26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr HAYDEN presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that this House take any action necessary to assist a campaign for a lasting peaceful settlement in Vietnam.
Petition received and read.
– Did the Minister for Trade and Industry say on 12th October 1967 that he did not think that any group which obviously had command of great funds and was determined to use them while maintaining secrecy about their origin would ever command respect or have real influence? Can he say whether political parties in Australia command funds comparable in size to the great funds referred to in his statement? Has his attention been drawn to the statement of Senator Murphy on 7th November 1967-
-Order! The honourable member must not refer to a particular senator.
– Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a statement in another place that this Parliament ought to pass legislation to provide that contributions to political parties be made public? If so. will he support the statement?
- Mr Speaker, 1 do not remember what I may have said on a particular date in 1967. But the honourable member accurately recounts what I have said on more than one occasion in speaking critically of secret groups commanding great funds, whether arising in Australia or overseas, whose identity is unknown and which use these funds in a surreptitious but blatant manner to the detriment of a political party in Australia. I condemn this practice and I will continue to condemn it.
The key point in this matter is the use of funds for political purposes by persons who keep their identities secret. I think that this is to be condemned at any time. But it is not to be compared in any way with people in Australia - whether companies, trade unions or individuals - who subscribe to political party funds where the purpose of the funds and the people employing them are openly known. This applies whether it be the Australian Labor Party, the Country Party or the Liberal Party. I am not responsible for anything that Senator Murphy has to say.
– With reference to our discussions of a week ago on the housing situation for families of Army personnel stationed at Lavarack Barracks, will the Minister for the Army inform me of the present position regarding Army housing there?
- Mr Speaker, the honourable member for Herbert has taken a very keen interest in the question of married quarters for servicemen and their families at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville. I certainly am aware of the number of sustained representations that he has made in this matter. Lt is certainly true that the question of married quarters for servicemen and their families is a key factor in the morale of troops stationed at Townsville. Every effort is being made at present to overcome the deficiency which exists.
I understand that some 189 families have been placed in married quarter accommodation and that the present deficiency in respect of 170 families is expected to be made up by the end of 1968. As far as is practical, the location of further major units at Lavarack Barracks will be phased in commensurate with the completion of the building programme. But it is clear at this stage that there will continue to be some waiting list until the final programme has been completed. However, 1 certainly will lake the honourable member’s representations into mind and give the matter further consideration to see whether the programme can be further expedited to any degree.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. On Tuesday last in answer to a question by my colleague, the honourable member for Wide Bay, the right honourable gentleman said that the Government made a protest to the French Government about the explosion of a hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific by way of a note verbale, but stated that it would not be customary in diplomatic practice to give the text of that note. Since the Minister representing the right honourable gentleman in another place, with the consent of members in the other place, did incorporate the text of the note in Hansard for the other place, I ask the right honourable gentleman: Will he now depart sufficiently from diplomatic practice and ask for leave to incorporate the text of the note in Hansard of this House?
- Mr Speaker, apparently we have established a new custom. I am quite happy to follow the new custom. There is one point on which I would seek to give precision. The honourable gentleman in asking his question said that we had made a protest about the explosion of a hydrogen bomb. At the time that we made our protest, it was a protest against the explosion of nuclear devices of any kind. The explosion of the hydrogen bomb was a development that came later.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. As nobody now denies that many ships flying the British flag are entering into the Port of Haiphong, has the Government made any official protest to the British Labor Government that Australia regards ‘trading with the enemy’ as an act of treachery and treason, unaltered by the fiction that a war is not a war unless it is a declared war? If no such protest has been made, does the Government consider that its failure to make such a protest is in accordance with its promises to give every possible support to Australian troops that we have sent to Vietnam to stop the aggression against the South by the Communists of North Vietnam?
– I think this question in a sense follows on a question which was asked in this House some days ago. The information available to my Government and provided by the Department of External Affairs is that there are some thirteen ships registered at Hong Kong flying the
British flag and listed on the British register that are engaged in trade with Haiphong. All these ships, I am informed, arc owned by Hong Kong firms and they are listed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Hong Kong Treasury as belonging to Communist Chinese in Hong Kong. If the ships load at British ports they come under the strategic embargo which prevents the transfer of arms or war materials or various matters of that kind. In fact, they tend to load at various places, including ports in Communist China. As far as we have been able to ascertain, no shipments of arms, ammunition or strategic materials have been discovered as having been carried into Haiphong by these ships.
