by loan raisings or debentures or by shares, then it would be a horse of a different colour, but that is not the case.
The Postmaster-General’s Department has great assets and according to the report for 1962-63 its net assets, at cost, were £590,977,106. It is interesting to observe, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that before the Department struck that balance of £590 million it had, under an allegedly new and modern system of accounting, already allowed itself to subtract £156,538,817 for depreciation. That adjustment was effected as at 1 st July 1962. It seems to me that the P.M.G’s Department, which strikes terror into the hearts of its customers every two or three years by increased tariffs, has assets worth hundreds of millions of pounds more than it discloses either to the public or to the Parliament. For instance, in the notes on the accounts for 1962-63, we find this comment under the heading “ 4. Provision for Depreciation “ -
So that this system might be established on a proper basis, its retrospective effects have been
determined and reflected in the accounts by an adjustment of £21,381,745 between the Provision for Depreciation and the Asset Accounts. This, in effect, has reinstated in the accounts asset values which have previously been written out. In addition, a transfer of £26,678,847 was made from accumulated profits to establish the provision at an appropriate level, having regard to original values and assumed life of plant. These adjustments were effected as at 1st July 1962.
Also in the notes under the heading “ 6. Interest “ there is this statement -
The total interest charge in 1962/63 on the funds provided by the Treasury was £22,698,995 . . .
Honorable members will note that this was charged to interest on funds provided by the Treasury. It will be seen, therefore, that so far as depreciation is concerned, amounts previously written out of the accounts have been reinstated and an amount of £26,678,847 was transferred from the accumulated profits of the Post Office to establish the new system of depreciation. To simplify ‘the points I have been making, I shall incorporate in “Hansard”, with the concurrence of honorable members, the 1963 balance sheet of the Postmaster-General’s Department.
The more I look at the appropriation for the Postmaster-General’s Department, the more puzzled I am to find reasons which justify the savage increases that have been imposed on telephone rentals.In 1963, telephones alone earned an income of about £94 million. Of course, from that amount approximately £20 million had to be paid for interest and that brings me to this point. What becomes of the interest which, added to the general expenses of the Department along with depreciation, shows that there has been a loss on operation costs for the year? The expenses were almost £95.5 million with the loss at £1,941,303. Is the interest payment - which represents 20.85 per cent, of the expenses - returned to the Treasury accounts or is its provision a cunningly conceived idea of the Treasurer to reduce the Commonwealth indebtedness on the public debt? I want the Treasurer to provide the answer.
Last week, the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) asked the Treasurer a question on the subject of interest which the Postmaster-General’s Department was charging itself. I thought the Treasurer was most uncomfortable in his reply and being puzzled by what was said, I looked at the “Hansard” report. This seems to be the position. It will be remembered that after considerable evasion and finessing the Treasurer told the honorable member for Banks that it was one of the recommendations of the committee under the chairmanship of Sir Alexander Fitzgerald that the Postal Department should seek to earn a return on the services provided by it. This return would include a provision for an interest charge on the capital which had been made available to it. I find it impossible to follow the Treasurer’s reasoning. If an undertaking can earn nearly £94 million and the expenses amount to about £55 million and then someone adds to the expenses another £41 million for depreciation and interest, how in the world can anyone expect it to show a profit on earnings? Where does the £41 million go to? The right honorable gentleman more or less claimed that the principle of uniformity and simplification of rates within the Department had prompted the decision to increase tariffs. But I suggest that unmitigated greed was the propelling influence which guided the Treasurer in his decision to apply the increases. If the demand for telephone services places a heavy burden on the resources of the Postmaster-General’s Department, as stated by the Treasurer, all I can say is that had the department, and the Government, displayed average intelligence and initiative in carrying out the department’s capital works programmes, then not nearly the same amount of capital works would now be required.
In my electorate people have been screaming for public and private telephone services for the past 10 years. In some areas the advent of the duplex phone service has been a godsend. I do not know what the people would have done without it. In hundreds of places residential development has been such that cables with a serving capacity many times greater should have been put down. What happened was that cables of a limited capacity were laid, with all the attendant capital costs, and after only a few years new cables were required to serve newly developing districts.
Last year in the area where my office is located telephone cables were laid to a building area and within six months P.M.G. employees were breaking up the new concrete pavement to replace them. Initiative, imagination and drive by the Government could have overcome blundering in the capital works programme which has cost the department millions of pounds. As I see it, the poor old telephone subscriber is expected to pay the piper for the tune the PostmasterGeneral calls. There are thousands of pensioners in Australia who, because of illhealth, must have a telephone service. Other people whose health is poor need it for domestic requirements. Many people with low incomes have installed telephones and use them for many purposes. Increased rentals will inflict grievous hardship on them.
What justification does the Treasurer have for applying so high an increase to telephone users in the Newcastle area? Only he will ever know. The present rental of £13 5s. is toeing increased by about 50 per cent., or £6 15s. The £20 a year rental to be charged for residential and business phones alike will impose an insuperable penalty on many subscribers. Some people with public phones close to their homes have already cancelled their services because they can have 800 local calls a year for the £20 they would otherwise pay in rental. Subscribers on the Newcastle network have a choice of 27,000 lines for local calls whereas in Sydney and Melbourne there are humdreds of thousands of lines.
The Postmaster-General has without justification adopted a partisan and vindictive attitude to Newcastle and country people. I hope he will do something to rectify the position before too long.
.- This is the eighteenth Budget I have listened to and read, and all of them have had one common denominator - nobody agreed with every part of them. One section of the community welcomes a particular measure and an opposing section rejects it. But Budgets have to be looked at as a whole and not as isolated bits and pieces. This Budget, looked at as a whole, is a good one, because it seeks to maintain prosperity and guide it on a steady upward incline. Taking features of the Budget in isolation, I do not think anybody is happy about the increased telephone rentals or the limited increase in social service payments. However, the Opposition, so far, has not been able to make out a case against this Budget. It is clear that every now and then Opposition members have to give themselves a sharp mental prod to remember that they have, in effect, a censure motion before the House.
I do not propose to say anything in reply to the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths). He read his speech with great rapidity and it is quite impossible to answer the lot. I therefore turn to the three points I want to deal with.
The first is the subject of integration of the three armed Services. I have the impression that integration is being stubbornly resisted, perhaps on both the Service level and the Cabinet level. It was announced some four years ago that the Government’s policy was to proceed with a degree of integration. The announcement was made by the late Minister for Defence, Mr. Athol Townley. Such things as medical services and transport were to be integrated among the three Services. I know that at least in these two particular fields, transport and medical services, integration has begun, but no final conclusion has been reached. At present a conference is being held in regard to the integration of medical services, Therefore, I do not think it unfair to assume that there has been some resistance along the line when such a long period has elapsed and so little has been achieved.
I ask that the Government not only consider expediting integration but also seriously consider integration of a major kind. I understand, as would anybody who has been in the Services, a natural antipathy to integration on the part of the Services, because each has its own pride, its own uniform, its own tradition, its own practices. These matters are probably at the base of the thinking of some Service chiefs now.
I have long been an advocate of integrating the Services. I can vividly remember the views of that powerful advocate of integration, the former member for Indi, Air Vice-Marshal Bostock, who had practical experience on this matter at top level during the war, when he was deputy to General Kenney in the Pacific area. His view was that integration of the Services at top level produced very much more effective results. At present England is slowly but surely proceeding with integration. America has declared integration to be its aim and it is becoming effective in that country. Canada has announced that it is aiming at almost total integration and expects to save 20 million Canadian dollars a year - a pretty considerable saving.
To me, integration has the obvious merits of increasing efficiency, saving money and making the most use of available manpower. There has obviously been a lot of stupid waste and duplication because of inter-Service jealousies. A standard uniform for Australian servicemen may be some way off, but it should be aimed at even if it seems sacrilege and a heresy even to mention such an idea.
Severe limitations are imposed on manpower and finance by the size of the Australian nation, and we must therefore get the maximum possible use and efficiency out of our capital equipment and our Services and their equipment. Our present system is in fact out of date. Other countries have seen the wisdom of, and the need for, integration of the Services. We should not be the last to realise the need and to streamline our defence structure.
From that subject, I wish to turn to national service training. I compliment the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) on his remarks on this subject a few days ago. I wish perhaps to qualify what he has said by discussing what I describe as selective national service training. Certain obvious questions arise. The first is: Will the public support it? The answer is clearly “ Yes “. No sensible person would dispute the fact that there is overwhelming public support for national service training. The last Gallup poll showed that 72 per cent, of people favour it. This in itself makes a positive case for it. The second question that we must ask is: Can we afford selective national service training? I say that we cannot afford not to afford it. This brings me to a point that I should like to make concerning the Gallup poll that I have just mentioned. When it was taken, the people who were interviewed were reminded that the re-introduction of national service training could mean increased taxes. Yet 72 per cent, of them still voted for the reintroduction of this kind of training.
I now come to the third and perhaps most thorny question: Is selective national service training acceptable to the heads of the Services and their advisers? Here, I would say that the answer is a fainthearted “ No “. The original universal national service training scheme was a brilliant success in terms of youth training and discipline. Its real military value, however, was suspect because the period of training was too short and the follow-up was weak. I think that, for these reasons, the original scheme, not unreasonably, was suspect in the minds of senior military men. One cannot help feeling that. because of this experience, the Services have set their faces against national service training. I believe that this, if it is so, represents a refusal to face up to reality. This attitude can be based only on the premise that the Regular Army can deal with the potential threat and that the Citizen Military Forces are sufficiently strong. This seems to be the basis of present thinking. The last proposition, of course, represents a fallacy. We know that the citizen forces are not up to the required strength. Fortunately, they are approaching it, but we know that the desired target strength for the Army as a whole has not been reached.
The possibility that appears to the public and to us in the Parliament not to have been catered for is a situation in which we may be heavily committed in a contained war. Heavy commitment in a contained war is not impossible. If there were a major but contained conflagration in South East Asia, our obligations under the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty could require us to commit most if not al1 of our existing Army division. We would need two divisions to follow up quickly. These, at present, we could not provide. Shall we wait until a situation such as this arises and in the meantime pray that we shall have time to raise two more Army divisions, or shall we do something now by re-introducing selective national service training?
I know that one of the arguments of the regular soldiers is that we have not sufficient instructors for such a scheme and that it would drain off too many personnel who are needed by the Regular Army. This I do not believe. I consider that this represents perhaps a convenient excuse based on a rather dogmatic attitude. After all, the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) said the other day that the Government might consider selective national service training if the need for it arose because we did not reach the target strength aimed at. I ask the obvious question: How can this be done if we have not the necessary instructors? How could we do this in the face of the arguments put forward by the permanent soldiers? I propose to show how it can be done.
Not so many years ago, there was within the Army a branch known as the Australian Instructional Corps. It was a completely separate Corps of instructors who trained men in the permanent forces and the Citizen Military Forces and, I understand, even youths in cadet units. I suggest that this Corps be re-formed. I have inquired about the matter from soldiers who were in the Army during the existence of this Corps and who were in it themselves, and from present members of the forces who are interested in the problem. J believe they all take the view that the re-establishment of this Corps would be worth while.
It would be necessary, of course, to transfer some regular soldiers to the Corps to re-form it. In addition, men who have been instructors and who have recently retired from the forces could be re-engaged. Other ex-servicemen who are still relatively young - certainly young enough to be instructors - could re-engage and do a first class job in the Corps. Thinking in terms of selective national service training, as I am, we could in this way build up a Corps from which something like 50 instructors could go out to the various units of the Citizen Military Forces, where, individually, they could train more instructors. By this means, in a reasonably short time, we could build up a staff of between 300 and 500 instructors. This would provide a very firm base and assure us of sufficient instructors for a proper scheme of selective national service training. I am sure that this is not impossible, Sir.
Now I turn to more of the requirements of a selective national service training scheme. Without doubt, two years of training would be needed. I am inclined to agree with the honorable member for Sturt, who estimated that we would need an intake of able to make do with a smaller intake, but the order of 15,000 a year. We may be I am not sure. That is something that the Army itself could work out. I am sure that we could set 15,000 as the maximum, however. I believe that we would have to resort to a system of balloting to determine which of the men liable should be called up. That is probably the only system that we could adopt. We would have to provide for the deferment of call-up in certain circumstances.
I believe that we should not just take 15,000 young men a year into the Army and train them only for ordinary, every day
Army routine. Indeed, I am sure that in any event this would not be done, because it would only stultify the whole scheme. We should train as many as possible - I believe this would be a very high percentage of the intake - as apprentices, so that after their two years of service they could go back to civilian life qualified in a trade or at least having gone a considerable part of the way towards becoming qualified in a trade.
I was glad to see that the Government has decided not to levy income tax on the pay of members of the Citizen Military Forces. This decision takes my mind back quite a while to the days when the former honorable member for Henty, Mr. Gullett, pressed for this concession time and time again. I am sure that he probably now feels that his efforts in those days were worth while.
– We had this in our propaganda this time.
– Yes- and we did not. Let me refer, now, to the removal of the means test. I have always strongly held the view that we should have in this country a contributory national insurance scheme. I believe that is the only satisfactory, though perhaps not the political, way of dealing with pensions. To some people a pension is a form of indignity. Every individual has his pride. To some people charity is an awful word. It is humbug and embarrassing. I feel that many things are wrong with our present system of pensions. We have this annual palliative of an increase of so many shillings in the pension, knowing as we provide it that the pension never really suffices, We know of the wretched business of people having to dispossess themselves of savings in order to qualify for a pension. Some people are forced to dispossess themselves of their last few remaining pounds in order to become eligible for the full pension. It follows from this that the system discourages thrift which, surely, is a retrograde step. I thought that the encouragement of thrift was part of the Liberal Party’s policy.
In passing I want to refer to what I believe constitutes a shirking of responsibility. I refer to the failure of sons and daughters to care for their parents in their declining years. I am not referring to those cases of families that are terribly overcrowded or where, for a variety of reasons, looking after parents becomes a problem to children. I am referring to those cases of children who can, if need be, afford to care for their parents. It constantly dismays me as. a member of Parliament to have frequently a son or a daughter come to me and say: “ Can you get mum or dad into a home for me?” Often the attitude is that any old home will do. This is a trend that I do not like. I imagine that some parents must wonder whether the word “ gratitude “ ever existed. I do not know of any quick way to change the trend except perhaps to remind some of these people who are in a position to care for their parents of their obligations to them.
As every year goes by we axe assured that the cost of removing the means test is getting higher and higher. What a tragedy it is that the original national insurance scheme, which was to be put into effect by Lord Casey, as he now is, came to nothing. We are told that the pension is not designed for a person to live on, but the fact is that many people try to live on it. I shudder to think what would happen to some of these people were it not for the existence of the “ Meals on Wheels “ organisation and similar charitable organisations. What happens in the case of a real financial emergency in the lives of these people? If they are lucky enough to own a car they have to sell it. If they own a home they may have to mortgage it. But they may not own either a car or a home. I have known of cases where some tragedy calling for finance has befallen these people, and they have been in an almost impossible situation. We are just drifting along knowing that the present system is anything but satisfactory and knowing that the only real answer is a national insurance scheme to which everyone contributes.
This debate has been a long one and has not, I would think, had a high interest rating. Later, in the Committee stage I propose to address myself to a number of matters. I conclude my speech now by re-stating the three points that I have endeavoured to make. First, a real attempt must be made to integrate the Armed Forces. Secondly, consideration should be given to the introduction of selective national service training. Thirdly, the means test should be abolished and a national insurance scheme introduced.
.- I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). When this debate commenced a couple of weeks ago it was rather like a fine rooster, but now it is no more than a feather duster. It is the people of Australia who finally will pass judgment on the Budget, irrespective of what we say here. As a former member of air crew, I support many of the things which the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) said.
This 1964 Budget has left a nasty taste in the mouths of many people - not that many people expected a lavish Budget. I have not met many people who expected the Government to excel itself in handouts. This has not been a strong point of Government policy since I have been in this Parliament. I do not think anybody expected a lavish Budget but nobody expected ‘the Budget to be as tough as it is. This is not the opinion only of people who support the Labour Party but is also the opinion of people who support the Government parties. Supporters of this Government are howling just as loudly about this Budget as are Labour supporters. I think the Budget is a credit squeeze by instalments Budget.
While I agree that the economy must not be allowed to get out of hand, the present Budget is, I think, a little more solid than it need have been, particularly as it affects certain sections of the community. I have in mind particularly the pensioners whose plight also was referred to by the honorable member for Franklin. The increase in the base pension of 5s. a week was miserable. I almost said it was lousy. The amount allowed to a pensioner’s wife who is under 60 years of age merits the same description. If the economy is as sound as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) made out, surely the expenditure of an additional £10 million on pensions would not have had much effect on it. The description of the economy by the Treasurer sounded very much like his description of the economy in 1960. He tries to blind the people with science and words. He can describe two different Budgets and make you think he is talking about the same thing; but the results are different. 1 hope that, before the year is out, we are not faced with the same terrific problems that arose in 1960. This would be tragic from everybody’s point of view, particularly from the point of view of the Government.
Earlier this year, I asked the Treasurer a question and pointed out that in north Queensland conditions were once again moving towards a state of boom, particularly in the building industry, and that people were speculating in land. We all know what an effect that has on home builders about whom we have heard so much during this debate. The Treasurer replied that there was no likelihood of credit restrictions being applied this year. I hope he is right. We do not want a repetition of the situation that arose in 1961, now that we are just coming out of the doldrums.
Nobody is unhappy about the increase in civilian employment. We certainly do not want a permanent pool of unemployed such as we have had since I have been in this Parliament. The unfortunate fact about the present system is that we have relatively short periods when things are stable and when the incidence of unemployment is low. This credit squeeze by instalments Budget is proof that things are beginning to totter a bit. Nobody can deny that. The stock exchange is a highly sensitive barometer. It fluctuates whenever the Treasurer goes to Melbourne or fishing. In parts of the area where I come from acute labour shortages exist. In some areas farmers are paying very high wages to people engaged in the sugar industry. This industry is a most important one to Queensland, as most people will realize. The price being obtained for sugar this year is nowhere near as high as it was last year but this is only in respect of the over-peak cane. The negotiated price and the price for cane in the No. 1 pool, which used to be for home consumption, are still good. The industry is expanding greatly, and I should like here to sound a note of warning. 1 admit that a committee of experts investigated the sugar industry recently. Members of that committee should know what they are doing, but they have virtually taken the sugar industry of Queensland from the rock foundation on which it stood, with its former No. 1 Pool for home consumption sugar, and moved half of its weight onto a system of negotiated agreements to sell sugar to Japan and other countries for a certain price. In future, this negotiated price will replace the old No. 1 Pool price. I think this is a rather touchy move because, with Japan assisting in the rehabilitation of the sugar industry in Indonesia, some of these agreements could be dumped on the scrapheap at their expiration, or even before then, especially if the rehabilitation of the industry in these other countries results in cheaper production and the world price comes down. The world price could well drop because these other countries are not unaware of the fact that sugar is a good cash earning crop. During our recent visit to South East Asia we saw that almost every country in that area that is capable of growing sugar was concentrating on growing it.
Some of the new growers who have gone into the sugar industry in North Queensland have paid fabulous prices for their land. Indeed, they have paid almost as much for it as if they were buying the land right in the heart of Sydney. This means that they are over-capitalised. They are also paying high prices for tractors and other equipment on the expectation that the price of sugar will hold at its present high figure. This matter should be very carefully watched because a tremendous amount of money is involved.
When I spoke about the sugar industry generally a few moments ago, I intended to point out that the growers in an area just near where I came from are paying as much as £1 an hour for unskilled labour, to strip cane - to chop the trash off it and get it ready for planting. As honorable members will realise, this represents £40 a week. The result of high wages generally in the sugar industry is that the shire councils have almost ceased operations on roads because they cannot get labour. And this in areas where, as we all remember, a couple of years ago a lot of young people were looking for work. Just where will we finish white a state of affairs like that continues? All this must have had an adverse effect on the economy. It must lead to inflation. I sometimes think that our whole system, especially our wage structure, is somewhat off balance.
As I have said, at the present time unskilled men are earning about £40 a week in the cane fields while female clerks such as these whom most members of Parliament have working in their offices are earning £2 1 a week. I think most people realise that to qualify for a position as a female clerk in the office of a member of Parliament about the only qualifications needed are a sense of responsibility and the ability to type. Yet these clerks are earning £21 a week while skilled machinists who are required to serve five years of apprenticeship are earning only £19 a week. 1 think all honorable members will agree that this state of affairs is anomalous to the nth degree. Skilled mechanics are leaving their garages to go driving cane harvesters or loaders and are being paid £8 a day. The skill they acquired in training as mechanics is not used. This sort of thing is happening in other spheres also, and it most certainly helps inflation, if it does not actually cause it. As I said before, we are very fortunate in having had such good prices for our products overseas, although the price for sugar is not as high now as it was. In any case, the sugar price will not have such a great effect because the high prices are received only for the over-peak cane - the cane that people more or less grow at their own risk. If these prices had stayed as high as they were last year, we can be sure that the Treasurer would be bringing down another horror Budget.
