25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Dr. J. F. CAIRNS presented a petition from certain residents of Australia praying that the House take any necessary action to prevent the Government from proceeding with its plan to conscript aliens for service outside Australia.
Petition received and read.
Similar petitions were presented by Mr. Mclvor, Mr. Birrell and Mr. Devine.
Petitions severally received.
Mr. DALY presented a petition from certain Greek migrants living in the Commonwealth opposing any proposition to conscript migrant youth for the armed Services and the Commonwealth Government’s decision to conscript youth for service beyond the Commonwealth and its Territories, particularly Vietnam, and praying that the Commonwealth Government reverse its present policy.
Petition received and read.
Mr. HAYDEN 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.
A similar petition was presented by Mr. Daly.
– In asking a question of the Minister for Labour and National Service, I direct the honorable gentleman’s attention to what I consider an important blind spot in the National Service Act of November 1964. Is it a fact that there is no provision for the discharge of a national serviceman on the grounds of hardship at home or on compassionate grounds, after his service begins, even though he may be required urgently at home, on the farm or in a business following his father’s death or serious illness, or the death or illness of a guardian? Is there any likelihood of this serious blind spot in the National Service Act being quickly rectified?
– What the honorable member says is true in substance. The way the position is being met is that a serviceman so placed applies for leave. If he applies for leave for an extended period his application is referred to the Department of Labour and National Service, and if the circumstances are akin to exceptional hardship arrangements are made for him to be granted leave for up to 12 months. At the end of 12 months the position is reviewed according to the circumstances then prevailing.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Although the Government has no control over the form of programmes of, or over the personnel connected with, national television stations, is it correct that the Opposition does have some control? Is it true that the Leader of the Opposition sought and obtained a curious agreement with the Australian Broadcasting Commission that his permission must be obtained before a Labour member can appear on any national programme?
– I answered a question, on notice I think, some 12 months ago in relation to the appearance on television programmes of members of the Australian Labour Party. At that time an indication had been given by the Leader of the Opposition that no member of the A.L.P. was to appear on Australian Broadcasting Commission television programmes without his approval first being obtained.
– I do not believe that.
– I preface my question to the Acting Prime Minister by saying that the world free price of sugar is now at its lowest in real terms for more than 50 years and is the price that applies to more than 70 per cent, of sugar exports or more than 50 per cent, of Australian production. As the Government has known of the critical financial condition of cane growers over many months and as it gave its full blessing to an expansion in the sugar growing industry - an action which is now causing financial ruin to many farmers - why did it not make provision in the Budget for a financial grant to be made to the sugar industry to raise average returns and salaries to at least the figure of last year’s low returns? In view of this serious omission, will the Government face up to its responsibilities with respect to the economic lives of these worried people in the sugar industry by making a categorical statement of intention-
– Order! I think the honorable member is now drifting into a speech. I suggest that he direct his question without comment.
– Will the Government make a categorical statement of intention and say before the next general election whether it will or will .not help this important Australian industry?
– The Government’s record in respect of the sugar industry is clearly known. The Government has negotiated trade agreements which have opened for Australia sugar markets of dimensions and at prices never previously known. The present price for sugar sold to the United Kingdom and to the United States is higher than ever before. The quantity sold under contract is much higher than ever before. As an outcome of the Japanese Trade Agreement, Japan, which previously bought scarcely any sugar from Australia, became our biggest buyer in quantitative terms. The Government has been represented at Commonwealth conferences and international conferences 10 or 11 times, I would think, in the last couple of years, endeavouring to secure an international sugar agreement. If these things are not known to the honorable member for Dawson I assure him that they are very well known to the Australian sugar industry. The Government’s policy is to try to get stability for this great and important industry but what represents stability for the industry is best discovered by consulting the industry itself and not by a private member of Parliament proposing to speak for the industry. The Government at the present time is in close consultation with the industry and with the Queensland Government on this matter.
– Is the Minister for National Development aware of reports expressing alarm that upon completion of the Chowilla Dam increasing salinity will occur upstream in the River Murray? Will the construction of the dam decrease the river flow at upstream points? If not, does the Minister anticipate any build up of salinity in those areas upstream?
– The problem of salinity in the River Murray has exercised the River Murray Commission quite considerably, because at certain times of the year there are areas which experience a quite considerable build up of salinity. We have appointed a committee to obtain all the information it can and reasonably soon we will be looking closely at the problem. The honorable member referred to the build up of salinity as the result of construction of the Chowilla Dam. I point out that the height of water in the Chowilla Dam when it is full will not be above the weir at Wentworth and therefore will not affect anything above the Wentworth Weir. I understand that the Irrigation Branch of South Australia has looked at this problem and believes that, if anything, the position with salinity in South Australia will be better rather than worse when the dam is completed. This is because there will be a greater flow of water in South Australia when the dam is built.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is he aware that the Prince Henry Hospital Trained Nurses’ Association in the electorate of Kingsford-Smith is conducting an appeal on behalf of the Nurses’ War Memorial Chapel Building Fund? Is he aware that this will be a national shrine, erected to the memory of all Australian nurses who laid down their lives during war service with our servicemen? Will the right honorable gentleman give earnest consideration to making a substantial cash grant towards the cost of this shrine?
– I think all honorable members will warmly applaud the actions of the nurses at the hospital and 1 think they ought to be grateful to the honorable member for bringing this matter to our notice. I had not been informed of it previously. If the honorable gentleman cares to write a letter lo me or obtain a letter from the nurses directed to me asking for some consideration to be given to the request, 1 will make certain it is looked at promptly.
– I direct to the Acting Prime Minister a question relating to education. Will he bring to the notice of the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research the fact that there is no chair of hydrology at any Australian university? In view of the importance to Australia, of this study, which brings together the disciplines of civil engineering, agriculture and meteorology, will he ask his colleague to do what he oan to rectify the position?
– I will undertake to convey what is implicit in the honorable gentleman’s question to Senator Gorton, who acts in this regard. I will also convey to him the very keen interest of the honorable member for Gwydir in this matter.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. Is it true that his Department has an agreement with the Coal Mine Workers Superannuation Tribunal which denies natural justice to some people of pensionable age in that some mine workers are compelled to remain on a superannuation income instead of the age pension and are thus denied the concessions that other pensioners enjoy? Will the Minister review the terms of the agreement and consider amending it to allow mine pensioners to elect whether they will receive mine superannuation or the age pension? Alternatively, will the Minister inform me of the section of the Social Services Act or the regulation that allows his Department to conclude with other authorities an agreement that denies persons of pensionable age their entitlement under the Social Services Act? Will the Minister examine the legal implications of the action his Department is taking?
– The Department of Social Services in no way denies natural justice to any member of the Australian community. The arrangements that were originally made with the members of certain trade unions and friendly societies were in fact entered into during the term of the previous Government. The result of these arrangements was to give to the members of certain trade union superannuation funds and to members of friendly societies an advantage considerably greater in some respects than that available to others in the community. However, I shall look into the substance of the honorable member’s question and give him a written reply in due course.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Prime Minister. In view of certain unfounded criticism and untrue allegations made recently by the Soviet delegate to the United Nations Trusteeship Council concerning Australia’s administration of the Trust Territory of New Guinea, will the right honorable gentleman state whether the Soviet Union has taken steps to have Sakhalin and the Kurile Islands placed under United Nations trusteeship?
– I think that everyone who is not a propagandist acknowledges that Australia’s reputation in respect of her care of and responsibilities for the Australian Trust Territories is impeccable and compares very favorably with that of any other country in respect of any other trust territory. As I understand the situation, part of the Island of Sakhalin and some other areas are scarcely to be regarded as having been colonies. These territories belonged to Russia. This was acknowledged. Sakhalin was ceded by Russia to Japan after the Russo-Japanese war of 1905. On undertakings given at the Cairo Conference of 1943 and decisions taken at the Yalta Conference in 1945, Sakhalin and Kurile were to be handed over to Russia at the end of the last war. This was done. In my own judgment, there is no exact basis of comparison according to which they may be regarded as former colonies.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. Because of the interjection made by the Leader of the Opposition when the Minister was answering the question asked earlier by the honorable member for Balaclava, will the Minister say whether he considers that his reply was factual?
– I assure the honorable member that in this matter I told the truth. Perhaps I should go a little further. When the original question was directed to me upon notice, adopting the usual custom of Ministers, I sought advice from my Department. That advice indicated that the Leader of the Opposition had required Labour members to have his approval before taking part in the programmes in question. Having a doubt about this, I took the trouble to ring the honorable gentleman and to ask whether it was true. He denied it. I then discussed the matter again with the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. He subsequently had a discussion with the Leader of the Opposition, who intimated to the Chairman that the conversation in question had taken place previously and that this had been his attitude. Subsequently, not having received any word from the Leader of the Opposition I again rang him and he confirmed the discussion that he had had with Dr. Darling.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Air. I remind him that last week he said that he had been advised in June of modifications to the FI IIA bomber and of the extra cost involved. I ask: Why did he not give this information to the House during the week before when the honorable member for Capricornia asked him a question relating to the performance and cost of the FI IIA bomber? Why did he withhold the information from the House at that time? Why did the House have to wait for someone to discover and quote facts about the extra costs from the report of the Auditor-General before the Minister confirmed such information? Finally, will he give an undertaking that in future any change in circumstances relating to the purchase of these bombers will be made known to the Parliament and the people at the earliest possible time?
– I answered the question asked by the honorable member for Bendigo by way of interjection last week when he raised the matter. I said then that the major points that the honorable member for Capricornia had asked me related to the performance of the aircraft. Those were the questions that I answered at the time. He had not raised these other matters. I have explained these other matters to the honorable member for Bendigo and I have nothing further to add.
– I address a question to the Minister for Defence. Has his Department made any assessment of the claim frequently made by Labour Party spokesmen that Communist China has no aggressive ambition? In view of the fact that Communist China has a standing army of 2.7 million men and calls up 700,000 men each year for three years military training, can the honorable gentleman say whether this form of activity is being directed to any particular peace keeping project? If so, where is it?
– I think the information given in the form of a question by the honorable gentleman rather constitutes the answer. However, anybody who reads the works of Mao Tse-tung or the more recent essays of Lin Piao will have no doubt at all about the world wide aggressive aims of the Chinese Government.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service who represents the Minister for Housing. Did the Minister visit my constituency early in 1964 at the invitation of the Council of the City of Greater Wollongong to confer with the Council on its special housing problems as a major centre of heavy industry, population growth and migrant inflow? Did he undertake to give special consideration and assistance in such problems? Was his visit followed by the lowest rates of building construction in my constituency for the past 16 years? Will he ask the Minister for Housing to inform herself of the contents of the recently delivered report to the said City Council by its chief health inspector on the building lag so that she may have the oportunity to surpass his performance?
– If the honorable member wil supply me with a copy of this report I shall be delighted to convey it to my lady colleague in another place.
-In addressing my question to the Minister for the Navy I refer to the 1,000 lb. charge of T.N.T. which was lost off shore from Gippsland during seismic operations. The Minister will know of the worry that this matter is causing the trawler fishermen in the area. Can he say what developments are likely which will bring about recovery of this lethal object?
– I think the fishermen in this district can be eternally grateful to the honorable member for his persistent approaches about this matter. As he knows, the initial efforts to locate this charge failed and, due to rough weather, the search had to be abandoned. In consultation with the local fishermen the Navy will now send a team of clearance divers to that area when the fishermen say the weather will be suitable to enable the search to continue. I believe that will be at the end of October or early in November. The Navy divers will use a chartered fishing boat to see whether they can do what the honorable member seeks.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question. Is he aware that a conference is to be held in Melbourne today between BP Australia Ltd.Esso Standard Oil (Aust.) on the one hand and the Gas and Fuel Corporation of Victoria on the other hand, in an endeavour to determine the price per therm which will be paid by the Gas and Fuel Corporation for Gippsland natural gas? fs the Minister aware that the prices that have been suggested range between lc and 5c per therm? ls he also aware that a lc per therm difference means a difference of £750,000 to £1,000,000 per annum in the total return? In view of the undoubted Commonwealth financial and constitutional interest in this question, I ask the Minister whether the price arrived at will in the ultimate be subject to confirmation by the Commonwealth Government.
– I am aware that this conference is being held today. It is a conference between some producers in Victoria and a State instrumentality. I am perfectly certain that the State instrumentality will bear in mind the need to establish a reasonable price for the people of Melbourne and Victoria who use this gas. The Commonwealth Government has no constitutional power in this matter.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Prime Minister. I refer to the fact that Lin Piao has emerged as the heir apparent of the ageing Mao Tsetung in the government of mainland China, and to the further fact that a year ago - to be precise, o,n 3rd September 1965 - he set out his views about China’s foreign policy in a famous article in the “People’s Daily “ under the title “ On People’s War “, in which he advocated the encouragement of guerrilla wars in what he called the countryside of the world - namely, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Since this document now ranks with Hitler’s “ Mein Kampf” as a key statement of policy of great concern to this country, will the right honorable gentleman confer with his colleague in another place, the Acting Minister for External Affairs, with a view to circulating to all honorable members an authentic translation?
– I do not know what authentic information officially exists in this regard, but I will bring the proposal to the notice of my colleague in another place, the Acting Minister for External Affairs.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister a question supplementary’ to that asked by the honorable member for Bradfield. Does he know that the Chinese gentleman referred to by the honorable member for Bradfield has said that there is a plot in existence, involving both the United States of America and Russia, to invade China and destroy the Communist regime in China because Russia now belongs to the West? If so, will he take as much notice of that statement as he has proposed to take of the statement referred to by the honorable member for Bradfield? If he does, will he publish both statements in order to expose the propaganda efforts of all sorts of people around the world, including those made today by the honorable member for Bradfield?
– I think it is apropos in replying to this question to say that what I said to the honorable member for Bradfield was that I did not know what authentic knowledge existed in this regard, and that I would have inquiries made.
– But neither does he. It is just a bit of propaganda.
– That is between the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member. What 1 do know is that there is no end to the propaganda - and the lying propaganda - of Chinese Communists.
– And others besides Communists, too - a Jot of them in Australia, and a couple of them in another place.
– I do not want to get into any of the honorable gentleman’s internal quarrels. I just make the point that this is obviously lying propaganda and I will have no part in giving further publicity to it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Interior. When can it be expected that a definite decision will be made by the Government regarding the preservation of the Sydney Customs House as a national maritime museum? The Minister will remember that the late honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) presented to this House a petition containing 7,500 signatures, including those of many prominent citizens, asking that this be done. Is the Minister also aware that many organisations are holding a number of relics, photographs and other items of a maritime nature which could be housed in such a museum?
– It does appear likely that the Customs House in Sydney will become inadequate in the near future for the Department of Customs and Excise. However, no firm consideration has been given to a new structure or to the future of the existing building should it become surplus to Commonwealth requirements. I have had many representations about what would happen to the building if it were no longer required by the Commonwealth. Most of those representations have asked that the building be preserved, and some of the suggestions are that it be kept as a national maritime museum. I should like to assure the honorable member that when discussions are held on the future of the building we will certainly take all these representations into consideration.
– Does the Acting Prime Minister know that Major-General Vickery, who is now a member of the Military Board, said that the 32,000 servicemen in the Citizen Military Forces had volunteered for service anywhere in the world and that they could have fulfilled the role of national servicemen drafted into the Army for overseas service, and that he further commented that conscription for overseas service was introduced into Australia not for a military reason but for a political reason? What ls the political reason?
– I am not aware of what the General may have said. As to why national service was introduced, it has been stated many times in the House that it was introduced because the number of volunteers coming forward was inadequate for purposes that the Government regarded as necessary. This was said many times, and the length to which the Government and the recruiting authorities had gone to recruit men was explained. I think the whole matter requires no further comment from me.
– I address a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I ask: Is the Minister aware that it is reported that the Deputy Leader of the Victorian Government has complained that Victoria is receiving only a fraction of the money allocated under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act and that the formula ls unfair, and for this reason the Victorian Government is not able to spend as much money on city roads as are the States of Western Australia and Queensland? Can this be regarded as a veiled attack on the clause in the Act which provides that 40 per cent, of a grant is for rural roads? Did the State Premiers agree to the formula on which the five vear Commonwealth aid allocations are based?
– I have not seen a report of the speech attributed to the Deputy
Leader of the Victorian Government, but no matter what was said 1 can repeat only what exists - namely, that all the State Premiers accepted the formula laid down in the agreement whereby each State is allocated a sum of money of which 40 per cent, must go to rural roads. 1 should think that a Huie elementary arithmetic would surely make it clear that 60 per cent, remains for allocation by the State Governments exactly where they please. Any decisions taken in this instance would be the responsibility of the Victorian Government.
– The Minister for Air will recall that on 17th August I asked him a question relative to the Air Force Sabre jet which crashed at Newcastle. In reply he said, among other things, that a full investigation was taking place and that a court of inquiry was being convened. Has the Minister yet received any report following the investigation or the hearing by the court of inquiry? Would the Minister convey to the Air Force officers in his Department and to members of the Legal Service Bureau the appreciation of the people concerned for the courtesy extended to them during this period of trouble?
– I thank the honorable member for this question. I have received a report in connection with this matter but it is a little longer than an answer one would normally give to a question without notice, so immediately after question time I shall ask the House for leave to make a statement. In the meantime, 1 thank the honorable member for his remarks and for his co-operation with the Department in getting some of these matters dealt with so promptly. I know that officers of my Department have been grateful for the way he has helped them.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Territories. What progress is being made by the joint AustralianIndonesian team engaged in delineating the border between Papua and New Guinea and West Irian? What is the present estimated date for completion of this task?
– Very good progress is being made in the delineation of the border between West Irian and Papua and New Guinea. It was agreed by the two parties, I think in June, that this operation would be done in two stages. Stage 1 - that is, marking the area between the northern shore and the mountain range in the centre of the Territory - is now almost complete. It is proposed to erect about seven permanent markers on this border. I think three have already been erected. Depending on weather conditions and having regard to the very difficult terrain in the upper Sepik region, the whole of this area will be marked within about three weeks. As to the southern side where another seven markers will be installed, this is a matter for further discussion upon completion of Stage 1. I do not think we can make any estimate of the overall time of completion of the task because of the difficult terrain and seasonal conditions.
For the information of the honorable member I should like to point out that cooperation between the Indonesians and ourselves has been excellent. It may also be of interest to him to know that the old Port Moresby-Hollandia telegraph line has been reopened.
– When does the Minister for Labour and National Service intend to bring down amendments to the Stevedoring Industry Act which, I understand, will reduce the qualifying service period for 13 weeks leave from 20 years to 15 years, as well as allowing time occupied in jury service to be counted for this purpose?
– As I have already announced, I hope to bring down the appropriate legislation before the House rises.
– Will the Treasurer advise the House of the current position with respect to refund payments to clear the declared surplus in the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund? Have all calculations been completed, and when will final cheques be despatched?
– I have had discussions recently with both Treasury officials and the Commonwealth Actuary in order to try to have these payments made as soon as possible. I have not been able to get a precise date, but I can assure the honorable gentleman that the Actuary and all other people associated with this matter realise that it should be finalised as a matter of great urgency.
– I address a question to the Acting Prime Minister. Does the recent production of the glossy and, presumably, expensive booklet “The Commonwealth Government in Education “ indicate that the Government is becoming politically panicky over the widespread charges that it has failed to provide realistic assistance for education? Would the publication have provided a fairer picture of the current Australian education situation if it had mentioned that the States are now trying to meet crisis conditions by placing large orders for portable classrooms, by scouring the country for casual teachers and by insisting that secondary school classes be increased in size by up to 20 per cent.? Is the Government determined to persist in its present niggardly attitude to appeals for assistance from State and private schools, despite the alarming and deteriorating conditions to which I have referred?
– The answer to both parts of the honorable member’s question is “ No “.
– I present the following paper -
Economic Inquiry - Report of the Committee (Volumes I and II).
The House will recall that when the report was presented in its initial form on 21st September 1965 it was stated that the final version would subsequently be presented so that it could be printed as a parliamentary paper. A number of copies of the report in its initial form were issued to interested persons. Copies of this final version have already been made available to honorable members. I move -
That the paper be printed.
– Will that mean the automatic printing of the document?
– It is already printed. If the Leader of the Opposition wishes to debate the matter later, he can move the adjournment of the debate.
– I move -
That the debate be adjourned.
– This is only a formal motion for the printing of the paper.
– We can debate the matter later if we want to do so. I withdraw the motion.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - Following my answer to the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) earlier this afternoon, I should like to present to the House a further report on the unfortunate accident which occurred in Newcastle on 16th August. The Royal Australian Air Force court of inquiry has not yet completed its investigation of this accident, but I am in a position to provide the House with additional details.
The Sabre aircraft concerned, flown by Pilot Officer Goddard, took off from R.A.A.F. Williamtown at 18.01 hours on Tuesday, 16th August, for an authorised night instrument flying training exercise of approximately 50 minutes duration. This flight was one of a number of similar training exercises programmed on that particular night by No. 2 Operational Conversion Unit at Williamtown. The weather briefing for the night’s flying programme gave no indication of anything untoward to cause concern.
The pilot, Pilot Officer Goddard, graduated from No. 57 Pilot’s Course in April 1966. He subsequently commenced operational conversion training at No. 2 O.C.U., Williamtown. At the time of the accident, he had completed 14 of the 16 weeks
O.C.U. course, including Vampire and Sabre aircraft conversion, and he was engaged in the Sabre tactics phase of the O.C.U. course. Pilot Officer Goddard’s performance during pilot training at the Advance Flying Training School, Pearce, was above average in all phases. He was selected for lighter flying because of his sound ability, sensible attitude towards flying and conscientious application to allotted tasks. At the Operational Conversion Unit, he had been assessed as being above the average course pilot and had achieved sound results throughout.
After a normal take off from runway 12 at Williamtown, the aircraft was observed both visually and on radar to be following a flight path to intercept the 170 degree magnetic diversion course away from Williamtown. This is in accordance with standard operating procedures at R.A.A.F. Williamtown, whereby aircraft after take off from runway 12 are diverted out to sea away from Newcastle and should pass no closer than four miles to seaward of Newcastle. Similarly, for aircraft taking off towards the opposite direction, laid-down procedures ensure that the aircraft has reached approximately 15,000 feet when passing by Newcastle on its way out to the seaward training area. In addition, there is an instruction whereby R.A.A.F. aircraft are prohibited generally from flying over the Newcastle area, except in cases of operational necessity.
Radio contact was established with the aircraft prior to and after take off, and radar contact was maintained until the aircraft entered cloud at approximately 18.03 hours. At that stage, the aircraft was under control, and flying in accordance with the approved flight plan.
It would appear that after entering cloud at an altitude of approximately 7,500 feet, flying difficulties were encountered, as the aircraft, shortly after emerging from cloud, was visually observed in the Newcastle area in a diving attitude, and at low altitude. It was whilst attempting to recover from this flying attitude that aircraft overstress and subsequent structional failure occurred, causing the aircraft to break up in the air over the Junction area at Merewether at approximately 18.04 hours. There is no evidence to suggest that aircraft fatigue or deterioration contributed in any way to this unfortunate accident. As I have previously said the official court of inquiry is still proceeding, and if this reveals any fresh evidence or information I will inform the House accordingly.
I am sure that honorable members will join with me when 1 again express deepest sympathy to the relatives of Pilot Officer Goddard, who was, as I stated previously an above average pilot and an officer of considerable promise. My sympathy is also extended to those citizens of Newcastle who were either injured or whose property suffered damage as a result of this unhappy accident. As the House knows, immediate arrangements were made for an officer of my Department and of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department to go up to Newcastle the day after the accident to talk with those involved, to assess the damage, to do everything possible to facilitate the repair of damaged property and to deal promptly with claims that are arising out of this unfortunate event. I am advised that satisfactory arrangements have been made with the various authorities concerned and that priority attention is being given to these matters. I think that was confirmed earlier by the honorable member for Newcastle.
Also, in order to reassure the citizens of Newcastle as to the adequacy of the R.A.A.F. flying procedures in the vicinity of R.A.A.F. Williamtown, I have asked my Department to review existing procedures to ensure that they provide the maximum flying safety arrangements in regard to the City of Newcastle. I should also add that this will have to be done in conjunction with my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz), because both of us are responsible for the flights of aircraft over that area. I present the following paper -
Royal Australian Air Force - Sabre aircraft accident at Newcastle - Ministerial Statement- and move -
That the House take note of the paper.
.- Whilst I thank the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) for his report may I say that the citizens of Newcastle are greatly concerned that aircraft from Williamtown fly consistently over the city. Only last Thursday the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) asked a question about this matter. He has advised me that an aircraft recently flew a course almost identical with that of the unfortunate aircraft with which the report deals.
– At 3,000 feet.
– As the honorable member says, at 3,000 feet. I have noted on numerous occasions that aircraft from Williamtown have flown across the city. I have made reference at different times to the need to remove the Williamtown training base from the immediate vicinity of Newcastle. I reaffirm this view. When the Williamtown base was located where it is at present, aircraft had an operational speed of about 200 to 250 miles an hour, and therefore it was necessary, for the defence of Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, that an air base be located reasonably close to those cities. Today we have aircraft which travel at 1,200 miles an hour. The Government has said what an excellent aircraft the Mirage fighter is. I believe that the time is now due to examine the question of having a fighter base, not adjacent to a city but some distance away from it, though at the same time still where it can do the job for which it is designed - the interception of enemy aircraft, should that be necessary. We hope and pray that it will not.
I ask the Minister to give serious consideration to the removal of the Williamtown training base, bearing in mind that accidents do happen. There was this unfortunate accident. An aircraft also crashed on, I think, the 11th or 12th November 1963, when only a miracle saved an old lady, Mrs. Tillitski. She poured herself a cup of tea, but instead of remaining in the rear of her house to drink the cup of tea she walked to the front. Just after she moved to the front an aircraft crashed into the rear of the house. That indicates a miracle on that occasion, as on this last one. Similar accidents have occurred in which - without going into details - young pilots have crashed their aircraft in the course of their training. It is unfortunate that they crashed, but at the same time it is fortunate that they crashed in scrub land adjacent to the airfield. We> have been lucky up to date, but I think we need to look at this matter. We should bear in mind that in connection with this last accident there have been about 300 claims for damages. I have observed with appreciation the work of the Royal Australian Air Force officers in the Newcastle district in helping the people affected to make their claims and overcome the building ordinances. I think I should also mention the legal services provided by Mr. Mulrooney and others who have been working with him. Harry Wilson, the chief building inspector of the Newcastle City Council also deserves mention. They all tore the ordinance book up and got on with the job of restoration. The honorable member for Shortland told me, before I rose to speak, of one house in Glebe Road which was almost completely demolished. Today even the paint is back on it. Those responsible have restored most of it and have done an excellent job in unravelling some awkward problems.
