25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. COUTTS presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that, in the 1966 Budget, age and invalid pensions under the Social Services Act, married couples included, be 50 per cent, of the male basic wage with cost of living adjustments tied.
Petition received and read.
A similar petition was presented by Mr. Harding.
Mr. LUCHETTI presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Government implement Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by providing increased social services and housing benefits for the aged, the invalid, the widowed and their dependants.
Petition received and read.
Similar petitions were presented by Mr. Chipp, Mr. Irwin and Mr. Buchanan.
Petitions severally received.
– Honorable members will be aware that a conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers will shortly be held in London. The conference will open on the 6th September and will continue until 15th September. I shall be leaving Australia next week to attend this conference as Leader of the Australian delegation. I expect to be away not longer than three weeks, during which time my colleague, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Right Honorable John McEvven, will be Acting Prime Minister.
Accompanying me at the conference will be the Minister for External Affairs, the Right Honorable Paul Hasluck. Senator Gorton will act for the Minister for External Affairs during Mr. Hasluck’s absence overseas, and in this chamber Mr. McEwen will represent the Acting Minister.
– May I ask the Prime Minister a question?
– Order! The honorable member is out of order.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Interior. The honorable gentleman will be aware that the tourist industry is rapidly becoming a major earner of overseas currency. Has the film section of the Department of the Interior any plans in mind to produce films similar to “ From the Tropics to the Snow “ for display overseas to advertise Australia’s tourist attractions?
– 1 assume from the honorable member’s remarks that he is pleased with the production of the film “ From the Tropics to the Snow “ about which laudable comments have been made not only in this country but also overseas. lt has won several awards. One of the most notable favorable comments, to my mind, is contained in a letter which the Commonwealth Film Unit received from one of the major shipping lines operating between North America and Europe. This line said that the film was one of the best tourist films it had ever had on its passenger ships. We have in production tourist films on such subjects as surfing, our beaches, our animals, our cultural way of life and the Barrier Reef, but none of them is quite the same as “ From the Tropics to the Snow “ which is a humorous film designed to hold people’s interest. As time goes by we will be looking for more novel productions like “ From the Tropics to the Snow “.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to a report in this morning’s Press to the effect that certain Baptists in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics have been gaoled and that the crime alleged against them included “ teaching God’s word to children aged 8 to 11 years and persistently and systematically accustoming them to a religious outlook “? Would this make a mockery of the Soviet claim, so often repeated for them by their fifth column propagandists in Australia, to the effect that there is freedom of religion in Russia? Will the Minister ask the Australian Ambassador in Moscow to obtain a report of this instance and similar instances and will he make that report available for the perusal of honorable members?
– My attention has been directed to this newspaper report; in fact, the honorable member performed that kind service for me himself. I appreciate his drawing my attention to the item. The Australian Government receives from various quarters regular reports regarding all aspects of life in the Soviet Union. I can say with confidence that our Ambassador in Moscow will have some cognisance of this report and in due course, in despatch or in a cabled report, will draw our attention to it and give his comments on it. After studying our own Ambassador’s reports I will consider the request made by the honorable gentleman.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. Is it true that more than 5 per cent, of conscripts called up in the first year of the present national service training scheme have been discharged from the Army? If so, will the Minister tell the House how many conscripts were discharged and for what reasons? In particular, is it true that some 57 conscripts have been discharged because they were regarded as unsuitable for training? If so, what does “ unsuitable for training” mean?
– The honorable member is correct when he says that about 5 per cent, of national servicemen were discharged over the course of the first year of national service, but this figure includes all those who were delivered to the Army by the Department of Labour and National Service. As the honorable member will know from matters which were raised in the House during the last sessional period, there was some difference of interpretation of the medical standards that were being applied by Labour and National Service and Army doctors. There has since been closer liaison.
– The Minister has admitted it now.
– It is common for people in the medical profession to make a different interpretation of a condition. This is something that I would have thought it would be easy for one to expect, especially since this was in the first year of the scheme. There were tremendous difficulties. My colleague had to operate with a great number of civilian doctors who did not have experience in the matters that were required. This is not to imply that the errors in judgment, if there were errors in judgment, were more on one side than the other. There have been consultations between the departments and now we believe that the interpretations of the strict standards required by the Army are being more uniformly applied. This was the largest category who made up the element of the 5 per cent, referred to. Therefore they were people who were in the Army for, as it were, only a day or two. I will get a more precise analysis of other people who have been discharged over the course of the year a.nd provide the information to the honorable member.
– In addressing a question to the Treasurer I refer to the report from the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications under the distinguished chairmanship of my honorable friend the member for Ballaarat, and in particular to the recommendation for the establishment of Government book shops in the capital cities. Since members of the public are unaware of the range of Government publications, and since, when they do know about the existence of a particular publication, they do not know where to get it, and often ask members of Parliament to obtain it for them, is it proposed to take action on this report at an early date, particularly since it was published as long ago as May 1964, more than two years ago?
– I can sympathise with the point of view of the honorable gentleman. In recent days I have been making inquiries as to when the central government publishing office will come into existence. I have been informed that there has been some delay, but that the people involved are now attempting to overcome it. I understand that a submission for Cabinet is now in the course of preparation. I shall make certain that it is completed soon and is presented to the Cabinet so that a decision can be made quickly. I have also - this occurred only this morning - had presented to me a second report on the work of the Government committee concerned. I hope that, by leave, I shall be able to make a ministerial statement immediately after question time.
– My question addressed to the Minister for External Affairs concerns the United Nations seminar which is being held in Brasilia this week to discuss the effect of apartheid on international relations and the measures to be taken to eliminate it. Will the Minister confirm that Australia has declined to attend the seminar despite the fact that such close associates of Australia as Britain, the United States, New Zealand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Japan are attending it? Why did the Government not take this early and appropriate opportunity to correct any misunderstanding of Australia’s attitude which has flowed from the Government’s earlier refusal to heed the General Assembly’s appeal for contributions to help the victims of apartheid and from Sir Percy Spender’s recent casting vote in the International Court of Justice?
– I am not sure that from memory I can say that we have decided not to attend this seminar, but I am not aware that we are attending. Seminars and gatherings of this kind are numerous. They are organised well in advance, and certainly any decision that may have been taken that it was not an occasion on which we could send an Australian representative would have been taken long before the events referred to by the honorable gentleman in the rest of his question. I am sure the honorable gentleman will realise that in international activities today in all continents there are many gatherings of this kind and if, as I think is probable, we are not attending, it would not be because of any deliberate rejection of the importance of the subject or any shirking of discussion, or opportunity for discussion. It would simply be that among the many commitments we have and the many opportunities for discussions of a similar kind we have decided that this was not one that fell immediatelyinto the field of practical possibility.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. Has he seen statements that fewer South Vietnamese soldiers died in the first six months of this year than in the corresponding period last year, and that the South Vietnamese Army is now playing a minor role in the war against the Communists? Do these statements, which are attempting to convey the impression that the South Vietnamese are losing interest, or are not sharing in the dangers of the war, represent the true position?
– I did see an article that gave the kind of impression to which the honorable member has referred. It needs to be borne in mind that in the first six months of last year the South Vietnamese Army was not getting anything like the military support from other free world forces that it now is. At that time, in an effort to meet the threat that faced South Vietnam, the South Vietnamese forces were probably spread too thinly for the commitments they had to undertake. This meant that they were fighting in circumstances where they should have had additional forces available. Ifthe allegation is correct, this is the reason why the South Vietnamese casualties in the first six months of last year were greater than they were in the first six months of this year. In the intervening period, of course, there has been a tremendous build up of free world, and particularly of United States, forces. However, this in no way means that the South Vietnamese forces are not playing a very active part in the conflict.
I visited the 1st Corps at Da Nang when I was there recently. Only two weeks before, the South Vietnamese forces, without outside assistance, had had quite a significant victory in an operation of more than battalion size against the Vietcong. This has happened on not infrequent occasions. I think it needs to be borne in mind that, in the United States, newspapers are concerned with the activities of United States forces. They want to report the exploits of their own troops. In Australia, our newspapers are more concerned with the exploits of the Australian task force than they are with the exploits of either the South Vietnamese forces or the United States forces. This makes it quite easy to make a wrong interpretation of the activities that are being undertaken by the South Vietnamese forces. I saw not the slightest sign that they were losing interest in the conflict. Indeed, I believe there was a greater dedication, a much greater sense of purpose and more sincere belief in ultimate victory than there was when I was in South Vietnam on a private visit two years ago.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the PostmasterGeneral, by saying that on 19th August 1964 the honorable gentleman, in answer to a question, advised the House that the Post Office was experimenting with a home telephone meter to record the number of calls made from a particular telephone so as to assure subscribers that they were not overcharged. I ask the Minister: What progress has been made in this direction in the two years since he answered the previous question?
– I think that honorable members will appreciate that scientific investigation of this nature often takes a considerable time. I am unable to give any further information, other than that the investigations into this proposal are still continuing.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question about the employment of married women in the Commonwealth Public Service. Is he yet in a position to announce a decision on the removal of the marriage bar which now prevents married women from continuing in the Public Service on a permanent basis?
– I am very pleased to say that the administrative detail in this matter has now been worked out and the issues resolved. Cabinet has approved the submission for a bill to this House to remove the marriage bar in the Commonwealth Public Service. My intention is to introduce the bill before the House rises. Whether it can be squeezed into the parliamentary timetable will depend on the length of speeches made on other subjects.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister now in view of the fact that he will be leaving soon and will not be back for two or three weeks to answer this very important question. On Tuesday last I sought from him an assurance that the same opportunities and privileges will be provided for servicemen serving in Vietnam who wish to stand as candidates for the Parliament as will be provided for other candidates. To that question the right honorable gentleman replied that he felt that there would be no difficulty in following past practice and that he would look into the matter to see Whether this could be done. I now ask him whether he has looked into the matter and, if so, with what result.
– I had a talk with the Attorney-General on this matter. He has been looking into the legal aspects of it. It may be that an amendment of our existing legislation will be necessary. If that proves to be so, I am sure we will be able to count on the co-operation of honorable gentlemen opposite in giving it a speedy passage through the Parliament. I can assure the honourable gentleman that the matter is well in hand.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Health a question on noise abatement. Can the Minister tell the House what progress has been made by the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories in the effective control of noise nuisance in Australia? When will he be able to announce its recommended uniform standards of noise limits and noise abatement machinery? On account of the national importance and public interest throughout Australia in the effective control of noise nuisance, will the Minister arrange for this work to be expedited and given high priority by the Laboratories, as well as arrange for quarterly progress reports of the work on this matter to be published in the daily Press?
– The Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories is very conscious of the importance of establishing uniform noise standards and in the abatement of noise which may be a cause of irritation to people.
– Order! There is too much noise in the chamber.
– However, it has had to delay this work in order to undertake work of higher priority; in particular, work connected with military and defence projects, with aviation noise, sonic booms, and with aspects of industrial noise causing injury to health and deafness. It takes considerable time to assess the results of the work done in the Laboratories but the results are published as quickly as possible in scientific journals and in the report of the Laboratories. However, I will have a close look at the possibility of giving the results of the Laboratories’ work in this field wider publicity than it is being given at the moment.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. I understand that there is a conference being held in Canberra this week of delegates from 38 white collar organisations, some of them trade unions, but most of them bodies not affiliated with the trade union movement. Is it a fact that the leaders of these organisations asked the Prime Minister to receive a deputation and that he refused? Was similar treatment meted out to the leaders of this organisation by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Minister for Labour and National Service? If this is so, will the Prime Minister explain why the Government differentiates between white collar workers, representatives of employers, and representatives of the Australian Council of Trade Unions who come here from time to time to put their views on the economy and on matters affecting wages and conditions generally? In view of the importance of this organisation which represents at least 250,000 members, how can the Government explain its actions - to use the vernacular - in brushing them off?
– There was no brushing off. The honorable gentleman is getting into a habit of creating his own arguments and then proceeding to knock them down, without there being any basis of fact for them. There are literally thousands of organisations in Australia that want to see governments and the representatives of the ministries of those governments.
I do not know how much more Ministers - and I can say this with some feeling in my own case - can cram into the number of hours in any one week. As a matter of general course, unless there are the most abnormal circumstances, my practice when I receive requests of this kind is to ask those seeking a personal interview to put their views to me in writing. I add, in answering their requests, that if after study of the views that are put in writing I feel it would be of advantage to have some personal discussion with them then I shall try to arrange this. That was the reply I gave to the members of this particular organisation. There was no question of brushing them off. They were requested to put their views in writing and I remember adding the usual rider to that suggestion that if after a study of what had been put to me it was thought convenient or appropriate to have some personal discussion, this would be done.
– Might I comment that the Prime Minister sees the A.C.T.U. and the manufacturers, so why will he not see this body which represents a quarter of a million people?
– The honorable gentleman states that I see the A.C.T.U. I have always, when requested by the President of the A.C.T.U. to see him, endeavoured to do so, because I recognise the President of the A.C.T.U. as the official spokesman not for any one particular union but for the trade union movement generally throughout Australia. From time to time we see the representatives of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia or the Associated Chambers of Commerce. They see us on behalf of bodies representative of the national field in a particular section of industry.
– I think these unions represent about a quarter of a million people.
– Yes, but there are practical limits, as the honorable gentleman must realise if he is fair about the matter. The point I make is that the Government tries to deal as fairly as possible and with as widely representative bodies of opinion in the community as it is physically able to do.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Industry seen reports of a proposal to manufacture 1 00,000 tons of paperboard in New Zealand, almost exclusively for the Australian market, and the comment by the Managing Director of Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd., Mr. Wilson, to the effect that there will not be a shortage of Australian production needed to meet Australia’s requirements of this type of paper, when the New Zealand paper is in production? Is this kind of undertaking contemplated under the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement? Does the Agreement tie the Government’s hands against taking anti-dumping action?
– I am not able to say of my own knowledge whether there will be a market opportunity in Australia for the tonnage and type of paperboard referred to without a significant conflict with the Australian industry in its present dimensions or as expanded under existing plans. I make the observation, however, that a free trade area provides the opportunity for the various partners to achieve substantial benefits by specialisation and by cooperation. On the other hand in certain circumstances it could result in uneconomic and harmful competition. If the Australian paper industry can be damaged by New Zealand competition I am equally sure that the New Zealand paper industry can be damaged by Australian competition, and this would be a most unhappy course for the manufacturers involved in the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. I sincerely hope that this sort of competition will not eventuate. Both the New Zealand and the Australian paper industries will find ample opportunities in the total free trade area market of the future without damaging the prospects for existing industries in either country. While we have no free trade area arrangements with Japan, our experience with that country gives us good guidance.
I am talking about the interests of Australian manufacturing industry but I am getting nothing but heckling from the members of the Labour Party. I will continue to try to safeguard the interests of Australian manufacturing industry. Relevant to this whole issue I observe that while there is no free trade area between Australia and Japan there is an understanding between the governments and the industries of both countries. It is not the words of the Japanese trade treaty that have led to the great benefits that have been experienced; it is the observance of the spirit that was engendered at the time the treaty was negotiated which has led to the enormous mutual advantage to the economies of Australia and Japan. This is the kind of spirit that it is contemplated and intended should be observed in the relationship between Australia and New Zealand in the free trade area. I believe that this would bring great advantages and that there could be a significant expansion of trade under these trading arrangements without any damage to either of the trading partners.
– Is it fair to honorable members who wish to ask questions for the Minister to take up so much time?
– The Leader of the Opposition can form his own judgment on that.
– I think it is an abuse of question time.
– I say that unless the industries of Australia and New Zealand work together in the development of the free trade area in a spirit similar to that which exists between Australian and Japanese industries, friction will result. We want to see a record of co-operation between these industries, not a record of retaliation, and I hope that any plans that are made will be formulated with this objective carefully in mind.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Would I be in order in moving an extension of time for the Minister?
– Order! The honorable member is out of order.
– He is not even funny; he is just pathetic. With regard to the question about dumping - and I hope that this is regarded as of interest to Australian industry - the free trade area agreement provides that there shall be consultation if there is an issue of dumping, and if the matter is not resolved by consultation Australia is as free to take anti-dumping action in respect of New Zealand products, as it is in respect of products from any other country.
– 1 would like to ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question concerning the fishing industry. Has Australia entered into any agreement with Japan to conduct research into fishing in Australian waters? If so, is a Japanese research vessel at present working in Australian waters? If it is, what is the estimated cost of this venture and will the Minister make a full report to the House on any data or information obtained from this venture?
– The Japanese could possibly have a research vessel in international waters off Australia. I would be surprised if they have not because they are very intensive in their fishing operations, not only in these waters but in all waters. No agreement has been made with them. I think I would, as Minister, know if one had been made. However, I will have a check made and let the honorable member know. If any information of the kind mentioned by the honorable member has been obtained I will make it available to the Parliament. But I would expect that in view of their intensive fishing operations throughout the world the Japanese would have research vessels at sea. Over the years we have had an arrangement with the Japanese so far as pearl fishing is concerned. Although there is no Japanese pearl shell fishing in operation at the present time, the agreement still operates between Australia and Japan regarding the taking of pearl shell. In that spirit we have preserved the industry and it is again expanding. I know of no agreement of the kind referred to by the honorable member.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question about a speech made recently by Mr. Douglas Jay, President of the British Board of Trade, in which he told a Canadian audience that he believed that the British Commonwealth and Europe should seek to become a complete free trade area. Has the British Government taken any initiative along the lines suggested by Mr. Jay? Will the right honorable gentleman say whether his Department has had an opportunity to assess the significance of Mr. Jay’s suggestion and its relation to the work represented by the Kennedy Round?
– I have no knowledge of the matter referred to by the honorable member but I unhesitatingly make the observation that if there were a free trade area between all Commonwealth countries, including Australia, and Europe, including Britain, many Australian manufacturing industries which today need high tariff protection could not survive under the duty free competition from Europe. On the other hand, I say quite as unequivocally that many European agricultural industries could not survive under the competition of the efficient Australian agricultural industries. So there really is not a basis for contemplating a free trade area between these two groups of countries.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether a decision has been made by his Department to expend television services to the Northern Territory, which is the only area in Australia still without television. If so, what centres will be covered and when will the work proceed? If no such decision has been made, where in the list of priorities is the Territory placed?
– We are coming to the end of stage 4 of the introduction of television and perhaps one could call the introduction of translator stations stage 5. We have had no advice from the Australian. Broadcasting Control Board as to whether we should move into other areas. I have asked the Board whether it will investigate this matter and advise me so that I may take up the matter with the Government and enable the Government to make a decision. Until that is done 1 can give no indication of when the Northern Territory and other parts of Australia which would, like to have television are likely to obtain it.
– Has the Minister for National Development been kept informed by his Department of the exciting results of the current cotton crop at Kununurra in Western Australia? Will he advise the House whether the yields mentioned in Press articles this morning are accurate and further confirm the high hopes of cotton farmers in this north-western region?
– I have not seen the articles in this morning’s Press but I can confirm that the results on the Ord this year have been a good deal better than we expected earlier in the season. Every return that is coming in from there tends to show an increase in the average which I believe is at the moment just over 800 lb. of lint per acre. However, I have heard that one of the stud crops recently harvested - this is a crop harvested last year and left to grow again - produced the extraordinarily high result of 1,176 lb. of lint per acre.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: What procedure will be followed to enable all servicemen in Vietnam to cast votes in the forthcoming Federal elections? In the case of national servicemen who have not previously been enrolled in Australia, what procedure is to be followed to ensure that all their votes will be counted and not ruled out of order because of technicalities about enrolment?
-The normal provisions of the postal vote will be made available to all servicemen in South Vietnam through their battalion offices. They will make the usual application for a postal vote that anybody makes.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. No doubt he has seen the comments by leaders of the Returned Services League regarding the value of rifle training. Can he give me any information about the position of the rifle clubs of Australia with respect to the obtaining of ammunition, the use of range facilities and the future of the clubs?
– The Army will continue to co-operate with rifle clubs in the use of range facilities wherever this is possible. This is a long established practice. But as the honorable member will know, some considerable time ago a decision was made that rifle clubs of themselves do not add anything to the military effort and to the defence of the country, and that therefore Army subsidisation of rifle club shooting should cease. However, where the Army can co-operate in making supplies available to rifle clubs at normal prices, this will be done. I understand that there are under way at the present time some discussions which could lead to a changeover by rifle clubs from .303 in. to 7.62 millimetre ammunition. I am not quite sure how far these negotiations have gone but I would imagine that this changeover would, in the long run, be cheaper for the rifle clubs than persisting with .303 in. ammunition which is tending to become more difficult to purchase.
– by leave - I wish to make a ministerial statement in connection with the recommendations contained in the report made by the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications.
A Government Publisher - Recommendations 1-6, 14-19, 32-33 and 55. This group of recommendations relates to the Committee’s main recommendation for the establishment of a central Government publishing office. These recommendations are being carefully studied before being placed before the Government.
Style and Format - Recommendations 7-13. In October 1964, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), who was then Treasurer, established a Committee under the chairmanship of the honorable member for Ballaarat, Mr. Dudley Erwin, M.P., to produce a style manual for Government publications. The style manual is now in the final stages of production. A type book is also being prepared and the Government Printer expects that it will be available shortly after the issue of the style manual, but before the end of this year. As the Committee acknowledged, “ the services of a competent and imaginative typographer with adequate supporting facilities and staff” are essential to an improved standard of publications. The Committee was advised of the endeavours to recruit a qualified typographer which commenced in December 1958 and which culminated in an appointment from Her Majesty’s Stationery Office in February 1964. A Designs Branch has been established within the Government Printing Office under the control of this officer.
Distribution - Recommendations 20-28. A Publications Branch has been established in the Government Printing Office to improve the distribution of publications. Additional equipment to improve the mail order service has all been installed, except for one machine on order from the United States of America. A list of Commonwealth publications available from the Government Printing Office is now issued each month. Departments have been invited to notify their publications in this list. They have also been advised of the additional distribution facilities now available or to become available shortly, and the Government Printer has advised departments of his ability to relieve them of the task of selling or otherwise distributing their publications. Negotiations are continuing for the use of facilities which have been offered by the New South Wales Government in Sydney. The recommendation for a capital city bookshop will be considered in conjunction with the recommendation for a central Government publishing office.
Publications of Other Governments - Recommendation 29. Her Majesty’s Stationery Office was unwilling to grant an agency but has agreed to the sale of its publications by the Government Printer. Negotiations are proceeding with Canada, New Zealand and the United States.
Depository Libraries - Recommendations 30 and 31. The Australian Advisory Council on Bibliographical Services has been asked to nominate the libraries which might be designated as Depository Libraries.
Parliamentary and Ministerial Papers - Recommendations 34-41, 46-54, 56 and 57. An alternative size (International Size B5) has been recommended for Parliamentary Papers by the Government Printer and will be adopted from the beginning of the new Parliament in 1967. It has also been decided that Parliamentary Papers and Ministerial Papers will be bound in separate series, but with a common index. Otherwise these recommendations will be given effect from the commencement of the next Parliament. Advice on imprints has been received from the Attorney-General’s Department and practice now conforms to that advice.
Treaties - Recommendations 42-43. A separate “ Treaty “ series will be retained but pending ratification, those treaties in the making of which Australia has participated will appear in the “ Select Documents “ series.
Distribution to Senators and Members - Recommendations 44-45. Monthly catalogues of Parliamentary and Government publications are supplied to Senators and Members, and boxes have been provided in Parliament House to assist in the ordering of publications. The provision of a permanent display in Parliament House is being kept under review.
Copyright - Recommendation 58. A statement on copyright will appear as an appendix to the Style Manual.
Acts and Statutory Rules - Recommendations 59-61. Figures are now being used in place of words in the references to sections in legislation. The Parliamentary Draftsman endeavours to arrange the reprinting of Acts in pamphlet form; the frequency with which Statutes and Statutory Rules are consolidated is a matter for the Attorney-General.
Hansard - Recommendations 62-66. On an earlier occasion, following the report in 1954 of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Hansard, the Presiding Officers, after the Leaders of the Parties had been consulted, concurred in their rejection of such a proposal.
Recommendation 67. This will be considered in conjunction with the recommendation for the establishment of a central Government Publishing Office.
I present the following paper -
Parliamentary and Government Publications - Recommendations of Joint Select CommitteeMinisterial Statement - and move -
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 24th August (vide page 397), on motion by Mr. McMahon.
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 condemns the Budget because -
lt fails to recognise the injustices wrought upon wage earners because real wages have fallen as prices have risen faster than wages.
It makes inadequate adjustments to social service payments.
It fails to recognise the serious crisisin education.
It does not acknowledge the lack of confidence on the part of the business community in the future growth of the economy.
It does not recognise the need of further basic development, public and private, in addition to the need for adequate defence, and that balanced development can only take place by active encouragement to Australian industry and co-operation with the States.
It does nothing to relieve our dependence on a high rate of foreign investment to finance the deficit in our balance of payments.”
– I wish to commend the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) for the excellent Budget he has succeeded in bringing down despite a number of very unfavourable factors. In the face of these factors which would tend to react to the detriment of the economy, the Treasurer has succeeded in creating a mildly expansionary Budget - a Budget which meets the needs of the country without in any way increasing taxation. As a Queenslander I am more than satisfied that my home State has received very favourable consideration. If one looks at the grants and payments made to Quensland one finds that there, has been an increase of more than 10.5 per cent, in the last year, compared with an average over the whole of Australia of 9.2 per cent. Of course a number of factors are responsible for this. However, I believe that Queensland has been very fairly considered in this matter and I express my gratitude.
The only possible criticism that one could have is in the matter of money made available for housing. We all realise that this has an historic background and that the present situation is due to the incredible ineptitude of the Queensland Labour Government just at the end of the war. It is due to that Government that Queensland has suffered since in the matter of moneys made available for housing. I commend very much indeed the increased payments to be made in respect of defence. This is a matter in which we differ very strongly from the Opposition. We know that honorable members opposite have always objected to payments made for the defence of our country.
– That is wrong; that is untrue.
– It is perfectly true.
– It is deliberately untrue.
– It is completely true. If one considers the magnificent state of this country, the high standard of living and the excellent social services which are comparable with those of any country, one must realise that jealous eyes will be, and in fact are, directed towards us. We cannot expect to exist as an entity unless we are prepared to defend ourselves. That is why I commend this increase of over 90 per cent, in payments for defence over the last three years. This is very realistic, and yet I marvel that this can be achieved without an increase in taxation. I commend the Treasurer on this matter.
A number of minor matters are, I believe, deserving of a Queenslander’s praise. I refer in particular to the continuation of the superphosphate bounty and the institution of the nitrogenous fertilisers bounty. These will help enormously in the improvement of primary production in Australia as a whole and in my State in particular. These bounties will be most important in the earning of overseas funds by increasing our exports of primary products. An increase is undoubtedly in the process of occurring and will be accelerated by these bounties. Another point on which I wish to commend the Government is the increase of the standard rate pension by$1 per week. We know that pensioners have been feeling increasing hardship and they have been, in many instances, finding it difficult to live in a manner which encourages their self-respect. I believe that the payment of an extra$1 per week will go a long way towards fulfilling this need. We know that there will continue to be difficulties and anomalies. There are other ways in which pensioners may receive help, but this increase will be of enormous benefit to them. [Quorum formed.] Honorable gentlemen opposite interrupt my speech by such methods as directing attention to the state of the House because they do not like the truth being brought to their notice. The story of the Government’s record highlights their miserable performance when they had the reins of office so long ago. it is quite obvious, of course, that the people of this country know of their miserable performance and that is why it is so long since honorable gentlemen opposite were in office. 1 confidently predict that it will be an equally long time before they get into office again. I thank providence for this, because I want to see my country prosper. I have a great regard for my country and I do not want to see it thrown to the wolves opposite.
Allow me to make a few references to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) on this Budget and in particular to refer to the amendment that he moved. I completely reject this amendment, lt is not only banal, it is contradictory. In certain ways it is unrealistic, and it does not state the facts. For example, the amendment suggests that this Government “ .ails to recognise the injustices wrought upon wage earners “. ls an unparalleled high rate of wages an injustice to wage earners, especially when those wage earners are granted their incomes by a commission free from the control of this Parliament? The amendment also claims that the Budget makes inadequate adjustments to social service payments. The Leader of the Opposition knows very well that in 1949 the Labour Government gave the pensioners a miserable £2 2s. 6d., which in dollars is $4.25 as compared with the rate of SI 3 now paid to pensioners. The pension ls about three times what it was in 1949, but the cost of living has not increased by three times since 1949. The Labour Party says that it will do more for the pensioners, but it will have to demonstrate how it will do it. The economy of the country was in such a plight in 1949 owing to the mismanagement of the Labour Party that the Labour Government could not do better for the pensioners than a lousy £2 2s. 6d. a week.
There are a number of other items in this amendment moved by the Leader of the
Opposition but I do not think I would be justified in spending much time on them; they are too trivial. I have just had it brought to my notice by a colleague that the Labour Party on occasions even reduced the payments to age pensioners.
Paragraph 6 of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition says of the Budget - - does nothing to relieve our dependence on a high rate of foreign investment to finance the deficit in our balance of payments.
The honorable gentleman contradicts himself, of course. His whole speech disappointed me. I found it nebulous and trite. I really could not find in it anything stimulating or anything which could be of use to the Government. In fact, I found a speech which pretty well typified what we have had to put up with from honorable gentlemen opposite during the last few years.
– lt was not as digestible as tripe.
– No, it was not. The Leader of the Opposition objects to our obtaining capital from overseas, yet in his speech he said -
I ask: Does the Government realise this? Increased productivity, for the most part, can only come out of new capital equipment -
Here at least he sees a glimmering of truth. He sees that we do need money for capital equipment. But the only way a Labour Government would seek to provide money for capital equipment would be out of the Government’s own resources. The simple fact is that such resources do not exist, and we can only conclude that a Labour Government would provide these resources in a Socialist context. A Labour Government would provide the money in one or both of the only two ways open to Socialists. It would increase taxation and/or it would use the printing press, a policy which we know would erode the value of money like lightning.
I should like to point to one other contradiction in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition before moving on to something a bit more substantial. Speaking about the drought he implied that the drought is not so bad as the Treasurer would make out and that we are blaming the drought for our inability to reduce taxation and do certain other things. He said -
But on the other hand, it is a convenient excuse for the Government to put forward for the economy not doing better.
Yet, Sir, we find, as he began to sum up, that he said -
Wherein then, is the Budget deficient? In the first place it severely underestimates the continuing impact of the drought.
If that is not a contradiction in terms I am afraid I do not know what is.
To sum up briefly: What would the Labour Party do, as far as we can gather from what the Leader of the Opposition said? First, if honorable members opposite are going to do all they say they are going to do, taxation must rise. It would rise as it always rises in a Socialist state. We would also be left friendless in South East Asia. I wish 1 had time to speak more about this matter. We had this confirmed at a Labour Caucus meeting yesterday. No doubt the Labour Party would take away all of our troops who are defending our high standard of living and everything we believe in. It would take them holus bolus out of South East Asia, and at the same time it would not only interfere with and seriously undermine the defences of this country but would also leave us friendless in South East Asia. We have heard a lot of pap on this subject from members of the Labour Party who suggest that we are losing friends in South East Asia because our troops are there. Quite the contrary is the case. Our friendship with South East Asia is strengthening. We have an exciting future there if only we continue to play our part, as we can and as, in fact, we are doing at present.
The other point I think I should mention about the speech of the Leader of the Opposition has to do with his remark on wages and prices. It certainly sent a cold shiver down my spine, because obviously the Labour Party, if it gets in, is going to ape Uncle Harold in Britain and do what the Labour Government in Britain has done. It is going to adopt a wages and prices policy which will result in the pegging of wages and prices and will produce the dire results we see in Britain today. I ask honorable members to consider the difference today between the economy of Britain and the economy of Australia. In Britain we see so soon after the institution of wage and price pegging, the growth of unemployment. It is the beginning of a flood as everyone predicts. There is going to be widespread unemployment in Britain, What good is it to the wage earner to know he has a Socialist government if he has no job? This is what is going to happen. Australia, of course, will benefit from the British plight. We will get an enormous number of migrants from Britain, but that is not going to be much comfort to the people of Britain. If the Labour Party here were in office and did the same thing in Australia where would the jobless Australian workers go? Where would they be able to go?
I put it to you, Sir, that there would be a national calamity if the Labour Party were allowed to tinker with the economy. It forgets that the economy is an intensely sensitive apparatus which is operated upon by very subtle forces. If one is going to attempt to direct the economy in a certain direction one must be infinitely delicate in doing so. As we have seen time after time, the delicacy the Labour Party uses is the delicacy of the sledgehammer. If it sees an unwanted feature protruding in the economy, it endeavours to whack it off with a sledgehammer, and in doing so it might very well squash the economy flat. If we look at the performance of Socialist countries throughout the world, I do not think we need have much doubt that this is so. We need do no more than compare East Germany with West Germany, Russia with, shall we say, France, even though France has more than its fair share of Socialism. These things can be seen by examining the performance and not the theory of these matters, because the theories are still not completely understood.
I have referred to the fall in unemployment and I congratulate the Government an achieving the present situation. Registrants for employment are now only 1.2 per cent, of the estimated work force. That is a magnificent reflection of the way in which the economy is being guided. The number of recipients of unemployment benefit, which is more to the point, fell during the last month to 19,200, an infinitesimal fraction of the work force. The situation now is that the economy desperately needs people to work here. The employment position is so good that we are going down on our knees for workers. The people who are receiving unemployment benefit now are, to all intents and purposes, unemployable. There is no stigma in this; it is through no fault of their own. But they are literally unemployable What can we do? I see the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) sitting at the table. He is certainly playing his part magnificently. I said before that Harold Wilson is playing his part for us too by ensuring that we receive an increased flow of British migrants, and I thank him for this though I commiserate with the people of Britain. But is there anything else that can be done? I believe there is and I believe that this is a matter that has received insufficient consideration in the past. I refer to the employment of people in the older age groups, people over 65 years of age. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) adverted to this in his speech. It is a matter that merits very careful consideration, but it has received insufficient consideration.
Very few publications on the subject arc available. In Australia, there have been only one or two that deal with the matter and then not very fully. There is a report of an inter-departmental committee on the retiring age, which is dated about 1956. Though it is interesting, it is a pedestrian document. If 1 may use a flying term, I will say of the outlook of the people who prepared the report that visibility was nil. However, the report does contain some interesting statistics. Overseas, there have been a few publications but only a very few. The important point that we must remember here is that every country is completely different. I can think of no other field in which the factors can differ so completely from country to country. The position differs here, for example, because Australia is in the unique position of having very full employment. This does not obtain anywhere else in the world. Our population is ageing more than the population of other countries is, though it is ageing in a manner comparable with that of the United States of America and Western Europe. Admittedly, in vast areas of the world the average age and the average life expectancy are incredibly low. Consequently, these matters do not call for consideration in such countries. The coun tries of South East Asia form one such group.
It is interesting to note that the number of people over 65 years of age who are actively working is progressively failing, and I think this is bad. As I will point out in a moment, these people are better and better able to be employed now than they were, yet the number actually employed is falling. It is interesting to note that probably about half of the males aged 65 to 70 years are still working in one way or another, but only a very small proportion of the females in this age group are working. This is important. Why are so few people of this age being employed? There are a number of reasons and they have been gone into. The more important ones are, first, that their jobs have been taken over by women to an increasing extent. We know that women are being employed more extensively. The second reason is that there is less self employment. A large number of people over the age of 65 are self employed, and there is less of this in our economy. The third and fourth reasons can be linked. There is now much less economic necessity for them to continue to work and this is tied in with the pension and the fact, which I mentioned before, that our pension rate is very satisfactory when compared with rates in other countries. This has manifested itself in fewer people in this age group being employed. The fifth reason is that in the rural sector farms are becoming larger and more mechanised. This enables the older people to retire. The sixth reason is that the number of large firms is increasing and fewer small firms are available to employ people. The larger firms tend to retire people when they reach the age of 65 or thereabouts.