On the question of an official protest to the British Government, no protest has been made by either ourselves, the United States or any other of the allies engaged in the conflict. Indeed, I suppose that one reason for this, amongst others, would be that if ultimately a British Government said: ‘We will not have these ships registered under a British flag’, there is no reason why they should not register under the Liberian or the Panamanian flag. I presume that is the reason for this general approach.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. I refer to the Nigeria-Biafra conflict which is being conducted with barbarous, almost genocidal ferocity and in which more people have been killed in the last 12 months than have been killed in the last 3 years of the Vietnam war. Has the Prime Minister been able to take any action on my suggestion to him several weeks ago that the organisation and resources of the British Commonwealth of Nations should be mobilised, on Australian initiative, to develop determinedly fresh peace talks and to open up avenues of entry and distribution of urgently needed food and medical aid in Biafra? If he does not envisage the British Commonwealth fulfilling this sort of role, would he care to indicate how its continued existence can be justified?
– As I think is well known, the entry of goods to assist those in Biafra who are suffering from shortage of food and shortage of medical supplies and generally from the effects of a war of this kind has been impeded and prevented by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The United Nations has been attempting to provide assistance of this kind but so far it has not been found possible for it to occur.
– Can we do anything?
– 1 am asked by the honourable member whether we can do anything. We could add our voice to the United Nations, and indeed our voice in the United Nations is there. Short of that, as is the fact, aircraft seeking to fly in assistance are subject to being shot down. All we could do. I suggest, is to attempt to run a blockade, but probably not successfully.
– Will the Attorney-General inform the House whether a petition for leave to appeal is being taken to the Privy Council by Mr Da Costa? Does such a petition have to be lodged by 1st September?
-I have been told by the legal advisers to Mr Da Costa that they are preparing a petition for leave to appeal to the Privy Council. When this will be presented is governed by Orders in Council. The petition must be presented as soon as practicable. I understand that this will be done. The matter of whether the cut-off date for appeals, 1st September, will apply in this case has been raised. This cut-off date applies only where the original proceedings are commenced after 1st September and would not be a factor governing this matter. I should perhaps add that extensions of time have been granted from time to time. Under the present law the Government may grant an extension of only 28 days on any one occasion. This is why more than one extension has had to be granted in the light of the course which the legal proceedings have taken, f should perhaps refer to the suggestion that the Government should in some way intervene or act at this stage. Mr Da Costa is exercising rights which the law gives him. One of the orders which he is seeking is an order for a new trial. If this order were granted he could ultimately obtain his freedom. So those who suggest that the Government should take it upon itself to intervene executively at this stage are asking the Government to interfere with and possibly prejudice Mr Da Costa’s exercise of his legal rights.
– Has the Treasurer seen a report that the urban front in the metropolitan area of Perth has been outstripping sewerage development? Does the report indicate that the percentage of the metropolitan area served by sewerage has declined from 49% in 1964 to 47% at the present time? Did the Premier of Western Australia refer to these problems at the June meeting of the Australian Loan Council when he sought more loan funds? Will the Treasurer say whether more finance can be made available to Western Australia for this important work?
– The honourable gentleman will know that Western Australia is fortunate in having a very gifted Premier who quite naturally raises with the Commonwealth, when he comes to Canberra, problems that he feels are important to his State. He did raise with us the matter of increased funds being made available for housing purposes. I think it was implicit in his proposal that if this money were found his Government could provide money for sewerage and ancillary services. The Commonwealth pointed out that our technical advice indicated that Western Australia has the fastest building rate in the Commonwealth and that in the provision of labour it is having greater difficulties than any other State.
We pointed out that prices for both land and buildings in Western Australia are rising at a rate which we regard as quite unacceptable and that any increase in the building rate could add to the difficulties rather than lead to an immediate solution of them and would in any event probably create long term problems. We pointed out also, as the Prime Minister has stated in the House, that some surplus funds were still available to Western Australia for housing purposes. I am referring now to housing and not to the specific matter of sewerage referred to by the honourable gentleman. All told, the Government of Western Australia is putting up a remarkably good performance. We hope that if it continues in this way it will be able lo control costs and to prevent them from rising too rapidly.
– I ask the Minister for Health a question. The honourable gentleman will be aware of a’ conspiracy by a group of men to cheat and defraud a hospital benefits association in one of the States. Does the Commonwealth under its National Health Act prescribe strict controls over audit procedures? Iri view of the magnitude of the false claims iri the case to which 1 have referred, involving thousands cif dollars of Commonwealth funds, will the Minister, in association with all medical and hospital benefit funds, take steps to lift audit clic king lo a higher standard?