So I hope that the Minister will give serious consideration to removing the airfield from the immediate vicinity of the city of Newcastle. I know that he cannot pick the airfield up, but the Government can remove the fighter training base from Newcastle so that the lives of the people in this large city of some quarter of a million population will not be jeopardised by the accidents that unfortunately do occur.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas, and to the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey) on the ground of public business overseas.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) and to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas.
Motion (by Mr. Calwell) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark), the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) and the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) agreed tc -
That Government Business shall take precedence over general business tomorrow.
Rebuilding of H.M.A.S. “Nirimba” at Quakers Hill, New South Wales.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1965, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - First stage of progressive rebuilding in permanent construction of H.M.A.S. “Nirimba”, at Quakers Hill, New South Wales.
The proposal consists of the provision of four three-story barrack blocks in brick construction to accommodate 480 apprentices, which is estimated to cost £1,020,000, and the provision of a steel-framed brick construction marine engineering demonstration building at an estimated cost of $480,000. The total estimated cost is $1,500,000.
I table the plans of the proposed works.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Buildings for the Chemical Engineering Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Clayton, Victoria.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1965, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - Erection of a new main laboratory and ancillary buildings for the Chemical Engineering Division of the C.S.I.R.O. at Clayton, Victoria.
The proposal involves the construction of a two story main laboratory and four single story brick buildings to accommodate a light technical laboratory, heavy technical laboratory, process bay and workshop and stores. The estimated cost is $1,400,000.
I table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1966-67. Second Reading. (Budget Debate.)
Debate resumed from 30th August (vide page 570), 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 of inserting the following words in place thereof - “ the House condemns the Budget because -
It 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 crisis in education.
It does not acknowledge the lack of con fidence 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.”
.- It was my desire during the course of this Budget debate to turn my mind to some of the great national subjects which concern us, certainly to consider the question of Vietnam and also Commonwealth and State financial relations. However, during the recess members of Parliament have been subject to an unusual and inordinate amount of pressure through advertising, and therefore I want to turn to the subject of margarine and direct attention to the advertising that has been placed before members of Parliament and the community in general. I desire to analyse this advertising and question its validity. It has been estimated by a national advertising group which has measured this advertising that Marrickville Holdings Limited has spent some $750,000 to date on this pressure campaign. I think that all honorable members will agree that this is an incredible sum of money to be spent by one company to try to obtain its will. The first point that comes to mind is whether the
Commissioner of Taxation will permit expenditure on this advertising to be claimed as a tax deduction. I would ask in the first instance that the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) look at the form of this advertising to see whether it is a genuine promotion of goods as permitted under the taxation legislation or a form of pressure. If it is the latter it is not an allowable tax deduction. If this expenditure is not an allowable tax deduction but is by some chance accepted by the Commissioner of Taxation as a reasonable expenditure on advertising, it means that the people of Australia are subsidising this campaign.
I intend to refer to the advertising to see whether it is based on factual statements or on half truths and misrepresentation. It is my belief that it is based on half truths and misrepresentation and I hope to give chapter and verse to prove my contention. First, we were subjected to advertising which referred to a Government imposed shortage, because of quotas - denied by a survey proving availability of margarine in all shops - and then to a new dynamic industry - the Australian edible oil seeds industry, a vegetable seeds industry. The advertisement claimed that one group of primary producers - the dairying industry - is being protected at the expense of another group. It was further claimed that the quotas on margarine production are holding back the development of the edible oil seeds industry.
Let us look at this claim. The total production of Australian edible oil is 2.1 million gallons in a market of 9.75 million gallons. So it is obvious that the potential of the oil seeds industry is not hindered at all by quotas on margarine because the Australian oil seeds industry can increase its volume of production by 4i times before it even looks like reaching the quota used in the production of margarine.
Now let us look at the potential of the various oils used in this so called dynamic industry. Peanut oil is the first to be noted. Peanut oil conies from the culls of peanuts and the amount of oil produced varies from year to year. It is expected that this year about 325,000 gallons of peanut oil will be produced. But for a new and dynamic industry this quantity is not to be compared with production in 1962 and 1963 when respectively 550,000 gallons and 510,000 gallons were produced. Obviously the charge cannot be laid that the peanut industry is being held back by quotas on margarine. It is equally obvious and accepted that the peanut industry cannot make any great impact in the production of oil.
Let us turn now to cotton, because cotton seed oil is one of the oils used on a wide basis in the production of margarine. This year 1.2 million gallons of oil was derived from 28,000 acres of cotton planted. A statement published by the Namoi cotton growers claims that 100,000 acres of cotton will produce Australia’s requirements of raw or lint cotton. But 100,000 acres also will produce 4 million gallons of oil, which is still less than half of Australia’s requirements of oil within the context of the present quotas on margarine. Expansion of the cotton industry after the Australian requirement of oil is filled is governed somewhat by the world price for lint cotton, which is 50 per cent, below the present price being received by growers. The world price is 27c and the Australian price, including the bounty, is about 40c. It may be that the cotton industry is able to expand to the stage when it can export. Taking this into account, there is still room to expand the industry by 600 per cent, before the Australian oil seeds industry is affected within the conteXt of the quotas on margarine.
Let us turn now to the oil that is referred to so much by Marrickville Holdings. This is safflower oil. First, it is recognised that there are tremendous agricultural problems associated with this crop. Mr. A. G. Lloyd, Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Economics at Melbourne University, has said that safflower is a possible alternative to broad acre wheat growing. It is also suggested that safflower may be an alternative for the dairying industry in some of the trouble spots in Australia. But Mr. Lloyd seems to me to be in some disagreement with Professor McMillan, a former Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at Sydney University, who has said that at this stage safflower can be recognised only as a very experimental crop because it cannot withstand frost or drought. Nor can it stand irrigation, because it suffers from root rot. It is obvious that there are tremendous agricultural problems associated with the production of safflower oil. But this is not the end to the problems associated with the production of safflower oil. Safflower oil is still far too costly and too uncertain an oil to use on a broad basis for margarine production. In fact, safflower oil is used only to a minor extent today in the production of margarine in Australia. Marrickville Holdings, which has been promoting the campaign, uses many other oils in addition to safflower oil. Safflower oil plays only a minor part in that organisation’s production of margarine. Some margarine manufacturers prefer to use whale oil. Others prefer to use rape seed oil and many other varieties of oil.
Marrickville Holdings has advanced the argument that it would be able to use more safflower oil if it were not for the imposition of quotas on the production of margarine. This argument falls to the ground because Marrickville Holdings, which has not been living within its quota since 1954, has had the advantage of endeavouring to use safflower oil on whatever basis it would like without being hindered by margarine quotas. Added to this is the fact that in the United Kingdom and the United States, where endeavours have been made for a number of years to use safflower oil, it has been found that it is not an economic proposition. Manufacturers in those countries have swung away from safflower to other forms of oil.
To highlight its publicity campaign, we have received from Marrickville Holdings statements that the organisation has let contracts to grow 150,000 acres of safflower. It is claimed that this acreage will produce 3.3 million gallons or 10,000 tons of oil under the best conditions. I stress that this production is under the best conditions, because last year when only half that acreage was planted, production amounted to only 510,000 gallons of oil.
The statistics I have quoted give some idea of the conditions surrounding this very unreliable crop. I have had some experience with contracts and my advice to growers is to look very carefully at the small print on the contract and to make sure that the contract is watertight because I am informed reliably that, with or without quotas, Marrickville Holdings would be unable to use the amount of oil produced on 150.000 acres. This is because of technical difficulties to which I have referred, including the fact that the oil quickly becomes rancid and there is not a big enough demand for margarine made purely from safflower oil. I see this as a form of pressure exerted on the Government. I submit that it is sheer fabrication for Marrickville Holdings to claim that one primary producing section is being protected at the expense of another. In fact, it is true to say that the Australian oil seeds industry has received the encouragement of this Government, which considers that it is a worthwhile industry.
Let us look at some of the encouragement that has been given to an industry which, despite this encouragement, has been able to produce only 2.1 million gallons in a market of 9.5 million gallons. First, let us take peanut oil. The Australian price is 28s. a gallon and the imported price of oil is 13s. a gallon. Under the stabilisation arrangement, people who use three gallons of imported oil must use one gallon of Australian oil. This gives an average price of 17s. a gallon or a tariff protection of 70 per cent. Let us look at the yield that comes from peanuts. Over a period of six years the yield has averaged 7 gallons of oil or 70 lb. of fat per acre. Let us now look at cotton, which receives a cash bounty. I do not quibble with this, because T believe the cotton industry has been worth encouraging in Australia. It received a cash bounty equivalent to 40 per cent, on last year’s production.
– It is a reducing bounty.
– Yes. The honorable member for Gwydir makes a sensible comment. It is a reducing bounty, but at this point in the argument that is being promoted the relevant fact is that cotton received a bounty of 40 per cent, on last year’s production. The yield from cotton in oil represents 400 lb. of fat per acre. This is certainly a good crop and worthy of encouragement. But let us look at safflower. Over the previous six years, safflower produced an average of 22 gallons or 220 lb. of fat an acre. It also received the benefit of a 33 per cent, tariff protection. But the yield represents only $37 per acre.
The dairy industry has been under challenge. Again I quote Mr. Lloyd, because he and I had quite a difference of opinion on a television programme about this matter. Mr. Lloyd has said that the best dairying areas in Victoria can produce only 60 lb. of butter fat an acre. He has now Changed the figure to 70 lb. I challenge him to show me how he arrived at this figure. I believe he has taken the figures of the Commonwealth Statistician and has called all farmers who say they milk a cow dairy farmers. He has then divided the total production of butter by the total acreage used and has come out with a result of 60 lb. Let me illustrate my point by mentioning my brother-in-law at Narromine. He has a large grazing property but milks one house cow. He puts in a return that he has one or two cows and Mr. Lloyd includes him as a dairy farmer. There is no other way in which he could have arrived at his conclusion. In fact, the dairy farmers in Victoria get up to 300 lb. of butter fat an acre. The dairy industry receives a cash bounty of 14 per cent.
J will give the figures again so that they will not be lost in all the argument. The dairy industry receives a bounty of 14 per cent.; the cotton industry receives a bounty of 40 per cent, on a reducing scale; the safflower industry has a tariff protection of 33 per cent.; and the peanut oil industry has protection of 70 per cent. I do not think that anyone would claim on those figures that the dairy industry is being over protected vis a vis the other primary industries. I would suggest, therefore, that the arguments produced by Marrickville Holdings in this case again fall to the ground. 1 suggest that the potential growers of safflower direct their attention to the remarks of Mr. Watt, Director General of Agriculture in New South Wales. In the “Financial Review” of 23rd June, he said that safflower needs to increase its production per acre four times to be economical and should bc regarded as an experimental crop. 1 nail the arguments advanced by Marrickville Holdings to the mast. In this argument, when 1 speak in the collective sense I refer to members of the Commonwealth Parliament, members of the State Parliaments and people who, according to Marrickville Holdings, have influence. I nail these arguments to the mast because they are an absolute misrepresentation of the true position of the oil seeds industry and the dairy industry. 1 suggest to the House that this is a very expensive attempt to create a division not only amongst members of the Parliament, through the sheer pressure of the campaign, but also between the dairy industry and the oil seed growers. The directors of Marrickville Holdings fail to recognise that people who make decisions in matters such as this study the allegations and information that come before them and do not make a judgment based on the pressure or weight of an advertising campaign. They look at the validity of the arguments advanced and then make their judgments. I think when I highlight these differences the House will agree with me that Marrickville Holdings does nothing to assist the oil seeds industry when it uses this form of pressure.
We were next told that Marrickville Holdings was getting in behind the formation of an Australian edible oil seeds group. Mr. Lloyd, my opponent, wrote an article in a newspaper. 1 am sorry to keep referring to him, but I need to do so to develop the argument. He said in his article -
We may see, soon, some signs of schizophrenia developing in the Country Party.
He related this to the formation of the Australian edible oil seeds group. I informed Mr. Lloyd very quickly that I had no knowledge of the formation of this group and, as far as I knew, the formation of the group had made no impression whatever on other members of the Australian Country Party. I also informed him that it was childish nonsense, if I may use the exact expression I used to him, to say that the Australian Country Party would develop schizophrenia, because the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who is, in fact, a member of the Australian Country Party, had introduced legislation into the House that was designed to assist the cotton seeds industry.
But let us look at the formation of this Australian edible oil seeds group. First we had Marrickville Holdings, which was behind the growers. It invited the Peanut Marketing Board of Queensland, Allied Mills Ltd., which is another manufacturer of margarine, Unilever Australia Pty. Ltd., another manufacturer, Nuttelex Food Products Pty. Ltd. and Meggitt Ltd., which has been well known in the oil seed industry for more than 20 years as a most responsible company, to join it in the formation of this group. But it was no sooner formed than it started to disintegrate. It has been said in public statements by several of the companies that they recognised that Marrickville Holdings was intending to use the formation of the group for its own devious ends, to obtain some sympathy, and would use the group as a weapon to obtain what it wanted. We finally saw the companies deserting and leaving the Australian edible oil seeds group because of their recognition of the problem. Several articles appeared in the newspapers. Meggitt Ltd. inserted a public notice in the “ Canberra Times “ on 1 1 th August 1966. It gave reasons for not being in the group and then said -
We deplore the direct action which has contravened the laws of this country, believing there are proper means which are always available to correct harmful legislation whenever it exists. The cause for edible oil seeds is well founded but must depend in some measure on the accuracy of production figures. This responsibility in the hands of a self-acclaimed leader in this field is creating unnecessary embarrassment to, and doubt about, the industry which has not yet produced the tonnages of oil quoted by Marrickville Holdings Limited, nor, unfortunately, are the 1966/1967 crop prospects favourable, due to prevailing adverse seasonal conditions.
The notice began by stating -
Meggitt Limited announces that it wishes to dissociate itself from any statements and views expressed or actions taken by Marrickville Holdings Limited on matters affecting vegetable oil seed operations in Australia.
That firm is a very responsible oil seeds agent and it has dissociated itself from the campaign conducted by Marrickville Holdings Ltd. Remarkably, Meggitt Ltd. was joined in this action by a number of other margarine manufacturers who do not believe that Marrickville Holdings is going about its campaign in a truly ethical fashion and who have no wish to be associated with such a campaign. One such firm is Nuttelex Food Products Pty. Ltd. in Victoria, which published in the Press a letter to this effect. Another is Vegetable Oils Pty. Ltd. These companies took this action because it had become apparent that the arguments of Marrickville Holdings were sheer fabrication. That is all they are.
Next we get to the question of health. On this question, Marrickville Holdings returned to the attack that it launched a few years ago on the health qualities of butter vis a vis poly-unsaturated margarine. There is a very interesting story to be told about this. Marrickville Holdings claimed first that if its licence to manufacture were suspended or if any way affected the production of safflower margarine would cease and that any benefits that the community might gain from the use of polyunsaturated margarine would be lost to the public. This is plainly not true, because there are in Australia three producers of poly-unsaturated margarine. At one stage, the advertising of Marrickville Holdings was so blatantly untrue and unethical as to attract the attention of the Victorian Statute Law Revision Committee, which declared plainly that the company’s advertisements were unethical, misleading and false. The Committee pointed out that the advertising used loose phrases such as “ informed medical opinion “ and also the “ Rx “ symbol, thereby denoting that medical authorities agreed with what the company was stating.
On this question of health, the company flew in the face of world authorities who support the stand that claims made about health benefits obtainable from polyunsaturated margarine are untrue. I quote the views of Dr. Rutstein, of the Harvard Medical School, who stated that there is “ not a shred of medical evidence to prove that substituting unsaturated fats for saturated will affect the course of coronary heart disease”. I do not want to quote the views of these authorities at length. I shall mention only one more opinion. It is that of Dr. David Turner, a leading child specialist, of Toronto, who stated that pregnant women who go on low cholesterol diets may have mentally retarded children. Despite the fact that bodies such as the British Medical Association, the Australian Medical Association and the National Heart Foundation of Australia dissociate themselves from the claims made by Marrickville Holdings, the company has persisted with its campaign. As late as yesterday, the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes), speaking on this subject in his House, said -
The National Heart Foundation of Australia has this matter under continuous review, but at present it believes that there is not sufficient data available to justify claims for replacement in the diet of saturated fats by poly-unsaturated fats.
The claims of Marrickville Holdings with respect to poly-unsaturated fats are called into question further when it is realised that most of the margarine sold by the company is made of tallow and saturated fats. Table margarine is required to have a content of only 1 1 per cent, of vegetable oils. It may consist of up to 89 per cent, tallow. I believe that Marrickville Holdings can be seen in its true light when one realises that at the same time as it promotes poly-unsaturated fats for so called health reasons it sells margarine whose total content is saturated fats. On the one hand, it claims concern for the nation’s health and, on the other hand, it demonstrates that it lacks ethics of any kind.
This company has sponsored the publication throughout Australia of a large number of advertisements based on an imaginary character described as “ Mrs. Jones “. These advertisements contain insinuations, misrepresentations and half truths similar to those that I mentioned earlier. I shall not have time to deal individually with each of Mrs. Jones’s problems. The truth of the matter is that these advertisements represent a last desperate throw by the company in an attempt to win success. This is a company whose shares once stood at a price of 30s. each but have now fallen to I ls. each. It has lost most of its good men. They have left it because they no longer wish to be associated with it. Its attempts at diversification by extending its operations to bowling alleys and by taking over other companies have failed miserably. As a consequence, it has finally gone to desperate lengths. I have been told on good authority - 1 ask the House to note this particularly - that it has even gone to the lengths of making a deal with a trade union so that it may sack 500 men if action is taken against it, with the idea of re-employing them gradually later.
This company has been successfully breaking th£ law since 1955 and as a result has earned an additional SIO million. For a number of years, it has made no attempt to complete accurately statistical forms required by the Commonwealth Statistician. It has snapped its fingers at authority. This company has last the support of other margarine manufacturers. It has now turned in desperation to the last area in which it believes it can win support. It has begun trying to whip up some enthusiasm among the public for its cause. I believe that this whole shabby story comes to a good conclusion when we see the final advertisement that has come into my hands. It was published in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of yesterday. It concludes with these words - . . there are over 3.000,000 women voters in this country. To discriminate against the housewife is to fly in the face of the largest single block of voters in Australia.
That puts the whole shabby story in its proper context. It can be seen that all the arguments used by Marrickville Holdings Ltd. do not stand the light of examination and have no validity. I have not time to develop the rest of the many arguments available to me on this subject. However, I think it can be clearly seen that, to say the least of it, the company’s advertising campaign represents an untidy endeavour to put pressure on the members of this Parliament so that the company may get its way.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, unlike the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon), I do not propose to talk about margarine. I intend to address my remarks to the Budget itself. At the outset, I want to make it quite clear that I enthusiastically support the amendment so capably moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). If newspaper reports that have appeared since the presentation of this Budget represent a correct assessment of opinion, my view is consistent with the opinions of many business interests, all pensioner associations, the trade unions, educationists throughout Australia and the Returned Services League of Australia, all of whom, through official spokesmen, have expressed concern and . disappointment at this negative, hope for the best Budget.
The Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) described this Budget as expansionary, to use his. own term, in spite of his own admission that consumer spending is decreasing and that there is a slackening of demand in the building industry, particularly in private nondwelling construction, in the motor vehicle industry and the motor vehicle supplies field, and in the consumer durables area. He himself admitted this. In addition as a direct result of the Budget, the States, particularly
New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, have clearly indicated that in order to maintain their programmes of works and services, they must raise taxes and increase charges. This in turn must further decrease consumer spending, thus creating frustration, lack of confidence and, eventually, unemployment. If one adds to this gloomy picture the fact that our overseas balances dropped by some $300 million in the two years ended 30th June 1966 and the further admission by the Treasurer that the raising of loans both overseas and in Australia will be difficult this year, one does not wonder at the reaction of fear and disappointment throughout a wide section of the community at the presentation of this negative and spineless Budget.
I want to make some reference to social services and to say, first of all, that the Government has talked a lot of nonsense in this Budget about the increase in pension rates. Since pensions were last raised in October 1964 there has been a 7 per cent, increase in prices, according to the weighted average consumer price index of the six capital cities. Therefore, just to restore pension rates to the low level of that time required a lift of 84c a week in the single rate pension. What the Government regards as a generous amount is in fact an increase of 16c a week or less than 3c a day. Of course, and I think everyone in Australia would accept this view, the next cost of living figures to be announced in October will show that price rises arbitrarily imposed by private enterprise will leave the pensioner worse off than he was two years ago.
While on the subject of social services I desire to protest against the scandalous treatment meted out by the Government to aged couples where the wife, by reason of her age only, is not eligible for the pension. Under the provisions laid down by the Government, couples in this unfortunate category are expected to live on the princely sum of $13 a week. To portray properly to the House this disgraceful picture, 1 feel that I should describe a particular case, one of many which have been brought to my notice. A woman aged 58 years was married at 20 years of age and, since then, has spent her life caring for her husband and raising her family of five children. Some months ago her husband, an ex-serviceman, reached the age of 65 years and his em ployer, as is customary nowadays, dispensed with his services. The husband applied for and was granted an age pension, which was £6 or $12 a week, but his wife, because she was not 60 years of age, was not eligible for the age pension. As a consequence she was expected to try to exist with her husband on £6 a week. The alternative for her was. at the age of 58, to seek employmentafter not having worked, other than at home duties as a wife and mother, for the past 38 years. This, surely, is a scandalous situation and should not be tolerated in a country which boasts that it has an affluent society.
In May of this year the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) was good enough to supply me with an estimate of the number of couples in this unfortunate category and also the estimated cost of applying the full pension to all couples where the husband was 65 years of age. This action, of course, would do away with the wife’s allowance and the like. The number of couples involved is 14,000 and the cost to place all couples on a full pension when the husband reaches 65 years is estimated to be S6 million in a full year. I submit strongly that, in a Budget of almost $6,000 million, surely provision could be made for an extra $6 million to overcome the impossible and intolerable position of these forgotten people to whom I have referred. Overall the minute increase in pension rates when measured by price increases over the last two years will do nothing to change the shocking plight of pensioners. This position has been made quite clear by authoritative estimates of such bodies as the Brotherhood of St. Lawrence in Melbourne which has said that at least 100,000 elderly Australians are living in poverty and a great many more are living close to the subsistence level.
For the first time the National Executive of the Return Services League of Australia has decided to make the strongest possible protest against the repatriation provisions of the 1966 Federal Budget and, in doing so, correctly pointed out that the repatriation benefits as outlined in the Budget represent a smaller percentage of the Federal basic wage than was the position way back in 1950. The League goes further and says that a single soldier totally and permanently incapacitated in the undeclared war in Vietnam will receive a repatriation pension on his return home amounting to less than the basic wage. Is it any wonder that the Government cannot get volunteers?
During the weekend I received a letter from the State President of the South Australian Branch of the R.S.L., the contents of which I feel sure represent the views of his organisation regarding the Government’s repatriation proposals. I fully agree with them. Mr. Eastick said, among other things -
The repatriation provisions in the 1966 Federal Budget have done little more than earn the displeasure and disappointment of thousands of exservice men and women throughout the land.
For some considerable time the League has submitted to the Government a strong appeal to bring pension values into line with the Commonwealth basic wage. Instead, pension values have shown such a steady decline since 1950 that the position is now considered critical.
The R.S.L. has always been in favour of an adequate defence force and the increased defence spending is surely justified, but there is justification also in ensuring that the veterans of our Armed Services receive the recognition they so richly deserve, (t is incredible to believe that the Government would allow such depreciation in pension values without making some genuine move to arrest the situation. For the Government to totally ignore the appeal by surviving World War I veterans for free hospitalisation and the failure to increase the funeral grant is just as unbelievable.
Finally the President said -
It is surely no incentive to the youth of the nation lo serve when it appears obvious that the veterans of the wars rate but half-hearted consideration for the service given to their country.
While on the subject of ex-servicemen I desire to make a brief reference to our fighting men in Vietnam. This has particular reference to the conscripts who are forced to serve in that theatre of war, whether they wish to or not. These unfortunate young Australians not only have to be involved in this unnecessary and terrible war but they have now also, thanks to this Budget, struck the dreadful double because, as I understand the Treasurer’s intentions, he has indicated that about $114 million of the defence expenditure for this year covers equipment purchased from the United States of America on credit and the cost to cover this transaction does not have to be provided from this Budget but will have to be found in later years. Thus the soldiers in Vietnam, if they are lucky enough to escape injury and return home, have now been granted the added privilege of helping to repay the hire purchase debt as indicated by the Treasurer. Such a position surely indicates the weak state of the economy, for whilst the big retail stores are widely advertising “ Buy now and pay later “ the cheeky Treasurer so far as our soldiers are concerned has jumped on the band wagon and says “ Fight now and pay later “.
Turning now to the field of education, I feel that it is true to say that almost everyone in Australia interested in this most important subject, regardless of their political ideas, believes that there is a crisis in education. They are gravely concerned at the need for drastic improvement in Australian education in such things as overcrowded classrooms, undertrained teachers, insufficiently equipped schools and inadequate buildings which still exist. It is crystal clear that only extra financial support from the Federal Government can improve this situation. Educationists all over Australia are unanimous that Australia, as a nation, can advance only as fast as its progress in education, that our future living standards depend largely on our educational standards and that the future of our children rests on whether they are educated to face up to the needs of the modern world. The Budget this year has allocated an additional $30 million for education purposes. I feel that this sum will provide only for the increased number of people who will be demanding education during the year. In other words, it appears to me that the Government is satisfied with or cares little about the future of education in this country, and is still prepared to pass the buck to the States to provide an education system as best they can. During the last six months in my electorate of some 44,000 people I have received personal letters from more than 6,000 constituents calling upon the Government to make available substantially greater amounts of Commonwealth finance for education. I wholeheartedly support this plea and I appeal to the Government, even at this late stage, to make further substantial grants available immediately for education purpose’s, and at the same time to establish a Commonwealth department of education and a corresponding full-time ministerial portfolio.