I make it. clear that I do not deny there is a shortage of tradesmen. There is a great need to do something about it; but the blame for this position should be placed where it rightly belongs. I lay the blame mainly at the feet of those enterprises which should be employing and training apprentices. One of the industries hardest hit by its own shortsightedness and by its own expansion is the printing industry. At the moment, printers are filching each other’s linotype operators and machinists. They are enticing mena way with offers of higher wages. The reason why they are forced to do this is obvious, and I think it applies in other industries as well. It is that in no case have they employed their full quota of apprentices. Instead, they have been content to train only sufficient apprentices to replace the normal losses due to retirements and the movement of workers from town to town. We have a growing nation and an expanding economy, but very few indus tries have taken heed of their own expansion. Now, because of their own shortsightedness, they are pirating each others employees, paying well above the award rates and, generally, spending more in overaward payments in one year than they would have paid in wages to apprentices in 1 0 years. I have no doubt that this shortsightedness has prevailed in other industries as well as the printing industry. All have sought to keep the wages bill for tradesmen down, forgetting the inflationary effect these practices have on tomorrow’s economy.
I turn now to defence. To me, defence means a show of concern about the north of Australia which, to repeat what I said in an earlier speech, was left like a shag on a rock during the last war and which is still very vulnerable. The people of the north are very concerned. I have heard much today and during the last two or three weeks in this place about defence. Indeed, it is now becoming the hobby-horse that national development was when I entered this Parliament two or three years ago. 1 can never feel happy about the attitude of the Government on this score. I should like to know, for instance, how we are to handle a hostile build-up in Dutch New Guinea. I do not say that the present Government of Indonesia is hostile to us - I think it has much goodwill towards us and will continue to have good will if we do not keep poking it with sticks - but time might bring to that area another government which will be hostile to us. We do not know how long the present government will remain in control. We know that the whole country is full of friction, undercurrents and so on now.
I have pointed out many times, as also has the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) that we have no roads in the north worthy of mention from a defence point of view. The Leichhardt electorate abuts the one I represent and conditions there are the same as they are in my area. There are too many weak, narrow bridges over tidal creeks. These bridges are too weak to carry a decent sized Army transport, and in the wet season there are just no roads at all, as the honorable member for Leichhardt has pointed out. How do we get equipment off the coast across those dirt roads? Everyone knows that when only 25 points of rain fall on that black soil country it is impossible to move even a crawler tractor over it. I think my friends in the Country Party will agree with me on this point.
We still have only two decent airstrips in the north of Australia - one at Garbutt and one at Darwin. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Lindsay) who accompanied me on a visit to South Vietnam recently will agree with me when I say that in that small area there were over 100 landing fields, and some of them were very good; yet here in Australia we have only two airstrips to serve half the continent. Unlike many honorable members in this p’lace, I do not claim to be an expert on defence but I suggest that the opinions I have expressed are only commonsense. Most honorable members and indeed a lot of others outside realise that things are delicately balanced in the economy at present, and that to pull thousands of men out of private employment would really set inflation going. I do not blame the ‘Government for turning >a deaf ear to many of the so-called experts and self-acknowledged pressure groups outside. They remind -me of a football match where those who think they are the best players are always sitting on the sidelines, watching the game. But, I am always prepared to listen to the advisers of the Government, through its Ministers although, on the ‘subject of the defence of the north, there is never much said that is -worth listening to. The other day, the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) said that he did not -envisage a fortress defence system for Australia. I do not think he has much to worry about on that score unless you can call mud flats and mangrove swamps fortresses, and they are all we have - in my area, anyway. I think that the most that could happen to anyone coming ashore there would be that they would be bitten badly b’y sandflies and mosquitoes. The strange part about all this is that the people bought this Government on its defence and foreign affairs policies. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition who said recently that if Australians voted for this Government on its defence policy they voted for no defence at all.
I come now to national development. There is still a great deal to do in Queensland. Apart from the development of the brigalow lands and the reconstruction of the Mount Isa railway, all of which is being done with loan money on which interest has ito be paid, Queensland has received only a small part of the £24 million that has been made available for national development. In my opinion, this £24 million is a little on the Silas Marner side. There are many things at the top end of this country that need looking into. One is work on the Burdekin Delta, where cane valued at more than £12 million is grown each year. This year, the growers up there look like having trouble because their underground water supply is petering out and the State Government does not seem to be doing much about it. This is one direction in Which I think the Department of National Development could well take action. “I see that the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) is sitting at the .table. Perhaps his Department could give consideration to the Burdekin Dam project also. I always mention the Burdekin Dam. This work was begun when the Chifley Government was in office but when the former Treasurer, the present Sir Arthur Fadden came to office, he immediately put the blue pencil through the scheme and that was the end of the project. In all, £7 million was spent in the area, and .that is as far as it went. The Burdekin Dam scheme is a very good one and I think that eventually we will have to give it serious consideration. We cannot let these waters just run into the sea as they are doing, especially in the high rainfall areas of the north.
My comment in relation to Papua and New Guinea is that I wish a lot of the idiots in Australia and outside who run around screaming that we are exploiting the New Guinea people would read, if they can read, the report published by the Department of Territories. I only wish that we in Queensland were being exploited to the same extent. A solid society in Papua and New Guinea is most desirable from our point of view. The people there do appreciate what we as a nation are trying to do. I think most honorable members have been to that area and know that the average New Guinea natives are quite happy with things the way they are and want Australia to remain and help them along. We are helping them, and I think they are making good progress. 1 noticed the same thing in all the Asian countries that I visited. The help that we are giving under the Colombo Plan, by which we supply some money and some know-how, is appreciated very much. In fact, their appreciation and gratitude is out of all proportion to the actual money that we spend in the area. As an Australian, I was most gratified to find that we were received so well and thought of so highly in Cambodia and Thailand because we are helping them in this small way. We are not spending a lot of money but we are certainly getting a lot of good will.
As to the oil search subsidy of £5 million, I do not suppose that will cause our system to collapse. Perhaps one day, if Queensland oil keeps coming in and the western oil starts to flow, we may be free of the grip of the overseas oil combines. Anyone who tries to pretend that we, as individuals and as a nation,- are not subservient to these combines, is kidding himself. If ever legislation were needed, it is the bill that we have heard so much about from the previous Attorney-General, Sir Garfield Barwick, and the present Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) relating to monopolies and restrictive trade practices. I could, as I imagine all honorable members could, tell of the performance put up by these combines in the name of free enterprise. If any honorable member cannot, he should cast his mind back to their performance recently over Moonie oil. This exposed what was, to my way of thinking, the artificial cost structure of the oil companies in Australia, and I think most Australians realised it.
Social services have never been a great love of this Government, and I am sure it is only the thought of the ballot box that has caused small though continual increases in the scale of benefits. Although we have reasonable benefits in some ways, overall we are by no means world beaters compared with other countries. I suppose we will hear the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) this week, next week or next month - whenever he presents the estimates for his Department to the Parliament - tell us how much more is paid these days compared with what was paid when Labour was in office, but as usual he will not mention either the rise in the cost of living or the continuous falling away in the purchasing power of the £1. 1 was really surprised to hear the Treasurer tell us how well off we, as a nation, became last year, and then to hear from him of the miserable pittance offered as an increase to the pensioners. I thought that the pension would rise by at least twice the amount proposed and that the allowance for the wife of a pensioner would be increased. Surely this Government does not expect a wife of over 55 years of age to go to work or to live on £3-odd a week, but as things stand now she has to do one or the other.
It is not quite fair and honest to tell us that the combined broadcasting and television licence is now available at 5s. less than if the two licences were purchaser 1 separately. Anyone who has been in business knows that to set up an account in a ledger costs near enough to £1. In my opinion the Post Office will save this amount by putting the two accounts into one. Therefore, instead of being only 15s. to the good as a result of the proposed increases the Post Office will be nearer to £1 15s. to the good. But, as I said before, the great thing is that it does not matter who wakes up to these tricks. No one can prove them, so that is that.
With regard to the increase in the excise on tobacco, the tragedy is that the poor old tobacco cocky will not get anything out of it. The tobacco industry, in my opinion, is doomed to extinction if things go on the’ way they have been going. It was knocked in Western Australia, and we saw the other day how the Victorian tobacco growers are still screaming about the treatment they received. In one part of my electorate near the Burdekin, where they spent £5 million of Queensland money to establish the industry, they received the “ treatment “ from the tobacco companies and they were forced out of business altogether.
The honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) protested the other day that the same thing is happening at Mareeba. Fortunately, in my electorate the displaced tobacco farmers received cane growing assignments but, unfortunately, they will not be out of the financial mire for a lone time. They had spent thousands of pounds fitting up their tobacco farms. Even though they received cane growing assignments, the fact is that they had to sacrifice thousands of pounds when they left their tobacco farms, because the valuable equipment they had put on the farms is no good for any purpose other than for growing tobacco. Such equipment included expensive tobacco curing barns and special spraying gear which can be used only in the production of tobacco. It also included valuable housing. In my opinion this country cannot afford waste on such a large scale any more than it can afford the system of planned obsolescence which we seem to apply to domestic equipment and motor cars.
Today we are a nation loaded with fancy and only occasionally used gadgets. Every teenager seems to walk around with a screeching transistor radio. People own expensive electrical equipment and expensive cameras which cost a mint of money but probably produce no better results than you could get from an old box Brownie. The great proportion of people today have spent or mortgaged, which is the same thing, through hire purchase commitments anything up to two or three years income, as the current hire purchase figures show. In the old days people owned everything they had and owed nothing. Today, the reverse applies. They own nothing and owe everything.
The late Eddie Ward referred to the “ invisible poor “. Of course, no one wants to go quite back to the old days, but I wonder where the present trend will end. Can we as a nation of 1 1 million people afford to have hundreds of thousands of used cars in the sale lots? Can we afford the many seldom-used expensive gadgets in most of our homes while to the north there is a situation calling for great concentration and effort? If we are ever to stem the tide of world Communism which has been pushing us back since 1917, and still is despite all the efforts of America, and ourselves to a lesser degree, the war in Vietnam has to be won. I do not think anyone can argue against that. I think we all agree that if we are to save that part of the globe for our type of life the war in Vietnam must be won.
But even when we do win that war it will not be the last struggle. There is the
African continent and, of course, there are other places in Asia which have a similar social and economic set up to that in South East Asia. In those parts of South East Asia which I visited as a member of a parliamentary delegation it was obvious from the results achieved by Cambodia, which is enjoying neutrality at present, that if left alone politically and given a measure of assistance, these countries would progress and develop to the benefit of all mankind. But of course we know they are never left alone. Even the neutrality of Cambodia swings on the thin string of two counter opposing forces. Should one or the other disappear, Cambodia’s neutrality will last as long as the proverbial snowflake in the place where I think most of us in this Parliament will finish up.
It was obvious to me that a settlement in Laos was not desired by the Communist block for the simple reason that the Communists need that country as an avenue of supply to the Vietcong in South Vietnam. Any settlement would cut off supplies. According to very authoritative sources, there are between 30,000 and 40,000 regular troops there plus near to 100,000 irregulars, so a fairly substantial line of supply is needed. In my opinion, after visiting this area, it is unlikely that such an army could capture enough weapons and ammunition to carry out a war on the present scale.
Speaking generally, it was expressed to me in one area that China should be admitted to the United Nations. I heard this quite a few times. Why do we hide our heads in the sand and deny this? The opinion of most people in the area is that the split between Peking and Moscow has grown, and if anyone thinks it is a sham fight he should tune to Radio Peking, which can be heard on all shortwave bands in Asia. There is now no nation that can exert any pressure on Communist China. Her admission to the United Nations would at least force China to defend her actions in public. I cannot see how we can dodge this issue any longer.
I support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition.
– This morning, in lovely early spring weather, in this city the national flower was in bloom, the sun was shining and everything looked calm and peaceful. Yet just a few minutes ago we had a very severe hailstorm. The international sky, unfortunately, is much the same. Few people realise how suddenly the sunshine of economic prosperity in Australia could be dimmed by an international crisis not far from our shores.
This is August 1964. Fifty years have passed since the fateful August of 1914, when the youth of Australia “slept and dreamt that life was beauty, and woke to find that life was duty “, to use the words of an American poet who was later killed in action. I think many people will say that it is a sad commentary on, and a severe criticism of, those of my generation - who have had more than their little bit of luck in being able to live through two-thirds of this century - that once again we should be facing international fears, dangers and crises similar to those that we faced in August 1914.
Honorable members have heard me on this before and they have heard other members who agree with me, but nobody has taken much heed of the warnings. We do not take any great pleasure in having been prophets of gloom. Anybody listening to the debate on this Budget from the public galleries, or even through the radio, could be excused for thinking that all was well with Australia, and that we were not faced with such a serious position that every member of Parliament should get up in his place and say what he thinks without fear, favour or any other hindrance. If he does not do so, he is not worthy to be a member of Parliament. I believe that a wrong lead has been given. Plenty has been said in this Budget debate about security against inflation, but we have had virtually no speeches - except from the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) to rebut some speeches from backbenchers - about what has to be done in order to guarantee, in the best way we can, Australia’s security against international aggression, and its ability to stand up to the obligations into which it has entered.
I think the first thing we have to do is to discuss whether there is a crisis. Am I wrong and are others wrong? I have said that there is. So have the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson), the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner), the honorable mem ber for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) and, in a lesser -ay perhaps the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) and the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp). I could include also the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) who, fortunately, is not the Leader of the Opposition; otherwise I might have to vote for the amendment. These honorable members have stood up in their places and said that there is a serious crisis. I do not wish to repeat in detail what they have said about what ought to be done. I agree with the honorable member for Bradfield and others. I pay a great tribute to the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) - one of the youngest members in this House - who, perhaps least of all of us, could afford to talk out in the way that he did. He did so because be believed that what he was saying was true. I believe that there is a crisis today to which we ought to pay much more serious attention at home as well as abroad.
Let us use maps larger than those we were using in ‘the recent discussion on foreign affairs, or than most of the Ministers have used during the debate on the Budget. Do not let us concentrate just on Indonesia and South East Asia. Let us have a look at the situation from Peking to Peru. I will come back to South East Asia. First of all, we have the position that the Chinese Communists are infiltrating Buddhism. I wrote an article in August last year on how they were doing that in South Vietnam. I think the idea was laughed at at the time, but it was supported before the end of the year by a committee of inquiry sent out from the United Nations and also by a committee of the American Congress, both of which reported in December. You can see some of the results of this infiltration in what is going on in this area.
The trouble spreads right down into Ceylon. India, with Mr. Nehru gone, is in a very difficult position, still with an enemy on her northern borders. There are Communist activities in the Yemen, with Communists trying to stir up trouble in the other Arab States, backed up, unfortunately, in this case toy President Nasser. We have recently the troubles in Cyprus and Communists stirring up further trouble among the Kurds in Iran. The Chinese Communists are starting bookshops and, through other industrial sources, making Brussels in
Belgium the headquarters for their propaganda campaign throughout Europe. The Chinese Communists are tremendously active in Africa. They are setting out to try to get satellite states in the north. Recently they set up 20 bookshops in Algiers. What for? I do not have to answer that question for members of Parliament. The Communists are also in Somalia, where the authorities bargained to get diplomatic representation from Peking or the Nationalists, whoever would pay the highest price. The Nationalists refused to join in the bargain, and Peking gave £1 million sterling plus a loan of £7,200.000 free of interest for two years.
Then there is Mr. Oginga Odinga, a Minister in the Kenya Government, who has been to Peking twice within the last twelve months. I might be a month or two out, but I d’o not think so. He was reported by Joseph Allsop - one of the best American foreign correspondents - as having received a quarter of a million dollars from Peking to assist him. As a result of this there have been certain changes in ministerial seniority in Kenya lately. Then there is Zanzibar, which the Communists want to turn into the Cuba of Africa. At present there is competition between the East Germans and the Russians, as against the Chinese Communists, with President Karume as a front map for Mohammed Babu, who is backed by the Chinese Communists. It appears, I think, to be a question of whether Tanganyika takes over Zanzibar or Zanzibar takes over Tanganyika.
If we move westwards across Africa, there is a large Chinese embassy in Burundi where the Chinese are stirring up the rebels in the eastern part of the Congo, with Soumialot as their leader. In the other area, there is Pierre Mulele, backed by the Chinese in Kivu, who recently paid 80,000 American dollars into the rebels’ bank in Brazzaville. The trouble goes right through Africa to Guinea. The policy of the Communists is to get satellites in the north, create chaos in the centre of Africa and neutralise the south so that they can deal with it at a later stage.
Let us cross the Atlantic to Cuba. For a long time there has been a Chinese embassy 300 or 400 strong in Havana, run by a Mr. Kung, who speaks Spanish perfectly and who has been working down through Latin America, stirring up students, trade unionists and others. If there had not been a coup d’etat in Brazil the other day, there would have been a Communist takeover probably within two months, if not one month. That is why the Chinese in Peking ure so troubled and are trying to get their nine trade delegates, as they are called, out of Brazil before the whole of the plot is unfolded. Finally we have Communist influence in the elections in Chile on 4th September.
I mention the statement I am about to read only because it has been published in Australian newsapers. The last thing I want to do, as an outsider, is to interfere in any way with the Americans in their elections. The Americans would resent it as we would resent it, and rightly so. Therefore what I say has nothing to do with the election. But this has been published for Australians to read, and many Australian people will believe it. This is a portion of what was contained in the draft American Democratic Party foreign policy platform, as reported in the “Sydney Morning Herald” of 25th August 1964 -
Battered by economic failures, challenged by recent American achievements in space, torn by the Chinese-Russian rift, and faced with American strength and courage - international Communism has lost, its unity and momentum.
I agree that it has lost some of its unity, but it has not, at least so far as the MarxistLeninist section of the Australian Communist Party, which is tied in with Peking, and Peking itself are concerned, lost its momentum.
Recently we saw Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia visiting Indonesia as the guest of President Sukarno. In 1961 Prince Sihanouk was reported in the “Daily Telegraph “ in London as saying straight out: “ J believe the Chinese Communists are going to conquer South East Asia and I am going to be on the winning side. I would rather be in a small job under the Communists than in a concentration camp.” President Sukarno has apparently come to the same conclusion. He has made the Indonesian representatives in North Vietnam and North Korea full ambassadors. In his speech on 17th August 1964 he said - and I shall read just one or two extracts -
Some time ago I told Madame Nguyen Thi Binh from the National Liberation front of South Vietnam-
That is the Communist Front stationed in Hanoi - . . about my prayers that the people of Vietnam may soon be re-united in freedom and we strongly condemn America’s aggression against North Vietnam. At this very moment Malaysia is still spreading itself out as a watchdog of imperialism in front of the house of the Republic of Indonesia.
In the question of Malaysia we cannot accept a compromise, let alone a compromise which is not friendly towards us. It is impossible to mention friendship with the Republic of Indonesia in one and the same breath as friendship with Malaysia.
We want to be friends with our neighbours. We want to do everything we can to help everyone to keep the peace. I agree with those who have said the matter should be referred to the United Nations, but here again the position becomes just a little difficult. Peking Radio referred on 21st August 1964 to a message sent by the Foreign Minister of the North Vietnam Democratic Republic - that is the one in Hanoi - and Peking Radio said -
The message said that should the Security Council adopt a wrongful decision on the basis of the U.S. complaint, the Government of the V.N.D.R. regrets that it will have to consider it null and void.
On 18th August Mr. Chen Yi, the VicePremier of Communist China said, speaking of the Tonkinese incident at a national day reception given by the Indonesian Ambassador to the Chinese Communists - this again was reported on Peking Radio -
He pointed out that the matter is far from being over. The aggressor must be punished. The debt of blood must be repaid.
I can also quote one of the Deputy Chairmen of the Partai Kommumis Indonesia who is, I understand - and I stand to be corrected if I am wrong, although I can say that this was reported earlier by Peking Radio - married to President Sukarno’s sister. This Deputy Chairman, Mr. Werdojo, said, according to Peking Radio of 19th August, that if the Malaysian question was referred to the United Nations it would be like putting your head in the “ jaws of a wolf “. I can also tell honorable members that a statement was also broadcast from the MarxistLeninist section of the Australian Communist Party, the headquarters of which is in Melbourne, on 20th August, denouncing the United States in North Vietnam and in the United Nations. Therefore, although with the best will in the world we want to be friendly and we want to settle these matters through the United Nations or by other peaceful means, the outlook is not very promising and we cannot afford not to take out an insurance policy in case our efforts in this directionmay fail.