– The normal way in which the Commonwealth protects the interests of contributors lo funds is by exercising the right to prescribe conditions for the registration of funds that shall pay benefits under the National Health Act. In all instances, it is a condition of registration that properly qualified auditors shall be appointed and that the funds shall abide by any provisions of Stale law, particularly in respect of audit, applying to their operations. Departmental inspectors check procedures in all cases to ensure that they are appropriate and correct and will ensure that Commonwealth benefits are properly paid. Tn addition. Commonwealth officials carry on a continuous audit designed to ensure that Commonwealth benefits are properly paid. In any instance in which it is found that these benefits are improperly paid, the fund concerned is required to refund the- sum involved. I point out with respect to the alleged fraud - I use the words ‘alleged fraud’ because the matter is still before the courts - that no Commonwealth moneys were involved.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I refer him to the report of the New Zealand Royal Commission on Compensation for Personal Injury, which outlines a comprehensive scheme, based on national responsibility, to provide compensation for every injured citizen, irrespective of fault and regardless of cause. Has the honourable gentleman studied this scheme? Does he believe that a scheme on these lines could be introduced in Australia to relieve hardship caused by personal injuries? Will he put the provisions of the New Zealand scheme before the next meeting of the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General for consideration by the Attorneys-General?
– I have considered the New Zealand scheme and have discussed it with Mr Hanan, the New Zealand AttorneyGeneral, and with Dr Robson, the head of the Justice Department in New Zealand. They have attended a meeting of the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General and the subject has been discussed by the Standing Committee. The matter is at present being considered by my Department, lt will be appreciated, of course, that we in the Commonwealth are responsible only for the law in the Territories, lt is thought that I Shall make some recommendation- to the Government with respect to this matter as it relates to the laws of the Territories.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. Has his attention been directed to the screening in this building last night of an enemy propaganda film on North Vietnam, under the sponsorship. I believe, of the honourable member for Hunter.
– Yes, and I was proud of it. The honourable member should have come to see it.
-Order! The honourable member for Hunter will restrain himself.
– Can the Minister inform the House whether it would be advisable to provide any corresponding facilities for the screening of films putting our side of the case with respect to North Vietnam or any other Communist country?
– And we shall go to the screening, which is more than the honourable member would do last night.
-Order! If the honourable member for Hunter does not restrain himself, I shall have to deal with him.
– My understanding which is subject to correction by you, Mr Speaker, is that arrangements for the screening of films in this building during the suspension of sittings for dinner are made under the direction of the Presiding Officers or by one of the joint committees of the Parliament. They do not come under the notice of the Department of External Affairs in any way, nor do we make any recommendations or comments on the decisions that the appropriate authority makes.
– Has the Minister for Externa] Affairs any information to give to the House other than what we have already read in the Press - whether that is right or wrong I do not know - on the current situation in Czechoslovakia?
– The events in Czechoslovakia have now entered on what might be described as a second phase and the progress of these events is still incomplete, ft would, I think, be premature to attempt any summary of the situation or to make any comment on the likely outcome. Broadly, all the significant events have been fully reported in the Australian Press, perhaps surrounded by a framework of incident that sometimes obscures the central facts. 1 would suggest to the right honourable gentleman that the significant items to be considered are, firstly, the communique that was issued and has been published in full in the Australian Press following thy recent Moscow talks; the text of the statement made by the President of Czechoslovakia on his return to Prague; and the text of the statement made by the National Assembly after it had considered the Moscow communique and the President’s statement. lt is quite clear that the authorities in Czechoslovakia want to avoid bloodshed so far as they can and they are counselling moderation and the avoidance of provocation by their own people. They want to preserve their own Government and to avoid the imposition on them of any puppet government. Of course, their main objective is to secure the withdrawal, either sooner or later, of the foreign troops on Czech soil. There will be many anxious moments - and there are many anxious moments - for the Czechoslovakian Government and the Czechoslovakian people in trying to serve these ends. One of the unknown factors at the present time is the way in which the people of Czechoslovakia themselves will respond to the appeals of their own Government for moderation and the avoidance of provocation, lt is an issue not only of relationships between the constitutional Government of Czechoslovakia and the Government of the Soviet Union but a question, too. of confidence between the people of Czechoslovakia and their own Government.
One final point I would make for consideration is that perhaps in the wave of very strong sympathy for the Czechoslovakian people we are apt to forget that the Government and the Parliament of Czechoslovakia are a Communist Government and a predominantly Communist National Assembly, and in their own declaration they have asserted their wish to remain true to the principles of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and their wish to remain in the community of nations of which the Soviet Union has leadership. The point at issue, so far as they see it - that is, the Government and the National Assembly - is the terms on. which they remain in that community of .nations and, above all, the opportunities they have within their own borders of following their own desire for a greater liberalisation and a greater democratisation of their system of government. But it is an illusion thai we have to avoid that what is happening in Czechoslovakia has been any turn towards Western democracy. It is a nationalist movement and a liberalising movement but not a complete change of outlook.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister and refer to the proposed Melbourne underground railway system. Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to the brief which has been prepared by the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce concerning proposals for the Melbourne underground railway loop? ls this (he type of city development that he referred to earlier in the year as being suitable for attention by the Department of National Development? Has the Premier of Victoria yet arranged a meeting with the Government about finance for this scheme?