As one who has been closely associated with the motor vehicle industry over a long period of years, and who knows from bitter experience what any curtailment of demand tor the products of this industry means to my State of South Australia, 1 want to make some observations on this subject. First of all, let me remind the House’ that in the metropolitan area in South Australia by far the greatest numbers of private employment opportunities are in the motor vehicle industry and its supply industries, the building industry and the consumer durable manufacturing industries, in all of which the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) has said that there has been a slackening of demand. The Government has been aware of the position for a considerable time, yet it has sat idly by and watched the position continue to drift until today these industries face a crisis. As to the motor vehicle industry, some 12 months ago I warned the Government that unless some practical steps were taken to assist the industry, further deterioration would result, with disastrous results in the employment field, particularly in South Australia. In September of 1965 my colleague, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) asked the then Prime Minister what plans the Government had to arrest the startling fall in motor vehicle sales, with consequent dismissals in the industry, and the steep fall in approvals in the building industry. I know of no government plan of any note which attempts to rectify this serious problem. As late as June of this year the managing director of General Motors-Holdens Pty. Ltd., Mr. Wilson, issued a Press statement showing clearly that if the poor consumer demand continued his company would have no alternative but to reduce the work force. I have before me a newspaper article published on 12th June. It bears the heading “ Fears Over Car Jobs “ and the date line “ Melbourne, July 11 “. It reads -
The managing director of General MotorsHolden’s (Mr. M. E. Wilson) said that unless Australia’s economy could be stimulated, retrenchment in the automotive industry was inevitable. “ The industry is waiting with its fingers crossed “ he said. “ Our big hope is a Federal Budget which will stimulate consumer spending in the community. “ Unless this occurs, I am afraid we will be forced to retrench some time in the future.”
– Who said that?
– The managing director of General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd., and he said it in July. He gave the Government good warning. The Government must know that figures for new car sales show that sales for July of this year were down 18 per cent, on those of the corresponding month of last year. The Government has been fully aware of the situation - this was admitted by the Treasurer in his Budget Speech - but it has done nothing to help the industry in any way. In the short time since the provisions of the Budget were announced the Ford Motor Co. of Aust. Ltd. and the British Motor Corporation (Aust.) Pty. Ltd. have begun dismissing employees. It is with extreme regret that I have to inform the House that within the last half hour I have had what I would call official advice that at this very moment General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. is, as a first step and a first step only, giving notice to some 700 of its employees throughout Australia.
– This afternoon, thanks to the Treasurer and his Budget. On Monday of this week the “ Australian “ newspaper, referring to the motor industry, carried a front page story headed “ Budget Blamed for Dashing Hopes of Rising Sales “. lt went on to say -
Ford warns industry faces further cuts.
The British Motor Corporation sacked 300 production workers from its Sydney plant yesterday after a sudden change in its original plan to stand them down without pay for only two weeks.
And in Melbourne, the Ford Motor Company said it feared further widespread retrenchments faced the automotive industry unless some stimulus was injected into consumer buying before the end of the year.
General Motors-Holden’s is also extremely worried and the company is stockpiling cars because of falling sales.
The industry pressed strongly for an income tax reduction before the Budget but is now looking to a sales tax cut as the solution.
An editorial in today’s issue of the same newspaper is headed “ The plight of our car industry”, and it says -
The Government, said Mr. Holt on Monday, does not treat the present situation in the Australian motor vehicle industry as a matter of concern.
I wonder whether the 700 men who are receiving notice this afternoon, and their families, would adopt the same view as our Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt). The editorial continues -
To put it mildly, this is surprising.
Mr. Holt’s statement seems to ignore that retrenchment and its effect on the industry’s sales are occurring in a sector that has enormous importance because the state of its health has a great deal of influence on consumer behaviour.
The Government views this unhappy state of affairs as an adjustment by manufacturers who had over-extended themselves in the past three years.
But this is quite preposterous. If anything, the industry is the victim of the vacillations and contradictions in what the Government is pleased to call its economic policy.
On Tuesday, 23rd August 1966 - only last week, Mr. Deputy Speaker - the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Bury), while speaking in this debate, made a brief reference to the motor industry. I do not know whether he was speaking for the Government or whether he was making only personal observations, but as he is the Minister in charge of the important portfolio of Labour and National Service and a member of the Cabinet, I for my part accept his contribution as representing the view of the Government. He said -
In every advanced country - particularly in the United States of America - the motor car industry is subject to cycles of demand, fashion and purchasing at different times which move sometimes at a considerable variance with the general level of the rest of the economy. Whatever happens to the economy at large, we will still have to face considerable future fluctuations in the motor industry.
In other words, he agrees with the position adopted by the Government for so long in accepting no responsibility for the stability of the industry. In fact, he virtually gives the workers in the motor industry an assurance that fluctuations in the industry will be considerable in the future and that therefore they must accept their positions as pawns in the game in an industry subject to ups and downs that this Government believes cannot be stabilised. I should have thought that the Government’s experience in 1961, when it almost wrecked the industry - and, in fact, almost wrecked itself - would be remembered by the culprits. The Minister showed his complete ignorance of the circumstances when he tried to compare the industry wilh its counterpart in the United States of America. In America ever since the introduction of mass production it has been accepted that lay offs will occur at the time of model changes. However, to maintain consumer spending, all workers in the industry, whether laid off or not, work under a system providing for a guaranteed annual wage. This system of a guaranteed annual wage, as the Minister well knows, does not apply in Australia. To offset this difference the Australian industry, in co-operation with the unions, has, since the Second World War, endeavoured to maintain as far as possible a stabilised work force and has designed a system that endeavours to maintain stability even during model changing periods. This stabilisation system has worked quite well. The only periods of failure have been when the industry has been interfered with or harassed by the Government, as in 1961, for instance, and now, when the industry requires some Government assistance, which is not forthcoming.
The position of the industry now is that because of lack of consumer spending, a situation that can be rectified only by the Government itself, demand has fallen, and consequently stockpiling has reached the danger level. I am aware that some people say the industry has expanded too quickly. Should this be so surely the Government is mainly to blame, for it was only last year that it was encouraging the Japanese industy to commence assembly operations in Australia. The Government had already been warned of what would happen unless it did something to bolster the existing Australian industry. I know that some people suggest that in some sections of the industry profits are too high. If this theory is correct then the Government, which completely controls taxation in this field, is wholly to blame. Be these things as they may, the stark facts are that the country now has a sizable motor industry, which has been accepted as such by the community at large and by the Government. The industry is a major employer of labour. Its Australian suppliers, representing thousands of small factories throughout the land, depend almost entirely on the industry for their very existence. It is a highly efficient industry. Annually it takes its maximum number of apprentices, who will become the skilled tradesmen of the future. Much of its complex and modern machinery cannot be found anywhere else in Australia. Furthermore - and this is very important - in case of danger it is one of the few modern industries in Australia that could be converted quickly to almost any type of defence production on a large and efficient scale.
Having all these facts in mind I put it strongly to the Treasurer and the Government that Australia cannot afford to let such an industry run down or become complacent, without at least some attempt to bolster it up. Accordingly, I suggest as a first step that a considerable sales tax reduction should be applied immediately to Australian made vehicles; that the present sales tax applicable to knocked down vehicles only assembled in Australia should be increased; but a further steep increase in sales tax should be applied to completed vehicles imported into Australia; and that the Federal Government should take heed of the famous slogan “ Buy Australian Made “ by instructing all of its departments that in future when purchasing motor vehicles they must, where they are available, purchase only Australian made vehicles.
In introducing the Budget the Treasurer said -
The effect of the Commonwealth Budget will be expansionary.
I believe it has already proved to be just the opposite, because all the indicators suggest that it has deflated further an already weak and sick economy. Evidence of this is in the motor industry, to which I have just referred. In yesterday’s Adelaide “ Advertiser “, under the heading “ Share Downtrend is Unchecked “, the following comment appears -
Australian exchanges yesterday entered their seventh successive week with prices on the downtrend.
The continued downtrend in consumer demand is clearly indicated by the fact that large retail stores are advertising extensively and asking people to “ buy now, pay later “. There is definite lack of confidence among business establishments, both large and small. The Treasurer must be aware that there is no shortage of manufactured goods in Australia; in fact, the position is just the opposite. Motor vehicles have been stockpiled to a dangerous level. Warehouses and store rooms all over Australia are crammed full of unpacked new refrigerators, washing machines, television sets and the like. Even in the housing field we have the almost unbelievable position of thousands of Australian families being inadequately housed when in every capital city in Australia there are thousands of vacant new homes and home units ready for occupation. The shortage is lack of money, not lack of goods or materials. In other words, there is not sufficient consumer spending. If the Treasurer thinks that his meagre social service and repatriation benefits increases will allow our unfortunate people to rush out and buy these goods he is sadly mistaken. Nor will the recent basic wage increase make any material difference, because that has been practically absorbed already by increased prices and by heavier income taxation. What the Government must do, and must do quickly if it wants to recover from its own created financial mess, is to inject more money into the economy so as to increase consumer spending, and to reduce interest rates and deposits.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In his speech last Tuesday evening the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) condemned the Budget on a number of grounds. He moved an amendment listing six grounds. I have not the time to deal with each of them, but I should like to analyse the first three. The first ground related to wage injustice and stated that -
The House condemns the Budget because it fails to recognise the injustices wrought upon wage earners because real wages have fallen as prices have risen faster than wages.
– That is right.
– That is nol right, and it will not stand up to analysis. The Leader of the Opposition quoted from a publication “ Monthly Review of Business Statistics “. I commend him for this, because I have been quoting from this publication to him for years to prove the fallacy of his arguments. In this instance I do not quarrel with the figures he has quoted from the publication, but I do quarrel with the conclusion he has drawn. It is not much use to have statistics at one’s fingertips if one cannot properly interpret them, and the honorable gentleman has fallen into a trap. He said -
My interpretation of the Consumer Price Index is that it has risen 9 per cent, in the last two years.
This interpretation is completely wrong. It is true that the Consumer Price Index has moved from 125.8 to 135.4 during the period March 1964 to March 1966. This represents an increase in the index of 9.6, but this is not 9.6 per cent.; it is an increase of 9.6 on 125.8, not 9.6 on 100. This is a percentage increase of 7.6, not of 9.6. In arriving at his interpretation the Leader of the Opposition proudly quoted from the “ Monthly Review of Business Statistics “ and said -
This, of course, is not a Liberal Party publication intended only to deceive and mislead.
I suppose we can all make up our own minds about whether, when he cited an increase of 9 per cent, in the price index, he set out to deceive or mislead or whether he just did not understand. Either way, it reflects no credit on him. Having demonstrated that the consumer price index has risen by little more than the basic wage, he used this fact to bolster his argument that real wages have fallen as prices have risen faster than wages.
Let me mention another publication “ Survey of Weekly Earnings “ issued by the Commonwealth Statistician. I shall refer to that publication, as well as to the “ Monthly Review of Business Statistics “, and in particular to two tables. The first is headed “Weekly Wage Rates for Adult Males”. This represents the basic wage plus margins and loadings. It shows that the rate of weekly income moved from $37.63 in March 1964 to $40.79 in March 1966, an increase of nearly 8.3 per cent.
– And that was before the basic wage rise.
– That is right. Now let me refer to another table which shows the average weekly earnings of employed males; the figures include overtime, over award payments and bonuses. This table indicates that between March 1964 and March 1966 average weekly earnings increased from $48.40 to $54.50 a week, an increase of approximately Hi per cent. Honorable gentlemen opposite will ask: “But who earns this wage? It is certainly not the man on the basic wage.” That is true, but I pose the question: “Who earns the basic wage “?
The October 1965 issue of the “Survey of Weekly Earnings “ reports the findings of a survey taken for the last pay period in October 1965. It covered 3,000 of the largest employers of labour representing an estimated 1,181,000 full time adult male employees. It also covered 409,000 full time male employees of Government departments - Commonwealth and State - and local government authorities. It covered a multitude of industries, both manufacturing and non manufacturing. The manufacturing industries covered the extracting, refining and founding of metals; engineering and metal working; ships, vehicles, parts and accessories; textiles, clothing and footwear; food, drink and tobacco; paper, printing, bookbinding and photography; chemicals, dyes, explosives, paints and non-mineral oils. The nonmanufacturing industries covered mining and quarrying; electricity, gas, water and sanitary services; building and construction; transport, storage and communication; the wholesale trade, primary produce dealing and the retail trade. No one can claim that this was not a comprehensive business survey.
Employers were asked to comment on any full time adult male employees receiving less than $32 in the survey week. Remember, the basic wage at that time was not $32 but $30.80. I will give the honorable member for Robertson the opportunity to guess how many of the 1,589,000 full time adult male employees received less than $32 a week, not the basic wage of $30.80 a week.
– I could not guess.
– I would bet the honorable member could not guess, nor could any honorable member of this Parliament. Approximately 300, or less than .02 per cent, of the 1,589,000 employees to whom I have referred earned less than S32 a week when the basic wage was $30.80, so it is logical to assume that less than .02 per cent, of all full time adult male employees were earning only the basic wage. With the total wage up 8.3 per cent., with average wages up 12.5 per cent, and with the consumer price index up only 7.6 per cent, in the period under review, what a lot of rot it is for the Leader of the Opposition to claim that real wages have fallen. I remind the House that I am not quoting from a Liberal Party publication “ designed to mislead and deceive “. I am quoting from the same source of information as used by the Leader of the Opposition - the Commonwealth Statistician.
The honorable gentleman then referred to the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure for 1965-66 which accompanied the Budget. He spoke of a miscalculation by the Treasurer and referred to negative productivity. He cited figures from the White Paper to show that during the past year the market value of goods and services produced in Australia rose by 4i per cent, whereas in the same period prices rose by 4 per cent, and the number of persons engaged in producing the national product increased by 3 per cent. The honorable gentleman then went on to say -
When these factors are combined, there has been actually a decline in the gross national product of something like 2 per cent. . . . We on the Opposition side could perhaps call it “ negative productivity “.
I am by nature inquisitive so I set out to learn the comparable figures for Labour’s last years of office - the four years after the war had ended. Again I sought information from the Commonwealth Statistician and I found that between 1947-48 and 1948-49 the gross national product increased by 13.4 per cent. In the same period the C series index, the measuring stick which preceded the consumer price index, increased by 9.7 per cent, and the number of employees in civilian employment by 4.2 per cent. If we combine these figures as the honorable gentleman suggested, what do we find? I do not know whether the honorable member for Robertson can guess, but we find that this was another year of negative productivity.
– He was a member of the Cabinet at that time too.
– He was a very responsible - perhaps I should say irresponsible - member of Cabinet at that time. As I have pointed out, according to the honorable gentleman’s statement, the year in question was another year of negative productivity. When we take into account the fact that the employment figures for 1949 were well down due to the very bad coal strike which resulted in the Labour Government putting servicemen into the field, we can see that the picture was actually worse than he indicated. So much for the Leader of the Opposition and the figures he quoted from the Commonwealth Statistician. People who quote figures and statistics should be sure that they understand them.
The second point of the honorable gentleman’s amendment is that the Budget makes inadequate adjustments to social service payments. During the course of his speech he said that what the Government had done for the pensioners in this Budget is regarded as an insult rather than a benefit. He said that the first priority of a Labour Government would be to raise the amounts now paid to those receiving pensions to a more satisfactory level. Evidently Labour has one policy when in government and another policy when seeking government because an examination of what previous Labour governments did for pensioners does not bear comparison with the record of this Government. Collectively, Labour in its last year of office devoted 14.6 per cent, of its total budget expenditure to the National Welfare Fund. In his Budget Speech a week ago the Treasurer announced that payments to the National Welfare Fund for this current year are estimated to exceed $1,000 million which is actually 17.2 per cent, of the total Budget. Individually, pensioners receive a far better deal from this Government than they ever did from Labour.
I have compiled a table which singles out certain groups of pensioners and shows in dollars and cents the amounts which they received in 1949, Labour’s last year of office, and the amounts which they received under this Budget. I have also indicated the amounts as a percentage of the basic wage. With the concurrence of honorable members I incorporate the table in “ Hansard “.
– Will the honorable member remember me kindly in the future when I want to incorporate something?
– I will remember the honorable member for Grayndler and I hope his Party and his constituents will remember him just as kindly too. Now that the table has been incorporated in “ Hansard “ 1 will not read it in full. Instead, I will single out one or two groups of pensioners. For instance, when Labour was in office in 1949 the single age pensioner received $4.25 which represented 33 per cent, of the basic wage. Under this Budget he will receive 40 per cent, of the basic wage.
– Plus the fringe benefits.
– Yes, he receives certain fringe benefits, one of which is the rent allowance. If we allow for that, a single pensioner receives 45.7 per cent, of the basic wage. Under a Labour Government, the A class widow received 34 per cent, of the basic wage. Today she receives 49 per cent, of the basic wage. In both instances, the sum includes the domestic allowance. I do not know whether my friend from Robertson knows how much extra she received from the Labour Government if she had three children.
– I do not.
– She received nothing. She received $4.75, which represented 34 per cent, of the basic wage. This Government pays $1.50 for each child, and the widow with three children receives $20.50, or 62.5 per cent, of the basic wage.
I come now to the totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner, about whom we have heard a great deal. Labour paid him 82 per cent, of the basic wage. Under this Government he receives 93 per cent, of the basic wage. If we add the allowance paid to the wife of a T.P.I, pensioner, we find that under the Labour Government he received just over 100 per cent, of the basic wage, whereas under this Government the total represents 105.6 per cent, of the basic wage. Under this Government, which removed the ceiling that prevented the T.P.I, pensioner, under the means test, from also receiving part of the service pension, the income of such a pensioner and his wife, if they can meet the means test, climbs to $37.50, compared with a basic wage of $32.80. So between them they are receiving 114.3 per cent, of the basic wage. Under those circumstances, can there be any doubt that all classes of pensioners are doing very much better under this Government than they did under Labour?
In addition, this Liberal-Country Party Government has introduced, as my friend from Robertson has said, many other benefits not thought of by Labour. For example, we pay a guardian’s allowance of $4 a week to single pensioners who have children under 16 years of age in their care. Labour paid nothing for such children. We also pay an allowance of $1.50 for each child of an A class widow. The homes for the aged scheme, which, up to the end of last month, had provided a total of nearly $60 million, and accommodation for 23.567 aged persons, was introduced by this Government. Under this Budget, the Government subsidy of $2 for each $1 provided by organisations has been extended to permit organisations to receive grants towards accommodation for residents requiring continuous nursing care. It was this Government which introduced the pensioner medical service. It has also greatly liberalised the means test in relation to both property and income and so has made many more persons eligible to receive pensions than ever received them under Labour rule.
This Government reduced the residential qualification for age pensions for migrants from 20 years to 10 years, and in this Budget it has removed the nationality qualification which prevented migrants who did not become naturalised from receiving the age pension. It made war widows and World War 1 nurses eligible for war service homes assistance and it introduced remarriage gratuities for war widows, lt introduced a scheme under which the next of kin of seriously ill servicemen may obtain free air travel to visit the servicemen in hospital. This Government introduced telephone rental and television licence concession rates for pensioners. In this Budget it has again increased the permissible earnings of A class widows so that those of them who wish to work may earn $3 a week for each child without their pensions being reduced. This Government also introduced the tax age allowance for persons of pensionable age who do not draw pensions. If I have enough time, I shall say a little more, on this subject. If I do not have the time, I hope I shall be able to avail myself of the opportunity of saying something about it when we are discussing the Estimates.
These are only some of the additional benefits and liberalisations introduced by this Liberal-Country Party Government to assist pensioners. But I think I have said enough to prove the falsity of the claim by the Leader of the Opposition that the Budget makes inadequate adjustments to social service payments. I believe that performances speak louder than words and with much greater authority than promises, and this Government has the performances on the board.
Speaking of pensions, I was very distressed to read in the latest issue of “ The Combined Pensioners’ Association News “ of the opposition to the special rate pension for single pensioners. Some married pensioners evidently regard this as robbing them. The article states that had the rise been given also to the married pensioners, the single pensioners would have lost nothing by it. As I am fully convinced that the special rate pension for single pensioners is a just arrangement, I want to try and explain why the Government introduced this special pension.
– Will the honorable member have time to explain the justice of it?
– 1 have the time to explain the justice of it, if the honorable member will only listen. Let us take the case of a married pensioner couple, each receiving the full pension. In that case, there are two pensions coming into the home. If one of the pensioners dies and there is no special rate of pension for the survivor, the income coming into that home is cut in half. Let the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) ask himself: Is the rent halved? Are the rates which are paid to the council, the board of works or the equivalent authority in a State halved? Does it cost only half the amount to have the house painted and repairs made? Can the survivor burn half a fire if he or she wants to keep warm and buy only half the former quantity of coal, briquettes or coke? Can the survivor use only half a radiator? Can he burn half an electric light? Or is it suggested that he should replace a 75 watt lamp wilh a 25 watt or 40 watt lamp? Is the radio licence fee halved? Again, if the pensioner is fortunate enough to own a television set or to have a telephone, is the television licence fee or the telephone rental halved? If the pensioner owns a motor car, can he say: “ I will only drive half as far today, because I can afford only half the petrol”? Will the garage cut the repair bills in half, and will the registrar of motor vehicles reduce his registration fees by half? Will the insurance company reduce its premium by half? The honorable member suggests that I cannot explain the justice of the scheme. If the pensioners think these things out, they will see the justice of an extra pension for single pensioners, whatever the general pension rate might be.
Most single pensioners are single because they have lost their partners, not because they have chosen to be bachelors or spinsters. It is hard enough to lose a partner at a very late stage in life, without the Government giving the survivor another kick in the teeth by saying to him: “You are now expected to live on half the pension you got previously “, That is why the Government introduced the special rate for single pensioners. This is the thinking behind the introduction of the rent allowance, which is paid only when one pension is coming into the home.
I hope the Government will see fit to extend the rent allowance to pensioners who own their own homes, so as to help them pay the council rates, the water rates and to meet the cost of maintaining their homes in a good state of repair. I have already referred to this. It is to no-one’s advantage to have property deteriorate. I believe that the Government could help to maintain pensioners’ homes in a good state of repair either by paying the rent allowance to pensioners who own their own homes and are not paying rent, or by making money available at very low rates of interest, or at no interest at all, to enable pensioners to carry out repairs and maintenance. Such advances could be recovered against the estate after the death of a pensioner, or, in the case of a married couple, after both pensioners had died. I hope the Government will give this suggestion serious consideration. I hope also that married pensioners and pensioner organisations will have second thoughts about their opposition to this special rate pension for single pensioners. The day may arrive when they also will be grateful for the special rate which is paid to single pensioners.
The Leader of the Opposition says the Budget fails to recognise the serious crisis in education. Over the past year, we have all heard a great deal about the crisis in education, about the shortage of teachers, the overcrowded classrooms and so on. Only last week I happened to come across an old report book of mine from the Melbourne High School. It goes back 40 years, and shows that 40 years ago the number of pupils in the intermediate form at the Melbourne High School was 40. As a matter of interest, I telephoned the Melbourne High School last Friday to ascertain how many pupils there were in intermediate grades this year. I was told that there were eight grades handling intermediate students and that there were 306 pupils doing intermediate studies. The smallest class con tained 33 students and the largest 40. The picture today is not a great deal different from what it was 40 years ago. If anything, it has improved slightly. So if we have a crisis today, presumably there was just as great a crisis then.
In his Budget speech, the Treasurer pointed out that expenditure on education will exceed $141 million dollars this year. This is almost three times the amount that was provided by the Commonwealth Government five years ago and represents an increase of more than $30 million on last year’s expenditure. I can speak only of education in my own State of Victoria. There the position under the vigorous and progressive government led by Sir Henry Bolte is not one of crisis but of very striking progress.
I have here a table of enrolment statistics for Victorian secondary schools. It does not include technical schools. This table was prepared by the Victorian Department of Education earlier this year. For my purposes I have selected two years, 1955, which was the year in which the Bolte Government came to power in Victoria, and this year, 1966. I have taken three lots of pupils. The total number of pupils attending these schools in Victoria in 1955 was 53,409; this year the total is 138,773. In 1955 those studying for matriculation numbered 1,095; this year they number 6.912. In 1955 the number of leaving certificate pupils was 3,031, whereas this year it is 14,422. Just as a matter of interest I also ascertained the number of high schools in Victoria in 1955. There were 84 such schools in that year whereas this year there are 222 and others are being built. In 1955 there were 857 student secondary teachers in teachers training colleges in Victoria; this year there are 3,878.
Whilst no-one would claim that everything on the education front is so good that it could not be improved - and greatly improved, I will concede - there is far from a condition of crisis in Victoria. The Government’s efforts to solve what I gather, from all I have read, including statistics, to be virtually a world problem, bears comparison with the efforts of most other countries.
I have not a great many minutes left. Having told honorable members of many things in this Budget of which I heartily approve I should like to make some reference to two or three matters which I should have liked to have seen dealt with in the Budget, and which I hope will be dealt with by the Government as part of its policy when it is returned to office on 26th November. First, I believe it is time that the permissible earnings of persons employed in sheltered workshops were greatly increased. Earlier this year the Government departed somewhat from the principle of relating earnings to 85 per cent, incapacity. I understand that a person is now deemed to be eligible to receive an invalid pension on medical evidence alone rather than on the basis of what he is able to earn. But there is still a proviso that if that person is able to earn more than $8 a week he is not considered to be 85 per cent, incapacitated. Persons employed in sheltered workshops are severely handicapped, some of them physically and some of them mentally, and there is no doubt that medically all would qualify as being 85 per cent, incapacitated. If they are able to make themselves useful members of the community, thereby adding to our national production, instead of sitting at home and drawing an invalid pension for doing nothing, they ought to be permitted to earn substantially more than they are permitted to earn now. It would be a compensation for their incapacity.
Yesterday I directed a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Supply. I asked whether the Government would consider introducing legislation similar to that which exists in the United States, which guarantees small businesses - and sheltered workshops are included - at least a 10 per cent, share of all government contracts, where these contracts are divisible, and where the small business is able to handle the work at a competitive price and produce quality workmanship. There are many jobs which persons in a sheltered workshop could do satisfactorily, such as packing Army rations. I understand that one sheltered workshop some years ago was given a contract to do this type of work. I hope that the Government will give consideration to the suggestion I have made.
I want to make two brief references to income tax. The first concerns education expenses for students whose training does not cease at the age of 21. There are many professions, such as medicine, science, engineering, and education itself, where we need all the qualified people we can get, and where training goes on up to 25 or 30 years of age. Even if these students are able to earn during their leisure time they are unable to claim a deduction for thenown education expenses. Their parents are unable to claim a deduction after they have turned 21 years. If we need these skills as much as we say we do I believe that we ought to be doing everything we can to enable parents to keep their children at universities, and I believe that we ought to permit deductions for education expenses for dependent children up to, at least, 25 years of age.
