26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. V. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr GILES presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the House take any action necessary to ensure that the Government does not implement the resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations in imposing economic sanctions on the Government and the people of Rhodesia.
Mr WHITTORN 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 service and housing benefits for the aged, the invalid, the widowed and their dependants.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether it is a fact that, although a full alert exists in the area of South Vietnam in which Australian troops are stationed, some fully trained stretcher bearer bandsmen have been withdrawn from full time stretcher bearer duties to form a band and that nineteen untrained medics are being given a crash course as stretcher bearers to treat wounded in action.
– I have no detailed knowledge of the circumstances mentioned by the honourable gentleman but I will certainly have inquiries made. 1 can say that responsibility for the operational efficiency of units in Vietnam rests with the commander of the Australian Task Force in Vietnam. Naturally the operational efficiency would take precedence over all other responsibilities at all times. I can also say that the concept of a stretcher bearer should not be confused with that of a medic who is a trained member of the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps. It is true that for some time there has been a category of stretcher bearer-cum-bandsman with a dual responsibility hut my understanding is that this role is being discontinued in infantry battalions at the present time as we are forming area hands. However, I will have inquiries made.
– Mr Speaker, my question is addressed to you. Are you aware that during the winter recess the copy of Magna Carta formerly kept in King’s Hall was removed from Parliament House? As Magna Carta is the symbol of liberty in the English world, do you agree that the proper place for this copy is in the national Parliament where it can be viewed by the 400,000 people who visit Parliament House each year? Will you discuss this matter with the Prime Minister with a view to having it returned to King’s Hall?
– First, I am aware that the copy of Magna Carta which was in this building has been removed to the new National Library building. This was done after consultation with the President of the Senate and myself. We made inquiries and found that we were simply the temporary custodians of the document, which was purchased by the National Library in the early 1950s, and that it was held in this building only until the National Library moved into its permanent headquarters. T emphasise that the Parliament was not the purchasing authority. The purchasing authority was the National Library. As is the case with many other articles in this House, we were merely the temporary custodians of the document.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the total sum that the Government will be called upon to pay because of devaluation of the pound sterling been assessed? Is there to be a continuing payment from year to year?
– The Government has made two announcements regarding devaluation. One concerned its intention to compensate for the immediate losses in respect of stocks held by statutory marketing authorities which were unable to take out forward exchange cover. The Government has also announced that it will compensate the sugar, dairying, honey and canned fruit industries for losses incurred because of devaluation. These will be losses for the year since devaluation. The Government has not made any decision for future years. The matter will be looked at from time to time.
– I address a question to you, Mr Speaker. It is supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Watson. Since King John affixed his seal to Magna Carta at Runnymede, would it be possible in your view for Australia’s copy of the document to be restored to the Parliament if the new parliament house is erected at the lakeside?
-The honourable gentleman has asked me a rather hypothetical question regarding the new parliament house. The matter he has raised is something that I would consider at the appropriate time.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Was it the intention of the Government when it made available a site for a restaurant within the Parliamentary triangle, and indeed constructed the building for this purpose, that the premises should be used for a business which would provide medium priced meals suitable for the needs of tourist families and others who visit this place and the precincts? Would the Minister care to make any statement about present developments on that site, and can he say whether any development is projected which will provide the type of facility that should be available to tourist families and others?
– It is true that the Parliament provided for a kiosk-restaurant to be built in the vicinity of Parliament House, and this was in fact built by the National Capital Development Commission. The restaurant is now providing a full range of services. It provides morning and afternoon teas and light luncheons. By some chance I have a copy of the menu. Honourable members may be interested in the charges. The prices for light luncheons provided for tourists and others visiting the Parliament are comparable with prices charged elsewhere in establishments of this kind. For example, a sandwich containing ham or cheese is priced at 45c, a hamburger and chip potatoes at 50c, a frankfurter and bread roll at 45c, a meat pie and vegetables at 45c, and tea, coffee or soft drink at 20c. The kiosk-restaurant has been provided with a liquor licence so that it can give a full range of services to the residents of Canberra and to people visiting Canberra. One minor modification is being made so that people coming along in bus loads can pick up cups of tea, pies and sandwiches and take them away in the bus if they wish to do so. Minor modifications are being made to the building to permit easier access and so on. However, at this present time people can sit down and consume their pie and cup of tea in the surrounds of the kiosk if they so wish.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has he any knowledge of areport that United States . officials in Washington have claimed that France is selling wheat at prices below the minimum fixed by the International Grains Agreement? If so, can the Minister say whether the report has any substance?
– 1 am not aware of any allegation that the French have been selling wheat below the price fixed by the International Grains Arrangement. The truth of the matter is that wheat, before the institution of the Arrangement, was selling at prices below the minimum price provided in the Arrangement. Wheat is not traded on a day to day basis. It is quite common for parcels of wheat to be sold for forward delivery, and there was some consultation between the principal exporters to enable the trade to continue :n operation but to minimise what might be the outcome of sales for forward delivery at prices below the minimum of the Arrangement. A conference will take place in Canberra, I think next month, between the principal exporting countries to examine the operation of the Arrangement. It is inevitable that there should be some teething troubles at the commencement of the Arrangement, but it is a matter of congratulation for Australia that there is an international agreement which has put a floor below the price at which wheat inevitably would have been selling without the Arrangement.
– 1 ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that legal expenses incurred by newspaper proprietors and similar people are allowed as a deduction for taxation purposes, but legal expenses incurred by other people who claim that they have been libelled or defamed are not deductible for taxation purposes. If this is so, why the discrimination? Is it a matter of the old rule - one law for the rich and another for the poor?
– 1 do not know enough about income tax law to bc able to say whether in all circumstances newspaper proprietors are entitled to deduct their expenses if they are involved in litigation. The general rule applies equally to everyone. It is that expenses necessarily incurred in the production of assessable income not being of a capital nature - I think those are the words of the Act; if they are not, that is the common law position - are deductible, and they would be deductible in the hands of newspaper proprietors as they would he in the hands of other members of the community. Nonetheless, I will look carefully nl the question asked by the honourable gentleman and I will arrange for a letter about it to be sent to him from the Commissioner of Taxation.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army, ls he aware that it is possible for a person, without producing any identification whatsoever, to purchase an Australian slouch hat in some Sydney suburbs? Bearing in mind the distinctive nature and the important significance of this headwear, will the Minister take action to ensure that the wearing of this hat is limited exclusively to those eligible to wear it?
– I appreciate the significance of the matter referred to by the honourable gentleman and I will certainly have inquiries made on the matter.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Why is it that the Australian sugar industry is the only major industry, primary or secondary, which has never been honoured by an Australian postage stamp depicting some aspect of sugar production? Why has the Government continually refused my representations, and the representations of others, to issue a stamp honouring this industry’s outstanding contribution to the development of Australia? Finally, will the Minister take steps to issue a sugar stamp as a mark of respect to the pioneers of this industry and to acknowledge the part that the industry has played in the development of Australia?
– I cannot go back sufficiently far in my recollection to know whether this industry has been recognised in the issue of a stamp. From time to time the Post Office issues scries of slumps, the most recent series having depicted the floral emblems of the six States. I believe that, in the not too distant future, the Post Office will issue a series of stamps relating to primary and secondary industry. As a Queenslander, I will have the sugar industry in mind when this is done.
– I address to the Minister for Civil Aviation a question relating to the recent introduction of Twin Otter aircraft by Trans-Australia Airlines to replace the DC3 aircraft. I make special reference to the one pilot policy being followed in relation to the Twin Otters and to the concern of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots about the safety aspects if something were to happen to the pilot. Will the Minister undertake to have a look at this matter? Or has some decision been made in relation to this policy?
– The final decision regarding the crewing requirements of the De Havilland Twin Otter aircraft has not yet been made. Some time ago I arranged for the Australian Federation of Air Pilots to make a full submission to my Department expressing its views on this matter. All the points it submitted have been considered. At present the aircraft are operating in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and some operations are commencing in north Queensland. I had the pleasure yesterday of christening a new Twin Otter aircraft in my own city of Toowoomba in which region it will commence operations shortly. The thinking at the moment is that in high traffic density areas we may have a requirement for two pilots. The machine itself is designed to operate with one pilot but because of traffic complications we may require two pilots in certain localities. We are looking at this particular angle at the moment. I hope we will be in a position to give a decision in the next few weeks.
– I refer the Minister for Air to reports that the Bloodhound surface to air missile is to be withdrawn from service within the next six months. Are these reports correct? If so, is it intended to replace the Bloodhound with another surface to air missile? If not, what will be the future basis of Australia’s air defence system? Perhaps the Minister will also indicate to the House the total cost of the installation, maintenance and manning of the Bloodhound air defence system.
– I do not carry in my head details of the total cost but I will get that figure and let the honourable gentleman have it. It is true that the Bloodhound missile will be phased out within a short time. The normal life of this type of missile would have been up to about 1970, but with the bringing up to strength of the Mirage squadrons and the air to air missiles that they have it is considered that these provide a better type of medium altitude and high altitude defence than does the Bloodhound missile. With the phasing out of that missile in Australia and its being phased out in other defence systems the obtaining of parts and the maintenence of the missile would have been increasingly expensive. For all those reasons it has been decided that the Bloodhound will be phased out earlier than would normally have been the case. No immediate replacement is envisaged for the Bloodhound. Its role will be filled in the interim by the Mirage aircraft. Whether to replace the Bloodhound, and the nature of the replacement, will be matters considered in the context of the normal defence review.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. I refer to his Department’s latest monthly review of employment, with which the Minister is obviously very happy. Is he aware, however, that certain areas of unemployment remain, especially in Queensland where in real terms almost 2% of the work force is seeking employment and where nearly four people seek to obtain every vacancy available? As this situation is chronic and has not been relieved by the large amount of investment in certain regional projects, will the Minister undertake to investigate opportunities for employment in Queensland and so offer to Queenslanders a hope for the future at least equal to that which obtains in some other States?
– I think I am right in saying that last month the biggest decline in the number of persons registered for employment occurred in Queensland. The economy of Queensland is, of course, unique. Queensland has a structure of seasonal industries, which invariably means a considerable variation in employment and migration of labour. Some difficulties are experienced in the employment of females, particularly in towns other than the really big ones. These difficulties are not unique; they exist because many girls who might otherwise have taken up domestic and other kinds of work now seek employment in factories and offices. This leads to a surplus of labour offering for these kinds of jobs, and this situation is sometimes difficult to deal with. My Department does a great deal of research into these matters but it is not in a position to change the structure of the economy of Queensland, which lends itself inevitably to a heavy degree of seasonal unemployment.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question. Have officers of his Department approached small Australian companies requesting that they surrender contracts which they have won in open competition with other Australian companies so that those contracts may be placed with New Zealand manufacturers?
– I did not hear the honourable gentleman’s question very clearly. I will study the question as if it were on notice and supply the honourable gentleman with an answer.
– I cannot indicate when commercial supersonic aircraft will come into operation. The Anglo-French Concorde is now undergoing early ground tests. The first prototype has been completed in France and the second is nearing completion in the United Kingdom. So far the aircraft has not flown. Until the ground and air tests are completed it will not be possible to indicate when this aircraft is likely to be in operation. The target set for the Concorde indicated that it would come into operation some time about 1972, but this will depend on the completion of flight and ground tests. Al the moment there are many problems associated with these tests. Because of some faults in design which have already been found, the programme for commercial supersonic aircraft for the United States of America will be delayed even a little further than had originally been expected. So. at present, it is impossible to forecast when the United States supersonic commercial aircraft will actually come into operation.
We are at present planning facilities to handle the jumbo jet type of aircraft and the supersonics. In fact, the recent approval to extend the runway at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport into Botany Bay to a length of over 13.000 feet together with overruns is designed to provide for the operation of these aircraft in the future. At the same time, development at other major international airports in Australia is being planned to provide for these operations.
Finally, the honourable member asked about alternative sites for an airport in New South Wales. My Department is looking to the future, as I have mentioned before in this House, and has projected planning to about the turn of the century. We have been looking at alternative sites with the idea of making reservations to meet requirements that are yet some distance in the future. Certain areas in northern New South Wales and on the coast have been examined. At this point of time it would not be appropriate to indicate the sites that have been considered.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that in a television interview at the weekend, the right honourable gentleman indicated that he and the Prime Minister were considering a reduction in taxation on income derived from personal exertion up to $10,000 a year? Was the statement only an election gimmick designed to be forgotten after an election had been held? If not, will he say what progress has been made toward the proposal’s implementation? Further, in view of the fact that for some years now the Government has relied on loan fund finance to balance its accounts, would a reduction in taxation on income derived from personal exertion mean a further substantial increase in indirect taxation?
– As to the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question. I did state in a television interview that I had looked very carefully at taxation schedules and so had the Government and the Prime Minister. I also said that if it had been within our financial capacity, I would have liked to consider a reduction within certain ranges. I pointed out that in these tantalising years - and again I use a phrase that has been used before - it is not practicable to do so. because of increases in other expenditures and particularly because of other needs that face the Government. The statement was not made with any election in view. If the honourable gentleman thinks that a tax reduction would be a first class idea - obviously he believes it would meet with the approval of a large number of citizens - by all means let him go out and proclaim the virtues of the policies of a Liberal-Australian Country Party Government.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question. Is he aware that the last Australian National Line cargo ship bound from Brisbane to Darwin was unable to load about 900 tons of goods and left them on a Brisbane wharf? Will it be months before the next ANL ship proceeds from Brisbane to Darwin, to the great detriment of trade between Queensland and the Northern Territory? Have industrial unrest on the Darwin waterfront and resulting losses incurred by the ANL on voyages between Brisbane and Darwin been the main reasons for the inadequacy of this service? Will the Minister confer with the Minister for the Interior with a view to resolving the industrial problem in Darwin which is having a very deleterious effect upon Queensland industry?
– There are two distinct phases of the problem raised by the honourable member. The first is short term and the second is long term. In the long term perspective it is necessary, with increased volumes of goods being shipped out of and into Darwin, for the standard of port facilities to be continually improved. It is into this phase that an inquiry is being made amongst the relevant departments within the Commonwealth Government, each of which has some responsibility for the upgrading of the port.
The second phase is relative to the short term implications not only as far as Queensland industry is concerned but also in terms of costs, as to which there have been repeated representations particularly from the honourable member for the Northern Territory who is naturally rather concerned at the impost on the people of the Northern Territory of the added freight charges resulting from the disruption to the service provided by the Australian National Line. The normal turn-round time for B-class vessels operated by the ANL to Darwin is about 16 days. As a result of a series of industrial disputes, many of which would appear to have been based on fairly insignificant issues, this time has been extended so that it now takes these vessels anything up to 36 days to turn round in port. This naturally has a direct effect on the frequency of the service available to the port of Darwin. It also has an effect on the cost of goods that are transported to and from Darwin. The effect is very pronounced not only on the people of Darwin but also on the other people of the Northern Territory and, as the honourable member’s question indicates, on the manufacturers and industrialists in Brisbane and in the other ports serviced by the Australian National Line. It is a matter of considerable concern to the Government. It is one which the people of the Northern Territory themselves can help to alleviate by directing the attention of those who are unnecessarily causing industrial unrest on the waterfront to the cost impost that they are producing for all the other people in the Darwin community.
– Could the Minister for Civil Aviation advise me whether the British Overseas Airways Corporation has been invited by his Department to prepare a set of quotations for the overhaul of B747 aircraft and component parts? Is it a fact that a decision has been made by his departmental officers that BOAC will do this work each year between April and 30th September? If so, could the Minister advise the House why the expert aircraft engineers employed by Qantas Airways Ltd are denied the right to do this work? Is this another instance of favouring private enterprise at the expense of the employees of Qantas?
– The answer to the question is: No.
– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Is pressure still being brought to bear by the United Arab Republic on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to remove from the Alexandria area war cemeteries in which several hundred Australian dead from World War I and World War II lie buried? Has this matter been satisfactorily negotiated yet; if so, with what result?
– For quite a long time there has been negotiation proceeding between the Imperial War Graves Commission, the Australian Government and the United Arab Republic. I am not up to the moment in the stage that has been reached in this negotiation, but 1 will obtain the information for the honourable gentleman.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Will the Commonwealth Government be represented by counsel in the current national wage case? If so, will the Minister table the instructions given to the Government’s legal representative in this matter?
– The Government will be represented by counsel at the present national wage case. Last year 1 made available the text of what we put to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I will have to consider the form it will take, but I will be very pleased to supply similar information to any honourable member who is interested in the case to be put this year.
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by drawing his attention to the fact that 3,167 persons were killed and 79,973 persons were injured on Australian roads last year. To the end of May this year, 1,377 persons had been killed. This figure represents an increase of 84 on the figure for the same period last year. 1 ask the Treasurer whether, in view of the fact that alcohol is a factor in many road fatalities, he will, as a contribution to road safety and as encouragement to breweries to continue to brew light ale, give consideration to reducing the present rate of excise on ales and beers which have a low alcohol content.
– I was not aware of the figures just provided by the honourable member either in respect of last year or that part of this year which has passed already, relating to deaths and accidents on the roads. I doubt whether I could do anything about the reduction of excise duty during the current financial year as we have the Budget before us already. Nonetheless, I will have a look at the implications of the question asked by the honourable gentleman and bring it to the notice of my officials. If we feel that anything effective can be done, I will let the honourable member know.
– Has the Minister for the Navy received the report of the United States inquiry into the recent damage to HMAS ‘Hobart’? Are the findings substantiated by the reports from the officers of HMAS ‘Hobart’? Does the Minister still consider that no need exists for the Royal Australian Navy to hold an inquiry into the incident? Is it correct that the United States Navy carried out the repairs to HMAS ‘Hobart’ without cost to the Royal Australian Navy?
– Mr Speaker, the report from the American admiral who led the inquiry has been received. We in the Department of the Navy are quite satisfied with the findings. There does not appear to be any argument nor is it contested that the damage was caused by friendly aircraft. As to whether the Americans will ask us to pay for the repair of the damage, it is usual between allies that each ally pays for the damage which it suffers. We expect to do so in this case.
– I address a qustion to the Minister for Air. ls it a fact that a Mirage aircraft had a forced landing at Mangalore on Friday last? If so, has the Minister received a report on and can he tell the House of the incident?
– I have received a preliminary report only. I think most of the details of the incident have appeared in the Press already. The pilot received a warning light indicating that a fire was present in the aircraft. He conducted a forced landing at Mangalore. Full inquiries are proceeding.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration a question. In view of the Security Council resolution that: all member states of the United Nations should prevent the entry into their territories of any person travelling on a Southern Rhodesian passport or on a purported passport issued by or on behalf of the illegal regime in Southern Rhodesia . . . and the Government’s answer in the Senate on 14th August that Australia considered it had an obligation to comply with that resolution, I ask the honourable gentleman why he allowed an Australian passport to be issued to the chief of the Rhodesian Air
Force. I also ask him for how long and for what countries the passport is valid and whether the Air Vice-Marshal has resigned his post in Rhodesia or has undertaken to do so.
– Mr Speaker, I will not respond to the preamble that introduced the question. The essential part of the question is: Has there been a change in relation to Air Vice-Marshall Hawkins? He applied for an Australian passport. Whether he is entitled to an Australian passport depends on whether he is an Australian citizen. This had to be established. It was established that he was an Australian citizen and be was therefore given an Australian passport. The Leader of the Opposition asked in what countries the passport would be valid. I am unable to give him information with certainty but I can tell him that my expectation is that it was valid for all countries other than North Vietnam, as all passports issued at this stage are valid for all countries other than North Vietnam.
– I address to the Minister for External Affairs a question relating to Australian aid to developing nations. In view of the necessity, which I think is well established, of providing assistance for developing nations and food for their rapidly growing populations, is the Minister convinced that our missions abroad have enough agricultural expertise? Is he convinced that our missions abroad are geared to provide expert advice and to persuade the government of any nation when necessary to take advantage of our own expertise in agricultural development and so improve the national growth in that important field?
– The question asked by the honourable member for Angas seems to refer particularly to the section of our overseas economic assistance programme that is related to agricultural development. The procedure followed in a matter of this kind is that the receiving country, in discussion with our local embassy, makes known its needs and our local embassy reports to Canberra. In the appropriate branch of my Department the request for the particular form of aid is examined. If it is necessary to obtain expert advice of a technical kind we can expect cooperation from all Australian governmental agencies, both Commonwealth and State, and even private agencies. The normal action on receiving a proposal for some form of agricultural assistance is that the appropriate division of my Department would have recourse either to the Commonwealth agency, to the State governmental agency or to some other expert body, academic or otherwise, that might be able to advise on it. If the project were of a large kind quite often we would send an investigation team to examine the feasibility and the desirability of the project. Broadly speaking, I can assure the honourable member for Angas that 1 am satisfied we are in a position to investigate with reasonable technical and professional efficiency any request for agricultural aid. The projects of an agricultural kind that are now being followed have proved to be quite effective.
– I ask the Treasurer whether his attention has been drawn to the efforts being made by Doulton Potteries (Aust.) Pty Ltd to take over the old, established Australian pottery company, R. Fowler Ltd. If so, is he aware that the source from which the finance is to be obtained is believed to contravene the principles laid down by the Treasurer for takeovers by overseas companies and, if successful, the takeover will give monopoly control of this important Australian manufacturing industry to overseas interests? If so, will he make a complete investigation of all aspects of this proposed takeover and if necessary refer the matter to the Attorney-General to ascertain whether any breach of the Trade Practices Act has occurred?
– I have read in the newspapers of an attempted takeover of R. Fowler Ltd by Doulton Potteries (Aust.) Pty Ltd. I am also aware that the directors of R. Fowler Ltd have recommended to their shareholders that they should not agree to the transfer of their shares. As to the suggestion that they have asked for money to be available in contravention of the guide lines, this matter has not been drawn to my attention and I have no reason to believe this has occurred. Nonetheless I will make inquiries about it and if necessary will refer the matter to the Attorney-General so far as it relates to the trade practices legislation.
– My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for National Development. I refer to Order of the Day No. 25, which relates to the ministerial statement on the Chowilla Dam. I obtained the adjournment of the debate on this statement. Will the Minister assure the House that no decision to build the Chowilla Dam will be made before this debate is continued and concluded?
– The business of the House is not in my hands but it is the hands of the Minister for Immigration who is the Leader of the House. Nevertheless I can assure the honourable member that no decision can be made on the future of the Chowilla Dam site until we get details from the Snowy Mountains HydroElectric Authority, which is undertaking the drilling of a suitable alternative site, and until we get a salinity report from our consultants. It is not expected that either of these reports will be available until the end of the year. If the honourable member desires to debate this subject, I suggest that he confer with the Leader of the House.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, Mr Speaker. One edition of the Melbourne ‘Age’ of last Friday reported me as attacking the proposal for a new and permanent parliament house. I have not spoken during the debate on that subject, nor have I expressed an opinion publicly one way or the other. Secondly, I am not opposed to the erection of a new parliament house. Thirdly, I intend to vote for the lake site.
– I present the following paper:
Audit Act - Finance - report of the AuditorGeneral for year 1967-68, accompanied by the Treasurer’s Statement of the Receipts and Expenditure.
Ordered to be printed.
– by leave - After consultation with New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, my Government has decided that, subject to certain limitations, drought relief assistance will continue to be provided to those States in 1968-69. Although the drought which has been affecting most of the eastern half of the Australian continent now appears to be virtually over, we accept that the need for drought relief measures has not ceased with the advent of rains and that some further Commonwealth assistance in respect of State relief measures will be necessary in 1968-69.
The Commonwealth will continueto reimburse the States in 1968-69 for their drought relief expenditures arising from:
I emphasise that it is not the Commonwealth’s intention that the various State relief measures should necessarily cease on the dates on which Commonwealth assistance to the States will cease. The Commonwealth’s approach is that, if a State feels that it is necessary to continue a particular measure after the cut off date for Commonwealth assistance, it would be reasonable for the State itself to meet the limited expenditure likely to be involved.