In 1963 a questionnaire was circulated by the Nuffield Foundation to people near the retiring age and the answers are rather interesting. In the age group 55 to 64 years, 56 per cent, of those asked did not admit to any strain, but 29 per cent, did and 15 per cent, admitted to a sense of fatigue. In the 65 to 69 age group, 69 per cent., or more than in the younger age group, did not admit to strain or fatigue; 20 per cent., or fewer of them, admitted to a sense of strain; and 11 per cent., again fewer, admitted to a sense of fatigue. I think this is very interesting. In the age group 70 and over, about the same number as in the 55 to 64 age group did not admit to a sense of strain but more admitted to a sense of fatigue. There may be some psychological factors here. Some of the over 70’s may have been cracking hardy. But nevertheless it seems that there is no greater strain or fatigue on the older people.
The type of work that these people were doing was considered. This is found in the report of the Nuffield Foundation on the 1963 survey. The possible difficulties of people in these age groups working was also investigated. The industries considered were engineering, chemicals, food processing, textiles, paper, local authorities and certain miscellaneous industries. This is a pretty broad spectrum to investigate. The Foundation found that in heavy manual operations, which one might think the older people could not tackle, it was plain that the handling of fairly heavy loads at intervals of time created few difficulties for the able bodied older men. This is very interesting. The report also said that they did not seem to find any undue difficulty in the manipulation of heavy weights; fatigue was traced rather to the length of time that had to be spent in standing or walking. The report said -
In other words, the idea that work has now been lightened for an older man, because there is less need for him to negotiate heavy loads, has no particular relevance.
It was found that continuous strenuous heavy physical work creates difficulties, but intermittent work of this sort is not a bar at all to older people. It was not good for older people to work at a high tempo. Shift work is by no means an insuperable problem, but it was recommended that it should be avoided if possible. Despite a lot of views to the contrary, the older people did not object to overtime, and many of them, especially maintenance workers, welcomed overtime because it enabled them to get on with the job of maintenance after the factory had closed down. Nervous strain was a problem. Also they did not welcome travelling long distances to work. It states in the summary, inter alia -
This is a very important point. This is relevant to what I suggest. I see that I do not have much time left in which to suggest it but I will get on with what I was saying and mention, first that those continuing to work after passing the age of 65 were asked why they did so. The figures show that 44.7 per cent, said that it was because of financial need; 25.3 per cent, said they were fit; 20.2 per cent, said that they preferred to work; and other miscellaneous reasons were given.
A study has been made of those people over the age of 65 who are on pensions and not working. It was found in Great Britain, where this survey was carried out, that at least half oE these people were fit enough to work. I put it to you, Sir, that in Australia that proportion will be much higher because a lot of the painful effects of old age are due to economic difficulties and work difficulties in younger age groups. In other words, if you are poor and have bad working conditions you will suffer more disabilities when you are old. These conditions obtain less and less. Therefore, there will be an increasingly fit work force over the age of 65. The proportion of people over the age of 65 is increasing seriously. Those people more than 60 years of age in about I960 would average a little over 11 per cent, in Australia. In 1975 they will average more than 14 per cent., and this proportion will continue to grow. I put it to you, Sir, that this will be a tremendous problem. When the age group that has resulted from the population explosion at the end of the war reaches the age of 65, this could be a problem and a crippling economic burden for Australia, especially if at the same time the migration rate falls - and we have no direct control over the latter. There could be a very serious strain on Australia’s economy and we should start to consider these matters.
I shall have to pass over some of the other remarks I had prepared on this subject but I will mention that in France in 1962 the Larocque Commission studied this matter and they decided that older workers should be encouraged to remain active but should not be obliged to do so; that there should be a continuous retraining and adjustment of the worker to the job and vice versa, throughout his working life; and that this retraining, should take cognisance of his increasing age and the alterations in working conditions, machines and such like. This Commission also suggested that there should be a new class of employment officer to specialise in the employment and adaptation of the ageing people.
I see I have only a minute of my time left. I believe that we should consider these matters very carefully in Australia today because of the reasons I have given, and for many others. I find that there are in Australia about 150,000 males between the age of 65 and 69 and 184,500 females of this age group. There is a total of 384,150 males over the age of 65 and 509,693 females. Of these, 184,189 males and 443,911 females are pensioners. That means to say that there are about 265.000 people in Australia not on a pension who are over the age of 65. I maintain that we could obtain a greatly increased work force if half of those people between the ages of 65 and 69 who are now receiving a pension could be employed. We would have another 45,000 male workers. We could get 60,000 females in the same category. This would mean that we would have an additional work force of 105,000.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), and in particular to refute a statement made yesterday by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) who, in answer to a question, referred to the enormous improvement in social services since this Government took office. But before doing so I would like to make a comment in regard to something said by the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs). He said that the Opposition had opposed finance for defence. That is an irresponsible statement. As honorable members would know, the Opposition has complained that there has been a lot of waste so far as defence expenditure is concerned and that the money provided could have been better spent. But we have never voted against it and the Australian Labour Party has always been known as a party supporting very strong defence for this country.
I will leave the remarks made by the honorable member for Bowman in regard to pensions for the moment and deal with them as I proceed. The general theme of his remarks was that social service benefits were greater in value today than they were in past years. That is untrue and is known to be untrue by those who make such a statement. As a matter of fact, the then Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) this to say during the 1964 Budget debate -
In the last Chine., budget the proportion of the gross national product provided for social services was 3.4 per cent. By 1959-60, the proportion had risen to 4.3 per cent., and in 1963-64 it was 4.8 per cent.
I have not checked those figures but I will accept them as being correct. Let us look at the situation since then. Last year the percentage of the gross national product spent on social services was 3.6 per cent. So there is not a great deal of difference between the amount expended then and the amount expended when the Chifley Government was in office. But there is an important factor that has to be taken into regard and which cannot be ignored. The population in 1949 was 7.8 million and it is now 11.5 million. That means that the percentages in the age groups have been disturbed. For example, in 1948 the number of pensioners as a percentage of population was 3.93. In 1949 the percentage was 4.06 - near enough to 4 per cent, for those two years which were the last two years of the Chifley Government. But in 1965 we found that the figure had risen to 5.53 per cent. This means that the amount spent on age pensioners in 1965 as compared to when Labour was in office was spread over approximately 41 per cent, more pensioners. In other words, for every 8 pensioners supported by the Labour Government, this Government is supporting 11. Therefore it would be strange if Labour had been spending more on pensions. But this does not mean that pensioners are getting higher pensions in comparison.
The same argument applies, of course, to other social services. It particularly applies to child endowment. Take 1951 for example when there were 2,365,000 children in receipt of endowment. By 1965 the number had increased to 3,546,000. So there are 50 per cent, more children now in receipt of child endowment which means that the bill for child endowment has increased tremendously. But it does not mean that the recipients of child endowment are getting more. Tn fact, they are getting considerably less in actual value. Also, since 1949, as is well known, the country has gone through a period of leaping inflation. The consumer price index has risen from 61 to 136.5, so that the value of money is much less today than it was in 1949. The Leader of the Opposition was able to show that prices had risen by 9 per cent, in the last two years. The Treasurer may argue that the amount spent on social services has increased but the argument is not very convincing to the recipient of the social service benefits - a pensioner or child endowment recipient - if the amount received will not buy as much. Surely the recipients of social service benefits are entitled to enjoy any improvement that there might be in the prosperity of this country; and the Government, of course, is always claiming that this country is becoming progressively more prosperous. However, I should like to refer to a booklet “Social Services in Australia - February 1965” which contains some comparisons concerning child endowment. In one table therein are details relating to the child endowment payable to a family with three children and that payment as a percentage of the average male earnings. In 1949 this family group received 11.5 per cent, of the average male earnings whereas in 1963 the amount received represented only 5 per cent. According to official documents the average male earnings in March of this year were S54.50 so in 1966 the amount payable to that family group represents only 4.5 per cent, of the average male earnings. In this table the payment to this family group is given as a percentage of the Sydney basic wage. In 1949 it was 15.8 per cent, whereas in 1963 it had dropped to 8.5 per cent. The Sydney basic wage is now $33.50 so the child endowment payment to the family with three children now represents 7.5 per cent, of that wage.
I emphasise that the recipients of social services are entitled to enjoy any increased prosperity that might exist. The pensioner should be entitled to enjoy any increased prosperity that the. Government claims to exist. In 1949 the pensioner received 24.8 per cent, of the average male earnings, but in 1963 he received only 21.1 per cent. Of course I am referring now to the time when married and single pensioners received the same rate of pension. In 1966. when there is a special pension for single pensioners, the pension represents 23.75 per cent, of the average male earnings, but the single unit of a pensioner couple - that is, one of the partners of a married pensioner couple - receives 21.5 per cent, of the average male earnings. This indicates that the pensioners are not enjoying the increased prosperity that this Government claims to exist. I say emphatically that every recipient of social service benefits has been short changed since this Government took office. Increases in benefits have not kept pace with inflation. Increases have been dragging behind costs and at the same time people have had to pay more for the shrunken benefits they receive. As a result of inflation over the years taxpayers have passed into higher income tax ranges. Although a man gets less in real wages in his pay packet the Government reaps more off him and gives him less in return. This emphasises the misleading statement in 1949 of the then Leader of the Opposition and later Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, who said -
The value of social services will be at least maintained. Indeed they will be increased. The pensioners can rely on us for justice.
Did the married pensioners get justice when they received a miserly increase in pension of 75c and had to wait two years for it, during which lime the cost of living increased by 9 per cent.? Was it justice to expect married pensioners to live on a pension between 1964 and 1966 that would buy less than the pension would buy in 1964. They have had to wait two years for the increase which they are just getting. Immediately an increase is granted the pension starts to lose its purchasing power, due to rising costs. This Government has turned a deaf ear on the plight of pensioners. Advances in medical science and knowledge have led to a rise in the standards of health with the result that people are living longer than was the case 60 years ago. This is a good thing, of course, but we should be concerned about the way in which they are living. If the majority of pensioners are living in poverty and in dire straits, this is a reflection on our society. Who can deny that a pensioner with nothing more than his pension, or little more than his pension, to exist on is living in poverty?
It has been said that a country’s standard of civilisation can be assessed from the way in which it treats its old people. Many thousands of aged people are being treated shabbily by this Government. Science may be helping them to live longer, but the policy of this Government seems to be directed at making their additional years miserable. One of the most shabbily treated groups of pensioners includes the pensioner with a dependent wife who has not yet reached the age of 60. The wife’s allowance remains at S6 a week. This means that an invalid pensioner and his dependent wife have to exist on S 19 a week. This is a substandard existence. Surely a couple in such circumstances should both be paid the full pension, which would give them §23.50 instead of $19. Whenever this matter is raised, the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) says: “ The wife can go out to work.” She may have been out of industry for 20 years, yet she is expected to go back to work. The husband may not be fit enough to be left alone and she may have to stay with him. If ever a government stands condemned this Government does for not taking some action to increase the allowable income for pensioners.
Abolition of the means test was planned by the Chifley Government and would have been accomplished in 1957. This is still part of our policy. In 1954 Dr. Evatt said that he would abolish the means test within the lifetime of the Parliament. This Government, of course, only pays lip service to the abolition of the means test. One can see this from the way in which it has kept the allowable income down. Since 1954 the allowable income has remained at £3 10s. or $7 a week. In 1954 it equalled the amount of the pension, so we can see how it has declined proportionately. In 1954 the allowable income represented 30 per cent, of the Federal basic wage. It now represents about 21.3 per cent, of the existing basic wage. To maintain its relationship with the basic wage the allowable income should be about $11 at present. The Australian Labour Party believes in justice to retired persons. These people are suffering when the standard of living of the community is supposed to be progressing. While the Government is giving lip service to the abolition of the means test it does not ease the provisions governing the allowable income. In fact, it restricts the allowable income and does not permit it to keep pace with the loss in the value of money.
We hear a lot of talk about shortages in the work force, but here is a source of labour, much of which is skilled and available and willing to work. The benefit of this labour force to the Australian economy would offset the cost to the Government. With the easing and ultimate abolition of the means test many of these people could earn more; consequently, they would pay taxation, and the administrative costs of the Department of Social Services would be reduced considerably. The abolition of the means test would assist the many thousands of loyal public servants who have paid heavy amounts compulsorily into superannuation funds. These people are actually paying twice. They have had to contribute to the National Welfare Fund by way of taxation but because of the means test they cannot draw from the Fund. In addition, they have been compelled to take out units in superannuation funds in accordance with their salary range. The means test is a most frustrating and annoying factor with which retired people are faced. It makes a mockery of thrift and it denies age pensions to those who save during their lifetime. The abolition of the means test is nor an impossible objective. Since 1958 age pensions have been paid in New Zealand to all over 65 years of age irrespective of income or assets. In Canada there is no means test after age 70 years. There is no means test in the U.K. for men over 70 years of age and women over 65. An exPrime Minister of Australia can get the English age pension, plus the lavish retiring allowance provided for him by this Government. I refer to Stanley Melbourne Bruce. The warden of the Cinque Ports, Sir Robert Menzies, can get the English age pension if he goes to live in that country.
I mention these matters just to demonstrate how stupid it is for us not to do something about the abolition of the means test. Every member of this Parliament including, I venture to say, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury), who is now at the table, has been guilty of advising aged people how to reduce their assets in order to qualify for the age pension. On the advice of members of this Parliament many people have taken world tours before applying for the age pension, so that money that could have been spent in Australia has been spent in other countries. Many people have spent money needlessly in order to qualify for the pension. This course has been forced upon them by the requirements of the means test. They ask: “ What is the use of saving when by doing so 1 will become disqualified for the pension? “ The means test is psychologically bad because it discourages thrift.
I emphasise that the total bill for social services given in the Budget does not reveal the real value of social service benefits to the recipients. I ask again: Are mothers getting as much purchasing power in their child endowment payments today as the mothers of 1949 did? Obviously they are not. The same applies to maternity allowances, funeral benefits, pensions and other social service benefits. The value of all these benefits has been clipped since this Government has been in office. When people were contributing to the National Welfare Fund before 1949 they believed that the money they were paying in would retain its value and they would get value for their money in social service benefits. For some years now they have realised that they have been the victims of a thimble and pea trick. They have given good money for bad. The value of the £1 has sunk to about 7s. since 1949. People are losing in two ways. The value of social service benefits has been clipped just as though an extra tax had been imposed, and people have moved into higher income tax groups without getting any more purchasing power in their pay packets. For instance, in 1949 a family on the basic wage, consisting of a man and wife and two children, paid 16s. a year in taxation. Now the same family unit on the basic wage pays 13s. a week or £33 16s. a year. Converting these amounts to dollars and cents, in 1949 this family paid S 1.60 and in 1966 it pays S67.60. Here let me quote an extract in support of my argument from the Taxpayers Bulletin of 2nd August -
The rate ot tax we all pay increases as inflation . . takes wages and salaries into higher income brackets.
Because income tax becomes disproportionately higher, it is necessary for the level of concessional deductions to be reviewed constantly and increased to levels consistent with present-day conditions.
In the past 12 months the male basic wage has risen by more than 33 per cent., and the tax payable by a man on the basic wage, with a wife and two children, has increased by 285 per cent. In that period, the deduction for a spouse has increased by only 10 per cent.
The subject has been considered at length by taxpayers’ associations in Australia and we consider that:
The deduction for a spouse should be increased to between $500 and $700.
The deduction for children under 16 should be increased to between $300 and $400.
The deductions for other classes of dependants should be increased appropriately.
That gives some indication of the way in which people have been passing into higher income tax groups and paying more tax without reaping the benefits that they should. As the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ said on 17th August 1966 -
Overall, minor concessions will be worth only $1.5 million to taxpayers - but their higher incomes, due largely to the basic-wage increase, will yield the Treasury an extra $274 million in taxation.
So we find that while the Treasurer takes $274 million extra in taxes, he returns to the taxpayers a miserly $1.5 million in minor concessions.
The absence of any help in this Budget for the family man is a tragedy. Consider the position of the young family man. He has to finance all his major home purchases, such as furniture, washing machine, refrigerator and so on, by using the costly credit system. This means that he has to pay a good deal more for his requirements than he would need to pay if his regular income were more adequate. He is also hit in another way. Because he has the largest number Oi young children he pays in total each year far more in indirect taxes than does the family man whose children have grown up and become self-supporting, or who has no children. Each dollar of indirect tax imposed an increase in the cost of goods and services and, therefore, in the cost of living. Consequently the family man I have referred to is hardest hit. The “ Canberra Times” of 22nd August 1966, reporting some comments by the Treasurer, said -
If he had had more money to spend in the Budget Mr. McMahon said he would have given it to the family. He did not want to be pinned down to an exact method of distributing this.
Why did he make this remark if he is not robbing the family man? Does this not mean that the family, the pensioner and those who are carrying a disproportionate share of the taxation burden - as shown by the article in the Taxpayers’ Bulletin which I have just quoted - are bearing more than their share of the costs of defence? Taxation should have been readjusted to place the burden of defence squarely on the shoulders of those on higher incomes.
I want now, Mr. Speaker, to refer to another matter which was mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition and was also referred to in the amendment that has been moved. I want to ask the Government where it stands in relation to the development of the Ord. This project apparently is regarded of such little importance that junior Ministers are making statements about it. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) for instance, said -
I have doubts over the Ord.
A statement by the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) was reported in a newspaper under the heading “ Caution on Ord Plan “. What sort of a government is it that allows junior Ministers to make statements while negotiations about the matter in question are proceeding between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Western Australia? These negotiations are taking place at the present time, yet junior Ministers are making statements such as those I have referred to. More than three years ago the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, when opening the diversion dam on the Ord River, said -
This is needed desperately for the future of the country.
Of course that was just before the 1963 election, when the Government had a majority of only one and the Prime Minister was trying to win more votes. This Government is guilty of prevarication on the Ord issue. It said it required further information from the Western Australian Government. Then it wanted results of crop analyses. It got all the information necessary - the crops have proved themselves - but still it prevaricates. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) said in answer to a question today that the returns were good, and he gave some interesting figures showing that cotton could be grown most profitably in the Ord region. Of course pressure groups are strongly opposed to the Ord River scheme and they have been influencing certain Ministers. Pressure has been brought to bear on the Minister for the Interior by the Namoi cotton growers in northern New South Wales. True, this area is producing 75 per cent, of Australia’s total output of cotton and about 50 per cent, of our requirements, but does this mean that cotton should not be produced elsewhere?
The’ Namoi farmers had their pressure group in Canberra just before the Federal Cabinet gave consideration to the Ord project. They claimed that Namoi, the Queensland cotton industry and a limited project on the Ord could produce all Australia’s requirements. Of course what they were concerned with mainly was the amount of the cotton bounty, and the fact that it might have to be spread over more growers. The cotton bounty has a lot to do with the attitude of the Namoi farmers towards the Ord. The bounty, as all of us in this chamber know, amounts to $4 million a year, and the Namoi farmers fear that their share of this will be reduced if the main Ord dam is proceeded with. Dr. Alex Kerr believes that the Ord River farmers could soon be expected to approach the level of profit at which no subsidy would be required. This is indicated in the leading article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ this morning - I do not want to go into the figures given because there is little time available - and is also borne out by an answer given by the Minister to a question that was asked this morning. You can understand the farmers on the Namoi being worried about the Ord. When completed the Ord Dam will provide better water supplies than will be available in the Namoi area. Unlimited water supplies are available on the Ord if only they were harnessed. What is needed is a second storage dam to retain the water. The first dam was supposed to be a diversion dam but now it is used as a storage dam. The situation in the Namoi area cannot be compared with the Ord. The Namoi area lacks an assured water supply. There is very little in the Namoi Dam now after two years of drought. The Keepit Dam is almost dry and, according to reports, it will be three years before the dam is filled and then only if we have good rain.
The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) admits that at least 70 per cent, of the crop will fail this year due to lack of rain. In four years floods have ruined one crop and drought another. This in an area like the Ord where production of cotton has been proved and where water is in plentiful supply. There can be no flooding once the water is harnessed. Surely that is an area where cotton can be grown more profitably than in the Namoi area.
It is not generally known that the rate of flow at the main dam site could fill the
Canning Dam in 50 minutes, but all this water goes to waste somewhere because the Government will not move, lt prevaricates. Land on the Ord is much cheaper than it is on the Namoi. There are now 26 farmers at the Ord and they have planted 8.400 acres. According to latest reports returns have been very good. Construction of the main dam will enable a further 160.000 acres to be irrigated. When the dam is completed the total area under irrigation will be quite considerable. It is not widely known that the allocation of money for the Ord project does not necessarily mean that all of it will be spent in Western Australia. For instance, under stage 3 of the project 45.000 of the 170,000 acres will be under cultivation in the Northern Territory. The amount that would be spent for development in the area would be $20 million.
When the Government runs out of arguments in its series of prevarications it raises the matters of cost and shortage of manpower. The State debunked that argument. The cost is to be $70 million but this sum will be spread over 15 years. The requirement in the first year is only $100,000 and fewer than 100 men would be required. So the argument based on cost and manpower is debunked at once. The men required are already in the employ of the State Government and working in the north.
The Commonwealth Government stands condemned for its attitude towards the north. Almost all of the development taking place there is being handled by overseas interests and private enterprise. Very little is being done with money invested by this Government or the Western Australia Government. This is a matter of national responsibility. I emphasise that development of the north is a national necessity. Does the Government support the views of a former minister who believed that by leaving the north a wasteland we would confound an enemy invader? I hope that the Government does not think in this way. I say develop the north. If we do not, we do not deserve to hold it. Populate or perish is still a good principle. Only recently a professor urged that we sell Cape York because we are not doing anything about it. The possibilities in the area that I have referred to are tremendous. The Ord River scheme could be repeated on the Fitzroy and other rivers.
Almost anything can be grown in this area. I emphasise the importance of the Government’s declaring once and for all its attitude in this matter. It should provide the funds so urgently needed for the main dam so that developmental work may proceed.
– The Budget is a significant and important one. It is significant because it is the first Budget of a new Government and the first Budget of a new Treasurer. Its importance lies in that it reflects and expresses our determination to meet our international responsibilities, not only in the field of military aid but also in the field of civilian and developmental aid. lt is worth bearing in mind that in this regard Australia ranks among the first five countries on a per capita basis and that the aid we have given has been in the form of grants, not loans.
The Budget emphasises our determination to meet the needs of the aged, the infirm and others in the community who have suffered misfortune. Also, the Budget marks what I believe is a vital, positive and, in the long term, major change in policy. It is with these latter two points that I would like to deal this morning. In the social welfare field I support the increase in social service and repatriation benefits that has flowed from the Budget. I support the principle of giving greater assistance where the greatest need is felt. In this respect, the increase in the base rate pension has been needed and was important. I completely agree with the additional increase given to single pensioners, because they have to bear fixed costs which they cannot share. I support also the increase in the permissible earnings of dependent children of pensioners.
The pension increases will help about 820,000 people in Australia. We must not forget the benefits that will flow from the proposed alteration of the Aged Persons Homes Act to allow the building of infirmaries. A small but important item in the Budget is the proposal to increase the benefits available to a pensioner upon discharge from a mental institution or hospital. Notwithstanding that modern medical science has reduced greatly the average time spent in institutions by people who suffer from mental problems, the proposal to increase from 4 weeks to 12 weeks the period for which a pension is payable is timely and real as are the indirect subsidies to the States for hospitalisation of pensioners. These proposals are realistic and valuable. They demonstrate a sense of understanding on the part of the Government, but I do not think they can be taken out of context of the major advance that was made last year with the extension of the pensioner medical service to cover all those in receipt of social service benefits. This proves the value of Parliament and the Government reviewing this and other benefits in the fields of social services and repatriation. We take into account not only relative needs and, consequently, benefits, including fringe benefits, but also movements in costs and in the consumer price index.
The benefits that have been provided by the Government are real. Let me refer first to the pensioner medical service. The average annual payment per pensioner under this head amounts to $ 14.95. The average hospital subsidy per pensioner is worth $17.65. The average payment annually in respect of pharmaceutical benefits is $26.45. The total average annual payment per pensioner for all these services is $59.05. But other benefits are provided to pensioners. For example, the average annual subsidy paid in respect of a pensioner’s telephone is $13. Similarly, the average subsidy in respect of television and broadcasting licences is $13. These benefits are real. We must remember also that a single pensioner who pays rent receives a supplementary allowance from the Commonwealth. Councils, through the States, grant rebates of rates to pensioners. Pensioners receive travel concessions. They are permitted certain earnings without affecting their pensions. As the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs) indicated earlier this morning, all these things show that the Government is sympathetic towards the aged, the infirm and those in the community who have suffered misfortune and has a real understanding of their problems. But this is not where the matter should end. These matters should be constantly under review. As for the future, I believe in the ultimate abolition of the means test and if it is not possible to abolish the means test completely in the immediate future, I intend to keep working for a liberalisation of it.
There is one other area in which I would like to see action taken in the very near future. 1 refer to retired people on fixed incomes whose level of income, whether it comes from superannuation or some other source, prevents them from obtaining a pension. As I said in the Budget debate last year, I believe that such people should be given a tax exemption up to a level of annual income equivalent to the full rate of pension. We should also examine the possibility of extending to them the benefits of the pensioner medical service. These people fear that they will use up their savings or their income if they are subject to a crippling or disabling illness as they grow older. I would like to see some legislation on these two matters as soon as possible. I would also like pensions paid on account of war disabilities no longer to be considered in the application of the means test. This is of great importance.
The problems of the aged, the infirm and those who have suffered misfortune are the problems not only of Federal and State Governments, local authorities and those who are directly concerned. They are community problems. I am very pleased indeed to see the growing realisation of this that has developed throughout the Australian community in the time that I have been a member of this Parliament. I pay tribute to a number of organisations that do valuable work in this field, particularly the Original Old Age and Invalid Pensioners Association and the Senior Citizens’ Associations’. Their valuable work receives very little publicity as does that undertaken by the various service clubs either for individual pensioners or for the general body of pensioners who live in the districts in which they operate. I pay tribute also to the Old People’s National Welfare Council. As we move into the future and achieve a greater degree of “automation, there will be an increase in leisure time and quite possibly a trend towards earlier retirement. So I believe that now is the time when we should be undertaking more study of - the problems not only of the aged but also of the manner in which Australians will occupy their leisure time. I was very interested in the remarks on automation made last night by the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock). I also give credit to the Government for the grant of $220,000 that it is providing over three years for the Old People’s National Welfare Council for a study of these problems, particularly as they concern the aged. I believe that more should be done not only by those who are at present directly involved but also rv those who are concerned with the more fundamental study of sociological problems in the universities.
This question of automation and of the future brings me to the second main point that I want to discuss. We cannot have either national defence or national welfare unless we have the means of production and are able to compete with our products on world markets and to continue the growth development of this country. In this regard, I was very pleased to hear announced in the Budget speech of the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) the proposal to make grants to industry for the expansion of industrial research. This represents, I believe, a major policy change, one that will have a great effect on the development of this country. Initially, the grant will be small - $250,000 for this financial year and $6 million in a full year. This will be on the basis of an expanded research programme. It is an excellent idea and credit should be given to organisations such as the Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, members of Parliament and others who have been proposing this move, in some instances for months and in others for years.
The scheme is to be operated, as the Budget papers indicate, by the Department of Trade and Industry. The details have not been finalised. But a number of vital questions will be brought up by the proposed legislation. These, I think, could profitably be discussed today. The first is the actual definition of research and development. I do not know what the Government’s intention is but I believe that the definition should be wide enough not only to cover straightout innovation or development of a product or technique but also to allow an industry or a company to share in applied research. If, as time goes by, there is an increase in the amount available for expenditure within a company, the funds should be sufficiently large to permit the company to undertake basic research. The national purpose of this legislation, I think, can be summarised as follows - to improve our techniques of production and manufacture, to increase exports from this country, to reduce imports, to enable companies to improve their techniques of manufacture as they wish to do so - improved techniques are a pressing need at present - to stop the buying of knowledge from overseas of licensed processes and to develop initiative within our manufacturing industries. I was very interested to read the remarks made by Mr. J. W. Dunlop, Chairman of Directors of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, at the Company’s annual general meeting on 20th July of this year. He said -
Research is expected to make inventions; but it also has a vital function in maintaining a climate for technical development, for change and innovation, and for increasing productivity in all parts of a company. These things are at the heart of industrial progress.
As a country, we must own our own patents if we are to compete on world markets in selling the products of our secondary industries under the system of franchises, licensing and the restriction of exports of franchise goods that is being developed throughout the world. If we are to compete on world markets, there is a very great need for us in Australia to increase innovation in manufacturing industry.
A second question that can be raised concerning the proposed legislation, of which we have not details at the moment, relates to the method of making the grants. The sum of $6 million may be too small. From the statement made in the Treasurer’s Budget speech, it appears that this figure represents the upper limit on the amount that is to be available for the expansion of research. Obviously, the level has been fixed according to a base year that has been chosen. Depending on the definition of research and development, which has yet to be given, the required level of expenditure could well be above that figure. Whether the grants will match dollar for dollar what companies expend, with a definite upper limit, we do not know. For instance, if companies expended an extra $100,000 in a year, the $6 million could be spread over only 60 companies. If the additional expenditure were $50,000 for each company, 120 companies could get a share. If individual expenditure were only $25,000, the total sum could be shared by 240 companies. This raises the question of the importance of the definition of research and development that will be embodied in the legislation. It also raises the question of whether these grants will be automatic or whether there will be an order of priority. We do not know whether the upper limit will permit grants to all who want them. This means that there will obviously have to be some form of committee to administer it. We have precedents in an indirect way in other industries - primary industries - where the industries combine, I think rather successfully, with scientists, researchers and government authorities, to decide on priorities. It will be with great interest that 1 shall await this legislation to see how these details are to be arranged.
As I have said, there is a need to encourage innovation. This is particularly important in our smaller industries and certainly in companies seeking to establish themselves. There are many examples, not only in Australia, but throughout the world, of people with great inventive capacity being able to put their inventions into wide use and so building up very large enterprises. A classic example in Australia is the backyard chemist who, through the actions of, 1 think, the Commonwealth Government in offering a prize, invented an aspirin - the Aspro. The inventiveness of Mr. Nicholas led to the establishment of a large manufacturing organisation which has had a great effect on the economy of this country and has been a good export earner.
One thing that we must ensure is that the companies that have been undertaking research up to the present are not penalised through the granting of subsidies to somebody else who has not had the initiative to undertake research in the past. In other words a subsidy should not be the means of enabling an organisation that has had no interest in research to beat a competitor who has sponsored research on his own account, and without incentive. 1 would have preferred a tax incentive scheme in the introductory stages, somewhat similar to the export incentive scheme, for a limited period of from three to five years. This was done in Canada and only now are the Canadians changing over to a subsidy scheme. I think that a tax incentive system would have been better initially because it would have allowed greater de- cision at the board level of companies when measuring the probable return from undertaking the establishment of research organisations. It would also be possible in this way to establish a better relationship between the capital costs and the running costs of research. After a limited period, we could transfer over to a subsidy scheme for the expansion of research.
There is one other matter. It is the need to develop initiative and innovation within companies. I believe that the proposed legislation should concentrate on this field and not be the means of encouraging the use of knowledge that has been gained in government sponsored research organisations such as Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Department of Supply, the Department of National Development, and, possibly, the universities. This legislation should be the means of creating initiative within industry itself and of encouraging industry to overcome the problems I have mentioned.
As to government sponsored research organisations, I believe there is a need to establish a government company, similar to Canada’s Patents and Development Company Limited, which could use the results of government research and encourage their application in industry. That would be separate from the other scheme that I have mentioned. I believe that both would work. The present subsidy scheme should not be allowed to be just a means of using this great fund of knowledge that is not being used at the moment. I think there are two schemes involved here.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.20 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was discussing the proposed scheme for research grants to industry as outlined in the Budget. I had stated that I thought this was not only important but also essential. I mentioned also why 1 believed this scheme should be kept separate from the utilisation of Government sponsored research. I stated that there should be a new organisation set up by the Government on the lines of the Canadian Patent and Development Company. However, the proposed scheme does fill a gap in the research structure of this country and it covers the last broad category of research that has not had assistance from the Government. I believe the scheme to be timely for much has been said in the last few years about the brain drain from Australia. This is a complete myth. Dr. Encel in a recent article in “ Quadrant “, and Dr. Ross and others in the December and March issues of “ Vestes “, have shown that we have a net intake of Ph.D’s. But by 1970, unless more research is undertaken in industry and there are more opportunities for graduates, we could have a brain drain. 1 hope that the proposed legislation will reverse the trend of patents that has become very apparent in the last 14 years. From 1952 there were approximately the same number of patents registered by Australians in Australia as there were patents registered in Australia by overseas countries and companies. In 1965 this had fallen to 27 per cent, by Australians in Australia compared with 73 per cent, registered by overseas countries which were patenting products in Australia. In this regard I should like to quote further from the annual report by Mr. Dunlop of the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. to which I referred earlier. He stated -
In many fields, and particularly in manufacturing, Australia lags behind the more highly developed countries in its expenditure on basic and applied research. And yet, if Australian industry is to maintain its growth, it has to be able to compete with the rest of the world, both in the home market and in the export market. Research is one of the essentials to success.
This is the problem: Because we are still a small economy, we have special need for more research. And for the same reason, we face difficulties in financing it.
The proposed legislation to which I have referred will assist very greatly. But in the future when the effect of the scheme becomes apparent I believe that we will have to improve or speed up the process of granting letters patent. Only a few years ago it took one year for a product to be processed and to be granted a patent; today it takes approximately four years. I know that the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) is examining this matter. I hope that more patent examiners will be appointed soon and that a simplification not only in Australia but also throughout the world will occur in the methods of patenting.
If I may make one short plea on this subject, I should like to see the Patent Office issue an annual report so that its very valuable work to industry and to Australia can be more widely publicised. Secondly, with this scheme I believe it has become more essential that the proposal to simplify the movement of professional men through a broad superannuation scheme should come into operation as quickly as possible so that professional men can transfer easily from universities to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and also to industry. Thirdly, I believe that we have now reached the stage where we can not only justify having a minister for science but also where such an appointment has become essential, and that attached to such a ministry there should be a secretariat separate from the proposed committee referred to by the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, when he tabled the report of the Martin Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia. This secretariat could examine and produce the vital statistics that we need in this field of science effort in Australia. It could provide information on where the money is being spent, on how much is being spent and for what purpose and it would enable records of research workers and their specialties to be kept throughout the country. It would show the fields in which they are working, what laboratories exist and in what fields these laboratories are endeavouring to conduct research.
Fourthly, I believe there is a need to co-ordinate the aims of the various researchgranting bodies in the country, of which there are now a very large number. It is necessary that their systems of application be similar in order to prevent administrative duplication and enable the systems of accounting for expenditure of public funds on research to be similar and simple. The suggestion I have made would also enable an examination to be made of the trends of our various industries and areas of endeavour so that we could examine our needs for professional men and technicians in the various areas in the future. I believe that we can not only justify the need for a ministry of science and a secretariat to be established but we can also show that this is essential to enabling us to control and co-ordinate the broad fields of scientific endeavour in this country. We are building up a massive effort that is in parallel with efforts being made in other developing countries. The structure we have should cater for our needs well into what is now the last third of the twentieth century.
At the outset I said that I believed that this Budget was not only significant but was also important. I believe it reflects the type of democracy we have in Australia. The definition of democracy that I like is that which tells us that democracy equals groceries plus liberty. What we have done in the fields of defence and national welfare and what we are doing to continue our development reflects a form of democracy that is very good. This Budget also marks the change of an era. The time of the previous Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, could well be said to be the age in which we discovered the potential resources of Australia. This Government is entering the age in which we are going to fulfil that potential and develop this continent.