The final matter to which I wish to refer is the age tax allowance which was introduced by this Government to place persons of pensionable age who do not receive the pension in no worse a position as regards taxation than are pensioners. In other words, these people are permitted to earn an amount equal to the joint pension of a pensioner couple, plus permissible income, tax free. Under the terms of this Budget the figure is now $37.50 a week. In my opinion this concession does not go far enough because pensioners receive many fringe benefits, not the least of which are those under the pensioner medical service to which I have already referred. They also receive concessions in relation to radio and television licences and telephone rentals. I believe that it is time that this age tax allowance was extended. Persons who provide for themselves after retirement should not be disadvantaged merely because they have done so. I think that we could do something to help them by reducing the tax rate of 45 per cent, which they have to pay on the excess of their income over $37.50 per week.
I believe that Budgets should not be judged on what they give by way of increased social service payments or reductions in taxation rates. It is the function of a Budget to create a climate and produce a blueprint for prosperity and progress. By all standards this Budget meets that requirement. That there is nothing wrong with the Government’s fiscal policy is obvious when one studies the “ Monthly Review of Business Statistics “.
During the past year Australia has produced more coal and steel than ever before; we generated more electricity than ever before; there are more persons in employment today than ever before in our history, and only 1.2 per cent, of Australia’s work force are registered for employment. Deposits in savings banks have never been higher than they are now. All sections of the community - the manufacturers, the primary producers, the wage earners and the pensioners - have all done well under this Government. I believe that the Budget will maintain the extraordinary rate of progress which this country has made under Liberal and Country Party administration. I have much pleasure in supporting it.
.- The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) highlights the failures of the Treasurer’s first Budget. The amendment demonstrates the Labour Party’s humane and determined approach to national issues. lt reads as follows -
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.
1 1 fails to recognise the serious crisis in education.
lt does not acknowledge the lack of con fidence 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 lake 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.
The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) has just criticised that amendment. After listening to the honorable member I can only say that he must have lived a cloistered existence in the last two years. Whilst he gives great credit to the Government for its approach to social services, education and various other matters in the national economy, people from pensioners organisations. parents and teachers organisations, manufacturers organisations and various other bodies have been continually coming to members of the Opposition complaining about these things. Either the honorable member has hidden himself in his office in his electorate or has gone out of his electorate so that the people might not be able to see him. The amendment was moved by the Leader of the Opposition in order to point up the failures of this Government in the economic situation that exists in Australia. I intend to devote some of my time to the sixth point in our amendment.
On many occasions my good friend and colleague, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), has raised in the House the topic of overseas investment in Australia. I think it is true to say that for a number of years the honorable member for Scullin has been warning the House and the nation of the dangers of uncontrolled inflow of foreign capital. He has been supported by some strange bedfellows, one in particular being the Minister for Trade and Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen). The Minister has sounded off on one or two occasions on this topic but, unlike the honorable member for Scullin, the Minister seems to do all his fighting outside the ring. He rarely talks on the subject in the House. The Government’s policy indicates that he says very little on the matter in Government circles or in Cabinet. He is a powerful, influential and experienced member of the Government, but whilst he criticises the uncontrolled inflow of foreign capital he is unable to make any definite changes in the policy. The honorable member for Scullin, on the other hand, continually raises this subject in the House. I have great pleasure this afternoon in supporting him in his endeavours.
Private overseas investment in Australia from 1950 to 1965 amounted to $4,288 million. In the same period our exports exceeded imports by $2,045 million. However, with the addition of invisibles, such as freight, insurance and interest, costing $6,445 million, the final picture shows an overall deficit of S4.400 million. It is obvious that we are able to balance our import and export operations only by allowing a huge inflow of uncontrolled overseas capital amounting to $4,288 million. Added to this we borrow a few hundred million dollars overseas. What we must appreciate is that the greater the overseas investment in Australia, the greater the amount that has to be repatriated from Australia by way of dividends. In 1965 the sum of $261 million was payable as dividends and most of this amount went overseas. The dangers in our dependence on overseas investment are obvious to anybody who cares to look at the picture. One danger is that if the United Kingdom or the United States of America shuts off the flow of capital to Australia we will have to meet dividend and other payments on previous overseas investments but we will have no incomings, only outgoings. Undoubtedly bankruptcy will be in sight. With such a huge amount invested in Australia, overseas investors have a strong say in our economy. Many of our industries are in overseas hands. The overseas investor can manipulate, amongst other things, employment opportunities, manufacturing potential, prices and the wage structure in the industries under his control. We are becoming more and more dependent on the overseas investor and more and more at his mercy each year.
Professor Karmel and Miss Maureen Brunt have estimated that one third of Australian manufacturing industry is highly concentrated. By that they mean that the four biggest firms in each of 32 industries employ at least 50 per cent, of all workers in those industries and the 32 industries account for more than one third of the total manufacturing employment. Of the 32 highly concentrated industries 14 are straight out monopolies. They control the entire output of the particular item that they manufacture. Only 5 of those 32 industries are Australian owned. Those figures amazed me when I looked them up and, with the help of the honorable member for Scullin, I was able to look a little further into the danger inherent in the uncontrolled inflow of overseas investment into this country.
Approximately one third of Australian manufacturing industry is owned abroad. The proportion controlled from overseas is much higher. This high concentration of control leads, among other things, to less competition in industry; to restrictive trade practices, such as price and mark up agreements with retailers; to discrimination between large and small retailers; and to the withholding of materials from any rebel retailer. Also, these overseas controlled companies control some of our most important strategic and pace setting industries. These include, to mention only a few, the motor vehicles industry, the chemicals industry, the petroleum products industry, the aluminium industry, the tobacco industry and the soap and paints industries. All of these are controlled overseas. Government supporters often say that ours is a free enterprise economy, but because of the monopolisation of our industries, both by Australian companies and by overseas owned or controlled companies, our economy is no longer a free enterprise economy. It can be clearly demonstrated that our economic growth under the system permitted to operate by the Government is far from satisfactory. Our national income has increased by only 4 per cent, a year since 1948. That is a slower rate of increase than the rate experienced in Japan and West Germany. National income per head has increased by only 1.5 per cent, per annum. One of the most obvious features of our lopsided development is that since the war years growth and development have been concentrated in the urban areas. Manufacturing industries have more than doubled output since 1948 but the increase by rural industries has been only 42 per cent. But you never hear members of the Country Party raising this issue. You never hear them saying that control of our secondary industries by overseas companies and the inflow of capital from overseas are causing a deleterious effect on rural industries. As I said earlier, the Acting Prime Minister has spoken on this topic outside the House. In particular he speaks of it to his own supporters at Country Party conferences, but he rarely if ever comes into this House or. from what one can judge, goes into the Cabinet room, and makes a similar speech.
To stress further the lopsided development of our economy under this Government let me quote figures taken from the 1961 census. Fifty-six per cent, of our people live in capital cities. Twenty-six per cent, live in other cities and towns. Only 18 per cent, live in rural areas. From the beginning of next year under a Labour Government our whole developmental pattern will change. A Labour Government will place much less reliance on overseas capital. We agree that we must have some capital from overseas, but the inflow of capital from overseas will be controlled. The next Labour Government will insist on an Australian component being retained in all our industries. Takeovers of existing industries will be curbed and industries will be encouraged to decentralise. If the Labour Government does not act from the beginning of next year, it may be too late. i have been speaking about a subject thai 1 regard as our most dangerous internal problem. I now turn to what I regard as our most explosive external problem, and 1 do not mean Vietnam. Vietnam is not our responsibility. We are there against the wishes of a large proportion of the Australian people. But we are in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea with the blessings of all Australians. Australia has accepted foster-fatherhood of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and of its people. Papua has been our responsibility since 1906 and New Guinea since 1914. All sins of omission and commission since then are our responsibility; we are to blame entirely. I believe that the time is fast approaching when Australia will have to answer for its administration. Post war history is dotted wilh examples of countries that have been granted freedom from colonial bondage. Papua and New Guinea is one of the few countries that is not self-governing.
I want to make it clear that 1 have a deep appreciation of what Australia has done in Papua and New Guinea. I compliment the Government on increasing the grant for this year to $70 million. This is an increase over the amount for last year of some $8 million. I speak on this topic today merely to warn that all of us appear to be much too complacent about the situation in New Guinea. We must face the facts and we must face them now. The criticisms of our administration in the United Nations and other world forums will continue and indeed will increase. The criticism will encourage dissension in the urban areas of Port Moresby, Madang, Lae and Rabaul. I must admit that there are plenty of grounds for dissension and dissatisfaction amongst the indigenous people. For instance, wages are too low, food is too dear and housing is extremely difficult to obtain.
But the dissension in these places is likely to show out in a very few years, perhaps even in a few months, in a riot in one of the urban areas. The riot will receive much more publicity internationally than the provision of a further $70 million as a grant for this year would ever receive. The good that we do in Papua and New Guinea will not receive nearly the same amount of publicity as will dissension or the riot that might occur amongst the people of the Territory.
Our Asian neighbours have all been granted their independence in the post war years and naturally they will support the efforts of the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea to obtain their independence. Whatever we may say or do will be overshadowed by the general implication of a colonial relationship. The emphasis of all our critics will be on exploitation, racial prejudice, discrimination and injustice. We must remember that only 25,000 Europeans, mostly Australians, and more than 2 million New Guineans live in the Territory. All our motives will be suspect. We will be trying to convince individuals and nations in the United Nations and other world forums of our good intentions, while they will approach the discussions with the attitude: “ My mind is made up, do not confuse me with facts “.
I do not think that we can win in New Guinea, whatever we do, but this should not stop us from trying to relinquish our responsibilities, whether early or late, while retaining good relations with the people of the Territory. As I see it, we can follow one of three courses. The first course is to try to hand over our responsibilities in the Territory to the United Nations or to some United Nations administration agency. We should try to do that now. In other words, we should put up an umbrella and get in out of the rain, because we will be the subject of criticism whatever we do. The second course is to set a target date for self-determination in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for, say, the year 2000. But if we do this, we must have the nerve to see it through. We must be prepared to protect law and order - our law and order - in the Territory, either with a United Nations peacekeeping force or with Australian garrison troops, because I do not think we can survive to the year 2000 in the Territory. The third course is to speed up our plans now for development and self-determination, and in speeding up our plans we should hope that internal and external pressures will give us more time than I now anticipate. I favour the last approach, and I think we should err on the side of speed, if we are to err at all. I believe that we have a much better chance of preserving our good reputation in New Guinea if we demonstrate with action our good intentions. I stress that we should make it very clear to the people of the Territory that economic assistance and civil aid will continue after the decision on selfdetermination has been taken.
Promises of economic aid and civil aid to various Asian countries have been bandied about this House for the past few weeks. To me it is most important that by far the largest slice of aid should go to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. What other action would a good foster father take than to look after his foster child? This is our responsibility. We have controlled Papua since 1906 and New Guinea since 1914 and it is not logical to suggest at this stage that we should look at other Asian nations and grant them aid when right at our doorstep we have more problems in developing the Territory of Papua and New Guinea than we have ever had since the beginning of our nation. Despite the troubles that I am certain lie ahead, our aims should be those that were expressed by Sir James Plimsoll in the United Nations Assembly in October 1961, when he said -
Our objectives . . . are . . . self determination and a recognition of the right of the people to choose their own form of government and their own association.
I hope that by good administration, with the support of all Australian people, selfdetermination can be offered to the people of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in a very short time and that when they get their independence they will regard Australians as their friends and not as their enemies.
.- I am glad to follow the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), who in the last few minutes of his speech devoted his attention to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I do not propose to speak on this subject tonight; I shall do so when the estimates for the Territory are before us. However, I was very interested in his remarks. I think this is a problem that the Parliament has been rather inclined to sidestep and not to face directly. I do not agree entirely with the honorable member’s comments, but I agree with him in general. It is heartening to find that at least some Opposition members have an interest in the future of the Territory. Though this will be my last speech on a budget, I do not propose to devote it to discussing the Territory. However, I believe it is tremendously important that we look clearly and coldly - I emphasise the word “ coldly “ - at what the future of our relations with the Territory may be.
This is, as it were, Sir, the moment before an election. The next general election is only a few months away. Perhaps this could best be described as a time that induces a sense of tenseness in every person in this House who is not retiring, as I am. When I look at this Budget, I am bound to say that I do not find it spectacular. However, on examination, I find that the new Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) has presented to the Parliament a fairly sensible kind of Budget. It is not spectacular, because it does not provide for any spectacular increases in social services, though, most certainly, it does provide for some increases in benefit rates. This Budget is not spectacular, also, because it does not provide for reduced taxes. When the provision for defence is of the order provided for on this occasion, one cannot think of reducing taxes. It is probably true that the electors of Australia did not expect a reduction of taxes, looking at the situation in the light of the commitments of the Government, which means of the whole of the people of Australia. This country cannot have a commitment in Vietnam and in Malaysia, though our commitment there is reducing, and not pay for it. Our problem is to pay for the commitments that we must undertake as an insurance for our nation and its people.
May I now deliver an aside, as it were, about my last Budget speech, Sir. I gather that last week one newspaper asserted that last Wednesday I spoke in this debate. The speech referred to was in fact made by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon). It was a very good speech but, regrettably for him, it was ascribed to me. I hasten to assure everybody that this is my first speech in the debate on the present Budget, and I add that it will be my last speech on a budget. I would hate to think that the honorable member for Corangamite believed that somehow I had done him out of his opportunity to speak in this debate.
On 28th September, it will be exactly 20 years since I entered this Parliament. In the time I have been here, a vast change has come over Australia and, indeed, over this Parliament. When I entered it in 1946, Australia was just emerging from the difficult conditions of war. For the first three or four years after the war, Socialism was acceptable to the people. It appeared to Australians then to be guiding them out of regimented wartime conditions. Since 1949, there has been a dramatic change in the scene and this is now a free enterprise society. Free enterprise has dramatically built up the economy and standing of this country and made us a challenging and important nation. Indeed, we could justly describe ourselves as the most important nation in South East Asia. Before the 1939- 45 war, Australia was little more than a minor nation. I believe that it is now an important nation that is regarded by the rest of the countries of South East Asia as mature. The fact that we have become mature as a nation is of great importance in our relations with South East Asia. We are almost the only European nation in this region. We live with this fact and we believe in our heritage. Before the war, we were little more than an incidental factor in this part of the world, but now we are a highly important factor. We are, in the true sense of the term, an important and mature nation.
This enhancement of our status has derived from the fact that since 1949 we have had a stable government. A stable government such as we have had engenders trust in other nations. Because of this trust based on stability, we have received a large inflow of capital from the United States of America, Britain and other countries. I say bluntly that were our Government characterised by the instability of the present Opposition, we would not have received that inflow of capital. In my mind, there is no question about the importance of this factor. A country so young as ours and having so small a population would not have won from other nations the trust on which we have built ourselves up had it not been for the stability of our Federal Government and the complete confidence that it has inspired in other nations.
All this has not been done by the Government alone, Sir. The Federal Government, of itself, cannot work miracles. Australian industry has contributed greatly to what has been achieved. One of the great things about Australian industry is that it exhibits true Australian characteristics based on forthrightness and go ahead determination. These qualities have played an important part in enabling us to achieve what we have attained. On visits to other countries, notably Britain, Canada and the United States, in the last year or so, I have been dismayed to find them affected by a kind of lethargy. In Australia, however, to our great advantage, there is a tremendous capacity for go ahead thinking. Had we not exhibited this capacity, we would have been by now just an appendage of South East Asia. But, on the contrary, we are an important nation of this region. In it. there is expressed in many ways a great deal of confidence not only in our technical skills, which are important, and our go ahead determination, but also in the complete stability of our Government and our economy. I refer again to the fact that had we had Socialism over this period we might well have been in the doldrums because Socialism is in the discard. One thing that the Australian community has woken up to is that whilst there may be some good in Socialism - I would be the last one to deny it - it has a retarding influence on the progress of a country. It is a happy circumstance and a very good thing for Australia that we have remained to be a government which has its belief in private enterprise and the free will of the people.
This being perhaps the last major occasion on which I shall speak in this House I propose to say a few simple things that I believe and perhaps a few blunt words about the policy of the Government. First I believe that there is one thing on which my friends on the other side of the chamber will agree with me: We have never really attempted to tackle the problem of the abolition of the means test. I have been one of those who have believed that this is not only a possibility but also a practicability. From the first time that I came to this place in 1946 - there was then a Labour Government - it was said that we could not abolish the means test because the cost would be too great. It has since been said by ourselves as a government, and said rather more recently by the Opposition, that the means test will gradually be abolished. But the fact is that’ although we have had a committee of the Parliament and committees on both sides of the House which have looked thoroughly at the proposition of the complete abolition of the means test, this has not come to pass. Nobody has ever really had the forthrightness and courage in the short term to get up in this Parliament and to say: “ I move that the means test be abolished “. I know that what I am saying is terribly simple, but the fact is that there never has been, from either side of the House, a direct attack on the problem of abolishing the means test. For that we - all of us, on both sides - are at fault. We all know by reason of our own experience, and most of us from long experience, that many individuals in Australia incur great loss because of the means test, yet we refuse to face up to this problem. I am not dissociating the Government from this for one moment because it is one problem that we have never really attempted to tackle completely. There has always been the cry that abolition of the means test is going to cost too much. If the Government or honorable members opposite eventually nave to face this problem, which I believe will have to be faced, the cost, if that is the question, will have become higher and higher. Therefore, the sooner this problem is tackled properly the better it will be. This is a kind of problem of which we are all very much aware, but words - even the words that I utter about this - are unimportant unless all of us, the Government and the Opposition, are quite determined to tackle it. In short, mere words mean nothing - not a darn thing. In short, we have not been game really to tackle the problems of the means test. There have been many good things to the credit of the Government and, previous to that, to the credit of the previous government in alleviating certain aspects of the means test, but it is idle to take up little bits and pieces of a problem of this kind instead of tackling the principle of it. That leads me to my next point.
In Australia we have a national health scheme which is working well and is to the great advantage of many people. The only disadvantage is that some people have not insured themselves under this scheme. However, there is one scheme which we - I use the word collectively - have not attempted really to look at. I refer to a dental health scheme. It so happens that in many States most school children are given dental checks by school doctors or dentists and this helps, but the fact is that many people - fathers, mothers and children - do not go to the dentist because they simply cannot afford it. I believe that this is a blot, if I may use that word, against the Government and against the Parliament. Although we have done very well for general health, we have not tackled dental health which has become a very expensive problem. I do not understand why this proposition should not be dealt with on the same ‘lines as medical health and why we should not have, in exactly the same way, provision for dental health. I intend to turn now to another problem which has worried me over the years - in fact, for the 20 years that I have been a member of this Parliament.
I was very interested to listen to the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) last night on his approach to what is wrong with the relationship between the Parliament and members of Parliament, or, to make it more precise, between the Executive and the Parliament. This is one of the things which I believe over the years has been, in a slow but sure and measured fashion, militating against the democracy of the Parliament, if one can call it that. This is not a novel process. It was not unknown when the previous Labour Government was in office, and it is by no means unique now. But the fact is that we have a Cabinet, a Ministry, the members of which now believe and have believed for some time that in some kind of sense there is a divine right not of kings but of Cabinets. True it is that we frequently have discussions in our party meetings on both sides on bills dealing with matters of concern to us, but the fact is - I look around this chamber and see how empty it is, a condition for which I take full blame at the moment - that there are few of us who really take any part in deliberations concerning the country’s business. 1 am not going to point “the bone at the Opposition side, because the position is very much the same on this side. A bill may be presented to a party meeting and agreed to after some kind of discussion. I underline the word “’ some “. Then it comes into this Parliament and we allegedly have a debate on it. In my experience of this place, it is a very rare occasion when any alteration to a bill is made. I remember that in the three years from 1946 to 1949, when the present Opposition was on the Government side, only one amendment to a bill was made, and that was on a simple technical matter. 1 am afraid 1 have not found any great difference in the situation in the 17 years in which 1 have been on the Government side, because it is rare indeed for any change to be made in a bill.
This Parliament is surely not made up of a lot of buffoons, of people who simply sit here and say Aye “ when they are required to say so and vote when they are required to do so. People in this Parliament are here for a purpose, and in my view the purpose is quite simply to form part of the legislative process of the Parliament. So long as we accept the proposition that we are here merely to elect certain people to be Ministers or to sit on the front bench on the Opposition side we are simply fools, because we are refusing to accept our own responsibilities.
I am sorry if some honorable members believe 1 am trying to lecture them on this point. The fact is that this is something that has impressed me very deeply since .1 have been a member of this Parliament. It has appeared to me that we have gradually, slowly but surely, given away our rights as individuals to have an expression in what becomes law through this Parliament, through the combined individual votes of all members of this Parliament. When 1 look around this place and see the individuals in it I sometimes wonder what they think. I know that on both sides of this Parliament there are people with individual minds who think deeply and are prepared to express themselves. But of course the simple trouble is that members sublimate their own opinions to the wishes of the Party, and this is not good for a Parliament. I believe the honorable member for Bradfield was right when he said that
Parliament as such has lost its real touch and its ability to be a law-making force - and I do not use the word “ force “ in any coercive sense. Again I look around and see some members here who, to be quite frank, could not care less about this matter; they are here for the numbers, and that is about all. I believe that this Parliament has a duty to perform, that it is not quite doing it and that it is time it did.
.- I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Usually when I rise to speak I engage in some form of debate with the speaker who has just preceded me. but on this occasion I certainly do not intend to do so. I learn from the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) that this has probably been his last speech in this Parliament, after 20 years of service to it - and honorable service at that. I want to put on record that it was my privilege last year to travel with the honorable member to the InterParliamentary Union Conference in Ottawa and subsequently to the West Indies. I learned to respect him as a colleague and as a good travelling companion representing our Parliament in other lands. I pay tribute to the service the honorable member has rendered this nation, both to his distinguished war service and to his application to parliamentary responsibilities during the last 20 years.
I would like to tell the House of a little incident that occurred after we returned from overseas. I had a few fleeting moments of pride one day when I received a letter from Geneva addressed to “ Squadron Leader J. C. L. Sexton, D.S.O., D.F.C., M.P.”. The sender of the letter had, of course, mixed up the Australian delegates in his mind and given me the titles and the distinction that rightly belonged to the honorable member for Franklin. I wish him good health and goodwill in the years that lie ahead.
Before discussing the particular clauses of the amendment I wish to make a few general observations. The Budget was eagerly looked forward to by many thousands of Australian citizens because Budget provisions have such an important bearing on the economic and financial wellbeing of our nation. It was received in silence. The Press of Australia sought to inject a little ginger into it with headlines and sub-headlines, and as the effects of the Budget became clear there developed a mounting volume of criticism from all quarters. Even some of the Government’s leading supporters openly criticised it while others damned it with faint praise. Some public figures, such as the Premiers of Victoria and New South Wales, fiercely attacked the Budget. They rightly claimed that the Federal Government was running away from its responsibilities and passing the odium of increasing taxes to the State governments. While this is a political fact of life, a more important fact is that the expansionary nature of the Budget will inevitably be cancelled out by the deflationary measures of Stole governments which will be forced to obtain additional revenue from taxes in order to continue to maintain their existing growth and expansion programmes. No responsible body of people would agree that the States should cut down on their growth with all the attendant evils inherent in such a policy. Grave concern is justified when we note the indifference shown by the Treasurer to State Government claims for a greater share of taxation reimbursements in order that they may continue a progressive programme of development. The State Premiers were the first to realise the implications of the Budget, and their public hostility and criticisms are understandable.
Within the next few weeks we will learn of increased taxes imposed by State Budgets and, of course, this will expose the falsity of the expansionary claims of the Treasurer. One does not have to be a Rhodes scholar to realise it will be the same Australian taxpayers who pay these increased State taxes and, at the same time, button up their belts because of the new imposts they must bear. All this adds up to a cowardly approach in the Federal Budget, with the Treasurer trying to infuse a favorable climate in his domain when he presents a mildly inflationary Budget without increasing taxation. Another disturbing feature about the Budget is that it has not provided a much needed stimulus to commerce and industry. It is well known that many industrial firms have been stagnant during the past year, and we can see evidence of stockpiling of manufactured goods. Today many industries have reached saturation point, and we hear daily reports of dismissals and retrenchments. These are gathering momentum and we can expect to see within the next few weeks dramatic announcements of a slowed down economy. The blame for this regrettable state of affairs rests squarely on the shoulders of our present Government. The history of 1961 shows signs of repeating itself. In 1961 thousands were thrown out of work through the financial policy of this Government. It may present itself in a different form on this occasion, but the end result will be the same.
No doubt the constant rise in the prices of goods and services plays a prominent part in the present economic confusion. The people buy less consumer goods with their available resources. This, in turn, lessens the demand for manufactured and raw products. Only today we read of an alarming buyer resistance in respect of clearer leather footwear. Many employees in the industry have been retrenched and more dismissals are contemplated.
I turn now to the clauses in the amendment. The first seeks to condemn the Government for its failure to protect the real value of wages by allowing prices to rise faster than wages. There has been no attempt by the Government even to discuss curbing price rises much less act on this important phase. The history of wage and salary rates is recognised. For years wages have been chasing prices. This has been described appropriately as akin to a dog chasing his tail round in a circle. This process will continue until such time as we get a government which has the courage to face up to the problem of price regulation. The last beneficial period of price control was during World War II when the cost of living was stabilised to a point where the only variation in the cost of living was ls. a week in a period of two years. The controls were exercised under wartime powers, certainly, but this is no excuse today for saying that we have no power. If the case for regulation of prices were submitted to a referendum of the people and they had a full knowledge of its importance to our economy I am confident the people would approve. In the recent long drawn out application by the Australian Council of Trade Unions before the Arbitration Court evidence was presented to show that ordinary people do not get a fair share of the wealth that they produce.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was pointing out that wages and salaries are always chasing price rises and the higher cost of services. I instanced how the Labour Government during the war years used its wartime powers to contain increases in prices and the cost of living for two years to the extent of ls. a week. After the war we had to return to our peacetime powers. Subsequent governments have claimed that they have no power to regulate prices.
I continue my remarks by saying that the Australian Council of Trade Unions decided, after careful deliberation, to apply to the court for a substantial ‘increase in the basic wage so that workers could share in some measure in the profits earned by their affluent employers. The recent §2 a week increase in the basic wage indicates that the court recognised the workers’ claims and made an award according to its judgment.