Finally I remind honorable members that from 11th to 19th June a Chinese Youth League conference was held in Peking, and the main matter discussed was the possibility of getting extra recruits to train for guerrilla operations in Asia, Africa and Latin America, described as - and I quote - “ the storm centres of revolution “. Almost simultaneously an Asian Economic Seminar, so-called, was held at Pyongyang in North Korea. It ran from 16th to 23rd August. Among those reported as being present were the Reverend Victor James, “ Australian peace champion “, a representative of Sobsi, the trade unions in Indonesia, which are Communist led, and a Minister of Azahari’s North Kalimantan - the North Borneo regime. In that instance the meeting once again came out with a statement of the revolution - that the Americans had to be dismissed from North Vietnam and that Sukarno had to be free to crush Malaysia. It went on with all the Peking propaganda.
Under these conditions, it is very difficult for those of us who would like to see these things settled peaceably to achieve this desirable aim, and it behoves Australia, as one of the most vulnerable nations in this part of the world, to take out at least a reasonable insurance policy in case the house catches fire. Actually we are technically at war, and have been for some time, in North Korea, on the borders of India, in Laos, in South Vietnam, in Quemoy and Matsu - the offshore islands - and now in our opposition to the crush Malaysia policy Therefore I think we will all agree that we must, unfortunately, take another look at our defence position. I am not going to repeat what has been said by other members. We do not want to be guided by fear.
– Or hate?
– Or hate. We do not, at the same time, want to be guided by any false sense of security, which I suggest guides the honorable member for Hunter. In other words how many honorable members are there in this House who, having made a realistic assessment of the situation, feel that our defence Services at present are sufficient to act as an insurance policy? How many of us believe that our defence forces are sufficient for our home defences and also to fulfil our obligations to our next door neighbours?
I know that when the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) was in Washington he said that he had heard no criticism of Australia’s defence effort. I found that Americans did not want to criticise any of their allies, but that the gratitude they expressed when we sent one transport squadron from the Royal Australian Air Force and stepped up the number of our jungle experts from 30 to 63 was evidence that they appreciated any efforts in that direction. Shortly before the American newspapers, on 9th May, had carried this headline, “U.S. Asks More Allied Help in Vietnam War”. In other words, they are not going to act as schoolmasters. If we suggested that we could give them more assistance, it would be received with what you might call more than an average welcome. Therefore, although I am glad that we did send that squadron and stepped up the number of jungle training experts, let me say - and I could use the great Australian adjective - it was too little too late.
When I returned to Australia in January of the previous year I put those requests to the Ministry but they were turned down. Why, I do not know. It was the same with the R.A.A.F. officers for the Malaysian Air Force. However, I am glad that, at last, it has been done. But are we yet accepting our fair share of the responsibility? I agree with those people who say that we should have at least one division for overseas service. If we cannot get them by volunteer recruiting, let us introduce selective national service training and have a 14,000 to 15,000 call-up for two years with overseas service and subsequent rehabilitation.
Why cannot the Ministry answer the questions about recruiting on the notice paper? Do they mean to tell me that the Army, the Navy and the Air Force do not keep the weekly parade state of recruits? If they do not, they are not doing their job.
Why can they not answer these questions? Is it because, as everybody knows, recruits are not coming in as they, we and everybody else hope? No country in the world has ever been able to obtain the recruits it requires when there is full employment I have here an article from the London “Times” of 21st May under the heading “ Australia to Reinforce Army “. The article reads -
The Government is worried about the present lag in recruiting for the Regular Army, which i» likely to be about 2,000 men short of its 1967 target of 28,000.
Who chose 1967 as a realistic date under the present circumstances? The article continues -
The Government is also worried about the composition of the Regular Army’s field force. Almost half the recruits enlisted in the Regular Army are under 19, which is the minimum age for operational service.
It is only a newspaper report and it may be wrong, but I certainly would like to know whether it is.
Before I left Australia I wrote to the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) and asked how many of the C.M.F. personnel would not be available in the case of an emergency because they were in reserved occupations? On 19th June 1964 I received the following reply -
I refer again to your personal representation* concerning personnel of the Citizen Military Forces, and their availability in die event of mobilisation.
As this information was unavailable from Army sources the matter was referred to the Department of Labour and National Service ja Melbourne.
The answer received indicates that it is not possible to give a definite answer to your questions. The percentage of public servants, or any other group of Citizen Military Forces personnel, who would be available in the event of mobilisation, owing to their occupations being in a “ reserved “ category might vary with the circumstances, such as the nature of the emergency.
I regret, therefore, that I am unable to assist you on this occasion.
All I can say is that I regret that apparently nobody knows how many of the Citizen Military Forces personnel would be available at a time of emergency. However, I suppose my letter acted as a catalyst because I understand that a circular has been sent out since asking for some of that information.
In his speech on the Budget debate the other day, the Minister forthe Army said that if we were to call up 14,000 national servicemen it would require an extra 1,800 officers. I do not know whether my calculating machine is correct, but that seems to be more than one officer to every ten men. It shows that we already have a serious shortage of officers, and unless we begin to establish a training corps we will never have them. Therefore, I ask the Government to give serious consideration to an immediate start to build up a training corps which it apparently needs whether the recruits are volunteers or called up under national service training.
– Would you conscript them?
– By national service training - yes. There is a duty on every young Australian to play his part in guaranteeing the security of the country in which he is happy and I hope, proud to live. If the honorable member does not agree with that, I do not think he has any idea of the value of Australian nationality. Not only do we not have the numbers, but, apparently, a large percentage of the numbers that we have at the present time are not really available for active service. I feel very strongly on this point and support what has been said by other honorable members in this House. Even with the 72 per cent., as mentioned by the honorable member for Franklin, or the 69 per cent. in Victoria who are in favour of national service training, as shown by a recent gallup poll, it is still necessary for the leaders of this Government to come out and tell the people what they may have to face.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) has said that the loss of South Vietnam would have very serious consequences, as far as Australia is concerned. On the other hand, the Prime Minister said that the last defence alterations we made were massive and, according to a report from England, he added: “I dare say there will be others to follow.” I dare to say that these “ others “ should follow in very quick succession. Time is not on our side and the position should not be left as it is. We have been told by a Minister in South East Asia that other nations were dragging their feet. We al ready know what the situation of our own forces is. What is required is leadership, in which field the Prime Minister has established a prestige in this country which he thoroughly deserves. As a result of that prestige and power, I believe that the Chiefs of Staff and the Department of External Affairs do not dare tell the Cabinet what they think Cabinet does not want to know. Again, as a result of that prestige and power, unless the Prime Minister comes out and tells the people of Australia the position, Australians will not take the action which they should.
May I remind honorable members, at this stage, that we have said, in both world wars, that Australians can be led but not driven. What we want now is leadership with courage, with resolution and with realism, and to do away with this inadequate nonchalence, which is almost traitorous - but I would rather say “ treacherous “ - with which up to the present we have been handling this crisis in Australia’s history.
.- The Parliament and the people of Australia have been listening to the Barry Goldwater of Australian politics. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), a former distinguished soldier, finds the fighting blood boiling up in his veins again. I interpret from his remarks that be is anxious to see Australia’s manhood thrown into every possible theatre of war in South East Asia.
– He did not indicate that.
– His remarks were leading in that direction. I do not believe there is one member of this Parliament or any member of the Australian community who wants to see Communism spread any farther throughout the world than it has today. There are many members of the Australian community who would like to see poverty, illiteracy and disease, the very things that make Communism in the world, removed by democratic means. I wish the honorable member for Chisholm had made some reference to what creates Communism. The countries that have gone over to Communism have done so because of the very things to which I will refer.
The. illiteracy rate of the people of China was. approximately 80 per cent., and the average life span was between 25 and 30 years; Prior to the 1917 revolution in the Soviet Union the illiteracy rate was almost 75. or 80 per cent. Those are the .things that cause Communism. When a learned man, such as the honorable member for Chisholm, talks about Communism and why it should be suppressed, he should also refer to what creates it. In my opinion, the monopolistic, big business, ruthless and capitalistic exploitation of the many by the few creates Communism. Such exploitation is still continuing in many countries of the Western world today. It is breeding Communism today in the same way as it has been breeding it for many years in Latin America. I do not intend, to waste any more time in referring to the1 remarks, of the honorable member for Chisholm. I believe that his speech-, will not meet with the approbation of thinking Australians.
Like other speakers from this side of the House,, I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). In doing so, I propose to deal with some of the burning questions which affect the Australian community and which this Government has blatantly and boldly disregarded. Down through the years, the Australian Labour Party has always .shown greater sympathy for the poor and the underprivileged people than’ has. any other political party. The miserly increase of 5s. a week in age and invalid’ pensions amounts to only 8id. a day, as other members of the Opposition have said. That amount is insufficient to buy half a loaf of bread or a pint of milk, or to pay for two telephone calls.
One would have, thought that the Government, irrespective of its political colour, would have, increased the pittance given to our age and invalid pensioners by at least 10s. a week. In view of the fact that the Government is budgeting for a surplus of £.1 8.5 million, the request of pensioners throughout Australia for an increase of £1 a week in their pensions cannot be considered unjust or unreasonable. The Government,, in this Budget, again has failed to meet the persistent requests of the age and invalid pensioners for increased pensions and the abolition of the iniquitous means test, particularly as it applies to medical and pharmaceutical benefits. Those, requests are always made with dignity and tolerance by. the age pensioner organisations.
– Would you abolish the means test?
– Of course we would. Week after week in my electorate of Hunter repeated appeals are made to me by sincere people to have the unfair means test abolished. We know that if single pensioners have an income of £2 a week or more, or if a married pensioner couple have an income of £4 a week or more, they are debarred from obtaining a medical entitlement card. Yet many such unfortunate people are paying £2, £3 and as much as £5 a week, at times, for pharmaceutical need* and medical treatment.
Let me take the case of a mine worker who, because of the nature of his calling, works in foul air and damp places underground. When he is pensioned off at 60 years of age, he is not entitled to any medical or pharmaceutical benefits. Even on attaining the age of 65 years and becoming eligible for the age pension, his entitlement to £3 or £4 a week from the miners’ superannuation scheme, to which he has contributed, debars him from receiving medical and: pharmaceutical benefits. Therefore, I urge the Government to consider abolishing, the means test or at least widening it to. cover the underprivileged members of our community.
I point out that many retrenched mine workers in my electorate in. particular hoped’ that, because of the long distances they have to travel to and from work as a result of the economic changes, in the coal mining industry, the Government would have considered granting to them a tax concession. Through no fault of their own, they now have to travel long distances to and from’ work. I ‘have raised this matter in the Parliament before in the hone that the Government would grant at least a maximum of £50 a year as a taxation deduction for expenses incurred in travelling to and from work. However, the Government again has failed to show the deg-ee of sympathy that it should show to workers on low incomes. The Labour Party advocates - this is part of Labour policy - the granting of taxation concessions in respect of expenses incurred in travelling to and from work. That policy will be implemented if the Labour Party ever becomes the government.
I also refer to the sadistic increase i 1 telephone rentals from £14 12s. 6d. to £2o a year. The increase has made the telephone, which is a necessary convenience for all people who can pay reasonable rentals, the right and privilege of a few people in the wealthy section of the community. Recently in Cessnock I was approached by a public-spirited man about the plight of a Mrs. Olsen who had undergone a quarter operation for the removal of her entire left shoulder and left lung. This unfortunate woman lives on hee own in Comfort Avenue, Cessnock. She is one of the very few people who have survived this type of operation. The request made to me was to expedite the installation of a telephone for her, because her doctor suggested that she should have a telephone alongside her bed so that she could get in touch with him at any time. The telephone was installed. But now this unfortunate woman will be faced with making the decision either to have the telephone disconnected and depend on the courtesy and kindness of members of the community or of her own family, or not have the food that she should have and so be able to keep the telephone.
There should be provision for kindness and leniency to be shown in cases such as that. Such cases should be investigated on their merits, and telephones should be installed free and no rental should be charged. I believe that the tragedy of the Government imposing these overburdening telephone rentals on people such as Mrs. Olsen ultimately will show the thinking section of the community how ruthless the Government is and what little affection it has for people in plights similar to that of this unfortunate woman. There must be many cases similar to hers throughout Australia.
I intend to direct most of the remainder of my remarks to a very important matter which concerns Australia in general and the coal industry in particular. Like many other people who are interested in the future of Australia’s indigenous fuel industry - the coal industry - I believe that even Tory governments such as the present
Government, cannot much longer refuse to consider the implementation of a national fuel policy in order to prevent further inroads being made into the Australian coal industry by foreign oil monopolies and to save this important industry from destruction. World authorities say that at the present rate of consumption the world’s known oil resources will last for another 36 years. A statement to that effect was printed in the “ Petroleum Gazette “ some months ago. One does not expect the world’s oil resources to be totally exhausted by then, as the vigour with which oil exploration is being undertaken is being intensified in the light of the fact that world consumption and demand is increasing by about 5 per cent, each year.
We are aware that there have been many and great discoveries of oil in the last 20 years, particularly in the Middle East. It n only common sense to expect that as the years go by the cost per barrel of oil exploration and production will increase because of the greater proportion of dry holes that are being drilled not only in this country but in other parts of the world. The need to drill increasingly deeper and the need to produce a greater quantity of the lighter fractions of oil is being accentuated as a result of the increase in the world’s population, the increase in energy consumption per head of population, and the steadily increasing proportion of total energy consumption attributable to ofl. It has been estimated that by the year 2000 oil production will have begun to decline substantially and that the price of oil will have increased to such an extent that the production of synthetic oil from coal will have become both economic and necessary.
The prospect of finding new oil fields in Australia seems bright, but there has been no guarantee that whatever success is achieved in this field the production will meet Australia’s total demand. In the meantime Australia and the Western capitalist world generally must rely on oil supplies from politically unstable countries such as those in the Middle East, which hold over 60 per cent, of the world’s proven oil resources. Most countries are dependent upon imports of crude oil for the production of transport fuels and lubricants. The unnecessary use of petroleum products for straight out heating application, for which indigenous coal is equally acceptable, appreciably increases the volume of imports and makes a country more vulnerable in the event of war. That applies to Australia. Our petroleum imports are at least IS per cent, higher than is necessary. The holding of stocks of oil large enough to tide Australia over a major interruption to supply from overseas is impracticable. A healthy indigenous source of fuel of almost unlimited supply such as we have in coal in Australia must automatically afford a great sense of security.
It was generally agreed at the International Coal Conference which was held in Tokyo last year that a very large increase in coal production throughout the world would be essential within 20 years. The United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are said to be planning to expand their coal outputs by the year 2000, with a combined increase of 1,200 million tons. A corresponding increase in Australia by that time should encourage the establishment of a healthier and efficient coal industry. If in the interim the Australian coal industry is allowed to recede too far, skilled manpower will have dispersed and available reserves of coal will have been abandoned following the closure of mines. If that happens, the decline will be virtually irreversible. Many countries, including Britain, Germany, Belgium, France, Japan and the United States, being aware of the need to protect their indigenous coal industries, have taken positive action by imposing a tariff on furnace oils, placing restrictions on oil imports, controlling oil prices on the home market, or setting quotas on the production of oil. Naturally these measures have been the subject of criticism, because the average energy user concerns himself only with his present production costs and energy needs.
Oil companies claim that restrictions and impositions on the use of their commodities are unwarranted and prevent freedom of choice. Should not the national interests and the general good of the community come before sectional monopoly interests? The oil companies frequently condemn sectional interests, but are their methods of operation not definitely in the interests of a section, namely, the oil companies themselves? Do they not show a complete disregard for the disastrous economic and social effects that their operations are having on the coal mining communities and all who are associated with coal mining townships?
Petroleum was one of Australia’s largest single imports in 1962-63. The value of our petroleum imports in that year was £115 million, of which £72 million was attributable to crude oil. Imports of petrol accounted for a major portion of the difference between those two sums. The need for the importation of petrol arises from the type of crude oil that is available and our refining procedures which produce nearly 30 per cent, of furnace oil for which there is little demand. With an increasing number of oil refineries being built in Australia, an increasing tonnage of furnace oil is flooding the energy market. With the concurrence of honorable members I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following figures which show that the production of heating oil in Australia is increasing in spite of the fact that there is a steadily increasing surplus -
These surpluses seem to have been an embarrassment to the oil industry, as it has been found necessary to export them at below cost. In 1962-63 the price of furnace oil f.o.b. Australian ports was £6 9s. per ton, which was less than the landed cost of the crude oil from which it was produced, that cost being £6 per ton. It was considerably less than the foreign f.o.b. price of furnace oil, that price being £7 16s. per ton.
In order to sell this furnace oil in competition with coal it is offered at considerably below list price - as low as £5 10s. per ton - the motorist subsidising this loss in the price that he pays for petrol. This adds substantially to the cost of transport, which is a very important element of cost in every part of the economy. In spite of this surplus of heavier oil fractions, insufficient of the lighter fractions, such as aviation spirit, motor spirit and kerosene, is produced.
The importation of crude oil and the refining and marketing of oil products in
Australia are dominated ‘by overseas capital. That may account for the complete disregard that is shown for harmful effects on current policy. It should not be forgotten that £67 million has been invested by Australians in the New South Wales coal mining industry. Many townships and communities are entirely dependent upon coal mining for their livelihood. But competition from oil now, and probably in the future from natural gas, could result in the virtual extinction of these townships and communities. Another most important factor must always be taken into consideration. Coal reserves that would automatically be abandoned in these areas would .in all probability be lost for all time or, to say the least, a large proportion of these reserves would suffer this fate. These are distinct possibilities that canmot be .disregarded and are obviously the problems of State and Federal Governments.
The Railways Department was one of the largest coal consumers until recent years. Progress with the conversion of locomotives to diesel oil consumption has reduced coal consumption by the railways. At the end of 1964, coal consumption was less than 650,000 tons a year. In 1956 coal consumption was 1,600,000 tons. By 1965 or 1966 the consumption of coal by the Railways Department is expected to be negligible. It is in the field of heat production for steam raising and furnace firing that it is claimed that oil has very little, if any, advantage over coal, and all the people connected with the coal industry object strongly to the infiltration of the oil industry into the coal markets and eventual takeover by oil of these markets. There is no doubt that the New South Wales coal industry could meet any competition from furnace oil if this oil were offered at realistic prices. But it is a well established fact that furnace oil is being sold in New South Wales and in other States at a price that is well below the price of the original crude oil imported into the country. This cannot be regarded as anything but grossly unfair competition.
Another factor that must be taken into consideration is the overseas payments that must be made in order to obtain what in most instances is low grade oil. The common method used by the oil companies to capture coal markets is for the oil companies to offer furnace oil at very low prices on a short term contract. Having agreed to buy oil the customer finds he is in the hands of the Philistines and is forced to pay for the oil a price that the company determines. I assure the House that this practice is still being followed by oil companies that are trying to capture existing coal markets. Naturally, the victims of these methods used by the oil companies are reluctant to divulge any details of the transactions, but there is ample evidence of these methods being used to a large extent in New South Wales. The Joint Coal Board confirms the allegations in its annual reports.
Large consumers of coal, such as cement makers and paper and board mills, have been enticed away from the use of coal by the oil companies. On Wednesday, 8th July last, Sir Edward Warren told a conference called by the New South Wales Minister for Mines, Mr. Simpson, which was attended by representatives of the Joint Coal Board and the combined rnining unions, that he had evidence of similar approaches being made by an oil company to a Geelong cement company in an effort to have the Geelong company convert its equipment to burn oil. The company would then not use coal as it had been over the years. The oil company was prepared to assist the cement company financially in making the conversion. Is it any wonder that the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Connor), the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) and other honorable members on this side of the House have asked why the provisions of the Australian Industries Preservation Act cannot be enforced against some of the oil companies that are resorting to these practices at present. Surely cases such as those I have mentioned call for the Government to take some action to prevent the law of the jungle being used by overseas enterprises against our own natural indigenous fuel resources.
I suggest to the Parliament that legislation should be introduced at the earliest possible moment on a Commonwealth basis to compel companies to adjust their refining techniques so as to enable them to produce the maximum proportion of light fractions, thus obviating the necessity to import quantities of motor spirit and aviation spirit and simultaneously reducing to a minimum the proportion of heavier fractions that ere now being produced in tonnages above requirements and used to the detriment of the coalmining industry. To this end, I suggest that a maximum of 10 to IS per cent, of furnace oil should be the figure. In addition to this, the price of petroleum products competing with coal should be fixed at a figure, both minimum and maximum, which would prevent petroleum products from competing unfairly with coal in any case. A further alternative suggestion is that a substantial productive excise be placed on furnace oil that is used for purposes for which coal could be satisfactorily used. This would in the opinion of those interested in the future of the coalmining industry deter excessive production of the heavier fractions known as furnace oil. An import quota with a heavy penalty for exceeding the quota should be placed on imports of the heavier crude oils.
The coal industry should be protected from natural gas by legislation which could be formulated to prevent the sale of this gas to existing coal consumers where natural gas has very little advantage as a source of energy. This would limit the sales of natural gas to specialist applications such as petro-chemicals and processes requiring very high temperatures. I am firmly convinced that the solution of the problem lies in the immediate establishment at Commonwealth level of a national fuel policy, but I am also fully cognisant of the fact that the establishment of a board for such a purpose would require a tremendous amount of work, statistical preparation and energy survey. However, this task is certainly not beyond the abilities of experts in Australia whom we are confident are more than capable of carrying out this work. Planning such as this not only provides the immediate solution of the problem but would lay the basis for preventing any possible slipping back into the present most unsatisfactory and grossly unfair competitive methods being used by refining and marketing companies against the coalmining industry.