.- After predictions by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) of an expansionary Budget honorable members on this side, and certainly the public, are somewhat baffled. Indeed, newspaper headlines, which serve as a barometer of national opinion, reflected this feeling with a string of labels describing the Budget, none of which were complimentary. Like the town crier of olden days the Treasurer cried right throughout his speech that all was well; but the echoes which have come back have varied from polite disagreement to squawks of horror. The latter have come from certain Liberals - the Premiers of States - whose reaction to this so-called expansionary Budget is to increase taxes and curtail public works and services. Despite the pretensions of the Victorian Premier, Sir Henry Bolte, as a giant in mental arithmetic, unhappily Sir Henry’s housekeeping has been slipshod. Even so, there is merit in his argument. How the Treasurer can label his Budget expansionary when vital public works and services face curtailment I cannot figure out. The Treasurer even voiced his regret that he just could not reduce taxation, implying that if he were a little better off he would have done so in the interests of expansion. All the time he must have been aware that in Victoria and New South Wales tax increases - necessarily sectional in their effect - would nullify any gesture he could make.
It is interesting to note the Treasurer’s argument. In the face of an educational crisis, a hospital finance crisis and lack of business confidence he could not afford to spend more money. This is an interesting argument, because it is just three months before an election. Does it mean that in three months lime the Prime Minister will not be able to make election promises which cost money? I tra willing to bet, and I am not normally a betting man, that in eight weeks time the writers of the Liberal Party and Country Party policy speeches will suddenly find that the circumstances are different. The Government will have come into money, as it were.
This is certainly a baffling Budget. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I want to speak upon one of the major issues of concern to all Australians, namely the matter of costs, prices and prices control. In the Treasurer’s Budget speech the problem of rising prices took up exactly four and a half lines. In a speech which lasted something like i hour and 20 minutes these matters occupied 30 seconds or less. The Treasurer spoke about “ relative stability in price levels “. If the broad Budget assumptions and proposals are baffling to the newspapers and to the public - and certainly to two Premiers - then surely this statement about prices is baffling to the ordinary citizen whether he be a farmer, a financier, a wage earner or anything else. To the wage earner, the housewife, the pensioner and the person on a small fixed income price rises and the increased cost of living are a nightmare. Why would they not be? According to the Consumer Price Index prices have risen 9 per cent, in two years. Rises to the order of 5 per cent, occurred in 1964-65 and to the order of 4 per cent, in 1965-66. Since then, of course, more increases have followed. Some increases occurred in anticipation even before the last rise in the basic wage. Surely this makes a farce of our wage fixing machinery. Since the basic wage increase, hardly a day has gone by without continuing price rises. In Victoria, for instance, there were two rises in the price of petrol in a month. Gas prices, rail freights and fares and tram fares have increased throughout the country. The prices of superphosphate, steel, copper, tyres and a host of other goods, as well as of services, have risen. No-one in authority, and no government, has queried or sought justification for these rises. I have no doubt that some of these increases could be justified, but I am equally certain that some of them could not.
Surely we have reached the situation in Australia where we must ask ourselves whether we have any means to call a halt to this ever rising cost spiral. I believe that given recognition of the need, and a government willing to act - apparently this one is not willing - control over prices could certainly be implemented and made effective, with benefit to the whole nation. Government supporters say they are opposed to controls. That statement is surely ridiculous when we think how the Government controls banking and when we remember the credit squeeze of 1960. What else was the credit squeeze but a vicious control of credit? We remember the controls over sugar cane acreages and we remember controls over the airline system which debar further competitors from entering the field. Weak though the Trade Practices Act is, it is a form of control which is in almost the same category as prices control. The argument of the Government that it cannot control prices, therefore, goes by the board. The Government says that constitutionally prices control is a matter for the States; but everyone knows that any State legislation endeavouring to control within a State the price of something sold or provided on a nation wide basis would be unsuccessful, in the main. Such prices control to be successful needs Commonwealth wide application. This Government has never seriously sought such power from the States. Why? Because it is opposed to the policy of prices control - perhaps because too many of its business friends would be called to account. Traditionally the argument of the Liberal and Country Parties has been that the law of supply and demand, with competition in a private enterprise economy, governs prices and maintains price stability. But unlike other private enterprise governments in the world today, the Australian Government has failed to maintain fair and vigorous competition in many fields.
History records that the Government parlies - the Liberal Party and the Aus tralian Country Party - were responsible for the defeat of the 1948 prices referendum when the Chifley Labour Government sought continued power to control prices. Swallowing the propaganda of the Liberal and Country Parties, the people of Australia were sold a pup. Surely time has shown that this has been so. Since 1949, the Liberal-Country Party Government has presided over the era of greatest inflation in the nation’s history, to the detriment of most sections of the community.
Certainly, the Country Party ought to be ashamed of its partnership in this crime, as it were. How does the farming community, which the Country Party says it represents, stand in this matter? The farmer sells the major part of his produce on the world markets, which are open to the fiercest of competition. As a result of the continually rising costs of production, the farmer is in danger of being forced out of some of the markets, while on others he cannot possibly compete without the aid of subsidies. The sugar industry, the wheat industry, the egg industry and many others sell on overseas markets at prices below the cost of production. For the farmer there has been this continual squeeze between falling world prices on the one hand and rising costs of production on the other. The finger of guilt can be pointed in only one direction, and that is at the Government benches, because the Liberal-Country Party Government has never lifted a hand to end this run of inflation. The exception to this, of course, is that every three or four years the Government imposes some sort of clumsy credit squeeze which affects and hurts both the innocent and the guilty alike.
How has the continued rise of prices affected the wage earner? Every now and then the Government produces, magically, figures showing that the average wage earner receives something over £20 or $40 in a week. These claims have reached even £25 or $50 in a week. Frankly, 1 regard these reports with some scepticism. But certainly the average wage earning family man needs this amount to keep his head above water. In reality, this has become a two pay packet economy. Tens of thousands of wives have gone to work. In some circumstances this has been good. They have made a valuable contribution to the economy and sometimes this has helped to make a more adequate life for them. They have been able to develop and use their talents. But some housewives have had to go to work out of sheer necessity. Without the extra income, some parents have found they cannot feed, clothe and educate their families. This is the sort of economy that the Holt and Menzies Governments have produced after years in office. This, in my view, is a tragedy for the family and for the community. It contributes substantially to broken homes and to juvenile delinquency. This is the penalty for the failure of the Government to enable the ordinary wage earner to maintain an adequate standard of living for his family.
For the family man, then, it has been a hard struggle. But for the pensioner, for the retired person on superannuation or for those living on a small fixed income, the situation is critical. It is a matter of survival; nothing else. The cost of rents, rates and food - meat, milk, bread and so on - frequently precludes the purchase of clothing or entertainment or many of the things which in our society ought to be regarded as normal living. The adverse effects of this cost and price inflation are apparent to everyone. It has endangered the nation’s capacity to exist in the world and the capacity of the individual to exist in the nation.
We had price control in Australia in the period from 1941 to 1948. The Government bases part of its objection to price control on the evidence of the operation of the control during this period. What effect did price control have then? An examination of the Commonwealth Statistician’s “ C “ series cost of living index tells the story. The index for the year 1940-41 showed a figure of 1,111. For the year 1947-48 it showed a figure of 1,392. This was a rise of 281 points or 25.3 per cent, over the seven years of price control - an average of 3.6 per cent, a year. Let us look at the figures for the period since the abolition of Federal price control. As I said, the figure for 1947-48 was 1,392. In 1964-65, it was 3,470. The increase in 17 years was 2,078 points or 153 per cent., equalling an average of 9 per cent, per annum. That is the story in figures. Price’s rose two and a half times faster in the free non-price control period than in the period of price control.
But surely when we think about it we realise that the period from 1941 to 1948 was abnormal in the extreme and the worst possible period to choose, if one wanted a fair test of any economic measure. Honorable members opposite, of course, have convenient memories. They remember the troubles that accompanied price control. They choose to forget the conditions under which it operated and the results it achieved. From our population of a little more than 7 million people at that time, more than 1 million were in uniform. They were non-productive, but they were consumers who had money. Industries were either geared to the production of weapons of war in the early years of the period or were re-establishing themselves after the greatest mobilisation of men, women and machines in the nation’s history. The people had money, but it was chasing goods and services that were in short supply. This was the inevitable result of war and with shortages came abuses, blackmarkets and the like. But despite the shortcomings of the price control system of the day, its effect was to dampen down inflationary pressures and in doing so it served the nation well. As I have said, the economic conditions were totally abnormal. If a measure of control was beneficial to the nation in those difficult days, how much better could a system of control, modified to meet changed circumstances, perform in these days? There are no shortages, no prospects for black marketeers and in no way does the 1966 economy resemble the economy of that war and post-war period. 1 think that two major issues are involved in a consideration of price control. The first is how price levels are reached and their effect upon both individuals and the community. The second is a matter of justice. On the one hand, wage earners in the community are forced to justify their claims for an increase in wages and salaries at great cost to their trade unions or associations, but in turn the manufacturers, distributors or retailers may increase the price of their goods or services without being required to offer any justification. This is the cause of much anger and discontent within the trade union movement. If we are to develop our nation’s economy satisfactorily, governments need the goodwill and co-operation of the Labour movement. Today, prices and charges for goods and services are regulated in the interests of manufacturers, distributors and sellers who are motivated naturally by the desire to maintain an acceptable level of profit in their activities - that is, acceptable to them or to their shareholders, if they are companies. The question of public or community interest is entirely submerged. Prices and charges for products or services of public instrumentalities and authorities sometimes reflect a consideration of the public interest. There are differing reasons for this. Two reasons are political considerations, of which the Government is surely aware - the effect of rises upon the electors and the limiting factors in the charter of the instrumentalities. But sometimes such charges are regarded as opportunities for the raising of revenue over and above operating costs. Surely the method of accounting used by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is a cover for this sort of thing and in reality is a tax upon the community.
The decisions to put these increases in prices into effect, whether they relate to private enterprise or to public bodies, are made by individuals or small groups in management or government, or an association of persons representing similar interests who collaborate instead of compete. These increases do not have to be justified before any impartial tribunal in terms of the need for the business or undertaking to maintain a reasonable level of profit or capacity for development, or in terms of the effect on the living standards of the community or of the effect upon the whole cost structure of the economy.
As I said, this lack of requirement to justify price increases before they are imposed on the community is in marked contrast to the procedure that must be adopted by wage and salary earners before they can obtain an increase in the price of their goods and services - that is to say, their labour, skill, training and experience. In the normal course of events they must convince a tribunal that they should be permitted an increase in the price of their labour. This is a long, expensive and involved process, as honorable members would know. In national wage cases it is only after a detailed and comprehensive hearing that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission decides upon a basic wage or a margins increase. In those hearings, employers and other interested bodies exhaust every argument against such increases. The decision that follows is made by the Commission in the light of its conception of the capacity of the economy to pay the increases, having regard to the cost structure of the industry, any increase in productivity and the need to maintain the living standards of wage earners. Then comes a flood of price increases for goods and services but none are submitted to or justified before any court or tribunal.
Surely this state of affairs is unjust in the extreme and is certainly not conducive to achieving a co-operative spirit between governments and the Labour movement. Nor is it likely to promote any restraint by the Labour movement as is so often preached by our Liberal and Country Party Governments. Not a word do we hear from these Governments about restraint in price increases. In my view, there can be no justification for a refusal by any government to set up a tribunal which will require increases in the prices of goods and services to be subjected to a scrutiny similar to that required of wage increases.
Having argued this far about price control, I ask the Parliament to consider specifically: Can we afford not to require this justification of price increases? Let us look at some examples, in recent times. Let us consider copper. Surely copper is a commodity vital to our nation’s economic development and defence. Its price has been fluctuating for the last three weeks or so but the tremendous initial increase in price, some 44 per cent., brought no protest from the Government, nor was it justified before any authority. A handful of businessmen made a decision which could have cost this country tens of millions of dollars, and which will still cost millions of dollars despite the fall in price which occurred yesterday. Every home builder will be affected to the tune of perhaps Si 00 or more because copper for electrical wiring, plumbing and the like is in common use by the building industry. The telecommunications industry will suffer. By far the largest user in this field is the Postal Department, so the rise in the price of copper could cost the taxpayer directly millions of dollars.
Again I emphasise to the Parliament that no action was taken by the Government and it offered no criticism of the copper producers at all. What happens in the United States of America, which is surely the haven of private enterprise and laissez faire government, when price increases are announced in vital and strategic materials? Recently the price of steel was increased in Australia and so, too, was an announcement made in the U.S.A. of an increase of almost similar proportions. But what a contrast there was in the reactions of the two governments. There was dead silence from the Holt Government, but from the President of the United States of America there was a verbal blast of blistering proportions. Let me quote from the statement of the President. He said -
This is not an hour in which the business leadership of America can take pride. The action of these companies can only be characterised as irresponsible. They were unwilling to even hear the Government state the public interest in this matter.
The only comment we got from the LiberalCountry Party Government was a four and a half line statement in the Budget speech expressing satisfaction at the stability of price levels. What a contrast. Either the Government is blissfully unaware of the situation or it is blatantly ignoring it.
Another commodity the price of which has a critical influence on production costs and our ability to export overseas and remain solvent is superphosphate. How important it is can be gauged from the fact that ever since the Curtin Government, in 1941, introduced a superphosphate subsidy, that subsidy has been paid, with the exception of that period from 1961-63 when it was removed by the Menzies LiberalCountry Party Government. Since 1963, when the subsidy was re-introduced to the extent of $6 a ton, the price of bulk superphosphate has risen from SI 2.45 a ton to SI 9.95 a ton, a rise of $7.50 a ton, which has completely eclipsed the subsidy by $1.50. The price of bagged superphosphate has gone up even further. Once again, the superphosphate producers have not been required to justify their position. Is not this a matter of national concern? I ask Country Party members this question. The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) is to speak next in this debate and I ask him whether he is satisfied? Is the Country Party satisfied that these rises have been completely justified? Indeed, does the Country Party say that the superphosphate producers should not have to justify these increases? If it does not say that, how can it exclude other commodities from requiring such justification?
– What was the price of superphosphate in 1951 and 1952?
– In Tasmania, the recent royal commission-
– The honorable member does not know.
– The honorable member for Wimmera cannot deny the fact that since 1963 these price increases have taken place. I merely ask the Country Party members, and specifically the honorable member for Lawson, to say on behalf of the Country Party, as he is the next speaker, whether these price increases have been justified. Is the honorable member satisfied? If he can answer that question to my satisfaction I will be very surprised.
In Tasmania the recent royal commission into prices and restrictive trade practices underlined the need for justification of price levels. I will quote from page 23 of the report of the Royal Commissioner where he said -
For many businesses and trade associations, the problem of establishing that the prices of their products or services were reasonable proved not to be an easy one.
I am reminded that petrol prices have risen twice in Victoria in the last month. Again, there has been no outcry from the Government and no justification for the increases. I remember, too, that several years ago the petrol price dropped in all States of Australia. Why? Because in South Australia, where limited price control was in operation, the Prices Commissioner had found that a reduction was possible. The important point to note is that had he not forced the issue at the time no reduction would have taken place either in South Australia or in any other State where they merely followed suit.
I believe that a Federal prices court should be set up as part of the arbitration system and as a partner with the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It should have power to examine and fix the price level of goods and services in a particular industry referred to it specifically by the Commonwealth or State Governments or by organisations registered with the court. Such organisations could include - and I mention these as examples - the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Primary Producers Union and other organisations representing primary producers, the Housewives Association and other consumer bodies. Before such an examination was carried out the court should be satisfied that prima facie evidence exists which indicates that the price level or price increase is contrary to the public interest. I do not think we require a blanket control over all prices. Competition does exist in some sectors of the community, but the power for referral to the court could be in itself a deterrent to greed and to profiteering. The Government will probably say: “ We have not the power”; but I am not altogether sure it has not. It has never really asked for it from the States, and in the price conscious climate of today such a request, I believe, could succeed. If it did not. succeed, why not hold a referendum? With the beating people have taken in recent times 1 am sure they would readily accede to such a proposal. Such a court as I have suggested should, in my view, have the power to recommend to governments that subsidies or bounties be paid to efficient industries where cost pressures threaten to force prices up. If such a rise in price were against the public interest and would pass on further through the economy, bringing other price rise3, then it might be best for the community to compensate for that out of revenue rather than add further pressures to the general cost structure. In addition, I think the Commonwealth is not using means already at its disposal to put pressure upon industries that are overcharging for products or services. I refer to the Tariff Board.
As far back as 1929 an anti-Labour government was moved to refer to the Tariff Board the question whether a certain industry - strangely enough, the fertiliser industry - was overcharging the users, the farming community. The result of that inquiry was a reduction in the price of superphosphate. In the tariff machinery the Commonwealth has powerful powers of persuasion over industries that are taking more than they should out of the community purse. I have endeavoured as objectively as possible to put the case for price control in Australia. The Labour Party strongly believes that this economic measure is needed to protect both the individual in the community and the nation itself. It can be implemented without the undesirable accompaniments of wartime. Sheer justice and the public interest demand it. I suggest that the Government ignores it at its peril.
.- The previous speaker, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton), made much of the fact that he staled the case for price control on behalf of the Opposition. Just what was the case he was making? It was somewhat confused. J tried to grasp it, and as far as I can gather he was advocating price fixing for everything. Was this his point? Did he advocate price fixing for everything, or for some goods only? He is a member of a party that would fix the price of stock on the hoof. His pastoral constituents in Bendigo would be delighted if the price of stock on the hoof were fixed. It is rather interesting that he overlooks the fact that price fixing might relate also to wages. I am sure his party would be delighted to have wages fixed by some tribunal.
– Wages are fixed already.
– Yes, by an arbitration court in .accordance with recognised principles and not by some parliamentary organisation. When members of his party do not agree with the wages that are fixed they stick by the fellow who is prepared to strike because he does not like the decision of the court. 1 am not going to waste my time dealing with the challenge the honorable member issued. He posed questions and challenged me to answer them. However, the remarkable thing is that when he was reading from his prepared speech - and I do not know who prepared it - and was asked two pertinent questions by the honorable members for Wimmera (Mr. King) and Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) he ignored them. He was asked about fixing the price of stock on the hoof. The honorable member for Wimmera asked him what the price of superphosphate was in 1952.
The honorable member for Bendigo dealt with the cost of production of primary producers selling on the world markets. The Australian Country Party is conversant with the situation and has always spoken about the disability from which the people they represent - and not only the people they represent - suffer. The honorable member made an awful mistake when he referred to wheat farmers. He said that they were selling their wheat at lower than the cost of production. That is quite true, but this honorable member who claims to be a representative of primary industry does not know that the wheat produced in Australia is the cheapest produced wheat in the world.
The Budget we are discussing was introduced with a background of economic expansion. Despite the continuing drought in northern and north western New South Wales, and in large areas of Queensland, I think the Budget will be satisfactory. My own constituents and country people generally - and I am not speaking only of primary producers - will be happy with it. The provision of $1,000 million for defence coupled with reduced income tax from primary producers as a result of the drought, and cost increases to which we have already referred, posed a problem of priority. Accepting the great claims of those who through age, illness or other misfortune are in need of help, one must agree that the overall result of the division of available money reflects credit on the Ministry and its advisers.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has moved an amendment, lt contains several parts - all negative. The first part commences “ it fails to recognise “; the second part, “ it makes inadequate adjustments “; the third part, “ it fails to recognise the serious crisis “; the fourth part, “ it does not acknowledge the lack of confidence “; the fifth part, “ it does not recognise the need of further basic development “; and the sixth part, “ it docs nothing to relieve our dependence “. Each of these parts starts with a negative and offers no suggestion about how the problems posed by the Opposition are to be overcome.
I shall confine my remarks to those factors that affect, in the main, the country community. As a contrast to the Opposition’s amendment, I believe the Budget is positive. It is a positive document and is a recital of a carefully balanced programme. Positiveness was lacking in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. He said -
Wherein then, is the Budget deficient?
He had previously referred to five or more considerations. He continued -
In the first place, it severely underestimates the continuing impact of drought.
I will have more to say on this topic as I proceed. The Leader of the Opposition then referred to the Reserve Bank’s report for 1965-66. It was virtually a small precis only of the drought problem from which people in the country areas of northern and north west New South Wales and Queensland are suffering at present. It seems to me that what the Leader of the Opposition is saying is that if the numbers of cattle and sheep are not increased the prices of all kinds of meat will rise and the people who buy these foods will be adversely affected. The honorable gentleman, having criticised the Government and having said that it underestimated the continuing effect of the drought, gave this as the only solution - that we must have more sheep. I do not know how we are to get them; he does not tell us that. But the point is that an increase in numbers of store sheep will have no effect on prices of fat sheep. Ask the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), who sold fat sheep for years in the Victorian market. He will tell you that increasing the numbers of sheep does not necessarily bring fat stock prices down. If there are a few fat sheep for sale they are bound to bring peak prices. Here we see a man who claims that he will lead the Australian Government after the next election and who cannot understand this elementary matter affecting the primary producers of Australia.
I have always held the belief tha: in a growing nation in the stage of primary development that Australia has reached, the productivity of the broad acres determines the progress of the adjacent country towns. I have said that 1 do not represent primary industry only but that I do represent country people. They are my constituents. Amongst them are those who make their living from the broad acres and those who live in the towns. In a matter of only a week or so Dubbo, the biggest town in the electorate of Lawson, will be formally declared a city.
The proclamation will be issued by the Governor and on the same day I will have the privilege of declaring open the television station that will cover that rich pastoral and agricultural area. As I have said, in that area are not only primary producers but also citizens of the various towns, carrying out all the duties of citizens in country towns. All these people make up one community.
In times of drought the country towns are the first to suffer, but eventually the people in the cities suffer along with the farmers and graziers. Just as everybody benefits from prosperity resulting from the broad acres, everybody experiences despair when we have, as we have had over the last year, a severe drought. However this drought could have been much worse. But for certain steps that were taken and which I shall mention in a moment, the effects of the drought would have been much more severe not only in the farming communities but also in the cities and towns. So we have one people in country areas with one principle and one ambition. These people are much more thoroughly aware of the facts of life than are the people who live in other communities and have not the broad acres around them.
Although this drought has been one of the worst in the history of Australia - and I have lived through more than one drought - it would have been very much worse but for the wise Budget provisions made by this Government during the last 17 years. In the absence of some of those provisions the drought might have been really catastrophic. Many of the things that have been done by this Government have enabled the people who have suffered from the drought to hold up their heads. I refer first to taxation concessions in respect of the eradication of animal and vegetable pests. The drought is probably the first that has not been a rabbit drought. We were able, with the help of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the State Departments of Agriculture and this Government, which granted taxation concessions in respect of the eradication of rabbits, to get rid of a large proportion of these pests. If it had not been for this fact the effects of the drought would have been much worse.
Then I might mention the preparation of soil for farming and grazing pursuits. I shall not go into all the details but I commend to the House, to my constituents and to people who may be listening, a book which I have here called “ Income Tax for Farmers and Graziers “. lt is issued by the Taxation Branch and it lists the various ways in which assistance is given to our important primary industries. This assistance has contributed greatly to the country’s productivity and to the amelioration of the effects of the drought. It has helped, for instance, to combat soil erosion. Soil erosion is one of the greatest curses we have had to contend with over the years, but the taxation concessions extended to farmers who undertake to combat soil erosion have been of tremendous assistance.
Valuable assistance has also been given in the field of water conservation. It is of immense importance to build up water supplies in time of plenty so that in periods of drought a reserve is available. There have also been concessions for depreciation of plant, enabling farmers to purchase bigger and better plant units. With modern machinery a farmer can now farm 100 acres instead of 10 acres. If he gets a shower of rain tonight he can run over his land with cultivating implements in the morning and probably get all the moisture into the soil in the one day. When I started farming we had our horses and the old harrows and we walked or rode behind them. It would take us days and days after a shower of rain to concentrate the moisture in the soil. Farmers today, because of the concessions extend-ed to them, are able to obtain plant which will do the job in much less time and save a good deal of the evaporation that was previously experienced. The investment allowance is another concession that will be of very great assistance.
Not only have all these measures been carried on in the present Budget: others have been added. For instance, to the subsidy on superphosphate is now added a subsidy on nitrogenous fertilisers. Various subsidies and other forms of assistance are enjoyed by many primary industries, including those producing butter, cheese, and cotton. There is also the petroleum products price subsidy, the result of which is that in no part of Australia is the cost of petrol more than fourpence a gallon higher than it is in the capital cities. The total cost of the subsidies which have been continued and which have been added to in the present Budget will be about $142 million in the coming year.
People may say: “ That will all go to the farmers”. This is not so. The financial assistance that is given will be received by the country people and then the money will start to circulate. It will come from the farms to the towns and then into the cities. If you look around the cities today you will find that businesses are suffering the secondary effects of the drought. If you go down the coast you will find people saying that the tourist traffic has dropped off. They will tell you that few people came to the coast from the west last year and that those who did come spent very little money. The provision of this assistance for primary industry will have a cumulative effect. When you start money circulating in the farming areas it travels throughout the whole of the community.
The Budget papers give many instances of ways in which assistance has been granted to primary industries. One of them to which I will refer particularly because it has a bearing on provision against drought is the agricultural extension services scheme. Honorable members may recall that this scheme was introduced when the present Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), the Leader of the Country Party, was Minister for Primary Industry. He had been to the United States of America and found that in that country every opportunity was taken to spread the benefits of research amongst farmers so that practical use could be made of them. In this country the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the various State Departments of Agriculture do valuable experimental work, but, unfortunately, the results of their efforts do not reach the field. So the Minister arranged to provide, as an adjunct to what they were already spending, assistance for the extension services carried out by the State Departments of Agriculture. In the next five years, up to $4 million will be provided for agricultural extension services additional to what the States themselves make available. This finance will have the important effect of bringing the knowledge that has been accumulating into the field where it may be applied in a practical manner and where it may aid productivity. I would not like to see the extra productivity that flows from this assistance offset against increasing costs, because I think it is fair that those costs should be tackled as a separate entity and that the profits from this assistance to extension services should go to the man who applies and makes use of the services.
The rises in costs to which I have referred have been pretty staggering. The document presented with the Budget and entitled “ National Income and Expenditure 1965- 66 “ shows that the gross value of farm production, less costs, was $1,783 million in 1961-62;$1,863 million in 1962-63; $1,972 million in 1963-64; $2,142 million in 1964-65; and $2,231 million last year. The net value of farm income has to some extent remained static, being $902 million in 1961-62; $1,120 million in 1962-63; $1,390 million in 1963-64; $1,208 million in 1964-65; and$914 million last year. Costs represent about two thirds of the total gross value of farm production, and that is a pretty serious state of affairs. I cite those figures to show the trend - to show how costs have risen over the years while the net value of farm income has remained almost static. This kind of thing cannot go on, nor do I feel that we can say that if we can get greater productivity because of extension services the farmers should be happy. The fact is that the farmer should lake every advantage of extension services because they are something to which he is entitled.
The Government is providing various forms of drought relief. Last year the Commonwealth provided $21.7 million in drought relief for New South Wales and Queensland. This year the provision will amount to$24.25 million. In addition New South Wales will receive a grant of $8 million and Queensland a grant of $2.75 million. These grants are in keeping with promises made by the Government that it would try to ameliorate the effects of the great drought that we have gone through. Drought relief will be welcomed by woolgrowers, who advanced their shearing dates and found that they had two clips coming in during the one year. They will be able to include the proceeds from the present clip in their 1966-67 income year and this provision will extend to the previous year. This will be a benefit and a relief to woolgrowers.
Complaints have been made about forced sales of stock. The net proceeds of these forced sales may be spread over five years where the money is used for replacement of stock. This means that the effect will be negligible. The averaging system enjoyed by primary producers because of the vicissitudes of the markets and the effect on their incomes has now reached a peculiar position because, owing to the sudden drought, some primary producers lost their entire income last year. If previously they were not within the scope of the averaging clause they will find that the limit has now been raised from $8,000 to $16,000. This will enable many of them to benefit from the averaging clause. If they have been averaged out, their right again to come under the averaging clause is being reviewed and probably a different set of circumstances for averaging will arise.
I had intended if time had permitted to speak on other matters, particularly the provision of financial assistance to individuals. Sustenance loans by rural and agricultural banks have been made under the guarantee provided by this Government. Honorable members will recollect my asking the former Prime Minister one of the last questions answered by him in this House. I asked whether the Commonwealth would underwrite the budget deficiencies of the States because of the drought assistance they had given to their people. The Prime Minister stated that the matter would be considered. An announcement was made that the Commonwealth had agreed to underwrite budget deficiencies of the Slates arising from the cost of providing drought relief. 1 believe that the provision of this assistance should be continued so long as New South Wales and Queensland, through their rural and agricultural banks, are prepared to continue their present policy. Primary producers have taken advantage of other loans made available through the Commonwealth Development Bank. Probably the type of loan most eagerly sought has been the long term loan. The resources of the Farm Development Loan Fund were recently increased by $50 million for the purpose of making long term loans. But there seems to be some doubt as to who may qualify for these loans. Referring to the Fund the Leader of the Country Party in a letter to the General
Secretary of the New South Wales Division of the Parly staled -
The Fund is designed to be used for development which will lead to greater production and to meet the circumstances of drought right through from living with the drought to re-stocking after the drought.
That is comprehensive. The letter continued -
The objective of loans for development and loans in relation to drought circumstances run parallel, and in policy neither excludes the other.
I had hoped to deal with the matter of drought mitigation but it is a subject too large to be dealt with in the time left to me. Perhaps I have spent longer on other matters than I intended, but certainly not longer than was justified on drought problems.
A day or two ago I received an invitation from the National Rifle Association of New South Wales, lt reads -
The Council of the N.R.A. of N.S.W. issues this programme as an invitation io the Riflemen of N.S.W. and of the State Associations of Australia, and the British Commonwealth, to attend the 92nd Annual Prize Meeting m the renowned Anzac Rifle Range in the 106th year of the Association.
I have no doubt that my colleague the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), who shares with me the honour of being a Vice President of the Association, has received a similar invitation. The meeting will take place at the Anzac Rifle Range, Liverpool, from 29th September to 3rd October. The aims of the Council are to give everybody a chance to participate at the meeting. A lengthy prize list is provided and even the moderate shot is given a chance.
– What are the dates of the meeting?
– From 29th September to 3rd October 1966. We hope to see the honorable member for Mallee present. The invitation states -
The Council believes the Aims will be attained despite the higher costs of running a big Prize Meeting, without the aid of any Government Cash Grant.
Honorable members will recollect that on many occasions I have spoken in the House about the virtue of rifle clubs. I have told of what they have done in the defence of this country. I have asked questions on the subject. Some years ago I ascertained that the Government intended to alter the setup regarding rifle clubs. Only today the honorable member for Lyne asked a question on the subject and referred to statements by leaders of the Returned Services League regarding the value of rifle training. The honorable member asked the Minister for the Army (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) for information about the availability to rifle clubs of ammunition and range facilities. The reply that he received was in these terms -
The Army will continue to co-operate with rifle clubs in the use of range facilities wherever this is possible. This is a long established practice. But as the honorable member will know, some considerable lime ago a decision was made that rifle clubs of themselves do not add anything to the military effort and to the defence of the country, and that therefore Army subsidisation of rifle club shooting should cease.
That wording seems to be familiar. I do not* hold it against the present Minister. Two previous Ministers made similar statements. They said that rifle clubs of themselves do not add anything to the military effort. 1 am amazed to think that in these times that sort of answer is given. Not so very long ago I asked a question in these terms -
Is the Minister for the Army aware that the rifle is playing a significant role in jungle warfare and that enemy snipers have been active in causing confusion and disaster? If so, will he ask the Government to give further consideration to fostering, by finance and supplies of ammunition, rifle clubs throughout Australia. . . .
The answer that I received was similar to answers given previously. I can only conclude that this is rather a reflection on rifle clubs and that it comes not from the individual Ministers concerned but from within the Department of the Army.
I repeat that the organisation that is to hold this shoot in the near future is one that has had a tremendous impact on the defence of Australia. The National Rifle Association of New South Wales was established 106 years ago and is the oldest rifle association in the Commonwealth. The Victorian association also has had an impact on defence. I do not know when it was formed. The contribution to defence made over the years by the New South Wales Association merits better recognition than the Association is being given. I believe that rifle clubs can achieve remarkable success in helping to train men before they are sent to Vietnam and other places over seas to fight for Australia. 1 make only one further comment on this topic. Many people say: “ Why go overseas to fight? “ Having had some experience of fighting overseas and having seen something of the devastation caused by war in other countries, I say that if we are to fight an enemy we should try to fight him in his own country and not wait till he comes here and attacks us in our own land.
– Order! The honorable member’s lime has expired.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker,I would like to congratulate the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) on his very fine speech. It was illuminating to me to learn that at least one section of the community - the primary producer section - is satisfied with the Budget. I take it that that is what he said. I say in all fairness that I have not seen any complaints in the Press by primary producers who claim to be dissatisfied, but I have seen reports of quite a few remarks from other sections of the community which have indicated to me that all is not as well as it could be. I shall say more about that very shortly. The honorable member for Lawson said something about what has happened with respect to water supplies on the Macquarie River and in the town of Dubbo. I am not able to comment on that but I dare say that people in the area are well aware of what has been done.
The honorable member touched on another subject that has been dear to me over the years - rifle clubs. I do not want to see the rifle clubs done away with, but I do not want to see them remaining in the middle of metropolitan areas. In Melbourne, 51/2 miles from the General Post Office, there is a huge rifle range. It was established at the right time and in the right place many years ago. It was put there in the days of the horse and buggy. In these days of modern armies, troops are put into vehicles and rushed off to a rifle range for shooting practice.I still want them to practise rifle shooting, but not at metropolitan rifle ranges. As the Minister for the Army knows, they do their shooting well away in the country where they are not bothered by anyone. At the present lime, instead of the good relations that should exist between the Army and the people who live near rifle ranges, there is only a lot of harm being done. People are asking when rifle ranges are to be removed from metropolitan areas. They should not be near to capital cities. I hope that the Minister will give some thought to this matter. At the present time, shooting on rifle ranges is being done with .303 rifles which are obsolete and are no longer used in modern warfare.
I turn now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to remarks which I have read in the press and which have been made by people who are not happy about this Budget. 1 suppose that the share market is a goo:! guide to the nation’s prosperity and the way that a lot of people are thinking. On 18th August, the Melbourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “ published a report under the headline, “ Share market cold on Budget “. It was in these terms -
Mr. McMahon’s maiden Budget speech was greeted coldly on the Melbourne Stock Exchange yesterday and prices showed no definite trend in dull trading. lt went on -
Despite its expansionary aim, investors appear likely to wait on concrete evidence that economic growth has quickened before committing substantial funds to the shave market.
That indicates thinking on the Melbourne Slock Exchange. I shall give only one more example, Sir. One journal reported the views of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia under the headline, “ Budget criticised by manufacturers “, in these terms - “ Australian industry is naturally disappointed with the Commonwealth Budget “, said the President of the Association, Mr. L. H. Waite. “ A.C.M.A.’s view is that the problems facing the Government in terms of expenditure and revenue are appreciated - particularly those related to its increased defence commitments “, added Mr. Waite.
But he said that while the deficit was inevitable, its impact would weaken its overall effects.
This was because of the failure to pay proper recognition to the need for expenditure in the private sector.
Mr. Waite was reported as having stated that he hoped that as the weeks went on the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) would have another look at the situation and, if need be, act very quickly. Mr. Waite thought that there was a need to act now, not in the near future. At a conference in Canberra yesterday, the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations, which is known shortly as A.C.S.P.A., called for a recasting of the Budget to provide adequately for essential community services. So you will see, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that although primary producers may be happy about the Budget - I say without sarcasm that I am glad they are - other sections of the community are not quite so happy. This applies particularly to pensioners, who were expecting greater relief than they received. The additional Si a week that they are to be given is not enough, they say.