In this regard I point out that contrary to the normal arrangements in relation to natural disaster relief assistance, the Commonwealth has been meeting virtually the whole cost of State expenditures on drought relief measures. The arrangements have undoubtedly been the most generous ever devised to meet such a situation and, in the 3 years to the end of 1967-68, they have resulted in reimbursements of State relief expenditures amounting to nearly $60m. For 1968-69 it is estimated that, on the basis of the arrangements outlined, State expenditures eligible for reimbursement will amount to a further $19m, made up as follows:
These payments include reimbursements in respect of commitments entered into during 1967-68.
I have made it clear to the four States concerned that the Commonwealth will be prepared to consider new arrangements if drought conditions happen to re-emerge on a large scale. However, 1 am hopeful that present expectations for a generally favourable rural season in 1968-69 will be fulfilled and that, in consequence, there will be a substantial increase in rural output and incomes of farmers.
I present the following paper:
Commonwealth Drought Relief Assistance in 3968-69- Ministerial Statement, 20 August 1968 - and move:
That the House lake note of the paper.
– I want to comment briefly on what the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has said. I think the principle of assistance to the States to alleviate the effects of drought is sound, but I suggest to the Prime Minister that he consider laying down some guide lines for the States in the disbursement of these funds. It is all very well to say that this is the responsibility of the States and that they know best where to spend the money. They certainly do in terms of politics, but discrimination can occur. I can show how some sections of the sugar industry have been discriminated against because the Commonwealth has laid down no guide lines. It simply gives the money to the States and says: ‘You spend it where you think best’. I believe this is wrong.
I believe also that the Commonwealth should very seriously consider the indirect effects of drought. Frequently a town serving, for instance, a dairying or a sugar area suffers seriously from unemployment caused by a drought. Here again guide lines should be set and the Commonwealth should have some say in the disbursement of the funds not only to a particular industry but also to the local government authorities in particular areas. The local government authorities could use the money for objectives that would stimulate employ-‘ ment. In the sugar industry the cut-off point was 800 tons. This has been shown to’ be quite unacceptable to major portions of the industry. A large producer who was not eligible for a drought loan may be in a worse position than a small producer who had less than 800 tons but who was eligible for assistance. Although the principle of drought loans is to be welcomed, I do not think that the Commonwealth should simply give the money to the States and say: ‘You spend it as best you can’. When we ask how the money has been spent, it is often very difficult to find out where it has gone, what criteria have been used, what interest rates are being charged and so on. These are Commonwealth funds and the Common-, wealth should have a more positive say in the disbursement of them. It should be able to indicate not only in which areas but also in which provincial cities and country towns and on which industries the,, funds will be spent.
Depate (on motion by Mr Chaney) adjourned.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, I present the report relating to the following proposed works:
Waymouth Telephone Exchange Building, Adelaide, South Australia.
Ordered to be printed.
Debate resumed from IS August (vide page 289) on motion by Mr Gorton:
That this House is of the opinion that the new and permanent Parliament House should be situated on the lakeside site.
Upon which Mr Bryant had moved by way of amendment:
That the words ‘the lakeside site’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘Capital Hill’.
– The subject being debated at the moment is the siting of the future permanent Parliament House. This is an important matter on which this House and the other place must make a decision. I have taken the opportunity not only to look at the sites now under consideration but also to study the documents presented to honourable members. One document is headed ‘Special Report on the Site’ and comes from the Joint Select Committee. It is not the report on alternative sites that we may have expected to have had before us. The document obviously favours the lake site, but I find some irregularities in it and I would like to mention them now. The argument has been advanced that if the new building is to be placed on Capital Hill, as I sincerely hope it will be, a certain amount of earthmoving work will be necessary. Within this one document we have two estimates. Within the document the estimate is made that it will cost between $2m and $4m to complete the earth works on the site on top of Capital Hill. In commenting on this particular aspect the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie), I think it was, credited the Commission with saying that to level the hill would cost about $2 or $3m. It was suggested that this was the figure estimated by the commissioners themselves. The document that the Minister laid on the table last week quoted a sum of about $1.5m as the cost of levelling. It is obvious that there is some irregularity in these figures. If I am any judge, all those figures are wrong, as it would not be necessary to undertake so much earth moving work to establish a site for a new parliament house on Capital Hill.
My second point relates to the actual lakeside site as shown in attachments to the document supplied to honourable members. The attachment concerned with traffic movements indicates the lake site as being a small area about SOO feet wide right beside the lake. It does not intrude into Parkes Place. However, on the next map, which relates to services, the lake site includes large areas of Parkes Place. This difference in size of the site is another irregularity in the document. If the house is to be constructed on the lake site an area 500 feet in width obviously would be insufficient for the purpose. I doubt whether there is a sufficiently large area by the lake for the new parliament house. Such a building would need to take in most of Parkes Place, if not all of it. There is no doubt about this.
Let us consider the overall design of Canberra itself. Canberra was not intended to be a congested city but a spread out city - a real Australian city. The lake has been developed, but it is of limited size in comparison with other Australian lakes, and every time a building is erected by its shores the lake appears to be smaller. It was never intended that there should be congestion of buildings in and around Parkes Place and in front of the present Parliament House. If the future parliament house is sited by the lake the area will become far too congested and the house will not be able to cater for what may be required of it in the future. Once a building is constructed close to a waterline wc all know the results. Honourable members need think only of the situation in Sydney or Melbourne. When a building is placed near the waterline there is restricted traffic movement, no opportunity to expand, and recreation areas arc destroyed. This should not happen in an inland city like Canberra. I doubt whether many Australians would like to see the lakeside area occupied by masses of steel and concrete. Let us move away from the lake. This was the concept, in the original design of Canberra. It was intended that the parliament house should be away from the lake, although the proposed site originally was not Capital Hill but Camp Hill. I do not think any honourable member will dispute that. If the building is placed by the lake it will destroy the wonderful view that extends across the lake to Mount Ainslie where the magnificent Australian War Memorial building is located.
I feel strongly about this matter. Once a decision is made and the building is constructed it will be there for all time; it will not be possible to alter it. So we must think this out and have regard to the overall position. If one examines the sites on Capital Hill and by the lake one realises that there are limitations to the lake site, including the limitation of area. It has been suggested that provision will1 be made for car parking under the new and permanent parliament house. 1 understand that the building may have three basement floors. 1 am familiar with engineering problems connected with work below a water level, such as’ would be involved if the house were to be placed by the lake. There would be difficulties in providing three basements. Of course, it can be done, because engineers can do almost anything these days; but extensive work would be involved in having a basement for car parking. The cars could not be dropped in; lifts would be necessary. Such provision could not be made in a limited area, but on Capital Hill there is ample space. The hill is virtually untouched, although a bulldozer seems to be doing a lot of work there at present. The hill: has an area of over 100 acres confined within State Circle. Surely this area can be reserved for the Parliament. After all, this national capital has been developed because of the existence of the Parliament here, and surely 100 acres can be retained on which to establish a parliament house and its necessary ancillary buildings. The hill1 is the site with sufficient space to enable suitable development for a new and permanent parliament house. There is insufficient room by the lake.
Surely we have had enough experience in other cities to cause us to move away from what will be a congested area, an area where a number of buildings still have to be constructed, including the High Court building. Yesterday it was suggested to me that if parliament house is located on the suggested site by the lake it will have to fit in with other buildings and must be of somewhat similar construction. This would not be necessary if it were built on Capital Hill. It could be a unique building. We could start with a clean slate and the design could be appropriate for an Australian parliament house. I first came to Canberra a few months after the present Parliament House was opened. I was a boy of 10 or 11 years of age. I remember sitting in the Speaker’s chair and thinking what a tremendous responsibility members of Parliament had. Canberra was then an area of wide open spaces with few buildings and it obviously had tremendous potential for development without congestion. Today we are considering putting the permanent parliament house right beside the water, which will lead to congestion. It will be sandwiched between numerous other buildings and there will be no opportunity for expansion. If it is located on Capital Hill there will be room for expansion and room in which to move.
Frequently we see major development works undertaken and within a few years the developers looking for space to expand. We must learn a lesson from that, and we must do the right thing. We must leave ourselves room to develop a parliament house of which we will be proud and that can expand as required. This can be done only on Capital Hill.
– I join in this debate with considerable pleasure because there is no more important aspect of the beautification of this great city than where the Federal parliamentary buildings are to be located. I cannot help but be somewhat critical of the haste with which the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House reached a decision on the site. 1 would have thought that before the report which we are now considering was brought before the Parliament we would have had the benefit of a report from those parliamentarians, including yourself, Mr Speaker, who travelled the world investigating parliamentary buildings. I agree that it may not have been the concern of those members of Parliament to say where the parliament house should be sited but I see 10 reason why this important matter of the siting of the parliament house should have been brought before the Parliament at such short notice. To say the least, the Government’s action in this matter has been very discourteous to the members who travelled overseas to study this matter. The Government has acted with undue haste, having regard to the importance of the subject, the likely expenditure involved and the length of time for which the ultimate building will stand.
I feel also that the Australian Capital Territory Committee might have been asked for its views on this subject. When all is said and done, that Committee has a responsibility to investigate matters referred to it by the Minister for the Interior. I understand that on one occasion, before I was a member of the Committee, it wanted to look into the matter of a new parliament house and was told that it could do so if it wished. But this was not possible because under its constitution the Committee may consider only matters referred to it by the Minister. I would think that in a matter as important to the national capital as a new parliament house the views of the Australian Capital Territory Committee might have been obtained. When the vote is taken on the motion now before the House the Government may regret that it did not refer this matter to the Australian Capital Territory Committee.
Anybody concerned with the development of Canberra and with the beauty of this great city must have more than a passing interest in the siting of the building in which the Parliament will function. Today I come down firmly on the side of those who want to put the new parliament house on Capital Hill. My attitude may be influenced by my ancestry, which has a long record of building temples and churches on hills. The new parliament house should be the most outstanding that we can provide, lt should be erected on the best position which this capital oan offer. In my choice of Capital Hill I am in notable company, because in 1923 the Right Honourable William Morris Hughes said:
The building on Capital Hill, whatever it be, will dominate the landscape and be the most prominent architectural feature in the layout of the city. Having regard to the architectural features of Rome, Athens, Washington and all the other great capital cities of the world, the most important building in Canberra should be that where Parliament sits. Therefore the dominating site at Canberra should be utilised for Parliament House.
Those words are as true today as they were 45 years ago. Anybody who has surveyed the two sites - the lakeside and the hill - will agree that both are good sites and quite the best available in this capital city. The views expressed by Mr Hughes were endorsed in 1955 by the Senate Select Committee on the Development of Canberra. The same proposal was put forward by the architect of this great city. Walter Burley Griffin said that the parliament house should be on Camp Hill. At least he envisaged erecting the parliament above the level of the lake. There is ample evidence that those who have been associated with Canberra and its development desire to have their parliament house on the most eminent site in the capital.
Anybody who has visited Washington will agree that one of the outstanding features of that great city is its Capitol building, lt is erected on a spot where it really stands out, as our parliament house should. The Capitol building is really American. It has splendour and majesty. It is undoubtedly the centre of government, available for all to see. There is no more spectacular sight in Washington than to see the many thousands of tourists streaming from cars and buses to enter the Capitol building, lt is a wonderful building. Anybody seeing it for the first time knows immediately what it is. The Americans have ensured that their Capitol building will stand out. It is on a hill for all to see.
Another remarkable building so far as parliament houses go is Stormont Castle in Belfast, lt is situated on a hill. Even the residents of southern Eire must be slightly envious of Belfast’s parliament building. As I went up that magnificent drive and later looked out to sea across Belfast I could not help but marvel at the splendour of the site. A parliament house erected in Canberra on Capital Hill would be something of which all Australians could be proud. As a site for the parliament house, Capital Hill leaves little if anything to be desired.
As 1 have said, both the lakeside and the hill are very good sites, but even a casual glance will show that as the years pass the lakeside will become exceedingly congested. I do not know what kind of building would be erected on the lakeside but I do not think it could possibly have the splendour of a building on Capital Hill. As one honourable member has said, if you do not want to spend very much and if you intend to erect a building to serve the Parliament for only 40 or 50 years, by all means erect it on the lakeside. But if you want something splendid and majestic, build on Capital Hill. Anybody who has examined the lakeside will agree that it is a beautiful spot, but if we build the parliament house there we will also be encroaching on the foreshores of the lake. The cry of people all over Australia is that the foreshores of the harbours and rivers on which our capital cities stand have been taken away from the people for building purposes. If you build the parliament house on the lakeside you will deny to the people of this city and to visitors the splendour of a section of the lake. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) has circulated amongst honourable members some- notes in which he deals with the problem of traffic as it affects the two sites. He points out that even today there is traffic congestion on the lakeside. There is a great amount of activity in the area. By 1980, when the population of Canberra reaches about 250,000, there will not be as much space on the lakeside as there is now. The lakeside will be very congested and probably not the site for a parliament house befitting a capital such as this.
At the invitation of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) I and other honourable members went ro Capital Hill recently, from which you obtain a wonderful panoramic view of Canberra and the Territory, lt is a view thai nobody could fail to admire. I could not help but think how grand it would be if the parliament met there in a modern building. I do not care how many storeys there are in the building or how much the officials say must be lopped off the hill. 1 am convinced that with modern architecture we could have a building from which to obtain a panoramic view across Canberra; a building which all could see from practically anywhere in the Australian Capital Territory, lt has been said that the ring road has a bearing on building on Capital Hill. I was a member of the Australian Capital Territory Committee when the matter of the ring road was investigated. The Committee was given an assurance by officers of the National Capital Development Commission, who were replying to questions by Senator Cotton and myself, that in no circumstances would the construction of the ring road have any bearing on the siting of Parliament House. I voted for the construction of the rin» road only because I had a direct assurance that it would not interfere with the construction of the parliament house on Capital Hill. I completely rebut any argument that the ring road will have any effect on the choice of Capital Hill as the site for Ihe new parliament house.
Traffic is said to present a problem so far as Capital Hill is concerned, but, if the parliament house is not erected there, we have been told, an art gallery or some other structure will be erected on the hill.
– That is not right. No other building is to go there.
– That may be so. In these modern days, in cities such as San Francisco the parking areas are underground. I imagine that if the new parliament house were to be on Capital Hill and the designers decided to lop 50 feet off the hill and build upwards 50 feet, provision for parking associated with the Parliament could easily be made under the new building. I cannot see that there would be the same traffic congestion on the hill site, if the ring road is constructed, as there would be at the lakeside site. 1 do not criticise the submissions that have been made by the National Capital Development Commission. I think those who prepared the submissions have been reasonably objective. I do not think there will be any need to provide space for thousands of demonstrators and visitors. Like the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), I would not be around to meet 100,000 people who were demonstrating. I think this applies to most honourable members.
– If the new parliament house were situated on the hill, they would all be puffed out by the time they got there.
– I do not think that any members of the Ministry would stick around either if 100,000 people came to the new parliament house, even if the building were on the lakeside site. I do not believe this is a valid argument, for the simple reason that these things will not occur. Parliament itself cannot provide all these facilities. Consequently, I believe that the argument that because provision has to be made for this type of circumstance the new parliament house should not be on the hill site does not hold water in this day and age. There has been a remarkable difference of opinion in the Parliament on this question. This is as it should be. I was very impressed by the remarks of some honourable members, and particularly by those made by the honourable member for
Wills (Mr Bryant). I believe he has given great thought to this subject. No honourable member listening to this debate could have failed to be impressed by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck), who said that he had ridden or walked over most of this Territory. I think he, the honourable member for Wills and others who have taken an interest in Canberra and have favoured the hill site have not done so for political reasons. Rather, they have adopted their view because the placing of a new parliament house on the hill site would give the real imprimatur of splendour to this city. They believe this splendour can be achieved by the placing of a magnificent building on a hill site where it will stand out.
All kinds of arguments will be advanced in relation to aspects such as area and space. I believe the document presented by the NCDC indicates that the hill site will be better than the lakeside site, and in every way will enable the necessary facilities to be provided. In addition, the hill site affords plenty of space for development. It is said that the new parliament house may have to last for 300 or 400 years. That is a pretty fair time to have to look ahead. I believe that the question of cost does not enter into a project which is to last for such a length of time. I am not very concerned about the amount to be spent on a building which is to serve for this time. We have spent $8m on the National Library building. I believe that we should not stint our expenditure on a building that will symbolise the very reason for the existence of Canberra. This is especially so having in mind what a building such as this will indicate to the people of this country and particularly of Canberra, for here we are building a city to which all Australians will look.
I believe that the new parliament house might be dedicated to the soldiers of all wars. In this way it would be made a national memorial to them as well as a place symbolic of a national democratic institution.
I do not wish to delay the House any further. As one who is interested in Canberra and all it implies, I come down on the hill site for the reasons I have mentioned. I believe that the placing of the new parliament house on Capital1 Hill would give the final touch of splendour to the Territory. Undoubtedly in the next IS or 20 years
Canberra will become one of the really great cities of the world and will attract thousands of visitors to this country. All Australians will look with pride at the new parliament house with all of its splendour an appointments. I am sorry if the view taken by many honourable members that the new parliament house should be placed on the hill site upsets the plans of the National Capital Development Commission. The Commission cannot really be blamed if things have gone wrong at this stage, because in 1958 the lake site was decided upon.
I have always supported the hill site privately and publicly. The fact that the site may be changed now may inconvenience those responsible for the planning of the parliamentary triangle. But I believe, looking ahead, that it is advisable to build the new parliament house on Capital Hill. It is for this reason that I support those in Parliament who take this view. Never have I been amongst so many varied and mixed supporters. Friends are coming from far and near and friends are leaving for distant places. I think it is good that members of the Parliament have acted in this way. They have given a clear expression of views and all who have spoken, I believe, have done so with sincerity. Though I do not believe that this will be the most momentous decision that has ever been made and though I do not subscribe to the views of those who say that we do not want a parliament house at all and of others who do not care what sort of building it is, I take the view that the new parliament house ought to be the greatest building in the land. I believe it ought to be on the finest site in Canberra. It should be majestic and splendid, with panoramic views and all the necessary appointments. In every way it should be a building of which we all can be proud, lt is for these reasons that I support the amendment.
– I was fascinated to hear the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) giving us the great benefit of his extensive travels overseas. I thought that the age of miracles had passed until I heard him extol the virtues of Stormont Castle. I did not think the chill winds of Ulster would have warmed the cockles of his heart. This was a surprising aspect of his speech and, I believe, most honourable members who have listened to this debate have done so with some degree of fascination. All sorts of arguments have been used and the manner of their presentation has been almost infinitely varied. The puckish sprite of Capital Hill, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), engaged the House in his humorous banter. His chief argument in favour of the bill as opposed to the lakeside site appeared to be some deep, lurking fear that he might be beset by a mob of 100,000 demonstrators. He said that if this happened he would take to the water. Some of us may have wondered why he has not done so before. I suppose he had in mind the possibility that one day the 100,000 members of the Australian Workers Union might vent their anger on him. That is a matter for speculation.
I believe the new parliament house should be on the lakeside site, and I shall vote accordingly when we come to a division. My friend, the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), says that I surprise him. He never ceases to astonish me. 1 am a believer in the lakeside site for a number of reasons. A lot of these reasons, I suppose, are pretty subjective. Various speakers have properly emphasised the self evident fact that both sites are very good ones. On balance and maybe for subjective reasons, I come down firmly in favour of the lakeside site. I am not one of the hill tribe; I belong to the plain. I have heard it said in this debate that parliament house should be set apart, as it were, in some position of magnificent splendour. I think that if we are looking for symbolism that is an odd view. Parliament belongs to the people. The people dp not live in splendid places.
– The honourable member does.
– If I do, which I deny, that would be my luck. But I do not. Parliament belongs to the people and the people work and live mainly in the market place. I agree that parliament house should be in a central position. For my part - here again one is being intensely subjective, I suppose - the eminently suitable central position is down on the shore of the lake, opposite the commercial centre of the city, near many residences. That position of prominence, if we can overcome our genius for permanent improvisation, will hit the eye of the traveller on his arrival at the heart of Canberra. I think this is important. We have a symbolic juxtaposition of the centre for the Parliament and the Executive and the centre for the judiciary. The three arms of government are the Executive, the Parliament and the judiciary, and all these arms will be placed together in what I would describe as appropriate juxtaposition and proximity.
– lt will become a tangled mess in no time.
– The honourable member for Mitchell says that it will’ become a tangled mess in no time. I am not speaking about his arguments, to which I listened with interest. I think his interjection is an exaggeration which does not bear a great deal of objective examination. The present Parliament House occupies 6.5 acres and the gardens occupy 20 acres. There is an area of 47 acres available down on the lakeside, and to suggest that there will be overcrowding is, to my mind, a mere matter of exaggeration and forensic flourishing, and I do not think that we should have any more of it.
I was fascinated by one of the arguments resorted to by my friend, the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes), to whose speech I listened with very considerable interest. He resorted to a biblical quotation to support his view that the hill was the appropriate site. He quoted the following words from the Bible: T will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help’. I should have thought, with all respect to him, that he was imputing much less cynicism to our peers who elect us than they in fact possess, if he thought that those would be the sentiments of the Australian electorate. Just imagine an elector saying: ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help’. Let us be frank: I do not think that is what many hard-headed Australians tend to think about members of this Parliament. We all1 assert that we try to do our best, but whether that is what the people think of us is, perhaps, open to question. I would have thought that the dangers of building the new parliament house on the hill are amply illustrated by a quotation which I shall give to the House from the second book of Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost”. I know that the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) is not of a poetic disposition, but nevertheless, at the risk of wearying him,I shall read the quotation.
– Is this the blind leading the blind?
– That is a very unparliamentary remark from the honourable member for Maribyrnong.I thought he had much more charity in his heart. The quotation is as follows:
Others apart sat on a hill retir’d,
In thoughts more elevate, and’ reason’d high,
Of providence, foreknowledge, will and fate,
Fix’d fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute;
And found no end, in wand’ring mazes lost.
– No wonder you are plugging for the lake.
– I remind the honourable member for Grayndler that Milton was then speaking of one of the segments of Satan’s lost legion. To return for a moment to a note of seriousness, I do not think that looking into the future, and indeed looking at the present, we ought to regard Parliament as a place which should be set apart on a lofty eminence. I think it should be down on ground level. I think it is desirable that it be close to the High Court of Australia, which it will be if it is eventually sited on the lakeside, and close to the Australian National Library, which is a very significant centre of learning. I think that inevitably one’s views on this question are, at bottom, intensely subjective, but I would claim some pardon for the subjectivity of my views because, after all, one knows that if one votes for the hill one is ignoring the great mass and body of expert opinion. I do not believe that experts should be blindly followed by anyone, least of all by members of Parliament. Unquestionably, at times there are dangers in following expert opinion. I find myself in the position that we have two sites, each of which possesses undoubted virtues. I have symbolical concepts of my own that predispose me in favour of the lakeside site. I think that when a question of this kind is fairly evenly balanced one would not be acting safely if one were to overthrow the preponderant balance of expert opinion. For those reasons I propose to vote in favour of the lakeside site.
– Whilst it is not my desire to take up the time of the House unnecessarily, I feel that as a member of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, whose recommendation we are now debating,I am duty bound to express my views on the matter before us. I hasten to add thatI assure honourable members that I will not take more than 5 or 6 minutes to do so. First,I desire to put the record straight regarding the hurried Committee meeting which was held on Tuesday evening, 13th August 1968. It has been suggested during this debate that at this meeting, from which some members were unavoidably absent, a report from the National Capital Development Commission on the site of the new parliament house was accepted for presentation to Parliament. The true fact of the matter is that the Committee made its decision on the site on 28th November 1967 - over 8 months ago - and that the meeting on Tuesday, 13 th August, was for the sole purpose of considering the presentation to Parliament of the recommendation made by the Committee in November regarding the site for the new parliament house.