If time had permitted, I would have told the House of many other matters of concern to the coal mining industry, particularly as they relate to the urgent need for a national fuel policy. However, during this debate, much wise information has been imparted to the House by Opposition members regarding present and future welfare of
Australia. For instance, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) made submissions on the dangers of uncontrolled foreign investment in Australia. If this investment remains uncontrolled, it may mean that a dozen or 20 men meeting in New York could reach decisions that would result in thousands of men being thrown out of work in Australia, New Zealand, the Latin American countries or Venezuela. Their families would be reduced to a condition of semi-starvation. But how could they seek redress? Who in the United States would speak for them? Who would even know what their conditions were? Many of these workers in the Latin American countries cannot read and would not understand the intricacies of finance and world markets, the return on invested capital and the many subtle considerations that would lead to their predicament. Who could explain to them how a few men 5,000 miles away could exercise such terrible power over their simple lives? These difficulties will be overcome by the Australian Labour Party when it is returned to power.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- As one of the new boys in this Parliament, this is my first experience of speaking during the debate on a national Budget. It is not, of course, my first experience of dealing with a budget. My first experience of attempting to budget was back in the 1930’s when as a newly married young man, I was faced with the grave problem of budgeting for a family existence when I had practically no income. In those very early days I learned the hard way that in the main it is possible to do what you want to do only if you have money. There is no substitute for money. As I progressed through life I had experience in my business activities of the need to budget. As I passed into the field of industrial organisation, I found another complicated form of budget which had to be contended with.
However, with this previous budget experience, in studying the document which has been submitted to us by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), I cannot find that there is a tremendous amount of fundamental difference in the sort of problems that he has been trying to deal with and the problems that I was dealing with in my very early life. There is a difference, perhaps, in two features only. There is a major difference, of course, in the magnitude of the figures that the Treasurer has to employ. The other difference is that the Treasurer has one very great advantage over me in that he is able to determine to a very large extent what level of income he is going to have and he can, of course, adjust that level of income to meet his expenditure commitments. My experience with budgeting has on many occasions presented me with some very real problems. Some of these problems, however, would have been rendered very simple had I enjoyed the great benefit of being able to adjust my income in accordance with- my expenditure needs.
However, the Treasurer faces an entirely different problem from the one that I faced. Although he has at his disposal the means of increasing Government revenue to the level calculated as being necessary to meet expenditure commitments, he has in the final analysis to answer to the electors, who have given this Government a mandate to direct the destiny of the Australian people. This mandate carries with it the responsibility of maintaining the growth, development and expansion of the economy as well as the implementation of certain undertakings given by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in his policy speech, which received the overwhelming approval of the people.
I am: not sufficiently naive, nor do I believe that the Australian people are so naive, as to believe that these promises can be implemented without some increase in taxation, both direct and indirect. It would indeed be a wonderful world if we could all have everything we wanted just exactly when we wanted it and how we wanted it. Unfortunately, this degree of Utopia can only be achieved by the use of money. There is nothing else which you can use. The Government’s source of money is taxation of the people, the use of inflationary bank credit or the mortgaging of the future of even unborn generations of Australians. In this sort of situation, surely no-one can be genuinely dismayed to find that the 5 per cent, income tax rebate which taxpayers have enjoyed for the past three years has been discontinued.
During the course of the debate, much attention, has been given to the problems of pensioners, those senior citizens who have contributed so much to development and who today are being relentlessly squeezed in the inflationary vice of higher wage demands and bigger and better profits for secondary industry and commerce. The Government has made a modest recognition of the difficulties of these fixed income, groups, and although it is probably true to say that members on both sides of the House would have been happy to see something more substantial, no-one has been prepared to state precisely what field of taxation should have been increased, or what expenditure should have been pruned to yield the requisite funds.
There are other fields open to the Treasurer, however, where relief can be accorded. A most promising one is in relieving the burden of chronic and sudden illness, the treatment of which far exceeds the economic ability of the pensioner. Some pensioners receive the benefit of free treatment through a medical entitlement card, but a serious anomaly now exists in the availability of this benefit, due to the incidence of a means test applied to the issue of these cards. We find today that many pensioner couples, whose incomes slightly exceed the limit set for card entitlement are denied a card on this ground, while other pensioners who received their cards in past years when they were on a low pension income now have incomes in excess of today’s limit. It is apparently not the policy of the Department to withdraw a card once it has been issued, and quite obviously in the interests of justice and equity, apart altogether from humanitarian considerations, this anomally should be rectified by making the medical entitlement cards available to all pensioners without application of a means test.
The finances of the Post Office have been the subject of review by the Treasurer and the cause of much anguish during this debate. It is of interest to note that the Treasurer has referred to the Post Office as Australia’s largest business undertaking. One of the main concepts of good business management today is the establishment of a sense of pride and loyalty in the employee towards the business undertaking in which service is given. One wonders just how much inspiration a Post Office employee, no matter at What level he is employed, draws from the knowledge that stepping up the efficiency and economy of the posts and telegraphs organisation earns only a contribution to Consolidated Revenue, and that the benefit to his own organisation is precisely nil. I believe that there is scope for a consideration of some new approach to the overall concept of Post Office revenue, with a view to bringing to the employees of this great national undertaking the sense of pride in achievement which comes from serving an organisation with a public image of outstanding service and high efficiency.
Increased charges, to operate from 1st October, relating principally to telephone rentals and service connection fees, are drastic when spelt out in the form of percentages, and they will undoubtedly impose : a burden on fixed income groups. However, my thoughts are mainly concerned with a group of people with whom I spent some time towards the end of last month. They are a group of soldier settlers some 40 miles from a railhead in Western Australia, who are now in the forefront of attack in the battle to develop Australia. Their problem is one of isolation, bad roads, and lack of access to amenities, particularly medical services for their families. In this sort of situation, one does not need a very vivid imagination to appreciate what a telephone would mean. The Department has offered them a service, in conformity with departmental policy, which would consist of an automatic exchange connected by radio link to the nearest trunkline route. However, because of the size of the holdings and the remoteness of one settler from another, the individual cost to the potential subscriber of completing his own portion of the line presents an almost insurmountable financial barrier. One settler is faced with an estimated cost of £700 and another with an estimated cost of £450. I doubt very much whether the increased rental and connection fees will unduly worry these isolated people who are making such a magnificent contribution to the future of this country and who, after all, are typical of the many thousands of young families situated in our developmental areas and urgently in need of better lines of communication.
Some criticism has been levelled at the Treasurer on the score that the Budget provides for an excess of cash receipts over expenditure of some £18.5 million. Follow ing a year of high export income resulting from favorable seasonal conditions and relatively good export prices, this provision is sound, if unpopular. It recognises the need to steady inflationary pressures. With general prosperity resting heavily on favorable seasonal conditions, it would be imprudent to assume that the elements will continue treating our export primary industries generously so that, while internal costs of production rise unduly, increased yields will take care of rising costs.
Industrial expansion is already causing unhealthy trends to develop in the availability of skilled labour. Competition by employers to secure the limited number of trained personnel available is developing into something of a rat race and this does nothing to solve the problem of the shortage of tradesmen. It certainly contributes nothing to increasing cur output. One can only wonder whether the Tariff Board, when considering the measure of protection required by Australian industry, allows for the over-award payments offered to employees in industries seeking protection.
The financial assistance offered to the Western Australian Government to extend the comprehensive water scheme in that State will enable increased development in a vast area of existing farmland where stock carrying capacity is now limited by water supplies. Much of the benefit flowing from pasture development in these areas is lost because graziers are unable to maintain stock numbers during the long western summer and pasture development cannot be carried further. I level some criticism at the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) for not making more money available, on the same basis as the original grants, to further expand and develop the export income earning potential of this area. Completion of this water scheme will undoubtedly result in increased taxation revenue for the Government and make a valuable contribution to our overseas funds.
Of the £9,300,000 allocated in the Budget for wool promotion, £4,700,000 will be raised directly from wool growers and the Treasury will contribute £4,600,000. This is the first time that finance for a major wool promotional programme has been drawn from the public purse. It is not denied that the plan has received substantial support from the wool industry. Nor can it be denied that in the past some criticism has been levelled by growers at the blunt refusal of the Australian Wool Board, and the former Australian Wool Bureau, to make a detailed statement of expenditure available to the industry. The Board’s contention that to do this would advertise details of promotion planning to the manufacturers of competitive fibres is valid. But I believe that detailed accounts should be submitted to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and that they should be subject to Government audit, and a general annual statement, distinct from a detailed report, should be issued by the Minister.
My general reaction to the Budget is that it is a sound document. It will not impede the growth and expansion of Australia and will assist in maintaining stability within the economy.
Sitting suspended from 5.49 to 8 p.m.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, at the outset I must say a word about the complaint of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) had received suitable advice in preparing his Budget speech and, worse still, had received it from academic sources. It is a dangerous view - and an obnoxious one - that the only persons in the Parliament to consult economists should be members of the Ministry, and that the only competent and loyal economists are to be found in the Commonwealth Treasury. On past experience, the advice which the Leader of the Opposition and other members of the Labour Party have received on budgetary matters has been more reliable than that available to the Government or that used by it.
Perhaps the Prime Minister should not have drawn attention to the advisers available to him. Aware of the expert advice available to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) the Prime Minister has decided to match them. He has recruited and is still recruiting great numbers of experts in these fields into his own Department, so that he can check his colleagues in the Cabinet and push them aside in the House. This personal bureaucracy is the main reason why the salaries in the Prime
Minister’s Department have increased this year by 40 per cent. But for all his own private and elaborate advice the Prime Minister made some simple mistakes. Typical of this was his dangerously simple explanation of how to forecast taxation revenue. He said: “ How is the revenue estimated by the Treasurer? It is estimated by making the best possible forecast of the state of die economy, of prosperity, of rates of earnings, of the price of export earnings and so on and then working out the sum.” That is, he was saying that .the revenue for the year is based on the prospects of the economy in the coming year. If his research were a little better he would find that about 40 per cent, of .taxation revenue is based on the previous year’s income, on company tax and on personal taxation other than wages and salary deductions. The Leader of the Opposition was aware of this, but apparently the Prime Minister was not.
The rest of my speech, however, must be directed to the Treasurer’s own Budget Speech. The basic weakness of the Budget is its essentially short term character. After more than a dozen years in office this Government has still not learned that proper administration of a national economy involves a long term view and not merely the annual shifts in balance that are necessary if the economy is to be kept on an even keel. As the Leader of the Opposition said, the Treasurer has done nothing to place the Australian economy on a soundly planned long term basis. The problems with with the Treasurer is faced in this Budget were brought about by his failure to plan. He has commitments for defence, for national development, for education, roads and so on. All these commitments must be met. In fact, we should be spending more on them. The special supplement issued by the Treasurer shows how we lag in public authority spending compared with such countries as Canada, France, New Zealand, Sweden, Britain and the United States of America. But, because of his failure to plan, the Treasurer is cornered. He will not plan public expenditure over a period of years. He regards the tax structure as almost sacrosanct. This reduces his room for manoeuvre in the short term and causes the abandonment or postponement of long term priorities and goals.
The economy should he planned in such a way that the necessary resources are allocated to essentials. Unplanned growth results in the pre-empting of resources for non-essentials. The result is that we have enough money for service stations but not for roads, for land development around Sydney and Melbourne but not for land, development on the Ord River, for luxury housing and not schools, for public relations experts but not scientists or teachers.
The Treasurer is concerned, quite rightly with the pressure of demand on resources within the community. He warned about the possible over-strong competition for goods, labour and, materials. He is worried about the possibility of increased, speculation. With fears about prospective inflation he said -
Imports could rise excessively and lead to a greater rundown of our overseas reserves than we would care to see.
Almost as he was saying this the monthly level of imports rose to the highest level for 12 years. But the Treasurer seems blissfully unaware that he himself is largely responsible for this state of affairs and in this very Budget he is doing his best to perpetuate it. Last week the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) drew attention to the inflationary signs in the economy. It is true that the Treasurer does admit partial responsibility. He said -
But this statement is cleverly and, perhaps, intentionally misleading, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out. It attempts to indicate that the source of pressure on resources is defence spending and to imply that as this is the case, then the pressure which the Government is placing on the resources of the economy is completely justified. The Government attempts to confuse the public over defence spending and defence equipment. We all remember those B47’s flying all round Australia during the election campaign.
– One B47 over every polling booth.
– We have not seen them since and the Prime Minister probably did not expect that we would. The only place where they could land in normal fashion was in the Northern^ Territory, which does not have an effectivevote in this place. Now the fact is that. if the sole increase in Government spending derived from its increase in defencecornmitments there would be very little, if any, strain on our national resources. Out of a -proposed increase in spending of” £224 million, only £36 million is accounted for by additional expenditure on defence. lt would be more true to say, paraphrasing the Prime Minister’s policy speech. before the last election, when the B47’swere here, that, having rather offensively” bought the electorate,, the Government is now .making it pay the bill. Consider just, some of the- more important, ingredients of the Government’s election promises which have contributed- to a situation in which, a tough, Budget is necessary - £10 million, for housing subsidies, nearly £10 million, for science laboratories and technical education facilities, about £9 million inincreased child endowment, an extra £7 million in Aid Roads Grants, and £3 million for petrol price equalisation. This incomplete list adds up to about £39” million. It is thus more true to say that the increase in Government expenditure isthe consequence of last minute election promises than to imply that it is increased . defence spending that is responsible. It would, of course, be misleading to suggest, that these election bids were the sole reason for the tough Budget. It would be just as misleading as the Treasurer’s implication, that it is defence which is the cause of thetrouble.
There is a more deep seated reason forthe pressures on resources generated by thisBudget and which are barely, if at all, restrained by its increased revenue proposals. It is the fact to which I referred earlier, namely that the Government refuses to take a long-term view of theneeds of the economy. Its defence spending programme was rapidly improvised and hasan element of panic about it. Its school laboratory expenditure election bid is an ad hoc attempt to cover up a long period of neglect and denial of the pressing needsof secondary education. It is only now, after 14 years in office, giving half-hearted thought to the long-term need for a. national system of roads. These expenditures - in fact even greater ones - should have been planned for several years past.
The immediate trouble, in the context of the present Budget - and the Treasurer got himself into this mess by refusing to plan - is that, having embarked on an expansionary programme of Government capital spending in order to lift the economy out of the recession which it created in 1961-62, it now finds itself committed to a high level of expenditure. In a period where the Minister for Labour and National Service is only too happy to tell us that the economy is fully employed, and in which there are clear signs of an excess demand for skilled building workers, the Treasury finds itself committed to an increase of £6.4 million in spending on State developmental projects. This was an increase of 37 per cent, on the previous financial year’s expenditure for this purpose. There was almost a plaintive note in the voice of the Treasurer when he mentioned that there were existing Commonwealth commitments for a further £70 million in respect of these projects.
If the Government had had the foresight to draw up a proper capital budget for these works and for the whole area of capital expenditure for which it is responsible, the immediate problems could be overcome. In the event, the combination of developmental project commitments, election promises, defence spending and other expenditures had forced the Government to maintain a rate of increase of government spending which, in the context of a fully employed economy, created circumstances endangering the stability of the economy. I emphasise that the circumstances were created. They did not just arise, to use the Treasurer’s passive word.
– But never at any time did we spend half as much as the Opposition has been urging us to spend.
– But we have been urging you to plan. You cannot effectively or efficiently spend money on the basis of looking only 12 months ahead. Private industry does not do it. Governments cannot do it either. The tough proposals of the present Budget were in aggregate the least that the Treasurer could advance in order to cope with the proposed level of government spending - a level of spending for which he is directly responsible.
The Leader of the Opposition said that this is a deflationary Budget, and this is what the Treasurer intends it to be. A reading of the figures would show this, although last Tuesday the Prime Minister just did not see it. The Treasurer confused his own Prime Minister. As we shall see later, it is far from clear whether the Treasurer’s overall policies will be successful in preventing inflation, despite the warning about inflation which he has given.
In the earlier section of the Treasurer’s Speech in which he outlined the current state of the economy, there was a suggestion that the pressure of demand on resources is in the process of outrunning supply. This may not have been a correct description of the situation before the Budget was presented. But since the Budget proposals have been announced, this analysis has had a good deal of truth, as the stock exchanges seem to have realised. The Reserve Bank of Australia has now spoken of the “risk of imbalance between supply and demand “ which “ can create serious instability which cannot be corrected without harsh measures”. In the words of the Bank: “Looking ahead we face the prospect of demand outstripping our capacity to produce “.
To the end of June, there was in fact very little evidence of excess demand in the economy. It would be improper, for instance, to regard the price rise of the June quarter as a symptom of excess demand, for it was concentrated on a few foodstuffs and on the housing component of the consumer price index. The broad field of consumer demand other than that for motor vehicles was expanding only moderately - very moderately in the context of the average rate of growth of the economy - and appeared to be well within the capacity of industry and imports to supply. Insofar as there were signs of excess demand within the community, the excesses were particular, not general. The Budget has made an attempt to restrain one of the major areas of excess demand, namely, the demand for motor vehicles. But the attempt is not likely to have much effect. Motor vehicle registrations are now much higher than in 1960.
With regard to the other field of demand, housing, the position is growing more critical. The Treasurer’s action - or rather, inaction - confirms the fears of the Reserve Bank about the building industry. One appreciates the Government’s predicament in the field of housing, but there is no point in closing our eyes to the fact that it is a predicament. In the June quarter of this year, housing commencements, seasonally adjusted, were coming forward at an annual rate of about 115,000, and the trend of commencements was showing no sign of slackening. We need a high level of home building, but the building industry must be able to sustain it in the short term. The Government has never planned or cooperated with the State Governments in planning in such a way as to secure a steady level of housing at a steady cost. In fact, the Government has taken steps which have unsettled the industry. It has learnt how to reduce production but never how properly to expand the capacity of the industry to maintain the appropriate level of house construction.
The Treasurer, by shutting his eyes to the housing situation, for obvious political reasons, has virtually decided to let the market solve the problem for him. How is the market doing that? When demand is greater than supply, prices rise. There is already plenty of evidence of the fact that the price of new housing has risen substantially in the last six months. The intended benefits of the £250 housing subsidy provided for in this Budget have largely, if not entirely, been dissipated in rising building and land prices. In brief, the market operates to choke off excess demand via the mechanism of rising prices. The needy are eliminated from the market. Home seekers are exploited by rising prices and rising interest rates. The wealthy, with their demand for luxury houses and second houses, take over the market.
The building industry is stretched to the limit and, as the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) said on Monday, “ to pump additional funds into building at this stage could be completely abortive “. More funds for housing might produce a few extra houses, but the main consequence would be higher priced houses for everyone. This is what the Treasurer is condoning. In the short term, he will produce not more houses, only dearer ones. Several months ago, the Minister for Housing said that we are “on the verge of a housing boom V The Reserve Bank, in its annual report tabled last week, states that “ in its discussions with the savings banks it emphasised the importance of a steady rate of growth in their lending for housing “. It referred to “ pressure on the building industry”. But the Reserve Bank, operating simply through the savings banks, cannot hope to bring the housing boom under control. The demand for funds for housing will simply flow into different, much more expensive channels.
In the field of motor vehicles the Trea surer hopes to cut back demand by incr easing sales tax. He intends to let houses be allocated by allowing competition to run riot in the market and so price people out and endanger progress and employment in the industry. By far the best and the fairest way to regulate demand in both these critical industries is through the regulation of credit. Two-thirds of cars are bought on credit. Nine out of ten houses are bought on credit. Through the banking system, bank credit can be reasonably regulated. But cars are not bought on bank credit and, as a housing boom develops, increasing numbers of home seekers have to obtain funds from hire purchase companies or other fringe financial institutions. This forces up interest costs and the cost of land and housing generally. How, then, can those financial institutions outside ‘the banking system be regulated? The Treasurer himself pointed the way in 1960. He then withdrew the tax concession which companies enjoy in the raising of debenture capital. He should again consider this, with the important variation that any financial enterprise which registered under the Banking Act would continue to receive the concession. In this way, the Reserve Bank’s powers over fringe institutions could be strengthened and extended.
Another major instance of the shortsightedness of this Government’s policy is to be found in its proposed use of the windfall gain in overseas reserves which accrued to the economy last year. The Treasurer’s only reaction is joy at the elbow room he now has, particularly to allow imports to meet the internal demand. As the Reserve Bank says, however, this is unlikely to ease the housing boom. One does not import houses; one imports
Oregon and the price of that has been raised. The Treasurer regards this increase in reserves simply as a handy safety valve. He seems unaware that there is a much more positive long term use of these funds. Many Australians are greatly perturbed by this country’s dependence on- capital m.flow. On occasions, even the Government has indicated that it is troubled by the excessive control over our economy exercised by foreign companies. Confronted with an unusual opportunity to do something about this dependence, the Government does nothing. Instead, it looks forward happily to the frittering away of our present high level of reserves,, as it did in the 1950’s. Posterity may well pass a very harsh judgment on it for this short-sightedness..