The second point in the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition relates to inadequate adjustments to social service payments. The Government did make some adjustments but, as our leader claims, they were totally inadequate. Not only our leader but also powerful organisations have publicly expressed the view that the adjustments were inadequate. One of the most significant actions taken by any organisation was the announcement by the Commonwealth Pensioners Federation on the day following the presentation of the Budget that it would ask its members to work for the defeat of this Government. This unprecedented action was taken after due consideration of the social service adjustments proposed in the Budget.
This was followed by the influential Returned Services League publicly condemning the Budget and demanding a supplementary budget to make adjustments in social service payments in keeping with the needs of ex-servicemen who had served in the defence of our nation. Last week J received a letter from Brigadier T.
Eastick, President of the South Australian Branch of the Returned Services League, urging me to support the League’s claims for increases in repatriation and social service benefits which he said had declined steadily since 1950. He was expressing the unanimous view of the Federal Executive of the League. In one part of the letter he said -
It is incredible to believe that the Government would allow such depreciation in pension values without making some genuine move to arrest the situation. . . . The South Australian State Branch solidly backs the appeal by our National Executive in Canberra this week for the Government to introduce a supplementary Budget to correct the injustices at present imposed on the ex-service section of the community.
It is surely no incentive to the youth of the nation to serve when it appears obvious that the veterans of the wars rate but half-hearted consideration for the service given to their country.
These are strong words coming from the R.S.L. Unfortunately, its criticism of this Government is justified.
The Commonwealth Pensioners Federation has always tried to remain, what it terms, non-political;, that is, it has not declared its attitude to the two major political parties which are the alternative govern- ments of this nation. Its patience has become exhausted with the Government’s programme of social services and it now urges the defeat of the Holt Government. It is interesting to observe that since the Budget session commenced there have been presented to this Parliament 63 petitions, 62 of which, I believe, relate to improved social service benefits. These petitions can be regarded as a gallup poll showing how the pensioners of Australia are thinking. They must have had very strong feelings about the matter to have decided to come out openly and work for the defeat of the Government at the forthcoming election. That is something the Government should ponder over and heed. Although such action would be to the Government’s electoral advantage, I hope that it will accede to the pleadings of the pensioner section of the community and introduce a supplementary budget before the end of this sessional period.
The SI increase-for single pensioners and the 75c increase for married pensioners are not sufficient. These amounts have long since been eroded by rising prices and higher costs for services. Pensioners know to their discomfort that the purchasing power of their pensions has deteriorated. In plain terms, despite a few increases the pensioners have gradually fallen behind in their standard of living. The Treasurer is using them up by this Budget. The increase of SI a week in the pension is supposed to stimulate the economy regardless of the effectiveness of the pension in enabling pensioners to live as ordinary citizens in our civilised community. Apparently the theme is: Stimulate the economy and do not bother about a comfortable contented life for the elderly section of our community. One could list the various categories of pensioner and point out deficiencies but experience has shown that our pleadings, together with the pleadings of pensioner organisations, fall on deaf ears. The housing conditions of pensioners in some areas are shocking. These people are exploited by greedy landlords who charge rents that eat substantially into their income with the result that they do not have enough left to buy the ordinary food and clothing necessary to keep body and soul together. There is no outcry from the Parliament about these conditions, and the elderly suffer in silence and accept whatever charity may come their way. We now have an increased population of old people and new needs are developing. These should receive the attention of our social service authorities. Many social workers could give testimony and help in this direction.
There is also a great need for an extension of the supplementary pension to cope with the varying problems of many pensioners, including the rent problems of married as well as single pensioners. A review of the income means test is long overdue. The cost of living and charges for services have increased substantially since 1954, when the income means test was last eased. The maternity allowance, child endowment and the funeral benefit are not thought worthy of mention in this Budget.
The work being done under the Aged Persons Homes Act is not enough to meet the demand for such homes. Some good work has undoubtedly been done, but we must not be satisfied until we see the slum areas of pensioners replaced with adequate home units for the elderly, in which they may live under hygienic conditions and enjoy some of the comforts that have come to be considered the standard in this day and age.
The question of concessions for pensioners is one that is constantly brought under the notice of honorable members, and it is surprising to learn how some people fail to qualify for these concessions. This is true particularly of some widows rearing families when the eldest child commences to work. A pension entitlement for a wife when the breadwinner becomes a pensioner is another problem needing attention in our social services structure. These and many other social service problems will receive early and urgent attention when the electors vote our party into government. They will have an opportunity to do this on 26th November.
The next point in our leader’s proposed amendment is that the Government has failed to recognise the serious crisis in education. This subject is paramount in the thinking of our citizens. For some years now our education organisations have been united in their appeals to governments to face up to the challenge of our education needs. The inadequacies of our education system are appalling. The State Governments have strained their Budget expenditures, the proportion devoted to education now being approximately 25 per cent., in playing their part to cope with this crisis. They have joined in supporting education authorities and voluntary organisations in their endeavours to impress upon the Federal Government the need for more financial assistance from our national resources to expand our education programme and facilities.
An examination of the position discloses that the Government has concentrated mainly on providing financial assistance at the tertiary and university levels. This is good in itself, but assistance must filter down to the levels of primary, secondary and technical education. There must be assistance, too. for teacher training in order to overcome the teacher shortage which is now plaguing State education authorities. The problems of providing more schools and reducing the size of classes increase with the lack of sufficient moneys to meet education pressures. During the last sessional period, I sought assurances from the Prime Minister that the needs of our State education systems would be met. He evaded the issue then, and in the present Budget he continues to evade the issue, although more money for this purpose is urgently needed. Obsolete and insufficient building impose further burdens at the education level.
Because the structure of our society is changing due to technological development, our educational needs become more pressing. The old order is being replaced by an order in which technical knowledge is essential. With the development of automation, the old craft and process workers will be replaced by people with technical knowledge geared to meet the changing circumstances. The Budget holds out little but despair for those organisations which are striving to meet our educational needs.
The next point of criticism of the Budget is that it does not acknowledge the lack of confidence on the part of the business community in the future growth of the economy. We surely could have expected the Government to learn from the lessons of the 1961 credit squeeze, when the financial policy it adopted destroyed all business confidence and near chaos developed in the economy. That period was a striking example of how Government policy can destroy confidence. Furthermore, it highlighted the important part that confidence plays in the commercial world. This can be understood when we know that most commercial enterprises are based on credit transactions which involve considerable overdraft bank finance. When confidence is destroyed in these circumstances, it follows that business chaos will be the end result.
The Government appears to be completely indifferent about the matter. Only today I read in a newspaper an article in which the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) admonished business people and told them to get on with the job. I am sure the business people would like the Minister to explain to them how to get on with the job when there are not sufficient customers to purchase the goods on offer. Sales and turnover are basic to a buoyant commercial economy. Unless the producer can expand his trade, stagnation follows. For over a year now, many manufacturers have been hanging on, stockpiling their products in the hope that business will improve. After studying the Budget, they see no encouragement that their hopes will be realised, and today a hard line is developing.
Rumours of retrenchments and dismissals are gathering momentum. Already some reductions have been announced. It borders on the fantastic to read of 2,500 employees in one firm engaged in the motor industry in Sydney taking their Christmas holidays now. Unfortunately, this ‘is not the end of the story. We can expect further unpleasant announcements in the motor industry in the not too distant future. All this adds up to the destruction of that confidence which is so necessary in the everyday life of our trade and commerce. The Government must accept a large measure of blame for this situation. The question now posed before us is: How long will the public put up with this undesirable situation? The people certainly have it in their hands to alter things on the next election day - 26th November.
The fifth point in the Opposition’s proposed amendment is that the Government has failed to recognise the need for further basic development in the private and public sector, together with active encouragement of industry based on co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth. There has been constant agitation for the planned national development of Australia for some years. This Government tries to defend its policy on national development, but we see precious little action in this field. Apart from approving the construction of a few beef roads in northern Australia, the Government cannot point to any spectacular programme of national development that would help in making our country safer against outside aggression. Admittedly the Government recognises the urgent need of increasing our population, but once migrants arrive here they are on their own so far as their future is concerned. How much better it would be if we could see migrants integrated into a long range plan of national development that would help our country to rise to greater heights.
The sixth and final point of criticism In our leader’s proposed amendment is that the Government does nothing to relieve our dependence on a high rate of foreign investment to finance the deficit in our balance of payments. It is frightening to realise that, slowly but surely, the ownership of Australia is passing into foreign hands. This foreign ownership has an influence on the conduct of the economy, and we can expect little consideration of Australia’s national needs when pressures exert themselves in this sphere. Since foreign investors are concerned with profit motives only, our national aspirations must suffer. Today thousands of square miles of Australia are in foreign hands and most of our major manufacturing industries are foreign owned, or partly so. The Government has failed to provide that a stipulated Australian content shall be included in all foreign owned projects in Australia, and in that sense it is guilty of disloyalty to the nation. I recall that the only interest that this Government has shown in curbing overseas investment was some years ago when an English company, which supported the Labour Party, sought to buy an Australian radio station. The Government acted promptly on that occasion to prevent the sale and purchase, but only, of course, for partly political reasons and not in the national interest.
We now approach the end of the Budget debate. Some Ministers have already displayed in their Budget speeches a measure of arrogance. This leaves the impression that the Government is unmoved by the suggestions which have been made during this debate. The Opposition has played its part by highlighting the deficiencies of the Budget, and the people of Australia should study the excellent contribution made by the Leader of the Opposition in his penetrating analysis of the Budget.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Sexton) is, I believe, a sincere and honest member of the Australian Labour Party. He has expressed the sort of views one would expect from the Labour Party.
– Good views, too.
– Well, we will discuss them. Obviously he looks with a great deal of reverence on the war years, when we had war time controls over prices and wages. The honorable member would like to take us back to those years, when we had petrol rationing, when one could not even buy a shirt with a reasonably long tail, or build a decent house. All the controls, including price fixing, that operated then resulted in a shortage of essential goods. Manufacturers endeavoured to increase the production of only those items that were not subject to price control, and consequently there were desperate shortages. What is more important, Sir, is that the Labour Party, in office in those days, said that there was no chance of relief from those controls because we would not have the goods to supply. One could not buy a motor car, and those who had motor cars could not buy the petrol to run them more than a few miles. Unfortunately the community has forgotten about this sort of thing because the economy has developed tremendously since then.
– Tell us about the freedom you are giving to New Guinea.
– The honorable member does not like to hear these things but I am going to continue to mention them. We are a very fortunate people. Right up to the end of the last war we enjoyed a great deal of security. Every night when we went to bed we knew that the British Navy was there to protect us.
– Get off that one.
– That is accurate hi’story. Today we are an outpost of western civilisation in the south west Pacific area. We have to stand on our own feet in a very difficult environment, with hundreds of millions of people to the north of us on a low standard of living casting envious eyes at us iti the south. We are a nation of just 12 million people - and it is thanks to the measures adopted by this Government that our population is as great as it is. We have to sustain ourselves in this environment. Obviously we need considerable industrial development to sustain a population of 12 mlilion people with a high standard of living. We need strong friendships in this situation, because a community of 12 million people with hundreds of millions to its north has no hope in the world without friends. The policies of this Government have given us the friends we need.
The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Sexton) said that one reason this Government should be thrown out at the next election was its neglect of the pensioners.
Pensioners have never been better off than they are under this Government, and the improvement in their position has been made possible only by the tremendous expansion of our economy. I point out that the Welfare Fund provision in this Budget for the nation amounts to $757 million. It is only just exceeded by the whole of the estimated receipts from company taxation. That is an extraordinary sum to be voted to a welfare fund in a community which has a vast continent still to be developed. It is a tremendous slice out of the Budget, but nevertheless we are developing the continent, too. I remind honorable members that up to the end of the First World War Australia was a primary producing nation. We had no secondary industry. In 1920 we had a population of about 5 million, and the experts in those days estimated that possibly we would be able to approach the 10 million mark. We realised then that if we were to be a substantial nation we had to embark on a policy of industrialisation, and we set about to do that.
– Whom do you mean by “ we “?
– The Australian Government. I remind members of the Labour Party that this is 1966. The present Government has been in office for 18 years. That period exceeds the total time in office of the Labour Party. I think that since Federation the Labour Party has been in power for a period of only 15 or 16 years.
– Seventeen years.
– I am corrected, but I very much doubt that figure. I would say 16 years, but I will concede the honorable member his figure. The present Government has been in office longer than that. It is obvious that the Australian people are misled occasionally by the sort of propositions put up by honorable members opposite, but they very quickly change their minds.
– Who started the immigration programme?
– This Government carried it on and gave the people a higher standard of living. You would never have had a hope in the world of absorbing hundreds of thousands of people on a high standard of living without our policy of expansion.
– Order! I remind the Minister that he should address the Chair.
– I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was carried away by the interjections. The honorable member for Adelaide comes from South Australia, where there is a considerable automotive manufacturing industry. He has said that employees have been dismissed from the motor industry. Unfortunately that is the case, but I point out to the honorable member that the motor industry has expanded tremendously over the years and is still expanding. One of the reasons for these dismissals is the cut throat competition in the motor industry. Despite the tremendous increase in turnover, profits are lower because competition is so keen. This is a factor with private enterprise. It always faces competition and the community benefits from cut throat competition. This has been the history of the motor industry. If these people wrongly assess that the community will be able to absorb far more vehicles than in fact it can. that is a business judgment and I do not see why the Government should be asked to pick up the pieces and get the manufacturers out of their difficulties. What is happening in Australia is no different from what happens in the United States of America.
– There is no comparison between the two situations.
– There is a comparison. This optimism exists in the motor industry. The honorable member for Bonython spoke of these matters. We must face facts. Each year we are absorbing increased quantities of motor vehicles produced in this country. If Labour’s allegations about the state of the economy are true it is strange that we are attracting so much overseas investment. Overseas investors are not fools with millions to invest. They see great opportunities in Australia. The honorable member for Bonython referred to foreign interests investing money in the Northern Territory and northern Queensland, including Cape York Peninsula. We welcome these investments. As Minister for Territories I welcome these investors because they bring with them to this country knowhow and experience. The honorable member for Bonython would condemn the people who
Introduced to Australia the Santa Gertrudis breed of cattle which is so highly rated in America. This is a new breed to Australia. I do not personally fancy it a great deal, but many cattle men regard it as a splendid breed. Should we tell overseas investors that they must not come to Australia and assist us lo develop the country?
We have a high standard of living which the Government is determined to maintain. Not only must we maintain our economic growth but also we must build our defence forces. One of the most remarkable features of the Budget is that we have increased defence expenditure by 34 per cent, over last year without increasing taxes, lt must be remembered also that we have been experiencing one ®f the worst droughts in our history. As well as providing increased finance for defence commitments we have provided assistance to people who have suffered from the drought. In a community that still lives off the sheep’s back this Budget represents a remarkable effort on the part of the Government. If we are realists we will admit that this is an extraordinary Budget.
– That is what Bolte and Askin said.
– Order! The honorable member for Watson will speak next.
– I congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) on bringing down this Budget. To maintain our standard of living we must have a strong economy. We must also have a defence force adequate to defend us. But with our population of about 12 million people we could not defend ourselves against 100 million people to our north. In this respect we need a considerable number of friends. This is why it is important that we should be fighting alongside the Americans in Vietnam.
– All the way without a say.
– This is true. Our support of the Americans will pay off. If we relied on the defence policies of the Australian Labour Party we would be in a difficult situation.
– Let me give the honorable member some reasons. After the Second World War the Americans sought the per mission of the Australian Government to retain a base on Manus Island. Any exserviceman who served in the New Guinea theatre will remember what happened. The Americans had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Manus Island. It was a massive base. But when they wanted to retain the base the Australian Labour Government would not allow them to do so. What would be the situation today if the Americans had been allowed to retain their base on Manus Island? The existence today on Manus Island of the tremendous base which the Americans proposed to establish there would have provided us with quite a degree of relief from attack. But, unfortunately, in those days Australia had a Labour government in power. Again, when the Americans approached Australia seeking permission to establish a base - only a communication base - at North West Cape, the proposal was condemned by the Australian Labour Party. Any effort to build up Australia’s defences has been opposed by these people. Any effort to assist our enemies in Asia has been supported by the Australian Labour Party.
Yesterday the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) spoke in the debate. If we are to believe Press statements, he is in the running to be a leader of the Australian Labour Party. The best that could be said about his speech yesterday is that he gave comfort to our enemies. He said that we should not be involved in Vietnam; that we should withdraw our forces from Vietnam. All I can say about his remarks is that if he is not for us, he is agin us, because he gave comfort to our enemies.
We face, as I have said before, a serious situation. We have had to meet Communist aggression before in other parts of the. world than ours. The world’s hot spot is no longer Europe. A few years ago the centre of aggressiveness was Berlin. We met the Communists there and stopped them by the massive air lift to keep West Berlin neutral and part of West Germany. The Communists made another attack in Malaya. Australia, New Zealand and Britain sent troops to Malaya. The Australian Labour Party opposed this effort to keep Malaya independent. We had to meet the Communist threat in Korea. On each occasion we have met the threat and stopped it. We) are doing so again in Vietnam. To live in this world you must be a realist. You must be prepared to defend the things in which you believe.
– The Minister believes in Marshal Ky.
– 1 believe in the man who is prepared to fight for his country. This is the important thing.
– Has the Minister been to Vietnam lately?
– Order! Hu Minister is capable of making his own speech.
– He needs a lot of help.
– I believe in the man who is prepared to defend his country. The honorable member for Willis would try to draw an analogy between the kind of democracy that exists in Vietnam and the kind we have here. This analogy does not exist. We must respect the opinions of Asian people in these matters. We must respect the people who are prepared to defend their country.
Let me say something now about my home State of Queensland. 1 have devoted some time to the situation that existed in Australia under a Labour Government. Recently Sir Alan Westerman, Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, addressed in Brisbane a meeting of the Export Development Council. He said that Queensland had fallen behind the other States in industrialisation. This is true: Queensland has fallen behind the other States. Queensland is still a primary producing State. I mention this as a warning to people who may listen to our Opposition friends. The present situation is extraordinary when you bear in mind that Queensland is the second largest State of the Commonwealth and the wealthiest in natural resources. I point out to honorable members that in a period of 42 years Queensland was governed for 39 years by Labour, which introduced Socialist policies. The people who governed Queensland then were completely brash. They were thoroughly sincere but were indoctrinated in Socialism. When they took over in 1915, they believed that this was an opportunity to take over the whole State. They had State stations, State sawmills, State hotels, State coalmines, even State butcher shops and all the rest of it. They even combined with the British Government on a Peak Downs enterprise and it was just as unsuccessful as all the others were.
– The people of Queensland went on re-electing them.
– The people of Queensland have now realised their error and have returned the present Government for nine years without the loss of a single member. The people of Queensland now realise how they suffered. Queensland has not yet recovered from the situation that was created by Labour, despite the efforts of the Nicklin Government. The honorable member for Adelaide, who preceded me in this debate, outlined Socialist policies. The Labour Government of Queensland followed these policies and discouraged large companies from establishing themselves in that State. The Labour Government did not want investment to come to Queensland from the south and imposed absolutely prohibitive taxes on industries that tried to establish themselves. I will read out the State tax scale at a time when the States had the power to impose these taxes. I will do this for the record, because it is important. We do not want to gloss over these facts, because if we do people may be misled. I will give the company tax in Queensland when Labour was in office.
– What year was this?
– This was 1943. The rate was 21d. plus 20 per cent, supertax. In addition, the tax was 3d. for each additional 1 per cent, of profit over 6 per cent, until it reached 19 per cent., after which the rate was 63d. in the £1. This was the State tax; the Commonwealth tax was an additional impost. If it was a public utility or a monopoly company, the additional rate was 6d. for each additional 1 per cent, of profit until it reached 16 per cent., after which the rate was 87d. Concessions were given to mutual life associations and mining companies.
– What was the rate during the Boer War?
– It was different from this. Company tax in South Australia was 2s. in the £1.
– In 1943. This is important. Honorable members opposite should have the ability to realise that this was a vital time in Australia’s history. Australia was cut off from the rest of the world, but it had to service the one million or so American servicemen who were based in Australia. We had to expand our industries to do this. South Australia, Victoria and other States encouraged industrial development and were in the box seat. They dug in at this time and it is now pretty hard for Queensland to break into the industrial field. The other States have a tremendous lead. Of course, in industry, on station properties or on farms, people who do not have management ability or whose policies are inadequate or foolish suffer for years. People without the ability go out of business; those with ability prosper. But governments can be more fortunate. A State as rich as Queensland can be sustained in mediocrity, and Queensland was so wealthy that it was able to afford these policies. This meant that, by the time Queensland started, industry had established itself in the south. We lost our share of migrants. We even lost our brighter young people. When they left school or university, they found that the opportunities for employment in Queensland were limited, because of lack of industrial enterprise, and they went south. This state of affairs continued until the Country Party-Liberal Government took office. Since then, a tremendous change has taken place.
In the last election, which was held only a few months ago, the Government was returned to office again. Having been in power for nine years, it was reasonable to expect that the people might have changed their views and the Government might lose an odd seat or two. But this was not so. The Government went back without the loss of a single seat. I would say that this is because people now have only to drive around Brisbane to see the change that has taken place. They can see the new industries that have come to Queensland. Previously, new industries could be seen only by people who drove around Melbourne or Adelaide. But the change of management in Queensland has brought prosperity to the State. This year, for the first time, industrial production in Queens land has exceeded primary production. This is a tremendous tribute to the Country Party-Liberal Government. The electors of Queensland cannot be fooled; they put this Government back in office again. They would like a bit more of this prosperity.
– The Government did not get any more votes.
– It did not get more votes, but some seats were not contested and no votes were recorded in those electorates.
– It is still a shocking gerrymander.
– The Leader of the Opposition is getting worked up about this. Opposition members have criticised the Government’s efforts in northern development. What is surprising is the tremendous development that has taken place in the north of Queensland as a result of the support that this Government has given. It has given assistance to Mount Isa with the Mount Isa railway line. Great industrial development is now proceeding in north Queensland. But northern development had its greatest setback in the whole of its history with the Mount Isa strike. The strike cost Australia $80 million in export income and it cost the State Government $10 million in rail revenue. It was supported by two leading Opposition members, the honorable member for Yarra and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who used their efforts to ferment and promote the strike. The Labour Party advocates northern development, but it encouraged the strike which gave the north one of the greatest setbacks it has ever had. This is a strange situation, and I think the people of the north should be made aware of it.
– They know it. That is why they would not believe you.
– They do not know. The honorable member for Herbert must know how many people were thrown out of work at the refinery in Townsville. This was a tremendous set-back; nevertheless I am sure the people of north Queensland will have a second look at the situation at the coming election and realise that millions of pounds have been poured into the north on the brigalow scheme, beef roads and so on. The purpose of my speech now is to outline the present situation. The people of Queensland will remember the situation under the Labour Government; it is close to their memories.
– There are 2,000 fewer in Queensland today than last year.
– 1 have just pointed out that, for the first time, industrial production in Queensland has exceeded primary production. Concern has been expressed about education in New South Wales. This has arisen because of the neglect of education during the years that Labour was in office in New South Wales. Queensland had exactly the same situation. The Country Party-Liberal Government inherited a run down education system in Queensland. Anybody who goes round Queensland now will find a fine high school in every major town. In every small town, there is either a new high school or a school extended to take high school classes. This is the sort of thing that people take note of and it is the sort of thing that caused the Queensland Government to be returned to office without loss recently after a term of nine years. I believe that this will continue. I condemn the amendment, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Finally I congratulate the Treasurer on the presentation of his first Budget.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, one could not help being amazed at the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) who. in his opening outburst, said that the pensioners have never been better off in their lives. I would like to see members of the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party tell the pensioners this in the election campaign. We recently had the spectacle of people representing branches of pensioners’ organisations in practically every State coming to the Parliament to see members. Not one member of the Government Parties was courteous enough to go across the road to the meeting that was held and to listen to the claims made by pensioners. What does the Minister know about people who are in need and cannot tell where their next pair of shoes will come from or how they can afford to buy a shirt, a suit or even food? What does he know about these things? He has never been short of food in his life. Let us be reasonable about these matters: One has to speak from experience. The Minister also said that under the Labour Government we had petrol rationing because of the shortage of petrol. At that time, there was a world wide shortage of petrol, and it was the state of the Empire dollar pool that prevented us from obtaining supplies. Britain was practically bankrupt and our dollars were made available to her instead of being spent on petrol for ourselves.
– You said it had to continue.
– Who said it had to continue?
– The Labour Government said it.
– I shall tell the honorable member the story about the petrol situation at that time. Apparently, he is not familiar with it. It was not Menzies who promised to abolish petrol rationing. It was Fadden who made the promise. If he had been Prime Minister, he would have had to agree at a Premiers’ conference to maintain rationing for another 1 2 months, just as the Prime Minister of the day and the Premiers had to agree. Fadden obtained petrol from France. It was Marshall Aid petrol, and the Americans complained to the French about their selling petrol that the Americans had given them for their own use. That was the means by which Fadden obtained petrol in 1949.
Let us now consider what the Minister for Territories said about overseas investment in Australia. He welcomes it. But what does his leader say? His leader says that we are selling the farm bit by bit, week after week. So the honorable gentleman disagrees with his leader on that point. He also claimed that Labour lacked interest in the defence of Australia. Does he recall the days of the Curtin Government after a government of the political complexion of the present Government Parties had walked out of office because it could not conduct the war effort? Does he recall who was responsible for saving Australia? Was it those of the political complexion of the present Liberal Party and Country Party? Of course it was not. It was Labour.
The Minister also said that this is a glorious Budget. Sir Henry Bolte and Mr. Askin do not agree with him. They have been criticising it very much, though they are members of the coalition Parties to which the Minister and the Treasurer belong. The Minister also claimed that education standards in New South Wales were poor because of bad administration by a Labour government. However, he did not tell the House that Queensland spends less per capita on education than is spent in any other State in the Commonwealth. He does not know what he is talking about when he alleges that bad Socialist Labour governments have allowed standards to decline. I suggest that he have a cup of tea with Senator Gair, who was Premier of Queensland for some years, and tell him that. I doubt whether the Minister would shout the senator a cup of tea. However, they would doubtless have margarine on their sandwiches.