Having, I hope, cleared that matter up, I hasten to confess that I am a complete layman in the fields of town planning, traffic engineering, surveying, etc., as I suspect are most, if not all, members of the Committee and in fact of this House. Accordingly, the opinions I formed on the site for the new parliament house were arrived at only afterI had thoroughly inspected the three sites available, listened to the best available experts in their particular fields and noted their replies to a long session of cross-examination by all members of the Committee and finally to the views of the individual members of the Committee. Having reached that stage I felt better equipped to make a decision, and I did so in favour of the lakeside site. Now, after further study and consideration of the situation I can find no valid reason why I should change my mind.
Briefly, I cannot support the Camp Hill site - nor can any member of the Committee - on the score that it appears that the present Parliament House would remain to be used as a meeting place for interstate and international conferences, and as such it would be impracticable and undesirable to construct the new parliament house directly behind this building. In my view, the Capital Hill site has many disadvantages. It is in the centre of a major traffic island and the Forrest side of the site is surrounded by domestic buildings. After the levelling out of the site, it is my belief, the present House would almost completely obstruct the view from the War Memorial. But more importantly, any further expansion would have to be located lower down on the hill and the provision for parades, demonstrations, etc., would be very limited indeed.
The lakeside site, to my mind, is a very fine area for a parliament house. It would be far more acceptable and less segregated than if the parliament house was situated on Capital Hill. It is close to the new National Library which ultimately will house some 10 million volumes, and a tunnel access from the Library to the permanent parliament house is to be provided on the lakeside if the lakeside site is preferable. Finally - and this is of the utmost importance - it has been estimated that over 100,000 people could assemble in front of a new lakeside parliament house on great occasions such as Anzac Day, and a private area could be provided on the lakeside site of the building as at Westminster.
In an effort to clarify this point, let me say I am certain that the honourable member for Moreton would describe as an utter fool anyone who went to the local baker or butcher seeking legal advice. 1 ask the honourable member for Bowman (D’ Gibbs) whether he would recommend * town planner to a person in need of medical advice. I shudder to think what would have happened to any young infantry officer under the command of the honourable member for Chisholm if that young officer had disagreed with and spoken out against any recomendations or decisions made by company officers in charge of other sections of the force under his command. I can well imagine what my old friend and colleague, the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), would have had to say when he was secretary of a great union if a section of his members came along with proposals on how to run the union which were prepared for them by people with no knowledge of the trad? union movement. This is in reality how those in favour of the Capital Hill site have made up their minds. For those few reasons, I wish to make my position clear. I support the motion moved by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and I hope that it will be carried.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, my main reason for entering this debate is to raise my objection to the undue haste in which Parliament has been asked to express judgment on the site for the new and permanent parliament house. The fact that it may take up to 8 years to complete the building and the further fact that it is planned to stand as the permanent parliament house for at least 4 centuries or 5 centuries are matters which, I think, cannot justify any haste in making a judgment on this matter.
The Parliament has had little real notice that this matter would be brought before it. The report of the Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House on the siting of the new and permanent parliament house was received only last Wednesday afternoon - that is to say, the afternoon prior to the commencement of this debate. There cannot be any reason for this haste. The desire of the National Capital Development Commission to begin programming and preparation for the national gallery complex is the reason and the only reason that we can see for this urgency.
Tn retrospect, the history of the site of the permanent parliament house is well known, and has been well covered during this debate. But 1 ask honourable members to look at some of the happenings since the decision was taken to erect the new building. There was no clear cut decision on where the site was to be. The then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, had indicated a preference for the lakeside site. The land was levelled and certain initial preparatory work was undertaken. Then a decision was taken as to the siting of the new National Library. The erection of the National Library in reasonably close proximity to a new parliament house on the lakeside tended towards establishing a fait accompli regarding the selection of the lakeside site. The town planner - the expert - who was brought out to advise on this matter was Sir William, now Lord Holford. He was Westminster oriented. This was another indication of the trend towards accepting the movement to the lakeside site as a fait accompli.
Over several years we have heard very little but a few minority rumblings from the preponderance of those who are in favour of the Capital Hill site. Now the National Capital Development Commission has an urge to get on with the national gallery complex. Whether it is that the Capital Hill site has been freed virtually from an option for its use as a site for a future parliament building or not, the NCDC is looking for some definite decision on this point. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) quite rightly look the view that some expression of opinion should be sought from the Parliament in this regard. So, the Prime Minister submitted the motion which we are debating now. Also, he was the man who advocated that we should have a free vote on this question and then secured the accord of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) to this proposal.
What are the issues that are involved? If our expression of opinion does not favour the lakeside site - we have been asked for expression of opinion on the lakeside site - does it mean that we will lose our option on this site? Will it become available to the NCDC? Does this area lend itself to the erection of a national gallery complex or does it not? Will the NCDC have to find another site? These are all questions that nobody has attempted to answer. I presume that our option over the Capital Hill site will still stand even if the motion moved by the Prime Minister is defeated and the amendment proposed to that motion by tha honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) is accepted.
It is my opinion that insufficient evidence on which to base a judgment is before the Parliament. The information that we have received by way of a special report from the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House relative to the advantages of the lakeside site against the Capital Hill site is supported by a roneoed report from the National Capital Development Commission. The Joint Select Committee was not appointed to consider the question of the site and of the siting of the permanent parliament house. This matter was not within its terms of reference. The fact that it did so was based on an indication made to it by the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, who himself had indicated his preference quite openly. Even then, the decision of the Joint Select Committee on the site was not unanimous. I again make the point that we did not receive the reports of the National Capital Development Commission and the Joint Select Committee until last Wednesday afternoon immediately before this debate commenced. How do people outside this special committee, which has specialised knowledge, amplify their own knowledge in order to make a judgment? Do they simply view the ground area by going up to Capital Hill, standing there on their flat feet looking around at the panorama, or by going down to the lakeside and doing the same thing? A bus was made available for this purpose at lunch time on Thursday last, a lunch time already restricted due to the opening of the National Library. What real indication did this ground level view of the surrounding panorama give? How do we visualise what the building will be like when viewed from the outside if we have no knowledge of the type of building to be constructed, the number of storeys it will have and whether it will be circular or rectangular? This is something of which we should have some idea. Why can we not defer action until we get two or three alternative possible designs which can be illustrated by artists, models or photographic projection? This would occasion little expense and not very much delay and would be well justified if it helped us to obtain the right answer.
The 1966 report of the National Art Gallery Committee of Inquiry reads:
The Committee believes that the need for an approval to begin soon is urgent. The present collection is inadequately housed and cannot be put on permanent display; its further development is not practicable without an assured prospect on housing; and of course buildings of this size and quality cannot be made ready for use in much under 4 years from the date of approval for planning.
It is understood that the major national work currently under construction in Canberra, i.e., the National Library of Australia, is due for completion during 1968; and that there could be value in seeking some continuity of use of specialised skills and resources required for the construction of the Gallery.
The Committee wanted a carry-on of skills and resources when the National Library was completed. A relatively short delay in building the national art gallery will not cause any national calamity, but a decision which put a permanent parliament house in the wrong position could well be a national calamity.
I turn to the minutes of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House and to the reply made by Sir John Overall to a question posed by the President of the Senate. The President asked Sir John Overall whether the design for a building on Capital Hill would be basically much the same as for a building on the lakeside. Mr Overall, as he then was, replied that he did not think there was any easy way of finding a great architectural work unless there was a properly prepared programme and then giving the architect time, after perhaps a limited competition, to design a building to fit the site. He did not think that any study, whether by the Commission or by anybody else, would serve the purpose unless there was a proper design and unless time was al towed for it to be arrived at. There was no doubt in his mind as to whether one design would suit both sites. He thought the designs would have to be different. He said that the Commission had endeavoured to identify a basic approach to both sites and to put forward the pros and cons of both. At this moment of decision we have no idea at all of what any possible building will look like. As I asked before, will it be flat and rectangular or will it be tail and circular?
I pose another question. Can it be denied that the new High Court building will not conform to the size and architecture of the National Library building? We all know that the NCDC has a great belief in symmetry and order. When the new High Court building is erected there will be two buildings similar in size and both of neo-classical design, one on each side of the proposed parliamentary building on the lake site. Surely this will restrict the design of -.ny new parliament house on this lite, because it will have to conform to the National Library and the High Court buildings. Perhaps the hill site will be similarly restricted on other grounds. A new parliament house on Capital Hill: could be restricted to a circular design to conform to the ring road. The building on the lake site could be flat and rectangular while the building cn the hill site could be tall and circular.
I personally have always been inclined to the lake site, mainly because of an appreciation of the aesthetic value of the reflection of great buildings in water in the daytime and at night. In Brasilia the whole parliamentary complex designed by Niemeyer was contained in a shallow pool just to obtain water reflection. I would like to see two chambers provided with a third functional chamber in the centre where joint meetings could be held and where the Parliament could be opened, as in New Delhi. I would like to see these three chambers out over the water with galleries leading back to the secretarial and functional buildings on the land at the rear. This design would answer some of the critics who speak about the shortage of space on the lakeside. If three chambers were built over the water we would get the utmost value from reflection and would use quite a degree of space over the water. The lake site is on a flood plain; so there should be no question of difficulty with foundations.
At this stage I wish to register by objections to exercising a hasty judgment based on incomplete information. The fact that the Joint Select Committee report was not distributed until last Wednesday afternoon, the scramble by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) and other sources to produce other information, and the further inspection arranged for lunch time today are all indicative of undue haste. This haste has been engendered not by a need connected with the new parliament house but so that the present option on Capital Hill may be surrendered in favour of the national art gallery. One can only assume that it is in favour of the gallery; otherwise there would be no need for this undue haste. I do not think a hasty decision is in the national interest. I give notice at the appropriate time that I intend to move an amendment designed to defer this decision until within the next 6 months some indication of possible suitable designs for each of the sites can be made available to this Parliament.
– Several aspects of this debate are puzzling. The motion we are debating was proposed by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I should have thought that the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition, who apparently is in close consultation with the Prime Minister, would have given the Parliament some indication of the Government’s thinking as to when the new parliament house would be built. This has a very real bearing on the subject under debate. We must remember that, if the new parliament house is not to be built for 20 years or for 100 years, a lot of things can happen in that time. Certainly many things could happen from the technical point of view. 1 think this point is relevant but there has been no indication from the Government as to when the new parliament house will be built.
Another puzzling thing is that the Prime Minister has given no indication of the procedure to be followed in this debate if, as the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) said, we in this House decide in favour of the lake site or the hill site and ihe reverse decision is taken in the Senate. What will happen if this is the case? Would the votes be added together in a joint sitting or would the decision go back to the Cabinet?
– There would be a joint decision.
– We have not been told that that would be the case. I think the proper way to get the result would be to add the votes of the House and the Senate.
– That is what I think should happen. If this does not happen, there does not seem to be any purpose in having a free vote. I have always been opposed to free votes on matters which involve a lot of technical considerations. I assume that a lot of technical considerations are involved in the construction of the new parliament house. Geological, hydrological and civil engineering considerations are involved. The usual practice is for the experts of the National Capital Development Commission, consulting engineers and other people to give an independent recommendation, the best recommendation possible, to the Government and for the Cabinet to make a decision. This is the process I support in cases involving highly technical problems, because I do not believe that members of Parliament have the background, the knowledge or the briefing required to make an assessment of the two sites involved, or of any other site. But this course has not been taken on this occasion.
For some reason the Government has decided to let all members express their opinion. I will express my opinion. I am in support of the hill site. I support the hill site not for any real or telling reasons, but because I like the hill and I do not like hollows. I shall not speak of symbolical or aesthetic reasons or some of the more sophisticated reasons that many honourable members have mentioned. My reason is a simple one. I first came to Canberra in 1949 and have lived here on and off since that time. I have watched the area grow. I lived in Canberra in a house which was in a hollow, and I noted that any person who had money moved out of the hollows and tried to get a home site on a hill. I was very intrigued by the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes), who said that he was in favour of the lake site. I believe he lives in a magnificent residence in Sydney - in Bellevue Road, Double Bay. To my mind ‘Bellevue’ means ‘beautiful view’; yet the honourable member is in favour of the lake, the hollow. And the lakeside site is in a hollow in relation to the heights in Canberra.
However, because we are being allowed to express independent views, I do not intend to follow my philosophy and say that I do not know sufficient from a technical point of view to enable me to make a decision. I intend to vote purely from a subjective point of view. I support the hill site. The essential theme of this debate is the site of the new parliament house. Up to the present time two suggestions have been made - one favouring the lakeside site and the other favouring the hill site. There is nothing to prevent some honourable member from suggesting a further site if he wishes to do so. I want to state here and now that I am in sympathy with the honourable members for Scullin (Mr Peters) and Watson (Mr Cope), because I have always argued in this place that there must be priorities for the expenditure of public moneys and to my mind a new parliament house is not different from any other project. The honourable member for Scullin spoke about slums in Melbourne. [ know nothing about slums in that city, nor do I know anything about the slums in Sydney. But I can speak about the ravages of drought in many of our northern areas where money is needed to provide water resources. This does not mean that I am opposed to the construction of a new parliament house. It does not mean that I am opposed to the concept of a national capital. All I say is that I believe in priorities and that as the construction of a new parliament house is another project involving public expenditure it should be closely scrutinised in relation to other priorities.
We should be given some indication as to when the new parliament house is to be built. When we vote on this matter, the result should not be regarded as being the final decision if the new parliament house is not to be constructed within, say, the next 10 years. Many things could happen in that time. As I said before, I generally do not support the principle of a free vote. The only reason why the Government should allow a free vote on this matter is if the two sites are almost identical from the technical point of view - that is, if the technical problems associated with the hill site are almost the same as those of the lake site. We are being asked to express our opinions as to where we, individually, would like the new parliament house to be built. This is what I am doing. I am expressing an opinion purely on subjective grounds.
I appeal to the honourable members for Scullin and Watson, who said that they will not vote on this issue because they do not think a new parliament house should be constructed, to reconsider their attitude. I myself do not believe that a new parliament house should be constructed now and I would vote against such a proposal. I have always said in this place that very heavy expenditure of public funds should be based on priorities, and at the present time I do not think that a new parliament house is a top priority project. This does not mean that I do not believe a new parliament house should never be constructed which, I believe, is what the honourable members for Scullin and Watson said. The decision before us - the only matter on which we can vote at the moment - is as to whether we believe that, if a new parliament is built at some time in the future, it should be built on the lakeside site or on the hill site. I ask the honourable members for Scullin and Watson to reconsider their attitude. I ask them to cast their votes. Frankly, I think they are hill men. I think they should cast a vote and should support those who intend to vote for the new parliament house to be built on the hill.
– At the outset, to avoid suspense, I support the motion for the future parliament house to be built on the lakeside site. I am not concerned about the divergence of opinion that has appeared in this debate. I think it is healthy. However, I am very concerned at the inconsistencies of fact put forward not only by honourable members from both sides of the House but by the authorities who have provided us with information. I suggest that this decision is too important for us to make at a time when there is a lack of clarity in the basic facts on which we are asked to base an opinion. This decision should not be made in haste. It could well be said that this project has been under consideration for ages. We have known of decisions made by the Cabinet in the past. But now, when there is full interest in all the details, not sufficient details are available to enable us to form an opinion.
Two things seem to be emerging from this debate as it develops. The first is the concern about the haste in which we are dealing with the matter. The second, which I am pleased to note, is an acknowledgment by so many that the private member who has not, and does not profess to have, the skills possessed by the gentlemen who made the decisions that have been put before us, must have a very good reason before he rejects the opinions of those people.
Some of us in this House are very well acquainted with the situation and have been for some considerable time. Some have had ample opportunity to travel around the area and see these sites, and have been closely associated with development here. I have probably had more opportunity than most others to become acquainted with the situation. For one reason I travel to Canberra by road instead of by air. I have been doing this for the past 8 years and I have travelled around these sites and have come to know them. I have also been a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory for a number of years. I admit that that Committee has no executive authority in the matter before us, but at least it has studied traffic patterns and the general growth of the city. The members of that Committee know what is intended for the future.
I would like to see this debate adjourned. I do not want the House to procrastinate and put the matter off indefinitely simply because we cannot make a decision. If I am forced to a decision now I will vote in favour of the motion. I am merely putting forward some reasons why I believe we should have a short adjournment of this debate so that we can be more fully informed on the issues. Like the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes), I ask whether there is a member of the House who knows the size of the area that will be required for the new parliament house. Is there anybody who knows what height the building will be? This to me is of tremendous importance. If we talk about something of the style of the United Nations building, which is very tail and slim, we must have in mind entirely different considerations from those which would concern us if we spoke of a building of the long, low, Greco-Roman style of our National Library. Does anybody know whether there will be one building or a group of buildings? Have we decided whether we will house the Press in the parliament house itself or in a separate building? What about the Executive? Will the Executive be housed in the building? I have not heard what is intended in this connection. What area of gardens will be provided? We have here now sporting facilities that some of us use. There are tennis courts, a bowling green and squash courts. What provision is to be made for such amenities as these? What public facilities will there be? I think we should have some more precise information on these matters before we cast our final vote.
We should have time to consider the abundance of material on the subject that has been prepared. A good deal of material has been put out for a long time and if we had been doing our job we would have studied that material. But, as the honourable member Maribyrnong said, the report of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House came to us only on Wednesday and we were expected to debate this subject on the Thursday. Further information came from the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) during the debate. Today I received more material from the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), who moved the amendment. I have not read it because I have not had time to do so. This is the way in which material is coming to us and if the debate goes on we will receive more.
There are discrepancies between items of information given to us by different authorities. The document prepared by the Department of the Interior which we have and which is headed ‘Siting of Permanent Parliament House - Possible Questions and Suggested Answers’ states:
It has been estimated that approximately 50 feet would require to be taken from Capital Hill to provide a site of the size required for the building.
We received that document only last Wednesday or Thursday. Then the report of the Joint Select Committee tells us:
Cuts of between 20 feet and 35 feet at the top of the hill and fills of up to 40 feet in depth would be involved in producing a site on which such major buildings as the Houses of Parliament could be located.
Honourable members will notice that that report lapses into the plural and refers to buildings’. From an engineering point of view it would not matter, as the honourable member for Wills has said, whether the amount to be removed was 20 feet, 30 feet or 40 feet. If we can carry out the Snowy Mountains scheme we are certainly capable of handling this job. But taking 50 feet off the top of a hill1 makes a quite substantial difference to its appearance from other points and to the view that can be obtained from it. I mention the difference in the figures in the two documents not to show any engineering problem but merely to give an example of the inconsistencies in the information supplied and on which we are asked to make a decision.
Are ail honourable members well briefed on future traffic arrangements for this city? Are they acquainted with the ring road which has been approved by the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory? The arrangements that are being made are quite substantial and will be quite satisfactory for some time. But we can all see how narrow are some of the streets which were provided when this capital’ city was first designed and built, lt was thought then that they would handle the future traffic, but some of them ought to be either closed off or considerably widened. De we understand the tremendous traffic complications brought about, firstly, by the lake running right through the middle of the city and having only two bridges. Admittedly there may be more at a later time. Then the manner in which the suburbs are developing causes tremendous traffic problems, and these problems are quite considerable in the area around Capital Hill. Traffic going in the east-west direction and in the northsouth direction moves through that area. 1 am not concerned about traffic noise causing any problem in the new parliament house. The suggestion that it will do so is so much poppycock. Modern facilities could overcome any problem of that nature. But 1 do think we should consider the problems of access and of traffic development before we make a decision.
What do we work on in making up our minds? Lord Holford was a professor of town and country planning at the University of London. He is planning consultant to the Corporation of London, which is no mean city. He is a man of some stature. He came here at the request of the Government. I would like to read a few remarks of his because they are well worth repeating. He pointed out that Camp Hill was now unsuitable for the new parliament house because of the present Parliament House being in this position. Then he made some further reference to the ‘Houses of Parliament’, which was the phrase he used, and the report of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House contains this information:
Holford said that they would be ‘Symbolically and actually out of place’ on Capital Hill. He believed that Parliament was an active democratic institution which should be housed in the forum and not on the hill top and would be more satisfactory in the centre of the main land axis than at one end of it.
This brings me to a remark by the honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs) who, I think, made an excellent speech. One does not necessarily have to agree with his conclusions when conceding that he made an excellent speech. He drew attention to three aspects - symbolism, practicability and aesthetics. He said, and I hope I quote him correctly, that the majority of the people of Australia put the concept of free parliamentary democracy on something of a pinnacle. 1 am naive enough to agree with him. f think this is good; but the fact that we put democracy on a pinnacle does not necessarily mean that we must put our parliament house on a pinnacle.
Nor can I agree with the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) who said that the city of Canberra was made for the Parliament. That has been repealed by another honourable member. To my mind the city of Canberra was not made for the Parliament. It was made as the national capital of the Australian people. The Commonwealth Parliament must play its important part, but it is not the be-all and the end-all of the Australian capital. I just cannot agree with the statement that it is. We could also say that history, tradition and the achievements of the past are part of the national capital and we should pay attention to them. This is the concept in the design of the city. The history of the people and their part in war is represented at one end of the axis and we have a blank space at the other end. It is intended that in this blank space we place something to represent our achievements in peace. We should pay a lot of attention to this and we should show a little respect for our forebears, who put us in our present position. A phrase used by Sir Robert Menzies has stuck with me. He said that the Parliament should be in the stream of the people, and I think it should be.
Let me carry on from Lord Holford’s report. The National Capital Development Commission was the next body to approve of the lakeside site. It is all very well to say that this is a concept of the Commission, but it was the submission of Lord Holford, approved by the National Capital Development Commission and the National Capital Planning Committee. Who are these people? Do they have a civil service outlook? The honourable member for Fremantle believes that they have such an outlook, because he said that officers of the Commission have absolutely a civil service concept of Parliament, so they want the new parliament house down on the lake. But the Commission was not involved in this decision alone. Lord Holford first made the recommendation, the Commission and the National Capital Planning Committee adopted it, Cabinet decided on the site and the Joint Select Committee of the Parliament adopted the recommendation for the lakeside site. I understand that the vote of the Committee was 1 1 to 3 in favour of the lake site. The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) mentioned the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. That Committee has no say in the choice of a site, but it is interesting to note that 3 of the 4 members of the Committee in this chamber have expressed a preference for the lake site. The other member, the honourable member for Grayndler, favours the amendment. So here is another group whose members in this House - I cannot answer for the Senate - favour the lake site.
Who are the people in the National Capital Development Commission and the National Capital Planning Committee? I wish 1 had time to go through the list of members, but I am afraid that T will be short of time. However, the list is worth considering. I have a list of the names and qualifications of the advisers on the central areas leading to or associated with the acceptance of the lakeside site for the Houses of Parliament. It starts with Lord Holford, who is Professor of Town and Country Planning at the University of London and Planning Consultant to the Corporation of London. I notice that Mr Walter Bunning is on this list. He was responsible for the design of the National Library. The list includes town planners, architects and specialists of that type who come from Australia, Great Britain and the United States of America. The advisers on traffic include consulting engineers practising in London, Melbourne, Canberra, Chicago Washington and Sydney. Surely there must be some competence there. Advice on hydrology came not only from the Commonwealth Department of Works but also from the University of New South Wales and the Snowy Mountains Authority. Advice was also given on geology and other matters.
The Chairman of the National Capital Planning Committee is Sir John Overall. The New South Wales Government very quickly took him down to Sydney and asked him to produce an answer for the problem of the Rocks area. His recommendations have been accepted almost unanimously and are regarded as a nice balance between the preservation of history and the development of the modern concept of a new city. The list of advisers includes town planners, engineers and architects who are practising, teaching or acting in a consulting capacity. Sir Daryl Lindsay is included in the list. 1 hope nobody tries to tell him that he espouses some civil service concept. The list includes the National Capital Development Commission. It gives names and qualifications. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate the list in Hansard.