It is constitutionally possible for the Commonwealth to control foreign investment, even if not to control local investment. Why not do something positive about it while the going is good? The Government should pass legislation requiring all overseas owned companies to sell part of their equity to the Australian people. The ultimate objective would be a substantial Australian equity. We could not afford to pay for that at the moment, but for something less than £250 million we could here and now purchase 10 per cent, of the equity of all existing fully owned foreign enterprises. A Commonwealth Government investment trust could be established as the administrative technique for handling’ the initial transfer.
The essential point is that the longer we delay action on excessive oversea investment in Australia, the harder it becomes to do anything. In the meantime, the economy is continually vulnerable to a change in the attitude of overseas investors towards Australia. Here, our really longterm experience - witness the 1890’s and the 1930’s - is that the attitude of foreign investors to Australia does not remain continuously and indefinitely in our favour. At the moment we have a chance of promoting our national independence, our ability to control the fortunes of our economy, and the Government seems completely unaware that such an opportunity is temporarily available to it.
The Leader of the Opposition drew attention to the inequities of the Australian tax structure. The Prime Minister on Tuesday resorted to distortion to dispute this fact. All he succeeded in establishing was that we have still a progressive tax structure in Australia. He did not succeed in disproving that the tax structure has become more regressive over his term of office. Three years ago the Treasurer promised, to introduce- the reforms suggested by Mr. Justice Ligertwood’s Commonwealth Committee on Taxation and to make any legislation retrospective to the date of the tabling of the report. In the meantime the Treasurer has been persuaded by bis wealthy financial friends, his hidden persuaders, to postpone or shelve the legislation. His friends would not find the persuading hard. Over three years later, the Treasurer now says that the reforms will be introduced although, as we expected, they will not be retrospective. In the meantime, the wealthy and their astute tax consultants have deprived the Commonwealth of £50 million to £60 million in revenue. Mr. Justice Ligertwood reported at that time that the Commonwealth’s revenue was being deprived of £14 million a year. His report is now required reading for every accountant, tax consultant and company lawyer in Australia The amount lost per annum now is nearly twice as much as it was when Mr. Justice Ligertwood made the report. But the Ligertwood Committee touched only the fringe of tax reforms. Its charter did not permit it to go wider than it did. The whole question of tax deductions which benefit the high income groups should be examined. Taxation on companies and private wealth are matters deserving urgent consideration. They have been given urgent and effective consideration in every other English speaking country - every other Western country. The Treasurer is prepared to allow the Taxation Commissioner to harass the wage earner over a £10 claim for chemist’s goods, but businessmen and wealthy companies deprive the Commissioner of millions through all sorts of para-legal devices.
So far; I have been concerned to emphasise the. lack of vision and equity, the lack of a long-term’ view which characterises this Government in general and this Budget in particular. Now it is appropriate to examine the Budget strictly on its own terms, namely for the contribution which it makes towards maintaining a proper short-term balance of the economy in this financial year. Here the essential point to note is that, in the relevant national income terms, it proposes an increase in outlay of £212 million. This is a very powerful stimulus - 10 per cent. - to the growth of Government spending in the community. Simultaneously, partly through increasing taxation, it has en- deavoured to obtain an increase in revenue of £257 million. As the increase in revenue is greater than the increase in expenditure, the Budget has a potentially deflationary impact which is measured by the £45 million reduction in net indebtedness. Honorable members should note very carefully that 1 have used the phrase “potentially deflationary “. The decrease in net indebtedness becomes effectively deflationary only if the private sector reduces its rate of spending by an equivalent- amount. Given the nature of me increased tax proposals - particularly on individuals and companies - it is more than likely that what the private sector will reduce is not its level of spending but its level of savings, putting us still further behind the countries which the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) compared to Australia’s disadvantage in his memorable speech a few days ago. If that is what does in fact happen, the real contribution of this Budget will foe a contribution to an excessive demand on the resources available, or likely to be available, to the economy. Consider the situation in the private sector. There is only one major area of private spending - apart from social service recipients - which may, and one can only say may, not contribute significantly to increased spending. This is the primary export sector. Elsewhere private sector prospects are for rapid growth. Private nondwelling investment expenditure, after a lengthy period in the doldrums, has recently shown signs of more rapid growth. As I pointed out earlier, we are in the midst of a housing boom, and an unchecked housing boom has stimulating effects on private spending over a wide range of industry. If these particular facts are not sufficient to convince members that the private sector is expanding rapidly, I need refer them only to the Treasury’s revenue estimates.
If, as seems very likely, the intended deflationary impact of the Budget on the private sector misfires - and in the last two Budgets the Treasury has proved a very bad judge of private sector reactions and likely Budget results - and if the private sector’s rate of growth gathers pace, then the high level of Government expenditure proposals adopted in the Budget can have only one effect. The planned rate of growth of the combined public and private sectors will exceed the rate of growth of real resources. Prices will rise, imports will flow in only too freely, and the Government will be forced to introduce further restraining measures. If it rests content, because it feels fortified by the present high level of reserves, it is to be expected that its next Budget will be not a horror Budget but a Frankenstein Budget. But it hopes that before the next Budget comes around the Senate election will be over.
Already the wage and salary earner has lost half of his basic wage increase through tax and price rises. How much more will the Treasurer take from him? The basic wage increase was paid to the great majority in the Australian community and it has lost half of that increase already. This short sighted Government, which preaches so vehemently the gospel of stability, has produced a most uncharacteristic Budget. Not stability, but boom or bust should be its motto again. What worries me is that we will have both. First the boom and then the bust. When the bust does come, blame for it will rest squarely on the framers of the Government’s current economic policy.
The real objection to this Budget is not that it is tough, though the additional burdens which it has placed on the lower income groups are to be deplored. Our whole tax structure needs reviewing. But unless the Treasury has cunningly cooked the books so that expenditure is overstated, revenue under-stated and the real reduction in net indebtedness is much greater than it seems, the real objection to the Budget is that it is clumsy and inept. It demonstrates very clearly the need for long term planning to ensure adequate resources for defence, development and social welfare. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in those terms.
.- Tonight we have witnessed the pretender to the leadership of the Opposition give a rather disjointed performance. I do not think it was one of his best performances. During it he exhibited new found harmony and trust between him and his Leader. What a wonderful thing it was for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) to get up and continually throughout his speech state that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) had said this, that, and the other thing. It rather struck me as being in the nature of a quid pro quo because only last week the Leader of the Opposition had to affirm publicly his trust in his deputy leader. What an odd arrangement this is. I do not think anything like it has happened before in the parliamentary history of this Commonwealth. Tonight the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has repeatedly proclaimed his support for his leader. In doing so I assume that he supports his leader’s policy of a capital gains tax. No doubt the introduction of a capital gains tax is within the framework of Labour’s general policy. This has never been denied. It was re-affirmed the other night by the Leader of the Opposition in his speech on the Budget. I imagine that in the profuseness of his praise of his leader this evening the Deputy Leader of the Opposition also would embrace Labour’s policy of a capital gains tax. 1 thought the deputy leader’s remark thai the Government offensively bought the electors at the last elections rather intriguing because we came back into this Parliament with a majority of 22. Does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggest that the people of Australia do not know what they are doing when they go to the ballot box. because since 1949 they have repeatedly returned this Government to the treasury.bench? I think the Australian public knows what is is doing. Does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition think that we should not honour our election promises? That was the inference to be drawn from his claim that the Government had brought down a tough Budget. Perhaps the Deputy Leader and those who sit behind him in this place are the only people who really think that the Government has not honoured its election promises. It is a simple fact of life that any government which promises the people that it will do certain things if elected to power does not spend its own money; it spends the people’s money. The only way that any government Can obtain revenue is by levying taxes, direct or indirect. lt was rather ironic that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition should criticise the Government’s housing policy. May I inform him that since this Government came to power, and particularly in the last 12 months, more houses have been built or are under construction than at any other period in our history? It is a sad fact that the Opposition in this Parliament is not aware of the true position of home building in this country.
I would like to say a little now about education, to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred. The Government’* decision to give assistance to the education of our youth was a magnificent step forward. I was disturbed to hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition tonight say, as I understood him, that he was opposed to government aid being given to secondary schools for science and technical teaching. 1 think many of the people who sit behind him share his view,’ but they have never ‘been game enough to stand and be counted on this issue. In New South Wales the Labour Party is backing and filling on the issue of State aid’ for education. The Federal Parliamentary Labour Party and the various State executives of the Labour Party are split asunder on this issue. They are split from stem to stern and are wallowing in the bay like a rudderless ship. For goodness sake let Opposition members stand and be counted.
I do not want to waste any more time on these matters. I want to answer some of the criticism that has been levelled by the Opposition and by some of my colleagues on this side of the House at our defences. I regret that the alternative government of this country is endeavouring to create in the eyes of the world a gloomy picture of Australia’s defences. Honorable members opposite seem to revel in misleading the public of Australia and, at the same time, endeavouring to convince the world that we as a nation are not doing all that we should in the defence of our country. With our small population and our great length of coastline we alone cannot be expected to defend this country. The Government - rightly in my opinion - places a high value on Australia’s obligations under the collective defence arrangements of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and the A.N.Z.U.S. pact. These obligations are real and are, I believe, completely understood by honorable members on this side of the House. So we are obliged to equip ourselves to discharge our responsibility not only to defend this continent and its Territories but also to assist in South East Asia where pressures from political wars, subversion and ideological differences have recently gained momentum. We must regard South East Asia as a likely sphere of operations. It could well be that in years to come we may bc involved in this area in a limited war which, I emphasise, would not be of our choosing. It may be essential that we become so involved not only to preserve our national security and freedom but also to assist other nations to fight the cancerous growth of revolutionary Communism. I know that some honorable members opposite, particularly the left wingers, are not a bit concerned about the growth of Communism, nor the inroads that it may make on our allies. But those people who are lo’yal and, if I may use Australian parlance, fair dinkum, about the defence of our nation and proud of our nationhood will resist Communism with all their might.
It may be well to remind the House, particularly the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin), who is interjecting, of the things we have already done in South East Asia, bearing in mind our obligations under the A.N.Z.U.S. and S.E.A.T.O. treaties and the requests for assistance that have come from countries in the area. I might mention that that assistance has been freely and speedily given. I shall give one or two examples. We have a battalion group stationed in Malaysia. In considering the defence of Australia let us pause for a moment and consider what we have done under our obligations in relation to the A.N.Z.U.S. pact and S.E.A.T.O. I think honorable members agree that in Malaysia we have fulfilled our obligations. I hear an honorable member opposite saying: “Rubbish”. I would expect that. Honorable members opposite say that to everything. They should be careful lest their constituents say it to them at the next elections. As I was saying, we have stationed in Malaysia as part of the strategic reserve a battalion group. Two fighter and one bomber squadrons are based at Butterworth. In addition one light anti-aircraft battery has been stationed in Malaysia for defence purposes. Does anybody quarrel with that? There is no answer.
The aircraft carrier “ Melbourne “ is on loan to the strategic reserve forces for three months of the year. We have four mine sweepers operating in Borneo waters and an engineering squadron for road and airfield construction. We have newly purchased Iroquois helicopters and their pilots operating on the Thai and Malaysian borders. We have air transports which assist in freight and troop carrying movements. Do I hear any objections to this situation? Not a one. This material is in addition to the defence aid equipment valued at about £3 million and the training of instructors of the Malaysian forces by Australian officers in an endeavour to assist that nation to develop its own forces more quickly.
I turn now to South Vietnam. I think we all agree that we have more than a passing interest in that area. As well as training South Vietnamese officers in this country we have made available to South Vietnam a training team of Army personnel to instruct the South Vietnamese forces in jungle warfare. We have in South Vietnam five Caribou aircraft and their crews, which have been made available to the South Vietnamese. We have also provided South Vietnam with £3i million for defence supplies and for the social and economic development of the villages in South Vietnam. Do honorable members opposite have any objection to this expenditure? Of course not.
In Thailand we have a detachment of Sabre aircraft. I was privileged recently to visit our Sabre squadron at Ubon. I found that our forces stationed there are not only a credit to Australia but are particularly well received by the Thai people. Their main function is to maintain Thai integrity and to deter Communist aggressors. At Mukdahan we have allocated 55 men of the 11th Engineering Squadron to help the British complete an airfield in the shortest possible time. In addition we have given almost £1 £ million in aid to Thailand under S.E.A.T.O. It is as well to remind the House of these facts, because the programme I have outlined is an integral part of defence.
I believe that what we have done in South East Asia demonstrates quite clearly to the world Australia’s willingness to shoulder her obligations and we have made contributions which, taken collectively, are of real importance. During this debate we have heard many requests from the Opposition, and from honorable members on this side of the chamber, for the Government to increase its defence expenditure. However, in some cases the requests have not been accompanied by any purposeful suggestion as to how the money should be spent, on what it should be spent, or over what period. Spending additional money on defence does not necessarily improve our defence potential. I believe that before we commence demanding additional moneys for defence it is well to have clearly in our minds what is expected to be our role in ensuring the security of our country and of our island territories. I believe this to be our main purpose. Provided we establish our security in co-operation with our allies we can, after discussion and appraisal, find out how best we can maintain that security.
It is very difficult to please everybody on the question of defence. The Government’s judgment, even though based on the highest military advice available, is always open to question. It seems that the Government either purchases equipment too soon, in which case it is accused of spending money unnecessarily on equipment which dates and becomes obsolete far earlier than it would or should if it were purchased at a later date - and it should be remembered that modern science and techniques are advancing at such a rapid rate that almost before a firm order can be placed with manufacturers something new has been evolved - or, conversely, the Government decides to wait and purchase equipment which will be the most modern available, and so bring our forces to their greatest peacetime strength and give them a more effective striking power than ever before. In the second case it is accused of waiting too long before taking positive steps to reequip our forces. So a balanced judgment has to be made. That judgment having been made, it might be as well to have a look at the various potentials of our forces and take into consideration that defence expenditure by this Government has increased by about 50 per cent, since 1960-61; that is, from £198.2 million to almost £300 million this year.
For the Air Force we have purchased 26 TFX medium bombers which will be the most modern and effective medium bombers in the world when put into operation. We have on order 100 Mirage fighters, now coming off our own assembly lines, to be equipped with the French Matra air to air missile. We have modern helicopters and two types of modern transport planes - Hercules and Caribou - which are among the most modern, if not the latest, in the world. Our Neptune bombers, already in service, are undoubtedly the best of their type in the world for submarine detection and destruction, whilst control and reporting radar equipment is being progressively modernised. A network of modern operational airfields is being continually extended. On delivery of the aircraft on order our Air Force, plane for plane, will be one of the best in the world.
For the Navy we have ordered three Charles F. Adams class guided missile destroyers, the first of which - H.M.A.S. “ Perth “-is for delivery in 1965. We have purchased four Oberon class submarines and have on order two type-12 frigates which will be fitted with the Australian designed and developed Ikara anti-submarine guided weapon. In addition, we have in commission the aircraft carrier “ Melbourne “, which is equipped with fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. Also in commission we have eight destroyers, either built or modernised in Australia. We have six minesweepers and other supporting vessels, including the fast transport vessel, the converted carrier “Sydney”. When these additions are obtained by the Navy its strength and effectiveness will be greatly advanced. I turn now to the Army. The Army is in the process of being completely reorganised.
– It is always being completely reorganised.
– Of course, and so are all our defence forces being reorganised. Does not the situation change from day to day in the world concept? If we did not continue to reorganise our policy would be as stale as was the Labour defence policy in 1949. We are hoping to increase the strength of the permanent forces to 28,000 men and that of the voluntary Citizen Military Forces to 35,000. The strength of the Pacific Islands Regiment is being doubled. With modern conventional equipment becoming available, including weapons, radar, vehicles, watercraft and so on, the tactical mobility of this arm of the Services will be increased. It is true that an increase in available manpower is required, and there are some doubts as to whether the volunteer enlistment target set under the recruitment plan will bc reached. In periods of full employment recruitment is difficult, but the recent improved terms and conditions of pay and allowances and the provision of housing, when housing is difficult to obtain, are positive steps towards stimulating recruitment to and retention in the Regular Army and Citizen Military Forces. If the rate of intake should continue to prove to be unsatisfactory, then the Government should immediately undertake a further review of the the manpower problem. It may then be required to step up considerably its voluntary recruiting methods or, alternatively, to consider some form of selective national service training, to which the Opposition is opposed. It can be clearly seen that the Government has materially improved and is continually improving our defence preparedness in all arms of the Services.
If we were to double our defence expenditure for this year, what would we achieve? Modern, effective equipment cannot be purchased off the hook. Orders have to be placed, and inevitably the waiting period for delivery is not merely a matter of days or weeks; it runs into years. In the case of new or improved defence weapons, prototypes are necessary and a testing and proving period has to be undergone. In addition, even if equipment were to be made readily available, our potential of trained personnel in all arms is limited. Technicians, general manning personnel and skilled operators have to undergo an intensive period of training in both the operational tasks of equipment and in the repair and maintenance fields. These real problems of a shortage of personnel, the length of training necessary to obtain proficiency, the likely degree of usage and the time and place when the equipment may be required to be used must be keenly examined before purchase. It is a plain fact of life that equipment of any kind is of very little use unless it can be operated, maintained and used effectively by trained personnel.
Some countries far more developed than our own can spend a greater percentage of their gross national products on defence than we do. The proportion of our gross national product to be expended on defence in the year 1964-65 is likely to be 3.1 per cent., compared with 3.4 per cent, in Canada and 2.3 per cent, in New Zealand. But in assessing defence expenditure in comparison with the gross national product account must be taken of expenditure on developments which have a considerable defence content. Account must be taken for example, of such things as the number of airstrips being constructed, the deepening of ports and harbours, the construction of beef roads - nobody can deny that beef roads have a defence content - the standardisation of railways and so on. The amounts spent on these works are not included in our defence expenditure, but I think it will be agreed that all of them have a defence content, that they will make for greater mobility of our forces and that they will allow of a more speedy diversion of men and materials for both the forces and industry. Industry has, in turn, played its part by signifying that it is planning the coordination of such vital industries as steel plants, motor vehicle plants and so on, should we unfortunately become involved in conflict.
Every country and every government must take into consideration the fact that, if it is to have a defence force of any size at all, it must have a sound economy to back up that force. I believe that since this Government has been in office it has given Australia the soundest economy in our history. In the last ten years, science has evolved weapons far more costly and destructive, with greater speed and firing power than previously. Modern equipment and modern armaments have made it possible to increase immeasurably the effective striking potential of our forces with less - that is the operative word - manpower. For example, an infantry company today has four times the fire power that a similar infantry company had in World War II. Relatively speaking, this applies also to our Air Force and our Navy, Possibly it applies to them to a far greater extent. Similarly, with an increasing population, with an increase in the number of factories, with more secondary industries operating more effectively, and with a large defence production organisation, we are able to meet the needs of our forces far more speedily than we could previously. Our defence forces now have the broad industrial base which is so necessary for effective operations, whilst at Woomera - this is often forgotten - we have an active defence research and developmental programme which continues to increase our knowhow and is producing our own developmental projects. The United States signalling stations now being built in Western Australia, and which was most vigorously opposed by members of the Opposition, will materially assist in strengthening our warning systems and those of our allies.
There are still some gaps to be filled in our programme, but it cannot be truly stated that the Government has been indifferent to the defence of this nation. It has shown flexibility in planning and programming, and it has been responsive to changing conditions and developments. Our overall defence programme is kept under constant review, and a balance is kept between defence expenditure and contributions to expansion and developmental programmes.
The Government has also been appreciative of the importance of honouring our mutual obligations to our friends in S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S. That is most important, for I think everyone will agree that the word of an Australian is his bond. As I stated earlier in my speech, we have been most happy to carry out our obligations under these protective defence agreements with due integrity and faithfulness. It is important that we do this because, without our powerful friends the United States of America and Britain -
– Yes, Britain. Have you ever stopped think what Britain has done for the protection of Malaysia? Have you ever stopped to think of the consequences to Australia if Malaysia were to fall? Above all, we have to make secure our freedom and our right to worship as we choose. At the same time, we must give every assistance to those countries that need our assistance to meet the continued threat of Communism in South East Asia. I believe that over the years this Australian Government has carried out its obligations speedily and with due appreciation of our commitments and that within the next few years, with the accumulated improvements in our striking forces, we will have as well equipped a defence force as any nation in the world, man for man, although we want to use it only for defence. We do not want to be aggressive.