I now turn to the Budget, which the Minister did not find time to touch on during his half hour speech. Prior to the presentation of this Budget, newspaper editorials and leading spokesmen in business, industry and commerce unanimously claimed that the economy urgently needed stimulating if steady growth was to be maintained. However, this Budget, we find, is uninspiring and completely negative. It certainly does not instil confidence in Australia’s future. In addition, it displays a callous disregard of the real needs of social service beneficiaries, as evidenced by the niggardly increase of only $1 a week for single pensioners and 75c a week for pensioner married couples. The purchasing power of child endowment is not commensurate with that of 1949 and the rates of maternity allowance have remained unaltered, despite Sir Robert Menzies’ solemn undertaking to the people of Australia that he would maintain the full value of social service benefits when his Government assumed office in 1949.
Let us examine some social service benefits. I shall deal first with age and invalid pensions. To illustrate how paltry the increase proposed in this Budget is, I read an extract from the editorial published in the Sydney “Daily Telegraph” on 17th August last. It is in these terms - on one important welfare issue, the needs of pensioners, the Government has been niggardly - $1 is simply not enough.
The Government has also been most unfair and unrealistic in putting the rate for married pensioners another SO cents behind that for two single pensioners, thus aggravating an already inequitable position.
I may add that this newspaper is recognised as the principal mouthpiece of the LiberalCountry Party coalition. It is noted for its prejudice and bias against the Australian Labour Party. Nevertheless, one cannot deny that in this instance it is right. If any Minister or Government supporter wishes to refute that statement in the editorial, let him rise in his place and attempt to do so. 1 issue that challenge believing that it will not be accepted. It is beyond my comprehension how the majority of pensioners exist with the present exorbitant living costs resulting from the high prices of essential, every day commodities. Pensioners certainly cannot live in comfort or enjoy even a reasonable standard of living.
I now turn to the permissible income of $7 a week for a single pensioner and S14 a week for a pensioner married couple. The limits were last adjusted in 1954 when the pension was $7 a week for each pensioner. Despite the higher pension rate of today, the permissible income remains stationary. This reacts unfavorably, unfairly and unjustly against superannuitants who before retiring were wage or salary earners. I have noted with a great deal of interest that in this debate several Government backbenchers have advocated the complete abolition of the means test. We realise what arrant humbug their advocacy is when we recall that these same members support a government that for 12 years has refused point blank to liberalise the means test applicable to permissible income. Probably, these same Government supporters would give to their local newspapers for publication, especially just prior to an election, extracts from the “ Hansard “ reports of speeches in which they have made themselves out to be martyrs in the cause of people on fixed incomes.
– How do they vote on this issue?
– Always the same. I shall cite a case that was brought to my notice a few years ago when the pension was $10 a week. The person in question received the equivalent of $9 a week in superannuation as a former employee of the New South Wales Government. He received also an age pension which was limited to $8 a week because at the time the maximum allowable income was $17 a week. An increase in the value of superannuation units raised his income from superannuation to $10 a week. Since his income was not permitted to exceed $17 a week, his age pension was reduced to $7 a week. So the increase in his superannuation, as in thousands of similar cases, was of no earthly benefit. His superannuation increased by 10s., or $1, a week, and his pension was reduced by 10s., or $1, a week. This sort of thing is most unfair and unjust.
I turn now to child endowment. This is one social service benefit which has deteriorated greatly in value since this Government assumed office in 1949. lt is interesting to trace the history of child endowment. The Menzies Government introduced child endowment and the first payment was made on 1st July 1941. That Government did not introduce the legislation because it believed in the principle of child endowment; the legislation resulted from a decision given by Judge Drake-Brockman in the arbitration court when dealing with the basic wage which at that time was based on the needs of a man, his wife and three children. The judge said that the wage at that time was sufficient for only a man, his wife and one child. To prevent a substantial increase in the basic wage the Government stepped in and introduced child endowment.
The rate of endowment applicable in 1941 was 50c for each child, excepting the first child, and at that time the average basic wage stood at $7.90. In 1945 the Curtin Labour Government increased child endowment from 50c to 75c. The basic wage at that time stood at $8.60. In 1948 the Chifley Labour Government increased the rate from 75c to $1 at a time when the basic wage stood at $11.90. So over a period of seven years, four of which were war years, Labour doubled child endowment, despite a wage increase of only $4 over that period. In 1950 the Menzies Government introduced an endowment of 50c for the first child, and in January 1964 the payment for the third child and subsequent children increased by 50c from $1 to $1.50.
Now 1 shall compare the purchasing value of child endowment in relation to the average basic wage of $13.20 in July 1950 with the average basic wage of $32.80 today. In 1950 the endowment of 50c for one child was 3.79 per cent, of the basic wage; the same percentage of the basic wage today is $ 1 .25, so the loss in purchasing power is 75c. A family with two children in 1950 received $1.50 in child endowment, which was equal to 11.36 per cent, of the then basic wage. The same percentage today would yield $3.70, so the loss is $2.20. In 1950 the family with three children received $2.50 in child endowment, that amount being 18.94 per cent, of the basic wage. The same percentage, of the basic wage today would be $6.20, so the loss in purchasing power would be $3.70. The family with four children received $3.50 in endowment in 1950, the percentage of the basic wage being 26.51. The same percentage today would give $8.70, so the loss is $5.20. The family with five children received $5.50 in endowment in 1950, that amount being 34.09 per cent, of the basic wage. The same percentage today would yield $11.10, so the loss would be $6.60. In 1950 the family with six children received as child endowment $5.50, which was 41.66 per cent, of the basic wage. The same percentage of the basic wage today is $13.70, so the loss in purchasing power is $8.20.
That comparison amply and forcibly illustrates the manner in which mothers have been created by the failure of this and preceding Liberal-Country Party Governments to implement the 1949 promise to maintain the full value of social service benefits. It is interesting to note that recently various authorities have expressed concern with Australia’s decrease in the birth rate over the past two or three years. It has been said, inter alia, that the pill is responsible or that some parents are too busy enjoying themselves to be bothered about raising families. Then there are thousands of wives who, from sheer economic necessity, go to work because the husband’s wage is insufficient to meet normal commitments. However, I believe that the major contributing factor for the decrease is that breadwinners in the lower wage or salary bracket find it economically impossible to raise an average size family, particularly so when one considers the exorbitant cost of special infant’s food, the price of clothes, shoes and school accessories for growing children. The basic solution for this appalling situation rests with the Government, and if Prime Minister
Holt refuses to accept the responsibility then the Leader of the Opposition, Arthur Calwell, certainly will.
Now I shall touch on the maternity allowance which is more popularly known as the baby bonus. In monetary terms this benefit has remained unaltered since the Menzies Government took office in 1949, despite the fact that the average basic wage has increased by 148 per cent, in this period of 17 years. In assessing the real value of the maternity allowance, let us examine this fact. Recently the Bolte Liberal Government in Victoria applied new hospital charges. The charge for public wards was increased by $14 to $70 per week; in intermediate wards the increase was $21, which took the charge to $94.50; the charge for semi-private wards increased by $24.50 to a minimum of $105; and private ward charges increased by $28 to a minimum of $126 per week. In addition, Liberal Premier Askin in New South Wales has announced that his forthcoming budget will contain provision for increased hospital charges.
Finally on the subject of social services I shall touch on the pensioner funeral benefit. This scheme was introduced by the Curtin Government and became operative on 1st July 1943, the amount then payable being $20. The average basic wage at that time was $9.50. The only alteration to this benefit since 1943 occurred in the 1965 Budget when the amount was increased to $40. This benefit applies only in the case of a spouse receiving it upon the death of the other partner in marriage; it does not apply to the person who has paid or is liable to pay for the burial cost of a single or widowed pensioner. This is a scandalous injustice, particularly when $20 is not enough to purchase even the cheapest of coffins anywhere in Australia.
I propose now to refer to inflation which is prevalent in Australia today. This brings to mind those famous vote catching words uttered in 1949 by Sir Robert Menzies: “ I’ll put value back into the pound.” There was so little left of the pound when Sir Robert retired that the Government changed over to decimal currency. Now it is making quite a start on that currency. Inflation is like a thief in the night: It robs the value of one’s money in a bank, the value of one’s life assurance policy, the value of one’s wage or salary. It makes one pay ever increasing local government rates, ever increasing water and sewerage rates, ever increasing transport charges to and from work, ever increasing costs to build a home and ever increasing costs for essential foodstuffs and clothing. And, of paramount importance, it makes it much more difficult to sell our primary products and manufactured goods in highly competitive world markets. lt is interesting to note that the inflationary spiral commenced shortly after the defeat of the referendum in 1948 when Mr. Chifley sought Commonwealth power to control prices and charges. Mr. Chifley stated then that if the referendum failed it would be a case of the dog chasing its tail. In other words, there would be the never ending process of wages chasing prices. Every word of that prediction has come true. That cannot be denied. Sir Robert Menzies, who was then Leader of the Opposition, and his Liberal and Country Party colleagues strongly opposed the referendum. Sir Robert said that the States could effectively control prices. He went on further to say that private enterprise and healthy competition would keep prices stable. That was a beauty! Did honorable members ever hear anything like that? The only competition that I know of in Sydney at the present time is to be the semi-final football match between Balmain and St. George to be held next Saturday in Sydney. Despite the rising prices over the years, that much maligned group of people whom we know as bookmakers are the only ones who have not increased their prices since this Government came into power.
Now let us analyse the way in which wages have been chasing prices. In May 1948 the average basic wage in Australia was $10.90. By November 1951 it had increased to $20, and by August 1953 to $23.60. This was when the quarterly adjustments were abolished. By June 1956 the average basic wage had reached $24.60. In June 1959 it was $27.60. Bv July 1961 it had increased to $28.80. It was $30.80 in 1964 and it now stands at $32.80. These facts knock sky high the assertion of Sir Robert Menzies that private enterprise and healthy competition would keep prices stable.
This unhappy inflationary trend poses the question: Where is it ail going to finish?
I believe that question is unanswerable. In five years’ time the basic wage could be $40 or more a week, with prices much higher in proportion. If this is the case - and it cannot be denied that this is likely to happen - then we must ask another question: What can we do about it? To this second question there is a ready answer. We can hold another referendum seeking Commonwealth power to control prices and charges. I am sure that such a proposal would receive overwhelming support because the people are sick and tired of inflation and they certainly would not make the same mistake they made in 1948.
I find it difficult to understand why the Country Party does not advocate Commonwealth price control, because the primary producers are seriously affected by inflation. However, to suggest that the members of the Country Party should support Commonwealth price control would be asking too much of them. They believe in supporting wealthy monopolistic combines, just as the Liberal Party does, and certainly if Commonwealth price control were introduced, as it would be if the Labour Party had the power to do so, it would restrict the power of the monopolistic combines. The members of the Country Party are not allowed to voice an opinion in favour of price control because if they did they would not get any money for their funds at election time.
I shall devote the remainder of my time to some remarks about conscription for overseas service. The conscription of our 20 year old youths for overseas military service is indeed the most important and controversial issue that has confronted the Australian people for many a decade, particularly when we consider that no declaration of war has been made by the Government. The Federal Labour Opposition has constantly pressed the Government to hold a referendum on this issue, because we believe that the people of Australia should and must be given the democratic right to vote and express an opinion on such a vitally important and contentious matter. The Labour Party would most strongly advocate a “No” vote, but if the referendum proposal were accepted by the people we would accept the verdict without question.
It is interesting to note that the present Prime Minister, in an endeavour to find an excuse to justify the unwarranted action of his Government, says that the Curtin Labour Government introduced conscription in 1943. That is perfectly true, but what the Prime Minister omitted to mention was that in 1943 Australia was in a declared state of war, fighting for its very survival, with the Japanese hammering away at our front doorstep. Yet despite the desperate situation in which we were then placed, no conscripted personnel were required to serve north of the Equator. In other words, John Curtin, Australia’s great wartime Labour Prime Minister, was concerned with the defence of Australia and its Territories.
Now let me say a few words about our former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, Knight of the Thistle and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, whose main duty is to gather any dead whales that may float in with the tide on the English beaches. This gentleman was responsible for introducing the legislation making provision for conscripted servicemen to serve anywhere in the world. Incidentally, Sir Robert was strongly criticised in the Commonwealth Parliament by the late Sir Earle Page because of his failure to volunteer in World War T. I shall read an extract from “ Hansard “ of 20th April 1939. This is what Sir Earle Page had to say -
I come now to the third incident: Some 24 years ago the right honorable member for Kooyong-
That was the gentleman who later became Sir Robert Menzies - was a member of the Australian Military Forces and held the King’s Commission. In 1915, after having been in the military forces for some years, he resigned his commission and did not go overseas.
In fairness I think I should read Sir Robert’s reply. He said -
I was in exactly the same position as any other person who at that time had to answer the extremely important questions - Is it my duty to go to the war, or is it my duty not to go? The answers to those questions cannot be made on the public platform. Those questions relate to a man’s intimate, personal and family affairs, and. in consequence, I, facing those problems, problems of intense difficulty, found myself, for reasons which were and are compelling, unable to join my two brothers in the infantry of the Australian Imperial Force.
I personally offer no criticism of Sir Robert Menzies because of this refusal to go.
– What about the Leader of the Opposition?
– Wait a minute. You are just jumping the gun again. 1 say thai 1 do not offer any personal criticism. I am merely quoting what was said about Sir Robert Menzies by Sir Earle Page at that time. When Sir Robert Menzies refused to enlist it was after he had been given the opportunity of saying “ Yes “ or “ No “, and it was at a time when we were in a declared state of war. But at a time when, we are not in a declared state of war we find Sir Robert Menzies denies the people of Australia the right to vote at a referendum and say whether their boys should go overseas.
– He denies the right to the boys themselves.
– Yes, he denies the boys of Australia the opportunity that he had during the First World War. There were two referendums held on conscription during the First World War, one on 28;h October 1916 and the other on 20th December 1917, and in both cases the referendum proposals were defeated. Sir Robert Menzies was born on 21st December 1895. He did not have a vote in the first referendum but he did ;n the second, and although I have not backed a winner since Lord Fury won the Melbourne Cup 1 am willing to bet that he voted “ No “ in the second referendum. This is the kind of thing we have to put up wi:h from a man who had the opportunity of saying “ Yes “ or “ No “ when he had to make a decision for himself, but who denies a similar opportunity to the people of Australia today.
– You were not game to say this when he was here.
– It seems that this is getting under the skins of honorable members opposite. We find this Government telling us from time to time - not so much in this House as through other public channels - that Red China is our enemy. I have one of the Government’s pamphlets here. If Red China is our enemy then this Government, the Prime Minister and every member of the Government are guilty of an act of treason, because one does not trade with an enemy. At the present time we are selling wheat and wool to Red China, wheat to feed its army and wool to clothe its army. We are selling metals to Red China which could be used against us in the future. Yet these hypocrites on the other side talk about Red China being our enemy, although they are selling them wheat on the time payment basis, and they are selling it on better terms than they sell it to one of our fellow members of the Commonwealth, India. Yet these people opposite are the ones that get up at election time and in their usual hypocritical manner talk about the Labour Party being pro-Communist. How ridiculous it is, and what a lot of humbugs these people are in regard to this matter.
Let me make a final remark. Marshal Ky has said - and also Lieutenant-Colonel Preoce who has returned to Australia after being in charge of the first Australian force that went to Vietnam - that this war could go on for many long years. Marshal Ky has said that it could go on for more than 20 years. If that is the case there are many boys going to school today, and who are in their teens, who could eventually be fighting in Vietnam. There are many young boys sitting in the gallery here tonight who could eventually be fighting in Vietnam, and who will be fighting there unless there is a change of government, as everyone with any common sense hopes there will be at the end of this year.
– 1 have listened with considerable interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) about the Budget. I was interested during the last seven or eight minutes in his reference to what he terms conscription and his remarks about a referendum. I assure him that the Government will give him the opportunity and the people of Australia the opportunity to vote on 26th November. I think everybody on this side of the House knows what the result will be. I hope that he will be true to his word and will accept the people’s verdict. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) spearheaded the attack on the Budget. I think all members of the Opposition who have spoken have criticised some aspects of the Budget. I think the public would be particularly concerned with their references to insufficient spending in many areas and with the indication that the Australian Labour Party will increase expenditure in those areas. They are too numerous for one to remember them all, but I have been through the “ Hansard “ reports and I shall give a list for the record. According to Labour spokesmen there will be an increase in all pensions. The means test will be abolished. There will be increases in child endowment, maternity allowance, education grants, superannuation, housing grants, external aid and grants to the States. There will be grants to the States in relation to teachers’ salaries. One member of the Opposition made the unique suggestion that there will be a subsidy for small businesses of $200 million to $300 million a year to take care of basic wage increases, perhaps in the hope that increases in prices will be avoided. There was one other commitment made in speeches of members of the Opposition, namely that there will be an increase of $2 a week in pensions. However, not one member of the Opposition gave the slightest indication of what would be the cost of the increase in each of the items I have mentioned - no indication of the estimated cost in toto. Therefore it is left to members of the public and to members on this side of the House to make some estimate - more than a guess; a real estimate - and then to look at where funds might be raised to provide for these benefits. The estimate that I have carefully made is that these increased benefits would require an increased expenditure of $800 million per annum by the Commonwealth.
Most honorable members realise that we get our revenue from two main sources - from loan moneys and from taxation. Of course, there is a third method of getting money to which the Opposition has referred from time to time, namely the inflationary method of issuing treasury bills. I think the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) in his Budget speech made it quite clear that this year it was estimated that we would not receive more than about $150 million from loan money. It may be that this will increase a little, it may be that it will be a little less but at least it would be an infinitesimal part of an additional expenditure of $800 million. So to get that $800 million it would be necessary to increase taxes or issue treasury bills. As to increasing taxation, let us be sure that we understand completely what the situation is in relation to Budget expenditure.
The total expenditure, if we exclude business undertakings - and they, of course, provide revenue which is an offset to the expenditure on them - is no less than $5,567 million. Of that, $1,000 million is for defence, and this represents 18 per cent, of the total. An amount of $1,861 million, or 33.4 per cent., will go to the States for revenue grants and for works and housing. The National Welfare Fund will account for $1,020 million or 18.3 per cent.; repatriation for $249 million or 4.5 per cent.; and Commonwealth capital works for $471 million or 8.5 per cent. Then there are items such as debt charges; special expenditures - these include wheat stabilisation schemes and subsidies to primary industries and so forth; amounts for the Territories, and War Service Land Settlement expenditure. These total $629 million or 11.3 per cent, of the total. This accounts for 94 per cent, of the total expenditure. If the Opposition proposes to find any part of an additional $800 million from the present Budget then I put to it the simple question: What section of the Budget will be reduced? Does the Opposition propose to reduce the amount provided for defence? Does it propose to reduce the amounts provided for the States? The answer must be “ No “, because honorable members opposite have requested increased amounts in these categories. Does the Opposition propose that there should be a reduction in Commonwealth works expenditure or in repatriation benefits? I notice that there is a complete silence, so I think we must accept that there will not be a reduction in those areas; but the Opposition says there will be an additional expenditure of $800 million.
I think we can take it that taxation would be expected to provide the additional $800 million of revenue. The total direct taxation to be received this year from pay as you earn taxation and from taxation on private individuals and companies will be $2,664 million. I point out that 1 per cent, of that is $26.6 million and 10 per cent, is $266 million. From indirect taxation - that is, customs, excise, sales tax, pay roll tax, estate duty and gift duty - the total to be received is $1,737 million. One per cent, of this is $17 million and 10 per cent, is about $174 million. If we take these two sources together we find that a 10 per cent, increase in all direct and indirect taxation would produce $440 million. To get $800 million it would be necessary to double that percentage. I am pleased to inform the Australian public that this is the plan that the Labour Party has if it wins the next election. There will be an increase of not less than 20 per cent, in all taxation. Perhaps it would be split up in some way so that there would be higher taxation in one area and lower taxation in another.
It was only a year or two ago that the Leader of the Opposition said that when a Labour Government increased taxation it would increase it on incomes in excess of £3,000 a year. The latest figures that I have are the figures that were distributed with the Budget papers, and they deal with the income year ended 30th June 1964. It is interesting to look at the situation concerning incomes over $6,000 or £3,000 per annum. The number of taxpayers in this category was 177,000 or 4 per cent, only of the total taxpayers of Australia. Their total income was $1,460 million and their total deductions amounted to $232 million, which gave a net income of $1,228 million or an average income of $6,940 for each of those taxpayers. The tax payable in 1964 was $437 million. I remind honorable members that there has been an increase in taxation of 2i per cent, in each of the last two years. An additional $800 million added to this total of $437 million would give a total taxation of $1,237 million from this section of the community. This happens to be S9 million more than they actually earned. Is this the proposal the Labour Party is putting to the Australian people in relation to taxation? Of course it could not be.
Let us go down a little further in the scale and consider those who have an income of only £2,000 or $4,000 a year. This is not, I suggest, a tremendously high salary. There are 500,000 taxpayers in this group or 1 1 per cent, of the total number of taxpayers. That leaves 89 per cent, of the taxpaying public not accounted for in this area. Their net income would be $2,085 million and their tax $831 million. Add to this tax the $800 million additional which the Labour Party would want and we have a total taxation revenue of $1,600 million. This would leave 500,000 taxpayers a total of $485 million or an average of $970 or £485 each per annum with which to maintain themselves, their families and their homes. Is this the proposal the Labour Party is putting before the people in this Budget debate? Is this part of the programme the Labour Party intends to put before the electors in the campaign prior to the election on 26th November?
So far 1 have said nothing about development although we have heard a good deal from the Opposition about development generally and development of the north in particular. My honorable colleague, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes), referred a short time ago to the period when Labour was in office in Queensland. As a Queenslander, 1 am entitled to refer to the record of the Labour Government, which was in office in Queensland for so many years, in the field of northern development. 1 believe that Labour Government made not one worthwhile -gesture in all the time it was in office in that State. Eventually it got around to building the Burdekin bridge. This took eight years in the planning and building, and 1 think it is fair to say that it was nothing more than an electoral gesture.
Of course the honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) would desire to bury completely the history of Labour in Queensland. Because of a new found interest following a job he obtained in the Department of National Development, he believes all sorts of things should be done in Queensland. Let us have a look at only two aspects of the activities of the Queensland Labour Government. During the war there was a substantial influx of people into Queensland, particularly American troops because Queensland was very close to the Coral Sea and the theatre of war. Queensland enjoyed virtually a bonanza. The State railways were working to the maximum and there were tremendous surpluses of money. These were put into trust funds. Unfortunately, when a State comes to the Australian Loan Council for funds the amount to which it is entitled is related to the average it received in the five previous years. While Queensland was enjoying the bonanza the Labour Government said to the Commonwealth: “ We do not want from the Loan Council the maximum funds to which we are entitled. We will use money from our trust funds “. When these funds were exhausted and Queensland approached the Loan Council for money it was told that the amounts it had used in the five previous years had been so small that its entitlement for the following five years would be considerably below what it otherwise would have been. Because of the actions of the Labour Government. Queensland has suffered in this respect until the present time.
It was only last year that the Commonwealth Government was able to devise some scheme to ease the situation by granting an additional £1 million in the first year, £2 million in the second year, £3 million in the third year, £4 million in the fourth year and £5 million in the fifth year of the Agreement. All honorable members know the size of Queensland. Despite that size the State today receives less loan funds per head of population than does South Australia which has a very much smaller area from a development point of view.
Then, as was mentioned by the Minister for Territories, the same Queensland Labour Government had a taxation policy which discouraged secondary industry establishing itself in Queensland. In fact, not only the Labour Government’s taxation policy discouraged secondary industry. Mr. Forgan Smith, the Premier, said on one occasion that Queensland should not be a secondary industry State; it should remain a primary producing State. The Minister for Territories mentioned company tax. In Queensland companies paid the maximum 5s. 3d. in the £1 plus 20 per cent, super tax, whereas in South Australia the rate of tax is 2s. in the £1. Commonwealth company tax is also 2s. in the £1. How could anyone expect secondary industries in Queensland to develop as they have developed in the other States? Is it any wonder that Queensland was backward until 1957 when the present State Government came into office?
I have mentioned how the State suffered under Labour. Now let me refer to what has happened in Queensland as a result of co-operation between the Commonwealth and the present State Government. I could mention a formidable list of objectives which have been achieved in Queensland and in the north of Australia in the last few years. First, there is the Mount Isa railway. I think it is almost impossible for honorable members to appreciate the tremendous additional production which has come out of Mount Isa following construction of the railway. Then there is the development of the brigalow lands. Sections 1 and 2 of the project are almost completed and an agreement has been entered into by the Commonwealth to finance the third section. We must remember the tremendous steps which have been taken in the movement of beef cattle following construction of the beef roads, not only in Queensland but in the Northern Territory and Western Australia as well.
The development of Gladstone has also resulted from co-operation between the two Governments. When Queensland was unable to provide funds for the construction of wharf facilities at Gladstone for the shipment of Moura coal to Japan, this Commonwealth Government made the funds available to the Gladstone Harbour Board. Then there is the development which is taking place in the production of alumina, first of all at Weipa in the Gulf, and secondly, in the construction of a huge alumina plant at Gladstone. This Government contributed quite substantially to the cost of constructing the Weipa wharf from which bauxite is shipped to Gladstone. Funds provided by the Commonwealth have built the Derby and Broome jetties. They have also played a substantial part in the construction of the Exmouth township in Western Australia. What has been done with the Ord River has been done with funds provided for Western Australia by the Commonwealth.
In the field of civil aviation I need mention only the airport extensions at Derby in Western Australia and Cairns in Queensland. What has happened in the extension of communications? Only a few weeks ago a microwave Jink between Brisbane and Cairns was opened. This enables people in the northern cities of Cairns and Townsville to have subscriber trunk dialling to Brisbane and through Brisbane to other States. Then there is the extension of health services and expenditure on defence projects in Townsville, particularly, and at Shoalhaven Bay. These things, I suggest, represent a real contribution to the development of the north, but they are forgotten by the Labour Party. It should think of them when considering what was done in the 30 or 40 years of Labour rule in that State, when, at times, we also had a Labour Government in Canberra.
The next matter to which I refer is research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I believe that the beef and pastoral industries, particularly those sections in the coastal parts of Queensland, will receive tremendous benefit from the research undertaken by the C.S.I. R.O. in, for instance, the development of tropical legumes and of grasses for those areas. Those who really know the coastal sections of Queensland will always be ready to applaud this remarkable organisation for the work which it has done.