I ‘have not time to discuss this matter fully, because I want to deal with repatriation and, if time permits, with foreign affairs. I shall not have a chance to participate in the debate on foreign affairs. Indeed, I do not think that any of us will do so, because T believe that by the time we dispose of the Budget and the Estimates time will have run out and it will not be possible for that debate to be continued, as we shall then be entering on the general election campaign. So, if 1 do not say something about foreign affairs during the. Budget debate, my opportunity will be lost. Sir Arthur Lee, President of the Returned Services League of Australia said - and I was rather sorry to read this because I do not think things like this should happen - that relations were being severely strained by the unwillingness of the Government to lift pensions to the 1950 percentage rale. He pointed out that in 1950, one year after this Government came to office, in discussions with the Government, the League asked that repatriation pensions be put on a percentage basis. Sir Arthur Lee went on to say that if a boy were to be incapacitated by his service in South Vietnam, or any war area, he would at the present time receive a pension of something less than the basic wage. He further pointed out that in 1950 the total and permanent incapacity pension rate was 100 per cent, of the basic wage. The League had asked for that in 1950, and its request had been granted. At the present time, the T.P.I, pension represents only 93 per cent, of the basic wage, so that, instead of getting $32.80 per week the T.P.I, pensioner now receives only $30.50. Sir Arthur Lee said -
A country that can afford an adequate defence force should be capable of looking after its ex-service men and women.
I think that is true, and I want to put forward a scheme to which I hope the Government will give some thought. It is a scheme for insuring all servicemen when they go overseas. Unfortunately, when men go overseas to war, some do not return and I see no reason why an insurance policy should not be taken out on the life of every serviceman. Perhaps the serviceman could pay half the cost and the Government the other half. If such a scheme were in operation, then, if anything happened to the serviceman, his wife and family would be assured of sufficient money to carry on.
I have had personal experience of these circumstances. Unfortunately, I lost my father in 1916 when I was six years of age. Generally, when a young man goes to war all that he has is his weekly or fortnightly pay. If neither he nor his wife has capital, should he be killed his wife is placed in a difficult position because, immediately, her income is drastically reduced. That is factual. I will not labour this matter; but how can a woman with, say, two or three children, who loses her husband at war, be expected to carry on paying rent and buying food for the family? While the husband was away and receiving the full rate of pay, she was paying a certain amount of rent. When he is killed, she is forced to carry on paying the same amount of rent and meeting the same living costs as before, but out of drastically reduced income.
I know that we have to exercise a little bit of common sense in connection wilh pensions but I do suggest that it should be compulsory for an insurance policy to be taken out on the life of every man when he joins up. It could be for $10,000 or $20,000. There should be some cover to ensure that, if anything happens, the legal officers of the Army, the Navy or the Air Force could immediately say to the widow: “ Here is enough money to set you up in a home and put you on your feet; your pension will be forthcoming in due time.” Such a system would help that woman and her family a lot. Unless she can get some assistance like that, it will be impossible for her and her family to carry on. Women faced with these circumstances can only look for employment. Otherwise their children cannot progress the same as other children.
As we progress normally in life, as we get older and more stable, we become a little more financial. Most people are able to buy motor cars or go away on holidays. But the woman who becomes widowed early in life and who has a young family can never reach this position. Her only hope is to remarry, but sometimes that is not possible. I hope, therefore, that the Government will give some thought to introducing a system under which servicemen will take out, with Government assistance, some sort of insurance cover. This idea is not new. Such a scheme operates in the American forces. When the term of service is over, the policies are given to the servicemen who can either collect the surrender value and so have a nest egg or continue to hold the policies. I repeat that 1 hope some thought will be given to this suggestion. 1 come now to foreign affairs. 1 have done a little research into this matter and hope that my findings are correct. 1 have looked into our relationships under A.N.Z.U.S. and S.E.A.T.O. I feel that these two treaties are of paramount importance to Australia. It is because of them that we have troops fighting in South Vietnam. It has been clearly established that South Vietnam is a protocol Stale as defined by S.E.A.T.O. As long ago as 1947, the late Dr. Evatt saw the necessity for an organisation such as S.E.A.T.O. in the Pacific area and he worked very hard for a security pact. This is made clear in his remarks as reported at page 1170 of volume 191 of “Hansard”. In 1949, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, saw the dangers of the 1 southward thrust of Communism and his remarks and interest in the matter awakened the interest of the United States of America. For the benefit of those who like to think about these matters, I mention that Mr. Chifley’s remarks may be read in volume 205 of “Hansard” at page 1311.
Between 1945 and 1949, America was not able to spend as much time in the Pacific as 1 feel sure she would have liked to spend because, as the House knows, she was very busy in Europe carrying out that very famous plan, the Marshal plan. In 1954, the then Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Casey, said that the United
Nations Organisation was paralysed because of Russia’s use of her veto power in the Security Council. I think the House will agree with me that the Organisation has been paralysed ever since. If Russia would only get together with Britain as Co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference and again use her influence in the United Nations General Assembly, the war in Vietnam would cease in a couple of days. When S.E.A.T.O. came into being, the late Dr. Evatt said this when supporting the ratifying legislation in this House as Leader of the Opposition -
I believe that regional pacts have come to stay.
He further made his feelings clear when he said that under the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact we have a clear cut logical arrangement consistent with the United Nations Charter. The point I wish to make is that if the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact is consistent with the United Nations Charter - I think it is - surely this must be some comfort to many people in Australia who are worrying whether what we are doing is legal or illegal. For those who want to check these statements, they are contained in “ Hansard “, Volume 5, New Series, at page 2572. The fact that we are a big island continent with a small number of inhabitants is immaterial to the question of survival. Survival depends on many things - far too many for me to enumerate at this time.
One of the main things for the good of this country is that with intelligence we adapt ourselves to the changing environment in which we now find ourselves. We are caught in the cross currents of South East Asia, whether we like it or not, and because of our geography we are part of the area. The responsibility for the protection of this area is the obligation of all Australians. We have to learn quickly how to live in this turbulent area. So far we have been able to steer a safe course, but that does not mean that all dangers are past and that all ahead is plain sailing. At the present time we can rely on the United States of America for real help. America is the only country in the S.E.A.T.O. arrangement which has readily said that it would stand by us. We know that New Zealand would help, but the help that New Zealand would be able to give would be very small. Britain would do the same, but Britain is not able to help because her commitments in Asia are dwindling, faster than was expected, due mainly to the financial straits in which that great country finds itself. America, through her commitment to Australia, has made perfectly clear where she stands in relation to us. Honorable members will recall what Sir Garfield Barwick, the former Minister for External Affairs, said in this House on 21st April 1964 at the time of the trouble in Borneo. He said -
On several occasions I have pointed out the strength of the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty. I have pointed out that it covers the treaty area, which is broadly described as the Pacific, and that covers not merely attacks on the Australian mainland and Australian island territories but also attacks on Australian armed forces and public vessels and aircraft in the treaty area.
He said further -
I recently pointed out that Borneo was in the treaty area.
Later he said -
There is not a question in doubt between ourselves and America.
A couple of days later the then Prime Minister said that he had been informed by officials of the United States Department of State of the very clauses of the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact to which the Minister for External Affairs had referred in the House and said that they covered the matter.
Recently American statements appearing in the Australian Press have made it very clear that if this country was in danger or was attacked, or if it needed help, America would come to our aid. Can any government afford to loosen the ties that keep us together? Surely it is not a matter of loosening ties but rather a matter of putting out more lines so that there is no doubt about the security of this country. No member of this House can afford to throw away the insurance policy which we have with America. On the contrary, the premiums must be paid, and paid gladly. Australia has always honoured its obligations. Australia has obligations, and on this point I should like to quote some extracts from “ International Law” by D. P. O’Connell, Professor of International Law at the University of Adelaide. At page 456 of Volume 1, when referring to succession of governments, he said -
Change of government does not affect the personality of the State, and hence a successor government is required by International Law to perform the obligations undertaken on behalf of the State by its predecessor. This is true even where the change is revolutionary.
He dealt at length with many other matters which I would have liked to have put on record had time permitted. At pages 322 and 323 of the same volume he dealt with intervention and set out various duties. The House is aware that 12 months ago I was in the South East Asian area with several of my colleagues as a guest of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. I think that he was very earnest when he said that we should know and understand what his feelings were with regard to that area. He gave me a copy of a speech which he had delivered to the Young Asian Socialist Conference at Bombay on 6th May 1965, and in a letter from him not so long ago he sent me another copy. In the course of his speech he said -
We know that if the Communists are able to advance their frontiers to envelop South Vietnam, it will be only a matter of time before the same process of emasculation by military and political techniques will overtake the neighbouring countries.
We have been unable to advance a more constructive alternative than to talk of unconditional negotiations, hoping that negotiations may lead to a neutral South Vietnam. However, we know this is hardly likely to be the end result of negotiations. For what is required to keep the rest of South East Asia free from going through similar tribulations is not just a neutral South Vietnam, but also a non-communist South Vietnam.
As democratic socialists we must insist the South Vietnamese have the right not to be pressured through armed might and organised terror and finally overwhelmed by Communism. lt is not only in emergent nations that nationalism has found its strong expression.
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew spoke for about an hour on that subject, but again I have not time to read all that he said. He was greatly concerned about what was happening in the area adjacent to him. He could see - he made this quite clear - that if that area went, his area would go. Some of my friends were in that area only a few weeks ago and were told something similar. I think he used the words that the fight in South Vietnam is also the fight for Singapore. That was my impression and I was told these things when I spoke to chiefs of staff and heads of state in the various areas that I visited. It is a very troubled area.
We in Australia are in South East Asia and we are committed, as I have said already. I have looked at what the authorities on international law say about the duties of incoming governments or the duties when there is a change of government and I often think of when I was a small boy and what the people of Australia thought when a little treaty signed with Belgium was not honoured. It was said that that was only a scrap of paper. Scraps of paper to us in Australia are things that we honour once we put our signatures to them. I hope that great thought will be given by those who are in power, and who have the means to do so, to making Australia a just, honest and safe country. I hope that our obligations, whatever they may be, will always be honoured. We have always honoured them, and I believe that we always will. I want to say in this House now that if I could express my feelings to the bereaved mothers and wives of our gallant men who have died in Vietnam I would do so.
.- I am sure the House is indebted to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) for his excellent and most moving speech. Probably no-one in this House is better qualified to talk on the subject on which he spoke. As he mentioned, at the age of six he lost his father, who was fighting to keep us free. The honorable member himself during the last war had a distinguished record while helping to keep this country free. Since he has been a member of this House he has been to the Vietnam war zone to acquaint himself with the true situation and when he tells us, as he did today, of what is needed to stop Communist aggression I think that all members should heed what he says. The honorable member himself volunteered in war time. He offered his life to keep Australia free. He now tells this House very properly that defence is a national obligation and that every Australian who enjoys the very great privileges of Australian citizenship, just as he is compelled to undertake compulsory education should be compelled to serve this country and keep it free. The honorable member for Batman also told us that the war in Vietnam is a war of aggression which if not stopped there will quickly spread to other countries in the area and finally will spread to Australia. Those people who now oppose our participation in this war should ask themselves whether they want to stop Communist aggression now in Vietnam or whether they want to fight Communist aggression in our backyard, where it will inevitably have to be fought in a very short time unless it is stopped now in South Vietnam.
The honorable members will realise the very close shave we had recently when the Communists staged their 30th September coup in Indonesia. It was either by divine providence or a miracle that that coup did not succeed. Had that Communist coup succeeded in Indonesia we would at this very moment have Communism on our borders. I feel, therefore, that every Australian is indebted to the honorable member for Batman, who took a line that must have been difficult for him to take. It was a line dictated by the conscience of a man so qualified to take it. He said in no uncertain terms that our duty is to stop Communist aggression where it is occurring today. I trust that the Government will take note of the honorable member’s suggestion about the issuing of an insurance policy to cover each of our servicemen who goes overseas. The honorable member spoke as one who has suffered. Having lost his father at an early age he knows the hardship and struggle of a widow with young children when her husband has died in the defence of his country. Although repatriation benefits have tremendously improved, the widow and children of a man killed in action still have a struggle that they would never have had if the husband and father had not died in the defence of his country. I ask the Minister of Social Services (Mr. Sinclair), who is at the table, to see that the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) arc notified of the suggestion made by the honorable member for Batman in relation to the issuing of insurance policies to those who are detailed to serve overseas.
I want now to deal with the true situation of the Budget, because I am somewhat appalled by the wild and woolly statements that one reads in the Press and hears outside in relation to the Budget. I want therefore to examine the Budget from the point of view of public finance. Statement No. 6 on page 28 of the printed copy of the Budget speech sets out the Budget in national accounts form. It shows that the revenue of the Commonwealth received from taxation, interest, rents, dividends and public enterprises for the year ended 30th June 1967 is estimated at §5,111 million. The expenditure of the Commonwealth - the net outlay for goods and services all of which will be consumed during the year - are estimated at S 1,440 million, and the cash benefits paid to persons, grants to States, interest, overseas grants, and subsidies, come to S3, 176 million. Adding these together we have a total expenditure by the Commonwealth on these profit and loss items - if 1 might call them that - or on income and expenditure items, of $4,616 million. If we deduct that from the revenue of $5,1 1 1 million, we find that, if the Commonwealth were a public company, its estimated profit for the year would be $495 mi lion. If the Commonwealth were a public company, that is the amount upon which it would be taxed.
Out of that §495 million the Commonwealth proposes to pay for all its public works. These will come to $354 million. If the Commonwealth were a public company, its capital expenditure would have been raised by a new share issue or by borrowing on debentures or in some other way. Anyway, the capital expenditure would not have been a deductible item from this income for taxation purposes. However, the Commonwealth is paying for the whole of its capital works out of its current income, the current income being $495 million. If we deduct from that figure the $354 million that it is paying for its capital works, we find that the Commonwealth still has a surplus of $141 million. Why then is it said that the Commonwealth has a cash deficit? The only .reason for this is that the States are requiring so much money for their capital works that the loan market is unable to provide it. If we look at Statement No. 6, we see that the Commonwealth will pay to the States for the States works and housing programmes $639 million. Net loan raisings - that is the total loan raisings less the previous loans that we have had to repay - for the year 1965-66 were only $251 million. So the cash deficiency occurs not as a result of Commonwealth expenditure but as a result of State expenditure. If, of course, the loan market were more buoyant than it was last year, it may be that we could end with a cash balance or even with a cash surplus, or it may be that the loan market will not be as buoyant as it was last year and the cash deficit will therefore be greater.
I have dealt with this subject because of the totally irresponsible comments that have been made in various parts of Australia, particularly by State members of Parliament. The suggestion is that the States’ troubles are due to the Commonwealth. The truth is that the Commonwealth is not only paying its own way, not only paying for all its capital works out of revenue, but also creating a cash deficit in its resources because it is providing for the States loan moneys that the loan market will not provide. 1 noticed a statement of the Labour Attorney-General in South Australia whose Government is facing a rather alarming deficit at present. He said: “ What is wrong with a deficit? Why is.it wrong for us to have a deficit when the Commonwealth has a deficit?” Once again, that shows an appalling ignorance of public finance. The Commonwealth is entrusted with the responsibility of currency. The Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) estimates that we will have a cash deficit this year. The cash deficit is created purely because we are paying to the States more money than we can borrow and we will have to provide for the deficit by issuing treasury bills.
The issue of a treasury bill is virtually an 1.0. U. from the Commonwealth, lt adds currency and purchasing power to the community. If money is raised by taxation, the money that the Government spends is withdrawn from the spending power of the taxpayer. If money is raised by loan, the money that the Government spends is withdrawn from the taxpayer or the person who lends the money to the Commonwealth. But when money is paid out of treasury bills, it is not withdrawn from anybody. It is money or credit that is added to the community. That is why the Treasurer has properly said that the Budget is inflationary, if you like to call it that, or stimulates because it pours something into the purchasing power that is not withdrawn from anybody else. The States cannot do that because they have no control of currency. If the States go into the red, if they spend more than they have this year or any other year, they have to pay for their revenue expenditure out of their loan moneys. In other words, they must reduce their building of homes, hospitals and schools if they spend more from their revenue account than they raise in taxation for revenue purposes or receive from Commonwealth grants for revenue purposes. We know what happens when a State does go into the red on its revenue account. It uses its capital loan moneys for revenue purposes and that means, of course, that the State becomes depressed because it cannot build as many homes and so on as it should. Builders and others associated with building are then out of work.
The Commonwealth can inject money into the community in one year and withdraw it in another, lt is not the sort of practice that can be done permanently or year after year, lt is probably the cruellest of all forms of taxation, because what is done is to lop, for example, one cent off everybody’s dollar. We do exactly what the milkman does when he has not enough milk to serve all bis customers; he adds a little bit of water. The milk still goes round, he still fills all the orders of all his customers, and probably not very much harm is done if he does not add too much water. But if he adds too much or if he does it too often he very quickly loses his customers when they find that he is a fraud. The issue of treasury bills can have the same result. The only difference is that it is done openly and publicly. When these people come along and say to the Government that it should inject more money into the community, they should be saying: “ Put some more water in the milk “. I am not opposed to doing this openly and honestly when it is appropriate to do so. There are times when the economy needs a stimulus and that is the time when we should do this sort of thing. We should withdraw money from the community and virtually pay it back - withdraw those treasury bills - in good years. In other words, the fluctuations should be ironed out. That is the essence of sound public finance as enunciated by Keynes and which I believe is accepted by most countries. There are times when it is the duty and responsibility of the Government to inject purchasing power into the community and this is just one of those years. Therefore the Treasurer, in a masterly Budget, has done just that. But if the State Governments imagine that the Commonwealth can go on doing this year after year then they need to start thinking again.
Those who have been to Indonesia know what happens when the currency loses the confidence of the people. Those older people who happened to be in Germany in pre-war days saw the value of the German currency vanish to such an extent that the only rich man was the bottle man. because he kept something that was tangible and got an awful lot of money for his bottles. I think we need more study, more explanation and more public relations about what happens when we inject money into the community. There is too little stated in language that the ordinary people can understand. Too many people come along and say: “ The Government ought to give us more money for education, for defence and for pensioners.” When you spend money raised by taxation or money you borrowed you do not create money. When you issue Treasury bills, that is, create money, then you lop a little bit off the value of each dollar note.
I have only a few minutes left and I want to express my appreciation to the Government for the splendid reform it has made in relation to widows with dependent children. The honorable member for Batman dealt with repatriation widows. Pensions for repatriation widows are not subject to any means test. However the civilian widow’s pension is subject to a means test and so the powers of those women to supplement their income by earnings has been very severely limited in the past. But owing to the reform proposed to be made as a result of this Budget the situation of what are called “ A class widows “ - that is the widow with one or more student or dependent children - will considerably improve. A widow with one child will be able to receive in pension, the mother’s allowance, children’s allowance, and earnings, totalling up to $28.50 a week - very close to the basic wage. A widow with two children will be able to receive in pension, the mother’s allowance, children’s allowance, and earnings, up to $33 a week - slightly above the basic wage which at the present time is, I understand, $32.80. A widow with three children will be able to receive in pension, the mother’s allowance, children’s allowance, and earnings, up to $37.50 a week - considerably above the basic wage. This will give a new outlook to those widows who are able to earn money or supplement their income in some way. Many of them are able to do so, particularly when the children go to school or kindergarten. In the past they have said: “ Well, if we take a job the money will come off our pension.” Now, with this very substantial increase in the permissible income their situation will be entirely altered.
A similar reform is to be made in relation to age and invalid pensioners who have dependent children. There are a tremendous number of invalid pensioners who have dependent children and there are a few age pensioners who have dependent children. A married couple - either age or invalid pensioners - with one child will now be able to have in pension, children’s allowance, and earnings, up to $42 a week - again considerably above the basic wage. A married couple, age or invalid pensioners, with two children will be able to have up to $46.50 a week, and if they have three children the sum will rise to $51 a week. This gives a new hope to these widows and age and invalid pensioners with dependent children. They will be entitled to go to work in order to give their children the kind of education they desire to give them. They will be able to work and earn the higher income in order to get a home of their own. I do not think people realise the magnitude of the reform referred to by the Treasurer at page 10 of the printed copy of the Budget Speech in relation to the liberalisation of the means test for widows, age and invalid pensioners. How different their lot will be from the position they were in under a Labour Government when all that a widow with one or more children received was $4.50 a week and the permissible income was $3 a week. This has gone up in the case of the widow wilh three children from $7.50 in 1948 under Labour to $37.50 as it will be when this present reform is passed.
In the couple of minutes remaining I want to congratulate the Government on another tremendous reform. I refer to the provision of help for churches and charitable organisations providing homes for the aged sick and the chronic sick. In 1 954 the Commonwealth Government of Australia introduced a bill to provide a partnership between churches and charitable organisations and the Government. This was the first Government in the world to do so. The Government virtually issued a challenge. It said to these excellent organisations: “ You build homes for the aged and we will grant you a subsidy for every person you house “. Since that day over £25 million or $50 million has been paid out to the churches and charitable organisations in subsidy, and over 25,000 people throughout Australia have been housed under the most excellent conditions. Probably there are later figures than I have mentioned. I notice the Minister examining figures now. I am sure there would be later figures that would be even higher than those I have given. No Act in the history of the Commonwealth has brought more good than this Act, and now it is to be extended to cover the aged sick, and the same challenge is offered to the churches and charitable organisations: Go to it and provide accommodation for these most deserving people. [Quorum formed.]
.- The Budget introduced by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) for the year 1966-67 must surely rank as one of the most retrogressive development budgets ever introduced into this Parliament, lt is bitterly disappointing to the rank and file Australians who are interested in, and who realise, the urgency of developing our nation’s resources. We are faced now with the unpalatable fact that the new Treasurer is either personally opposed to Australian owned development of the nation’s resources or perhaps, to give him the benefit of the doubt, he is completely under the spell of a negative-think-
Treasury. The central theme of this nation’s economy is growth - a steady rate of increase in the gross national product. If we are to maintain a satisfactory rate of growth Australia must have a strong economy capable of earning sufficient export income to pay for imports. The capacity to pay for imports is the most important constraint on the rate at which a country can grow. Our basic natural resources are the backbone of this economy and in Australia they are the backbone of any growth theories.
If Australia’s future growth in external earnings is not rapid enough our capacity to import will be held down unless there is an offsetting increase in capital inflow. Unfortunately for the future generations of Australians the rate of inflow of foreign capital is at risky levels, and the Australian economy at present resembles a drowning man fighting desperately to keep his head above water. The Government is gambling desperately on the possibility of rapid increases in mineral exports which, in the short term at least, certainly should alleviate some of the economy’s most pressing prob lems. But if Australia does not pull its socks up and take a more positive and imaginative role in the development of its natural resources - land, water, minerals and sunshine; assets of tremendous export earning potential-in order to earn more overseas funds, this economy will be faced with even greater problems than it faces today. Let us remember the excellent, true and very sound statement that Australia should not become “ merely a quarry for overseas industrial companies. We want industries, not just holes in the ground “. We all know who said that.
– Who said it?
– The right honorable John McEwen, the Minister for Trade and Industry. He said that it is not good enough for this country to live by selling a bit of its heritage each year. Since this remarkably sound statement by a most capable administrator - and I am not averse to giving a pat on the back occasionally to men who deserve it - there has been an ominous silence. Much as the Minister for Trade and Industry might believe what he has preached in other contexts, he realises on the other hand the serious position of our economy and its vulnerability to exogenous influences in the short term. This last drought that affected Queensland and New South Wales has shown the tremendous susceptibility of our economy to climatic conditions. As sure as night follows day this will come again. If ever Australia experiences a nationwide drought similar to those that occurred before the last war - and not too infrequently either - we are in for an appalling smash. Why? Because in its 17 years of reign this Government has refused to accept the fact that planned and steady development of our basic resources for the benefit of Australians and their children is a fundamental prerequisite to growth. The lack of development in this period, coupled with the problems of development in the war and postwar years, has left an unenviable brand on Australia’s destiny. The present ad hoc, panic-prompted and narrow visionary attitudes to development could be, and I believe will be, the undoing of this Government and of our economy in the end. More and more the Government is losing faith with its supporters, particularly in many important country areas where dairy farmers, cane growers, beef and wool producers are fed up with the Government’s negative approach to the ever mounting problems.
– Who told the honorable member that?
– The electors of Dawson. The ever-mounting problems concern the lack of sound policies on water and general development. The Government seems incapable of recognising the real growth problems of the nation. As soon as any responsible authority, such as the Vernon Committee, advances progressive recommendations on development the powerful Treasury-dominated machine swings into action to crush those who have a few positive ideas, and the Government meekly bows its head and follows the leader. Only when an election adversity occurs, such as happened in the 1961 election, does the Government really rule this country and counter the negative Treasury approach. In the field of development in particular the Treasury is able to dominate the Government’s thinking by its control of one of the most iniquitous devices ever established in the Public Service - the interdepartmental committees. As they are established now, they are the trademark of a weak and hesitant Government. For example, the Northern Division of the Department of National Development, and for that matter the Department of National Development itself, with the exception of the non-policymaking Bureau of Mineral resources and the Forestry Divisions, are just a joke around Canberra. The Department is toothless, clawless and completely devoid of power. Every major action it contemplates which could lead to some positive approach to development is vetted by the socalled interdepartmental committee of wise men. Make no mistake about it, these wise men of the Public Service exert tremendous influence on Ministers, particularly if the Ministers are apathetic.
The northern areas of Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory are sitting ducks for this Treasury approach and for the Treasury’s satellite departments, which endorse its views on development because there are relatively few votes concerned in .the areas. Furthermore, the States of Queensland and Western Australia have gentlemanly
Premiers who prefer to play the political game of waiting and hoping rather than the all-in tactics of the Premiers in the south-eastern States. Unfortunately for Queensland and Western Australia, the rough and tumble, no holds barred, political tactics so amply demonstrated by Sir Thomas Playford in the past and now being adopted by Premiers Bolte and Askin, return the lion’s share of the dividends in the end.
Let there be no misunderstanding; I am not criticising the officials of the Treasury. They are doing the job they are paid for. Their duty is to be critical, defensive and negative. The more they can knock back in the development field the more there is left in kitty for vote-catching social services and the like. If the Treasury officials can gain support from other departments their job is made much easier. The full blame for this nation’s pathetic attempt to develop its valuable resources for Australia’s benefit must rest squarely on the shoulders of the Government. Between 1961 and 1963 we saw reasonably good government with Ministers standing up to the Treasury. In other words we saw the Cabinet political administration in command of this country, with the result that there was a belated attempt to develop our basic resources, the real wealth of this country. Today, after the 1963 election, we have with us again the inevitable apathy which accompanies a tired and worn out Cabinet.
The only field today in which the political administration is in complete command over the Public Service is the field of defence. The Government tells the Public Service what it wants and will not take no for an answer. But in all other fields, partithe very greatest mistake because as the necessity for funds in the cities increases in order to overcome traffic congestion and provide sewerage, railways, buses, buildings, beach resorts, super highways and so on, the smaller will be the amount of money available to develop our real wealth which, as I have said, is land, water, minerals and sunshine. In time the nation, which must export to live, will find itself in such a mess because of the self-generating process of city development that drastic action will be the only remedy. This would have become cularly that of development, the negativethinking Treasury policy reigns supreme. This is where the Government is making necessary before now had it not been for the fortuitous availability of wheat markets and the finding of tremendous reserves of coal, iron ore and bauxite, along with readily available export markets.
I give full credit to Sir Harold Raggatt, the former Secretary of the Department of National Development, who tried to bring a breath of fresh air to national development but who, unfortunately for this nation, reached the age of 65 years and had to retire. Had he not done so I believe he might have proved an embarrassment to the Government because of his progressive ideas of development. Only last June Sir Harold called for a national mineral development policy because of the tragic lack of direction and planning that is painfully apparent in the handling of our mineral development. The almost complete chaos associated with the development of our natural gas and oil resources and the unbelievable sell-out of our rich mineral deposits and some of our best land to foreign interests show clearly the irresponsibility of this Government and its complete indifference to the welfare of Australia and its future generations. The Government is clearly reluctant, in fact it is almost frightened, to invest funds in projects which involve a lag of some years before additional revenue is earned. Water conservation is an outstanding example, particularly in areas in which there are relatively few votes.
The Government’s record in the field of northern development and, indeed, of national development, is a tragedy. Its basic approach to development over the last 17 years has been, first, to sanction foreign control of most of our best mineral and fuel deposits, some of which are of world importance - foreign interests are controlling the cream of our basic wealth while we are left with the skimmed milk; secondly, belatedly to hand out funds as a result either of election adversity or of some other political commitment. The beef roads schemes, the brigalow lands development, the Ord River project, the Derby and Wyndham jetties, the Broome deep sea port - all these projects resulted from the 1961 election adversity. The third aspect of the Government’s approach to development has been the sanctioning of funds only when the economic position has become so serious that the Government has had no alternative but to act. Funds of S3 million for forestry plantings this year illustrate the point; the Government has at last awakened to the fact that we are faced with the prospect of huge imports of timber products in the future.
Let me now deal with water conservation. Not one new commitment appears in this Budget for water development projects despite the fact that in areas where water conservation is an economic proposition we have experienced one of the worst droughts in history. The Government’s hypocritical approach to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority - it boycotted the great Snowy Mountains project when it was opened - is demonstrated by the fact that it lauds the Authority’s efforts on the one hand while embarking on a coldly calculating negative strategy which is slowly draining the lifeblood from this great organisation. This is a tragedy for Australia and a permanent monument to a timid Government.
The Government has refused to push the development of Australia’s richest undeveloped water and soil resources, which are to be found in the Burnett, Fitzroy, Pioneer and Burdekin basins. Do not take my word for this; have a look at the reports of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. These basins have a total catchment area considerably greater than the area of Victoria. With known technology the area of arable land in these districts would total 12 million acres. The Government has even denied assistance to Western Australia’s highly successful Ord River project which, over the next 20 years, will be devoted to the production of cotton, grain sorghum, fodder crops and beef cattle. But the Ord project will proceed because it is viable and sound and it is sitting on the doorstep to Asia. Why does the Government not publish its reports on this project so that we in this Parliament can evaluate the position critically with the benefit of the best information available? Not one official publication relating to the Commonwealth’s evaluation of the Ord River project has ever been made available. Why? Because when this information is made available the truth about this great and viable project will come to light.
As a result of the Government’s refusal to assist with water development in
Queensland that State suffers staggering losses in the cattle, sugar, dairying, sheep, grain, cotton and other industries, with widespread effects felt in the Queensland towns. The provision of water storages for irrigation, with smaller storages scattered strategically throughout the pastoral areas, should form the basis of a comprehensive plan of water development that should not be ignored by this Government any longer. Grandiose emotional schemes are not being advocated. What we want is commonsense and reasonably sound projects, and a commonsense, progressive water development policy. But the Government’s actions to date on water development clearly demonstrate that it refuses to accept the fact that water development in this dry country is a national and urgent responsibility. I suggest that any honorable members who believe that the Government is active in the water development field in Queensland should look at the facts of the situation. Out of a grand total of §900 million made available to the States over the last 16 years for harnessing our water for irrigation and power, Queensland, the State with the richest water resources in Australia, has received the princely sum of - yes, you have guessed it - not one cent.
– Well, what would you say?
– What about stream gauging? In any case, what would you grow if you did have the water?
– Let me remind honorable members of the last drought in the Burnett area which caused economic chaos and the bankruptcy of one mill. If water storages had been available 70 per cent, of the S30 million lost directly and indirectly in the district would have been saved. This amount alone would have paid for a major part of the irrigation project.
How does the Government expect families facing ruin to understand its refusal to harness water which flows wastefully to sea while at the same time it gives top priority to artificial lakes in Canberra? I have little sympathy for State Governments which are crying poverty today when they give higher priorities to such projects as opera houses, super-highways and beach resorts than to basic water development which can earn millions of dollars of valuable export income.
I have noted the comments of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns), who comes from the thickly populated metropolitan area of Brisbane and who challenges all those who advocate water development, including the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan), saying that we neglect to take into account the opportunity cost of water development. This, of course, is incorrect. I do not intend to devote time to the methodology of the benefit cost calculus as it applies to development economics in measuring priorities, but the opportunity cost in all development projects is certainly taken into account. To name a few, there are the Brigalow scheme, the beef roads scheme, the Nogoa irrigation scheme and the Ord River project. Why does the honorable member for Lilley think that a rate of interest is charged against the project as a cost? This is an opportunity cost. In addition, benefits forgone arc measured. In more practical terms, let the honorable member for Lilley take a trip to northern New South Wales and parts of Queensland where he will still see the stark evidence of the havoc left by the drought. This is an opportunity cost. If the honorable member means that before making decisions we should compare the relative rates of return for alternative opportunities, this is sounder logic and I agree wilh him, but he will, however, find many qualitative traps in such an approach.
Few people realise the importance of Queensland to the economy of this countrythrough its surplus of export earnings. Further large scale development in the mineral industries of Western Australia and Queensland in the immediate future will substantially increase the level of export earnings. In the last 10 years, Queensland has had an export trading surplus totalling $2,600 million. In the same period New South Wales and Victoria have had a combined trading loss of $4,000 million. It is clear that if it were not for Queensland’s and Western Australia’s minerals, beef, wheat, wool and sugar, the high level of imports in Sydney and Melbourne could not be sustained. It follows also that a significant proportion of industries in New
South Wales and Victoria which are tied to the importation of goods may not be operating if it were not for the existence of these exports.
The obvious method of paying for these projects is by a rational allocation of resources. This is what I have meant by examining critically where our resources are being employed. The second method is by the utilisation of the revolving fund. I have had a question on the notice paper for the last five months, trying to ascertain the total amount being repaid to the Commonwealth by the States in respect of development projects. I know that soon the Snowy Mountains Authority will be repaying $50 million a year to consolidated revenue. The Deputy Prime Minister has suggested the establishment of an Australian owned investment corporation to finance national development. The corporation could be a partnership of government and private business which would harness local and overseas capita] and channel it into national projects. This, of course, is Labour’s policy. Some excellent suggestions have been made by people overseas. Perhaps the best of these is the suggestion of tax free debentures. Then there is the suggestion of tying the amount of funds as a parameter to a particular measurement in the Budget, whether it be gross national product or some other method whereby national development would have a minimum amount of funds every year. 1 wish now to turn io one of the industries of Queensland which is in a grave condition and which has been blatantly omitted from consideration for assistance in this Budget. Certainly the Government has given the sugar industry a lift by paying a bounty on nitrogenous fertilisers, but this is not before time. The bounty should have been paid three years ago when the bounty on superphosphate was introduced. At that time sugar prices were high. Cane growers and responsible industry leaders are pleading for help because the world price of sugar is now at its lowest level. As the honorable members know, 50 per cent, of our total production is being sold at the free world market price, which is between £16 and £17 sterling a ton - significantly below the cost of production. The Government gave its full blessing to the Queensland Government to expand the industry, so it must face up to its responsibility to assist the industry. On several occasions honorable members have submitted proposals as to how this could be done. There seems little prospect in the future of re-negotiating the international sugar agreement. According to the statement made by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) when explaining the bounty on nitrogenous fertilisers, there seems little prospect of obtaining an increase in the near future in the world price of sugar. So we are faced with the fact that one ton in every two being produced is being sold at a disastrously low price - in real terms the lowest price in the history of the industry since 1900. Approximately 1,300 new farmers are now in the sugar industry and many of them are in serious financial trouble.
Throughout every cane growing area the Government is being condemned for its failure to face up to its responsibility. It gave its full blessing to the Queensland Government to go ahead and expand the industry, yet it will do nothing now to come to the rescue of the industry, despite its obligations under the sugar agreement. In the sugar areas the consumers of sugar, many of whom are cane farmers, are forced to pay more for sugar than are people in southern Australia. It might amaze people - it should amaze honorable members - to know that in Mackay and Bundaberg where sugar is grown the cost to the consumer of 1 lb. of sugar is 13 per cent, higher than it is in Perth. It is 10 per cent, higher than in Adelaide. This is a remarkable position. Of course, it is covered by the sugar agreement. The omission from the Budget of a grant to the industry to increase the price of cane is too glaring for words. Tt is obvious that the Government is saving its proposals to grant funds to assist the industry as election bait. This is a scandalous position because the Government is holding to ransom thousands of cane growers and people who depend on this industry. In Queensland alone almost 300,000 people depend directly or indirectly on the sugar industry.