I hope that if this debate continues, honourable members will have an opportunity to look at the qualifications of the men who advised on this matter. They favoured the lakeside site. To disagree with the views of these town and country planners, engineers, traffic experts, architects, even economists and fellow parliamentarians, we must be very sure of our ground. To put our views ahead of the views of these specialists we must have very substantial evidence to show that they mulled the job that they were given. I do not have that evidence. I would have appreciated more time to go into this subject in detail, but if the question is put to the vote now I come down unhesitatingly on the side of the motion. I favour the lakeside site.
– Let me say at once that I am for the hill and not the lake. One should not over emphasise the importance of the site of the parliament house or of the parliament house itself. Some honourable members in the course of this debate have referred to Brasilia. This shows that much more than a good parliament house is needed in order to have a good Parliament. At the same time, the outward form of the parliament house is not unimportant, symbolically, because often the spirit is reflected in the outward form.
As the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) said this afternoon, it is true that we approach this matter in a very subjective way. I do not deny that. I suppose that ever since, as a small boy at school, I read Horace Annesley Vachell’s book ‘The Hill’ I have been rather for the hill than the plain.
One honourable member in the debate last week quoted the psalmist David, who said:
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.
This is not unimportant. When the psalmist thought of the aid of God, he lifted his eyes up to the hill; he did not turn them down to the foggy bottom. This is perhaps symbolic. Again, the poet looking for the seat of freedom said:
Of old sat Freedom on the heights,
The thunders breaking at her feet.
He put freedom on the height, again not at foggy bottom. We should remember that Jerusalem is built on a hill and that the cities of the plain were Sodom and Gomorrah. Again we should remember that the Eternal City, Rome, was built on seven hills. It was not built on the banks of the Tiber, a muddy river.
Today 1 received an interesting telegram from a friend who said:
Am hoping that interesting geological feature known as the unconformity on Capital Hill can be preserved.
I can imagine no better way of preserving unconformity in the Parliament than to insist on putting it on Capital Hill, and this is highly to be desired. I do not press this as a great argument, but admit that it is subjective to turn one’s eyes to the hills rather than to the hollows. Capital Hill is high and therefore conspicuous. It is the most conspicuous point available to us for the parliament house. How important is Parliament House in the context of Canberra? It has been said by some other speakers that it is not the ‘be all and end all of Canberra’. I think that phrase was used, but actually that is not quite true. If it were not for the Parliament being here there would be no Canberra. The plain fact is that uniquely Canberra was built to provide a place for the Parliament and Parliament is therefore the central feature of this place. If it is not the ‘end all’ it at least is the ‘be all’ of Canberra, which, as I said, would not be here but for Parliament. Therefore the position that the parliament house occupies in Canberra is of paramount importance. Where we build a parliament house is a unique question, because the available sites in Canberra are different from the sites in Washington, London or elsewhere. The decision must be based upon a unique set of circumstances that are not paralleled anywhere else.
The Houses of Parliament at Westminster are there through the accident that that is where parliament first met; it was a royal palace and the king summoned the burgesses of the towns and the knights of the shires to that palace. This is an historical accident. At any rate, the only hills in London that I know of are Ludgate Hill, where there happened to be another eminent building before the modern Houses of Parliament were built, and of course Harrow, which is some distance from the centre of London. So that situation is not parallel. There is no precedent to be derived from London any more than there is from Washington. However, it is worth noting that looking at the lay of the land and at the Potomac the Americans chose an eminence for the Capitol as, indeed, long before the southern planter Lee also chose an eminence for his home up on the hill that overlooks the lower lands of Washington. Indeed, most men in Australia, choosing a place for a homestead will choose some eminence rather than a hollow. There may be additionally practical reasons for this.
When I left Canberra on Thursday last 1 was apt to be a lake dweller, but 1 have altered my mind. I went across to the other side of the lake and I looked back. I realised two things. First, I realised that Capital Hill is quite a lofty eminence. It is not as low as some people have been telling us. Secondly, if we look at the proposed location on the lake we see the National Library, a splendid building which reminds me - I do not know why - of the architecture of the Pharaohs; the Treasury building which looks, of course, like a treasury - very practical; and the Administration Building, which looks like a castle among the trees. There is to be a High Court building on the lakeside. I have no idea what kind of building it will be. Then, if some have their way, we would have the new parliament house in the middle. This would be simply a clutter of all kinds of buildings, and parliament house would not stand out among them. If it did stand out, it would look grossly overgrown; if it did not stand out it would be just another building and it would lose that conspicuousness that is characteristic of the hill site. lt has been said that symbolically in a democratic community parliament should be among the people - in the market place. It is true that in Sydney the Parliament House in Macquarie Street is in a sense in the market place, if we regard Martin Place as being the market place, which in many ways it is. In Melbourne the Victorian Parliament House is at the top of Collins Street, It again is, in a sense, in the market place. But where would a parliament house be on the lakeside? It would be among the public servants. Is this the market place? It certainly is not. I think it was the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) who earlier quoted from ‘Paradise Lost’ and before I conclude I want to quote from Paradise Lost’ too on this particular point, but I shall leave that as a bonne bouche at the end.
We have been told by the honourable member for Calare (Mr England) that we should pay great regard to eminent authorities, that we should not trust ourselves. I hope he will abstain from voting; I think he is in favour of the lake site. But let us look at the persuasive and eminent authorities. First of all we had a parliamentary committee which met rather hurriedly and reported on something that was not in its terms of reference. Sir Robert Menzies asked it to do so, which of course made the position different. Who are the eminent gentlemen who comprised the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House? They are The President of the Senate, Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Country Party in the House of Representatives, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, Senator Devitt, Senator DrakeBrockman, Senator McClelland, Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood, Mr Barnard, Mr Birrell, Mr Bryant, Mr Duthie, Mr Drury, Mr Erwin, Mr Giles, Mr Luchetti and Mr Nixon.
– Very eminent men.
– It is a very eminent and talented team, as my friend suggests. With the exception of the Leader of the Country Party I do not think one of them has been in Parliament as long as I have been. I have been in parliaments, State and Federal, for 30 years and I do not bow to any of these gentlemen as being better able than myself to come to a judgment, except that they did hear evidence and I have not. Well, let us have a look at the evidence. This was an expert Committee and the Government Whip has in his room a list of the eminent witnesses, with many letters after their names. I shall not quote their names, let alone their letters; but included was Lord Holford, an English architect, who, of course, is familiar with Westminster. There were also authorities on traffic. I do not want to go over this matter again, because I thought the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) made it quite clear that when the ring road was proposed to be put around Capital Hill - this matter came before the parliamentary committee for the Australian Capital Territory - an assurance was given that the putting of the road there would not in any way affect Capital Hill as a site for the permanent parliament house, should this be so decided later. Indeed, when we look at overpasses, underpasses and all the rest, these are technical problems of no great consequence.
Then there were geologists. 1 suppose there were some doubts as to whether the foundations by the lake were right. The geologists said: ‘Oh, yes, the lake will be all right’; but they did not say that the hill was better. They merely said that geologically speaking the lake would do, as indeed the hill would do. There were also hydrologists. I gather that there may be a Hood once in a thousand years, but nobody is able to tell, according to one honorable member, when the end of the thousand years will come or when the thousand years will begin. The flood might be tomorrow or it might be in a thousand years time. However the hydrologists said that it was a fair risk, and it probably was. Then, of course, there were those who represented the National Library. Admittedly it would be an advantage for the National Library to be able to pipe books through a tunnel to parliament house, but after all the books of the National Library which have not been housed in the present Parliament House have been in igloos and other buildings around Canberra for some time and in my experience they have been brought here fairly readily. So this argument of itself is not sufficient, any more than are the opinions of traffic authorities, geologists, hydrologists or even an eminent English architect, to set aside the judgment which members of this place are perfectly capable of making - except that I hope the honourable member for Calare will abstain from voting, because he rightly distrusts his own judgment but is for the lake. In the past this matter was decided and some planning was done on the understanding that Sir Robert Menzies was in favour of the lake. He, too, was an Anglophile of similar background to Lord Holford. Well, the sword that he took from the lake has been returned to the lake: Sir Robert is not wilh us any more.
We have had those who have said: ‘We cannot make up our minds; we must listen to the experts’; and we have had those who have said: ‘We must not make up our minds now: Let us deliberate further and hear some evidence.’ I would like to see finality. I am sure that the National Capital Development Commission would like to see some finality in this matter. Surely we should have finality. If we are to dither let it be for at most a couple of weeks. I am sure that during this time the experts could address interested members of this House and show them some plans. We do not need to wait for months, although if you do wait for months you have time to twist a few arms, hold out a few carrots or do all sorts of other things. If you do not have a majority at the moment you may have one in 6 months time or you may even have another Parliament, when the whole slate has been wiped clean and you can get the answer which the Establishment would like to have.
– The honourable member has changed his mind in a few days.
– I have. 1 hope that the honourable member for Swan will change his. I understand that he is for the lake. The suggestion is that because the Public Service wants to be able to get its decisions rubber stamped in a building close by, the new parliament house will be erected on the lakeside. Make no mistake, we are asked to build on the lakeside because it suits the Public Service.
– That is nonsense and grossly unfair.
– It is true. The Parliament has become a rubber stamp. The Parliament is merely an annex of the Public Service - a handy place in which to get its decisions rubber stamped. I hope that it will not be so this time. I hope that this time we will see a healthy spirit of independence. I hope that on this occasion the Establishment does not win.
I conclude my remarks with a quotation from Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’. In a hortatory address Satan rallying his hosts who had been thrown out of Heaven on to the burning marl’ or lake said:
Awake, arise, or be for ever fall’n
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In the speech made by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) I do not wish to be confused with Mr Erwin, who is the honourable member for Ballaarat.
– The honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) cited the Bible as one of his reasons for favouring Capital Hill as the site for the new parliament house. I will not suggest that Mr Chifley’s phrase, The light on the hill’, leads me to favour Capital Hill. I think this is a matter of simple choice. 1 am surprised to hear in this place farmers suggesting that the parliament house should be built by the lake. The philosophy surrounding the early settlement of this country was always to work the flats and build on the hills.
The speech of the honourable member for Calare (Mr England) convinced me more than ever that a decision regarding the site should be made. The Senate Select Committee decided in favour of the hill. The Prime Minister of the day did not favour the hill, so he found an expert who favoured the lakeside. Wilh due respect to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, as you were a member of the Committee, it is my view that the evidence presented to the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House was biased in favour of the lakeside site. We are indebted to the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) for pointing out that the area available on Capital Hill is not 85 acres but considerably more. Recently members of this Parliament went overseas to study parliamentary buildings in other countries with a view to deciding what should be incorporated in the new parliament house. I do not think a new parliament house will be started today, tomorrow or as soon as we decide on a site. I would have liked the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) to tell us when a decision would be made to commence construction on a new parliament house. Some honourable members have suggested that the Parliament will meet in the new parliament house within 10 years. I do not think this will happen and I do not see any reason why it should happen, but there are several reasons why we should make a decision on the site. A decision of this nature will permit planning in this capital to proceed on a proper footing.
I first came to work in Canberra in 1947. I can remember wishing to attend a dance at the Lady Gowrie Hostel. I passed the Hotel Wellington four times in trying to get to my destination. I then obtained a guide, who took me past the Hotel Wellington again. It was 8 p.m., and hotels closed at 6 p.m. in those days, so I had no special reason for continually going past the Hotel Wellington. Since entering the Parliament I have lived in Canberra only at the Hotel Kurrajong and have had to find my way around Canberra with the aid of a map. Even so I have had great difficulty at times in finding the present Parliament House. Imagine how puzzling and frustrating it would be to a person to be able to see parliament house on the lakeside but not to be able to get to it. Capital Hill is at the apex of a triangle. All roads lead to it. Cross either bridge and you would be led to Capital Hill 1 agree with those honourable members who have said that the placing of the Parliament here was the reason for establishing the city of Canberra. Canberra has grown around the Parliament, and the Parliament should be in a prominent position. People visiting the national capital experience considerable difficulty in finding their way around it. I take pride in the [act that I can read maps and can usually find my way around. However, this is not so when I am confronted with ring roads; I often find myself going the wrong way in a one-way street. I have never been lost in the bush. 1 have always known which way to go in order to get home. But it is a different story in Canberra. Getting lost in Canberra must be a daily experience for many visitors.
Capital Hill is an ideal site for a parliament house. I cannot agree with those who have said that it would be necessary to remove 25 feet from the top of the hill in order to erect a parliament house. No decision has yet been made as to the type of building to be erected for the Parliament. There have been suggestions that it should be circular, that it be hexagonal, that it he octagonal. As 1 understand the situation, the Join! Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House was required to report on the type of building that should be erected. Some members of the Committee went overseas recently to inspect other parliamentary buildings and to report on their investigations. In my view the Committee’s function was primarily to report on the type of buildings to be erected, not on the site on which it was to be erected.
I appreciate the decision of the Government and the Opposition to allow a free vote on this issue. Some honourable members have said that the decision of the Select Committee was a unanimous one. 1 believe that the Committee did make a unanimous decision in favour of the hill1 site. 1 also believe that there were three dissenters on this Committee, and that one other member, Senator McClelland, indicated that he would like to know a little more, but that, on the evidence submitted, he was in favour of the lakeside site. 1 would like to comment on some of the prejudice that has been brought to bear against the hill site. Item 4 of the table setting out the comparison of sites states that the hill’ site is exposed and subjected to unimpeded winds. 1 suggest that winds are a feature of Canberra, both inside and outside this House. Many of us who have been near the water’s edge know that some of the coldest and most bitter winds come up from the lake. It has been said that one of the faults of the hill site has been that 20 feet to 35 feet will have to bc cut off the top of the hill and that this work would cost about S2m to S4m. The vast excavations needed to provide for underground parking have been mentioned also. It is suggested that from this point of view the hill site is not ideal. I believe that if underground parking were to bc provided on the lakeside site, a considerable amount of soil would have to be excavated on that site. I feel, with some misgivings, that the problem of seepage would arise if provision were to be made for underground parking on a lakeside site. If excavation were carried out at a level below the level of the bottom of the lake, some seepage would be bound to take place. This would be apart from the prospect of occasional flooding. In my view, seepage would interfere with the foundations. 1 am not an expert on this but if I were to build 1 would favour the hill site.
The table dealing with comparisons of sites deals also with parking. It points out that the layout of the land on the hill site is not suitable for parking, lt also indicates that there is plenty of land available for parking between the present Parliament House and the lake. I cannot see this. I am one of those people who would like to see the area between the avenues left open with an unimpeded view. Certainly, if the new parliament bouse were built on the hill site overlooking the present structure, the view would be right over towards the Australian War Memorial. It has been suggested that if we do not use the site on the lake shore for a new parliament house or parliamentary buildings, some other building would be erected on the site. I do not agree with this point of view. I would prefer to see the space reserved and kept vacant.
It is suggested by the Joint Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House that if the new parliament house were located on Capital Hill the type of building that would have to be designed would be different from that which would be planned for the lakeside site. I believe this would be quite true. There would be buildings of different type on each site. I believe that a decision should be made now, or as soon as possible, as to where the new parliamentary building should be erected. Those honourable members associated with this Committee should be able to make their decisions in regard to a particular area. I believe the experts whose names have been recorded in Hansard are quite capable of designing a building which would be suitable and of which all Australians could be proud. A building with these qualities could be erected on either site but I believe that a decision should be made at this time. I appreciate the fact that a free vote has been given to honourable members.
– Listening to this debate I have been amazed to find that the serious question of the desirability of the new parliament house being in the centre of the Canberra vista and a permanent feature overlooking the city of Canberra has not been raised. My view is that people come from all over Australia - and more recently from all over the world - to this city with one paramount and objective thought in their minds: They wish to see the centre of government for Australia. I make no apology whatsoever in stating that it is absolutely beyond any shadow of doubt that the first, the dominating feature that should greet the eyes of people travelling by air or road to Canberra, set as it is in a valley, should be the permanent home of the national Parliament.
It has been suggested that this thinking is wrong. Lord Holford apparently based his arguments very greatly on symbolism. Others have followed him in this reasoning and have taken the view that parliament house ought to be down at the level of the people. I wonder whether this is a valid argument. I wonder whether, in the eyes of our people, and indeed the peoples around the world who have adopted the parliamentary form of government, parliament is not something that they want to look up to. This is an age in which all too many of the things to which people have looked up have been levelled to the dust - an age in which there is a lack of those things to which people can direct their allegiance. Surely Australian people can direct their admiration at the symbol of the parliamentary institution. In this regard, I believe that Lord Holford has been incorrect in assessing that we ought to put parliamentary government down as just one more of a chain of many governmental and other activities within the life of the nation.
I believe that the central feature of Canberra should be the parliamentary building. I say this not because members of Parliament, who come here as representatives of the people, feel that as individuals they stand above the average person. We are chosen because we are representative of the whole community. But the institution itself is surely something that we hold up to the world as being a symbol of a form of government for which men have struggled through centuries and for which many nations still struggle in darkness. Only in these days are many beginning to discover parliament as the symbol of the freedoms they so much desire. So, in my view, there should be no apology made for planning a parliamentary building dominating and overlooking the skyline of Canberra.
The only other argument that seems to be adduced to deny this symbolism is that a parliament house built on Capital Hill would be beset by the traffic situation. It is argued that to place the building on Capital Hill would be to place it in jeopardy from an increasing flow of traffic. I believe this argument condemns the town planners whose arguments have been adduced so solidly in defence of another site. If it is not possible to plan from the outset the city whose v/hole purpose is to house the national Parliament and to be the nation’s capital, and in doing so to direct the road system in such a way that the functions of parliament as the central feature of the city can be carried out without undue interference from traffic, this in itself is condemnation of those who are engaged in the planning process.
The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Birrell) warned that honourable members should not set themselves up in the guise of town planners, that we are amateurs in this field. It has been said that we should not indulge in any criticism of the very weighty list of witnesses that have appended their names to the recommendations favouring the lakeside site. But I remind the House that we are not setting ourselves up in this capacity. We are simply people who have been to other places. We are men who have looked at ancient as well as modern cities throughout the world. We know the features of these cities and have them set out in our memories. What is it that people remember about Edinburgh? It is the historic feature of Edinburgh Castle which dominates the whole city. This castle stands as an historic fortress and is a symbol of strength to all who live there and who go there. The first thing that the name of a great city calls to mind for most people is a skyline dominated by a feature of one kind or another. Therefore, we are considering this matter not as amateur town planners but as people who are experienced in seeing and living in a large number of cities around the world. I believe that we need for Australia’s national capital some kind of symbolic and outstanding edifice or feature that will be a demonstration to all who come here that this is a nation which is governed by a democratic parliamentary system, that this is the actual place from which the laws of the nation emanate.
We have heard a number of erudite quotations. We have heard quoted everything from the scriptures to Milton. We have heard from the Psalms of David. We have yet to hear from the Sermon on the mount - not the sermon on the lake - perhaps about the city which is set on a hill and which is not able to be hid. The honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) referred to Milton. Incidentally, the honourable member himself resides on a hill overlooking Sydney. Perhaps the irony of this argument is that I am from the lakeside, as it were, since I represent a constituency down along the shores of Sydney Harbour. My position has many delights, such as proximity to water, but there is no question in my mind that the dominating position on the hilltop attracts public attention and quite often is sought by many people as the ideal place to live.
The honourable member for Parkes quoted from Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’, and then Satan’s speech was taken up again by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), though that was not the theme of his argument. He told us about the way in which the hosts should ‘awake, arise, or be forever fall’n’. 1 believe it is a false argument to suggest that the new parliament house should be surrounded by great throngs of people. It is a false argument to suggest that the new parliament house should be placed on the lakeside site, so that as the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Birrell) suggested, on Anzac Day 100,000 people would be able to gather in front of it or be in its precincts. Surely in the planning of Canberra we have provided in front of the Australian War Memorial an area in which the people can gather on Anzac Day. There is adequate space there for hosts of people to gather.
In my view, the Parliament itself should be set in a position in which it gives a balance to the skyline. At the one extreme there is the War Memorial which is in honour of those who have given their lives in war in fighting for the freedom of the country, and at the other extreme, standing on a hill overlooking the city, there should be a building which, if you like, would be a kind of memorial to those who have given their lives and their talents seeking to preserve and to carry forward into the legislation, laws and enactments of the nation that same freedom that has been bought so dearly. So I come down unhesitatingly on the side of the Capital Hill site.
I want to conclude by adding my word of commendation to what has been said by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes). Having said that 1 am in favour of the Capital Hill site 1 must pause to realise that there are many people who disagree with me. I think it would be most unfortunate if this Parliament were to come to a division, not on party lines but on personal predilection lines, and make a decision, by a narrow margin, in favour of one site or the other. 1 do not believe that this would be the best thing for the nation. What is wrong with our saying: ‘Here are two magnificent sites which lend themselves to totally different interpretations by the architects; here are two sites, each of which could be made into a very fitting place on which the national Parliament could be situated.*? We could say to the world: ‘Here is an opportunity for the architects and planners to enter into a competition and to use to its fullest advantage whichever site they believe to be most suited to their own imagination, to their own concept and to their own vision of what they consider they would like to see built on that site.’ A depiction of the buildings that are submitted as a result of the world wide competition could be scrutinised by members of both Houses of the Parlament and by experts throughout Australia and then a decision could be made as to which of the two sites had attracted the best design and would give to this city the kind of building that was most desirable.
In essence 1 support the proposition of the honourable member for Maribyrnong, who has foreshadowed that if the amendment to the motion is not carried an opportunity should be given for the experts to put before us a depiction of what they consider to bc the best possible use that can bc made of each site. Having seen what could be done with the lakeside site and with the Capital Hill site the House would be in the best position to decide.
– lt is quite clear from the number of honourable members who want to take part in this debate that to end it this evening would be to deprive of the opportunity to do so a number of honourable members who want to express their views on this most important question. I would suggest that after I have finished speaking the next honourable member called might move the adjournment of the debate and the adjourned debate could be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting. 1 would then expect that at 8 o’clock tonight we would continue, as is traditional, with the Leader of the Opposition replying to the Budget Speech, and then we would proceed as is traditional with the Budget debate and the Estimates debate, which, of course, have major priority and importance in this Parliament in the Budget period. The resumption of the debate on the site of the new and permanent parliament house is a matter which as Leader of the House J will have to take up and look at in terms of a complex programme, lt is traditional that the Budget debate and the Estimates debate are not interrupted except for national matters of great urgency or. as is customary, for the passage of those Bills which need to be passed in order to authorise payment of social service benefits.
At the outset I pay an appropriate tribute to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) for initiating the move towards a free vote and a free debate on this question. The move having been initiated, it has come to pass that there will be a free vote, by reason of the executive of the Parliamentary Labour Party agreeing to the same course. What, of course, is also true and needs to be stated is that members of the Ministry are likewise to be freed from the whip and will be able to speak and vote as they choose. I think it is most important that this be done. All of us in this House have the common characteristic of being members of the legislature. Some of us in the House have a dual identity in that we are not merely members of the legislature but are also members of the Executive, which is one of the other arms of government. In this instance, when members of the Ministry speak or vote they exercise their right to do so in their identity as members of the Parliament. So here in this debate we have complete expression of opinion of parliamentarians in their capacity of members of the Parliament.
It is a long while since we have had a free vote in this Parliament. I can remember on only one occasion since I have been here a free vote being given, and that was in relation to the Matrimonial Causes Bill.