Those are only some of the things which have been done by this Government to assist northern development. While those that I am about to mention are not applicable solely to Queensland, they nevertheless have a percentage application. I refer to such things as wheat stabilisation, our contribution to wool promotion, the payment of subsidies on fertilisers, the petrol prices plan under which people in the country are able to buy petrol at no more than 4d. a gallon above capital city prices, subsidies generally for primary industry, and the oil search subsidy. I suggest that it would not have been possible to find in Australia the money which has been used in the search for oil in this country. I do not say that we should be satisfied with what has been done; what I do say is that what has been done is an achievement with which the people of this country, and the people of northern Australia in particular, are delighted. The members of the Labour Party, of course, continue with their catchcries of “ A population of one million in the north in ten years “ and li Use the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority “. However, they have not any concrete proposals to put before us. They have no real estimates of the cost or of what might be involved in producing the results about which they speak.
We could do more if we had two things. The first of these is manpower. Let me remind the House that the number registered for employment at present represents only 1.2 per cent, of our total work force. Therefore, is there a work force available at present to undertake substantial additional work in this northern area, or indeed, in any other part of Australia? We have pursued a migration programme which has been almost as big as it possibly could be. We are taking virtually all the people from the old country and from Europe who are willing to come to Australia. In addition to manpower, of course, we must have money. I was interested when, only a few weeks ago, it was announced that American interests were going into the Cape York Peninsula area to take up substantial leases and there was a tremendous outburst of objection from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). He objected to foreign capital coming in. He said that these people were buying up the lands of Australia. Let me point out that they have only a 30 year lease of this area and that some of the land has to be surrendered at the end of 15 years. All that they will be entitled to at the end of 30 years is one living area. The rest of the leased land then will come back to the Crown for use by Australians or other people to whom it might be allotted. If we all adopt the attitude adopted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition - that we are not to have capital from overseas - I believe it will be impossible to do anything really worthwhile in northern development, having regard to the other matters to which 1 referred earlier.
We need more capital. We can get that capital only from outside Australia, lt is impossible for us, with a territory which is as large as the United States of America and with a population of only 11 million people, to generate the capital which will do all the things which need to be done in this country. 1 wish I could get over to members of this House and to the public of Australia the message that we cannot afford to do these things on our own unless we increase taxation, unless we say to those people who should be thrifty within the community, those who should be undertaking higher education and those who should be endeavouring to get into a higher income bracket: “ When you get on higher income we will take more and more away from you for the purposes of government”. 1 do not believe it is the privilege of government to take away from the public as much as it possibly can. I believe that we should make money from the public for the essential services which only governments can provide, but we should leave with the public the maximum amount possible so that they themselves can exercise their own judgment on their investment and spending. We know - the history of Australia shows this quite clearly - that these people will in fact generate as much capital for reinvestment in Australia as they reasonably can do, but this still will not be sufficient and I believe it is necessary for us to have capital from overseas.
I hope that I have said something about the Budget tonight, because I believe that in a Budget debate we should deal with the Budget, not with a lot of extraneous items. 1 conclude by merely repeating that our analysis at the conclusion of the debate must disclose that the demands which the Labour Party will make on the Australian people will require an additional §800 million of their income. This will necessitate an overall increase of at least 20 per cent in taxation, whether it is direct or indirect. I say to the Australian people: “ Be careful lest you fall into a trap if you are inclined to accept the Labour Party and its proposals when you go to the election which will be held in only a few weeks time “.
– The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes), who spoke earlier in the debate, paid a very fine tribute to the Australian Labour Party. 1 do not think that the honorable gentleman meant to pay a tribute to the Australian Labour Party. I do not think he meant what he said as a tribute to the Party. But he did make a great point of the fact that, in the 65 years of federation, the Australian Labour Party has been in office federally for only approximately I6i years. It is, therefore, amazing to look back over the record of achievements of Australian Labour Party Governments in so few years of the life of Federation. It is worth while recalling that Labour Governments wrote practically the whole of our social services legislation. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) laughs. This is the first time I have heard him laugh in this debate. What I have said is completely true. I ask him to look through the book which his own Government has published and see which government introduced all the major items of social services.
The maternity allowance was introduced by the Fisher Government over the opposition of the anti-Labour parties. What was the basis of the opposition of those parties? They said that it was immoral, that it was shocking, that it would encourage baby farming, that women would have babies simply to collect the baby bonus. That was the type of opposition put forward by the anti-Labour parties. The invalid pension was introduced by a Labour Government. Even in the years when this country was struggling vigorously in the prosecution of the war, the Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments saw the need to make provision for the better years that would come after the war, and they introduced widows’ pensions for the first time ever in the Federal sphere. Whoever before had cared how a widow supported herself and her family? Again, Labour Governments introduced unemployment and sickness benefits to give aid to the man who, through either sickness or unemployment, lost his income. Let me remind the honorable member who is interjecting that for almost a quarter of a century before Australia’s entry into the war in 1939 this country had been governed by anti-Labour governments under various names. They were Nationalists, then they were the United Australia Party, and now they are the Liberals. They had been in power for practically the whole of 25 years, and there were always men in this community who could not get a job under these antiLabour governments. There were always men waiting outside the factory gates for employment.
– The record of the Labour Party in this was pretty poor, you know.
– Just a moment and I will tell the honorable member something. Some of the young men who enlisted in this country in 1939 got their first regular job by enlisting to fight for a country which up to that time had not been able to provide them with employment. That is something of the record of the type of government of which the honorable member is a supporter. It was during the war years that John Curtin, as Prime Minister, and Ben Chifley, as his lieutenant, determined that these things would never be again, and for the first time in the history of this country a Federal government adopted full employment as a national policy and took the steps to implement it. At the same time it made provision for the men who. either through sickness or some other cause, lost their income through becoming unemployed. It provided unemployment and sickness benefits.
– And Labour got thrown out.
– It got thrown out. But let us look back. We are accused of being unconcerned about the defence of this country.
– Hear, hear!
– All right. :! Hear, hear”, says the Minister for Shipping and Transport. We are accused of being unconcerned about the defence of this country. Who was it that established the Royal Australian Navy? A Labour government. The Royal Australian Navy was established in spite of the opposition of the anti-Labour Party, whose members said that was treachery. They said we were giving away the Mother country. They said: “ Great Britain will defend us. The British Navy will look after us. We have no need of a navy “. It was the Labour Party in government that determined that we should have a navy of our own and which established the Royal Australian Navy, which now has a proud record through two world wars, It was an Australian Labour Party government that established the Royal Military College at Duntroon, lt was an Australian Labour Party government that established the Commonwealth Bank and that gave Australia its own note issue, thus establishing an Australian currency. Honorable members opposite talk about Labour governments being in power for only 16± years altogether. Look at the record of achievement of those governments for the advancement and development of Australia.
We have heard about a Liberal government building a bridge over the Burdekin River and building a pier at Derby. A Labour government built the TransAustralia railway and established TransAustralia Airlines. Are these major achievements or minor achievements? A Labour government established the Australian National Shipping Line which this Government would like to sell if it dared to, just as it would sell T.A.A. if it could.
– The Chifley Labour Government started the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme.
– Yes, a Labour government started the Snowy Mountains scheme, and when the official ceremony to open that great scheme was taking place, what happened? All the members of the Opposition in those days - the members of the Country Party and the then United Australia Party - boycotted the opening-
– Bar one.
– With the exception of one man, the late Bernie Corser, who was the member for Wide Bay. He was the only one who had the courage to go along to the opening.
– General Rankin went along.
– He must have been in disguise.
Honorable members opposite say we do not care about the defence of this country. Was it not the Australian Labour Party in office which established the Woomera rocket range and took the necessary action to protect the security of that range from those who might seek to impair it?
– A very different Labour Party.
– A very different Labour Party, says the Minister. Is that the only answer the Minister can find? I remind honorable members that it was the Australian Labour Party in government that founded Australia’s aluminium industry. It was the Australian Labour Party in government that fostered Australia’s automobile industry. It was the Australian Labour Party in government that expanded the shipbuilding industry and the aircraft industry in this country. It was the Australian Labour Party in government which established the Australian National University. That action was criticised at the time by the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. His criticism is on record in “ Hansard “.
These are some of the achievements of Australian Labour Party Federal Governments in so short a period as this. The great marketing schemes for our primary products and the prosperity of so many of our farmers today are the result of the legislation of the Curtin-Chifley Government and the administration of that legislation by a Labour Party Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. The legislation that has enabled returned servicemen to establish themselves on farms was the legislation of the Labour Party in government. We have heard disparaging talk tonight about the Australian Labour Party and about Labour Party governments. If honorable members opposite want to give the people of Australia history, then give it to them, but give it to them honestly and factually and let them know who has done these things.
– The Labour Party is writing some history tonight.
– Maybe, my boy. I want to talk a little about the situation in this country when World War II. broke out. I recall, and many men here will recall, that it was in 1941 - practically two years after the war had commenced and two years after Australia’s entry into that war - that the Prime Minister of the day had to say: “ I have failed “. He abdicated at the time of the greatest threat to this country.
– He was beaten on the floor of the House.
– It is on record. He said: “ I have failed “. If honorable members want some other opinions about that Prime Minister let me quote Billy Hughes, who said of Menzies that he could not lead a flock of homing pigeons. The great leader of the Country Party at that time, Earle Page, said of Menzies: “ He cannot lead, and he won’t follow “. Remember Artie Fadden’s great remark about Menzies: “ This is another stab in the back in that great series of betrayals for which the Prime Minister has become notorious.” What a happy band of brothers. Honorable members opposite talk about history and about dissension in political parties. Let them look back over their own history. Let us give the people of Australia the proper picture. Let us give them the honest picture and remind them that it was the Labour Party that had to take over in 1941 and that prosecuted the war with the utmost vigour.
The Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) quoted figures of taxation levied during the war years. What was the situation when the Australian Labour Party came to power in 1941, when Australia had been at war for two years and the then Prime Minister had to say: “ I have failed “? Men were training without equipment - I know it and the honorable member knows it - here in Australia after two years of war. They were doing their gun drill around guns drawn on the ground. Infantrymen were training with wooden sticks masquerading as rifles. This is the type of preparedness and the type of defence effort that we had from an anti-Labour government when we were at war. and had been at war for two years. Yet honorable members opposite have the hide to come into this place and talk about their achievements and disparage the great achievements of the Labour Party - this Party to which the people of Australia turn in limes of trouble and difficulty. The Labour Party in office prepared for the years that would come after the war. We heard the Minister for Territories say that the pensioners have never been better off than they are today. Let us see how this Government deals with pensioners in this its own Territory - in this Territory where it has complete and unfettered power; where it has no need to seek agreements with the States. How does it treat its pensioners here? A pensioner cannot get his name on the list to occupy a government house or flat in the Australian Capital Territory. To become eligible for government housing in this Australian Capital Territory under this Government you must be employed in Canberra. A pensioner who is not employed cannot be allotted any form of government accommodation in this Australian National Capital under this Government.
– The Minister for the Interior is a Country Party Minister.
– We have a Country Party Minister responsible for social services and a Country Party Minister responsible for the Department of the Interior, which controls housing policy in the Australian Capital Territory.
– And doing a great job.
– I admit that the Minister for the Interior has this matter under consideration, but he has had it under consideration for a long time. In the meantime pensioners cannot get any type of government accommodation in this Australian National Capital. I have raised this matter before. I have knowledge of some very sad cases.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the people of Canberra should get a new member?
– The honorable member who interjects may contest the seat at the elections.
– We already have an excellent candidate
– .1 suggest that the honorable member for Higinbotham should contest this seat if he thinks there should be a change of member. Let him have a go. This Government, which claims to do so much for pensioners, will not allow them to occupy any type of government accommodation in this city. The other day I had a letter from a lady 70 years of age. She wrote that she and her husband must contemplate separating as they cannot continue to pay their present high rent in order to remain together. People who are already in this Territory occupying government cottages and who become pensioners are all right. Their tenancy is secure. They may obtain a rental rebate. But those who come here as pensioners have no chance at all of getting any type of government accommodation. In recent years many people of this kind have come here. With the transfer of departments from Melbourne, older people have moved to Canberra to be near their children and their grandchildren. That is the situation in the case which I just mentioned.
But these are not the only ways in which this Government treats pensioners in this Territory. The pensioner who through the years has saved and acquired a home in Canberra occupies his home on land leased from the Commonwealth. From time to time, the Commonwealth revalues this leasehold land. Recently, valuations have increased land rent by more than 700 per cent, in many cases. Many pensioner owners of properties in Canberra find it quite impossible to pay land rent increased sevenfold. I remind you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that this land rent is paid to the Commonwealth. It is land rent assessed by the Commonwealth and is required to be paid by pensioners who are pensioners of the Commonwealth. The matter has been put before the Minister for the Interior, who is taking a sympathetic look at it. He is having the matter examined, but he ha3 told me that it involves quite serious administrative and financial considerations. The matter has been under consideration by this Government for 16 months but the pensioners still must pay. The Government which owns the land, which assesses its value, which imposes the land rent and which increased it 700 per cent, still says to the pensioners: “ You must pay and you must pay in full “.
The pensioner home owner who pays land rent to the Commonwealth also pays rates to the Department of the Interior, but he cannot get a reduction in those rates from the Commonwealth Government. He must pay his rates in full - his general rates, his electricity rates, and his water rates. Now he is to have imposed on him a new sewerage rate. But the Commonwealth, which the Minister claims has done so much for the pensioners, demands that pensioners in the Australian Capital Territory pay in full.
– What does Labour do for pensioners?
– Legislation operates in New South Wales to enable rating authorities to waive payment of rates by pensioners. The legislation has been in force for years in New South Wales. The New South Wales Government pays to the councils one half of the amount that they have remitted.
– Joe Cahill instituted that.
– The legislation was instituted by a Labour Government. But this Government whose Budget we are considering, which has been in power in the Federal sphere for almost 17 years-
– Tell us what Labour did.
– The Chifley Government’s record and that of the Labour Party generally in the field of social services and particularly the treatment of pensioners is a proud one.
– What did Labour do about housing in Canberra?
– In 1949 the Chifley Government was providing housing for pensioners. After the defeat of the Chifley Government, because pensioners were coming here from various parts of Australia in order to get housing, this Government introduced the rule that nobody could have government housing in Canberra unless he was employed in Canberra. I think that answers the honorable members question, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
I say to this Government and to people who may be listening to me - to members of the Government parties - that it is no good talking about how much you do for pensioners because here in your own Capital Territory where you have complete and unfettered control, this is what you are doing to pensioners: You are demanding that they pay in full. If you increase land rent by 700 per cent., the pensioners still must pay in- full. They must pay their rates to the Commonwealth Government in full. There is no opportunity, as there is in municipalities and shires in the State adjoining this Territory, for a pensioner to have payment of his rates waived and for the council to be reimbursed a moiety of it by the State Government. This matter too has been under consideration for 16 months. Is there anyone here who will tell me that there are not officers of the Commonwealth who could come up with an answer to these problems in less than 16 months? If these problems had been looked at with a sense of urgency, kindness and fairness, the answers would have been found by now. If these problems had been looked at by officers under the control of a Minister who had said: “ Come up with the answer “, they would have the answer by now. But. no. The Commonwealth says to the pensioners here in its own Territory: “ You must pay, you must pay all the way here; no matter how uv increase the charges you must pay them “. That is how the Commonwealth deals with pensioners in its own Territory. lt will deny to them any right to any type of government accommodation. They cannot even put their names on the list for a one bedroom flat unless they are employed in Canberra. They cannot put their names on the list for a two bedroom cottage. Suppose the Government relented and said: “ Yes, you may put your names on the list “. Is the waiting time 2h years or 3 years for a single bedroom Hat? It is anybody’s guess, because the Government has cut back - deliberately cut back - on its home building programme in Canberra. A former Minister for the Interior, who now sits on the front bench as Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall), might recall that when the recent moves of the Department of Defence to Canberra were proposed, he, as Minister for the Interior, gave an assurance that the housing to be provided for those to be transferred from Melbourne to Canberra would be additional to the houses provided under the normal programme. I know that he gave the assurance in good faith and I know that he gave it believing that Cabinet would carry out the assurance that it had given to him.
– Which it did.
– It did not. The Minister went a step further. He said: “ The transfer of departments to Canberra will not mean that the waiting time for houses in Canberra will extend. In fact, it may well be reduced “. Those were his words. In fact, it was not reduced. In fact, the housing programme has not increased and, in fact, today the Commonwealth is building fewer family dwelling units than it was building ten years ago. The figures are available to the Minister or to anybody else who wants them. I suggest to the House that the estimates of revenue and expenditure for the Australian Capital Territory are in essence a budget within a budget. The most disappointing feature of the budget for the Australian Capital Territory is its failure to provide funds to allow for any increase in the Government’s home building programme in Canberra. It is true that over the past 12 months the waiting time for housing in this city has dropped. It was at about the three years mark, but it is now down to 29 months. But it is down to 29 months for one reason only and that is that, for the past 12 months, there have been no mass transfers of public servants from Melbourne and other places to Canberra. When some years ago I suggested to the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, that the Government should either increase its home building programme or declare a 12 months’ holiday from the mass transfer of public servants from Melbourne to Canberra, he said: “ No, you cannot do that. You cannot just turn these things on and turn them off.”
– Who said this?
– This was Sir Robert Gordon Menzies.
– Knight of the Thistle and Lord Constable of Dover.
– That is right. But this is what the Government has now done, so temporarily the waiting time for Government housing in Canberra has been reduced. It is down to 29 months. But with the resumption in the next financial year of the mass transfer of public servants to Canberra, houses must be reserved for the public servants and their families when they come here- of course, they must be provided with houses when they are transferred in those circumstances - and so there will be fewer houses for the ordinary people in Canberra and the waiting time for them must extend.
The Government has set itself a target of approximately 800 houses a year. In the financial year 1964-65, the civil works programme provided for the construction of 800 houses and 76 two-bedroom flats. For 1965-66, the civil works programme provided for the construction of only 750 houses and no family flats. The civil works programme today provides for the construction of 299 houses in specific suburbs and it provides also for the construction of 1,014 nouses in long term contracts over 2i years. So it becomes clear that the Government has determined that it will not step up its house building programme above the average figure of 800, although this has proved inadequate and will prove increasingly inadequate.
Not only is the Government failing to build enough houses; it is also failing to build houses that adequately meet the needs of families. The extraordinary position is that the National Capital Development Commission, which builds houses to hand over to the Department of the Interior, does not take any notice of, or have any consultation with, officers of the Housing Branch regarding the design of houses. Here is the customer, the Department of the Interior, taking over the houses from the National Capital Development Commission but having no say whatever in their design. I would hope that the Government will take action to remedy this defect because it is obvious that the types of houses being constructed in Canberra today are completely inadequate to the needs of families. Honorable members need not take my word for this; they can go around and have a look for themselves. The designers of the houses have achieved the miracle of getting a three bedroom house into 8i squares. The houses are there for anybody to see.
These are some of the failures of the Government in this area. I could go on speaking about housing, I suppose, for a considerable lime. But I wanted to touch on many more subjects. There were other aspects of housing in Canberra 1 wanted to mention. I wanted to deal with the needs of families, and the fact that the waiting time will extend. I wanted to spe’ak about the needs of education in the Australian Capital Territory.
– You are batting on a sticky wicket.
– I do not think so.
– Order! The honorable member will disregard interjections and will address the Chair.
-! will indeed, Sir. There is need for the Government to have a good look at the needs of education in the Australian Capital Territory. The Government has determined that it will not enter the field of teacher training. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) has recently reinforced that Government decision by a letter that he has written to the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, saying that the Government does nol intend to enter the field of teacher training. Yet this is obviously one of the greatest needs in the Australian Capital Territory today. We are building quite good schools, subject to some criticism as to faults in their construction. But the Government schools here are staffed by teachers from (he New South Wales Department of Education. At present in Canberra we employ about 700 teachers from the New South Wales Department of Education. This is a considerable drain on a State Department which itself is desperately short of teachers.
I suggest that the Government should look again at the need to establish a teacher training college in Canberra. I suggest that it should be something more than just a teacher training college.It should be a teacher training institution of the very best kind.It should train teachers not only to meet the Government’s requirements here and in other Territories and in the Services, but it should also train teachers for service anywhere in Australia. They should be unbonded and free to choose where they will serve. I do not care where they teach, so long as they teach. The Government has a responsibility. Its own education system here will double within the next 20 years. We will then have a school population greater than that of the State of Tasmania. We should then be capable of establishing our own education authority and of implementing national education policies here in the territory. I give this promise, that the Australian Labour Party will establish a teacher training college here.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I was very interested in the speech of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser), especially in the first half of it, when with his very best election voice - I almost said street corner voice - he was obviously trying very hard to make up for what he believed was the dreadful position into which the Party to which he belongs has fallen. He was so disgusted with the disunity and the disreputable state of the Party that he turned to distant history to recount at some length and, as I say, in a very loud voice, what the Australian Labour Party had done in the past.
– Very accurately.
– It was very good, but I thought he should have finished with the well known couplet of Byron on the ancient Greeks -
Shades of the Mighty, can it bc That this is ail remains of thee?
That is the position with the Australian Labour Party today.
I had intended to make a request to the Government to have an independent, objective inquiry into the whole workings of the Financial Agreement, as it is now 40 years since it first began. But as the Opposition has apparently thrown down the gauntlet and turned this debate into a pre view of the election picture, as television commentators would say, in which defence and foreign policy are to be the two main subjects for discussion, I am quite prepared to pick up the gage. All the big guns of the Australian Labour Party - the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns)–
– The honorable member for Watson.
– The honorable member for Watson and various others who have spoken in this debate trained their heavy artillery on these two features. But they did not seem to be very well synchronised or very accurate. Some seemed to be firing in one direction and some in another. Eventually, some of these big guns began firing on their own artillery pieces. Let us follow matters through and see just how disunited the Labour Party is and what a disreputable policy it has. The only conclusion that one can come to is that some l,abour members have a still small voice of conscience. It seems to upset them because they know what is right when they try to follow their policy on defence and foreign affairs, which they know in their own hearts is wrong. Unfortunately, most of them seem to lack the courage to say within the ranks of their Party what they really think or to criticise what they believe is wrong. As a result, they engage in all kinds of contortions and convolutions that suggest the tortured reasoning of disordered minds as they discuss present state of the nation, the forthcoming general election and the disarray in which the Labour Party finds itself. They contradict one another. They even contradict themselves.
The honorable member for Yarra, when he was in South Vietnam or just after he came back - I forget which - said that the projected elections there would be rigged in favour of the Government. WhileI was there, one of the Buddhist leaders told me that the Buddhists could control 70 per cent, of the vote. I do not know who is to do the rigging or in what way it will be done, but the honorable member for Yarra stated that the elections would be useless because they would be rigged in favour of the Government. However, when he spoke in this debate on 30th August, he turned round entirely on that display of form and said that the elections in South Vietnam might do some good by producing a government that might be able to negotiate. His exact words were -
The elections of 1966 in South Vietnam may do something to provide the other negotiating party. If they did - and it does not matter how they did it - that would be a justification for them.
On another point, he said that the Vietcong, which he called the National Liberation Front, using the Communist name, must have a share in the government of South Vietnam. That is good Communist policy. Whether or not the honorable member knows it, this is one of the definite terms that the Communists have laid down. But, in almost the next breath, the honorable member went even further and asked -
What will happen if negotiations come and a ceasefire and some settlement are reached and the National Liberation Front then has a big share of power in South Vietnam?
In other words, he advocates the policy that brought the Communists to power in Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the other countries of Eastern Europe. Why does he advocate this form of Communist policy? Or does he not know that it is Communist policy? Why does he not mention that nobody but Communists has any voice in the government of North Vietnam? According to his distorted reasoning, apparently the Communists should be given a voice in the government of South Vietnam.
The honorable member went on to discuss what he called, in effect, the lesser of two evils and he dealt with the question of whether one should escalate the war or surrender. On this point, he said -
But when one has taken the position of playing God–
That is a new role for the honorable member - in a situation like this and has to decide how many deaths there are going to be on one side of the scale and how many there will be on the other, this is the kind of decision that one has to make.
He was dealing with the decision that would have to be made if one considered that the greater number of deaths would result from fighting for principles that most people believe are those that make life worth living at all. Having had three and a halt years as a prisoner of war I can say that some people do not seem to understand the freedoms that they have inherited and how lucky they are to enjoy them. Perhaps I might recite to the House a verse I wrote on V.P. day-
Freedom, the image in the mind
Distorted by the poor purblind
And foolish folk who do not know
The substance from the shadow show.
What is this sort of reasoning that we get from the honorable member for Yarra? Did he mean what he said? Was he serious? If so, he should go back to South East Asia, make further inquiries and not come home quoting Wilfred Burchett, the Communist turncoat from Melbourne, as the one authority. The honorable member went on to deal with what would happen if a peaceful settlement were obtained under these conditions. He declared -
The International Control Commission and supervision of South Vietnam after a ceasefire could do much, but it would need to be greatly strengthened.
I do not know whether he knows the history of the Commission. The fact is that its members are not allowed into Hanoi and that it has been virtually a sterile body since it was constituted, because the Poles will not co-operate in any way. Often, both the Indian and the Canadian members have come to a conclusion and issued a report, but it has not been a report of the Commission, because the Poles evidently have had strict instructions that there is to be no criticism of the Communists. The honorable member stated that the International Control Commission could do much, but about six sentences later, referring to North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front, he said -
While it is beyond doubt that they would hinder supervision and convert aid to their own purposes, I am sure that supervision and aid can reduce the harmful consequences of a settlement. . . .
I do not think that any other member of this Parliament will agree with that sort of reasoning. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also spoke at great length on the war in Vietnam and on South East Asia. He advocated that we pull out Australian troops in accordance with this weird policy that the Labour Party has enunciated. He said that we should concentrate on massive aid and trade. But what did the honorable member for Yarra say? He declared -
I think the war in South Vietnam has to come to an end before aid and development can achieve anything . . .
In one sentence he destroyed all this alternative policy that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition went to South Vietnam to discover. I do not know whether Labour members have really worked out this policy. As you can see, Sir, from what I have already quoted, they seem to promote confusion worse confounded among themselves concerning what can or ought to be done. lt seems as if the Munich mind is the architect of the maze into which they have got themselves - a maze out of which they can find no way. If it is a case of the Munich mind, I suppose that they are confusing Neville Chamberlain and Joe Chamberlain.