Let us examine one of the most remarkable statements made by the Leader of the Country Party when he said that the expansion of the sugar industry was made possible only by the Japanese Trade Agreement. That statement appears in “ Hansard “. I believe that the Minister will always regret making that statement because today we have the unpalatable fact that the Japanese are buying our sugar for £17 sterling a ton and selling it at huge profits to the Japanese people while we in Australia, including pensioners, are forced to pay £50 a ton for raw sugar or £90 a ton for refined sugar. I regret to say that, judged by the way our exports are developing, the Japanese are bleeding this nation dry. As far as sugar goes, the Japanese have tricked us into what must rank as one of the greatest confidence tricks in history. Approximately 500.000 tons out of every 1 million tons of sugar is going to Japan at this bedrock price. We are now dependent on Japan for the sale of not only our .« ti gar but also our iron ore, steel, bauxite and coal. There is nothing wrong with Japan as a country to which to sell our goods. The point is that we want a fair price.
– Can we sell our sugar somewhere else?
– Our sugar industry would not have been expanded had we known that we would have been receiving this disastrous price. That is the point.
– Does the honorable member not think that the sugar industry should be expanded?
– The point is that no action is taken in this Budget at all to assist the sugar industry regarding price. Therefore, as I have said, it is obvious that this Government, which is not unaware of the very serious problems in the sugar industry, should slop playing politics, face up to its responsibilities immediately, and give the cane growers a lift in price by providing a grant to the Queensland Central Sugar Board or to the Queensland Government before many more days have passed. The Government will receive no thanks if, at the end of September, it comes out and gives the sugar growers a grant as an election bait. Credit in the sugar towns is drying up. The banks are adopting a negative policy towards sugar growers.
To make matters worse, the Minister for Primary Industry has now made a statement in reply to a question I directed to him which suggests that the Commonwealth will not accept responsibility with regard to sugar grown as the result of the expansion that has taken place in the industry. If any honorable member wishes to read that question, he will find it at page 256 of “Hansard” of 18th August 1966. I asked the Minister for Primary Industry -
What were the Commonwealth’s responsibilities with respect to the sugar produced within mill peaks at the time of the 1962 Sugar Agreement as compared with sugar produced under present mill peaks?
The Minister replied -
The Commonwealth has not been asked to extend to the increased quantity the cover provided for production costs under the arrangement made earlier.
This means that sugar grown as a result of the expansion may not come under the control of the 1962 Sugar Agreement as far as the Commonwealth backing it by way of guaranteed price is concerned. To make it even more explicit, the Minister said -
The Commonwealth did not make any statement on the Queensland Government’s decision to expand production.
In other words, if one wants to read between the lines, the Commonwealth Government was against the expansion of sugar production in Queensland. It is obvious therefore that something has to be done and has to be done fast in the industry. It is up to this Government to protect the sugar industry.
– The supporters of this Budget naturally look at different things. There are different parts of the Budget that attract them particularly. Some of these matters are comparatively small and some are matters of consequence. There are two matters to which I would like to refer with some pleasure. The first is that the Commonwealth is undertaking now the finance of the rehabilitation of the Broken Hill-Parkes section of the railway line as part of the standardisation arrangements. This, I think, is only reasonable.
The line from Parkes to Broken Hill will be part of the main transcontinental fine across Australia. The present line, although it is true that it is built to standard gauge, was built to very light specifications. Some of the rails are light; most of the line is unballasted; the sleepers are not all in first class condition; and some parts of the line near the Darling River and a little to the east of it are subject to flooding and require raising if this is considered an all weather transcontinental line. So, although the line from Parkes to Broken Hill is perfectly capable of carrying the traffic that it is called upon to carry at this present moment, it is quite unsuitable as a part of the main transcontinental link which will come into operation some time in 1968. It is only reasonable and right that the Government should do what the Government has done - that is to say, it has considered the upgrading or this section of the line as part of the standardisation programme and is making finance available for it on the same basis as finance has been made available already for the other parts of the standardisation programme.
There are two matters regarding this standardisation to which 1 think the Government should be paying a little more urgent attention. The first is the vexed question of the Silverton Tramway Co. As honorable members will know, there is a short link between the South Australian border at Cockburn and Broken Hill which is served by a privately owned 3 ft. 6 in. gauge railway operated by the Silverton Tramway Co. This railway either must be widened to standard gauge or. alternatively, a new route must be found. From what I know of this railway, I believe that the better solution probably is to take a new route coming out past the Zinc Corporation’s mine and the abattoirs, passing by what is known as the Pinnacles and coming in to join the new wide South Australian line at Cockburn. This new line would be shorter and better graded than the old Silverton trams route which is a dog leg as it was built in the first place to serve Silverton and not Broken Hill. In the circumstances. I feel that this is the economic thing to do. But some compensation is due to the Silverton Tramway Co. and some kind of arrangement should be made with it without delay so that it will know where it is and is not kept in apprehension about the future. That is the first thing.
The second thing is that I feel the present South Australian Government should be implementing the plans which were made by the former Government which was led by Sir Thomas Playford in regard to the provision of a standard gauge link between Port Pirie and Adelaide. I am not going to weary the House with the details of what Sir Thomas Playford pro posed. But he did have a good and reasonable proposal. I feel that this plan should be implemented as part of our standard gauge programme. Indeed, honorable members will recall that South Australia was the State which signed the preliminary standardisation agreement and its finance therefore stands on a little more secure and less capricious basis than the remainder of the programme.
By 1968, we should have a standard gauge system connecting every capital of the Australian mainland. There will be a through line from Melbourne to Sydney and Brisbane. There will be a through line also from Sydney to Broken Hill to Port Pirie to Kalgoorlie and on to Perth and Fremantle. There should be, although provision has nol been made yet for it, a through line from Port Pirie down to Adelaide. This is quite a cheap thing to do. As 1 said, I will not weary the House wilh the details of how this should be done. But 1 would think that the scheme worked out when Sir Thomas Playford was Premier of South Australia is the correct scheme and should be implemented.
So the first thing that gives me pleasure is the fact that the Government has assumed its proper responsibility in regard to finance for the upgrading of the ParkesBroken Hill railway line. Secondly, may I say that 1 share with other honorable members on this side of the House pleasure that the Government has seen fit to raise the deduction from income for means test purposes from SI to S3 a week in respect of each child. This is something which I and other honorable members on this side of the chamber have been advocating for a very long time. It will be of particular import to widows. Although the Government, by giving extra allowances, has done a lot to improve the position of class A widow pensioners, it is unfortunate if those ladies still arc not able to improve the position of their families by themselves working without being subject to the full impact of the means test. The move that the Government has made in this Budget is good, humanitarian and very proper. I cannot let it pass without expressing my pleasure that this has been done and saying that the widows of this community who have young children are the recipients of social services who are perhaps most due for consideration by this House and by the public. As I have said, the Government’s proposal will be of particular import to them.
Having said that, and having heard what has been said by other honorable members, we might perhaps look beyond this Budget to the policy speeches which will follow it, and this is something to which honorable members on both sides of the House have very properly addressed their minds. May 1 make three points in this regard. These are dissociated from one another but each merits some attention, it is remarkable how many speakers in this debate have already mentioned the need for further amelioration ot the means test on pensions. 1 refer particularly to the very thoughtful speech which was delivered earlier today by my friend, the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs). This was not the only speech on the subject. Indeed, one would think that on both sides of the House there is a realisation that the means test is due for review. 1 believe that when this comes about, one or two things should receive special priority. The first requirement will cost very little. It will mean allowing pensioners to earn by personal exertion, if they so desire, a certain amount of income which could be considered exempt income and which would not be counted for means test purposes. This proposal is not meant to supersede the present permissible income provisions. What 1 am suggesting is a net addition to the present permissible income level to allow for this income from personal exertion, leaving the present permissible income limit otherwise unchanged.
The reasons given by my friend from Bowman seem to me to be very cogent reasons why this would be a good thing. I shall not repeat them. Let us exempt personal exertion income up to, say, $10 a week, or something like that, in respect of the earnings of all pensioners, including widow pensioners. The cost of this would be very small I have seen figures indicating that the total Budget outlay for this purpose would be under $1 million a year. However, the net outlay from the Budget should be less than that because these earnings not only would attract tax but also, by infusing extra money into the community, would generate income in the hands of other people. This can be done without any inflationary effects. What is suggested simply means that we would use resources of labour which are at present unused. It is a very simple proposition and I hope that since it involves very little outlay it will commend itself to the Government.
I also believe that what are called fringe benefits for pensioners should be made available to people in the upper age brackets irrespective of whether they are pensioners. This is one way in which we could ease the means test. Some of these fringe benefits are given by the Commonwealth and some by the States, and they may vary a little from State to State. There have come to my notice cases in which people in receipt of small superannuation income are worse off if their superannuation rises, because the increase costs them their pension entitlement. I was spoken to recently by some members of a certain provident fund which was concerned with retired clergymen. Because the fund had a surplus, it was proposed to give these retired people a little increment. Some of them asked me to do what I could to postpone that increment because if they received it their income would be just above the level at which they would have a pension entitlement. It is ridiculous to have a law which makes those people who have saved and provided for themselves just a little worse off than those who have made a lesser provision.
I think the House would agree with me that we should be doing something to prevent this kind of anomaly from arising. There is a great deal of resentment among people who are not entitled to pensions and who have not very much and are subsisting only on superannuation when they find that their superannuation just causes them to lose their pension entitlement. They are worse off than those who have no income of their own and who receive a pension. This is the kind of anomaly to which the Government might turn its attention. I would hope also that at some stage there might be a review of the Income Tax Assessment Act to increase the age allowance, which is not sufficiently generous to those on moderate to low incomes. What I have suggested so far in regard to the means test is all comparatively minor although it might have a very big impact on the lives of certain pensioners and persons whose income is barely above the level at which they would have a pension entitlement. I do not intend to elaborate anything in the nature of a major scheme now, although at another place and at another time I hope to have an opportunity to do so.
Let me associate myself with those honorable members who, during this debate and at other times, have said that something should be done to ameliorate the means test. The honorable member for Sturt (Sir Keith Wilson), who is the chairman of the Government Members Social Services Committee, is very much concerned with this matter. I see him sitting here in the chamber. I know that he will fully support any moves that may be made on these lines. Over the years he and 1 have worked on this matter, and I hope that our work will come to some fruition.
– It has not been very fruitful up to date. -
– The honorable member does not know the facts. We have not got as much as we would like to have got, but I think that even he, ungenerous as he is, will agree that the merged means test was a very considerable advance and that it has helped a lot of pensioners in a very substantial way. I do not want to bandy words with the honorable member. Let us stop trying to score political points, even though the honorable member has to do so, and think for a moment about the real interests of the pensioners. The real interests of the pensioners and the near pensioners consist in having something effective done in regard to the means test. If I may say so in passing, this would be in the interests of the whole Australian economy as well. 1 shall leave that subject and turn to a matter which is quite unconnected with it. In recent days moves have been made for closer association with our sister dominion New Zealand. I believe that some of this closer association could be made effective in the scientific field, with a better relationship between our own Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the corresponding instrumentality in New Zealand which is known as the D.S.I.R. I know that there is an interchange of information through visits by officers of these organisations. I know that on the plant industry and animal husbandry sides there is a very considerable interchange of information. Incidentally, I have been told that in relation to our own officers a visit to New Zealand counts as a visit to a foreign country and that therefore visits are somewhat restricted, even though the distance from Australia to New Zealand is less than that from Canberra to Perth. On this front, we have interests in common with New Zealand and we should be pursuing them. I know that we have a Commonwealth association in this field. I believe that there is to be a meeting in Ghana in October next, and that the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and other countries will be sending scientific delegations. But this again is not the kind of thing that I have in mind. Surely we could get a much closer, better and more effective liaison.
There is one project in which New Zealand and Australia could have a special interest - the development of the resources of the Antarctic Ocean, which lies to the south of both countries. We should- not be neglecting this potential. I suggest very strongly that the C.S.I.R.O. and the D.S.I.R. should get together and plan a concerted campaign to ascertain the facts about the Antarctic Ocean and to exploit the very great wealth of life which is there. I do not know whether this information is accurate, but respectable scientists have said that onehalf of the animal protein in the entire globe is contained in the Antarctic Ocean. I know that a great deal of this is in the form of macro-plankton, which occurs because of the upwelling of the cold waters from the bottom, bringing with them the very rich phosphatic nutrients which create this tremendous amount of life in the Ocean. The reason why the whales went down to the Arctic was to feed on this life.
Is it out of the question that a starving world, a world which is protein hungry, might obtain some relief from the exploitation of the waters of the Antarctic Ocean which teem with this particular kind of life? Perhaps the exploitation would be immediate rather than direct. It might well be that what we got from the ocean would not be human food but animal food which would make it possible to have a much greater population of food producing animals. These are problems that we should not pontificate about or be dogmatic about.
But they are lying at our doorstep ready for investigation.
There might be no opportunities here for exploitation at all. But if it is true - I believe it is -that one-half of the animal protein in the world is swimming around the Antarctic continent, which is a little to the south of Australia and New Zealand, is it not reasonable for Australia and New Zealand to get together to have a scientific appraisal of the situation and to see whether these immense resources which have fed the whales for a long time and the volume of which is much greater than the whales can possibly consume might not be used for either the direct production of protein food for human beings or - I think this is more likely to be the case - the production of stock food which would enable a much greater animal population to be maintained for the production of the normal articles of food? J put my suggestion to the Government. It seems to me to be a reasonable thing to do.
Finally, let me say something about transport. Australia badly needs an overall transport plan. The exploitation of our railways so far has been only minimal. Indeed, very often railway users prevent the efficient use of the railways. Perhaps they, and we, do not understand that for short journeys for the assembling of goods the road and not the railway is the most efficient instrument. For long haulage, the railway should be able to beat the road every time. The present anomaly exists fortwo reasons. First, we clutter our railways with all sorts of short haul freights. Some of this economic idiocy occurs as a byproduct of State Government policy. The second reason is that we have not given sufficient attention to the terminal and transfer points of the railways. If we could take a few points of our railway network and at them construct really efficient transfer facilities so that goods could be handled between the railways and road transport economically, we could slash transport costs for the benefit of the whole of the Australian economy.
I suggest to the Government that it might be economic if some of the interest debt of the railways were written off and carried in ordinary revenue. This is one way in which the Commonwealth might reasonably come to the assistance of the States on condition that the States which get the benefit reduce their freights and fares correspondingly and so pass the benefit on to the consumers. This is perhaps a long term proposal. It is certainly very complicated, but it is one to which I think the Government might turn its attention.
We have heard from the Minister of the possibility of increasing containerisation on ships. We have heard of the concentration of ships on proper runs with a regular schedule, thus cutting out idiotic stopping at every port. Cannot the same principle of containerisation be applied to our railways? I believe it can. Containerisation does bring new opportunities, it does bring a real reduction in the cost of transport, and I would think that, looking at the real economics of the question, looking at the way in which we can help the primary producers, and looking at the way in which we can cut living costs and increase living standards, one of the first things to do is to introduce throughout Australia a proper co-ordinated transport plan. This, I think, is one of the horizons which will be open to this Government when it returns, as it will return, to office after the next election.
.- The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) made a very thoughtful contribution to the debate. He is always at his best when he keeps off politics. He was certainly at his worst at the end of his speech when he made his prophecy. One of the things that always intrigues me about honorable members opposite who, on the whole, are not bad people, apart from the grievous errors of their politics, is the way in which they come in here and espouse the cause of the abolition or amelioration of the means test. I recall what happened during the 1954 elections, when the Labour Party brought forward its policy for the abolition of the means test within three years. There was no more vigorous political assault in Australia’s history than the scorn which was poured upon us then at the mere suggestion of the abolition of the means test. Now - it is late, of course - the government is coming to the fold, and it is at least of some advantage to the people of Australia that something is being done.
This debate has centred on the structure of the nation’s finances and the way the country is run. I suggest that the assertions made by honorable members on this side that the Budget is based upon complacency, a policy of status quo and a general acceptance of the principle of other people doing the work, are valid to anyone who makes an objective evaluation of the Budget. I have been rather astonished at the continual patting on the back which the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) has received from honorable members opposite. I suggest it is clear that in bringing down this Budget the Government has neglected some issues which are vital to this nation. There is no doubt in my mind, or in the mind of anybody who studies the question, that Australia’s education system needs urgent, immediate and dynamic attention. But there is no evidence that anything different from what has been done in the past is going to be done in the next 12 months under this Budget.
The question of prices has been raised by honorable members on this side, notably by my friend the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton). What does the Government propose to do about prices? As has been pointed out, it is quite all right for the Government to insist upon arbitration and conciliation in arriving at the wages of the workers, but, when somebody suggests that prices ought to be controlled and that the profits of the great monopolies and great concerns ought to be examined, honorable members on the Government side argue that this is a gross interference with the freedom of the subject. This argument, of course, is a piece of the grossest nonsense. 1 come now to foreign investment. Perhaps the Budget is not the place in which to tackle the actual machinery by which that is controlled, but surely the Budget is the place in which to give special incentives to Australian industries to do something and to private citizens in Australia to take their part in developing Australia’s mineral resources, and so on. What are we going to do about our own resources? Why do we leave it to the Japanese, the Swiss, the French, the highest bidder and, occasionally, unfortunately, the lowest bidder to develop them? There is no evidence that this problem is being tackled by the Government at all.
And what of the State governments? 1 have not a great deal of sympathy for most of the State governments. I have not much sympathy at all for the Victorian Govern ment; nor have I much for the present New South Wales Government In fact, I have less sympathy for the Premier of New South Wales because he did inherit a much more viable State economy, an economy which had been run for 25 years by one of the best State administrations in Australia. So I look over the field of State governments and ask what they are doing for themselves. It was brought to my notice the other day that it had been stated in the “ Dandenong Journal “, a notable publication in the electorate of the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), that the Victorian Education Department had paid, I think, §90,000 for a piece of land on which to build a school and that the people who owned it bought it as recently as last February for $7,000 - a twelve times increment to the lucky speculators. What does this Government do, and what does any of the State governments do about capital gains? Here is a whole field untapped in the community.
What do the State governments do about the development of their own industrial resources? The honorable member for Mackellar spoke about the railways. What do the State governments do about their own business undertakings? Why do not they do something about the greater development of their own banking systems? It would be interesting to examine the records of each of the State banks to see just how much of their money they have invested in Commonwealth bonds before the States come whingeing to the Commonwealth asking for the money back at some favorable rate of interest.
But these are not the real reasons why I wish to speak this afternoon. I believe that the real question facing the country is Australia’s relationship with its neighbours, with Asia in particular. I suppose it is indicative of the Government’s attitude that the Treasurer spent only a couple of minutes on the question of external aid. I point out to those people who study this question that when we talk of external aid we are careful not to use the term “ foreign aid “ because, if we do, we exclude Papua and New Guinea. We are using our trusteeship and our bounden duty to Papua and New Guinea in an effort to jack up the amount of money Australia is prepared to spend on its neighbours. This year, that sum amounts to $103 million, of which $70 million is to be spent in Papua and New Guinea. 1 do not begrudge a single penny of that expenditure there. I believe the Australian people would face a much heavier burden in Papua and New Guinea, if given the opportunity and the dynamics for social, political and industrial development there.
This leaves something like §33 million for what is actually foreign aid for this year. That is equivalent to the cost of five of the Boeing aircraft which are flying round this country accelerating our general air services. That is all our actual foreign aid amounts to. The most important thing to Australia for the future is the development of prosperous and stable Asian countries. Their prosperity is important to ensure that they are able to buy and continue to buy Australian products. Their stability is also important to our peace. I believe this is probably the most important issue before the Parliament at the moment.
I am taking this opportunity during the Budget debate to dwell upon the question of foreign policy principally because I know from the Government’s past record that little enough opportunity will be given to debate it over the next few weeks. A statement was made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) a week or so back, then the debate was adjourned. Taking the Government’s past record, we shall be fortunate if we get the opportunity to debate the matter again al some length and lo place before the Australian people all the problems confronting us and what we on this side of the House think are the answers to those problems. These, then, are the elements of Australia’s policy which I think ought to be currently examined.
I am deeply disappointed at the general approach which this Government has to Australia’s foreign policy, j believe it is bounded by some ancient shibboleths, lt is out of date. The Government has not realised that Asia has arrived at a new stage in its history. It has not realised that Australia has arrived at a new stage in its history, in its importance, its structure and its potential to influence. The besetting sin of Australia at the moment is what I might call the China neurosis. 1 cannot highlight too often the obsession which this Government, its supporters and many other people in the community have about China. China has some 12 or 14 neighbours. Some of them, such as Pakistan and India are large.
Some, such as Macao, Hong Kong, Bhutan and Sikkim, are small. So far as I can determine, not one of those nations is under any immediate threat or is in pressing fear of military aggression from China. I have made this statement in many places and I can find no evidence to refute it. I would be interested if honorable members on the Government side would simply produce the evidence to show that China’s neighbours are i’n fear and trembling or in mortal terror of assault. I do not think there will be aggression by China in the foreseeable future. I have spoken to many people close to China. I took the opportunity to visit Hong Kong, Laos and Macao. Certainly the people of those places are concerned about China. Of course they are. It is a large country and its future actions cannot be predicted. China does offend its neighbours by its radio broadcasts. But which one of its 12 or 14 neighbours at present really fears Chinese assault? Not one of them.
– India does not fear attack at present and the honorable member knows that full well. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) appears to be interjecting. If he has evidence to disprove what 1 have said, let him produce it. I am one who completely disagreed with China’s actions against India and Tibet. I disagree with any such approach to foreign policy, ft is the kind of foreign policy which this Government perpetuates. It is based on ancient shibboleths and on an attitude to power. A great deal of it is arrant nonsense. But the people of Australia should realise this: It is valid to consider China as a large nation with an unpredictable attitude to many things in the future. That statement might apply to many other nations. But it fs playing false to the whole area of Asia, and to Australia in particular, to build China up into a kind of bogy. This is creating hysteria and an attitude that is quite unreal and un-Australian.
The other point is that Communism is no longer monolithic. At the beginning and during the Stalin regime it was monolithic or attempted to be. But the Communist countries of the world no longer respond to buttons pressed in the Kremlin or anywhere else. Of course this is a good thing for the world at large. The change appeared first in Eastern Europe. Yugoslavia was the first to break away. There was further evidence of the trend as recently as a few weeks ago in North Korea. If honorable members turn to the “Japan Times” of a couple of weeks ago, they will see a report that the North Korean Government rejected both the Chinese and the Russian views on Communist policy. “ A plague on both your houses “ was the term used in the translation I read. This is indicative of something important. If a small Communist country like North Korea is able to challenge the ideology and leadership of China, it means in effect that China is not the aggressive bogey that has been built up by honorable members opposite. That is what we must put before the Australian people. It is not good enough to produce a piece of neurotic gimmickry in foreign affairs and try to stagnate Australian foreign policy in that way.
I should like to see this Government produce an attitude of international morality based on non-violence and the sanctity of borders. I will go along with the Government all the way if it will produce some United Nations guarantee of national borders. Portugal probably has few friends, but if the Indonesians were to invade Timor to try to effect a “ liberation “ or whatever it might be called, I would say the international community ought to reject that action and act on behalf of the people concerned. I believe the first international necessity is to guarantee the borders of the small nations of the world. The next is to reject the view that violence is a valid exercise of national policy. We all must accept international arbitration.
There is something else as well: All national groups should be recognised. I for one believe we must do something about recognising Taiwan but this has produced an aberration. The recognition of Taiwan means upgrading of its status as an embassy. It means also that we have to recognise some of Taiwan’s more nonsensical claims. For instance, I believe that Taiwan claims Mongolia and Tibet as parts of China. One of the reasons for America’s non-recognition of Mongolia is that recognition of Mongolia would mean rejection of Taiwan’s claim to Mongolia and this would anger Chiang
Kai-shek. This is an aberration we have to overcome.
I am sorry in many ways for the people of both Germanys, both Koreas and both Vietnams. Partition of these countries is the price of war and of international negotiation. One side is rejected by one group of nations and the other side is rejected by the other group. It should be Australian policy to bring into the community of nations all national groups no matter what their politics are. Not many governments in the world would gain my imprimatur for their Government. Our attitude flows from our general insufficiency. We are afraid to do things for ourselves. We do not develop our own bauxite deposits. We do not develop our own defence industries. We do not develop our own defence policy or our own foreign policy. This is the time for. Australia to stand up for itself. It is time for Australians to realise that we are no longer a tiny group of people cowering in the corner of a continent. With 11 million people, prosperity, and stability, we are one of the more secure nations of the world.
If you run down the list of 120 or more members of the United Nations, you will find that some 70 or 80 of them have a smaller population than Australia does and that about 100 have less industrial capacity. I look to people like the Israelis, the Yugoslavs, the Swiss and the Swedes and the Cambodians. These are people who stand on their own feet, who have their own attitudes and, when necessary, defy great and powerful neighbours. I am sickened by the sycophancy and the un-Australian statements of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt). I hope that when the right honorable gentleman speaks tonight he will give some kind of explanation of his statements. It is completely un-Australian to prostrate oneself before anybody. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) has said that he will not fall on his face before China. We do not want to fall on our faces before anybody; we want to stand on our own feet.
At present we have the dead hand of history over us in many things. I think of the question of recognition or nonrecognition of countries. This goes back to 1815 or 1816 and the Treaty of Vienna. That set out how many guns should be fired to salute an Ambassador. the kind of striped pants he should wear, and how he should present bis credentials. It has worked very well for a century and a half but it has to be replaced by new attitudes to the eastern nations.
So we come to the United Nations Organisation itself. This Organisation was formed at San Francisco in 1945. It was the product of the victors of a world war. It was designed by them. I think there were 45 nations involved and the veto was put in the hands of the five largest nations. Somehow we have to get around this or change it. We have to produce new attitudes. It is Australia’s bounden duty to itself and to the world to exercise its influence towards this end.
I turn now to the current fracas in IndoChina, the former French colonial possession. I suppose the 1954 Geneva Agreements on Indo-China have been the most read and debated international agreements for many years, but they are an anachronism in 1966. The co-chairmen - the British and the Russians - are not really involved any more except as inhibiters. They prevent other people from doing anything. They cannot do anything themselves or will not do anything for various reasons. We have to find our way around these Agreements. Both sides talk about it - the North Vietnamese, the South Vietnamese, the Laotians and the Cambodians and so on; but we have to do something about it from this end.
That brings me to the point of participation by Australian troops in Vietnam. This is a question that the members of this Parliament have to face. We are part of the new world. We are not the only ones who say that we are the bridge between the East and the West. I would say this was just conceit on our part if we alone were saying it; hut when the Minister for External Affairs visited Cambodia - I think in December last year - those were the words used to him by Prince Sihanouk. So we have to look at the new face of Asia. Independence is the cry. We are still obsessed with the 1942 attitude to the Japanese. But when the Japanese landed in Indo-China, they were liberators. When they landed in Indonesia, they were liberators. When they landed in Singapore and the Philippines, they were liberators. Now there is a different international community. The world is made up of new people. This is where we have to step in. The democracies in this part of the world have to be gathered together and made to tick. They all have to exercise their influence - India, Ceylon, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, the Philippines, Australian and New Zealand. I would bring Cambodia into this also. It is a country which is too often ignored in the considerations in this part of the world.
That brings me to South Vietnam. 1 visited South Vietnam and I made an effort to visit North Vietnam. I might say here on behalf of myself and my constitutents that 1 will not be intimidated in my travels by the Australian Press or the Australian Government. We have to find the facts where we can and it is not easy. I visited South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. 1 am interested that the Parliamentary delegation and the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and his entourage missed out Laos and Cambodia. I can only believe that people who miss out Laos and Cambodia do not want to find the facts, either of geography or of politics. They want to keep the matter confused; they want to get only one point of view across. Let us consider the position in South Vietnam, the country to which we are sending Australian young men.
Arriving in Saigon from Australia and remembering something of Australia’s own war effort from 1939 to 1945 is a distinct shock. There is no evidence whatever of a war effort or what I would call a war effort by the South Vietnamese Government. There are literally tens of thousands of young men of military age operating around Saigon in usual and unusual endeavours. They are there to drive lifts; they are there to change black market money; they are there to drive taxis; they are there to work in banks and they operate shops of all sorts. One can find no evidence of a determination to develop the essentials of a war effort. So far as I am concerned, if there were no other issue in this whatsoever, I would say that no Australian Government has the moral right to call young Australians to do the job that these people have not got round to doing themselves. There is no mobilisation in South Vietnam; there is no war economy; there is no development of smoking factory chimneys to turn out machine guns or anything else. There is no obvious development of internal security to the extent that one would expect from a government which has control, so it says, of some 10 million people. 1 understand that the population of South Vietnam is about 14 or IS million people, that the Government controls all the major cities and most of the smaller ones and that about 9 to 10 million of the people are under its control. One cannot see any evidence of a nation of that strength operating there. I pay my tribute to our own people who are there. No Australian could visit our troops as we did, without a sense of pride, lt is admitted by everybody that they are probably the most competent group of soldiery there or in that part of Asia. They are a credit to the nation and to the people who trained them. But every one of them is more precious than the cause for which they are fighting at the moment. I agree that we have to stop violence, but we cannot do this unilaterally. We have to demand from the South Vietnamese Government that it does all sorts of things and that it develops social objectives. I know that they are going to have an election shortly to elect a constituent assembly of some sort. Is that body going to take over the government of the country? Of course it is not. It will be there to decide a constitution and there will be wrangling about it for six months, 12 months, or two years.
You talk to the Buddhists and you find they claim that they represent 80 per cent, of the people; their opponents say that they represent, perhaps, 30 per cent, of the people. But this, in a sense, is a nonpolitical community. It is difficult to determine what the actual resistance movements are. The Buddhists are critical of the South Vietnamese Government - at least those who are still out of gaol. It must be remembered that the people of South Vietnam who resist the Government are put in gaol without trial or are exiled to islands. These are some of the things we must face up to when we ask Australians to make this sacrifice. The Buddhists say that the Government is tyrannical, it is dictatorial, it is military and that it does not represent anybody. I believe that we must write some charters and demand some qualifications before putting Australians into the field on behalf of the South Vietnamese Government. So far as I can see there is no practi- cai approach to the defence of South Vietnam by the Government itself.
– Not all Buddhists say that.
– It is all right for the honorable member to say that. He will have his chance to speak. If the honorable member can explain or justify all these tens of thousands of Vietnamese not being in the war effort and Australians being asked to carry the war burden, let him stand up and say so. The most serious difficulty that the country faces is in administration. In this respect it is in the same boat as Indonesia. I suppose the French and Dutch owe Asia the deepest debt. Both left their countries with faulty administrations. The thing that we have to face is that we are dealing on the other side of the fence, so far as the North Vietnamese are concerned, with a very isolated nation.
I called on the North Vietnamese Ambassador in Djakarta and I had a conversation with him for one and a half hours. Through the bombings and so on, North Vietnam has obviously developed a Battle of Britain complex. The interesting thing to me is that probably no official of the Australian Department of External Affairs has talked to people from North Vietnam since the State was created in 1954. We have to develop lines of communication to everybody on the planet. This is most important. I believe that North Vietnam is terribly isolated. I do not think the Chinese are giving them much assistance. It is not giving anything like the kind of assistance that we gave our allies during the war. I think the Russians are giving some assistance, but it is minimal. Most people do not know much about it. I discussed this with Chinese officials and others in Hong Kong. I did not discuss politics with them, of course, but I tried to find out what they knew about North Vietnam. If one reads whatever publications one can get from North Vietnam one finds that it is developing an attitude which I would call a Battle of Britain complex. We must face up to the fact that you cannot bomb people out of business.
A Frenchman of long and distinguished military career, a man who fought in Dien Bien Phu, said to me that the bombing of North Vietnam was like trying to kill flies with a hammer. We have to bring a new approach to it and we have to face the fact that by putting troops into Vietnam we have lost the right of influence. There is no doubt that once we are committed on one side or the other, a great group of people will not take much notice of us. I believe that we have acquired the right of sacrifice without the right to influence the turn of events. This, I believe, is the thing we should be determining. Being a country of 11 million people in this part of the world, our most effective instrument of international policy is our influence as people and not our military strength. I am one of those who believe that Australia is almost unassailable by anybody in the foreseeable future. However, we will debate that under the Defence estimates.
We must remember that 70 or 80 nations are as small or smaller than we, but so far as diplomatic exercises are concerned we have longer experience than many of them. We have the whole experience of our British traditions to draw on. We have a remarkably capable and competent civil service in the Department of External Affairs scattered throughout South East Asia. I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without paying tribute to them. But one thing which fills me with despair is the fact that Australians will say: “We are too small “. Are we too small? Do we ever hear the people of Israel - the two million of them - say that? Do we hear the Swiss say that? Do we hear the Dutch, the Belgians, the Swedes or the Yugoslavs say that? Do they say that they are too small? Has not anyone any sense of history? Who created Israel? I suppose it was the work of Dr. Evatt in the United Nations and the drive behind him in Australia as a general rule which got Israel off the ground. Is not this the case with Indonesia? Is not this the case with some of the provisions in the United Nations Charter?
Now we have to find our way around the difficulties created by the 1945 atmospheres. I believe that that is possible, even for this Government. Despite the Government - and this is a tremendous tribute to the nation - we are still well thought of by people of all shades of politics around the world. I have travelled and talked to many of them and I find them almost universally friendly. At this stage I want to make it perfectly clear that I think
Laos and Cambodia are the keys to South East Asia. Laos has reached a point of stability which I did not think I would find when I arrived there, lt is in great difficulties because its neighbour, North Vietnam, is a difficult neighbour. The North Vietnamese use the eastern borders of Laos along what is called the “ Ho Chi Minh Trail”. This is a modified sort of trail. Some of the road is motorable and in some parts articles have to be carried. Goodness knows what measure of supplies they could get through there. It would not be a large amount. It is estimated that perhaps 4,000 troops have flowed down that way to South Vietnam. This probably makes up for the losses.
Laos and Cambodia need a guarantee of their neutrality. They need a guarantee of their borders and sovereignties. I believe that this will be achieved only by a United Nations guarantee. There is no possibility of a guarantee being acceptable to either side if it comes unilaterally. If the Americans offer it, it will be rejected. If the Russians offer it, it will be rejected. We will have to take to the next General Assembly of the United Nations a new attitude, a new drive and a new dynamism.
There is no possibility of Cambodia going Communist or anything else. It is an oasis in South-East Asia. It is a civilian community. It is united. It is well led. I believe that it is moving towards a form of parliamentary democracy. We give it little enough help. I think we have 12 or 26 technicians there. Last year or the year before Cambodia asked for credit to buy railway rolling stock. We refused it credit, as a bad risk. We support its neighbours. South Vietnam is a bad neighbour to Cambodia. Thailand is a bad neighbour to Cambodia. The Cambodians informed me that South Vietnam had actually sponsored, through the United States special services camp, people who had ended up on the Thai borders acting as sabotage units on behalf of an organisation called the Khmer Serei.