That debate, like this debate, was vigorous. It was a debate in which different attitudes of members emerged very quickly and very sharply. In this debate there have been some very strange companions, but that is because of our parliamentary system. One thing, I think, with which we can credit ourselves is the fact that in this Parliament, in this institution of government, this debate has highlighted the contribution made by every individual, the independence of every individual and the capacity of every individual to devote himself to the task at hand as he would wish himself to do.
I want to say that I disagree completely - and it follows from what I have said til at I disagree - with those persons who in this debate have suggested that there is some impetus given by, or some obeisance to, a Public Service attitude in relation to the location of the site. 1 deny that emphatically. 1 propose to explain reasons why I will vote for the lakeside site. To suggest that I am doing it under any sense of obligation to, or influence or otherwise of, the Public Service does me an injustice. Also 1 think that 1 would like the opportunity to say as gently as it may be said in relation to the remarks of the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) that he is quite erroneous in his suggestion that there is some Establishment view in this Parliament relative to this issue. After all, we have identified for ourselves completely and absolutely the right of freedom to debate for everybody here. There can be no Establishment view.
The next point to make, I think, is this: Any person voting in a free vote such as this will adopt a number of different criteria - one or more, or a combination of several. I have identified a few of them and none of them, of course, is to be criticised. But 1 think that it is worthwhile for honourable members, before they vote, to examine whether or not their vote is taken soundly, whether or not it is the vote which they ought to exercise having regard to the very real responsibility which is thrown on every individual member of this House to reach the right decision when exercising his or her vote. Some members will be affected by the advocacy of other members, and affected by their advocacy in this chamber « outside it. In any event, it is quite proper for them to be so influenced. There has been considerable activity in terms of what one might call euphemistically lobbying.
– I think that the lakesiders have been pretty active.
– I think that the protestation came a little too rapidly, lt was not directed as a barb at the honourable member for Moreton. There is activity. There has been quite enthusiastic activity. I think that it is quite proper that persons do engage in the activity as enthusiastically as they like. My point is that a person who is the object of the enthusiastic activity should disregard that enthusiastic activity and should make his own decision on those judgments which can be his and his alone.
Another criterion on which some honourable members will vote is that of just plain personal taste. It is a matter of the hill site sounding better or the lake site sounding better in the same way as some persons like a certain colour while others prefer a different colour. These honourable members will vote according to personal taste. To those who are voting on this sort of basis. I direct these remarks. I ask them to reconsider whichever way they are going to vote and to decide which way they will vote upon an examination of the major features which distinguish the one site from the other. There are (hose who will vote by prejudice. This is unfortunate, but I think it is true to say that there will be some people who will vote by prejudice. I hope they can free themselves of that prejudice and vote once again as I say according to the judgment that they should form as to the competing sites.
There are others who will vote according to the advice of experts. This is where some will have a combination. Some honourable members may feel that the advice of the experts is the best advice; other honourable members may feel that the advice of the experts has to be fitted against their own personal antipathies, their own personal prejudices or their own personal likes. There will be others who will be voting for other reasons which I can describe only as voting off the seat of their pants. Examined as to why they are voting in a particular way, they will not be able to adequately explain their action.
– Is the Minister referring to the honourable member for Adelaide?
– No, I certainly am not. The honourable member for Adelaide has firm views in relation to this matter as he has concerning most things. He expresses them quite adequately, as the honourable gentleman will know. But those people to whom I have just referred will in the course of time come to recognise that a judgment made on the issues would be the best way for them to decide their voting course. I think that there are largely the balancing factors which will operate in the mind of everybody at the point of time when you, Mr Speaker, will put to the House the amendment moved by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) on which occasion those who favour the lakeside site will pass to the left of the Chair.
In the final point that I make in this general statement I think I am unconsciously adopting the words used by somebody else and I probably will not quote those words accurately. But it is certainly true that all generations inherit the achievements or the faults of their progenitors. What we must make sure of is that the determination of the site For the permanent parliament house which the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House is thinking of in terms of lasting 300 years or more must be right and the basis for making the decision must be broader and bigger than prejudice, personal taste or anything of that kind.
At the beginning of the consideration of the selection of a site for a parliament house, there are a number of questions that I would ask. The first question T ask is: Is the site big enough? There is some disputation as to whether the site is big enough. I am quite certain that an area of 47 acres, which could become 75 acres, and/or an area of 85 acres, which could become 130 acres, are of such magnitude that they make the question of size quite unrelated to the reality. On the lakeside site, the area of 47 acres can be increased to 75 acres. That is a big enough site. The hill site is a big enough site. So far as parking and that sort of thing are concerned, I foresee a situation similar to the Union Square in San Francisco with underground parking. This takes care of a great deal of the site problems.
The next question that I ask is: Is the site prominent enough? There is no doubt that both sites are prominent. But the context of the building in which we are now is likely to reduce the prominence of the hill site and render the lakeside site evan more prominent than the hill site would be. That is the reality of it. Let us put that aside. Both sites are prominent enough for the building. The next question of the site that I would ask is: Is it accessible enough? There is no doubt that accessibility is a matter of road design. Accessibility is there for both sites. The next question that I ask concerns cost reasonability. I have no doubt that the selection of the hill site would result in a higher cost, for I accept it as certain that the top of the hill would need to be shaved off. I accept that the lakeside site is a largely prepared site at this point in time.
The next question that I ask is: Is the present environment compatible with the new and permanent parliament house? It is an interesting thing that my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck), in speaking of this matter said that the site should be on Capital Hill. In the course of describing some of the characteristics and the advantages of that site he said: lt will put H in proximity to great institutions-
He was speaking there of the lakeside site, and then speaking of the hill site he said:
That sounds pretty good, until we read what the honourable member for Wills said in the paper which he circulated. He pointed out that note 8 (i), referring to the Capital Hill site, says:
The site is surrounded by large areas of domestic development.
The honourable member denied that statement in these words:
This is just not true. Of the 360 degrees of the full circle, the only readily visible domestic development is in Forrest between Adelaide Avenue and Canberra Avenue. It is all a long way off and is a very attractive housing area.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) was going to have us in the middle of this thriving, busy, working community.
The next matter is the traffic flow. The Minister for External Affairs said that the best site is a central position. I contest this, not the honourable member for Wills. The worst place is a central position. A central position which becomes the meeting place of two major highways would be the worst position for a parliament house. What is needed, in the concept of Walter Burley Griffin, is a precinct. In fact a precinct, in terms that he used it, is an area free from flowing traffic. In the nature of the permanent parliament house in the national capital I certainly accept the precinct idea of freedom from intercrossing traffic. Then you come to the esoteric question of symbolism. In modern terms symbolism is not something which is real. It cannot be real in modern terms. Parliamentary democracy is now inculcated into our lives beyond the point where mysticism or symbolism or any other ism of that kind is a necessary element.
– What do you think the mace on the table is for?
– There was a time in the past, when parliamentary democracy was evolving and when the divine right of kings or the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) was being cut down; but there was a time when it was necessary to have the majesty of symbolism, and it was very frequently an impressive site upon a bill top. The honourable member for Moreton talks about the mace. The mace is a tradition which he and I would like to see prosper. It is a manifestation of the evolvement and development to this point of time of parliamentary democracy and the parliamentary institution, and it has no relation to whether you put parliament house on a hill or on a lake. It will stay, I hope, for my life and for many generations into the future on the table which stands in front of the Speaker. The output of the Parliament is far more important than the symbolism of parliament. I have no doubt that if a parliament house were built on the lakeside or on the hill it would be fitted in properly by the right persons - the architects, engineers and town planners. What comes out of it is more important. I personally think that the lakeside presents the more impressive site.
Motion (by Mr Donald Cameron) put:
Thai the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate (on motion by Mr Erwin) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.7 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 13 August (vide page 102), on motion by Mr McMahon:
Thai the Bill be now read a second time.
– I move:
For nearly two decades, the development and defences of Australia and the standards of her people have been determined within the constricting framework of yearly budgets and two-yearly elections. This approach has suited conservative governments very well. It has excused inertia under the guise of financial responsibility. It has excused the perpetuation of injustices and the extension of inequalities under the guise of occasional benevolence. It has denied Australians opportunities for education, employment and enterprise in the name of economy. Tt has denied Australians the opportunity to discover and develop their continent’s resources in the name of the balance of payments. In a time of unparallelled world-wide growth, of revolutionary technological change, of immense growth in world trade and the discovery in Australia of vast new resources which the world wants, the end result of 1 8 years of conservative economics is summed up in the contrast between two sentences in the speech by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). He said:
The new resources so far proved are now adding more and more to the ever increasing output of national wealth;
But on an earlier page he had announced:
The maximum weekly rate of pension for single age and invalid pensioners and widows with children will rise by $1. lt is revealing to examine this Budget in the light of the Treasurer’s own boasts about it. This has been labelled a ‘social welfare Budget’. The Treasurer’s preamble and his peroration proclaim it. The Treasurer’s own modest word is ‘compassionate’. There had been a great build-up for this Budget. It was to show, in particular, the professed concern by the new Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) for the deserving poor, for assisting, in the words of the Governor-General’s Speech, those in most need while at the same time not discouraging thrift, self help and self reliance’. But after all the public relations promotion came the facts. The basic fact is that the pension has been increased by the same amount of $1 which was chosen in 1966 and 1963. That dollar increase is worth considerably less in proportionate or purchasing terms than it was in either of those years. The much vaunted concern of the new Prime Minister has achieved less in his first year of office than either of his predecessors did in theirs. But at least the (ate Prime Minister and Sir Robert Menzies refrained from insulting the pensioners of Australia with humbug about compassion. No wonder the kissing had to stop! Compassion! The Treasurer is the first who has dared to put a price tag on the word - a dollar a week - and call it compassion.
Is it accurate to suggest that this Budget places a new or special emphasis on social welfare? Docs it, in fact, make any attempt at all to redress the distribution of our wealth in favour of those whose sole, principal or temporary income depends upon what governments can provide? National receipts will1 go up by an estimated 10i%; the National Welfare Fund expenditure will go up an estimated 8%. So much for the new approach!
It is true that the increase in the Welfare Fund will be greater proportionately than last year. That is merely an indictment of last year’s Budget, not a compliment to this. It is also true that the Budget provides increases in the total and permanent incapacity pension. That partially redresses a situation in which repatriation benefits had fallen to their lowest value in 50 years - the lowest since their inception. The general rate repatriation pension remains unchanged; it is still worth less than it has ever been. Thus in the very area about which such inflated claims have been made on behalf of this Budget, it fails and deceives.
Whatever this Budget is, it is not a social welfare Budget. It is not a defence Budget. The burdens imposed by defence spending remain huge and crippling as the bills for has’.y decisions made 5 years ago come in. But Australia is not better defended merely because the cost of the FI 1 1 has tripled. lt is not a development Budget. There is no mention at all of new spending for development projects. Is the Government to repeat the performance of last year when development spending, declared impossible in the Budget, was announced on the eve of the Senate election? Or is development to wait another year? The great majority of Australians are ignored in this Budget except as they provide a source of increased taxation. Most Australians live as families and in cities. Families are ignored and cities are ignored. No Budget in any other modern major nation today would remain silent about the national government’s role in dealing with the problems of cities. Few modern nations are so centralised. Few modern cities are growing as fast as ours. Few modern cities are growing so haphazardly and expensively as ours. No modern cities are as largely unsewered as ours. In none does it take so long to travel from one point to another. Yet the Treasurer makes no acknowledgement whatsoever that these problems are the concern of the Commonwealth. Indeed, as this Budget continues the squeeze on the States and through them on local and semigovernment authorities, these problems are aggravated.
Further, this Budget is regressive in a threefold way. By leaving the tax schedules unchanged for yet another year, the burden of income tax increasingly falls on the lower and middle income groups. It is now 14 years since the tax schedules were reviewed. The lower and middle income groups have been inflated into the higher tax brackets. Secondly, the Budget is regressive because of the increase in indirect taxation. The Treasurer carefully masked the full extent and impact of his increased sales taxes. In fact, the extra 2i% will affect a whole range of articles from toys to tyres. Thirdly, by increasing the squeeze on the States, the Budget is forcing them to increase their charges. By their nature most State taxes are regressive and fall most heavily on low and middle income earners. Charges, such as hospital and transport charges, are inevitably regressive and most acutely affect people with families or modest incomes. The average man, woman and child will now pay a greater proportion of his or her salary, pension or allowance in indirect taxes and in fares than ever before. The average taxpayer will pay a greater proportion of his income in income tax than ever before. The average ratepayer will pay a greater proportion of his income in rates and charges than ever before.
So, upon examination, we can see something of the true nature of this Budget - miserable and misleading in respect of provisions for social welfare, regressive and unfair in its impact on wage earners and their families, and negative and timid about the development of this nation and its resources.
Most of these failures are due to the straitjacket of doctrinaire conservatism which the Treasurer accepts and which the Libera] Government imposes on itself. The Treasurer’s real approach to his task is made clear in a statement he made on an Australian Broadcasting Commission programme on Budget night. In justifying the smallness of the pension and welfare benefits and the increase in sales tax, he said: If they are critical of this, let them answer one question - where else do we go?’ This, of course, has been the classic self justification of all conservative governments in Australia and, in particular, the conservative Government of the past 18 years. The assumption is that every item in every Budget has a quality of immutable wisdom and that every aspect of the economy must be debated solely within the framework of each successive Budget. It assumes that all criticism and analysis must take place on a mere accounting basis of receipts and expenditure. In fact, the Treasurer well knows that no modern economy, not even Australia’s under a conservative government, any longer operates on this narrow basis. The question of adequate pensions does not hinge simply on the level of taxation in any one year. It is part of the whole question of economic and social management in a modern, wealthy society.
In its proposals for expenditure, the Budget is a conventional comptroller’s Budget. The form in which proposed expenditures are presented owes more to the clash between King and Parliament at the time of the English Civil War than to the contemporary need to control government spending by cost-benefit analysis of specific proposals for public activity. The budgetary techniques are ill suited to the facilitation of analysis or the making of informed decisions. Through budgeting on an annual basis, governments acknowledge their accountability to Parliament for overall public expenditure and for the expenditure incurred by particular departments of state. At a time when members of Parliament were familiar with all or most of the activities undertaken within departments, annual budgeting effectively discharged the Government’s obligation to render account. It discharges that obligation no longer. Members of Parliament now must learn to scrutinise specific government projects or programmes as closely as formerly they scrutinised the affairs of government departments. Budgets and Budget papers must enable and encourage them to do so.
A Labor government would no longer think it adequate or appropriate to account to the Parliament in terms of the ceilings it proposed to set upon departmental expenditures or the amounts spent by departments on salaries and stamps. Those things which, under the present Government, pass for planning and priorities amount in fact to a Budget in search of a programme. A Labor government would reverse this pattern by imposing programmes upon the traditional departmental divisions of the Budget. In short, it would adopt the system of programme budgeting. The two great American federal systems of Canada and the United States of America have done it. Great Britain is about to do it. Announcing the system for the United States on 25th August 1965, President Johnson said:
This programme is designed to achieve three major objectives: It will help us to find new ways to do jobs faster, to do jobs better and to do jobs less expensively. It will ensure a much sounder judgment through more accurate information, pinpointing those things we ought to do more, spotlighting those things we ought to do less.
The essence of the programme budgeting concept is precise identification and definition of national goals, coupled with meticulous forward planning of the programmes through which these goals can most advantageously be pursued and realised. It is a concept designed to ensure that the needs of a people are met with a minimum of waste or delay. Under such a system, we in the Parliament and, more importantly, the pensioners, would not be fobbed off on every question about social services be tween February and August with the standard reply: The Government constantly reviews all social service benefits and its decisions will be contained in the Budget to be presented in August’.
It is true that in recent years the level of economic sophistication of the Budget speech has improved. There has not been the same modernisation of the documents which accompany the speech and on which this year the Treasurer has relied heavily for support for his explanations and predictions. Throughout the speech runs a theme of acceleration of the pace of the economy. But where is the evidence to support this belief in a quickening of the pace of the economy? It is true that the Treasurer gave the House estimates of the growth of national income and expenditure over the course of 1967-68, but this information refers to the last fiscal year as a whole. The Treasurer presents next to no information, either in the Budget speech or in the accompanying documents, to support his argument on what has been happening over the past six months.
A search for information on recent trends in the economy takes in first Statement No. 1 attached to the Budget speech. Here, in a section on ‘The Economic Context’, it is confidently predicted that a detailed analysis of the behaviour of the main gross national product components can be found in ‘National Income and Expenditure, 1967-68’ presented with the Budget papers. But a search of this document is to no avail, for all the amounts presented here relate to annual changes in the levels of incomes and expenditures. What has been happening to the economy in recent quarters? The Treasurer is silent. AH he can do to reassure the House that his diagnosis is the correct one is to inform us in the foreword to ‘National Income and Expenditure, 1967-1968’ that ‘estimates for each quarter of 1967-68 will be published shortly by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics’. Really, this is just not good enough! The House is expected to debate the control of the economy in ignorance of recent trends, pending release of the relevant information at a more convenient later date.
Instead of publishing a lacklustre White Paper, ‘The Australian Economy 1968’, which is documented with platitudes and which he himself does not take seriously, the Treasurer would do well to instruct the Treasury to discharge its responsibility to the nation by providing an up to date record of the progress of the main statistical indicators of the economy. It is typical of the chaotic mismanagement of the nation’s economic affairs by this Government that such a compilation of statistical indicators is published annually, but not at the time when it is most needed. I refer to the Commonwealth Statistician’s publication, Seasonally Adjusted Indicators 1968’. This year it was distributed in May and it contains monthly information to March 1968. By the time of the Budget, this information is five months out of date. Why cannot the Treasurer produce this material at Budget time? Instead we are offered a White Paper in which the Treasury tells us ‘Over the past year investment expenditure has been on the rise and, so far as the signs can now be read, ought to go on rising strongly’. Why cannot these signs the Treasurer considers so significant be set down in print for all to see?
The reason for the Treasurer’s reticence in providing recent information becomes quite clear when the available statistics are dug out from the morass of newsletters, Press releases and periodicals put out by the Government. He would not be able to establish that the economy has been racing away in recent months. He claims, for example, that ‘investment in plant and equipment is now rising’. The fact is that, even in terms of inflated prices, expenditures on new capital equipment have been falling this year according to the Statistician. Seasonally adjusted quarterly expenditures on new capital equipment rose in the second half of last year, but have since fallen. The same is true of the other main component of private fixed capital expenditure, that expended on ‘new buildings and structures’. Total private fixed capital expenditures in the first quarter of this year were running at a seasonally adjusted rate of more than V/o below that of the last quarter of 1967.
Again, the Treasurer tells us that the construction industry is gaining momentum. But the facts are that, on a seasonally adjusted basis, building approvals, both in total and for new houses and flats, were running in May of this year at a lower rate than they were last December. Once again the available facts contradict the Treasurer’s statements. If he has more recent information on these matters, why is he so signally unwilling to reveal it to the House? I do not wish to deny that the economy is operating at a higher rate than it was 12 months ago, but the suggestion that the economy is racing away underneath us is utter nonsense.
We can only draw the conclusion that the Treasurer wishes to create an illusion to overawe the Arbitration Commission into not granting adequate wage increases in the case which opened today. The Treasurer seems obsessed with future inflation but unperturbed about the past. I draw his attention to the statement in the National Income White Paper concerning farm income which shows that farm production costs other than wages and depreciation have risen by S374m or 30% al the same time as gross value of farm production has fallen!
So this is a Budget marked by a lack of adequate and accurate information; but above all, it is a Budget marked by a lack of proper priorities and a lack of welldefined, clearly stated national goals. This is partly because of the nature of the present budgeting system. It is mainly because of the use conservative Treasurers, not least the present Treasurer, make of that system. The character and the quality of the information which departments would be required to produce under a system of programme budgeting would themselves impose formidable discipline on the way in which decisions are reached within departments. The casual and indiscriminate quality of the decisions which constitute the current Budget is apparent in many of the proposals in which the Treasurer is pleased to take most pride - those in social services, health and education. But departments do not establish national priorities or fix national goals. This is what governments should do. This is what this Budget has failed to do, as its eighteen predecessors failed to do; this is what the Gorton Government fails to do. as the Menzies and Holt governments failed to do. The excuses of the Treasurer for his failures are that economic problems facing the country do not allow it. There are always economic problems; they are with us always. There is no reason why in this age the poor should be with us always also.
This is the nineteenth Budget of three successive conservative governments. They span nearly a third of the time since Federation. They cover nearly half the period since the first Commonwealth-State Financial Agreement. They cover more than two-thirds of the period since the establishment of uniform tax. Yet in the great areas of national policy there have been few great innovations, few radical departures, many retreats. The crucial question of the Commonwealth’s financial relations with other authorities, not merely with the State but with local and semi-government authorities, is the clearest illustration of the chaos which results from a hesitant and half-hearted acceptance of Commonwealth responsibilities combined with crude insistence on Commonwealth financial hegemony. In the past year, the Government has emphasised its responsibility for finance. It refuses to recognise that this imposes a responsibility for functions.
In arguing general principles, it is often wise to begin with particular cases. I start with the most basic question in the world - sewerage. Between 1946 and 1966, the number of homes served by sewerage authorities fell in Melbourne from 95.3% to 76.8% and in Perth from 76.4% to 43.4%. Over the same period, Sydney was able to lift ils proportion of sewered homes by only 1.4% and Brisbane by only 0.3%. There are still 700,000 people living in unsewered homes in Sydney. The Melbourne Board of Works, which previously met 80% of the cost of providing sewerage, announced on 8th of this month that it will until May 1970 pay 50% and thereafter pay nothing at all. As a result, the cost of a sewered building block will rise by at least $400. The Chairman of the Board coyly comments: The general trend is that basic services be provided by the developers’. He means, of course, that young people seeking to establish a home will find $400 more than they anticipated or they will do without sewerage. He means that sewerage henceforth will be financed at the high interest rates applicable to builders and subdividers and not at the lower rates available to a public authority. He means that would-be householders are to be singled out as the victims of a new and indefensibly regressive form of public finance.
This simple basic example illustrates and impinges on a whole range of problems facing this nation today. It is a range of problems about which this Budget is wholly silent - the problems of our cities and the great majority of our people who choose or are obliged to live and work in them. The problem of the cities is at the core of the problem of Commonwealth-State financial relations, lt is at the core of the problems of housing, public transport and urban roads. It is at the core of the problem of population growth, of migration, and therefore at the core of the whole issue of economic growth. The mental and physical wellbeing of our people is basic to the quality of education they can receive and consequently crucial to our technological and economic progress. Standards of mental and physical health depend overwhelmingly upon the environment in which people live and bring up their children. And consequently, for the great majority of Australians, it will depend upon whether or not their cities are pleasant, efficient, well-planned, healthy and civilised places in which to live.
The Budget provides this year S34m for assisted migration. The lower the standards of our cities, the lower the likely standards of our migrants. The lower the standards of our cities, the fewer migrants will come and the fewer will stay. The problem of attracting and holding migrants does not approach solution merely by providing more money for assisted passages. The problem of migration, like half the problems of our time, is the problem of the cities, and about them this Budget maintains the long silence of 19 years of conservative government.
The largest identifiable section of Australians, the largest section with common interests and common problems, is that great section which lives in our cities. We have every problem in our cities that American cities have except the overtly racial one. We have many more of our own, particularly in transport, sewerage, housing and land costs. No city in Europe or Britain has physical problems as great as those of Sydney or Melbourne. Yet no national government in Europe or North America, in federal or unitary systems, would, in 1968, ignore the cities in its annual budget.
At this moment our largest city is deeply involved in a controversy about the siting of a major hospital. Our third city, Brisbane, is running to a standstill because of a strike over its future public transport system. These two great matters, superficially so different in origin and superficially irrelevant to a federal budget, have one great thing in common: They both reflect the failure of the national government, this Government, to involve itself in the problem of the cities and to accept that these problems are at the base of the crisis in CommonwealthState relations. The question is not whether the present Sydney and Parramatta hospitals should be retained or replaced. lt is how Sydney shall have hospital services for its commercial heart and a teaching hospital for the western half of its population. The problem is not whether Brisbane will have buses or trams, but how and whether our largest local government authority, squeezed by both Commonwealth and State governments, shall provide an efficient public transport system.