.- It is unfortunate for the Government that the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) has sought to defend its defence policy. Since 1949, the non-Labour Governments - the Menzies-Fadden Government and the Menzies-McEwen Government - have spent something like £200 million a year on defence, yet at no time since 1949 have we had a defence force equal to meeting the tasks and responsibilities that have faced the country. The honorable member for Phillip explained to us that the matter of defence is constantly under review. It is constantly under review. We will have TFX bombers in 1968-69 or 1970. We are buying Mirage fighters from France. They are coming along over a period of years. We are buying some submarines over a long term. We are buying ammunition projectiles from overseas which ought to and could be manufactured in this country. Only this week in King’s Hall, we witnessed a ceremony when a presentation was made to the Department of Supply for its contribution to the export earnings of this country. Yet, this Department with all its capacity, know-how, keenness, and willingness of the great men who are engaged in that Department to serve the nation - a capacity which they were able to show so clearly during the Second World War - is not being expanded to do all the things that it might be able to do. If it can win money in export action, it could also do the job of providing the essential ingredients for the defence of this country.
It is unnecessary for members on the Opposition side of the House to say anything about that matter. I commend to the honorable member for Phillip and to other honorable members on the Government side who need convincing on this score a speech made by the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) who, in a telling, thoughtful and searching address made clear beyond any shadow of a doubt the weaknesses with respect to the Australian Army. I have not time to go through all of the details of the speech delivered by the honorable member but they are available to be read by all of those who would care to become informed on matters regarding the Army. Let me quote from the speech delivered on 25th August 1964 by the honorable member for La Trobe, a member of the Government Party, the son of a general, and a man who knows what he is talking about. The honorable member had this to say -
That still applies today. Let me now read some passages from the speech made last Thursday morning by the Minister for the Army. I regret (bat I may have to quote it extensively. He slated -
Much of the criticism assumes, for instance, that Armageddon is just around the corner, that we should be basing our defence planning, of example, on the belief that we are in imminent danger of attack or invasion. As I say, we base our planning on a forward posture in a cold war-limited situation in South East Asia.
Those comments were voiced by the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes). The honorable member for La Trobe said -
What does all that mean? What is it but a great mass of words that are uttered in this House for the purpose of confusing poor innocent backbenchers who are never able to get the basic information that they seek.
Those are the words of a Government member, the honorable member for Latrobe. Can any one doubt the enthusiasm, the patriotism and the keenness of the honorable member for La Trobe, or his deep interest in this matter and his concern that we might be adequately and effectively defended?
I think it is important to place on record also the views of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson), a gallant gentleman, who is also deeply interested in matters of defence. Speaking on 5th March of this year, he said -
He showed the strength - if it can be called strength. He said that our recruiting programme is very barely covering the wastage. I will quote some figures supplied to me by our statistical officer. In 1938, we had 2,795’ members of the permanent Army. We had a militia force of 42,895 and other reserves totalling 6,695, making a total strength of 52,385. At that time Australia’s population was 6,936,000. Now it is 11,024,000. At present we have a permanent Army of 23,412 and a citizen force of 29,000, making a total of 52,412. The interesting point is that we have exactly 27 men more in the Army in 1964 than we had in 1938.
This is the matter concerning the fate of this nation and the security and wellbeing of our people that the honorable member for Phillip in this Parliament this evening felt so inclined to discuss.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, this Budget was drafted in a period of crisis, of war and of threat of war. Whilst the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) prepared his Budget Papers at Bingil Bay the agonising struggle in South Vietnam reached an explosive stage. Meanwhile, Indonesia had carried its campaign of confrontation against Malaysia to open aggression. Australia was committed in these conflicts. Yet, the Treasurer’s Budget Speech bears little relationship to the realities of Australia’s needs at this time. I commend again to honorable members an examination of the Budget papers with respect to our defence expenditure. It will be found there that our defence vote this year will be increased by £36,300,000. When we analyse that figure and find out just how much money is to be spent on increased pay, allowances and salaries - and we do not object to that from this side of the Parliament - and on administration and other costs, we find there is very little extra in this year’s vote to provide for the enlarged defence effort so urgently required at this time. We have heard words pouring forth from members on the Government side at election time and since election time telling of crisis, danger and alarm, and the need for us to be prepared. This, in a period of crisis, is the type of budget this Government brings down to defend Australia.
There is no sense of urgency in dealing with the vital matters of defence and development. There is no word in the Treasurer’s speech of decentralisation of industry, nor of the dispersal of our population and industrial potential. When one looks at the map of Australia and finds the great congregations of people, the great mass of people, in the capital cities, on the seaboard, with all the essential ingredients of our security in the factories, the warehouses, the stores and the very heart of our country so open to attack, surely the Government stands condemned in regard to this matter. But instead of courageous forward drive and rapid growth, the Budget papers tell a story of smug complacency. The Budget stands described as “ standstill “ and “ holding “ and as one of restraint and of deflation. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) said it was one of gentle restraint, to apply the brakes. If we are in this period of crisis that all responsible people seem to think we are in, what person in Australia today would say that we should apply the brakes to our development, to our population and to our security? Surely it is necessary now, if at no other time, that we should engage ourselves in an all-out effort, in a maximum effort, to meet the problems of these days.
Of course the Minister, like Micawber, is content to wait until something turns up. He should read his own report. He is completely content with the situation as it stands at present, but I. am not so satisfield. I am not satisfied with the Government’s performance. I am not satisfied that we are doing all that we should be doing to develop this country, to establish a strong economy and to build up the supply position that we are capable of building to match, as far as possible, any other nation in the world. During the Second World War the Labour Government built up our resources and supplies by expanding our aircraft industry and by organising the manufacture of the weapons that were so essential for our defence. Those things were done in the past. They could and should be done today. But the Government places reliance on the fact that it can purchase these supplies overseas. I have a question on the notice paper seeking information on just what is taking place. I am sure honorable members generally will be very interested to see the reply when it is published.
– When do you expect a reply?
– To get a reply from the Government is another matter. The Government is never in a hurry to give replies to questions, and it has to be reminded of them from time to time.
This Budget might well be analysed by honorable members, lt might well bc questioned by honorable members. The Treasurer seems to have become notorious for his ability to present a Budget and then, in the shortest time thereafter, find it necessary to introduce a supplementary Budget of some kind or other to rectify the errors, and the sins of omission and commission in his earlier document.
Before considering this document in detail I ask honorable members to think back to previous Budgets. The 1962-63 Budget estimated a deficit of £118,328,000, but instead of a deficit there was a surplus of £16,000,000. The 1963-64 Budget estimated a deficit of £58,400,000 but again there was a surplus, this time of £27,666,000. Consolidated Revenue Fund receipts for 1963-64 were underestimated to the extent of £68,000,000. If there was an underestimate last year in Consolidated Revenue Fund receipts of £68,000,000; if there was a variation from an estimated deficit of £58,400,000 to a surplus of £27,666,000, I repeat that honorable members might well analyse the Budget now before us and consider just how far they can go with the Treasurer with this one.
This Budget provides for one of the greatest expenditures in the history of the Commonwealth. Quite frequently one hears, even from the lips of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), when he turns back the pages of other days to indicate that we are spending more money today, the extent to which the gross national product has increased. 1 suggest to honorable members that they look back to the Budgets ‘ of other days and they will find that we are in fact spending greatly increased sums today compared to what was spent then. The public is entitled to ask some questions relating to the proposed expenditure covered by this Budget and by all future Budgets.
Budget No. 52 of 1915 would make very interesting study today. That Budget provided for an expenditure of £16,245,000. Of course, that expenditure has no relationship whatever to the current situation. Neither have the comments of honorable members on the Government side on conditions of other days, on how the gross national product has increased and on how that alters the position. It is of historic significance and only of historic significance.
This Budget reaches the all-time record of £2,511 million, a stupendous sum of money. I regret very much that more of this amount than is allocated is not being spent in the development of Australia. There is a crying need to develop this country, lt is deplorable that there is no decentralisation of industry in Australia. It is a matter for condemnation of the Government that the Ord River project, a major project which requires £30 million, is not being pushed ahead with the utmost speed so that it can play its part in the production of food and the development of that area.
I join with many honorable members on this side of the House who believe fervently that if we developed this country and built it into a great granary from which we could help to feed hungry people in other parts of the world, we could win them over as friends in a more effective way than we could by any other means. I regret very much the Government’s great tardiness in arranging to sell to India on credit a few thousand tons of wheat. But it has sold wheat to Communist China on extended credit. When I asked questions about this matter I received the reply that we should wait for India to tell us what she wants. Surely a better relationship than that should exist between Commonwealth countries. Surely we should go to our sister Commonwealth country and invite her to partake of some of the surplus food that we have.
– Who would pay for it?
– That question represents the mentality and thought of this Government. All it seems to be concerned about is who will pay for something. We have become accustomed to platitudinous speeches on Commonwealth relationships, but the level of our goodwill depends upon a sister Commonwealth country paying cash on the line while we are prepared to sell wheat to Communist China and to other Communist countries on terms - extended terms at that.
I ask the House to consider this most important matter of food production. We could develop our country. We ought to develop our country. It is a rich land that deserves to be developed, and by developing our land we could help to hold our land. But we have heard the comment of a Commonwealth Minister - a Service Minister at that. What is the Minister’s technique? What is the Minister’s attitude? Does he prefer guns to wheat, flour, food? Is he expressing the Government’s philosophy? If he is, we are travelling in the wrong direction and the sooner there is a change of government and the sooner there is a new approach to Commonwealth relations, the better it will be for all concerned. We should have been much speedier in meeting India’s needs.
I want to say now a few words about decentralisation. This subject is receiving lip service from honorable members on the Government side. They all want to get on. the band wagon of decentralisation, but I remind the House that since 1949 the Commonwealth Government has done nothing to develop and decentralise industry in this country. Honorable members, particularly our Country Party friends, know that flour mill after flour mill has closed down, that industry after industry in the country has shut its doors, that workers have been paid off and that the great exodus to the city has been going on ceaselessly. Back in 1945 when Labour was in office there was a Secondary Industries Commission. This Commission investigated matters of decentralisation, discussing the subject at great length. It reported to the Cabinet and my predecessor, Mr. Chifley, received the report and immediately called a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers to deal with this question which is of such great concern to most Australians. The conference was held in 1945 and the Premiers of the various States attended.
I am pleased to see that, despite the political colour of those who attended the conference, there was unity on the Commonwealth Government’s proposals, which were, in effect, the proposals of the Secondary Industries Commission. The Commonwealth and the States agreed to accept responsibility in dealing with the question of decentralisation. In mentioning the matter to the House this evening I should like to remind honorable members generally, and particularly those from States other than New South Wales, that the Government of New South Wales is at present making substantial advances to industrialists who wish to establish factories in country districts. The Government will provide capital for factories, and in addition, will give substantial assistance by way of freight concessions. It will assist with housing and it will give technical and many other forms of assistance. That is in conformity with the blueprint of 1945. The proposals of the Commission outline the Commonwealth Government’s responsibility. With the concurrence of honorable members I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the findings of the Secondary Industries Commission which were approved by the Premiers. The findings are -
Item 5.- DECENTRALISATION OF SECONDARY INDUSTRIES.
Mr. Dedman. I submit to the conference the following motion: -
Conference agrees that decentralisation of secondary industry should be carried out by joint Commonwealth and State action based upon the following division of State and Commonwealth responsibilities: -
State responsibilities -
The development of secondary industry to be guided by the respective Stale Governments along the lines of decentralisation appropriate in each particular State.
Each State Government to undertake to the full extent of its resources, the provision of services and the financial costs of assistance and concessions. (In cases where requests for assistance involve public work expenditure in order to provide additional services, the financial aspects will, of course, be dealt with through the machinery provided by the Loan Council and the National Works Council.)
Commonwealth responsibilities -
Close collaboration with State Governments in regard to all matters of Commonwealth industrial policy which may affect the development and location of industry, with particular reference to the means of bringing before industrialists the possibilities of decentralised locations for development.
Investigation, in association with Slate Governments, of the prospects of developing secondary industries in selected areas, particular consideration being given to the disabilities requiring to be offset in those areas.
Advice to the Stales of development of secondary industry desired in order to provide more satisfactorily for defence needs.
Provision of financial assistance to the States, especially in respect of the capital and/or operating costs of particular undertakings, provided -
examination reveals that the success of the project is in the general national interest and that the financial costs involved are beyond the capacity of the State or States concerned; and
the State or Slates concerned undertake to provide such services and assistance as may be agreed upon.
The Commonwealth and States agree to appoint the respective authorities to administer the responsibilities set out in (1) above.
Those findings are of the utmost importance. I am grateful to the House for its consideration in permitting me to incorporate them in “ Hansard “ because they are a blue print for this Government assisting decentralisation of industry. I make a plea to the Government and to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) who expressed the view recently that he knew nothing about this matter. He was in Opposition at the time of the Conference and apparently was unaware of the facts. My request to him is that he might once again convene a ministerial conference for the purpose of considering decentralisation. There are many ways in which the Commonwealth Government can help. It can help by granting tax concessions, by technical advice, and by reducing telephone charges. The cost of telephone services is a sore point and one of the great difficulties in developing secondary industries in our country.
The need for decentralisation to develop Australia is one of the highlights in the affairs of the nation at the present time. I have referred to the importance of telephones. Only recently in the Parliament the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) directed attention to telephone charges. He instanced the great hardship being suffered by many people. I commend the point of view he put to the Parliament on that occasion, and particularly his emphasis on the evil of people being called upon to pay interest on their own money - the taxpayers’ money. The position in Australia is that the people are taxed for the purpose of raising revenue. Some of the money so raised is in turn handed to the Postmaster-General’s Department which is immediately taxed by the Department of the Treasury. This arrangement proves conclusively that instead of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department being a service organisation, serving the people with the taxpayers’ money in the first instance, it has now become an agency of the Treasury. The people who use telephones have to pay the piper. Among those who pay arc the age and invalid pensioners who require a telephone to ring a daughter, a son or a brother in a case of urgency or sickness. The cost of telephone calls is to increase. The connection fee is to increase, and the rental in the metropolitan area is to rise to just on £20 a year, which amounts to almost four weeks of a pensioner’s income. If ever there was a scandalous thing in the history of Australia it is this shocking increase in telephone charges.
What has been done proves conclusively that the Government is out of touch with the realities of the situation. It has no sentiment and no sympathy for those who need telephones. Telephones are needed also for decentralised industry. Increasing telephone charges are among the great burdens on industry at the present time. The Prime Minister said to the honorable member for Barton the other night that he had to consider the States. He said that they insisted, and that he agreed, that interest should be charged. However, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, when you look at the report on the Conference of Commonwealth and State Minister held on 4th and 5th March 1959, you find that the Premiers had entirely different views on this matter at that time. Mr. Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, raised the matter. He said -
The taxpayers pay their taxes and a percentage of their taxes is then lent back to a State and interest has to be paid on it. 1 think that that is crazy accounting.
Mr. Bolte’s point of view was supported by other Premiers, including Sir Thomas Playford of South Australia. Then the Prime Minister said -
If we charge interest on the money that we spend ourselves, the interest will be paid to us. lt is a very quaint idea.
Mr. Menzies, as he then was, continued to raise his voice on this matter. He said -
Really, the idea of us paying ourselves interest on the money that we lay out for public works is a bit humorous, is it not?
It is not humorous for the pensioner who is being called upon to pay increased charges at the present time. The Prime Minister said further -
I understand that argument, but 1 do not underHand the argument about what the Commonwealth ought to do. The proposition is that we charge ourselves interest, we throw into deficit a couple of great undertakings that have been referred to, and we then raise the wind in order to meet that deficit - because it all comes back onto us. Therefore, charging ourselves interest is merely a complicated piece of bookkeeping that does not produce one pennyworth of financial results.
This is the right honorable gentleman who took my distinguished colleague and friend to task when he spoke on this matter in the House just a few days ago.
I end my speech by saying that I deplore the fact that this Government has failed the pensioners of Australia - the needy of this country. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition because this Budget fails to satisfy the simple human needs of our people as it neglects to deal with the matters of development, decentralisation and defence with the urgency that these questions demand at the present time.
– We are now approaching the final stages of the debate on this year’s Budget. It is interesting to reflect that this is the fifteenth Budget brought down by this Government. This is a record for an Australian Government and I suppose it would be a record for most countries. During the period of 15 years there have been only two Treasurers. This also, I think, is a record.
Both of them have done magnificent jobs. We reflect tonight on the great work that Sir Arthur Fadden did and that our present Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has done. It is interesting to note also that the first of these two Treasurers belonged to one of the two parties which jointly form the Government, while the second belongs to the other of those two parties. But I think the most outstanding feature is that during the whole period of 15 years, the Government has been led and guided by the one Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). I think it can properly be said that we in Australia can be mighty proud to have had this man lead us for a period of 15 years. His is truly a remarkable record.
These 15 years represent a period in which the greatest advances that have been made in the history of Australia have occurred, both in growth of population and in improvement in our standards of living. There is no doubt that living standards in this country have improved to a much greater extent than they have in most other countries. Most of this improvement has taken place in the last 15 years, during the period of office of this Government. In this period there have also been greater opportunities for our young people than there ever were before, so that today we are entering an era in which opportunities abound for young people in education and training and in commerce.
Notwithstanding what has been said by honorable members opposite, we in Australia have enjoyed a stability in our economy never before experienced for such a long continuous period. The increase in our export trade, particularly in rural products, and the expansion of our secondary industries, are developments that the country can be proud of. But the most important fact is that this Government has followed a policy of fulfilling the basic needs for the growth of the country in the future. This has been its prime policy. It has set out to develop our resources of coal and other minerals, the extent of which has been fully discovered only in the last 15 years. Great oil refineries have been established, and these are basic to future development. In the field of water conservation we have the great Snowy Mountains scheme. We have increased our supplies of electric power and improved our road and railway systems. We have, of course, only started as yet on the standardisation of railway gauges throughout Australia. We have seen at last the discovery of oil in Australia. Surely this is a great period in which to have lived, and Australians can be justly proud of the Government which has done so much to develop this country.
All these results have not been achieved without difficulty. In this 15 years we have had a great deal of difficulty. First, there was a war in Korea in which Australia had to take part and in which we made a great contribution. Throughout the period there have been most disturbed international situations that have had to be handled carefully. There have been great inflationary pressures and we have had serious difficulties associated with our balance of trade. We well remember that a very difficult situation arose at one stage because of excessive imports. All these difficulties have been overcome and today we are set fair for still greater growth and achievement in the years to come. The Budget under discussion, I believe, will allow a very sensible continuation of the growth and expansion of which I have been speaking and will keep us on an even keel. No harm is done in the Budget to any section of the community and no real hardship, as I see the position, are imposed. There may be certain aspects to which some people will object, but there are no real hardships in a national sense. The Budget gives proper recognition to the welfare of the people, in respect of both social services and repatriation services.
If any criticism could be offered it might perhaps be said that we are underestimating the amount of revenue that will be forthcoming, particularly from loan raisings. I think that probably loan raisings have been underestimated, and this may raise doubts in the minds of some people about the wisdom of imposing a higher rate of company tax which perhaps have some effect upon costs. But I have thought of all this and, all in all, I sincerely believe that this is a very good thing. I think the companies themselves will see that it is a good thing at this time because it will strengthen our economy and will make possible further expenditure on things that 1 believe we will need in the future. For instance, I think it foreshadows a greater expenditure on defence.
The attitude of the Opposition in this debate has been, to my way of thinking, quite puerile. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) made no points of note in his speech. I looked to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) to produce something worth listening to, but his speech tonight was a sort of academic discussion of quite unimportant matters that carried no message whatever to the nation and gave no indication of what the Labour Party would do if it were to form a government.
It is very important, I think, for people to note that while a censure motion has been moved charging the Government with not spending the revenue in an equitable fashion on defence, national production and social welfare, not one Opposition speaker, to my knowledge, has attemped to deal in any way with defence. This is very significant in view of the amendment that the Opposition has proposed. Most of what we have heard has been claptrap nonsense that will not deceive the people at all. It had no substance whatever. There is no need for me to deal extensively with this aspect because the Prime Minister himself has dealt effectively with it. The only matter of substance was the threat by the Leader of the Opposition to levy a capital gains tax, as was mentioned by my friend the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston). This would be the greatest deterrent to growth that one could imagine, because the greatest need in this country is for the investment of risk capital, the investment of capital for capital gain and not necessarily for revenue gain. This is most important for the growth of a young country like this.
At a time like this it is well to take stock of ourselves and to assess what we are doing and where we are going. We are a young country only beginning to build a great new nation. We are only 1 1 million people occupying the last great under populated continent on earth. Enormous natural resources are available to build a great new nation. We have the know-how for both rural and industrial development. We have the benefit of great traditions handed down from the mother country and from various other countries. Yet we are completely uninhibited and free to do what we will with this country. This, of course, is our responsibility. There is no doubt that Australia will bc a great new nation in the future. But it will be great only if we now lay the right foundations upon which to build that nation.