Thailand is one of Australia’s buddies. It is in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. It must be good. For some years it has had a border dispute with Cambodia about a temple area. Three years ago the International Court of Justice awarded the area to Cambodia. But the Thais will not give it up. We do not hear a sound about that from members of the Government parties. When will they face the facts? We should choose the most deserving people as our friends. I think the most deserving people are the Cambodians. I would say that the next people in the line are the Laotians. If we can guarantee their security, here is the end of the domino theory. I believe that that theory ft invalid. Thailand has about 30 million people. On the figures that I was given, possibly 600 people - Communists cum bandits - are operating in the north eastern corner of the country. It is a stable, non-political, military dictatorship. But call it what you will, there is no possibility of it going Communist either. But what these countries have to do is modernise themselves and develop social objectives. Australia has to demand that they do this before it starts committing its troops or anything else to them. I do not believe in giving aid with strings.
We have to take a completely new look at Asia. The world today is different from the one in which Australia’s policies have been formulated. The Asians are our neighbours and will be so for all time. I mentioned that I called on the North Vietnamese Ambassador in Djakarta. Nobody could have been more friendly or more affable. I talked to people in South Vietnam. They are just the same. The tragedy of this situation is the legacy of Europe, the inheritances of broken trust, mistrust and misinterpretation of all kinds of agreements. I believe that fundamentally the United Nations is the only hope. Australia must get out of Vietnam. It must withdraw its troops so that it can place itself iti a sphere of influence in which the big battalions do not count, but man to man integrity does. This is an opportunity that is offered to us in this part of Asia. I only regret that the Pri’me Minister, with his sycophantic grovellings to the President of the United States, is denying Australia’s inheritance and general competence, and that members of the Government parties - decent and dinkum as I know most of them are - fail to look at history as it is in 1966 and persist in living in the past.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
.- I commence my remarks by offering my congratu lations to the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) on delivering his first Budget. I agree entirely with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) who remarked that although this was the first Budget the Treasurer had delivered it certainly would not be his last. I agree also with his remark that this would be the last opportunity that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) would have of opposing a Budget.
The first essential in any Budget is that it should have some balance about it. It is not always necessary to balance a Budget but rather is it necessary to have a Budget which gives equal justice to all sections of the community. That is exactly what this Budget does. Whether he be a businessman, white collar worker, pensioner, farmer or high or low salary earner, each person is entitled to fair consideration and attention, and that is exactly what he has received.
Australia is a large country deriving 80 per cent, or more of its export income from mineral or primary products, and these commodities are produced by a very small percentage of the population. The bulk of our exports will continue to come from these sources, greatly boosted by increased mining of minerals such as iron ore and uranium, on which we have concentrated in recent times. With this in mind the Treasurer in preparing his Budget had to give consideration to these very important industries. This Budget is one of balance, taking into consideration the importance of the various issues we are faced with today. Defence being of utmost importance, our estimated expenditure on this item has been stepped up to $1,000 million, which is a peacetime record. A record expenditure is also being incurred on social services as a result of the increase of $1 in the general base rate pension paid to a single pensioner. It may be of interest to know that it is expected that some 500,000 pensioners will receive an increase of $1 and that 250,000 will receive the lower increase of 75c. The increase of $1 is equal to the highest increase ever paid since age and invalid pensions were introduced by the Deakin Government in 1909. The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb), I think, was somewhat critical of this Government’s attitude to pensioners. It would be worth his while to look at the position. Prior to the Menzies Government taking office in 1949 the highest increase ever granted in pensions was 5s. 6d. Since 1949 the Government has increased the single rate pension from £2 10s. or $5 to $13- at least that will be the position when the legislation foreshadowed in this Budget is passed.
If honorable members really want to compare the increases granted by Labour and non-Labour Governments they should consider that since 1909 the total increases granted by Labour amount to 23s. 6d., less one reduction of 2s. 6d., which makes an actual total increase of 21s. The total increases granted by non-Labour Governments since 1909 amount to 99s. 6d. That is more than a slight difference, so it cannot be said that this Government is not sympathetic to these people. No-one could begrudge the $1 pension increase in both the civil and repatriation rates.
The increase in defence expenditure of some $250 million or 34 per cent, is absolutely vital to Australia’s future. The $30 million extra for education is small, but certainly welcome. Let us remember that Commonwealth assistance to education over the last five years has almost tripled. The introduction of a bounty on nitrogenous fertilisers is certainly going to boost the section of primary industry that uses these fertilisers. 1 am sure that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), who is the honorable member for Richmond, will be greatly satisfied, as he has been a great advocate of the introduction of this bounty. However, those interested in seeing an increase in the bounty on superphosphate naturally would be somewhat disappointed that there has been no increase in that bounty. It is interesting to note that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton), a great advocate of the bounty on superphosphate, was somewhat critical because the Government had not increased the bounty from $6. I have made a quick check of “ Hansard “ reports over the period prior to the time when this Government introduced the bounty of £3 a ton. The honorable member for Bendigo had not one word to say about it during that period. I think it must be remembered too that, even including the latest increase in the price of superphosphate, making the total cost in new sacks S25.05 a ton, that price is still below the price at which superphosphate was delivered under the same conditions in 1952-3. In that year the Victorian price was £14 5s. or $28.50. The price today therefore is almost $4 below that being charged in 1952, only a year or two after the Government took office from the present Opposition.
The increase in taxation averaging limits for primary producers from $8,000 to $16,000 certainly pleases me greatly, as some of my colleagues will be well aware that I had been advocating this for some time. Coupled with this is the easing of tax on incomes in times of drought by allowing income to be taken through to the next taxation year, which is a very good concession. I believe that primary industry generally should accept this Budget as a very fair and sound one for, apart from the drought, the biggest problem the primary producer has to solve is how to secure a price for his goods sufficiently high to cover the actual cost of producing his commodity plus, naturally, a small margin of profit. In other words he cannot afford the ill effects of an inflation spiral. Prices of most products today are based on world market rates and certainly not on local prices. It is true that we do have a home consumption price for many commodities, but invariably this price applies only to a small percentage of the commodity and has little or no influence on world prices. It follows that if Australian costs increase at a rate faster than world costs the goods we export must eventually be in trouble.
I believe that many of the goods we export - as I think the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) said this afternoon - are produced cheaper in Australia than they are produced in other countries. He was referring particularly to wheat. It is our job to make absolutely sure that our price advantages with other countries are maintained. Every dollar that is brought into this country has the effect of devaluation. Money alone will not develop Australia, as some people are led to believe. Manpower and materials are necessary, as well as finance. It can be seen that when a government increases expenditure in certain fields, that action may reduce the value of the dollar. The alternative is to subsidise all exportable goods that cannot compete at world prices. How would the taxpayer like to pay a subsidy or a bounty on the export of wool, an industry worth annually about $1,000 million?
While it is very desirable to subsidise certain industries at times, I believe we would all be better off if we could keep our valuations and prices at a level where subsidies were unnecessary. Only a few days ago 1 heard a very well known and prominent gentleman - I will not mention his name because he did not give me authority to do so - say it was possible that this year the Commonwealth Government would pay out up to S60 million on a wheat subsidy. To my mind, that is absurd. His argument is that we could have a record harvest of about 380 million bushels. Evidently he has not travelled through the wheat growing areas of Victoria this year. If he does so, he may revise that figure. He went on to say that if both Russia and China pulled out of the market for Australian wheat the price would drop so much that we might have to pay a subsidy of 40 cents a bushel on 150 million bushels of wheat that would be exported. That is the quantity that comes within the guarantee. I submit that if both Russia and China pulled out of the Australian wheat market in favour of Canada, it is doubtful whether the Canadians could supply those two countries as well as their normal markets. Naturally enough, if Canada could not meet those markets, Australia would be able to take over. In America stocks are lower today - as they are in Australia - than they have been for many years.
A well known critic of the wheat industry - Mr. E. J. Donath - said in an article in the “ Bulletin “ of 9th July, at page 61 -
Two bombshells and a minor explosion caused the alarming, yet unjustified, fears of a world wide wheat famine.
Mr. Donath, who claims to have expert knowledge of the wheat industry, bases a lot of his criticism of the industry on the line that the taxpayers are subsidising it. Of course, this is a long way from fact. He went on to say -
The second bombshell was the cabled forecast, that by the middle of next year. American wheat stocks will have run down to 250 million bushels - more than 100 million bushels below the safety margin, and compared with 1,411 million bushels in 1961, or an average of well over 1,000 million bushels in the second half of the 1950’s.
That hardly accords with what was said by the honorable member for Lawson. The world price for wheat is definitely rising and I believe that this is sufficient evidence that the gentleman’s statement is completely wrong. I remember that not very long ago honorable members of this chamber were saying that we should restrict wheat production. 1 will support a move to restrict wheat production only when 1 believe that we cannot dispose of our stocks, and certainly not when other countries are purchasing wheat in increasing quantities.
Generally speaking, I believe that primary producers do not want bounties or subsidies as a real solution to their problems. What they want is a fair consideration, particularly at such times as Budget time, because a sound primary industry in this country augurs well for a very sound economy.
I wish to quote from an article in a publication called “ The Farm News “. It is published in America. It states -
Orville L. Freeman, Secretary of Agriculture, recently emphasised the dangers to consumers and to the national economy of underpaid farmers.
Low farm income will not keep the capital and manpower resources in agriculture necessary for efficient production and fair consumer prices. Without efficient production, supply will drop and consumer prices skyrocket. This we must avoid in the national interest’, Secretary Freeman said.
He also pointed out that farmers earn only about 65 per cent, as much as others do. 1 do not know what the writer meant by the last statement. 1 turn now to the subject of war service homes. The idea of removing waiting time for war service homes is certainly long overdue. As late as last year, after the Government introduced a special home savings grant to encourage home building, there was still a delay of 18 months for war service homes.
The increase in the permissible income for means test purposes in respect of children of a pensioner from SI to $3 for each child is an excellent move. It can be a lift to pensioners, who are often in need. At present a widow with two children, perhaps at school, could earn only S9 a week apart from her pension. Anything in excess of that amount would affect her pension. An amount of S9 represents only about a day’s work. How many jobs are available that would permit a widow to earn such a limited amount? Now she will be permitted to earn $13 under the means test. A widow with four children will be permitted to earn $19. In my mind, this is certainly a great improvement.
While I am discussing pensions I should like to refer to the matter of concession rates for broadcasting and television licences. At the moment, these concessions are restricted to certain pensioners under the Social Services Act and to a very limited number of pensioners under the Repatriation Act. The concessions are allowable only to those pensioners in receipt of incomes of less than $19 a week, and they must fulfil certain other obligations. I wish to make two comments. First, concessions are available to a totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner, but on his death his widow automatically becomes for these purposes a war widow and does not receive the concession rate. The war widow’s rate of pension is paid without a means test. I think this anomaly should be corrected. Secondly, the present limit of $19 allows for a single pensioner to receive the full base rate pension of $12 and to earn his normal $7 under the means test. Will he or she be permitted to have the extra $1 income and still receive the concession rate for licences?
It is some eight years since I arrived in this place and on the occasion of almost every Budget debate since then I have spoken on the problems of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. It would be a rare occasion if I did not make some reference to it and I shall again raise some issues tonight. I commence by saying that I was pleased to note that capital expenditure for the Department has been increased to $202.7 million. The House may be interested to know that this and other capital expenditure for the past three years totals $680 million. The balance between the income and expenditure of the Department is shown as a profit or a loss and this is very misleading. I am not an accountant and I would like someone to explain how long the Department will go on paying interest on capital expenditure and showing the interest as an expenditure in its commercial accounts. If we continue to increase our capital expenditure in the future as we have in the past, the time is not far off when we will have a huge book entry of interest far exceeding our income, and this does not take account of other expenditure.
The Department’s figures for the financial year just ended are naturally not available, but looking at the figures for 1964-65 I was amazed to find that interest and depreciation represented a rather large percentage of the total expenditure. Total revenue was $386.6 million and expenditure $382.4 million, giving a profit of $4.2 million. But expenditure included interest of $52.9 million and depreciation of $61.7 million. It is true that this so called profit of $4.2 million is small, but I believe that it is in the vicinity of 4.4 per cent, of the total funds employed.
However, this is not my real complaint this evening. The matter that I wish again - I emphasise that it is again - to bring before the House is that of new or replaced telephone lines in the smaller country areas. I am sure that I can always depend on my colleague, the honorable member for Lawson, to back me on this subject. He has been as vocal as I have, and I would like to issue a little warning to the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) that I will continue to complain until this is improved or at least an attempt is made to improve it. We know that national service trainees to a degree are dependent on the luck of the draw, but the decision as to whether a telephone subscriber will himself erect and maintain X miles of telephone line - it may be four, six or eight miles - or have a line completely erected and maintained by the Department rests with an officer of the Department who decides where to place an exchange in a certain area. This is completely wrong in principle, unfair and unjust and should be corrected immediately. This is not the first occasion on which I have raised the matter, as I have said, and it certainly will not be the last, unless we get some pretty quick action. I believe there are ways in which we can cut out this unfair method.
The Department’s officers have said from time to time that, if all the subscribers in an area agree to pool their resources, the Department will go along with them, erect the lines and apportion the charge equally. But, unfortunately, we always find in a community a few selfish people who, once they realise that they will get a line erected and maintained by the Department, quitely back away and certainly do not pull their weight.
However, if the Department had the power to work out the total cost of the telephone lines in a new area, or an area in which new lines were being placed, and then ask the telephone subscribers to contribute a certain figure, I am quite sure all the subscribers would co-operate. The present system is a shocking one and the sooner we do away with it the better. Why should the person who happens to be living farthest from an exchange be penalised? I know that this principle applies to freight on goods sent from a capita] city, but I do not believe it should apply to a telephone. The PostmasterGeneral has said that 97 per cent, of subscribers have fully departmental lines. This is good, but what about the other 3 per cent.? Do they not count in the community? Some of the 3 per cent, contribute more to the welfare of Australia generally than do many of the 97 per cent.
During his Budget speech the Treasurer said that our contribution of aid to other countries places us in the first four or five countries in the world. This in turn was contradicted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who interjected. So I did a little homework. The latest figures I could get were for 1964. Australia’s contribution is one of which we can be very proud indeed, for if we compare it with the contributions of other countries on the basis of national income we find that we are running fifth, as the Treasurer said.
– There are only six in it. We are second last.
– That, of course, is a long way from the truth. It is a pity that some of my Opposition colleagues did not take a deeper interest in these matters that really count. The following figures show the percentages of national income contributed by each of the countries named -
On a per capita basis, Australia’s contribution is even better. In United States dollars, the United States contributes $20.3 per head of population, France $17.9; Belgium $9.7 and Australia $8.7. Australia is in fourth place on this basis. Not only did I find that we hold this high position, but I found also that we are the only country that makes these contributions as straight out gifts, with no strings attached. No other country has this record. It has been said that Australia’s aid of .62 per cent, is equal to about $120 million. To increase the aid to 1 per cent, or $200 million, as has been suggested in some quarters, would mean an increase in taxation of about 4 per cent.
In the minute and a half that I have left to me, I would comment on the taxation aspects. The consideration that the Treasury has given to the averaging system is certainly appreciated. I believe that this is a very good move and I will have a little more to say about it when the bill is being debated perhaps later in the session. I will finish my remarks as I started. I congratulate the Treasurer on the way he delivered his first Budget speech. I certainly will give the Budget all the support I oan, for I believe that this is a really top class Budget.
.- I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) which so aptly describes the Opposition’s attitude to this Budget. Unfortunately I cannot join with the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King) in his commendation of the new Treasurer (Mr. McMahon). Although the honorable member spoke somewhat fluently, one could hardly say that he was an enthusiastic supporter of the Budget. If Government members do not feel enthusiasm I think it must be agreed that the Opposition is entitled to be dissatisfied.
This is the first Budget introduced by the new Treasurer and the 17th Budget brought down by the present Government Parties. Like all the Budgets produced by the coalition Government over those years, this Budget is worse than the one that preceded it. They have become progressively worse. We were told that the new enlightened head of the Treasury would present a stimulating and imaginative budget to give to the economy the stimulus which has gone out of it since this tired old Government has occupied the Treasury bench. But what do we find? From one end of Australia to the other there has been condemnation of the Budget proposals. The Returned Services League, for instance, described the few repatriation benefits in it as an insult. Industry has complained about it, and capital and labour, with the exception of the very wealthy and influential members of the community, have combined to describe this Budget as amongst the worst ever brought down.
I would say that the Government has decided, with deliberate disregard for the needs of the nation and of the people, to withhold any real benefit that can be conferred until such time as its election policy is produced. Like the proposals for the Ord River scheme and other projects in Western Australia, the benefits that should be given by this Budget will be hidden until the Treasurer begins to bargain for votes in the not far distant future.
The Budget debate gives to every member of Parliament an opportunity to survey the state of the economy and Government policy over a wide field. In the time at my disposal I intend to make some general observations on the economy and on Government policy at home and abroad. I shall reserve for the debate on the Estimates my detailed comments on a number of other matters. Before I mention some of the things that are not included in the Budget, let me say that the Treasurer has deceived himself, just as he has tried to deceive the nation. Amounts in the Budget this year are in dollars so, in the Treasurer’s mind, that makes it twice as big and therefore twice as good as any other Budget. On this occasion he is budgeting for a total expenditure of $5,930 million. Defence expenditure will be $1,000 million or 17 per cent, of total expenditure. He told us that there will be an increase of $74 million in expenditure on social service and repatriation benefits. Increased benefits to age, invalid and widow pensioners will cost §30,082,000 for the remainder of this financial year and $40,800,000 in a full year. So, in a total expenditure of $5,930 million, the absolute minimum of benefits, costing $40 million, will go to the most deserving section of the community. That is an indication of how this so-called Liberal Government regards the needy.
One could list the main benefits contained in the Budget in a couple of minutes and there is no need for me to go over the full range. Broadly, age, invalid and other pensioners will receive an increase of $1 a week. There is a slight increase in the special rate pension and the intermediate rate pension. The tuberculosis allowance has gone up slightly and minor adjustments have been made in eligibility for pensioner medical benefits. All in all, the minimum of benefits have been spread over the minimum field of recipients at a time when the people are demanding some relief in the suffering that this Government has brought upon them.
Let me mention some social service anomalies and injustices that have not been touched upon. The discrimination between married and single pensioners remains. Married pensioners are existing on a substandard rate which, when the legislation was introduced, was condemned by honorable members on this side of the Parliament as being discrimination at its worst. The permissible income that a pensioner may earn is still £3 10s. It has remained unchanged since 1954. No superannuation scheme has been introduced although in 1949 this Government promised the people that in 1952 it would introduce a superannuation scheme which would care for the aged, the sick and the needy and abolish the means test. There is no value whatever in social service benefits today. In fact, this applies not only to social service benefits but also to payments of any kind, as a result of this Government’s administration.
Repatriation benefits have been condemned by the R.S.L. and people dependent on them. Prices are continuing to rise and spending power has been reduced to an all time low. Did you ever see such a hypocritical approach as this Government’s attitude to education? The Government indulged in deliberate bribery with its education policy and won votes at a time when it thought the Labour Party’s hands were tied. Now we are on common ground. Labour has the best education policy in the country. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) has said: “We are not bargaining for votes on this issue. It must be above party politics.” Did you ever hear anything so hypocritical? This Government won an election by tempting the people on this issue and now, because it has won every possible vote by this bribery, it says: “We are now stepping out of this field. We are statesmen.
You can be politicians and go for the votes.” I am pleased the Prime Minister is in the chamber to hear what I have to say.
There have been no comments from Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. with its £11 million profit, or General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. with its £18 million profit, about how bad this Budget is because they are getting the benefits which are denied to pensioners and to the field of education. The Treasurer has said that defence expenditure is the reason why the Government cannot give to the needy the benefits to which they are entitled. What a monstrous state of affairs when age and invalid pensioners, widows and others who depend on social service benefits cannot get an increase because the Government claims that its defence expenditure is so high. What comes first, the right of a man to live or the right of this Government to spend money in Vietnam for which it has no mandate from the Australian people? The test is whether the people need more money to live on. That is the basis on which the scale of social service benefits should rest.
The Government has decided that it will not give any benefits to wage earners in the form of allowances such as child endowment. It claims that increases cannot be granted at this time because of the defence situation at home and abroad. That is the reason why this Budget does not meet the needs of the people. It makes no provision for those who really need money. It provides no stimulus in the fields where a stimulus is most desirable.
I cannot help wondering why the Government in this election year did not present a Budget with some ideas. Why could not the Government have given benefits along the lines suggested to it, such as some form of insurance for servicemen? Why could not the Government have produced some scheme to remove the means test which is oppressing people and denying them pensions? Why could not the Government, in the field of health, have provided free dental treatment for the people of this country as well as a wide range of other benefits? Why could not the Government have given a real stimulus to spending in the economy as well as giving to the people some security and reassurance? At present they are barely making ends meet.
I mention these matters because they are not included in the Budget. Is it not dreadful that the pensioners, the section of the community which is suffering most, have been refused some worthwhile relief? Mrs. I. Ellis, Secretary of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation, has said that the pensioners are so disappointed with the Budget that they have decided unanimously to use their strength at the ballot box to change the Government. In other words, the poor old people of this country have to go out and campaign to defeat the Government because it has refused to give them the benefits to which they are entitled. The Government has completely neglected all sections of the community and for this reason deserves to be condemned.
I want to touch on one particular item which is of especial importance in this Budget and that is the question of defence. The Government this year has increased the budgetary provision to $1,000 million. This is an increase of $252 million or 34 per cent, more than actual expenditure in 1965-66. This is the major reason why the Government has said that it cannot increase social service benefits which are so necessary under our social service legislation. The defence vote, of course, covers our commitments in Vietnam and overseas.
I did not intend to spend a lot of time on the defence section of the Estimates until the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) last night devoted most of his speech, as would be expected, to defence, with particular reference to the tragic conflict in Vietnam. In fact, he turned his speech into an attack on the policy of the Labour Party, together with references to the conduct of the conflict in that area at this time. It is for this reason that I intend to devote portion of my speech to replying to some of his statements, and to those of other Government members, on the war in Vietnam, the manner in which our money is being spent and the charges made by the Minister for Defence last night against the Labour Party in respect of this matter. In the course of his speech last night the Minister, when referring to Vietnam, said -
The Vietnam war is a different kind of war from any in which we have been involved before. It is not a war for territory … to destroy or occupy any country. . . ft is an ideological war. It is the first war in which soldiers have gone into battle with a rifle in one hand and in the other the tools and material for the restoration of a broken down civilian economy. Our men are both soldiers and civic builders at the same time.
That is what the Minister said. But does not the Government think, when it is juggling with the expenditure on defence, that this is oversimplification? It is impossible, to my mind, to destroy and build at the same time. I wonder whether the Minister seriously thinks that burning villages, killing people, returning atrocity for atrocity and bombing men, women and children, are the basis of rebuilding - not later, mind you, but at the same time that all this is happening. Any reasonable person knows that this is just not practical. To say the least, this type of conduct hardly indicates that the people concerned are nation builders. I think it will be regarded accordingly by the unfortunate people in that area.
I regret that the Minister saw fit to turn this debate into an attack on the Labour Party on this issue but I think his charges must be answered. One must also deal with the conduct of the Prime Minister in this matter. But at the outset I desire to express my sympathy to the relatives of those servicemen who paid the supreme sacrifice in Vietnam and to those who have been wounded. I hope that their recovery will be speedy. This Budget had hardly been introduced before we were informed in this Parliament that 17 Australians had died in Vietnam and 26 had been wounded. This number included 11 national service trainees killed and 11 wounded. This grim news, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and the stories of heorism and suffering, have, I feel certain, shocked all members of this House as well as the Australian people. For my part, this news only confirms what I firmly believe to be the truth: That the policy of the Government of military involvement in Vietnam is wrong. It is needlessly sacrificing the lives of Australian servicemen and must be bitterly opposed by every person who believes in justice, equality of sacrifice and an independent Australian foreign policy.
The Labour Party policy on Vietnam - and I say this to the Minister for Defence who spoke last night - is quite cleaT. It was stated by the Leader of the Opposition in the course of his Budget speech. He said -
We pay our tribute to the courage and the heroism of those who are serving in Vietnam and for the manner in which they have maintained the highest traditions of Australian fighting men, but I am sure they would rather be home than where they are, and the next Federal Labour Government will bring all of them back to Australia at the earliest practicable moment. We will do this in consultation with our allies and we will do so in such a way that no Australian lives or the lives of any of our allies will be endangered by our actions.
We believe that Australia’s participation in an Asian war, which is not even a declared war and which is based on the flimsy pretext that Vietnam is the battle ground of freedom and the spot where Chinese Communism must be stopped, is the worst mistake Australia has ever made in foreign affairs.
This policy has been clearly enunciated by the Leader of the Opposition and I pay tribute to the zeal, the energy and the sincerity with which he has placed it before the Australian people.
In my view it is the correct policy. I firmly believe that Australia should not be militarily involved in Vietnam and that this is a major blunder by this Government in foreign affairs. Even the Press, Mr. Deputy Speaker, says that it is wrong but we must stay there in order to save face, irrespective of the suffering. Boys should not be conscripted to give their lives in Vietnam. We are not even at war at this time. There is an obligation on any Australian Government worthy of the name to withdraw these troops, in line with Labour policy, at the earliest date in order to prevent the useless sacrifices of Australian manhood in the paddyfields and jungles of Vietnam. I say this with the greatest respect to those courageous Australians who have fallen and who lie on hallowed ground in Vietnam. They were not to know, and in the case of conscript national service trainees they were not given the right to protest or to dispute this blundering un-Australian policy of this LiberalCountry Party Government. The Prime Minister and honorable members who sit behind him must accept full responsibility for the tragic events in Vietnam as a result of their policy and the conscription of Australian boys.
I speak as one who cannot be identified with Communism or its philosophy even by the smearers. Even those who disagree with me cannot deny that I have always stood steadfastly against the infamous doctrine of Communism and all it stands for. 1 hope that those who listen to me tonight, particularly the complacent and apathetic members of our community who, in their places of business, entertainment or other spheres give scant consideration to the sacrifices being made, will heed the words 1 say.
Let us look at the situation. This week, 17 Australian boys gave their lives and 26 more were wounded in action. Already 61 have paid the supreme sacrifice and 246 have been wounded. These figures include 17 national service 20 year old conscript boys killed and 32 of them wounded - boys who were literally dragged from their homes by law in this free country in a time of peace to fight in Vietnam; to die, mind you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, at a time when Australia is not at war. In the words of our sycophant Prime Minister, they died because they were conscripted to go all the way with L.B.J. The Prime Minister, on his first grand tour, nauseated and astonished the Australian public by hauling down the Australian flag and sending the Stars and Stripes of the United States of America to the masthead as the emblem of a nation whose foreign policy we are to follow, come hell or high water. On that unforgettable day in Washington, our Prime Minister, standing in splendour on the White House lawn, in the presence of the President of the U.S.A. and his entourage, to the music of military bands, the boom of a 19 gun salute, did the great Australian crawl and said: “ I will go all the way with L.B.J.”. There and then he reduced the status of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) to the grade of office boy, abandoned our foreign policy, and insulted the intelligence of the people of this proud and independent nation.
It is a far cry from the splendour of the White House lawn where the Prime Minister, with a smile on his face and a quip on his lips, said: “We will go all the way with L.B.J.”, to the anguished cry of the young widow who, learning that her courageous 23 year old husband had been killed in Vietnam said: “ But it is hard for me even to think it is our war - we should not even be there “, or that of the anguished mother who said: “He hated the Army and did not want to go overseas. But what can I say? My boy is gone. I cannot bring him back. He was a good boy - a boy who loved life and sport and wanted to live a little longer.” I say to honorable members: When you think of going all the way with L.B.J., have a thought for those people who pay the penalty. This is the grim price our boys pay for the policy of this conscriptionist Government; a policy for Which the Government has no mandate; a policy which blindly follows the U.S.A.; and a policy for which every member of the Government parties led by the Prime Minister stands condemned. Conscription in time of peace for overseas service is immoral and unjust and it must be opposed. We should criticise it in this Budget debate for what it is.
Whom is the Government conscripting? What does the death in action of these young men - conscripts and volunteers - really mean? We have a right to ask. Are our security and freedom threatened? If this is to stop the menace of Red China, why should these young men be the only ones to make any sacrifice? Conscription is immoral at any time. It is worse when only one section of the community is conscripted and then by a lottery of death. If we are in danger, as the Government says, and our freedom and security are at stake and Red China is the menace, why is there no conscription of wealth? Why do not the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd., General Motors-Holden Pty. Ltd. and the Bank of New South Wales put their share in and pay double the wage if necessary to these men? Why is there not control of prices and profits and why is there no attempt to put this country on a war footing? Why are there no sacrifices except from the kids conscripted by this Government to fight and die? Why is it business as usual at home while conscripted boys die needlessly on the battlefields of Vietnam for God knows what?
This policy is scandalous and unprincipled, and whatever the consequences might be to me personally or politically, I will have none of it at any time. At the same time as men are conscripted to fight and die, this Government trades with the enemy. Government supporters say that mainland China is the greatest threat to security and world peace, and that China is militarily engaged directly and indirectly in supporting the Vietcong in Vietnam. Yet what do they do? They still sell huge quantities of wheat and wool to the enemy. Between 1961 and 1966 wheat to the value of $546,293,000 was sold to these countries and $93,079,000 worth of wool was sold, on special terms. Quite recently the Australian Wheat Board contracted to sell another six hundred thousand tons of wheat to mainland China between July and December 1966, again on special terms.
Until recently, before the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) raised the matter in this Parliament, the Government was selling tallow and strategic materials to North Vietnam. These included tallow from which ingredients of glycerine come - one of the products used for high explosives. Figures given to me today by the Statistician show that in the five years from 1961 to 1966 $256,332 worth of tallow was sold to North Vietnam. This year alone $64,474 worth is being sold. These figures were provided by the Statistician and are accurate.
In other words, Mr. Deputy Speaker, boys conscripted lie dead on the battlefields of Vietnam and many more will pay the supreme sacrifice, while at the same time representatives of this Liberal-Country Party Government sit round the conference tables in Peking to negotiate trade deals in strategic materials with the nations that the Government describes as major participants in the conflict - China and North Vietnam. Did you ever hear of such hypocrisy on the part of a government? One may well ask how much longer the Australian people will tolerate this state of affairs - conscription for 20 year old kids, no declaration of war, business as usual at home, trade with the enemy, and no sacrifices from any section of the community other than those boys.
I say to the Australian people: “ For heaven’s sake, wake up before it is too late and call a halt to the treasonable policies of this discredited Liberal-Country Party Government.” I believe that the Prime Minister deliberately set out to make a political speech in Washington when he said: “I will go all the way with L.B.J.”, with the express intention of tempting the Australian Labour Party to disagree with his sentiments and thus be smeared as antiAmerican. This, course, may have been the result so far as he is concerned but it will not be accepted by fair minded people. We are not a Party of sycophants, and neither are the Australian people. Many Americans of varying political points of view are opposed to American policy in Vietnam. These include the Kennedy brothers. Would honorable members opposite say that they are anti-American? They include also many prominent senators and congressmen. Harold Wilson of Great Britain takes the same view, as also does Senator Hannaford of the Liberal Party, who sits in another place in this Parliament.
– Harold Wilson supports the policy.
– Prime Minister Wilson did not support the bombing of Hanoi. He did not give the U.S.A. a blank cheque. Indeed, we of the Labour Party are in distinguished company in our opposition to this policy. To honorable members opposite we say: Labour founded the American alliance in the face of Liberal opposition in the war years. Labour values American cooperation and Labour will support and honour our obligations to America. At the same time, we believe that Australia must be independent minded and must not blindly follow the foreign policy of any other country, be it Great Britain, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or the U.S.A.
Of course, the Prime Minister and those who sit behind him say that any criticism of this type is anti-American. We expect that smear from the unprincipled people who conscript boys in time of peace and at the same time protect profits and wealth. Of course, they will defend our freedom to the last 20 year old conscript kid. Is it antiAmerican to be so Australian? Evidently, the Government thinks so. For my part, I am not anti U.S.A., Great Britain, the U.S.S.R. or any other country. Simply because I differ from their approach to foreign policy, this does not make me anti any of them. What suits the U.S.A. or Great Britain may not suit Australia, and I refuse to be tied to the foreign policies of any other governments, be they right or wrong. I believe in a free and independent Australian foreign policy, the predominant objective to be the furthering of Australia’s interests, irrespective of whom this offends.
I believe that we should honour our obligations to our allies. At the same time, I do not believe in being all the way with L.B.J, or with anyone else for that matter. If the penalty for being pro-Australian and expressing these sentiments is to be smeared as anti-American, regretfully I must take the consequences. However, I do not think that fair minded Australians believe this to be the case, Ultimately they will admire those members of this Parliament and those people outside who are prepared to put forward an Australian point of view, popular or unpopular, and suffer for it if need be. People may be temporarily confused by the Press, radio and television, and by Government smear merchants, but deep down I believe that our pioneers, who made this country what it is, would expect their children to stand and fight as a free and independent people, untainted by tags, pledges and slogans, except for a common objective to advance Australia.
This brings me to my final point. The Labour policy of non-intervention in Vietnam deserves the support of the people of this country. The policies of trading with the enemy and failure to demand sacrifices from the people, and the blind policy adopted by the Prime Minister, must be stopped in the field of foreign affairs. Of course, our policy may not be popular. The Liberal Party controls the Press, radio and television. But with many thousands of young Australians doomed to fight and, maybe, die in Vietnam if this Government is not defeated, the Labour Party must continue to press its point of view.
I pay tribute to my own Party, to my Leader, to other political parties and to people of no political faith who, throughout the length and breadth of this country and overseas, have done everything possible in an effort to awaken the people to the horrors of Vietnam and the need for Australia to be disengaged. Of course, they will be criticised and vilified. Of course, the Liberal Party and Country Party will say that we are anti-American. Of course, they will say that we are pro-Communist. These are the penalties that we must expect in the defence of a policy that we know to be right and just. It is not the first time that Labour policies have been vilified by our opponents and subsequently adopted as their own. This happened after the 1961 election. Conscription of 20 year old boys, military participation in the Vietnam war, and the disastrous foreign policy of this Government must end.
I hope that my words on this subject will strike a responsive note in the minds and hearts of those with families, particularly those with sons who in the years ahead will be needlessly sacrificed in this unending conflict in Vietnam unless, of course, this Government is defeated and our policy in Vietnam is changed. I pray that my remarks will strike a responsive note in the minds of some apathetic Australians and that they will join in the campaign to defeat this Government in the coming election, in the interests of this free and independent Australia.
– The House gave the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), under our Standing Orders, unlimited time to deal with the Budget. He seized the occasion to make it a workout for his election campaign. Indeed, in the latter portion of his speech he cast aside all pretence of Budget consideration and gave us his familiar onslaught on the Government’s military participation in South Vietnam. Since he speaks as the leader of the only alternative government which can be formed from the Parliament his comment, however wrongheaded it may be in our view, cannot be ignored, so I speak to it tonight. He charges the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) and the Government with having failed completely to face up to their national responsibilities in defence, education, health, pensions, housing, northern development, child endowment, the abolition of the means test, maternity allowances, wage and salary justice and control of prices and interest rates.
– How right he was.
– He always has been right in the honorable member’s eyes, and I give the honorable member credit for his loyalty; it is as rare as it is refreshing. The implication in the Leader of the Opposition’s speech is that there is no upper limit to Commonwealth expenditure. I did not hear him at any point indicate any direction in which the Budget provisions should be reduced. I do not think he argues that any of them should be reduced. I do not want to misrepresent him, but 1 think that is his position. If that is so - and he has a list of glittering undertakings - then all we can assume from this is that there is no upper limit and that the sky indeed is the limit. In our view no responsible government with its obligation for the wellbeing of the economy could accept this viewpoint. It is a view that ignores the huge increase in expenditure already proposed in this year’s Budget and the increases of recent years. We heard the honorable gentleman promise the abolition of the means test, and it is a very attractive proposal.
– That is right. Attractive proposals.
– Did the honorable gentleman not promise the abolition?
– I suggested attractive proposals for its abolition.
– The honorable gentleman talked about the abolition of the means test as being one of the matters that the Treasurer had failed to meet.
– That is right.