The important issue is not whether the Commonwealth or a State should discharge a particular governmental function, but that the governmental function should be well discharged. Australians will continue to suffer in the quality, availability and equity of government services so long as they allow themselves to be fobbed off with the contention that such basic functions as education, health, housing and transport are solely or primarily matters for the States; they are no longer regarded as solely or primarily State or local matters in any country with which Australia compares herself.
Local government has consistently been denied an adequate means of raising the revenue with which to finance its extensive and expensive obligations. While State governments complain that the Commonwealth is indifferent to their problems, the States themselves are no less indifferent to the problems of local government. The Premiers who upbraid the Commonwealth for its parsimony extol parsimony as a virtue in their dealings with local government.
The Commonwealth has a monopoly of direct taxation and most forms of indirect taxation, including customs and excise duties and sales tax. It provides the States with most of their funds for current expenses and all of their funds for public works. It has the dominant role in deciding the size and nature of the borrowings of local councils and semi-government authorities. State governments are able to charge fees for licensing a variety of activities presciently prohibited by State laws. Local government however, is almost entirely dependent for its revenue upon rates based on property values.
Increasingly, health, education, welfare, transport and urban services are recognised as areas of Commonwealth concern which must be supported with Commonwealth money. It is appropriate that local government and State governments should receive a share of that money proportionate to the responsibilities they are undertaking in these areas. It is remarkable and reprehensible that the Commonwealth, unlike the United States Administration, should so far have refused to acknowledge or subsidise the responsibilities of local government.
In no matter is the failure of the system more apparent than in the case of roads. The Commonwealth provides the States with funds for roads through its general grants, through beef road grants and through grants under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act. The Commonwealth requires the States to spend not less than 40% of the grants under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act on roads other than main roads situated in rural areas. The States in fact allocate more than 80% of their Commonwealth Aid Roads Act grants and more than 80% of their general road expenditure to roads in rural areas. Roads in capital cities carrying between 70% and 80% of Australia’s traffic burden are allowed to remain the responsibility of local government authorities which receive little financial support from State governments or from the Commonwealth government. The Commonwealth and the States devote only 10% of their road expenditure to urban areas in which 65% of Australia’s motor vehicles are located and used, and in which our greatest traffic problems occur. Householders, other property holders and private vendors of land provide most of the finance for Australia’s most pressing road needs.
Similarly, the Commonwealth has provided 36% of the cost of rail standardisation between Brisbane and Grafton, $10m towards the cost of upgrading the standard gauge line between Broken Hill and Parkes, 70% of the cost of the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie, the whole cost from Port Pirie to Kalgoorlie, and 70% again from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle. It has failed, however, to match its involvement in the trans-continental link with a concern for Australia’s neglected and necessitous urban rail systems. Such rail systems are a key factor in urban transport problems, but it is beyond the means of State governments to modernise and develop them along lines dictated by technological change and urban growth.
The economic and social liabilities imposed by inadequate urban roads and railways are a burden which Australians can ill afford to carry. Inadequate roads alone are estimated to cost Australians $2m every day - half this year’s defence bill. The Commonwealth should not revoke its requirement that 40% of Commonwealth Aid Roads Act grants be expended on roads other than main roads situated in rural areas, but should match it with a comparable requirement for expenditure on urban roads. The Commonwealth should not decrease its involvement in stadardisation, but should undertake a complementary share of the financial responsibility for urban railways as the Government of the United States now undertakes a share of the financial responsibility for urban railways operated by the governments of American States and cities. Australia cannot properly be developed while the present imbalance between the Commonwealth’s rural and urban transport investment priorities is allowed to persist. These matters affect the great majority of people who live in cities. Because our cities and rural1 areas are interdependent, they indirectly affect the wellbeing of all Australians.
Similarly, all Australians are affected directly or indirectly by the decisions we make on investment in our human resources. It is in the field of social welfare that the failure to define goals and establish priorities is most apparent, and most detrimental to the welfare of the most needy sections of the community. It is laughable to claim that his Budget gives an ‘honoured place’ to welfare. The Secretary of the Commonwealth Pensioners Association, Mrs Irene Ellis, said of the Budget:
It was a testing time for both the Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, and the Minister for Social Services, Mr Wentworth. They failed miserably, and did not live up to their promises.
In the case of persons raising families, Liberal governments have never increased maternity allowances; they have never increased endowment for the second child; they have not increased endowment for the first child for 17 years.
In the case of persons in retirement, the means test has become more stringent. The Liberal Party will not allow younger pensioners to augment their income sufficiently; it will not exempt older pensioners from the means test. Fourteen years ago, a single age pensioner could receive the full pension while earning in addition an amount equal to the pension; married couples could receive their full pensions if between them they earned an amount equal to the combined pension. Now a pensioner will not be able to receive the full pension if he earns an additional amount of more than 71% of the pension. A married couple will not be able to receive their full pensions if between them they earn more than 68% of the combined pension.
The Liberal Party now disowns its promise to abolish the means test by proclaiming that it would cost $340m. It would not be ruinous, however, to take deliberate steps to abolish the means test. It would cost $65m to pay a full pension to all persons of 75 years and over irrespective of their means; it would cost another $12m to pay it to all persons of 74. These are practical steps which a Commonwealth government could take to bring Australia progressively into line with other Englishspeaking countries.
In the case of persons who become sick or unemployed, benefits were last increased 6 years ago. They were then worth 79% of the age pension. They will now be worth 57% of the pension in the case of a married couple and 59% of the pension - 20% less - in the case of a single person. Yet, at any one time, some 10,000 persons receive sickness benefits and twice that number receive unemployment benefits. In the United States, unemployment or sickness benefits are worth 106% of the old age pension and in Britain 90%. The sick and the unemployed in Australia presumably do not require less food, less warmth or less shelter than their older compatriots. Countries comparable with our own do not deny disadvantaged persons equal access to these commodities. The attitude of the Government and of the Department of Social Services reeks of the work house and the poor law.
Children under 16 are not eligible for unemployment benefits, sickness benefits or rehabilitation training allowances. The rate for unmarried persons 16 and 17 years of age is $3.50; for unmarried persons 18, 19 and 20 years of age $4.75. These benefits are based on the assumption that families can support their children until the age of 16 and subsidise them until the age of 21. Welfare agencies throughout Australia are constantly in touch with young people who do not receive support from their families. Young people who are normally self sufficient become exposed to avoidable hardship if they fall ill or become unemployed. A Labor government would gear minimum levels of income in each budget to the cost of living index for persons unable through age, incapacity or unemployment to support themselves.
The Aged Persons Homes Act has been amended to permit grants to local government; only one application has been received. Whilst councils are theoretically eligible to receive funds, they arc disqualified in practice by the provision of the Act which precludes a grant being made in respect of funds raised by loan. Almost all the capital works undertaken by local government are financed with loan funds. The Aged Persons Homes Act must be amended to make finance available to local government in fact as well as in theory.
I come to health matters. The Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) repeatedly claims that Australians enjoy a health scheme which is among the best in the world. Independent inquiries by economists and the accumulated experience of medical workers, paramedical workers and patients establish beyond doubt that the Australian health scheme is uneconomic, inefficient and inequitable. The Government has belatedly and unwillingly established a committee to inquire into the health scheme. The Minister has prejudged and prejudiced the deliberations of that committee by requiring it to submit recommendations ‘in the context of a voluntary health insurance scheme’.
A third of Australia’s expenditure on health passes through the hands of voluntary insurance funds characterised by economists as ‘intrinsically expensive’. Hospital insurance funds spend 5% of the subscriptions they receive in processing claims; medical insurance funds spend 8%. The Department of Social Services each year dispenses the National Welfare Fund at a cost of 1.6%. Again, it costs the funds 5% of their revenue to collect subscriptions. The operating expenses of the Commonwealth Taxation Branch amount to 1 % of its collections. In all, Australian medical insurance funds retain 24.9% of the subscriptions they receive whereas Canadian medical funds retain 15.1%. In other words, Australians are able to recover in health benefits only $3 for every $4 they pay the funds in subscriptions. Canadians recover $3.40. The Canadian Royal Commission on Health Services in 1964 concluded that: . . the decisions which Canadians have to make . . . are whether they wish to pay $Cant,020m for physicians’ services in 1971 for a programme administered by the insurance industry or $Can837m for a programme administered by government agencies.
Australians face a similar choice.
Again, under voluntary health insurance 17% of Australians have no medical cover whatsoever; 15% have no hospital cover. The uninsured include many of those least able to afford to pay for medical or hospital services. Other low income earners insure themselves and their families at the lowest available rates for a level of cover irrelevant to the real cost of medical and hospital care. The Editor of the ‘Lancet’, Sir Theodore Fox, wrote of Australia in 1963:
The grim thing about voluntary insurance is the penalty so often exacted from people who chance their luck or who never had any.
Australians want a health scheme which will provide proper services at a cost the community can afford to pay. They want a scheme which meets the needs of the entire community, regardless of age or income. They want a scheme which can cope with the demands of all forms of illness, injury or incapacity, regardless of their type, origin or duration.
What is required is a Commonwealth health insurance commission, which I have suggested could be financed by a li% surcharge on income tax, a matching Commonwealth contribution and contributions from compulsory insurers. Such a commission would provide free public treatment without a means test in public hospitals and an equivalent contribution towards the cost of intermediate and private care in public or private hospitals. It would in addition refund to patients or physicians 85% of amounts payable under a schedule of standard medical fees negotiated by representatives of the Commonwealth Government, the health insurance commission and the Australian Medical Association. These proposals could be implemented at a saving of $4. 6m in hospital expenditure and $10m in private medical expenditure. Average income earners would secure comprehensive medical and hospital cover at 45% of their present after-tax contribution to benefit funds. Those on an income 50% above average would pay 97% of their present contribution.
The main features of this system of universal health insurance are strikingly different from those of our existing system of voluntary health insurance. Subsidies and benefits are distributed in strict accordance with need. The role of fees has been reduced to nominal payments for patientinitiated consultations and optional expenditure for intermediate and private hospital care. Contributions are proportionate to income, and the worth of the scheme is proportionately greatest for those whose income is lowest, those whose number of dependants is largest and those whose need for medical and hospital care is greatest. The principle embodied in the Minister’s words of ‘the right of a citizen to choose from whom and where he will receive his medical care and how he will pay for it’ is in fact given more practical expression and more genuine respect under this form of universal health insurance than under the system of voluntary insurance which the Minister so intemperately justifies and so ineffectually administers.
Nowhere is the Government’s lack of objective and lack of planning shown more clearly than in education. The number of tertiary scholarships is to be increased in this Budget but the number of students who enter our universities on scholarships will still be 10% smaller than when the peacetime scholarship scheme was introduced 17 years ago. After 4 years of grants to the States for school science blocks the Commonwealth will collaborate with three States to develop curricula and related teaching materials in the first 4 years of secondary school science. Without the inquiry and report which the Commonwealth has undertaken before new university projects, the Budget makes the first instalment of grants of $9m for each of the next 3 calendar years for school libraries as promised by the late Prime Minister in November last year - a 14 months interval.
University scholarships do no more than provide a student with a free place. Between the two world wars it became possible for Australians to secure free secondary education. We are still no nearer providing them with free tertiary education. Able students should no longer be priced out of a university education. For an additional expenditure of $9m a year all students would be relieved of fees. For this investment the places for which fees are now charged would be filled by students on the basis of academic capacity instead of financial capacity. There will never be enough trained teachers and adequate facilities and equipment in government or non-government schools in this country until the Commonwealth sets out to do the same and as much for teacher training and for technical, secondary, primary and pre-school education as it does for universities.
Australia will not keep pace with comparable countries in schools, and teachers, government and non-government, until our national Government accepts the same responsibilities as other national governments have already accepted in both federal and unitary systems.
– Numbers of our teachers are going over to Canada.
– And in Canada the federal government assists. The Commonwealth still hesitates to become wholeheartedly involved in schools. It is inhibited by the two issues of State rights and State aid. As to State rights, it must be frankly acknowledged that the number of students completing a secondary education and undertaking a tertiary education is now many times as great as in the days when only State governments provided funds for education. Commonwealth financial help is already as necessary in secondary schools as it has proved in universities. As to State aid, it must be frankly acknowledged that the Commonwealth must help both the government and the non-government schools and cannot help one sector alone of the dual system.
The Commonwealth appointed the Murray Committee on Australian Universities to inquire into and report upon the role and needs of our universities. It established the Australian Universities Commission and has asked industrial judges to advise on salaries. A similar pattern should be followed as regards schools. In every year since the Murray Committee reported in 1957 my Party has urged in this Parliament that a national inquiry into the needs of pre-school, primary, secondary and technical education be held. A few nongovernment schools have more highly qualified staffs and more ample grounds and facilities than non-government schools. Many non-government schools have larger classes, sparser facilities and more crowded accommodation than government schools. In respect of most non-government schools - the Catholic schools - the parents are no more privileged or affluent than in respect of any government school. A national inquiry into schools would convince the Parliament and the public of the need for Commonwealth assistance for schools as the Murray Committee proved it for the universities 11 years ago.
Only the Commonwealth can now ensure that an equal opportunity is given to every student to develop his natural talents irrespective of his parents’ locality, religion, means or occupation. On the places, modes and priority of its school grants the Commonwealth should seek advice from a standing council composed of representatives of Commonwealth and State departments, the non-government schools and other educational faculties and institutions. The council should have the staff and functions which the Commonwealth Office of Education was given in the Education Act 1945 and which that Office was denied by Sir Robert Menzies in 1951.
It takes many more years to train and recruit teachers than to erect and equip schools. Teachers are the basis and the nucleus of any educational system. Most Australian schools, government or nongovernment, do not have teachers in sufficient numbers or with sufficient qualifications. The Commonwealth should have adopted the proposals for teacher training made by the Martin Committee on the Future of Tertiary Education in Australia; which was appointed in August 1961 and which reported in August 1964. The Commonwealth should now proceed much further in this basic form of tertiary education. Teacher trainees for both government and non-government schools should receive their education with allowances and without fees. They should be free to serve in any State or Territory or with any institution.
Because the High Court held 40 years ago that teachers did not work in an industry, teachers have not been able to secure a Commonwealth industrial award and to make the great gains in professional status which have been achieved through the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in recent years by,: for example, engineers. The Commonwealth has circumvented this constitutional shortcoming by asking Mr Justice Eggleston to recommend the level of university salaries which it should support and has now asked Mr Justice Sweeney to do the same for salaries at colleges of advanced education. Sooner or later the Commonwealth will have to seek a report on the salaries which are required to recruit and retain qualified teachers in sufficient numbers in government and non-governmental schools. It could then make grants to meet the difference between the present and the recommended school salaries, as it has in relation to university salaries. It would, of course, still be open to teachers to approach their tribunals and employers for higher salaries than those recommended.
It is true that in the long term our ability to grapple effectively with any of these problems, from the provision of just and equitable social welfare to the building of adequate roads, depends upon our ability to develop our resources and to pay our way in the world. The Government is content to provide the same answer for both these questions. We develop our resources by overseas investment; we pay our way by overseas investment. In the words of the Leader of the Australian Country Party and Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen): We sell a bit of the farm each year to pay our way’.
Estimates of the current account deficit in 1968-69 range from less than $ 1,000m - the Treasury’s implicit estimate - to SI, 600m according to the estimate made by the Institute of Applied Economic Research at the University of Melbourne. Whichever estimate is right, we shall depend on another massive inflow of foreign capital to avert a serious reduction in our reserves. Who knows whether this inflow will be forthcoming? If the mining boom continues to pull the share markets up, and if foreign governments do not interfere with capital outflow to Australia, we may get as much capital this year as we got last year. But the risks in the situation are considerable. On current statements on the balance of payments outlook, the Treasurer has tried to coax the public into a sense of well being. Neither he nor anyone else knows whether this is justified. The Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, Sir Alan Westerman, for one, disagrees. Indeed, the Treasurer tries to have it both ways: On other occasions he has lectured the States about their responsibilities in not jeopardising the balance of payments.
It is true that the capital inflow increased the supply of resources. That is the credit side of the ledger. On the other side we need to consider the price that we pay in terms of a rising flow of interest and dividends, and also the danger that a reduction in the rate of inflow may confront the economy with a need for severe and sudden readjustment. The Treasurer apparently does not even consider what we pay for imported capital; it is evidently an article of faith that capital at any price is worth having. But he does recognise the possible instability of the capital inflow. Addressing members of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce on 3rd July, he said:
I am not trying to deny that we could have difficulties if capital investment from abroad were to fall heavily. As to whether this is likely is a matter on which one could argue interminably. 1 am certainly not going to become involved in any long term forecasts on the subject.
It is not merely long term forecasts that are needed. There is a more urgent question of what is going to happen in this financial year. The Government owes the Parliament a frank statement of its assessment of the prospects for the current year. The only construction which can be placed on the Budget’s slightly deflationary tone is that the Government either expects or wishes to be prepared for a moderate worsening of the balance of payments position.
But far more important to this nation’s long term interests than any short term balance of payments problem is the question: ‘Who should own, develop and use our Australian resources?’ Indeed, to rely on overseas investment buying up our industries and owning our resources to solve the balance of payments problem now is simply to store up a massive balance of payments problem in later times when dividends begin to exceed new capital inflow. It is now clear that Australian private industry will not show the initiative or enterprise and take the risks necessary to retain for Australia a considerable share in the ownership, control and development of our new resources. Dr Russell Matthews, Professor of Accounting and Public Finance at the Australian National University, said only last Friday:
Since Australian companies have been slow to grasp the development opportunities presented by the recent mineral discoveries, there would seem to be a case for direct participation by the public sector. Such activity may be justified on the basis of cost, capability and the control of resources in the national interest. Australian governments are already heavily engaged in undertaking research activities and subsidising exploration and development activities, and their costs and risks would not be significantly increased if they were to become entrepreneurs in their own right.
It is many years now since the Deputy Prime Minister began echoing the warnings of the Australian Labor Party about the loss of our national inheritance to overseas companies. The late Prime Minister’s approach and that of the present Treasurer was to make occasional speeches to the Australian-American Chamber of Commerce pleading for some Australian equity in overseas companies. The present Prime Minister assumes an air of outrage when a Russian ship captures some of our marine resources, but is content that half our continent and our most valuable offshore resource, our oil, is up for sale. The Treasurer stands aside and does nothing because his balance of payments problem is helped. Australia’s assets can be saved for her own people and used by her own people only by government initiative, by direct investment, by statutory corporations, by participation in consortia with private enterprise, by guaranteeing our own great reservoir of capital, the insurance companies, in approved development projects as we already guarantee the banks. And only the Commonwealth has the resources and the powers to take these initiatives.
One of the great components in the burden in the balance of payments is overseas purchases of defence equipment. The balance of payments has been influenced adversely by the Government’s failure to place defence contracts within Australia and by its failure to secure reciprocal orders to match contracts placed overseas. Clearly, Australian industry has been denied much of the stimulus it could have received from increased defence spending. Sophisticated equipment for Australian forces is ordered in the United States because, in the words of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall):
There are some sorry stories of Australian contractors who, for one reason or the other, have been unable to justify the confidence wc have put in them where the production of advanced equipment was concerned.
Reciprocal orders from the United States promised by the Minister for Supply on 17th February remain promises. The Chamber of Manufactures expresses concern. The Minister for Trade and Industry undertakes to investigate. Yet stores and equipment readily available from Australian contractors continue to flow in to Pine Gap and the North West Cape from overseas. Another year passes without significant offset of the very heavy military expenditures which the Government improvidently and short-sightedly disburses overseas.
It is true, as the Treasurer says, that new opportunities are opening up for Australia. lt is true, as he says, that our new resources have increased and will further increase the wealth of this nation. The people of Australia are well aware of this. But the question the ordinary Australian asks himself is: When am I and my family going to benefit from this new wealth? When am 1 and my children going to be allowed to share in these new opportunities? The pensioner cannot predict what will happen to the balance of payments any more than the Treasurer is prepared to do. But the pensioner is puzzled and angered by the discrepancy between the Treasurer’s claims about our new wealth and opportunity and his own Si a week share in it. The Prime Minister’s favourite description of the years through which Australia is passing is ‘the tantalising years’. He may well be all too accurate; they may be tantalising years indeed. The dictionary published under the impress of his own university defines ‘tantalise’ in this way:
To torment by the -sight, show or promise of a desired thing which is kept out of reach or removed or withheld when on the point of being grasped.
Australians want to share in the new wealth which is being discovered in their own country. They want a full share in the great progress and wealth which the technological revolution around the world makes possible for an advanced nation like ours. They look to their governments, and particularly their national government, to provide at least as good basic opportunities in health, welfare and education, in living conditions in their cities as any of the modern countries with which wc would choose to compare ourselves. They are just not getting these things under conservative governments. This Government, new by name but old in habits anil ideas, is not helping them get it. This Budget does not even begin to help them get it. The tinkering must end: the transformation of this nation must begin.
– ls the amendment seconded?
– 1 second the amendment and reserve my right to speak later.
– Twelve months ago my colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) congratulated the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on delivering his first speech on the Budget as leader. 1 congratulate him on surviving for 12 months during a rather troubled time in his party and also on delivering his second speech on the Budget as leader. But I am afraid I cannot go further than that, because if one is to judge the Leader of the Opposition by the predictions contained in his speech on the Budget last year compared with the results achieved over the year then one really can place very little faith in the contents of his second speech on the Budget as leader. When we listened to his picture of the Australia of today we all must have felt that we live in a pretty miserable, brutish and unhappy sort of a country, but the facts are ali to the contrary, and I think that the average Australian citizen realises that they are to the contrary.
But getting down to concrete cases, this is what the honourable gentleman said 12 months ago:
Having regard lo these two factors-
That is, government expenditure and taxation - this years Budget could well be regarded as slightly deflationary. Even on the most generous view, any expansionary impact which this Budget could have, however, would be of the most marginal order.
He went on to attack sluggishness in employment, and he said that private capital expenditure on new buildings was down and that motor vehicle registrations were down. He then referred to the year before when he said that the Treasurer took a similar gamble on an upswing. In other words, he predicted that the Government was being unduly cautious, that a far greater degree of government expenditure was required to stimulate the economy and that we were all facing ruin and disaster. In the light of the forecast by the Leader of the Opposition what is the position as we come to this year’s Budget? Over the year, domestic spending outran domestic production by $618m and, to close the gap, imports exceeded exports by that amount. Last year there was a large increase in expenditure, in spite of the fact that drought affected the income of the primary producers in the community, it seems that unemployment, which the Leader of the Opposition said was sluggish, has never been lower than 1.4% or thereabouts over the last few months and is down this month lo 1.2%. The Leader of the Opposition was asking a few minutes ago for figures for the situation over the last few months. If the honourable gentleman looked around him he could see everywhere the signs of a buoyant economy. Yet he denies that this is so at this time in this year.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the figures relating to buildings and construction. Over the year, they increased by 15%. Current levels of approvals and commencements over the last quarter are running at record levels. The commencements, for example, of houses and flats are standing at the rate of III ,000 a year. Approvals for buildings are at the rate of 125,000 a year. The Leader of the Opposition cannot run away from figures. He professes a scorn for an accounting approach. But surely this is the basis of planning for all budgetary expenditure. How can he say that he can do the things that he sets out to do unless he has some regard for the figures? lt is no use running away from arithmetic in a subject which affects the lives of all of us as much as a national Budget does.