In one way, 1 am happy that both the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Yarra took the advice that 1 gave them in a debate on conscription on a national hookup about six months ago. In answer to a question I finished up by saying, much to the annoyance of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that I thought it was a pity that neither the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition nor the honorable member for Yarra had ever gone to Vietnam to try to find out what it was all about. I give the honorable member for Yarra credit as he went there at his own expense. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition went at government or taxpayers’ expense. But it is perfectly certain from the statements they made while they were there and the statements they have made since they came back that they discovered far more of the realities of the situation than they have the guts to admit. This can be seen by their uncertainty and by the change in their statements, some of which I have just recounted. Again, the still small voice of conscience is leading them into further confusion.
The honorable member for Yarra a few days ago accused some of us of refusing to take part with him in further teach-ins. On one occasion, which I suppose was similar to a teach-in but was on television, we had the Whitlam-Cairns combination, Labour’s W.C. T.V. twins team, two glamour boys, the counterparts of the Calwell hostesses who, I suppose, are going to win the election for the Labour Party. I was invited to another teach-in in which the honorable member for Yarra was to have been the opposition speaker.
– The honorable member would be pretty game.
– I have taken him on on two or three occasions.
– And lost each time.
Perhaps the honorable member might like to come along next time. 1 am taking on the honorable member for Yarra now in a much more important teach-in than those organised to give larger audiences than Labour Party members can get for themselves. I. received a letter dated 9th March 1966 and headed “Trade Union Vietnam Teach-in Committee “. which stated -
As a result of a circular being sent to Victorian Trade Unions, with the authority of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, Unions which then assembled have appointed a committee, representing varied points of view, to organise a Vietnam Teach-In.
This letter was not on headed paper, so 1 made inquiries and found that the teach-in did not have the authority of the Trades Hall Council. What is more, I have in my hand also a photostat of the letter sent to certain trade unions. This is very interesting. It was stated in the letter that the teach-in had been authorised by the Trades Hall, but no such authority had been granted.
– Who were the organisers?
George Crawford, Secretary of the Plumbers Union; Roy Cameron, Secretary of the Miscellaneous Workers Union; Bert Nolan, Secretary of the Seamen’s Union - 1 understand that the Assistant Secretary, Mr. Wilson, is very much a left-winger; Tom Doyle, Secretary of the Transport Workers Union; Felix Martin, Secretary of the Moulders Union; Stan Williams, Secretary of the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association, a man named In the Justice Lowe royal commission as a member of the Communist Party; Kevin Doherty, Victorian Secretary of the
Amalgamated Postal Workers Union; Percy Johnson, Secretary of the Blacksmiths Union; Don McSween, Secretary of the Clothing Trades Union; Jim Ralston, Secretary of the Boilermakers Union; Albert McNulty, Secretary of the Sheet Metal Workers Union and holder of the Stalin Peace Prize; and Bill O’Brien, Assistant Secretary of the Railways Union. I mention the matter at this stage merely to show that not all of us are so foolish as to give the wrong answer to the question: “ Will you walk into my parlour said the spider to the fly? “ These gatherings are not genuine teach-ins; they are arranged merely to give a larger platform than usual to the opposition speaker, who is generally the honorable member for Yarra. In spite of the fact that I turned the invitation down immediately, my name was advertised in the Press as being the speaker until within two days of the teach-in being held.
I return now to my remarks on Vietnam. Not only did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Yarra go overseas but also the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) went overseas at his own expense. Again, I congratulate him for being so interested. Why the honorable member for Wills should have thought that the people in Hanoi were so foolish as not to know that he was on the reserve list or the retired list of officers of the Australian Army I do not know. If he had wanted to go behind the enemy lines he would be regarded as either a spy or a turncoat and so they would not want to see him in either case. I cannot understand why he ever thought they would want to see him. However, he was unsuccessful and I think from his own interests it was just as well he was.
– Does the honorable member know why he was unsuccessful?
– It was because of a Polish boat. The trip to Haiphong was cancelled due to the American bombing of Haiphong. That is why he could not go there.
– Why could he not get in via Communist China through Hong Kong, the way many other tourists go to Peking?
– Because in about early July the Chinese cancelled visas for tourists. The honorable member is an expert in these things and should know that.
– I know that.
– The honorable member can tall; as much as he likes but he will not inhibit me.
– Order! The honorable member will address the Chair.
People were allowed in. The honorable member for Wills is not as popular with the Communists as he thought he was and that, again, is to his advantage. An interesting thing that I should point out is that the honorable member for Yarra and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition disagreed on what could be done with regard to the aid programme. Then the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) also came into the party and pointed out that if we had a battalion of people giving economic or technical aid we would, in present circumstances, need two battalions to defend them.
Perhaps I should advise the honorable member for Yarra that it is not wise to give a copy of his speech to the Press if he does not make the speech in full. The honorable member was reported in the “ Age “ as having said -
It may be specified that a team would not be sent into the field unless the government of the country can provide adequate security and protection.
In exceptional cases Australia may consider the provision of protection by Australian forces on the spot.
Those paragraphs were not in the “ Hansard “ report of the honorable member’s speech, so evidently a copy of his speech was distributed to the Press beforehand. But this is what he thinks and it is, in effect, very much the position today with the Australian troops in Vietnam.
However, T pass on. Between his protestations of physical fitness - I do not mention mental fitness - the Leader of the Opposition found the time to make a speech on the Budget. I believe that all of us personally wish him long life and good health as a man. As 1 said to him earlier tonight, I wish him long tenancy in his present position as
Leader of the Opposition. In the course of his speech the Leader of the Opposition said -
How Australia became involved in the Vietnam war is a mystery.
I refer now to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson). I did not want to say anything about this before, but I can say it now. The honorable member for Batman, in a very courageous speech - whether one agreed with it or not, it was a courageous speech - told him exactly why we are in the Vietnam war. We are there both for national preservation and because of the treaty obligations which we are bound to fulfil. Apparently the Leader of the Opposition has been so busy singing the theme song of the Labour Party - “ We are hanging Sammy Benson in the morning “ - that he has not read the speech. But if he ‘has not 1 advise him to do so. He appealed also for the Government to follow the CurtinChifleyEvatt policy. When Singapore fell there were loud lamentations in the halls of Canberra and immediately an appeal was made - I am not criticising it - to America to come and help us. That was the Curtin policy. Now we find another country in a similar position and through treaty obligations we are involved. We should carry out our obligations by giving assistance. This is what the Government has done, although the Labour Party will not have a bar of it. lt was Dr. Evatt who, when he was Leader of the Opposition - or it may have been before Mr. Chifley’s death, and probably was - supported both the S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S. Treaties and who said: “This is the age of regional pacts “. The Government is to a very large extent following the Curtin-Chifley-Evatt policy and the Leader of the Opposition does not even know it. After all, what is the difference between the fall of Singapore, and our appealing then to America for help, and the fall of Saigon - that is, if such a thing should happen? The two places are not so very far apart and the results for Australia would be very much the same.
– One is a national uprising while the other was the result of territorial expansion.
– I think the honorable member had better go back to a teach-in somewhere. If he does not believe that there is very little difference between the two situations, why not ask the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) what his friend, and to some extent my friend, the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, told him? Why not read it again in the speech of the honorable member for Batman, which I am not going to repeat? When six members of the Opposition went over there as guests of the Prime Minister of Singapore, invited by him, he told them very definitely what the position would be if South Vietnam was allowed to fall into the hands of the Communists.
– The honorable member for Hunter does not believe that.
– The honorable member for Hunter and the honorable member for Yarra get up and tell us that there is nothing in the domino system.
– There is not, either.
– Why does not the honorable member pay attention to what Nai Thanat Khoman, one of the leading statesmen in the world and a leading Foreign Minister in South East Asia, said?
– You would not know who he is. According to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), he is a member of a corrupt government, and he does not know what he is talking about. When Thanat Khoman attended the S.E.A.T.O. conference in Canberra this year he said -
We do not recognise to far away professional politicians, pseudo-thinkers and cryto-Liberals the right and authority to decide our life and our destiny by suggesting solutions and proposals which tend to alienate our freedom and independence or have the ultimate effect of delivering us to the mercy and domination of Communist overlords. . . .
Now that the tide has begun to turn against the aggressors whose economy and national resources are strained to the breaking point, the problem has become even more complex for all of us. On the one hand. military operations will have to be pursued with tenacity and resoluteness to repel the expansionist forces. On the other hand, the struggle, not less vicious and arduous, is being transposed into various home fronts against the misled, misguided and the weak-kneed who wittingly or otherwise seek to undermine the Free World’s position at the time when the enemy faces one setback after another.
He is absolutely correct, and the appeasers today, although they do not know it, are the world’s worst warmongers. They are just building up the morale of the enemy and helping them to cause further casualties amongst Australian and allied troops. If that is what honorable members opposite are proud of, well, I have misjudged most of the members of the Labour Party. What I feel has happened is that most of them have been brainwashed in this psychological war without realising it.
– You are just supporting military dictatorships.
– The honorable member for Wills is one who was brainwashed in the first place. Has he learned nothing from Hitler’s “ Mein Kampf” or of the danger of disregarding plain statements when we have Mao Tse Tung’s Mein Kampf. “ Blueprint for World Conquest “, put before us?
– Oh, yes?
– Oh, yes, you are a friend of Peking. The Leader of the Opposition today declared himself on the side of the Peking Communists against Moscow. He gave the position away at question time. He is one of Ted Hill’s men, as was apparent at question time today.
If the honorable member for Wills will not believe me perhaps he will believe a well known and respected journalist who writes for a newspaper which usually supports the Labour Party.
– Not Alan Reid?
– No, it was Douglas Brass writing in the “ Australian “, today’s issue. This is what he said in the last paragraph, after giving a lot of advice to the Labour Party -
AH we have, sad to say, is a Labour Party which is sulkily burying its head in the sand and displaying a posterior ingloriously decorated with a single white feather.
.- I think I will get back to the Budget, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and not become involved in this battle of Vietnam. The Budget this year has been described not by me but by most of the leading newspapers in Australia as a stand-still or a stay-put Budget, and 1 am sure there are many people in the community today who wish they could use similar descriptions for the cost of living, which is racing upwards at a very fast rate. I have perused the Budget very carefully and all the papers that go with it, and I am satisfied that there is nothing in the Budget to stabilise the economy or that would be even likely to achieve that end.
Before the Budget was framed businessmen in every sphere, as well as other people in every sphere, were urging the Government to do something to stimulate consumer spending. 1 am certain that many people who were expecting something to happen along those lines are now very sadly disappointed. The only section of the Budget likely to have this result was that which provided for a small increase in pensions. It is not very much, amounting to about S60 million in all. This amount will certainly be spent because it will be put in the hands of people who at present have not half enough to live on, but it will not be enough to stimulate the economy.
This year’s Budget is the largest, in terms of money, that has ever been presented to this Parliament, but 1 believe that in terms of what it will achieve it is probably the smallest. The estimated expenditure is $5,930,394,000, which is about $550,684,000 more than last year. Most of the revenue to cover this expenditure is to be raised by taxation, and the amount mentioned in the Budget is $4,420,500,000, or $273,553,000 more than last year. The Government is making great play of its claim that it is budgeting this year for a deficit of about $275 million. One can see that by the time the next Budget is prepared the planned deficit for this year will have been overtaken by increased collection of taxes.
It is also interesting to examine the field of taxation and see who is to pay. As I have said, total estimated tax collections will be $4,420,500,000. Of this amount $2,525,200,000 will come from direct taxation and $1,895,300,000 from indirect taxation. There are many people in the community who do not concern themselves with the difference between direct and indirect taxation. It is well to remind them that direct taxation is levied according to a person’s capacity to pay, and the higher the income he has the more taxation he pays; rightly so. The Government is obtaining a greater return from indirect taxation which is imposed on consumer goods and which is collected from sales tax, excise and customs duties. This can be called a painless extraction method, because people do not realise when they have a glass of beer that they are contributing to the taxation yield. Indirect taxation accounts for 54 per cent, of all taxation receipts and direct taxation for 46 per cent. It is easy to see, therefore, that indirect taxation accounts for the greater portion of taxation.
The pay as you earn taxpayer provides the greatest portion of the direct taxation, which is estimated this year at $1,185 million. Those who pay provisional tax - and in this category are people with high incomes, those who reap the greatest harvest, including bankers, stockbrokers, doctors, dentists, farmers, graziers, manufacturers, property owners and persons involved in big business - will pay $613 million. It is plain to see that the wage earners pay the greater amount of direct taxes.
When the field of indirect taxation is analysed it can be seen that the wage and salary earners - commonly known as the wage plugs - pay most of it. Some indirect taxation is shown in the Budget under the heading of excise, which is only another word for taxation. This is levied on beer, spirits, tobacco, cigars and cigarettes, motor spirits and petroleum products, diesel fuel and miscellaneous. I do not know who “ Mr. Miscellaneous “ is, but he is contributing $6 million odd, which is a fair lump of money. Excise from beer this year is estimated at $325,850,000, which is $23 million more than last year. We know that beer is the working man’s drink. The estimated receipts from whiskey and other spirits is $25 million, or $2 million more than last year. Of course, working men and women may not drink as much Scotch as people in the more affluent section of the community do, mainly because it is too costly for them - over 20c for a small nip - so the workers stick to beer.
Taxation on tobacco, cigars and cigarettes is estimated this year at $228 million or $11 million more than last year. A smoke and a glass of beer are relaxing for men and women after a hard day’s work, but they have to pay dearly for these pleasures by way of indirect taxation. As I pointed out earlier, it is painless extraction. Few people realise when they drink a glass of beer - and it does not matter whether it is a middy, schooner or pint - that about five eighths of the cost goes in taxation. It is estimated that beer is costing the workers about $400 million a year. Sales taxation this year is expected to amount to $399 million or $30 million more than last year. My comment on sales taxation is equally appropriate to the indirect taxation on beer, namely, that it is not a graduated tax like income tax, and the pensioner - the person with the smallest income - pays as much as does the multi-millionaire. I believe that indirect taxation should be altered. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) said that it was time this field of taxation was closely examined. Customs duty this year is estimated at $288 million. This is another tax on commodities. I am not always against this form of taxation, because it provides protection for our own manufacturers. However, it is an indirect tax which is not graduated, so the poorest people in the community pay the same as the richest, lt is estimated that payroll taxation this year will total $179 million. According to the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) it is proposed that the salaries and wages paid by privately run schools which cater for students up to secondary education level and which are not conducted for profit will be exempt from payroll taxation. This exemption is estimated to cost about $60,000. I heartily agree with this proposal. 1 believe that any concern that is not run for profit and which renders a service should not be subject to payroll taxation.
It is estimated that taxation on motor spirits this year will amount to $240 million compared with $204 million last year - an increase of $36 million. Indirect taxation, according to the Budget, will total $1,184 million. I claim that at least 80 per cent, of indirect taxation is paid by wage and salary earners who also pay most of the direct taxation. According to the Treasurer’s statement this group pays 56 per cent, of direct taxation. 1 believe that if we add what they pay in direct taxation to what they pay in indirect taxation it will be seen that they pay about $2,272 million as compared with $862,770,000 paid by those in the higher income brackets. The Labour Party believes that there should be a redirection of taxation; there should be more direct taxation than indirect taxation. 1 wish now to bring to the notice of the Government the parlous financial state of local governing bodies in Australia. They are drifting towards bankruptcy. At the present Unit their accumulated debt is about $700 million and the interest they must pay each year on this debt amounts to about $35 million. Rate charges are so high that many owners are being forced from their homes. Proof of this is to be found in the fact that in many cases arrears of rates owing to municipal and shire councils have reached astronomical heights. Recently a list published in the daily newspapers showed that some councils had outstanding rates amounting to $800,000. This is typical of most municipal and shire councils. In fact, I do not think there would be one council in Australia which was not heavily in debt.
To deal with this situation some councils have set up special debt collecting departments to concentrate on the collection of arrears. However, I understand that the maintenance of these departments is absorbing most of the arrears collected because the collectors must be paid and very often court proceedings have to be taken. A similar situation exists in the Postmaster-General’s Department which has outstanding telephone accounts amounting to £1 million. However, the Department felt it was better to write off this amount rather than to set up collecting agencies, the cost of which would absorb all the money collected. 1 mention these matters to illustrate how the old rating system for financing local government operations has completely failed. In my opinion, a chaotic stage has been reached.
To illustrate this further I shall repeat some figures which I mentioned during the Budget debate last year. The local government portion of the national debt rose from $282 million in 1953 to $622 million in 1963. In other words, over 10 years this debt increased at the rate of about 12 per cent, per annum. If this debt continues to increase at the same rate - and it must unless a different formula is devised - in 10 years the local government debt will be $1,368 million plus $68 million interest. I cannot see how local government bodies will be able to carry on because they will be so heavily in debt.
It is interesting to note that the States* debts are increasing at the rate of 9 per cent, per annum, so the six States are not much better off than the local government authorities. While the States’ debts are increasing at 9 per cent, per annum, the Commonwealth debt is decreasing at the rate of 4 per cent, per annum and is improving. The Liberal Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria have been squealing about their bad financial position. Can one wonder at that? We can understand why States which badly need funds for construction works are complaining. They are feeling the pinch but their counterparts in Canberra could not care less. Two years ago the Commonwealth association of local government authorities wanted to interview the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, about the position. The Lord Mayor of each of the six capital cities asked bini to see them, but he made the excuse that he could not see them unless they had unanimous support of all State Ministers for Local Government. Apparently quite a number of the State Liberal Ministers willingly co-operated with him and he dodged seeing the deputation. However, the association has asked the present Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) to discuss with its representatives this important matter of local government finance. Something will have to be done for them.
Now let me turn to petrol tax. The estimate of collections this year is $240 million, which is $36 million more than last year. As we know, tax on petrol was first imposed for the purpose of providing funds for the construction and maintenance of roads. All of the sum collected, not just some of it, was to be used for this purpose. Petrol tax is collected by the Commonwealth and should be returned to the States to enable them to build and maintain roads. But the Commonwealth usually retains one-third of the sum collected. I do not know what the relevant Bill to be brought down this year will contain but I do know at this stage that much more money will be collected in petrol tax this year than was collected last year.
– Labour retained twothirds of the sum collected.
– Labour did not do anything of the kind.
– Yes. it did. It retained two-thirds.
– When Labour was in office it built military roads and the all-weather road from Adelaide to Darwin, lt spent many millions of pounds on roads. This Government keeps a large slice of the tax collected and uses it for purposes other than road making. If the Commonwealth Government returned all this money to the State Governments they would be in a stronger position to help local government bodies. The local government authorities in Australia are responsible for 75 per cent, of all roads. This is beyond their financial resources. If local government bodies used all their revenue on roads they would have nothing left for necessary services for which they are responsible, such as libraries, home nursing, public health centres, clinics for the prevention of disease, senior citizen centres, recreation grounds, swimming pools, kerbing and guttering, drainage and many other things. Properly, the Commonwealth should return all this money collected from the petrol tax to the States which bear the great responsibility of providing roads. The Australian Labour Party will do this. We promised it in our last policy speech and have done so on several other occasions. If we are elected to office, as I am sure we will be on 26th November, we will certainly implement that policy. It will be in our policy speech.
The payroll tax will yield $179 million. As I said earlier, the Treasurer intends to exempt from the payroll tax all schools up to secondary level conducted by non-profit organisations. The Labour Party at the two previous elections said that if elected it would extend this exemption to all local government bodies who render service to the people in the field I have mentioned. The Australian Labour Party would do this if elected. Bankstown is a big district within my electorate and last year payroll tax cost the Bankstown Council $50,000. Most councils are similarly affected. In our last policy speech we said we would exempt local government bodies from payroll tax ss they certainly do not function for profit.
I want to refer now to the rise in prices following the recent increase in the basic wage. Since the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission announced an increase of $2 in the basic wage, the higher cost of living has already absorbed the benefits from that rise. I have kept a record of some of the increases that have taken place and it is possible I have missed some. Milk has gone up one cent a pint. Train, tram and bus fares in Melbourne have risen by 25 per cent, and the Liberal Government in New South Wales is contemplating a rise in fares when it introduces its Budget in September. Motor vehicle insurance has been increased as much as 25 per cent. As was stated by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Sexton) today it is expected that the price of motor cars will rise. Private cartage rates have been increased by 5 per cent, and private parcel deliveries by 6 per cent. A wide range of building materials cost more. This is sufficient to add $400 to the cost of an average home, and puts a house completely out of the reach of the ordinary working man. The price of cigarettes has increased by lc a packet. As was pointed out to the Prime Minister recently, the price of copper increased by $380 a ton. I understand from a letter I received today that it has since dropped by $100 and the overall increase now is $280 a ton. The price of lubricating oil for motor vehicles has increased by ls. 9d. a gallon. As we saw from a recent announcement, the price of steel rose by between $2 and $4i a ton. Further, hospital charges have increased by from 20 per cent, to 30 per cent., and only yesterday an increase of from 6 per cent, to 10 per cent, in shipping freights was announced. I think it was the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. J. Harrison) who quoted figures which showed that, in addition to having to meet heavy increases in prices, the average wage and salary earner, because of the $2 a week rise, will have to pay more in income tax by reason of being placed in a higher income bracket. He pointed out that some married men with one child will pay $26.2 a year by way of income tax.
It can be seen, therefore, that the average worker would be in a better position if the increase had not been granted, because, although the basic wage has been increased by $2 a week, his actual purchasing power has dropped by about S3 a week. The basic wage increase announced last July has already been absorbed by price increases. I venture the opinion that if those who granted the increase were reassembled tomorrow they would find it necessary to increase the basic wage by another S2 or $3 a week to bring it up to the level necessary to meet the increases that have taken place in the cost of living. A government that allows this farcical situation to continue is, to say the least, irresponsible.
I know that Government members will argue that the Commonwealth Government lacks the constitutional power to control prices. That excuse is not good enough. This Government has the right to seek the necessary power, by way of referendum, and, having regard to the way things are, I am quite certain that the majority of people in Australia would give the Commonwealth power to control prices and costs. In any event, when the Labour Party is elected to office on 26th November next it will give the people this opportunity, and I am certain they will grant us the necessary power.
I am sorry for the invalid and age pensioners, the widows, the repatriation pensioners and the superannuitants. In all there are over one million people on fixed incomes in Australia. I have received numerous letters, as I am sure other honorable members have, from superannuitants complaining about the detrimental effect the rise in prices is having on their incomes. One re tired schoolmistress - I am certain that she is very old now because she retired 20 years ago - complained to me and pointed out that at the time she retired she was receiving £11 a week by way of superannuation. She is still receiving only £11 a week. At the time she retired, that £1 1 was £5 greater than the basic wage. Today it is £5 below the basic wage. She complains that after paying municipal rates, water rates, the cost of repairs and of keeping the home together, she finds it difficult to carry on. When she retired many years ago she was comparatively well off on her superannuation. I mention this to illustrate how people have been detrimentally affected by this Government’s policy, under which inflation has been allowed to spiral.
I come now to the age pensioners. In 1948-49, when Labour was in office, the age pension represented 38 per cent, of the basic wage. Today, the pension represents only 35 per cent, of the basic wage. So, honorable members can see that the value is running out of the incomes of the people on fixed incomes. The same thing could be said about every other recipient of social service benefits. Mr. Speaker, I will not have time to go into all of the matters covered by the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition but I support that amendment wholeheartedly.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Aston) adjourned.
House adjourned at 11.16 p.rn.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
m asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
Have Victoria, Queensland and South Australia yet taken up the Commonwealth proposal of August 1955, that the Commonwealth should authorise State inspectors to police Commonwealth industrial awards and that the States should authorise Commonwealth inspectors to police State industrial awards?
son asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows -
The number of graduates of overseas universities who have come to Australia to practise in the last five years is not known, (c) The number of Bachelor of Dental Surgery and Bachelor of Dental Science degrees conferred by Australian universities in the years 1961-1965 were -
The figure for 1961 relates to the calendar year while those for 1962 to 1965 relate to the years ending 31st July. This has resulted in 8 degrees being Included in the figures for both 1961 and 1962.
m asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
How many and what percentage of the men who have (a) registered and (b) presented themselves for service under the National Service Act were British subjects by reason of (i) birth in Britain, (ii) birth in Malta and (iii) naturalisation in Australia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
These statistics are not available.
b asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
y asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
This case is sub-judice.
b asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
What percentage of those called up in each State for national service was granted deferment on the ground of conscientious objection?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Of the national service registrants who have been balloted in, 0.2 per cent, have been granted exemption from national service on the ground of conscientious objection. This figure cannot be related to the numbers called up because under the National Service Act a national service registrant may apply for exemption on the grounds of conscientious objection either prior to or subsequent to receiving advice of call-up.
y asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
This case is sub-judice.
y asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
b asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
Statistics of education expenses allowed were not tabulated for the 1962-63 income year and are not yet available for the 1964-65 income year. Statistics for the 1963-64 income year do not indicate by grade of actual income the numbers of taxpayers allowed either all or part of the maximum deduction for education expenses for one or more children. However, the following table shows the approximate numbers of children in respect of whom a deduction for education expenses was allowed and the numbers of children in respect of whom the maximum deduction for education expenses was allowed in the 1963-64 income year. The numbers are classified according to the grade of income of the taxpayers to whom the deductions were allowed.
y asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
y asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
r asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
The South Australian Government on several occasions has requested the Commonwealth to consider construction of a railway between Port Augusta and Whyalla. The Commonwealth Government has indicated that it would he prepared to consider construction of the railway if and when it can be demonstrated that sufficient traffic is likely to bc available to support economic operation of the railway. Arrangements have been made for a detailed survey to be made of the proposed route.
b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
The arguments for an increase in the price of gold are well known and this Government fully recognises that maintenance of the world price at the level set in 1934 has caused major problems for the Australian gold mining industry. I would remind the House that this Government first introduced a subsidy scheme for the gold mining industry in 19S4. Subsidies to go’d producers under the Gold Mining Industry Assistance Act (1954) and the now expired Gold Mines Development Assistance Act totalled Si 6.9 million up to 30th June 1966. In the current financial year, payments of subsidies to gold producers are expected to total around $3.3 million.
However, it has to be recognised that an increase in the world price of gold will not occur unless the major western countries, and the United States in particular, agree that this is a desirable course of action. The United States Government, for its part, has declared on many occasions that it is firmly opposed to an increase in the price of gold. This situation has not deterred representatives of the Australian Government from speaking in support of the gold mining industry as opportunities presented themselves. We have gone on record in this respect at several annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and elsewhere. The Government will continue to urge that the future of gold and its role in -the work monetary system be given full consideration in international deliberations and I have no doubt that a suitable opportunity will arise at the forthcoming annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund to put our views forward once again.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 August 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19660831_reps_25_hor52/>.