– The honorable gentleman made no reference to the cost of his proposals for the abolition of the means test. He must be aware that the complete abolition of the means test would cost, on present entitlements, $300 million. It would also result in the virtual doubling of expenditure, now running at the rate of $63 million a year, under the pensioner medical service. 1 shall have a little to say in a moment about social welfare, but 1 give these figures as indicating to the House just how irresponsible is the honorable gentleman’s whole approach. He gave no indication of what the cost of his alternative proposals would be on the Budget of any particular year. We are charged with not making adequate progress in the affairs of the economy. Let me point out that Commonwealth expenditures last year were more than double the level of ten years earlier. They rose by $600 million in 1965- 66 and they are estimated to increase by a further $600 million to almost $6,000 million this year. No responsible government, I repeat, could superimpose on these increases further large amounts such as the Leader of the Opposition appears to have in his mind. Indeed, the level of Commonwealth expenditure is a broad indication of the extent to which the Government is drawing for its purposes on the resources available to the community. It must not draw so heavily as to cripple the private sector. As a government we have tried to strike a balance between public and private spending - a balance which will best promote the progress and economic wellbeing of the economy and of the Australian people.
We have objectives of an economic kind which are well known. We have mentioned them in every Budget in recent years. We have the objective of national growth. We press on with the development of Australia’s resources. We associate with that, full employment for our people. We have a sustained programme, on a large scale, of immigration with all the pressures that this adds to an economy which, at present, is not merely trying to provide as much of its own capital facilities as it can but has to cope with an enormous increase in our defence provision.
– The Prime Minister sounds like “ Blue Hills “.
– The honorable gentleman is much more entertaining, but much less sincere, and I am prepared to leave it on that footing. We have sustained these objectives quite consistently throughout our period of office. The Leader of the Opposition speaks of the lack of confidence on the part of business in the future growth of the economy. What of the lack of confidence if by some miracle a Labour government were to come into office? What lack of confidence is there in the community when on the last quarter’s showing our housing commencements were at the rate of 1 1 3,000 a year and when our people are enjoying one of the highest standards of housing to be found anywhere in the world? No country has a higher percentage of owner occupancy than this country.
– How is private investment going?
– I will tell the honorable member in a moment.
– It was half a million dollars last year.
– Order! I warn the honorable member for Oxley.
– No other country has a higher number of houses containing five rooms or more. No other country has a higher percentage of owner occupancy - 70 per cent. - than has Australia. 1 mention this because time tonight is not going to enable me to give many illustrations of the current state of the economy. I will have half the time that the Leader of Opposition was able to take. However, there we have a barometer indication of the current state of the economy. The present level of unemployment registrations throughout the whole of Australia is 1.2 per cent. Do honorable gentlemen opposite regard that as evidence of stagnation? This is the situation in a year in which - and there was no acknowledgement of this from honorable gentlemen opposite - this country has, so far as the two principal pastoral States of the Commonwealth are concerned, passed through one of the most serious droughts in our history. We have some figures about the drought’s effect on our sheep population. During the year our sheep numbers dropped by 14 million whereas normally there is an increase of 6 million in the total of our flocks. So in a year when Australia sustained a total loss of 20 million sheep our economy went on almost without fluctuation, with about 99 per cent, of our people regularly in employment and with work vacancies still offering. The economy moved on. Only a few years ago a drought of this degree would have had disastrous consequences for the Australian economy, so it is a measure of the diversification of the Australian economy and its basic strength that we were able to come through this difficult period of adjustment with so little dislocation in the affairs of most of the citizens of our country. I am asked about private investment. Ninety per cent, of the capital fixed investment in this country is provided inside Australia itself. Despite our difficulties, we provided last year–
– Yes, but how much this year?
– Order! The honorable member for Oxley should recall what was said to him by the Chair only a few minutes ago.
– We provided last year, out of our own savings, the equivalent of 28 per cent, of our gross national product for the purposes of capital fixed investment. There is only one country in the world which exceeds that percentage. It is Japan. It is of interest to note that in the last year in which honorable gentlemen opposite were in office 20 per cent, only was so invested. That was not a bad performance at all at that time, but ours is a good deal better than they were able to produce.
There has been talk about stagnation and lack of development. The honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) is very eloquent on the lack of development. I would remind him that I was in Townsville a couple of weeks ago, going through the formal ceremonies of launching a major university and a major military establishment there, both flowing from the policies of this Government. Only today, members of the Government have been sitting in consultation with State Ministers to consider the question whether the Ord River project should be developed further. I know that honorable gentlemen opposite say: “ Of course wewill develop the Ord. Of course we will give the Snowy Mountains Authority an opportunity to carry on its work. We will jump on every bandwagon that will give us one vote as it passes “.In his Budget speech the Leader of the Opposition offered a whole shooting box of attractive proposals. Any time honorable gentlemen opposite can, in a completely reckless and irresponsible way, undertake to do something which they think will attract a little passing support, they do not hesitate to do so. Do they think that the people can be fooled as easily as that?
The Leader of the Opposition, in his Budget speech, said that there had been no improvement in real wages during our term of office.
– It is completely true, too.
– He repeats that statement tonight, but it cannot stand up to the facts. The honorable gentleman gave the figures for two years, 1964-65 and 1965-66. Well, the Consumer Price Index had moved 7.5 per cent, over those two years. The average weekly earnings per employed male unit - that is the test of what people are actually receiving in this country - had gone up 12.6 per cent. As we know, the honorable gentleman is never very happy when making speeches on Budgets. He does a rather laboured job of reading an unfamiliar document, and when he interposes an aside of his own he usually finds he has fallen into economic error. In his speech the other night - I have no doubt that everybody above grade 2 at school who listened in picked up his error - he gave figures on this real wage argument and talked about how the Consumer Price Index had risen from 127 to 132.1.
– They are the figures of a Government department.
– Yes, but it was the honorable gentleman who said there had been a rise of over 5 per cent. I hope he does not repeat the error this time. “ In the subsequent 12 months “, he said, “ the Consumer Price Index has risen another 3.7 per cent., which means a rise in prices of nearly 9 per cent, in two years.” He also brought in the food component of the Index, which he said had risen from 128.5 to 135.9. That was a rise, he said, of over 7 per cent. I think my colleague, the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme), would quickly correct the honorable gentleman’s arithmetic on that. I mention that because the honorable gentleman went on in the course of comment to say -
I hale to bore the House with these figures, but they are important.
One might reasonably ask: If they are as important as all that, why does he make errors of 20 per cent, and 25 per cent, in his recital of them. The increase in the Consumer Price Index was not 5 per cent., or over 5 per cent., as the honorable gentleman said. Indeed, the arithmetic will quickly establish this. It was in fact 4 per cent. So he was 25 per cent, in error there. In the following year the Index increased by 3.7 per cent., and the honorable gentleman was out 12 per cent, there. The increase over the 2-year period referred to by the Leader of the Opposition was 7.5 per cent., so he was 7 per cent, out in that particular comment. It is not of any great importance, except that the honorable gentleman himself said it was important. Of course, the relativity movements in the Consumer Price Index is of itself significant in relation to movements in wages and the standards of the community.
The honorable gentleman went on then to talk about the rise in prices and how this is without control under the Government. My colleague could point out to him that in the last two Budgets this Government increased taxation by over$1 70 million on both occasions and that these taxation increases, falling, as they did, heavily on consumption items, of course had some impact on the Consumer Price Index. So too did the drought, with its effect on meat prices. What should in all fairness be taken as the test is the run, as the Treasurer gave it, over the five-year period, which showed that Australia had enjoyed a remarkable period of stability, equalled by very few countries in any other part of the world. One could go through every aspect of this Budget and find answers which would completely demolish the arguments which the honorable gentleman has brought to it.
Coming to social welfare, no section of the Parliament has a monopoly of consideration or concern for the aged or for those who are invalided, and the present Government has a record in that regard unmatched in the history of this Parliament. When I say “ the present Government “ I refer, of course, to the Government of my distinguished predecessor over the period of the last 16 years. I have the figures for social welfare contained in the Budget for 1948-49, the last full year of a Labour Government. I know that the honorable gentleman opposite finds this highly unpalatable, because he wants to posture before the pensioners of this country as one of a party which has the sole concern for their wellbeing. But just as the trade unionists vote for us in their hundreds of thousands because they know where their welfare lies, so the pensioners, who know that it is out of a healthy expanding economy that more provision can be made for them, give us their support election after election. And well they might, because compared with–
– Order! I would be reluctant to name any honorable member during the Prime Minister’s speech but if the honorable member for Oxley constantly interjects I will have to take action against him.
– The relative figures are $160 million of expenditure in 1948-49 and $1,028 million of expenditure in the Budget just introduced by my colleague. All the juggling with movements in the Consumer Price Index or the value of money will not gainsay the fact that there has been a very remarkable increase in social welfare provisions by Governments on this side of the House. There have been new benefits, new provisions, increased payments. None of us, of course, regards what has been done as the complete answer, any more than we regard the enormous increases we have made in provisions for education as a complete answer. The Treasurer and the Government, with whom the Treasurer in Cabinet discusses, of course, these problems in all their detail, have had to tailor the requirements of the nation to fit our revenue resources. It would have required an increase of 10 per cent, in personal income tax and 10 per cent, in company tax to bridge the gap of the deficit which the Treasurer has budgeted for on this occasion. When one measures this against the string of proposals that the Leader of the Opposition has undertaken to put into effect, one gets some idea of the sort of task that confronts him.
I want to devote the concluding minutes of my speech, as the Leader of the Opposition did with his speech, to the situation in South Vietnam. 1 stated the objectives of this Government in South Vietnam in the House on 31st March. They are, of course, to assist the Government of the Republic of Vietnam, at its request and in the light of our own assessment of the nature of the conflict there, to resist the armed aggression of Communist North Vietnam waged through the Communist aggression of the Vietcong, the so-called National Liberation Front, and by North Vietnam’s own regular armed forces. This aggression, we know, is aimed at taking over the South by a combination of force, terror and subversion.
Our second objective is to free the 15 million people of South Vietnam from the threat of oppression and terror which would be their lot under the domination of the Communists of the north, and to help establish conditions under which they would be able to choose and develop, free from coercion of any kind, the forms of government and of society that they themselves want. Our third objective is to demonstrate that we in Australia honour our treaty commitments to our friends and our allies, that we stand by our alliances. By denying victory to Hanoi and Peking in South Vietnam we believe the spread of Communism in South East Asia can be checked. There will be encouragement, we believe, to those moderate elements that we are already supporting through the Colombo Plan and in other ways in the work of modernisation and of economic and social progress. We seek a peaceful settlement of the conflict through negotiation.
The Leader of the Opposition wants the withdrawal of Australian forces. Does he want the withdrawal of United States forces also?
– That is their business.
– “ That is their business “, he says. It is no business of ours, apparently, in the opinion of honorable gentlemen opposite, whether United States forces remain in South Vietnam or not. Does the Leader of the Opposition expect our A.N.Z.U.S. and S.E.A.T.O. ally to carry the burden of security in South East Asia virtually unaided by us - or, for that matter, by anyone else other than the hotly pressed South Vietnamese? Australia - and most Australians share this view - has a vital interest in the presence and active participation of this great power in the area of Asia and the Pacific. We have an obligation to support the United States in this role, an obligation arising from our treaty relationships. We have a role as an ally having the same belief in liberty and freedom, with a similar devotion to democratic process and with international interests directly involved in preserving South East Asia from Communist domination. We hope for an expanding future with the countries of Asia and of South East Asia in particular. These hopes would vanish with Communist domination of an area so important to our wellbeing and our security.
I want to refer honorable gentlemen opposite to a most important and significant speech by the President of the United States, delivered on 12th July 1966. I want to know whether honorable members on the other side of the House share the views expressed by President Johnson. They have thrown jeers and gibes at me over my support of American policy; I want to know where they stand on American policy. Do they disagree with these statements of President Johnson -
Asia is now the crucial arena of man’s striving for independence and order - and for life itself. This is true because three out of every five people in all this world live in Asia tonight. This is true because hundreds of millions of them exist on less than 25 cents a day. And this is true because Communists in Asia tonight still believe in force in order to achieve their Communist goals. So if enduring peace can ever come to Asia all mankind will benefit. But if peace fails there, nowhere else will our achievements really be secure.
By peace in Asia I do not mean simply the absence of armed hostilities, for wherever men hunger and hate there can really be no peace. I do not mean the peace of conquest, for humiliation can be the seedbed of war. I do not mean simply the peace of the conference table, for peace is not really written merely in the words of treaties, but peace is the day-by-day work of builders.
So the peace that we seek in Asia is a peace of conciliation between Communist States and their non-Communist neighbours; between rich nations and poor; between small nations and large; between men whose skins are brown and black and yellow and white; between Hindus and Moslems and Buddhists and Christians. It is a peace that can only be sustained through the durable bonds of peace; and through international trade and through the free flow of peoples and ideas; and through full participation by all nations in an international community under law, and through a common dedication to the great task of human progress and economic development.
Is such a peace possible? With all my heart I believe that it is.
I support President Johnson because what he said there he has stated precisely in the terms of goals which Australia can also accept in this area of the world.
The Leader of the Opposition closed his speech by offering the nation a choice. He said -
Our policy on all matters will be decided by the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party in due course.
There has been no change in the constitutional arrangements of the Labour Party. The honorable gentleman is still subject to the faceless 36, as we saw the other day in connection wilh the State aid issue. The Leader of the Opposition makes the claim that his Party will face the electorate on 26th November united, determined and confident. This claim of unity and confidence is, on the face of it, ludicrous. For most of the life of this Parliament the Australian Labour Party has presented the spectacle of a rabble. The people have the choice, Mr. Deputy Speaker, between this Government, united on this great issue, and the Labour Party, confused and divided; a common defence of freedom or a walk-out on our friends and allies; the understanding of the Communist drive for world power or Labour’s refusal to see what is happening in our part of the world; policies that look to an expanding future or policies bogged down in the past; rule by those chosen by the people or rule by 36 faceless men; a Government with leadership or a Labour Party run by factions; the strength, unity and purpose of this Government’s policies or the disunity and confusion of the Australian Labour Party. We know the choice that the people will make.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, may I intervene? The Prime Minister said that he did not have enough time for his speech, whereas my time had been unlimited. I move -
That the Prime Minister be granted an extension of time.
– The question is that the motion be agreed to. Those in favour will say “ Aye “, to the contrary “No”. I think the “Noes” have it.
– I am not seeking any extension of time.
– I ask for a division and my colleagues support me. I have moved that the Prime Minister be granted an extension of time and a division is required.
– The Prime Minister has said that he does not desire an extension of time and in accordance with the forms of the House there is no need for the motion.
– I have moved a motion. You, Sir, declared it to be defeated and I called for a division. I must have a division. Under the Standing Orders I am entitled to a division.
– The House will divide.
Question put -
That the Prime Minister be granted an extension of time.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, we have had an impressive demonstration of the hollowness of the arguments advanced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt). On more than one occasion during his speech, the right honorable gentleman complained that he did not have as long to speak in this debate on the Budget as the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) had or as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) had. Accordingly, to accommodate the Prime Minister the Leader of the Opposition moved, after the right honorable gentleman’s peroration, that he have an extension of time. All of the right honorable gentleman’s supporters crossed the floor of the House so that he should not have an extension of time. The last to cross the floor was the Prime Minister himself. He follows where others lead. The right honorable gentleman has established a record for verbosity, if for nothing else, during his months of office and on this occasion he did his best to destroy it.
There are many other arguments that he put which could be demonstrated to be as hollow its his plea that he did not have long enough to put his case. He mentioned, for instance, matters of capital facilities for this country, housing growth and national development. None of them in fact can be substantiated from this Budget. He did not tackle the matter of capital facilities in this country. He did not tackle the matter of housing, except for the first time in our history to reduce the allocation for war service homes. He did not tackle the matter of national development in one respect. He said that during the day he had been having discussions about the Ord River wilh the Premier of Western Australia and the appropriate Minister from Western Australia. The Prime Minister did not announce any decisions in his speech. Honorable members may well remember that three years ago in July. 1963, before the last Federal elections, the then Prime Minister went to the Ord River, lt was his only visit to the north-west of Australia in his whole 1 6 years of office.
– How many times has the honorable member been there?
– I have been there on four occasions as a member of Parliament and half a dozen times on active service. Over three years ago, the former Prime Minister opened the barrage across the Ord River. At that time all the plans had been made by the relevant State departments to investigate the type of main dam needed, where the site should be and of what materials it should be constructed. All of the facilities - the camp sites, the port facilities, the bulldozers and the engineers - were in a position to carry on with the main site. The first crops had been tested successfully. For another three years nothing has been done. The machinery has rusted. Many of the facilities have been dispersed. Once again, on the eve of a Federal election we are being treated to this monstrous Ord charade; this hope that if the people return a Liberal-Country Party government something will be done for the north-west of Australia. There is nothing in this Budget about northern development - nothing in any respect. In fact, the Budget papers show that in this year in every northern development commitment of the Commonwealth expenditure will decline and, to all substantial purposes, in two years time it will have ceased.
The Prime Minister’s peroration dealt with Vietnam. The commitment in Vietnam is the great alibi, the great excuse for the sterility of this Budget. Everything that the Australian people desire and are entitled to receive is deferred because of the Vietnam commitment. We are told that the defence vote has been increased by 34 per cent. Everything else must wait. The public is being mesmerised by this figure of $1,000 million, lt is because of this commitment that it is claimed that nothing can be done in any of the respects which the Prime Minister mentioned and which I have recapitulated; and nothing could be done, he would have us believe, in the field of social services or any of the more human respects. Perhaps I can come back to this point later.
I would ask honorable members to recall the position about Vietnam prior to the last House of Representatives elections. Was there any suggestion before the elections two years ago for the Senate that a battalion of Australian troops would be sent to Vietnam? Was there any suggestion before those elections that conscripts would be sent to Vietnam? On this occasion, the Prime Minister has been anxious to make some passing reference to what he says are Labour’s proposals, but what proposals does he make himself? What does he say about the camp where the two present Australian battalions are stationed? If he is returned to office on 26th November will he send to Vietnam the third battalion for which space has been set aside in the existing encampment in the task force area? For how long will there be this commitment? One half of the Australian combatant troops in Vietnam are conscripts. If the Prime Minister is reelected on 26th November does he intend that there shall be the same conscript component in our forces in Vietnam or does he expect that there will be a larger component of conscripts, because this Budget provides for a reduction in expenditure by the Government on recruiting for the armed forces? Again, for how long does the right honorable gentleman envisage, if he is returned to office, that this military commitment will continue? If it is aimed at eradicating all of the Vietcong from South Vietnam - from the jungles and mountains as well as from the major centres of population and production - this war will not take two years; it will lake a decade or more, and different methods of equipment and combat will be required from those that the major combatant - the United States of America - is at present adopting. The Prime Minister has talked around the subject and has not taken the House or the people into his confidence.
If he is returned to office what will be the size of the Australian commitment? What will be the nature of the Australian commitment? What will be the duration of the Australian commitment? He quoted a fine speech from the President of the United States. I would be much happier with the Prime Minister of our country if he would speak more consistently overseas and in Australia in the terms used by the President, because the President is a man of peace. But our Prime Minister and his predecessor have never, as far as they have ever revealed to the public, taken an initiative for peace - for negotiations. They have never taken any initiative for civilian aid in Vietnam. One of the most extraordinary features of this Budget is that the fields of civilian aid are being reduced. While defence aid for Malaysia is being increased from $5 million last year to $8.2 million this year, economic and defence support assistance to members of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and protocol States - South Vietnam is a protocol State - is being reduced from S2.25 million last year to S2 million this year.
Again, if one looks through the various fields of international aid and development referred to in the Budget one will see fluctuations, some up and some down. Notably, the provision for sending wheat to India is down. But, in general, the overall appropriation is down. Whereas we emphasise the great increase in our military commitment in this Budget, our civilian commitment has been reduced. Now, the stage has been reached already when the civilian commitment to Vietnam must be upgraded.
Our Party stated, in August of last year, that it believes that if United Nations peacekeeping forces were in this area Australia should contribute forces to them. We said on the same occasion that if there were regional arrangements to safeguard the territorial integrity of South Vietnam. Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, we should contribute forces to those arrangements. We said on the same occasion that we would promote economic rehabilitation. This Budget does nothing to increase economic rehabilitation. The Government has taken no steps to make it possible for civilians to leave their occupations in Australia, serve for a year or so in Vietnam and come back unhindered to their occupations in Australia, lt has taken no initiative to permit Australians who have a gift in these matters to work beside their opposite numbers in South Vietnam and to give Australian experience in the social, economic, and technical advancement which we can contribute throughout this area - not only in Vietnam but in Indonesia probably greatest of all. Why is the Government so shy, almost apologetic about our civilian workers in South Vietnam?
What are we going to do in Indonesia? This year, we are going to send some lamp black for tyres. Indonesia is the country in which we can have more influence than in any other country in our region. Indonesia is the country which will be the most significant in our region. Once again, we are virtually ignoring Indonesia. We are missing the second chance as far as this Budget is concerned. Wherever anything is required in relation to military commitment, there is a blank cheque. If there is anything that is required in diplomatic promotion in this way, anything that the hawks desire, a blank cheque is given. The Prime Ministers motto is not only: “ All the way with L.B.J.” It is also: “ Give a blank cheque to Chiang Kai-shek “. We have never had an ambassador in Taipei. But we are now to have an ambassador there at the behest of the hawks. What a fantastic futile gesture. But, if anything is required in civilian aid, the applications have to go in in triplicate. They have to be considered at length and scrutinised and be made subject to Treasury veto. Who so ready with military aid? Why so cautious about civil aid?
Mr. Deputy Speaker. I must come to some of the other matters for which the Vietnam war is a smokescreen. In fact, the expenditure on defence will not affect goods and services in Australia nearly as much as the Treasurer has stated, and as honorable members in the Government parties would have us believe. The rise in defence spending on goods and services within Australia this financial year will be less than half of that which the Treasurer stated in terms of conventional accounts. He stated that the additional expenditure this year on defence would be $252 million. In actual fact, the additional expenditure on goods and services in the defence field in Australia will be $124 million. Last year, the additional expenditure on goods and services in Australia for defence purposes was $100 million. This year, the additional expenditure will be 24 per cent, greater than that. An additional $24 million will be spent in Australia on goods and services for defence purposes this year compared to the increase last year. We can certainly absorb this increase without abandoning or deferring advances in all other fields.
The Prime Minister mentioned social services. Meaningful advances in these have been deferred. He represented the Leader of the Opposition as saying that Labour, in its policy speech this year, would propose to abolish the means test. What the Leader of the Opposition said was that we would make proposals for abolishing the means test. He pointed out that the last time that any modification was made in the income means test was in 1954. In 1949, the previous Prime Minister stated that his Government would abolish the means test. No step towards abolishing the income means test has been taken for 12 years. Cannot something be done?
The Prime Minister referred to the references which the Leader of the Opposition has made to the increases in the prices of the goods which pensioners have to buy, and he quoted certain percentages. The latest issue of the “Monthly Review of Business Statistics “, published by the Commonwealth Statistician, gave the increases in the various items in the consumer price index since the base year of 1952-53. In that year the index stood at 100. The Leader of the Opposition rightly emphasised that food was the most important thing of all to pensioners and recipients Of social services. In March 1966, the index for food prices had risen to 138.4 per cent. In 13 years, the price of food went up 38.4 per cent.
Let me give another comparison related to a factor which affects all people who are establishing their families. That is housing. Since the base year of 1952-53, the cost of housing has gone up by 72.4 per cent. Of course there has been inflation and, in fact, since the homes savings grant was introduced two years ago, the cost of a house and land has gone up by three times the amount of the grant. Something could have been done about this because the Commonwealth, through its grants to the States, can influence the development of our cities, the price of land and restrict housing costs. Housing costs represent the field of greatest inflation in our country. Inflation in housing costs has been unabated through the 17 years term of the Liberal-Country Party Government.
Since the Prime Minister made a historic reference to the increase in social services during the term of office of himself and his predecessor, let me deal with increases in social services. In the eight years including the war years, during which the Curtin and the Chifley Governments were in office, Commonwealth expenditure on social services trebled. The average annual increase was about 40 per cent. In the subsequent years the expenditure by this Government has gone up by less than four times - from $93 million to $300 million. It has gone up by an average of 17 per cent, annually compared to 40 per cent, under Labour when prices were held in check. Under the present Government, the increase has averaged 17 per cent, a year although the population has increased greatly with postwar migration and prices have risen still further.
I must pass on to some other aspects of social services and compare the position in Australia with that in other countries. During the term of office of the LiberalCountry Party Government, we have fallen well behind every country in the European Economic Community, the Scandinavian countries and countries like Britain, Ireland, Austria and New Zealand. All the (Countries from which Australia seeks and derives the majority of her migrants spend a greater percentage of their gross national product on social services than does Australia. In all these respects we have fallen behind, lt might be said that there have been improvements in Australia, but the improvements in the countries with which we compare ourselves have been greater. 1 think the Prime Minister referred to education. The Treasurer certainly did so. This is one of the activities that we leave to the States. It is an extraordinary anomaly that in regard to education also we are falling behind every comparable country. As I said, the Commonwealth leaves these matters to the States. It is remarkable that Liberal Premiers should have come out unitedly against this Budget. Whatever might be said on this occasion, the Liberals leave things to foreign companies, to private enterprise, and to the States.
Over recent years the Commonwealth increasingly has put a control on State finances. Between 1958-59 and the last financial year fixed capital expenditure by the States rose by 95 per cent, and similar expenditure by the Commonwealth rose by 142 per cent. In the same period current and capital expenditure on goods and services by the States rose by 83 per cent, and similar expenditure by the Commonwealth rose by 112 per cent. Not only has Commonwealth expenditure on capital works and services risen more than similar State expenditure, but also the Commonwealth has restricted the manner in which the States may spend the funds which they have. It has done so in two ways. First there are special purpose grants. Over seven years the general revenue grants, which the States may spend in any way, have increased by 76 per cent. The grants which the States have to spend in the way laid down by the Commonwealth under section 96 of the Constitution have increased by 120 per cent. Again, there has been a great number of matching grants which the States could receive only if they spent the money in the manner laid down by the Commonwealth - for instance, on universities and roads. State taxes are indirect and regressive. State budgets inevitably are less flexible than Commonwealth budgets. The public is penalised because the Commonwealth refuses to match its functions with its financial resources.
As education has been mentioned, let me refer to the greatest anomaly we have seen in the postwar federal financial relations. In what were called State activities, the Commonwealth has allocated all or most of the money that has been applied since the war, with the exception of the schools. This has happened with universities and health services, where the Commonwealth now spends more money than all the States combined. The same is true of road construction. The same can be said about housing, where the Commonwealth provides nearly all the funds that are expended. But in regard to schools, the Commonwealth has not yet taken an interest. It is for this reason that the standard of schools in Australia is falling behind that of schools on either side of the North Atlantic. It is for this reason that the increase in the standard of our schools is not keeping pace with that in Japan and Singapore, which lie in our own region.
Let me outline the position between 1942-43, the first year when the Commonwealth Grants Commission separated State expenditure on education into primary, secondary and university groups, and 1963- 64, which is the last year for which it has provided such figures. In that period expenditure per head by the States on primary education increased sixfold, on secondary education twenty-fourfold, and on university education twenty-fourfold. Yet primary and secondary education - the great increase being in secondary education - is still overwhelmingly a State responsibility. The universities have improved because the Commonwealth has helped them to improve. But only one in eight Australians of university age gets a university education. The others do not get beyond secondary or technical education, and the Commonwealth gives them practically no assistance whatever. This is an anomaly. In this Budget we are treated to the farcical situation where another 340,000, at the most, will be allotted for the benefit of private schools in Australia by relieving them of payroll tax on wages and salaries. How many private schools actually pay salaries and wages? All that is involved here is $40,000. There is nothing else for schools.
I want to conclude by making reference to finance for development. The Budget makes no reference to it, yet it is one of the greatest financial problems facing this country. We find in Australia 90 per cent, of the money required for our capital investment every year. Only 10 per cent, comes from overseas. Under this Government however, this overseas component is going into new minerals, new cattle areas and post-war industries. Let me give honorable members some percentages. In minerals, the production of aluminium, new coal and most of our new iron ore is controlled overseas. Seventy-five per cent, of our oil, natural gas and copper, 70 per cent, of our lead and 60 per cent, of our zinc production is controlled from overseas. Let us go to the beef properties. The whole of Cape York Peninsula has been sold by Australia’s greatest estate agent, Sir William Gunn. The major part of the Gulf country has been sold, and so has a large section of the top end of the Northern Territory. Almost half the beef properties in the East Kimberleys have been sold and inroads are now being made into the East Kimberleys.
As for the secondary industries, 90 per cent, of the drug industry is under foreign control; petroleum refining and distribution, 95 per cent.; motor vehicles, 95 per cent.; oil exploration, 85 per cent.; telecommunications, 83 per cent.; and soaps and detergents, 80 per cent. This has been because the Government has failed to marshal our credit and investment resources. As the Reserve Bank’s annual report said last week, “ room for further improvement remains, particularly in the mobilisation of funds for the financing of large developmental projects “. A sum of $8,000 million is at the disposal of private financial institutions outside the banking field. In 1962, 1963 and 1964, the assets of life insurance companies increased by a total of $760 million. This is a field in which the Commonwealth has just as much constitutional power as it has in banking. With few exceptions - Gove and the Ninety Mile Desert - life insurance companies have put their money into shares, city buildings, retail businesses and stores such as H. G. Palmers - sound investments.
Between 1953 and 1963, the credit structure has got completely out of control. Trading bank assets have increased by 4 per cent, per annum. The assets of instalment credit companies have increased by 26 per cent, per annum. Those of pension funds have increased by 13 per cent, per annum, while the assets of non-life insurance companies have increased by 12 per cent, per annum and those of life insurance companies by 10 per cent, per annum. The assets of unit trusts have increased by 22 per cent, per annum in that time. The volume of credit outside the banking system now exceeds that within the banking system. It is because the Budget, and the whole of the Government’s financial policy, fails to plan the private sector, fails to plan foreign investment and fails to plan social services, that the Budget is so sterile. The Australian public will not be fobbed off by the excuse that the war in Vietnam must put an end to the war against poverty in Australia and elsewhere and against foreign control of Australian resources.
.- The speech we have just heard from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) was remarkable for two reasons. 1 invite those who are listening to cast their minds back over the last 30 minutes and, as a mental exercise, to try to remember one specific concrete proposal that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition made concerning the Australian Government and improvements to this Budget. In 30 minutes, he made no specific concrete proposal or suggestion whatever. We are told that this man, within a few months, if the Australian Labour Party is defeated at the next election, will be a contender for the throne of leadership of the Labour Party. One would have expected in this important speech on the 1966 Budget, the heir pretender to the throne of the Labour Party might have produced some initiative or some creative thinking on the financial management of Australia. 1 remind the people listening that we heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition talk in very vague terms about social services and about what the Government has or has not done. He spoke in extraordinarily vague terms of what the Government had not done in education. He said something about State grants and how iniquitous we had been to the States. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also said something about foreign aid. His accusations about foreign aid were of interest to most members on the Government side of the House and I am sure what he said astonished those members of his own Party who have recently returned from Vietnam because the honorable member said that Australia had taken no initiative whatever in granting any civilian aid to Vietnam. Members of his own Party have come into this House and testified that the amount of Australian civilian aid to Vietnam is now considerable and very effective. Members on the Government side of the House who have been there recently also know this is true. It is a fact that Australian civilian aid is being given to Vietnam and is being effective. Yet the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said that we are doing nothing.
The honorable gentleman has just been to Vietnam so one is forced to one of two conclusions. One is that during his visit to Vietnam, when he was given all facilities by the Government, he did not see this Australian aid that had been given to Vietnam. The only other possible conclusion is that he did see it. If he did see it and yet was prepared to make the statement that he did in this House tonight, we can form our own judgment of his integrity in reporting. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition went on to talk in extravagant terms about the wholesale disposal of Cape York Peninsula to foreign interests, but again I ask those who listened to his speech to remember, if they can, just one concrete suggestion he made concerning the financial management of Australia. He did not even give a clue as to what the Labour Party would do if it held the financial reigns of this country.
The other part of the honorable member’s speech which was quite remarkable was his charge that the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) was inconsistent. Most people in this House and many hundreds of thousands outside saw the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on television when he returned from Vietnam. We remember very well, and to our surprise, I might add, the honorable gentleman saying that after his visit to Vietnam, he believed the war there could be won and, what is more, it could be won in something like two years. 1 think everybody who saw the programme, will verify that he said that. Yet tonight he stood in this House before the captive audience of his own party and, because it suited his own argument, made the statement that this war will last at least a decade or more. It is ridiculous for such a man to accuse the Prime Minister of this country of inconsistency.
In the Budget this year the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) faced some unique problems. As he brought the Budget down the economy was almost in perfect economic balance. We had full employment and strong overseas reserves; the terms of trade were strengthening all the time; our export earnings were rising and, over a five year cycle, we had just experienced remarkable price stability; our imports were satisfactory and we had a healthy inflow of capital. Despite this we did see, and the Treasurer saw, some soft spots in the economy. We realised that housing commencements had gone down, although at the time of the introduction of the Budget they were beginning to rise again. There was, indeed, some sluggishness in the motor vehicle industry, one of the most sensitive areas of economic activity. There was a downturn to some extent in retail trading and consumer spending. I propose to say something briefly about consumer spending.
I feel very proud to have been associated with Government fiscal policy over the past 12 months, the aim of which has been to reduce consumer spending to a small extent - by 1 .5 per cent. I know that the Government has been criticised for this by some business leaders and that the criticism has been echoed and parroted by some members of the Opposition. Strangely and surprisingly, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) quoted these business people who have a vested interest in increasing consumer spending beyond a healthy level. I feel quite proud that the Government did cut back spending and achieved a consequent increase in the private savings sector. If there is anything this country desperately needs at this time in order to develop Australia as we wish, it is savings in the private sector. This was a wilful policy pursued by the Government. It took some courage and I am proud to have been associated with it. lt can be conceded that retail trade and consumer spending needed some mild stimulus and this was one of the unique problems facing the. Treasurer in framing his Budget. At the same time, although his economic problems were few, he had great fiscal problems because of growing demands for defence. Also there had been a basic wage decision which had added a cost of $290 million to the economy and the effects of the drought were still being felt. At a time when there are some signs of sluggishness in the economy there is always some reluctance to raise taxes, whether they be direct or indirect, so the Treasurer was faced with a dilemma. In economic terms the economy was in almost perfect balance and yet he had these fiscal difficulties. For this reason I think it is an extraordinarily clever and responsible Budget because it has poured $600 million into the economy without increasing taxation. It will have an expansionary effect because there is an expectation of a deficit of $270 million.
These are the facts and nobody has denied them, except one distinguished Victorian. But that same distinguished Victorian cannot deny that $600 million more is being poured into the economy this year than last year. There is in fact a deficit of $270 million - I think one of the highest peacetime deficits that this country has ever known. Those of us who have had even a little economic training never cease to be astonished by some of the so-called economic experts in newspapers who say that this Budget is not expansionary. I do not know what their definition of an expansionary Budget would be. I could not conceive of what they would want if they wanted an even greater dificit than $270 million at this particular time, j
There is one other illusion to which I should like to refer. It is an illusion that seems to be shared by many State Premiers.
This year we have seen the same performance as in the past by some of the State Premiers concerning the alleged beastly treatment that their States received in the Budget. We in Federal politics do not mind these performances. Each Premier is and should be a champion of his own State. But let me say quite sincerely that all of us here deplore any State Premier descending to personalities in criticising the Federal Budget. The illusion that they seem to enjoy is that a Federal government has completely unlimited sources of finance. We might well remind ourselves that for a Federal government there are only three basic sources of income. They are finance from loans; financing for a deficit; and increasing taxation.