I could go on to give a great number of other figures to disprove the case that the Leader of the Opposition made out last year as to the state of the economy in the year ahead, which we are now looking back on. I could give to the House similar figures which show that during the year ahead the economy will be buoyant and that therefore the Government, which has a proper sense of national responsibility, could not possibly undertake even a percentage of the expenditures which the Leader of the Opposition advocates in such a wide range of fields.
Let me just remind the House of some of the problems that this Government faces. The Leader of the Opposition talked in terms of the squeeze on the States. Now, as it happens, there are three main items of government expenditure in a Budget such as the Government has produced. These items are grants to the Stales, expenditure relating to defence and expenditure respecting national welfare. Those three items together take up approximately two-thirds of the whole Budget. But the item respecting grants to the States is the largest single item in the Commonwealth Budget. And the honourable gentleman refers to the Commonwealth squeeze on the States! This year grants to the States amount to $1.466m. This is just a figure, I suppose, to most people. What we have to look at is how it is arrived at, what it does in terms of its impact on our Budget and how well off in real terms the States are because the formula by which this figure was arrived at was greeted with some acclaim by the
State Premiers in 1965. This was a new deal for them and they accepted it gladly, willingly and happily as well they might.
It started off from a base figure and it increased on three levels. The first was in proportion to their populations, which is just. The second level was in proportion to the increase in average wage levels. When honourable members look at the increase in wages in the last 12 months they will see that it was about 6%. So, here are two elements of increase automatically built into State budgets. Thirdly, there is a betterment factor that, I think, is 1.2%. The net result of this is that State governments are getting from the Commonwealth, besides the tax reimbursement figure which has its inbuilt betterment element and this inbuilt proportionate increase each year, money which is increasing each year at a faster rate than the gross national product.
This poses a problem for the Commonwealth because, if expenditure for the States is increasing at a faster rate than the increase in the gross national product, quite plainly there must be some limitation of the expenditure by the Commonwealth in other directions or else increases in taxation, if we are to have over the long term an economy which will not be subject to quite great inflationary pressures. Here we have an example of shallow and loose thinking by the Leader of the Opposition when he refers to the squeeze on the States. If there is any squeeze on the States, there is a far greater squeeze on the Commonwealth itself by its self-imposed disciplines in this respect.
In most respects, the speech by the Leader of the Opposition was a rather well dressed up Socialist approach to the problems of the economy. There seemed to be some impression that deficits for a government did not matter - expenditures by a government did not matter. Neither of these things mattered if a government could go ahead regardless of what was happening to the private sector of the economy. I must congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on the fact that he did disguise to some extent this Socialist approach. But it was clearly there. In so many of the elements of his speech there was a complete disregard for the rights of the private sector of the economy and indeed for the other elements of government in the economy.
Although the Leader of the Opposition spoke of the squeeze on the States, he was highly critical of the performances of State governments and local governments. One is inclined to think that he found so little to attack the Commonwealth for that he had to attack State governments. Honourable members saw it in his reference to the expenditures of State governments on rural roads in relation to urban roads and the expenditures of State governments on country railways in relation to urban railways. The honourable gentleman seemed to indicate that he could perform very well either as a member of a State parliament or as a member of a local council. I thought at one stage he almost sounded as if he was standing for a position on a local council in a shire or municipality.
In the management of the economy, the Government must have regard to one of the great driving forces in the economy. That is the private sector. This year the Government has approached this problem with a respect for the rights of the private sector and with an element of caution because, in the private sector of the economy, there are signs that the private sector to some extent is going ahead rather faster than can be encompassed within the normal containment of necessary government expenditure.
It is this sense of proportion which I think the Australian community will respect over the years ahead and has come to respect over the past years which was lacking entirely in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. He has no place in his thinking for the private sector of the economy. It is all what the Government must do. It must tell other governments what to do. Tt must tell local authorities what to do. It must tell the individual what he must do. Indeed, I do not think I have ever heard a more laughable proposition than the one that a Socialist Australian Government should be engaging in risk capital ventures in speculative mining propositions. When one looks at the state of the Australian mining industry today, this is quite laughable. I think that that kind of proposition rightly illustrates the general tenor of the unreality of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition.
The Leader of the Opposition referred in rather scathing terms to pensions. To provide for the needy people in our community is a tremendous problem. At a time such as this, when the economy is buoyant and the Government has to limit its expenditures within reasonable bounds or incur inflation - and nothing bears harder on people on fixed incomes and pensions than inflation - there is clearly a limit, on what the Government can do. Combined with that there is currently a reversal going on in pensions at all levels. In this situation the Government has given SI a week - this is the main bone of contention - to age pensioners. If the increase had been simply a pure cost of living addition to the pension since the last increase in 1966, that $1 a week would have been about 70c. So the pensioner has gained. We do not claim that he has gained magnificently but he has gained more than the cost of living increase. He has been treated better than on previous occasions.
I was rather interested to hear the Leader of the Opposition refer to the abolition of the means test. This was probably the greatest betrayal of Labor principles, as they used to be understood, that I have ever heard. The honourable gentleman talked about spending a mere sum of $65m to pay a universal pension to everyone over 75 years of age and a few more million dollars to pay a universal pension to everyone over 74 years or some other age. What exactly does this proportion mean? It does not solve any problem of real need. Labor once proudly boasted that it looked after people who were in need, that it looked after the underdog. What the Labor Party really proposes to do is to transfer money from people who may need it to people who quite plainly on present standards do not need it. This is one of the articles of) faith which the Labor Party now apparently holds.
I would like the House as a whole to consider the problem of the means test and need. To ascertain and to relieve the problems of need in the community those problems first have to be identified. Surely that is simple. The need has to be identified before the payment of a sum of money to relieve it can be justified. The only way to identify need is to have a proper test for it. If the Labor Party accepts the principle that every person over 60 or 65 years of age is in need of something, then this is an odd sort of thought; but let it realise what this principle indicates. It indicates a massive transfer of income and wealth from the younger groups in the community to the older group. Such a move would not satisfy any real need because it would be a transfer of assets - cash - from younger people to older people. It would mean transferring cash from the pockets of the wage earner, who may be married and may have a family of one or two children, and saying to him: Your need is less than a man of 65 who has reared his family, owns his own home and is not paying it off any longer and possibly has everything he wants in life’. The Labor Party once professed sympathy for people in real need but is now shamelessly throwing that principle aside because it might get a few more votes from its new approach. I wish honourable members opposite as well as honourable members on this side of the House would realise where the Labor Party policy would lead this country.
– I hope the pensioners are listening to you.
– I hope they are too, because a pensioner who has no assets other than his pension would find it increasingly difficult to get an increase in his pension under a Labor Government. That is the second part of my proposition. Today about 54% of the people who are qualified by age to draw a pension are getting age pensions. A slightly bigger percentage, about 60% or slightly more, of people of pensionable age is drawing some form of pension. Others are drawing invalid, widow or service pensions. The plain truth is that if everybody were paid a pension, as the Labor Party suggests, every time the pension increased by SI a week the total cost would rise by 30% to 40% . So it would be correspondingly harder for any government to increase the pension for the man who really needed it. The United Kingdom Government has gone away from the base rate universal pension and has started to find ways and means of increasing supplementary pensions, which I must remind the House are determined by identifying needs - in other words by various kinds of means tests. Inevitably any government which sets out to increase pensions in common humanity and common compassion comes back again some time or other to a means test.
– What about the Scandinavian countries?
– If the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths) would have a good look at what has happened in Sweden he would find that the situation there is similar to what could happen here under a Labor Government. The younger people of Sweden are having such a burden placed on them because of increases in taxation to support the older elements in the community that they are tending to leave the country. They are finding that the taxation burden is not making it worth while to live in that country and they are seeking to go to other parts of the world where the burdens are not so great.
The Leader of the Opposition ranged over a very wide field in his attack on the Budget and I do not want to go through his speech detail by detail. He spoke about the items of government expenditure that he proposed in almost visionary language, but when one gets down to plain arithmetic on the figures he presented, as I am sure a lot of honourable members will, one finds that the expenditure for this year would increase tremendously and that the deficit for the year would correspondingly increase. He did not propose, as one might imagine, any increases in taxation. Indeed, he proposed rather less taxation. I suppose that this form of Labor attack on the Budget is traditional because it appears to be popular. According to Labor, every item of taxation is unpopular and every form of cash benefit or other hand-out should be increased. Labor Opposition traditionally puts forward these ideas year after year.
I suggest that the economy as a whole, as it has developed over the last few years, gives the lie completely to the picture of the economy painted by the Leader of the Opposition. For example, the honourable gentleman attacked sales tax, although not very vigorously, I must admit. I know that Labor speakers quite frequently attack sales tax. It might interest honourable members to know that Australia has a lower level of indirect taxation than most other countries. In France indirect taxes are equal to 20.8% of the gross national product, less indirect taxes and plus subsidies. In West Germany the figure is 16.4%; in the United Kingdom it is 16.2%; in Australia last year it was 12.9%; and in the United States of America it was 10.3%. So far as I could discover America was the only country with a figure lower than that for Australia. Even by comparison with other western European countries and capitalist countries, indirect taxes are at a fairly reasonable level in Australia. To my mind, indirect taxes offer some relief to a person by giving him a choice whether to save or to spend, whereas an increase in income tax gives him no opportunity to choose whether he will save or spend. Taxation which does not attack the basic necessities of life, which by and large are free of sales tax, has in it an element of equity. To increase sales tax moderately, as the Government has done on this occasion, does help to solve a real budgetary problem. The Leader of the Opposition dismissed the Government’s action scornfully as being a mere accounting procedure, as though mere accounting was something which a Labor government would not have to worry about. Indirect taxes do make a very real contribution to the economy without increasing the burden on income tax earners. This is a problem which the Government, as the Treasurer said, does hope can be alleviated in some way in the years ahead.
The Leader of the Opposition said nothing of any great consequence about the other great item of Commonwealth expenditure - defence expenditure. This is a burden. In this year’s Budget it arises very largely because of expenditure undertaken in previous years for goods which are in the process of delivery. The Leader of the Opposition suggested that the Treasurer was only guessing when he gave an estimate of overseas earnings. He tried to indicate that the Treasurer was well out in his estimate. I remind the House that in relation to our balance of payments, there are factors which are indicative of an improvement over the figures for last year. Firstly, outgoings will be less because our defence expenditure, although slightly heavier this year, will not mean substantially increased payments overseas. Total payments overseas will be slightly less. Secondly, our earnings from primary production should be slightly greater because to some extent we have recovered from the disastrous drought which last year upset our primary production. So there is rather more justification for the Treasurer’s estimate of our overseas earnings than there is for the doubt cast on that estimate by the Leader of the Opposition who had, as he plainly admitted, no figures to offer in substitution.
Taking the speech of the Leader of the Opposition as a whole, I can only conclude that he has abandoned for all time any thought of having to prepare a sound Budget. If ever I heard of propositions which lay in the realm of fantasy, those propositions were contained in the honourable gentleman’s speech. Those propositions gave no indication of any regard for the Constitution, for any of the existing arrangements whereby we live, for any common arithmetic, for any sense of proportion in relation to the private sector of the economy, or. indeed, for any of the normal economic and financial factors which a government must consider if it has any sense of responsibility. [Quorum formed.]
Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) r9.381 - The Minister for Air and Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Freeth) tried to do what the Government does on every occasion when certain propositions are made by honourable members on this side of the House to indicate the need for some desirable social change. We are always met with this barrier: ‘ft is going to cost money, you know*. This is said as though the Government docs things with invisible ink. I draw the attention of honourable members to the famous statement No. 6 - at least it was so described by financial journalists - which was presented by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) with his Budget Speech. This document gives a history of the budgets over a 9-year period - all within the life of this Government. In 1959-60, 9 years ago. the total receipts of the Commonwealth Budget were S2,800m. In this Budget for 1.968-69 - 9 years later - it is anticipated that the Government receipts will total S6. 100m. In other words over a 9- year period there has been an increase of S3. 300m in taxation. To put it in another way, in the life or every parliament over that period or in every 3-year period, total taxation has increased by Sl.lOOm. What we are arguing about, surely, is how we propose to spend what is available from the resources of the nation.
I now refer to one of the remarks contained in this statement No. 6 in the Budget papers, which is as follows:
Although the outlays and receipts of the Budget have an important influence on trends in the economy in the year ahead, the likely economic effects of a budget can be assessed only in the context of all of the more important influences operating at the time in the economy as a whole.
There is also another small quotation that I would like to read. It is from a recent book by Professor Burgess Cameron, entitled Federal Economic Policy’. The author states:
The peacetime economic objectives of the Commonwealth Government are primarily to achieve the highest possible real national income and a desirable distribution of that income.
This evening I want to point out one or two matters connected with this question of the distribution of income, the inequities of our tax system and the financial relations that operate in what is supposed to be a co-operative federal system, and also to say something about the very expensive field of defence expenditure. Although the figures f shall cite relate to last financial1 year, at least some comparisons can be made over a series of financial years. I would first like to direct the attention of honourable members, and particularly of Ministers, who claim that this is a low tax country, to table 4 in the statement on national income and expenditure. It is a statement showing, in essence, in the various financial years the amounts available to individuals to spend. In 1963-64 the total amount available was SI 3,947m, and one of the elements of that total was cash benefits from public authorities, which are largely the social service benefits paid in cash by the Commonwealth. They amounted to $ J , 046m and represented 7.5% of the personal income circulating in the country in that year. When we come to 1967-68, the latest year for which complete figures are available, wc find that this figure had increased from $ 1,046m to $1,322m. lt has increased, as many such items must increase, because there are more people and because prices have not remained the same. The cash benefits of $ 1,322m in that year represented only 7.2% of the total of $ 18,252m which was circulating in people’s pockets. The amount that is provided by the Commonwealth in this way has shown a decline when considered as a proportion of the whole.
That is one social factor that should be noted when we are considering this question of the distribution of income.
If we look again at the total we find that one of the items drawing on the amounts available to people to spend is income tax. In the year 1963-64 income tax payable by individuals amounted to $ 1,272m, which represented 9.1% of the personal income available to the people. By 1967-68 the amount had risen to $2,08 lm, or 11.4% of the personal income available, which totalled $ 18,252m. I ask honourable members to note that as a significant factor. In other words a higher proportion of the total spending money available to individuals is now being absorbed by income tax. This is a matter of significance when people are talking about what taxes should be increased and what taxes should be altered. In my view, because of inflation and because of the failure to alter the progressive scale on which income tax is levied, our income tax structure has now become one of the most regressive in the world, at least among those countries that claim that an equitable income tax is an efficient engine of social redistribution. But at least it is clear that there is now a higher proportion of the people’s disposable income going in the form of income tax.
The I come to indirect taxes. It is pretty hard to know where the incidence of indirect taxes falls, but at least, expressed again as a proportion of personal incomes, indirect taxes in 1963-64 came to 13.9%, while the figure had risen to 15.3% by 1967-68. Again I suggest that these are matters that ought to give rise to cogitation by a government which claims to believe that the distribution of the total cake is of some significance. That is why I say to the Treasurer, when he talks about raising $44m by certain increases in indirect taxes and asks where else he could go to raise the money, that he should have had the courage to do in the Budget what he says his Government has been considering for a considerable number of years; that is, an alteration of the whole structure of taxation as it operates in Australia today. Due to the irresponsible social attitude that has been brought to bear on this problem we now have distortions which operate in such a way that the sort of tax we claim to be the most equitable one - income tax - bears most harshly on the family groups in this country whose gross incomes vary from about $1,800 to as high as $4,000 per annum. Neither of those figures is high.
– Incomes go much higher than $4,000.
– I will put this argument in my own way if the honourable member does not mind. If we take the range of taxpayers whose incomes are between $1,800 a year, or about $35 a week, and $4,000 a year, or slightly less than $80 a week, and consider the married taxpayers with dependants to support, we find the kind of taxation situation that I am about to describe. I point out for the honourable member’s benefit that the statistics for the year ended June 1965 - not the ones that are before us here - show that there were 71,000 taxpayers with incomes of less than $1,800 a year supporting a wife and approximately two children. In the group having incomes from $1,800 a year to $3,000 there were 60,000 married taxpayers, and in the group with incomes between $3,000 and $4,000 there were 397,000 married taxpayers. In those income groups we find a total of nearly 1,100,000 married taxpayers out of a total of 1,365,000 who claimed support of a spouse. More than three-quarters of the total number of married taxpayers were receiving less than $4,000 a year.
There are nearly 700,000 married taxpayers with 700,000 dependent wives and nearly 1,400,000 dependent children - this is more than one-quarter of the total population of Australia - who have actual incomes of less than $58 a week. Let us look at the amount of income tax that is at present borne by these people. The married taxpayer is now allowed $312 for a wife, $208 for the first child and $156 for the second child. He may have other concessional deductions, such as medical expenses, amounting to $74. If his actual income is $3,000 and his deductions are $750, his taxable income will be $2,250 and he will be liable to pay income tax of $273 a year or $5.15 a week. In my view it is grossly inequitable in the circumstances of today for a man with a wife and two children earning $3,000 a year to be called on to pay $5 a week in income tax, apart from the amounts he pays in indirect taxation. That is only one example; I could give quite a number of others.
I ask honourable members on the Government side to look also at the income tax statistics that are published each year with the Budget papers. They give by grade of income, category of deduction and so on the sorts of concessions that are currently available in the tax structure. This is the sort of tax picture we get: We start with some 4,800,000 taxpayers in the year ended 30th June 1966. Between them they had taxable incomes of nearly $ 13,000m. That is the total of the actual incomes. By the time they came to be taxed, the actual incomes of $13, 000m had been whittled down to SI 0,400m. In other words, there had been a reduction of one-fifth of the original tax base. The deductions that were allowed to various taxpayers aggregated $2,400m. The sum can be worked out. These deductions resulted in the amount of tax collected being reduced by $700m, which is getting reasonably close to one-half of the amount that was collected in income tax.
Various dissections can be made. One of the exotic items allowed as a deduction for income tax is life assurance premiums. The aggregate of life assurance premiums deducted in that year was $4 50m and this resulted in $130m to $150m less being collected in income tax. At present a maximum deduction of $1,200 per annum can be claimed for life assurance and that is $24 a week. How many people in the community can afford to save $24 a week and why should they be allowed a taxation concession if they do so? When we examine the structure, we find that this passes all the way back into the channels of investment. Because life assurance premiums are allowable tax deductions, huge investments in insurance offices are encouraged and these companies in turn place the money in government bonds. Government bonds are allowed a certain concession and some cunning investors say: ‘It is better for me to have a bond paying 5% interest because that is as good as 7% on some other sort of investment when the amount of taxation is taken into account’. This is the sort of thing that is happening. I have not the time to go into this in detail tonight, but we can do it when we are debating taxation legislation. If a comprehensive examination were made we would find that most of the concessions that are available do not go to the family man at all. They go to the people on higher incomes and the value of them or the resulting loss of revenue is greater on the higher incomes. In other words, we have a reverse system of social redistribution. That is one matter I wanted to mention.
I also want to examine the rather glib suggestion that the Commonwealth is treating the States fairly. Again the evidence is found within the small compass of some twenty pages in this booklet, ‘National Income and Expenditure, 1967-68’. Tables 10, 11 and 12 give details of the amounts spent by the Commonwealth Government on the one hand and by the State governments and local governing authorities on the other. In 1953-54 total Commonwealth taxation was $l,802m. This rose to $4,9 13m in 1967-68, the last complete year, or an increase from an index of 100 to 273. On the other hand in 1953-54 taxation collections by the State governments and local governing authorities was $282m and this increased to $1,08 7m in 1967-68. An initial index of 100 becomes an index of 387. In other words, the State governments and local governing authorities have imposed relatively harder taxes over the years than has the Commonwealth, and of course most of the taxes that they levy are indirect and regressive. If we take the Commonwealth grants that were made to the State governments and local governing authorities, we find that they were $342m in 1953-54 or 47% of the total moneys available to those bodies. This increased to $ 1,057m in 1967-68 or only 39.6% of the revenues available to those bodies.
The stark picture is shown when we come to capital expenditure. This in in table 16. In 1963-64 Commonwealth capital expenditure on the Post Office and civil aviation was $154m. Expenditure by the States on education and public health was $164m - almost the same. But in 1967-68 Commonwealth expenditure on civil aviation and the Post Office had risen to $3 3 8m whereas expenditure on education and public health capital works totalled $240m. In other words, the Commonwealth was able to spend $100m more on the Post Office and civil aviation than was available to the States for education and public health. It was therefore easier to build a Post Office than a school; it was easier to build an aerodrome than a hospital.
– Who decides the allocations?
– Exactly. I submit that basically the allocation is decided by the Commonwealth. This is why we suggest that the annual wrangle at the Australian Loan Council ought not to be about finances at all; it should be a matter of discussing the sensible allocation of resources that are available and of determining the priorities. There is no doubt that defence is being accorded the highest priority by the Commonwealth. In the few minutes available to me I want to refer to defence because, as honourable members will see from the same document, Commonwealth defence expenditure this year is to be Si, Wlm. That sum of Sl,l41m is further divided into $805m to be spent in Australia and $336m to be spent out of Australia. In other words almost one-third will be spent outside Australia, primarily on the procurement of materials. This is why we need to look carefully at the Estimates, which show the division of total defence expenditure in Australia between salaries and payments in the nature of salary, administrative expenses and other services. It is in the category of other services that money is expended on the hardware which is supposed to frighten the enemy. When one finds that about 40% or $46 1 m out of the total expenditure of $ 1, 069m that can be traced in Appropriation Bill (No. I) is for materials, and when one realises that about S300m of it is to be spent on materials procured not in Australia but from outside Australia, one realises how little of the defence activity in the construction of armaments is conducted in Australia. This points to the serious deterioration that is taking place in the economic structure of Australia in what is known as expenditure on fixed capital investment. These figures can be found in the White Paper. We see that during the financial year just completed the actual expenditure, excluding buildings and getting down to the sort of thing that equips industry, was less than in the previous year.
People generally tend to evaluate economic growth by physical performance. Surely if we believe in economic growth in an economy that claims to be a private enterprise economy - somebody twitted my colleague for suggesting that there should be some participation in the process - the item relating to investment on other than dwellings and buildings is the significant item. This is the item that is declining. This decline can be seen in the electorate I represent in an undertaking the workers of which live in the electorate of the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Mclvor). The aircraft industry has been allowed to run down, and when we question it we get the airy answer: ‘We cannot support this kind of activity’. So anxious is the Government to get investment from overseas that it is not doing the best that can be done, the most that can be done, and what ought to be done to encourage basic development in Australian industry. The figures are quire start!lingly revealed in the statement of capital expenditure. Even from the latest quarterly figures that are available it cannot be said that Australian business is surging wilh enthusiasm to face the future.
Therefore we submit that on all these grounds Australia is a long way from being able to achieve the highest possible total growth in terms of the resources that are available to it. Certainly we are far from having achieved a pattern of equity in respect of what is produced and shared among various sections of the community. The Government can do something in the field of social services but it has done the minimum possible. Over a period of 2 years when prices have risen by about 7% the basic pension has been increased from $13 to S14 a week. That, as I understand it, barely covers the rise in prices. Surely this section of the community is as entitled as is any other section to ils share of increased productivity. The performance last year in respect of productivity was not very good. If our work force increased by 3%, the physical total of goods ought to increase by a minimum of 3%. If an increase in productivity means anything, the increase ought to be 7% . Last year, according to the White Paper, it increased by 4% and the excuse was that the drought was responsible. I submit that not only was there a natural drought but that there has been an intellectual and physical drought in this Government’s facing up to the problems of the future in terms of the needs of our great nation.
– In examining the Budget speech of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and the associated documents and statistics, I am sure that one gains an appreciation of the complexity of a Commonwealth Budget these days. It is very easy for an Opposition to take particular aspects of the Budget and to say that the Government should give more to one activity or to another activity and that the Governmnt should do this or that. A certain amount of criticism can be expected and it will always be suggested that perhaps it would have been better to use money i;i one direction rather than in another. However 1 think everyone will agree, after appreciating the complexity of the Budget and considering what it is supposed to achieve, that the Treasurer is to be congratulated generally on his presentation of this Budget.