This is a great and exciting time in which to live - a time when people can look beyond their personal welfare in many ways. I believe that at this time the duty of all citizens is not just to enjoy the comfort and luxury that they can enjoy at the present time; it is to keep this country and its people free for the future. I believe that in building this new nation we can be an example to the rest of the world. We certainly can be a great influence on other new, developing nations in proximity to us. We are geographically situated in the East, where over half of the world’s population resides. These people have never known the benefit of western civilisation.
Only in recent years have many of these countries achieved their independence. At this stage they are sorting out their way of life. I refer to India, Pakistan, the countries evolved from Indo-China - Cambodia, Laos, North Vietnam - and the Philippines, Formosa, Malaysia, Indonesia and so on. These countries have recently achieved their independence and are now fighting a battle to maintain it. We must learn to live with them, because we are situated in this area. We must help them achieve the purposes for which they sought their independence. Although the countries are old, they are jealous of their newfound independence. They have great problems to face, both politically and economically, in order to preserve their freedom. There is only one great threat to their freedom. Standing over them is Communist China, with a population of over 700 million people who have already Jost their free way of life and are subject to cruel, inhuman and Godless dictatorship.
– Tell the truth.
– That is the truth.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Mackinnon). - Order!
– He is misleading the people of Australia.
– Order! The honorable member must not interject.
– Communist China is the one great threat to us also. If the line is not held firmly at South Vietnam, as we are attempting to do, we are in real trouble. Whilst we are making great progress, as I said before, on the economic front, we in this country are still in very great danger, and we must realise this. Great efforts have been made, but little real progress has been achieved in recent years in combating these dangers. No-one can be happy about the position in, for example, South Vietnam and Indonesia.
I congratulate the Government on the part it has played in this area, it has been the instrument that has done a great deal under the Colombo Plan. It has initiated many kinds of help for South East Asia and other countries and has secured treaties that are of great importance to our future. Mention was made tonight of the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact, which is an arrangement between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America. As we have seen in recent months, this Pact is of vital importance to Australia and, indeed, to every free country in South East Asia. Where would we be without the assistance of the United States of America under this treaty? Let us be frank about this because, after all, the United States is the most powerful country in the world. The South East Asia Treaty Organisation, too, is of great importance and must be kept together. That organisation would be hopeless without co-operation and close consultation between its members. A.N.Z.A.M., which is an arrangement between Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Malaysia, is of importance and great help to Australia. It provides added security for us.
We must be ready to play our part in defence. We have done a great deal, and whilst it is not easy for a young developing country like ours to mount a large defence programme our defence is important - perhaps the most important thing about which Australians should be thinking at the present time. Danger exists, and while it does it demands a greater effort on our part than we have made in the past.
I applaud the Government for its recent plan to provide extra money for defence in order than we can get more men and equipment. An extra amount of £36 million has been provided for defence in the
Budget this year. I sincerely hope that the Government will not allow our defence measures to be limited because of financial consideration, because money should never be the governing factor. Unfortunately, the Treasurer has to play his part, but I think it is wrong-
– You are an old warmonger.
– I am not an old warmonger. The public is now crying out for more defence but it is only a few years ago that they were criticising us for the amount spent on defence. The Labour Party’s attitude, of course, has altered in the last 15 years. Honorable members opposite used to urge that £50 million or more be taken from the defence estimates and used for housing and social services. Indeed, Labour has nothing to be proud of in regard to defence, because in 1946 when the war was over the Labour Party was in government and conducted the demobilisation of the forces. What did the Labour Government do? It immediately razed to the ground everything that was worthwhile to maintain in a permanent defence set-up. I know this full well because I saw some of the articles that were sold by the War Disposals Commission, whose activities created several millionaires in this country. When Labour had finished we had nothing left in organised defence. We did not have a regular Army. We had nothing that we could call on in any shape or form. I know, because when I was Minister for the Army I saw the figures. There were names and addresses of people who were listed in the records as being in the forces, but they were not even living at the addresses given and had never been called together. In other words, the Labour Party let the whole machinery of defence fall to pieces and into chaos at that time.
I think that people and governments must understand that an adequate defence cannot be mounted in a- day or a year. It requires long-term planning. It should not be conditioned by the amount of money available in the Budget each year. The main thing is to get men when you can, and to order equipment well in advance. In my opinion, the Treasury exercises much too much power in this direction.
– Why don’t you talk about peace instead of war?
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Drury). - Order! The honorable member for Hunter has already been asked to restrain himself.
– It is perfectly clear that the problems and dangers in Asia, and particularly in South East Asia, will not be solved or settled in a short time. We have to look ahead to many years during which these dangers will exist in this part of the world because of Communist infiltration going on all the time in various countries which are trying to preserve peace. Therefore, we must have long-range defence planning, not short-range defence planning. We will have to live with these problems in South East Asia, perhaps for generations. They will not be solved in a short time.
Let us consider what this means. I know that the strategic appreciation is that we should prepare for limited war and that global war is unlikely. Limited war is really with us now. Who knows the magnitude that it may assume at any time? We must have regular forces readily available to act quickly. There is no doubt that at present, to a certain extent, we have regular forces ready to act quickly. I congratulate the Government on that. But I believe that we should increase our capacity in this respect. I had the honour to be Minister for the Army for some years. Tonight I pay a tribute to the fine men who constitute the Army. They are wonderful men, who can be trusted and are the equal of any other men in the world. I am very pleased that the Government has improved the conditions of Army service in the way of pay, pensions and housing. In my opinion this improvement was long overdue. In this country, whose economy presents so many opportunities, it will be very difficulty to meet our needs by voluntary enlistment. There are many blind spots. I know these and many of my colleagues know them, too. I am speaking particularly of the Army. I am glad to see the new, young Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) in the House. One blind spot, which has existed for some time, is in the officer and noncommissioned officer strength. Perhaps that is the most important one. Another is in the medical services, which are of great importance if operational activities have to be carried out. Another is in transport mobility and protection in operational activities. Those are some of the blind spots that we have.
The big question that is asked is: Should we have national service training? 1 suppose many people want to know my views on this matter. I know the immediate problems involved in its introduction. The Minister for the Army stated them the other day. I agree with the military advice that is tendered on this matter at this stage, based on the plans for and role of the Army at present. However, in my opinion, the future demands the introduction of national service training. It is unthinkable that the young manhood of Australia should not be trained. Taking the long view, the introduction of national service training is inevitable when we consider what may happen and what we have to defend over a long period. I am in favour of preparing for national service training. I think it must come. We must begin our preparations as soon as possible.
– Why didn’t you do something about it when you were the Minister for the Army?
– Order! The honorable member for Reid will remain silent.
– You are all talk. When you were the Minister for the Army you did not-
– Order! I have already asked the honorable member for Reid to remain silent. He must not continue to interject.
-The first thing that we must do - I have held this view for a long time - is amend the legislative provisions affecting the Government’s ability to require men to serve outside the shores of Australia. Section 49 of the Defence Act and section 28 of the National Service Act must be amended to give the national Government power to require men to serve wherever they are needed. We have not grown up as a nation unless we are prepared to face up to this question. It would be interesting to know the attitude of the Opposition on it. I know the past history of these matters. But we are a young nation. We are growing up. We have to have this power in the light of the circumstances that exist in South East Asia.
The second thing that we need to do, as 1 see the position, is to launch without delay an intensive scheme for officer and noncommissioned officer training. A lot of this training is being done, but it has to be bigger and better. That scheme must include the provision of accommodation, the re-engagement of retired officers and noncommissioned officers as instructors and the acquisition of the necessary equipment. As I see the position at the present time, national service training, when it is introduced, should be on a selective basis and for a term of two years. I do not see how it can be effective otherwise. Another thing that I would like to see - some people might like to see this; others might not - is a further extension of the school cadet corps. This is the only contact that the country has with the youth of Australia by which it can make them defence conscious. The number of school cadets should be increased. Thousands of boys in Australia are waiting to join school cadet corps, but they cannot get places.
The Citizen Military Forces is a fine body of men. I do not think these men receive either from the public or anyone else the appreciation or assistance that they deserve because of the service they render. They are an extremely fine body of men. I am very glad to see that at long last the Government has decided to relieve members of the Citizen Military Forces of the payment of taxation on the small amount of pay that they receive. In my opinion - I have always held this view - it is quite wrong to tax Citizen Military Forces earnings. That has been fixed up now; that is good. The Citizen Military Forces must have up-to-date equipment. If we are to retain the interest of soldiers in the Citizen Military Forces we must give them realistic training. It is important to give them as many overseas exercises as possible in order to stimulate the interest of young men. This can be done now in New Guinea and other places.
I appeal to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to make a special appeal to the people of Australia for voluntary enlistment in the Citizen Military Forces and the Australian Regular Army. I would like to see such an appeal made by the Prime Minister over every radio station in Australia. Emphasis should be given to the need for people to enlist in the Services at the present time. I believe that the people of Australia would respond to such an appeal by our great leader.
I am suggesting that these things be done. At this stage I am not attempting to suggest details of an expanded defence programme. As I said before, we have very competent officers and officials to advise the Government on these matters. But it is for the Government to lay down its policy and to provide the money. The Government must insist that the objectives are achieved.
– Time is running out on you.
– Yes, it is. I just have time to summarise my views. First, the Australian economy is in great shape and its growth is remarkable. Secondly, our future is in great danger. Thirdly, with our friends and allies, we must play our part in protecting freedom in this part of the world. Fourthly, this will be a long and continuous effort. Finally, we must now plan our defences for long into the future.
.- I listened with interest to the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) and the honorable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer). I took particular notice of the remarks of the honorable member for Phillip, because he rattled the Tory sabre and was at great pains to tell us what was wrong with the Australian Labour Party. He said there were too many left wingers in its ranks. Let me tell the honorable member that the Labour Party can quite competently handle its own affairs without him and his Tory colleagues having to shed any crocodile tears. On the day when his image is successfully foisted on the people of Australia this country will be in real danger.
I support the amendment that was moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who with realism and honesty offered justifiable and visibly deserved criticism of the Budget. Throughout this debate Government speakers have lauded Australia’s prosperity. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) himself said when presenting the Budget -
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. Abroad, the prices of a number of our main exports ross and some commodities, like wheat and sugar, found wider markets than we would normally have expected. Conceding that, however, I think it is fair to say that the economy put up a good performance in terms of enterprise and effort and output. As opportunities showed up, industries and the people who work in them responded quickly and effectively.
At no time during this debate has any Government speaker been prepared to retract the criticism that was levelled at the Leader of the Opposition in 1961 when he put forward Labour’s blueprint to get the wheels of industry turning. The Menzies Government, through its deliberate credit squeeze, had created a pool of unemployment of 150,000 persons. Labour’s 1961 blueprint which advocated deficit finance and which all supporters of the Government criticised as being inflationary, was implemented in a supplementary Budget that was presented immediately after the Menzies Government was re-elected to office.
I remind the people of Australia, primarily for the purpose of the record, that over the past 15 years the Liberal-Australian Country Party Government has adopted a series of boom, borrow and bust policies. During its term of office, the Menzies’ Government has been unable to maintain a continuing balance of full employment accompanied by price stability. It has followed stop and go economic policies. The unemployment statistics show the fluctuations that have followed. In recent years each successive recession has been marked by a high or peak of unemployment. These fluctuations have been due in part to Government ineptitude, but largely to the lack of sophisticated policy weapons available to the Government. As a result, the Government’s policies have invariably overshot the mark and have been applied too late and too drastically.
Of crucial importance is the control of private expenditure on consumer goods and investment. To some extent, such expenditure can be controlled directly by way of taxation but, in the main, the Government places its reliance upon indirect measures of control via monetary policy which, in the best of circumstances, is difficult to use accurately. In Australia, monetary policy is extremely crude because the only type of credit that the Commonwealth can control directly is bank credit. There are no controls over hire purchase or capital issues on the stock exchange. In the past, the Prime Minis ter (Sir Robert Menzies) has contented himself with calling a conference of the hire purchase sharks in the Commonwealth and generally asking them to play the game and be good boys. In July of this year our hire purchase debt stood at an all time record of £474 million in instalment credits for retail sales. Conflicting opinions in this situation have been expressed by our Treasury experts. The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Dr. H. C. Coombs, was reported on 19th May to have told hire purchase executives that they must be prepared to slow down. He said that the Australian economy was approaching conditions of overstrain after one of the most protracted upswings of the postwar history.
The following day our Federal Treasurer told the House that the growth of hire purchase business was not threatening Australia’s economic stability and that present hire purchase operations were not excessive when compared with genera] economic growth. The Treasurer is right to the extent that hire purchase is not a threat to our economic stability; but the exorbitant interest charges imposed by the hire purchase executives, which are fleecing the community generally of about £50 million annually, are the basis of the grave warning given by the Governor of the Reserve Bank. The Country Party member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) has said that something will have to be done to control the growing octopus of hire purchase companies. In the long run they will be the Achilles’ heel of monetary control for any government. There is a growing body of responsible opinion in Australia that the Commonwealth Parliament has power under the Banking Act to control hire purchase activities. Instead of calling fireside conferences, the Government, in the interests of Australia, should test its power under the Act or at the very least should bring forward for discussion in the Parliament the report and recommendations concerning hire purchase and capital issues control of the Constitutional Review Committee, which was tabled in the Parliament in 1959 and which has been pigeon-holed ever since.
I come now to what can be regarded as the black blot on the Treasurer’s buoyant Budget, and that is the miserable increase of 5s. a week in some social service benefits.
With record overseas balances, increasing exports and national growth, all of which are unsurpassed in our nation’s history, surely this was the time when the Government could have reviewed the whole field of social service benefits with human understanding for the great number of underprivileged people who in past years have contributed much to the country’s advancement. The honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) had this to say in his speech during this debate -
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 I am extremely proud of this Government’s achievements. . . . 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. 1 believe that they have received it.
– Who said that?
– That is part of the contribution to this debate made by the honorable member for Sturt. The honorable member believes that pensioners have received their fair share of the rising prosperity of this country. To support his claim, he referred to the percentage relationship between the age pension and the basic wage. This information is set out at page 107 of “Hansard” of 11th August 1964. Government supporters during this debate have referred to the relationship of pensions to the basic wage. This comparison is quite unrealistic, because we know that the average weekly earnings are much in excess of the basic wage. A comparison of the pension with the average weekly earning is a more practical method. In 1963, average weekly earnings were £24 16s. 7d. and the age pension was £5 5s. a week. The pension was 21.1 per cent. of the average weekly earnings. Ten years earlier, in 1954, the average weekly earnings were £1611s. The age pension rate was £3 10s. This represented 21.1 per cent. of average weekly earnings which is about the same percentage as that which applied during the last financial year. Where is the progress and the fair share of prosperity for pensioners? If we go back, 18 years to 1946, when a Labour government was in office - I remind the House that my assessment is based on the figures of the Minister for Social Services - we find that the age pension was 24.8 per cent, of average weekly earnings, whereas today it is 21.7 per cent. Where is the much vaunted prosperity and progress of the pensioner?
– Are those official figures?
– They are the Minister’s figures. I want to refer back to statements made by the honorable member for Sturt, who holds himself out as a paragon of virtue as far as pensioners are concerned. First, he conveniently overlooked the action of pensioners on Tuesday, 11th August last, the day of the Parliament’s resumption for the Budget session. On that day we had pensioner delegates from all over Australia pleading with the Government for a fair deal for pensioners. They held a demonstration on the lawn opposite Parliament House an hour before the time fixed for the opening of Parliament. An invitation was extended to all Labour members and all Liberal members to attend and address the delegatesOnly Labour members attended and heard the delegates outline their case, and only Labour members addressed the gathering representing pensioners’ hopes and aspirations throughout Australia.
Secondly, the honorable member for Sturt said that pensioners were sensible people and that they knew that the money to pay their pensions came out of taxation. Of course, pensioners are sensible people. They have to be, with the mere pittance that this Government doles out, they cannot afford to be otherwise. They also know that the money to pay their pensions comes out of taxation, because throughout their working lives they have had to pay it, both directly and indirectly. We could have expected him, after making that statement, to make a comparison based on average weekly earnings, which is the practical and real basis of comparison. Instead, the honorable member ran away in the smokescreen of basic wage comparisons which are not realistic in today’s economy. On other occasions we see the honorable member for Sturt come in this House and say that no worker is on the basic wage today. Yet to suit his argument and to apologise for the Government’s miserable attitude to social service rates, he is now prepared to embrace basic wage rates as his new found friend.
I am sure that pensioners generally will see through the hypocrisy of Government supporters, who have during this debate become the self-styled champions of pensioner’s rights. The fact is that the abounding wealth spoken about by Ministers and Government ‘back benchers is going into the pockets of the few who control our wealth. They have received the green light from the Government to exploit the people, and for this reason the Government’s Budget stands condemned.
Now I come to that section of the Budget wherein the Treasurer suggests an appropriation of £200,000 for Commonwealth employees compensation. I might add that this meagre amount is in keeping with the tight fisted manner in which the Treasurer administers the Act. The Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act covers not only workers in Commonwealth departments and workers engaged on all Commonwealth works but also persons who joined the Services after 1st July 1947. In regard to this last category I have had my attention drawn first to the manner in which the Act is administered and secondly to the way in which the Treasurer procrastinates when questions are directed to him in this Parliament. The case in question involves a young constituent in my district who had the misfortune to break his leg whilst on voluntary military training in August 1963. He was declared unfit to resume his occupation, which incidentally was with the Commonwealth Public Service, for 12 weeks. He received compensation from the Army to a total amount of £113 ls. 8d., from which an amount of £8 2s. was deducted for income tax. The amount that he would have received for an equivalent period in the course of his occupation was £218 15s. I made personal representation to the Commissioner in accordance with section 6 (3.) of the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act, which gives the Commissioner complete power to decide upon the merits of any claim. Section 6 (3.) 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.
In answer to my representations, the Commissioner advised that under the circumstances obtaining in this case, the benefits available were those prescribed by the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. He stated that my constituent had received his full entitlement under the Act and there was no statutory authority for any other form of compensation for him. This was the attitude of the Commissioner to a person who voluntarily gave his services to the Army in order to prepare himself should this country require him to serve in a full-time capacity for its defence. “Equity, good conscience and the substantial merits of the case, without regard to the technicalities “, are just meaningless words when applied to the Commissioner’s action in this particular case. From this attitude we can more easily understand the sabre rattling members on the Government side of the House who, during this debate, have been strongly advocating compulsory military training because of the overall lag in the present recruitment campaign.
In a further effort to obtain wage justice for my constituent, I asked a question of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). The question and answer were as follows -
My question is directed to the Treasurer. When a person is injured while on voluntary military training and receives the full entitlement to compensation prescribed by the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act, can an ex gratia payment be made to reimburse him for the difference between the net payment received and the amount of the salary that he would have received in his private occupation but lost as a result of his injury?
– I do not know whether the honorable gentleman has in mind any particular case. If he has, I would prefer to examine the details and then give him a reply rather than attempt now to comment on what is in essence a policy matter. If the honorable member will give me the details of any case that he has in mind, I shall give him the best answer I can.
Earlier in my speech I charged the Treasurer with procrastination on the question I asked in this Parliament. It is quite evident from the correspondence forwarded to me, dated 19th May 1964, that he could have replied in the same vein when the question was asked in this House. The Treasurer replied along the same lines as the Commissioner that my constituent had received his full entitlement under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act and that there was no statutory authority for any other form of compensation to be made available to him. He further stated that while he was sympathetic to my constituent’s position - it will be appreciated that over the wide range of Commonwealth activities, requests are frequently made for the Commonwealth to recognise, in the form of acts of grace payments, misfortunes that have occurred and for which there is clearly no Commonwealth liability. It is not the practice to accede to such a request and it is believed that no departure should be made in this particular case.
Honorable members on this side of the House, particularly the honorable members for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) and Darebin (Mr. Courtnay) have placed volumes of words in “ Hansard “ concerning the inadequacies and injustices of the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act but nothing has been done about these deficiencies in the Budget. It merely provides paltry increases in benefits such as the basic lump sum payable to dependants on the death of a Commonwealth employee and higher weekly payments for incapacity. These barely cover the ever rising spiral of prices.
I turn now to the question of education. This is one of the most serious problems in the community. All State governments have made tremendous efforts to meet the greatly expanding demands for education and services. They are still doing so. There is an ever widening gap between the needs and demands of the community for education and the resources available to the State governments to meet those needs. With the nation’s large scale migration programme, which is essential to our future development and defence, together with the increasing trend towards longer and more affective schooling for our children, it becomes the Commonwealth’s responsibility, in consultation with the various States, to make a positive approach to meet this serious situation. Electoral gimmicks such as the Government’s science laboratories and technical training handouts are just tinkering with the problem.