At a time when the economy is in almost perfect balance but there are some signs of sluggishness in some areas, is it good economic policy to increase taxes? An increase in taxes has an immediate deflationary effect. Is that what these economic pundits and experts wanted? One of the luxuries that newspaper and other critics of the Federal Budget seem to enjoy is that they can criticise the Budget per se without ever making a concrete proposal on how it might have been improved. Twelve per cent, of the $600 million extra money that has been poured in has gone to the State Governments in direct grants. As a reasonable creature, I do not regard that as something of which we should be ashamed. In fact, under this Budget the States will receive 8 per cent, more in direct grants than they received last year.
Let me turn now to the speech made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. For several reasons, very few of us on this side of the chamber want to debate the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) at Budget time. One of the reasons probably is that all of us have such a deep personal affection for him that we do not want to embarrass him by doing so. But the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is the shadow Treasurer in the Labour Party. If the Labour Party came to office, presumably he would find himself the Australian Treasurer. His speech contained a rather quaint mixture of two things - suggestions and criticisms. The feature of his suggestions was that they were delightfully vague and very general. For example, one can read through his speech and find a lot of criticisms of the size of pensions and not find any clue to the extent to which he, as Treasurer, would increase them. Again, he talks a great deal about productivity and the gross national product But one does not find any clue at all to what he would regard as a suitable growth rate in an economy such as Australia’s. And, of course, he is a man of some economic standing.
One finds the term “ stagnant economy “ running through his speech. Another delightful expression that he used - I give him credit for having too much intelligence to mean it, but it remains in “ Hansard “ - was “ employment is stagnant “. This expression puzzled me. What do the words “ stagnant employment “ mean? The words “ stagnant unemployment “ might mean something. But I think the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would be the first person in the House to agree that at the present time Australia enjoys full employment. Is he complaining about stagnant full employment, or is he complaining about stagnant employment, ot what does he mean? At present only 1.2 per cent, of the work force is registered for employment. Does he want that position changed? Does he believe that a change every now and again is good for the country because it shakes the country up a bit? Does he want the rate of unemployment increased? The term “ stagnant employment “ still puzzles me and I should be grateful some time for somebody to explain what it means.
I said that the suggestions of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports were in general and vague terms, but not so his criticisms; they were very specific. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has often objected in this House when somebody on this side has interjected and suggested that some of the figures that he was quoting were not true. He knows that we were not accusing him of falsehood but were disagreeing with the application he made of his figures, but it seems rather strange to hear a gentleman who is so sensitive in this area say of the Treasurer, the Government and its supporters that we are guilty of chicanery and of confidence tricks and that we should be more honest. That is a clear implication of being dishonest if I read him aright.
Let us look at the person who is throwing stones when he makes these allegations. He followed the Leader of the Opposition and criticised the Treasurer for saying that this Budget had severe limitations because of the defence vote. The Treasurer did say that but he did not say, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, that because we are spending so much on defence we cannot do anything. He said that because of the huge increase in the defence allocation this year we were inhibited in certain areas from spending as much as we would like. That is fair enough and we support it. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports went on with this attempt to prove the charge of chicanery by saying that in the year 1952-53 the defence vote was 5.1 per cent, of the gross national product. I checked his figures, and he is absolutely right. It is correct that the Government did spend 5.1 per cent, of the gross national product on defence in 1952-53. Then the honorable member for Melbourne Ports said - in order to prove the Treasurer guilty of chicanery - that this year the defence vote was only 4.4 per cent, of the gross national product. This rather interested me. The honorable member said: “ Do a little arithmetic yourself “. I did. I worked on the figures he suggested, namely the defence vote and the gross national product for the coming year and expressed the defence vote as a percentage of the gross national product. One of these items - the defence vote - is fixed because it appears in the Budget. It is an amount of $1,000 million.
– It is not in the Budget.
– That is the figure give or take a few pounds, but that is not the point I am making. The honorable member assumes the variable, the gross national product. That is fair enough; he can do that. So he takes $1,000 million as the defence vote and he says that the gross national product this year will be probably of the order of $23,000 million. Mentioned quickly that figure does not mean much to the House but I hope to illustrate its meaning in a moment. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports - the shadow Treasurer and an economist of some standing - says that the gross national product will probably be of the order of $23,000 million this year. If honorable members work out the sum they will get the answer of 4.4 per cent., but I took the trouble to. have a look at this assessment of the gross national product and this has led me to wonder whether the person throwing stones is justified in so doing. If the gross national product this year was $23,000 million that would represent a growth rate of 12 per cent, for the year. Last year this country had a growth rate of 4± per cent. This year, with a bit of luck, we will have a growth rate of 6 per cent. In most countries a growth rate of that size is regarded as good. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports devoted most of his 30 minutes to saying that ours is an economy that is going backwards, a half speed economy, yet he also used figures which show that we are to have a growth rate twice as good as a rate which is commonly regarded as being a good growth rate in any sophisticated country. This is due to one of three things.
– Has the honorable member allowed for price increases?
– I have allowed for price increases in these figures, and I am sure that the honorable member has, too, because the growth rate of 6 per cent, allows for a reasonable price increase. I think the honorable member for Melbourne Ports knows that. There are only three conclusions one can draw. It may be a simple error in arithmetic. One would not believe that of the honorable gentleman. Or it may be that he believes that this is a most magical document which will transform this country out of a 4i per cent, growth rate into a 12 per cent, growth rate in 12 months. But the tenor of his speech does not suggest that he believes that. Or one can come to a third conclusion - that he has used this figure hoping that nobody would check it, in the hope that it might mislead the House. After doing this exercise I am sorry to have to say that I am very doubtful now to whom his own words about chicanery, confidence tricks and dishonesty should apply.
Let us look at the accusations of stagnation that have been made. Public reaction to the Budget has been good. There is no question about that. In the market place, among the trade unions, pensioners and housewives, generally the reaction to the Budget has been good. In this, an election year, the Opposition has felt obliged - and we do not blame honorable members opposite for this - to raise some sort of furore about the unfairness of the Budget. That is the duty of members of the Opposition. It is what they have to do.
Let us examine one or two indicators of this so called stagnant economy since June 1961, only five years ago. Since then about 600.000 people have been added to the work force of this country, an increase of about 19 per cent.; 400,000 additional people have come to this country and have stayed here. This is a sound document. It gives scope for a better result at the end of the year than is presently envisaged, because I am sure that with the deficit for which we have budgeted and the extra money we have syphoned into the economy, the income of the Government will be greater than is budgeted for. It would put this country in a very sound financial position to embark on another three years of Liberal and Country Party government as from 26th November next. 1 wish now to suggest to the Government some areas in which I believe it might look. We hear a lot from the Opposition about the abolition of the means test. I know that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) did not say that Labour would abolish the means test straight away. The truth is that he knows, as does every member of this House who has done any work on the subject, that the complete abolition of the means test is actuarially impossible in the economy of today. In fact, it is impossible anywhere in the world. The leader of the Opposition has talked about abolishing the means test completely. Let him name one country in which its abolition has operated successfully. It was done in the United Kingdom under a Socialist government some years ago, but now any member of the British Government will tell you that on top of the basic national insurance it has had to load on two additions for needs and for other purposes. The Socialist Government has got itself into such a hopeless mess that it wishes it had never taken the step.
This does not mean that we should not look at the rapid liberalisation of the means test as far as income is concerned. At the present time I cannot see the equity of the present procedure. I cannot see how it conforms with liberal principles that a man, once he has reached the age of 65, in good health, should be limited to an income above his pension of $7, if he is single - $14 in the case of a married couple - if he does not want his pension affected.
I believe this social reform is well overdue. It is a philosophy which has been fostered by the Government parties since we came to office in order to encourage thrift; to encourage people, once they reach the twilight years of their lives, to do something useful to add to the gross national product of this nation. I hope that the Government will look at this matter seriously when constructing the policy speech that will be delivered in the campaign for the election in November next.
I am pleased to see the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury) at the table; he will be able to note the subject I now raise. I am one who believes that there is an inequity in this country in that women who perform work of equal value do not receive the same rate as men do. This subject has been debated often in the House. We on the Government side rightly take the view that this is a matter for conciliation and arbitration, but in the past 20 years the trade unions have been singularly reluctant to bring it before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The Government will not - I believe rightly - legislate unilaterally for the introduction of equal pay in the Commonwealth Public Service. If it did, it would be usurping one of the functions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The impasse that we have reached on this does not help the thousands of women who are in fact performing work of equal value and who are today receiving only 75 per cent, of the male rate. This is an inequity and, unless somebody tries to correct it, the inequity will remain.
I am most conscious of the thousands of women who are in fact breadwinners. They may be nursing a sick mother or a sick member of the family or they may in fact be maintaining their family. However, because of an accident of birth, they receive only 75 per cent, of the male rate. This is an urgent problem and I hope the Government, through the Minister for Labour and
National Service and his Department, will look at it. Maybe it can be solved temporarily by the introduction of a social service benefit equating in certain special circumstances the female rate, where the female is the breadwinner, with the male rate. Maybe the Government can take some unilateral action in some small way - say to take up 5 per cent, of the difference - to stimulate the activities of the trade unions in this vital area. 1 register my own concern about one instrument of economic policy in this country. It is vital to the growth of our economy but it is outside the scope of the Parliament. I refer to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It always seems paradoxical to me at Budget time to hear debated in the Parliament all avenues of fiscal and monetary policy, when this giant of financial policy making remains completely outside the scope of the Parliament. It should be outside the scope of the Parliament, but its performance in recent years has been such, I must confess, as to make me, to say the least, concerned. This year by its very act it caused another $290 million to be generated in the Australian economy. This was an arbitrary decision to increase the basic wage, reached by three judges and a commissioner who found the figure in their minds after hearing some form of evidence. Some of the questions that are in my mind and in the minds of other people are: Have some of the judges a predisposition towards a particular point of view? Have they shown this predisposition in their former judgments? Has the President of the Commission taken notice of that predisposition? If he did take notice of it, was this one of the reasons why he followed the rather unusual course of appointing only three judges and a commissioner to hear the recent wage case? Why did the President not ask all the judges to hear the case? This is one of the vital factors in our economy and it is causing at least serious concern to me. It is a matter of Government policy and I hope the Government will look at it in a constructive way in the future.
.- The honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) at the commencement of his speech chided the Labour speakers who had preceded him for not putting forward a constructive programme showing what should be done to move this lagging economy along; in other words, to put forward Labour’s policy and programme for the future. I thought this debate was on the Budget presented by the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon). We are not here to discuss Labour’s policy and programme; we are here to point out to the Government and the nation where we believe the Government has failed. That is the purpose of this debate and that has been done well by spokesmen on this side of the House.
The honorable member spent a great deal of time criticising the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) who is recognised as an outstanding economist, one whose figures are always accepted without question. In fact, this is the first time I have ever heard them doubted. I can assure the honorable member for Higinbotham that if he is in the House when the Estimates are under discussion the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will prove his facts and figures line by line. If the honorable member would like to improve his knowledge I am sure that if he goes into the office of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and explains his difficulty the honorable member will give him some instruction. I think honorable members on the Government side have been dazzled by the figures revealed by the many mini skirts around the building. The honorable member for Higinbotham should settle down, compose himself and look at the position outlined by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
The honorable member for Higinbotham went to some pains to criticise the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) for, as he claimed, putting forward a different view tonight from that which he expressed earlier on the period that the war in Vietnam may last. There should be no confusion in the mind of anyone who watched the “ Four Corners “ programme and listened to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition tonight because the honorable member was speaking of two different sets of conditions. He made it clear on the television programme that he thought this war could perhaps be won if it meant liberating the cities, towns and villages where the Vietnamese people work and produce their goods, but tonight he said that if you intend to chase the Vietcong through all the jungles and mountains in the country the war could well last a decade, lt is the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and Government spokesmen who should make clear just how they regard the war in Vietnam, how long they think it will last and how far they intend to go in this strange undeclared war.
As I said earlier, questions have been asked about Labours intentions. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition tonight said that before the election is held at the end of November the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) and senior Ministers of the Government should state plainly not only to the Parliament but also to the Australian people whether it has already been decided to send a third battalion to Vietnam. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who has just returned from that country, has referred to the facilities which have been prepared there. Let the Government come clean before the election and tell the people exactly what it plans to do. Does it intend to call up more youths for national service training?
– The Government ought to send the Cabinet.
– I do not know about sending the Cabinet, but there are some Government supporters who could play a part in this war if they believe it to be such a just war and such a necessary war. 1 believe that the Government should come clean prior to the elections about its intentions because I am inclined to believe that it does intend to send another battalion to Vietnam. I believe the Government will extend the term of service of national service trainees from two years to five years. It will not do so before the election but it will certainly do it after the election. These are the things that this Parliament and the nation should be told about. It is no good for Government members to chide the Opposition for not putting forward a policy. Our policy for the elections will be presented at the right time by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and it will be a policy that will command support from the Australian people.
One fact that became abundantly clear tonight when the Prime Minister spoke was that so far as he is concerned there is to be no real approach to the lifting of the means test. The honorable member for Higinbotham said a few moments ago that this was impossible. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) reminded us earlier this evening that in 1949 the then Opposition Leader, and afterwards Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, stated that his Government, if elected, would abolish the means test. When the late Mr. Townley was Minister for Social Services he went on record as saying that he had a plan to abolish the means test and that it would be introduced in this House. We have had a lot of Ministers for Social Services since that time but no plan has been introduced. It is about time something was done. It is about time that some machinery at least was set up. If the Government feels that it cannot even plan for the abolition of the means test at some time in the future, it could at least consider setting up a committee - a select committee of this House or some outside committee - to go into the whole ramifications of the means test and then ascertain whether some plan could be formulated to abolish it over a certain period of years.
The Government may consider that there is no need to do anything in this regard but the Opposition certainly considers that there is such a need.
One only has to talk to retired public servants and other superannuitants to realise that urgent consideration of this matter is needed because of the viciousness of the present merged means test as it affects those on fixed incomes. It is true that the means test has been liberalised, but the present merged income and property means test reacts harshly on those who are receiving superannuation pensions. They deserve justice. An approach should be made to this problem at least at some definite time in the future; say within the life of a parliament, two parliaments or three parliaments. A plan should be made now to grapple with this job. As I have said tonight, the Prime Minister has made it clear that so far as the Government is concerned abolition of the means test is out of the question.
The Budget presented by The Treasurer has been described in various ways - as dismal, disappointing and depressing. It has been stated in newspaper editorials and by economists, businessmen, exservicemen and other sections of the community to be a Budget with little hope, containing no stimulus for industry and no hope for those people who are on fixed incomes and who are deprived of social service benefits. For the young people of the community, no light can be seen in coping with ever rising costs. Young married couples buying homes and purchasing furniture to go into the homes are facing difficulties. Immediately they set out to purchase a home, even if they have a couple of thousand pounds - it is not a bad effort for a young couple to save as much as that - they immediately go into the red on a second mortgage or some other arrangement for finance additional to the amount provided under the first mortgage. They have to go to finance companies in order to obtain furniture.
Something belter is deserved by the young people of this country. Something better is deserved by those boys whom the Government is sending away at 19 years of age to fight in Vietnam. Young people see no hope in the Budget. One is entitled to say that if no provision is made for them in this Budget, only a short time before the election, the Government will not be able to see its way clear to give them any better conditions in the future.
Whilst the young people are concerned and alarmed at the almost insurmountable problem of purchasing and furnishing homes, the position is perhaps more desperate for the aged people in the community. The Government has set about giving an additional pension benefit to single persons. lt is true that one can make out a good argument as to why they should receive some extra benefit. But all that has been done is not enough really to give single pensioners who own homes a chance to keep up with the ever increasing cost of home ownership, including the additional rates and taxes that are imposed by local government and State Governments, starved of finance by this Federal Government. Many aged people have reached the stage of having to give up buying newspapers. Males who have been smokers all their lives have had to give up their smokes. They are forced, because of ever increasing prices in the community, to give up these pleasures.
Many have reached a stage at which they are unable to cope. They say: “ What can we do? We cannot afford the maintenance. We cannot afford the rates and taxes and other things associated with owning a home. Let us sell the place.” What is the alternative? To buy a home unit or to go into a home for the aged. It is very good, perhaps, to go into a home for the aged. In some instances it works out very well but in many instances it does not work out so well. What has happened with these homes for the aged that have been erected is that the managements of some - perhaps only a minority - have set out on the basis of making homes available only to those people who can afford to pay £1,000 or more to enter.
When the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) was in Adelaide recently he met two deputations who complained about what was happening. True, they were .not the norma! church organisations, but a situation exists under which certain organisations can establish homes for the aged and impose pretty harsh conditions on the tenants, if I may call them that. More Government supervision is needed when the Government is supplying money to certain of these organisations. The Government should not wash its hands of its responsibility by saying: “ We will subsidise you on a $2 for Si basis, but once we have given you the money we will have no more interest in the matter.” What is the position that some of these aged people face? They may pay their life savings into one of these homes for the aged. If they encounter difficulties with the management they lose their money and so lose everything.
The Commonwealth Government should make money available to State Governments specifically for homes for the aged, built by certain organisations. In South Australia, the Housing Trust has said time and time again that it could provide accommodation for all the single pensioners wanting homes such as those for the aged if the Commonwealth Government would subsidise it on a S2 for $1 basis as it does charitable organisations. This is one means by which the Government could set about doing something worth while for the elderly people who are finding it most difficult to maintain themselves and, at the same time, keep roofs over their heads. Married couples perhaps are in no matter position because their pensions ar<> not as great as the pensions paid to single pensioners. In fact, the Government has divided the pensioners by setting a rate for certain pensioners and a decreased rate for other pensioners.
What is wanted in this country is, as 1 said about the means test, a new approach to the whole question of social services. It is not good enough for the Government to say: “ We are doing this and that. We are devoting so much a percentage of our income to pensions whereas you, when you were in government nearly 20 years ago, only did so much “. What is needed is a government to look at the whole position, examine the means test and conduct a real inquiry into the needs of people who depend on social services. This question should be removed from the hurly-burly of politics.
Let us see whether we can get a new approach. We will not get it from a government like the Government at present occupying the treasury bench. We have waited since 1954 for the Government to increase the permissible income of pensioners. The only time the Government acts is near election time. It forgets the pensioners in between elections and as an election approaches the Treasurer feels warmly for them. The Treasurer was worried about the pensioners and he said he gave them all he could. He said he gave them all the Government could afford. However, before they receive their increased pensions - before the legislation is through this House - prices will have increased because of the basic wage increase and as a direct result of the Government’s not making sufficient money available to the States. State rates will increase as will fares and everything else before the pensioners receive their meagre increase. The Treasurer said: “ Well, I have done all I could do “. He has ducked his responsibility as Treasurer of this great Commonwealth by not looking at the needs of all the people of Australia. And this Government, when it takes the responsibility of collecting the major taxes in the Commonwealth, accepts also the responsibility of supplying the States with the money they need to meet certain commitments. But the Treasurer skilfully avoids that question on this occasion, because an election is so close. He hopes to force onto the States the responsibility for increased costs. He is doing this deliberately, hoping that the people of Australia will say: “ Well, it is that Bolte in Victoria, or Askin in New South Wales, or Walsh in South Australia; they are the people who are increasing costs “, but the people really responsible for the increase, the people who have really failed to bring stability to the nation’s economy, are members of the Holt Government, successor to the Menzies Government. The Prime Minister, when he was Treasurer, and the present Treasurer are the people directly responsible for the unstable conditions at present abounding in Australia. Only two weeks ago a constituent of mine, a manufacturer who is a fairly big industrialist in South Australia; said to me: “Things are pretty sick. Industry is dead “. He added: “In 1961, just prior to the 1961 election, the then Treasurer “ - who, incidentally, is now the Prime Minister - “ almost sent me broke, but somehow we survived the credit squeeze. We ought to have known better. We voted Labour in 1961, but we had not learnt our lesson and we swung back in 1963, and here we are now, with the man who used to be Treasurer as Prime Minister, and whilst he has not got a credit squeeze on, manufacturers have not experienced a worse position since the days of the credit squeeze. There seems to be no hope for me.” And there is certainly no good going to come out of this Budget.
The motor industry is in a very depressed state. It has slowed down and down until only a few weeks ago a spokesman for General Motors-Holden Ltd. warned of retrenchments that would certainly come about in the industry if trade did not pick up. In South Australia an old established firm, Dalgetys Ltd. - a Ford dealer who was handling Ford cars back in the days of the T model - has given up the franchise and has given up hope of being able to continue in a prosperous business because of the continued failure of this Government to do anything to stimulate the economy. The Leader of the Opposition has moved an amendment ito the Budget which is before us, in the following terms -
That all words after “ That “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof - “ The House condemns the Budget because - 1. It fails to recognise the injustices wrought upon wage earners because real wages have fallen as prices have risen faster than wages.
The vote on that amendment will be taken in this House at the end of next week. We may fail in that vote-
– You will fail.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service says we will fail. That is true. We will fail in this House, but we are letting the people of Australia know where we stand. We will not fail later in the year when the people have the opportunity to say whether they want the Government to continue sending overseas the youth of this country to fight and perhaps die in an undeclared war. We have no treaty which would justify sending them and we have no mandate for sending them. The Government has failed to encourage the youth of Australia to respond to the call to enlist in the Services. They have failed to answer that call because they know that the Government has failed them in an economic sense. It has failed all the people of Australia and it will receive their condemnation when the election takes place. We may fail in our bid to have the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition accepted, but we will not fail in November.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Nixon) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Bury) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I received a letter by special delivery today which I wish to bring to the attention of the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden). The envelope bears my address and on the front of it there appears “ Vote against Vietnam conscription. Vote Labour.” I mention these notations because the letter refers to them. On the back of the envelope there appear the following notations: “ 400 Aussies dead and wounded so far “, “ Vote against Vietnam conscription “, “ Vote Labour “. I have a lengthy letter which I will read quickly. I think it is a very important and a very grave matter that has been brought to my attention. The address on the letter is given as 14 Arthur Street, Marrickville, Sydney, and the date 24th August, 1966. The letter reads -
Dear Mr. Daly,
On Mon. 22-8-‘66 al approx. 12.30 p.m. (lunchtime) two men claiming to be Commonwealth Police called at my home and intimidated my mother.
They produced no evidence as to who they were until; (15 minutes later, when after getting information as to what I was alleged to have done, and my address and work phone number). Only one produced an authority; but by this time my mother was too distressed to know what was going on!
When the door was answered they demanded (1) if I lived there, to see me; (2) had 1 written a letter which they claimed contained writing on the outside of the envelope, stating, “ No conscripts’ lives for Holt’s defence failures! “?
This is what they demanded! As no answer was at once given, one said, “ There are severe penalties for writing this and similar anti-Vietnam conscription statements on envelopes about to be posted “. They went on to warn this statement was against the Liberal Government of this country and claimed a P.M.G. employee had been “ offended “ by it! They warned it was a severe offence to write an anti-Government message on a letter one was posting in the Government mails!
Confused and unthinking my mother admitted I had written anti-conscription notations on envelopes. They went on to warn, if she did give my work address and work phone number they would take stern action against me!
Still distressed, she forgot to close the front door whilst she rang me at’ work (she was afraid this would even encourage them to take it out on me!) Distressed, she rang the wrong number and out loud asked if that was my work number and they simply wrote it down! Realising what had happened, she asked if they had written my number down! - and they denied it! They left forthwith, after making notes on a large file of papers, which they earlier claimed was on me!
My mother at once rang me at work. Next day (Tues. afternoon 4.15 p.m.) I was rung at work by a Mr. S. Serrao (pronounced “ Serrow “) of the Commonwealth Police, Post Office Investigations Section. He demanded to know if I had written “ 200 Aussies dead and wounded so far . . . No conscripts’ lives for Holt’s defence failures! “ I asked why? He claimed I had committed a severe breach of P.M.G. regulations in writing a message against the Government on a letter being posted. He said if J admitted I bad done this and would never do it again, he would merely note the file thus!
If I denied it, he would also note the file so. He said, the envelope (one only, he said) had been sent by an employee of the Sutherland Shire Council to him. (Mrs. Gietzelt, wife of the Sutherland Shire President, does not know of any action the Council officially took in sending this letter to the P.M.G. It was on an envelope he got, containing only a cheque for payment of rates on a block of land at Engadine, I’d sent).
When I did not agree to cither of these demands, he said Commonwealth Police would come to my work, to get me to see their point of view! 1 suggested 1 was too busy! He said they would be out, anyway! I suggested I might be able to see him, if I must, at his office. Realising I didn’t want him at my work, he said I must see him today at his office or Commonwealth Police Officers would be out at my work today (Wednesday). 1 suggested I ring within 7 days to make an appointment to see him at his office, but he sharply snapped” You do not need 7 days to get Legal advice!” For half an hour then he went on to say what a fine man Mr. Holt was; that this was not a Police State; there was nothing political(?7) in his ringing me up etc. etc. I had not raised any of these matters!
I tried hard to find out what Regulation I had broken (allegedly). After trying 6 times, he said Regulation or Section? 107 (I can’t remember which) and 1 would be severely dealt with, if 1 had written this!
He went on to say I might as well be writing fairy tales, I was wasting my time. When I politely suggested he was wasting taxpayer’s money (for he had said earlier he was a highly paid Officer of the Government who had fought in the 1939-45 war- he said this 3 times at least) - he got upset. He broke off abruptly as he said next, he wasn’t paid to work after 4.51 p.m. 1 had earlier offered to apologise to anyone 1 had offended, if they could prove what I had written was offensive! I did this on the advice of Mr. Beaman of N.S.W. Public Service Association.
On advice from Mr. Buckley of the Civil Liberties Council Committee, today at 1 p.m. 1 rang the G.P.O., and after 10 minutes wait told Mr. Serrao that I had had Legal advice and that it was too imprecise to discuss the matters he had raised personally or ‘over the phone; and that if he wished to discuss them further, would he please write to me regarding them. He got upset and said he didn’t have time to waste writing letters. He said he would only regard the matter as being in abeyance, for the time being and sharply hung up.
He is a polished speaking (apparently, well educated) New Australian with a distinct European accent, by the sound of his voice and way he goes on, on the phone. He said his name (after several requests) is Sydney Colin Serrao
For at least twelve months now, I have been putting a similar notation on every letter I have posted - average I suppose at least 3-4 a week. I’ve written “Conscript Holt Out”; “After 17 Years Liberal/CP. Govt.- Why Conscription?”; “ Viet for Vietnamese “; “ Let Labor Bring home the Conscripts”; “No Aussie lives for Yank dollars “; “ Stop 20 years of Conscripts’ deaths now”; “Let Labor halt Holt’s Conscription of voteless youths”; “Let Viet vote”; “ 12,000 Sth. Vietnamese Army deserters each month - no Aussie lives for Viet deserters “; “ Negotiate, not Napalm “; “ 300 (as nos. grew) Aussies dead and wounded so far - no Vietnam Conscription “ and recently, “ Don’t prey on voteless Conscript youths - change the Government! “; and the one on the letter, which is supposed to be offensive.
Serrao did say I had also put, “ Let Viet Vote “ on the right hand side of the envelope he had. (On the bottom extreme right hand corner). This letter posted in June brought me a prompt receipt and no comment from the Council! I have stopped writing on the right hand side of envelopes, for about the same time the new Mkville Postmaster (Mr. Fletcher, whom Mr. Serrao said he had also seen.) called one Saturday morning to say not to put anything on the right side as the new automatic franking machines could be hindered. He said he was not objecting to what was written and nobody had sent him and it did not matter what was on the left side of the envelope or the back, providing it was not obscene or blasphemous! He said he came down because he had got on, by helping people with postal problems, but would not say where his connections lay re Vietnam; though 1 pressed him. He is a West Australian and said the letter he had brought with him from me, addressed to Halls Creek, North, Western Australia, CI- K. Morgan, Perth, should only have one address not 2. Either Halls Creek or Perth. This he said was the main reason he came, because they are 1,000 miles apart. I suggested to Serrao I’d been advised I was not breaking the law and Serrao only threatened me again!
In the 12 months I’ve never had any letters returned or any abusive replies or anything else, until this! 1 felt this was a cheap way of gaining helpful publicity, for it was reading statements from the Vietnam Action Committee, especially Labor statements and Morris West’s “ Bombs cannot wipe out Communism”, that I became 100% against the Vietnam war and Vietnam Conscription. Finally, 1 realized the only organization that could do anything effective against this evil was the A.L.P. This is why 1 decided to join the A.L.P.
I have made no admissions of committing any alleged “ crime “ to date.
Please assist me a!) you can, and use this if you can to help the Labor cause to the utmost. For our freedom is threatened in Australia not in Vietnam.
With sincere thanks . . .
The letter was signed by Mr. Wallace Shelley.
Mr. Shelley further said ;
I was most upset when I said if anything I did helped save one person’s life - Aussie or Vietnamese - it would be worthwhile all these slogans, and all Mr. Serrao did was to mock this by saying I’m only writing fairy tales and that he was not interested in saving lives of Aussies or Viets
Mr. Shelley is a very disturbed man. He contacted me by telephone. I would like to know whether the Government has sent Commonwealth police to interview Mr. Shelley because of his writing uncomplimentary remarks about the Prime Minister. Anybody who cares to wander around Sydney will see on almost every hoarding similar remarks about the former Prime Minister, about Arthur Calwell and about all kinds of other people.
This matter has been brought to the attention of an honorable senator in another place. Mr. Shelley is afraid that because of his action he will be dismissed from his employment, where he is seeking permanency, I know him personally. He resides in my electorate. He and his family have lived there for some years. I have no reason to doubt that he is a reputable citizen. With out making any allegations in the matter at this stage, I ask the Attorney-General to have investigations made. If action has been taken because this man placed on a notice some slogan uncomplimentary of Government policy, he is pretty right when he says that freedom in Australia is threatened.
– I regret that I was not in the chamber when the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) commenced his remarks.. I heard the latter part of his speech and particularly his request that I investigate the matter that he has raised. I certainly will do so. I will read his speech and ascertain the facts of the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 11.16 p.m.
The following answers to questions uponnotice were circulated -
Brigalow Lands. (Question No. 1736.)
Or. Patterson asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
Did the Commonwealth Government consult with the United Graziers’ Association of Queensland before making its decision to invest funds in Area III of the Brigalow?
Has his attention been drawn to the statement made last week by the President of the Central Coastal Graziers’ Association that the development of Area III is being rushed by the Government and should bc undertaken by existing experienced cattlemen in the area and not by the Government?
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What further countries have, since his answer to me on 9lh November 1965 (“ Hansard “, page 2,496), ratified (a) the 1948 International Convention for the Protection of Literary, Scientific and Artistic Works, (b) the 1952 Universal Copyright Convention and the three protocols annexed to it and (c) the 1961 International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
What would be the estimated annual cost of each proposal in the Returned Services League Pension Plan for 1966?
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following information -
The annual cost of the R.S.L. Pensions Plan for 1966, based on pensions in force, etc., at 31st March 1966 is as follows -
The R.S.L. Pension Plan also requested free medical benefits for veterans of the Boer War and the 1914-18 War. Whilst precise forecasting in this area is particularly difficult, on the best available information, the cost of the proposal, including both initial capital and annual recurring expenditure, could range up to about $10 million.
b asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
b asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Quarter ended 30th June 1965-3,089. Quarter ended 30th September 1965-2,184. Quarter ended 31st December 1965-3,984. Quarter ended 31st March 1966-4,071. 2 and 3. Assisted migrants requiring temporary accommodation in Commonwealth hostels have been arriving in Western Australia at the rate of about one hundred a month. This has placed some strain on existing hostel accommodation. Extensions to the Commonwealth hostel at Graylands are now in progress. These will increase the capacity of the hostel by approximately 265 persons.
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 and 2. The national group was reconstituted in 1960 when Sir Owen Dixon (the then Chief Justice), Sir John Latham, Sir Kenneth Bailey (the then Solicitor-General) and Professor K. O. Shatwell (Dean of the Faculty of Law in the University of Sydney) were each appointed for six year terms. In 1964 Sir Garfield Barwick was appointed in the place of the late Sir John Latham.
rns asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
d asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
could be reduced for telegraphic purposes without losing the detail necessary for proper identification to-
Although a complete Army address is usually longer than a civilian equivalent, it may be seen that the length of an address can be considerably reduced
Unnecessary Corps designations or wrongly composed unit abbreviations can also add to the cost, e.g.- 5 R.A.R. . . . . . . 6 words 5 RAR .. .. ..4 words 5 RAR . . . . 2 words
A concession telegram service operates to and from members serving in Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. Under this system a telegram can be sent at the ordinary Australian rate of 30c for 12 words. These messages are limited to three phrases selected from standard texts available at post offices. An example of a message that could be sent is - 138957 Brown 5RAR AustFP03 Viet Nam 303, 60. 38
Joan which translated means -
Parcel was just what I wanted(.) Happy anniversary(.) Loving greetings from all of us(.) Joan
Under the circumstances it is considered that the best solution is to educate the soldiers in the correct use of addresses, and through them the public. The methods employed are periodic publication of the information in unit orders, which should reach most soldiers, articles in the soldiers’ newspaper “ Army “, and also periodic press statements aimed at directly informing the public.
m asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Public reference has been made to the following subjects in addition to those referred to in my answer of 20th October 1965 (“ Hansard “, page 2048) evidence, marketable securities, convention on narcotics, Statute of Distributions, testator’s family maintenance, fugitive offenders, form of declarations and prosecution of people
making false declarations concerning transit of animals and plants from one State to another.
m asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
When will the Bankruptcy Act 1966 be proclaimed?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The drafting of the Rules is in hand but it is not yet possible to forecast with any degree of accuracy when the Rules will be completed and made. It is not possible to announce a date for the commencement of the Act until the Rules are available to the public.
Social Services. (question No. 1874.)
son asked the Minister for for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
son asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
What is the average fee charged by doctors in each State in respect of (a) surgery consultations and (b) home visits?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows - information concerning the average fee charged by doctors is not available. The most common fees charged by general practitioners in each State arc -
Higher fees are usually charged for “ out-of-hours “ consultations and visits.
son asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
I have no detailed information regarding availability in the various States of either beds for acute geriatric cases in public hospitals or day centres or outpatient centres attached to public hospitals to meet the needs of aged persons. The provision of hospital accommodation and services is a State responsibility; the Commonwealth’s responsibilities in this regard are limited to repatriation hospitals and hospitals in Commonwealth Territories.
b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What effects will the increase in the price of copper have on the cost of producing coins?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
As the Melbourne and Perth Mints are mainly using melted-down pence and halfpence for their production of bronze decimal coins, the increase in the price of copper will have little effect on costs of production at those mints.
The alloy use’d for pence and halfpence is not suitable for use in the cupro nickel (75 per cent, copper) and silver (20 per cent, copper) coins now being produced at’ the Canberra Mint, and that mint will have a requirement for approximately 1,000-1,100 tons of copper over the next twelve months. If the Canberra Mint should continue to produce cupro nickel and silver coins over that period, the additional cost to the mint would be determined by the difference between the former price of $870 per ton and whatever price may be quoted from time to time in the future, as applied to this quantity of copper.
b asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
I have read the editorial in the Albany “ Advertiser” of 24th June 1966. It does not call for any action by me.
son asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The most recent facts available to my Department indicate that fluoridation units are in operation in -
They have also been approved for: Cobar, Gilgandra, Leeton, Manilla, Nowra, Wellington, Wyong.
Fluoridation units are not in operation in centres not listed.
son asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Is he able to state the average cost per prescription over each of the last five years under the health schemes of (a) Australia, (b) New Zealand and (c) the United Kingdom?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The average cost per prescription over each of the last five years under the health schemes of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom is as follows -
Any conclusions which might appear to emerge from the above figures must be qualified by the fact that the range of drugs included in the schemes varies between the countries, as do quantities that may be prescribed on each prescription.
son asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
son asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 August 1966, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19660825_reps_25_hor52/>.