I want now to comment on the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), who said thai the Cit,Cs of this country should be looked after. Perhaps nobody would disagree with thai, but on the other hand, surely we must agree that some regard has to be paid to country areas, in .< country like Australia we must be sure that we get balanced development. I have spoken on this subject on a number of occasions. In Australia, faced as we are with tremendous problems brought about by our vast area and our small population, the cost of providing telephone services, railways, roads and other amenities is much higher per capita than it is in countries such as the United States with its population oi 200 million people or the United Kingdom which, although it has a population of only 48 million, has a much smaller area to serve than has Australia. So, in considering all factors relating to the expenditure of public money the matter to which I have adverted must be in the forefront of the Treasurer’s mind.
There have been comments in the debate about pensions. I have been privileged to be a member of this Parliament for 16i years and always it is said that increases in pensions have not been sufficiently large. I suppose those of us who have an appreciation of the problems confronting pensioners might say that increases in pensions never could be sufficiently large. But we must :elate increases in the pension to the overall expenditure of public money. We must never forget that the work force of this country has to provide the money that goes to pay social service benefits. We must oe careful to avoid overloading the work force to such an extent that we nullify the benefit of social service payments. This matter was referred to tonight by the Minister tor Air (Mr Freeth). must not »o increase social service benefits that the burden placed on the community in taxes to meet those social services leads to inflation which would overtake or pass the increases, lt is easy enough to say that the pension is not sufficient; many factors must be taken into consideration before increasing bene;:i-
I wish to make two comments about the Budget. Speaking personally, I would have preferred to see an increase in income lax rather than in sales tax. There are two factors relating to an increase in income (ax. Firstly, the increase is more evenly shared throughout the community. Secondly, people have a greater realisation of what i hey ure paying. In many instances sales lax .s literally a hidden tax. Some people may not realise how much they are paying in sales tax. 1 have spoken about repatriation matters to members of the Returned Services League in New South Wales. Speaking of New South Wales, the State in which I live. I feel that it might be advantageous if the League were to set up a committee to inquire into repatriation benefits. If I remember correctly the New South Wales Congress of the League opened its deliberations on the night on which the Budget was presented and it discussed pension matters that were already part and parcel of the Government’s policy. I have suggested thai it might be an advantage for the RSL to >ct up a sub-committee to inquire into repatriation benefits some time before the Budget is brought down. The recommendations of that sub-committee could be passed on to the Federal body of the League.
In Raymond Terrace in my electorate there are two major industries contributing to the progress and development of the town. I refer to Courtaulds (Aust.) Ltd and the Masonite organisation. I do not know the political beliefs of some of the people who work in those factories but I am aware of the problems which face these industries. I have visited the Courtaulds factory on a number of occasions and I know what progress has been achieved there. I pay a tribute to the executive and staff of Courtaulds for their achievements over a number of years. In many instances they have been battling against great difficulties. I have in mind particularly the production of rayon cord for motor tyres. Efficiency in this industry is second to none. The industry has been able to hold its own with similar industries in the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries. I hope that the Tariff Board will give serious consideration to the application which the industry now has before the Board. I hope also that the Government will consider sympathetically the Board’s report on this matter.
A great deal has been spoken and written about comments made by RearAdmiral Crabb about the Royal Australian Navy. It may be said that a rear-admiral was unwise to make such a comment before so many people, including representatives of Press, radio and television. Frankly, I think too much has been made of RearAdmiral Crabb’s remarks. Let us understand the situation. I have had some experience in the Services. I suppose we can say that without a shadow of doubt no serviceman, no matter what branch of the Services he belongs to, ever feels that his branch is getting enough. He always feels that some other branch is getting its nose ahead of his. RearAdmiral Crabb’s remarks should be considered in this light. I do not think that his remarks should be taken as actual criticism of the Government’s defence policy. It is understandable that a rear-admiral should want more for the Navy and should always have the welfare of his branch of the defence Services at heart. A government must consider its overall defence policy and the expenditure of public money. The Government has to consider the requirements of three Services as well as the development and progress of the country, the provision of social services, and other related matters. In considering expenditure on one branch of the Services the Government must pay regard to the overall needs of the Services and of the Commonwealth generally. So I say quite frankly that I think the remarks made by the rear-admiral should bc considered in the light of that background.
At the beginning of my speech I made some comment about the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition. If we study his remarks we find two basic features. One, of course, is that it was the normal Socialist, doctrinaire speech that would be made by a leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition when that Opposition is formed by the Australian Labor Party. Secondly, we see through this speech the theme of centralisation and centralised control. I may say in this regard that I believe that this Government must be extremely careful1 to ensure that when a Labor government again occupies the treasury bench, whenever this may happen - it would be only at some time in the far distant future - such a government will not find it easy to scramble the egg. Rather than see additional control and additional expenditure by the Federal Government in certain spheres of activity, I would prefer to see additional money given to the States so that the advancement and progress of these various activities will be under State control.
The Commonwealth has gradually provided more money in the field of education. Because it has done this it has taken more and more control of education. There are times when centralised control is of advantage. Though that is admitted, it does not necessarily mean that centralised control is always of advantage. Nor does it mean that centralised control is less expensive. 1 believe that if we are not careful we will find that more and more control! will be exercised from Canberra and as a result there will be an opportunity for a Socialist Commonwealth government to scramble the egg. Honourable members should remember that it has been said on more than one occasion by prominent Labor men that when the egg is scrambled a long time is taken to unscramble it. In some instances, once an egg is scrambled it cannot be unscrambled. This aspect must be watched. We should obtain more of a balance between State and Federal governments.
This brings me to the subject of decentralisation. We have talked about it for a long time and have made some progress with it. But I believe that our progress has been too slow. The committee that was established to bring about co-operation between State and Federal governments has to get moving.
– How can we make private enterprise move?
– If the honourable member thinks that Socialism necessarily will achieve more progress, he has only to look at the record of Labor governments to learn otherwise. What we have to do is give assistance to private enterprise. I have seen this done in my electorate where private enterprise has established new industries with assistance from the present LiberalAustralian Country Party Government of New South Wales. I believe the Federal Government must do more in the field of decentralisation, and 1 hope that we will see a great deal more done in the very near future. 1 now wish to touch on the subject of the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia. I have been critical of the Bank in the past and I am still critical of it. I believe that we can say it is not serving the purpose for which it was created. I say frankly that in some instances the Rural Bank of New South Wales is doing more than the Development Bank is doing. Furthermore, the Liberal-Country Party Government in New South Wales has done a great deal more for education and has spent more money in that field since it has been in office than the State Labor Government ever did or spent.
A great deal has been said about assistance to primary industry. Along with all my other Country Party colleagues, J appreciate that assistance must be given to secondary industry in certain instances. But I would like to reiterate something that I have said on a number of occasions: While we accent that assistance has to be given to secondary industry for the sake of the progress and development of this country, we say emphatically that such aid must not be given at the expense of primary industry. If the Government is to assist secondary industry, primary industry also must be given assistance. A great deal of talk about the inefficiency of primary industry has taken place. Honourable members should have a look at what primary industries in Australia have achieved in recent years with fewer persons employed. Honourable members should see what primary industry has achieved in our overseas trade. Our primary producers are at present battling against competition from European countries which, I believe, do not fully appreciate the problems and responsibilities of international trade. 1 believe that it might be just as well for some matters relating to the European Common Market countries to be brought before international trade conferences to see whether charges of dumping can be brought against those countries. As I have said on a number of occasions in this House, the newly developed countries must be given an opportunity to develop. They can develop only if we can help them to expand their own production and sell it.
With the world situation as it is and with the constant cry that we have to produce more food, 1 cannot understand, for the life of me, why some people knock primary industry in Australia. We should never forget that even though we are making tremendous advances in our mineral fields and are making new discoveries almost daily throughout the Commonwealth, the basic strength of our economy is in the agricultural and pastoral primary production of this land. Look at the balance of payments situation. As 1 said before, it is all very well for people to say that primary industry is uneconomic and that we ought to do something about it. I have said that it is uneconomic in this way and that in some instances primary industry is more efficient than other industries. Where uneconomic units exist, the owners have to be bought out and the properties combined with others in order to make economic units. Let us also remember that the prosperity of many country areas depends directly on the local primary industries. I believe that in the field of decentralisation we should be looking towards establishing in country districts more and more secondary industries that can be linked with the local primary industries.
I have covered the preceding matters briefly because of the time available to me. I now want, to say something about the international scene and our responsibilities in this regard. We are facing heavy international responsibilities. There is no doubt about this. If ons looks at the international situation and studies events throughout the world, the various conferences and the problems of the newly independent countries and also of the older countries, one becomes more and more aware of the complexity and the difficulty of the international scene. We in Australia have great opportunities, but with those opportunities go responsibilities. Wc have a great responsibility in the Asian area. 1 have said before that I believe the Asian countries are looking to us for guidance and help. I think that in many instances we can give guidance and help in overcoming the difficulties that are confronting these countries.
A great deal of criticism has been voiced against the United States of America. I do not agree with everything that the United States does and says, but I ask people who have faced problems and difficulties to consider what would happen to Australia if the United States withdrew completely and absolutely from South East Asia and if isolationism again reared its head in the United States and that country retired behind a sea barrier. I say with all my strength: God help Australia and the people of Asia il that circumstance ever eventuated. The United States has made mistakes - no person or nation can live without making mistakes - but with all the mistakes that the United Slates has made, the world, and the western countries in particular, owe a tremendous debt to it for the responsibilities which the American people have accepted in recent years.
I turn to the situation in Rhodesia and in South Africa. No one agrees with everything that is done in these countries. The most ridiculous thing that happened recently was when a cricketer named Bland went to the United Kingdom to participate in a cricket match but was not allowed to stay in the country or to play cricket. How ridiculous can a situation get? I have said before that unfortunately it appears that the United Kingdom has not learned its lesson from history. The American War of Independence was caused by a muddle headed king. The situation in Africa and in Rhodesia is being created by a muddle headed Prime Minister and a weak government in the United Kingdom. The sooner we face up to this fact the better. Can anyone look at the situation in the Congo and in Nigeria and say that everything that the coloured man does is right and everything the white man does is wrong. I repeat that I do not agree with everything that is being done in Rhodesia and in South Africa, but let us have a look at the situation, with all the complexities of tribal life and with the many different languages that are spoken in these countries. I was in Rhodesia in war time and I have spoken to the people there. Many of the native people in Rhodesia are fearful that the terrorists might get control of that country.
At the present time great emphasis is being placed on the question of rights and privileges. Liberal critics everywhere are raising it. People are speaking about the establishment of a Bill of Rights. No one would deny rights and freedoms because they have been won by blood and sacrifice. If ever we accept rights and privileges and forget the responsibilities that go with them, this country will go into eternal darkness. I remind people who are constantly stressing the question of the rights of the individual that they may be creating something the results of which they do not appreciate. I quote some words of the Rev. Dr Norman Vincent Peale, who said:
And now Spock is out in the mobs, leading the permissive babies raised on his undisciplined teaching of ‘feed ‘em whatever they want, don’t let them cry, instant gratification of needs’.
Two generations of parents who abandoned the old American home quality of discipline have caused our universities to inherit neuroses, neglect, permissiveness, creating a student generation that thinks it can get what it yells for.
I think we should take note of those words. Let us always be aware and thankful that only a very small’ percentage of people in this country are causing disturbances and making demonstrations. The majority of the people realise that with rights and privileges go responsibilities. People who are in positions of responsibility should realise that they must pass this responsibility on to those who follow after them. I again congratulate the Treasurer on the Budget and the Government on its policies.
Debate (on motion by Mr E. James Harrison) adjourned.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I refer to the debate on the new and permanent parliament house. The Melbourne ‘Age’ last Saturday, under the heading ‘May we quote you?’ quoted me as saying: ‘Close Parliament if it gets windy.’ Honourable members will know that this statement is out of character with me. I have not spoken in that debate, and I did not make any such statement by interjection.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I want to raise what is possibly one of the most serious charges that 1 have had the misfortune to have to level1 against any public servant. I refer to the action of the Librarian of the Australian National Library in removing from this building the almost priceless, terribly important document known as the Magna Carta. This almost priceless document which the Parliament found the money to purchase in 1952 has graced Kings Hall ever since ils arrival in Australia, ft has been an object of pride and tremendous interest to the 400,000 people who each year visit this building. Recently when I took some high school children from my State to have a look at the Magna Carta, which I believed was in the place which it had occupied for all these years, J discovered to my embarrassment in its place a document authorising somebody to open Parliament House in 1927. You can imagine my embarrassment and the disappointment of the children who, having come all this way, found that they were not able to see the Magna Carta which their teacher had told them could be seen at Parliament House. They did not know, and I did not know, that it had been transferred by Mr White of the National Library without the authority of this Parliament.
This is not a party political matter. If one is entitled to draw conclusions from the book which Mr White’s daughter wrote about the Liberal Party of Australia, Mr White could be a supporter of the Australian Labor Party. Therefore, I am not assuming that there is anything political about the matter. But I have discovered the culprit. Tonight I spoke to the President of the Senate and I discovered from him that he had, to use his own words, ‘authorised the removal’. I believe that the President had no right to authorise the removal of this document, much less to base the authorisation upon the flimsy excuse that he gave to me, that is, that the National Library purchased this document and that because it did so - with money which Parliament had made available for that purpose - the document now belongs to the National Library. What utter rubbish, Sir. To think that a public servant can successfully con an officer of this Parliament into believing that because Parliament makes money available to buy a priceless thing like the Magna Carta it should now become the property of the National Library!
This Parliament made available for the purchase of that document something like £Slgl 2,500 in 1952. I want you, sir. to take notice of the dates because these are terribly relevant to the argument that the Magna Carta is now the property of the National Library. Mr Speaker, can you imagine anything more ridiculous than to say that Magna Carta, of all documents, ought to be removed from the Parliament of the Commonwealth and be taken across to the National Library? Where better else than in Parliament House should Magna Carta be located?
Let me quote to the Parliament the words of the then Speaker of this Parliament in 1952 when it was announced that Magna Carta had been purchased by the government of the day and was to be brought to Australia. This is what the then Speaker had to say:
The Commonwealth National Library, which is governed by a joint committee of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, has recently acquired in England one of the fourteen known copies of Magna Carta.
He went on to say:
The then Prime Minister, Sir Robert, then Mr Menzies said on the same day:
It- meaning Magna Carta:
. will be a source of great pride to us to feel that we have in this place- not in the National Library, but in this place: . . one of the ancient copies of this document.
The then Leader of the Opposition, Dr Evatt, said:
In my view, it is important that the people of Australia should see the document and understand what it means.
Mr Speaker, 400,000 people have been seeing it every year until now. How many of them will see it now that Mr White has it safely ensconced over in the National Library? Senator O’sullivan, as he then was, speaking on behalf of the Government in the Senate on the same occasion had this to say:
It is tit and proper that this historic document, which is so closely associated with the development and establishment of the rule of law, should find an honoured and an abiding place in the National Parliament of this young country.
Were they not fit and proper words to be uttered? Was it not proper that this document of such tremendous historic value and significance to all parliaments should remain forever in the building of the National Parliament of the Commonwealth? And this public servant, this man White, should come across here and talk people into allowing it to be removed!
Let me examine the validity of his argument that Magna Carta belongs to the National Library, because the National Library purchased it. Mr Speaker, Magna Carta was purchased in 1952. The National Library was not created until 1960. So, how can a body that did not exist in 1952 - that had no existence until 8 years later - now claim to be the rightful owner of it? I often wonder whether there are not some valuable paintings in Mr White’s private home because if we extend this principle one step further-
– Never mind about shame. If we extend this principle one step further there would be every justification for Mr White to say: ‘Well, look, I was the one who purchased it. I was the one who went overseas and got it for the National Library. I will hang it up in the kitchen and have a look at it there each day.’ This is what the National Library says about itself on page 1 of its publication the ‘National Library of Australia’:
The National Library has grown out of the Library of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia founded in 1901. The Library moved, with Parliament, from Melbourne to Canberra in 1927.
In 1923 the Parliamentary Library Committee first used the term ‘Commonwealth National Library’ for those collections acquired for the purposes beyond those of the Parliament and for the ultimate benefit of research and inquiry to scholars of Austraiian and overseas affairs. This term was in general use until 1960.
The National Library of Australia was separated from the Library of Parliament by the National Library Act of 1960 and placed under the control of a National Library Council and a National Librarian.
The position of National Librarian did not come into existence until 1960. Neither did the National Library come into existence until 1960. The National Library has no right to be taking the property that belongs to this Parliament - the most important thing that we can lay claim to - Magna Carta - the very thing that commenced and formed the foundation of the rule of law and all of the things that we stand for. Let me read to the House a quotation from the famous Benjamin Rudyerd who said this: 1 shall be glad I say to see it walk, abroad again, with new Vigour and Lustre, attended by the other Six Statutes: For questionless, it will be a general heartening to all.
I do not want to see Magna Carta walk again except to walk back into Parliament House where it rightly belongs. This man White ought to be grabbed by the scruff of the neck with one hand and wilh Magna Carta in the other hand, brought here to give a please explain as to why he should come along and, in the still of the night, snatch from this Parliament without the authority of the Parliament the document known as Magna Carta which cost us £Stgl2,500 to purchase and which 400.000 Australian citizens have gazed upon proudly every year that Parliament is open.
I hope that this matter will be taken up on a higher level than the level on which 1 have been able to take it up. 1 know some of the circumstances about this case. I know, Mr Speaker, from what 1 have heard from the grapevine, that it was first mooted when you were overseas. I know that at the time when you were consulted it was virtually a fait accompli and that a place had already been prepared for Magna Carta in the National Library before you were ever consulted. I know that at that stage you had little alternative but to nod your head as well. I know that you did that reluctantly. I know that other officers of this Parliament were not happy - and it was quite right that they should not be happy - lo see this priceless relic of civil liberties and the foundation of the rule of law taken from where it rightly belongs and sent across to the National Library for Mr White to look at.
- Mr Speaker, 1 think that the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has made a very strong advocacy for the return of Magna Carta to this Parliament. However, my main object in rising is to deplore what he said about the private house of the National Librarian, Mr White. The honourable member said that perhaps in that house Mr White had some priceless paintings. I will not make a speech about this matter, but I do feel very strongly about it. Mr White is a man whose reputation is high. His character is good. I think that the best thing that can be done straight away - the honourable member will not lose anything by it; he will gain by it - is for him to withdraw that part of his remarks.
– Yes, Mr Speaker, 1 would like to withdraw the remarks. 1 did in the heat of the moment give-
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston)Order! Does the honourable member seek leave to make a statement?
– I beg your pardon, Mr Speaker. May I have leave to make a statement?
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Yes, I do withdraw the remarks. They were made in the heat of the moment. I have become very emotional and upset about this matter. I did not mean that Mr White would take any of the pictures and hang them up in his kitchen. I am encouraged by the first part of the remarks made by the honourable member for Mallee to believe that he will support, possibly at a later stage, what I have said about the return of Magna Carta.
– in reply - Mr Speaker, I was about to rise, before the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) asked for leave to make a statement, to say that I felt that whatever merit there was in the case that the honourable gentleman put, it would not be added to by the other remarks that were made. I am very glad that he has withdrawn them.
– I was overcome with emotion.
– I indicate to the honourable gentleman that the question that he asks to be examined will be examined.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister lor Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The following answer is now supplied: 1 and 2. Yes. 1 have read the statements referred to by the honourable member.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions arc as follows:
Delivery of all twenty patrol boats being built by a consortium of Queensland companies is expected to complete by April 1969.
Extended refits for the Daring class destroyers Vampire and Vendetta, to improve their capability as gunships are plannedto commence early in 1970 and complete in 1972.
Plans for construction of further fleet units are being considered but no definite projects can be stated atthistime.
Drought (Question No. 326)
MrIan Allan asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Will he give consideration to the preparation of a White Paper giving details of (a; stock and crop losses in eastern Australia since the onset of drought conditions in 1964, (b) the effects and costs of drought relief measures, both Commonwealth and State and (c) policies now operating, or contemplated, which may reduce the scale of future disasters of this kind?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The whole question of drought mitigation is at present under examination by the Commonwealth Government and I do not consider this would be an opportune time for the preparation of a White Paper along the lines suggested. In any event, in view of the material which has been made available publicly and of the practical difficulties involved in assessing the effects of drought, it is doubtful whether any useful purpose would be served by the preparation of such a paper.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answer:
Representations were madeto me by the Commonwealth Council of Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers Association of Australia, for improved repatriation benefits for T.P.I. pensioners. A summary of its proposals and the estimated annual liability in respect of each follows:
The figure of $9,300,000 in (i) above includes an estimated $400,000 arising from an increase inthe Intermediate Rate Pension which is adjusted automatically with increases in the Special Rate or
General Kate Pensions. It does not take account however, of any consequential increase in sustenance allowance payable in prescribed circumstances at varying rates to members receiving medical treatment. The$13,600,000 referred to in (v) represents the estimated costs for living members and their dependants only; there would be significant additional costs if the concession were to be extended to dependants of deceased Special Rate Pensioners.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Can he give information on Northern Territory revenues analogous to the information he gave me concerning State revenues on 8th November 1967 (Hansard, page 2854)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The ‘revenue’ for the Northern Territory analogous to the State revenues covered in my answer of 8th November 1967 to question 651 (Hansard page 2854) is the amount provided by the Commonwealth to finance running costs and capital works and services in the Territory (other than business undertakings) of a ‘State’, as distinct from a national and municipal, character.
Using this definition, the ‘revenue’ for the Northern Territory increased by 27.5% in 1966-67 and a further increase of 12.3% on the 1966-67 figure occurred in 1967-68.
Revenue derived in the Northern Territory itself from activities (other than business undertakings) which would be the normal responsibility of a State Government is paid direct to the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The relationship between this revenue and total ‘revenue’,as defined above was 6.9% in 1966-67 and 9% in 1967-68.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
How many New Guineans have received Australian flying scholarships?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Five indigenes, three from Papua and two from New Guinea, have received Australian flying scholarships. Of these, two scholarships are still current.
It is proposed that two further scholarships be awarded about the end of 1968.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answers lo the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The only report of this nature authorised by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner in recent years was in respect of improvements to the Port Augusta-Alice Springs Railway, which discussed several alternate proposals including a route via Tarcoola or Kingoonya. This report was submitted to me by the Commissioner in 1967 and is under active consideration.
Floodings and washouts have occurred at various locations between the mileages shown in the above table.
On 8th May and 24th September 1967 and on 23rd March 1968, derailments also occurred on the Frances Creek Iron Mining Company’s private spur line.
Commonwealth Railways anticipated that similar facilities would have been available for livestock traffic in 1968. However, the exceptionally severe wet season in the Northern Territory created unexpected delays in the delivery of seven new locomotives ordered in December 1966, for delivery by April 1968. Flood waters affecting the Stuart Highway delayed the transport carrying one new locomotive at Elliott for 6 weeks. A second locomotive was delayed for 4 weeks at Alice Springs for the same reason. Four of the seven new locomotives have now been delivered. The remaining three are expected to be available by August.
A derailment on the Frances Creek spur line damaged two locomotives presently in service. These were consequently out of operation, one for a period of 4 weeks and the other for 14 weeks.
Improvement of the position is expected in the immediate future with the return to service of the damaged locomotives and the commissioning of new locomotives delivered to Darwin.
During 1968 Commonwealth Railways have provided several special livestock trains as well as attaching livestock vans to normal mixed trains.
Forward orders for livestock trains are expected to be adequately met henceforth up to presently forecast demands.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 August 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19680820_reps_26_hor60/>.