The urgent requirement of the States is an emergency grant to meet this crisis in accommodation and teacher shortage, together with the establishment of a committee to inquire into all aspects of education in Australia. A genuine undertaking must be given by the Government that it will act on that committee’s report. The Australian Labour Party has consistently advocated the setting up of a committe of inquiry into primary, secondary and technical education and teacher training on lines similar to the Murray Committee of Inquiry into Universities, and the Government has just as consistently voiced its opposition to this suggestion. Great deficiencies in education exist today, not in one State only, but in every State of the Commonwealth, yet this Government has repeatedly refused to institute a committee of inquiry into the needs of primary, secondary and technical education and teacher training. 1 have received scores of letters - as no doubt all members in this Parliament have - from teachers’ federations, parents’ and citizens’ organisations and other authorities interested in education, all urging that a full scale inquiry into education be held. No mention of education is made in the Budget other than the appropriations for the Government’s gimmick, science laboratories and technical training facilities. Similarly, Government supporters have said nothing in the debate about what I regard as one of the most serious problems facing the nation - education. Each of us has a responsibility to plan for the future of the nation’s youth. Our children are the citizens of the future and they must have the fullest possible education, in accordance with the talents they possess. This is the nation’s basic asset in its task of making Australia a great country.
.- Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, I strongly support the original motion and oppose the rather pathetic amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). The debate is nearing its end and the Opposition has done its worst. It has been blazing away wildly at the Budget with a motley array of weapons, mostly of the obsolete socialist variety, but it has not even raised a feather. No reasonable person who listened objectively to the masterly speech made on Tuesday night by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) could fail to support the original motion. The right honorable gentleman showed, with transparent clarity, the great strength of the Budget and the deep thought which the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) put into it to ensure the continuance of our prosperity, despite the difficulties which loom on the horizon and which are largely the result of our prosperity and full employment.
I made a study of honorable members opposite while the Prime Minister was speaking and I was fascinated. The gloom on their faces was a picture, and it deepened as our leader demonstrated further aspects of our strength towards the end of his speech. In fact, one could almost see the tears running down their cheeks, because the Socialist Labour Party has a vested interest in gloom and woe. They thrive on unemployment and industrial strife and know very well that they always do best in difficult times. Of course they cheered up when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) brought out his MartiniHenry, or perhaps it was a Brown Bess, I do not know. It made the right sort of bang and created a lot of smoke, but I do not think anyone could see where the bullets were going. The honorable gentleman phrased his terminology in the old nebulous gobbledygook and made it sound as though we were doing rather badly. The only trouble was that what he was saying did not accord with the facts. We are doing very nicely, thank you very much.
Two points emerged from the smoke, Sir. One was that apparently the Australian Labour Party, if by some mischance it ever took office, would crack down on hire purchase. I thought that was rather significant. The other point was that a Labour government would start nibbling away at foreign capital in this country. It would take 10 per cent, in the first year, and the next year-
– I would not like the honorable member to be operating on me.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Drury). - Order!
– What I do not like is the way honorable members opposite would operate on foreign and other capital and chase it away from this country. Certainly, something needs to be done about foreign capital in this country. I am sure that our Government is giving this problem very serious thought. Chasing capital away would not be the way to benefit Australia.
– Why do you not-
Order! I ask the honorable member for Bowman to resume his seat for a moment. I remind Opposition members that I have repeatedly asked them to cease interjecting, and I warn them that the Chair will have to act if it does not receive co-operation.
– I repeat, Sir, that chasing foreign capital away from Australia would be very foolish. No overseas investor would dream of investing capital in this country if he knew that it would be nibbled away ostensibly partly because of some excessive repatriation of capital but fundamentally because of the obsession of honorable members opposite with nationalisation. They feel obliged to nationalise everything they can lay their hands on. They would find, if they nationalised companies in which foreign capital had been invested, that those companies would not make the profits expected. The goose would not lay any more golden eggs.
We have heard honorable members opposite croaking about Trans-Australia Airlines. I admit that that is a great example of a government enterprise that shows a profit. But I point out that it shows a profit under a Liberal-Australian Country Party Government - a non-Socialist Government. Under the present Government, T.A.A. is being administered sanely. Did it make profits under the Socialists? It certainly did not. Do internal airlines show profits in other countries under Socialist Governments? They certainly do not, Sir. So this talk by Opposition members about T.A.A. is just a furphy. They are very lucky to have some Socialist scheme to which they can turn and which does not cost the taxpayers a great deal of money. Nevertheless, we ought to be warned: All these enterprises will inevitably begin to show losses if ever the dead Socialist hand falls on them. Many times during this debate I have felt very sorry for honorable members opposite. [Quorum formed.]
– Before I call on the honorable member for Bowman to resume, I point out that the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Nicholls) was given a very fair hearing. I think the honorable member for Bowman is entitled to the same consideration.
– Thank you, Sir, I am much obliged to honorable members opposite for calling for a quorum. Many times during this debate I have felt sorry for them. I feel very sorry for them now, because obviously it hurts them when we show clearly that their designs are to nationalise foreign capital and to get their socialist claws into every enterprise they can. During this debate, their efforts to squeeze political capital out of the Budget have been admittedly bold. They tried very hard indeed, but on the whole they sounded pathetic. The facts are that this is a magnificently well thought out and well balanced Budget. The Treasurer has shown us many of the difficulties which could arise during the forthcoming year. I want to quote one point. He said -
Employment and production, we can be sure, will continue to grow at a quite high rate. What we have to ensure is that demand does not rise excessively. Should it do so, there could soon be over-strong competition for goods and labour and materials. Costs and prices would be driven up. Speculation could break out again. Imports could rise excessively and lead to a greater rundown of our overseas reserves than we would care to see. That would be the end of the stability which has meant so much to the Australian economy and its people over the past several years.
I consider that one of the major reasons for the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and some of his cronies opposite advocating continued inflation is that they hope that just that critical set of circumstances will arise and that our economy will be wrecked. That is irresponsible. In fact, there are pointers showing that such a trend could be beginning.
– Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. The honorable member is obviously reading his speech. Are we not entitled to know who wrote the speech?
– No point of order is involved.
– This indicates how little honorable members opposite like having the facts of political life brought home to them. It reveals how much they relish freedom of speech, but only when it is their own freedom of speech. This tendency which the Treasurer mentioned shows some signs of occurring. Statistics go to show that this is so. This Budget has been devised to counteract the tendency right at the very beginning, so that no hardship will be caused. Speaking of hardship, I should now like to remind the House of a point made by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns). He said that although the community as a whole, because of this Budget, would have to pay a little more in taxes, the pensioners would be receiving more and consequently their position relative to the community as a whole would be improved. I think that we must face up squarely to the position of age and invalid pensioners and, for a change, have a few facts instead of the warped stuff that is put forward by honorable members opposite. They are being much less than honest in their bleatings on this subject. As the Treasurer and the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) have both repeatedly shown, from every point of view this Government has given the pensioners more money and more purchasing power than they had under a Labour administration.
– Twice as much.
– We will get on to that later. Some pensioners admittedly do suffer hardship. This is most unfortunate but the fact remains that this Government is doing far more for pensioners than the Labour Party ever dreamed of doing when it was in office. Our Government is a most enlightened one. Not only does it assist pensioners as much as possible itself, but it also encourages charitable organisations to help. This idea has proved magnificently successful and has saved the taxpayers thousands of pounds while, at the same time, creating much better conditions for many pensioners.
A recent presentation of the television programme “ Four Corners “, which is shown on national television, purported to deal with the problems of pensioners. I was deeply disappointed in it. It was a biased superficial and amateurish attempt which did less than justice to the Government, the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) and the pensioners themselves. A couple of very sad and unfortunate cases were injected into the episode to give it emotional overtones but no solution to the problem referred to was suggested. I am afraid the capabilities displayed by the producer of the programme were very poor. The depth of thought was very shallow and the objectivity was nil. In fact, the episode had a socialist slant. I wondered-
– Put the rest in “ Hansard
– I know that the honorable member does not like hearing this.
– Order! If interjections do not cease some honorable members may not be listening to this speech from within the chamber.
– Would you deprive me of the opportunity in these last few minutes of the debate to register my vote against the Government?
– There is a noise coming from the other side of the chamber which sounds like a broken-down motor mower. I wondered why the most unfortunate of. the people interviewed on the television production to which I have referred Hid not apply for admission to a home for the sick aged. Government policy and generous subsidies have enabled many of these homes to come into existence. They are built and administered by charitable organisations. They care with love and devotion for such people as the unfortunate man who appeared in the “ Four Corners “ programme. I have been associated with these organisations, and I would like to place on record the wonderful work that they do. If one feels cynical and a little sad, as no doubt the boys opposite do at the moment, the best tonic is to visit such an establishment, interview some of the staff and speak with some of the patients. I remind the House that these homes, hostels and settlements for old people, such as the magnificent one which the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) has established, are possible only because of the policy adopted and the help given by this Government. Pensioners in this country also have the finest health scheme in. the world.
– I’m telling you. They can obtain the best medical attention completely free of charge as well as free medicines.
– I rise to order. The honorable member has just said that the pensioners have the best medical scheme in the world. Am I in order in saying that 105.000 of them- are ineligible for treatment under the pensioner medical service?
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– They are really dredging the bottom of the bucket, Sir. Let us get down to this level, but only in perspective. The Chifley Government in 1949 gave single pensioners the magnificent sum of £2 2s. 6d. a week and £4 5s. a week to married pensioners.
Opposition Members. - What was the basic wage in 1949?
– Order! I suggest the House come to order.
– We know that the basic wage was depressed under the Chifley Government, but even taking that factor into account, the proportion of pension to basic wage was less then than it is under this Government. Moreover, the Chifley Government gave the people pensions and very little else. This Government is to give £6 a week to single pensioners and £11 a week to married couples, plus a first class health scheme and active support for those charitable bodies who are caring for the great and increasing number of our pensioners. I know that there is still some suffering, and this is most unfortunate. Noone could wish there to be any suffering. I know that quite often there are circumstances which prevent people from saving and preparing for their retirement. Some of those unfortunates must be saddened because their children do not give them any help. Surely there is a responsibility for a man to help his own flesh and blood. The Government recognises this and has made provision for it as much as possible.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. I submit that under the Standing Orders, a member is not allowed to read his speech.
– The point of order is not upheld. The honorable member for Bowman may continue.
– Thank you. Sir. The point is reached when no more money is available for such matters. I believe that the Government has made a magnificent and highly intelligent approach to the problem. I deprecate the knockers and carping critics who warp matters and do not let the people of this country get them into true perspective.
I have looked up some comparable figures for other countries and I was most gratified with what I found. In Britain people do not receive a pension before the age of 70 years for men and 65 years for women unless they contribute to a pension scheme. For single pensioners the amount received is £3 7s. 6d. sterling and married couples receive £5 9s. a week. In Canada there is no means test but the pension is not paid until people reach 70 years of age. The pension is £5 13s. a week. Scandinavia has long been preoccupied with social welfare. I was surprised when I found that in Norway the pension is not available until peoplereach 70 years of age. The rates are £4 for a single person and £6 for a couple.
– Is that all?
– That is all. In Sweden the old age pension is granted at the age of 65 years; the rates are £5 10s. for a single person and £8 13s. for a married couple. Honorable members opposite who have been to Sweden will know how far £5 10s. will go in that beautiful but very high cost country. I must say, Sir, that unlike honorable members opposite I have not suppressed any figures. I have quoted the only figures I obtained. They were the only ones readily available to me. I looked especially at the Scandinavian countries because of their welfare history.
– I rise to order. The honorable member has just said that the Opposition suppressed figures. That remark is personally objectionable to me and I would like it withdrawn.
– I am not aware that the honorable member for Bowman said that any particular person had suppressed figures. I understood him to say: “I have not suppressed figures”. The remark does not imply the suppressing of figures by anybody else.
– He said: “As the Opposition did “.
– If the honorable member for Bowman said “As the Opposition did “, I ask him to withdraw the words.
– 1 alluded to no person; I made a statement in general terms.
– I rise to order. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I direct your attention to your earlier ruling-
– I withdraw. Anything for a quiet life. I do not apologise. I am proud that this young and developing country has done so much more than other countries and that this Government has done so much more than the previous - shall we say the last - Labour Government did for our pensioners.
I come now to a different subject. I think it is appropriate at this stage to draw the attention of the House to the sum of £6.500,000 which is to be applied to the stimulation of education. Again, as with the pensioners, the money is to be applied in a highly intelligent manner so that it will achieve the maximum effect - the Socialists will not like this part - without in any way interfering with the administration of or the methods used in the schools which will benefit. Parents, too, will benefit greatly from the generous scholarship allowances. The beneficial effects of the expenditure of this money will show up very soon, I am sure.
I remind the House, too, that there is already in operation a Commonwealth university scholarships scheme and this, together with the prosperity which this country enjoys under good government, has encouraged a very high rate of university education in our country, although that would not be immediately apparent on looking opposite. Our rate of 6.2 university students per 1,000 of population is better than that of any country in the world except the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and I believe that the figures given for those countries are not strictly comparable because they include certain types of technical education which we do not include. The number of university students per 1,000 of population in Western Germany is only 3.8, and in Britain it is only 1.8. Our friends opposite will be very sad to learn that in Red China it is less than .3.
The amazing thing is that this Government has been able to achieve so much while keeping our taxation level so low. Of course, everyone knows that a Labour administration always means high taxation. Even the Opposition will admit that. We heard some fatuous figures quoted last night purporting to show that indirect taxation in this country was lower under a Labour Government, and that much more money was received last year through indirect taxation than was received under the Chifley Government. Of course this was so. In the first place, the House will remember the restrictions and the extensive and hideous black markets which were thriving at that time. It will also recognise that more revenue is obtained now from indirect taxation because the people are much better off and can buy many more goods than they were able to buy under the Socialist regime.
Let us look at the facts as they stand. It* there are any people in the world who are lower taxed than the Australians, I have yet to hear of them. The latest figures I have for comparison are those relating to 1961. They indicate that our tax revenue represents about 24 per cent, of our gross national product. That is a lower proportion than that of any other country that I know of. The only countries that I know of which come within coo-ee of our figures are Belgium and Denmark, but those countries do not take into account the extensive payments made to health and other social service insurance schemes which are administered by organisations other than the government.
As I have said, our revenue from taxation represents 24 per cent, of our gross national product. In Sweden revenue from taxation represents 32.4 per cent, of the gross national product, while in the United Kingdom it represents 29.1 per cent., in Germany it represents 34.9 per cent, and in the United States of America it represents 28.9 per cent. Individual tax, that is, income tax in the main, represents about 7.2 per cent, of gross national product in Australia. It may be a little more now. In Sweden it represents 15.1 per cent., in Italy 14.4 per cent., in the United Kingdom 8.4 per cent, and in the United .States of America 9.9 per cent. This happy state of affairs has not just happened. It is the result of an enlightened and fearless financial policy. We remember these words from Oliver Goldsmith’s poem “ The
Deserted Village” concerning the village preacher -
Unpractis’d he to fawn, or seek for power By doctrines fashion’d to the varying hour.
The village preacher would approve of this Government. Where circumstances have dictated, it has intrepidly pressed on with measures that it applied regretfully and which it knew would be unpopular, but which it knew must be adopted. These measures have been applied with the long term development of Australia in mind.
What a sorry contrast my home State of Queensland presented until recently. For many years, before each election like clockwork, the pay packets were loaded with a few extra shillings not for economic or financial reasons but in an attempt to buy the votes of the electors.
Labour was in power in Queensland for 35 years and that 35 years saw Queensland reduced from vitality and progressiveness to indigence and near strangulation. Happily, a few years of government by a coalition Country-Liberal Party Administration has seen a complete transformation and Queensland is now throbbing with life. This state of affairs is no coincidence. We all remember well the days of Chifley rule, with its frustrations, restrictions, regulations, blackmarkets, commodity shortages and rationing - even years after the war was over. Above all, there loomed the spectre of nationalisation. I remember vividly a friend of mine - he was a man at the top of his profession and much respected - confessing to me his fears that he would have to leave, as he put it, “ Chifley’s sinking ship “. Australia’s international reputation then was at a low ebb. This state of affairs has been completely transformed by the 15 years of administration by the present Government.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am sorry I am unable to finish my line of thought, but the interjections opposite and the necessity to reply to them have made this impossible. I hope I have shown in some small way how ludicrous is this censure motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition. It is completely untenable to any objective and right thinking member.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative. ‘
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– In accordance with Standing Order No. 226 the Committee will first consider the Second Schedule of the Bill.
– Mr. Chairman, may I suggest that it might suit the convenience of the Committee to consider the items of proposed expenditure in the groupings shown in the schedule which has been circulated to honorable members. The consideration of the items in groups of departments which have a natural association with one another has met the convenience of the Committee in past years. The schedule reads as follows -
– Is it the wish of the Committee to consider the items of proposed expenditure in the order suggested by the Treasurer? There being no objection, the Treasurer’s suggestion will be followed. The question now before the Committee is: “ That the proposed expenditure for the Parliament, £1,482,000, be agreed to “.
Proposed expenditure, £1,482,000.
House adjourned at 11.4 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated -
rns asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answersto the honorable member’s questions are as follows - l, 2 and 7. I refer the honorable member to my statement in the House today.
H.O.P. and H.O.P. has, in fact, expelled known members of the Brotherhood from its ranks.
rns asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
The H.O.P. has a post office address and conducts camps in the country attended by its members. One such camp was held in New South Wales on the dates mentioned in the question. It is understood that there were four .22 calibre pearifles carried by persons in the camp. As far as is known, there were no other “ automatic weapons “ at the camp. Some articles of Army clothing, available for purchase through disposals shops, were worn in the camp. Athletic singlets bearing the Croat shield were worn by the campers.
Trial in Yugoslavia. (Question No. 281.)
rns asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
Yes, I am informed that there was such a trial and that allegations were made. Any allegations relating to Australian government employees are completely untrue. Information obtained as a result of this trial has been investigated, but it is not the practice to announce the details of such investigations.
rns asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– I refer the honorable member to the Prime Minister’s answer to question No. 73.
rns asked the AttorneyGeneral upon notice -
– I refer the honorable member to the answer to question No. 73 and to the Prime Minister’s statement. (Question No. 309.)
rns asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The questions referred to by the honorable member have been answered.
Bomb Incident in Sydney. (Question No. 308.)
rns asked the Attorney-
General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
Circumstances surrounding the injury by a bomb explosion of the man to whom the question refers have been investigated by the New South Wales Police. The New South Wales Police have informed my officers thatthey are unable to determine how or when the bomb which he was apparently carrying came into his possession. (Question No. 310.)
rns asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– I refer the honorable member to my answer to question No. 308.
m asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 to 3. As a standard practice, all applications for passports are examined before a passport is issued. Following the events in Yugoslavia and
West Germany - see answer to question No. 73 - passport applications by any person of Yugoslav origin are being subjected to additional processing. Action taken by the Department of Immigration on any case would depend on the circumstances of that case.
Telephone Services. (Question No. 338.)
son asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1. (a) As at 3 1st July, 1964, deferred applications in each Stale were -
b asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
son asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Telephone Department because of the low scale of salaries. An officer from the Department visited 65 schools and addressed approximately 12,210 boys this year in the metropolitan area of Sydney in connection with the Technician-in-Training Scheme. Every co-operation was received from the School Authorities and although admission was refused at seven schools this resulted from the School Authorities concerned wanting pupils in the Third Vear to continue schooling in 1965 to contest the new certificate examination to be held at the end of the Fourth Year for the first time. Although precise information is not available in respect of the country areas, indications are that the situation is similar to the metropolitan area. For the State as a whole a total number of 2,018 applications has been received for this year’s TechnicianinTraining examination to meet a requirement of approximately 320 trainees. This compares favorably with previous years.
s asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Rates on Commonwealth Property. (Question No. 406.)
son asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
What (a) local government rates have been levied and (b) ex gratia payments have been made in lieu of rales, in respect of Commonwealthowned property in each Slate during each of the last ten years?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
A similar question was asked by the honorable member in 1962 and the information requested was provided for the financial years 1957-61 (“Hansard”, 10th October 1962, page 1392). The collation of this information involved many months of hard work and accounting. In view of this and in view of the obvious trend of movement in the figures given then and reproduced below, I feel sure that the honorable member will be able to interpolate these figures sufficiently, back to 1954-55 from 1956-57 and forward from 1960-61 to 1963-64. By so doing, from figures which are presently available, my department will be saved many months of time and consequent expense:
m asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
How many application for telephones were received and how many telephones were installed in each month during the last two financial years?
– The following statement sets out the position -
– On 11th August in reply to a question from the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver), I said that 1 would check to see whether a request had been received from the Premier of Western Australia for Commonwealth assistance for the victims of the recent severe floods in the southwest portion of that State. No such request had been received at that time but I have now received a letter from Mr. Brand in which he has asked for financial assistance from the Commonwealth. Mr. Brand has especially mentioned the hardships experienced by people living in the towns and districts of Collie, Nannup and Bunbury. Commonwealth assistance for the relief of personal distress will, of course, be available to the State in the usual way on a £1 for £1 basis. The Premier’s letter is at present receiving urgent attention.
s asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
Australian Regular Army and (b) the Citizen Military Forces during the years 1961-62, 1962-63 and 1963-64?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Military Forces enlistments (all categories) -
s asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice -
– This information is unavailable.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 August 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19640827_reps_25_hor43/>.