– I have received a copy of the brief referred to by the honourable member. Sir Henry Bolte has been in touch with me and has indicated that, at some time which he would later suggest, he would like to come and talk to me about the matter.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior what actions have been or are being taken by Commonwealth electoral officers in anticipation of an early Federal election. Has any consideration been given to using spot advertisements on radio and television to encourage all citizens to enrol? Finally, what is the tightest schedule that can be followed to allow for an election on 30th November next?
– The position in regard to an election at any time is: Following expiry of a Parliament or the dissolution of a Parliament by proclamation, the GovernorGeneral issues writs within 10 days of that date. Nominations have to be called for in not less than 7 days and not more than 21 days of the date the writs were issued. Then, in not less than 7 days and not more than 30 days the election must be held. Polling is always held on a Saturday. These are the statutory provisions. As to the preparation for any possible election this year, it should be recognised that the Commonwealth Electoral Office has the responsibility, following one election, to prepare for the next. Never at any stage would the Electoral Office let itself be unready for an election. That is all I can say in answer to that aspect of the honourable member’s question. In regard to television and radio advertisements urging people to enrol, I will raise this with the Commonwealth Electoral Officer and see whether there is any practicability in the suggestion.
– I address my question to the Minister for National Development. Has the Minister heard that the
Queensland Government has taken the first step towards the enactment of a new border rivers agreement between New South Wales and Queensland? Can he say whether an approach by the two governments to the Commonwealth for additional funds for the construction of dams under this agreement could be considered within the framework of the existing offer by the Commonwealth or whether it would call for a separate scheme involving direct participation of the Commonwealth in a revised agreement?
– Yes, I did hear of the agreement between the two governments, but our Government has not been approached for funds for the two dams concerned. From recollection, about 4 years ago an approach was made to the Commonwealth Government for assistance in the project. The Commonwealth considered this at the time and decided it was not able to agree to assistance. In the vast number of applications that have been sent to me and to my Department for assistance under the national water resources development programme, neither of the two dams was mentioned.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Supply. I preface it by stating that at present a great deal of confusion exists among the employees of the weapons research establishment at Penfield as to the long range employment opportunities at the establishment. Can the Minister inform the House of future planning for this important national undertaking?
– I cannot give a definite answer to the honourable member other than to say that there is a continuing programme in regard to the weapons research establishment. I will treat his question as being on notice and let him have a detailed answer from the Minister iri another place.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether his attention has been drawn to a recent Press report to the effect that British Army authorities were making indoctrination courses, covering a three day period, available to 16-year olds? Will he investigate this scheme and evaluate whether the introduction of such a scheme here would be beneficial in promoting recruitment for the Australian Regular Army?
– 1 have seen a Press report of the scheme recently launched by the British Army. I understand from the report that the scheme is designed to provide a familiarisation programme for 16- year old youths who desire to become apprentices in the British Army and that the programme takes the form of training aids, films and some familiarisation with weapons. It is also generally intended to give them an indication of barracks life and accommodation in the Army. The scheme certainly has merit. I will give it consideration for the purpose of providing the honourable member with a detailed reply in writing.
I would like to add three comments. Firstly, my understanding is that at the present time the demand for places at the Army Apprentices School at Balcombe far outweighs the number of places available. Secondly, such proposal would, of course, place further work strains on the number of experienced officers and noncommissioned officers whom we have in the Army at present. The honourable member will appreciate the demands made on these men, particularly as a result of the Vietnam situation. Finally, some part of the objective which the British scheme is designed to fulfil is met in Australia by our school cadet programme which has proved, over many years, to be particularly successful and is a major recruiting source for the Australian Regular Army. However, I will give the honourable member’s question every consideration.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that for a farmer to obtain drought relief finance he must, when his farm is free of debt, mortgage his property, and, in the case of a farmer whose property is already mortgaged a second mortgage must be arranged? Is it also true that once a second mortgage has been taken over a property, the extent to which an overdraft can bc obtained is strictly limited while the second mortgage remains? Do such restrictions operate against many farmers seeking drought relief? Is the distribution of drought relief finance only handled by the Commonwealth Bank and the rural banks with which second mortgages must be arranged? Is there any reason why farmers operating with private banks and with which their properties are mortgaged should nol De allowed to apply through their banks for drought relief funds at the appropriate interest rates without having to take out a second mortgage over their property, thus allowing the respective banks more latitude in fixing or lifting the limits of overdrafts for their customers?
– Order! The honourable member’s question is far too long.
– I am trying to find out something for the farmers.
-The honourable member has the right to put his questions on the notice paper. I suggest that he do this when a question is of such length.
– I think the farmers would have as much difficulty as I have in understanding what the honourable member has just said. I would like to point out to him that this Government does make the funds available to the State governments in order that they can make the money available to the farmers and administer the scheme. The Commonwealth Government has provided approximately $60m to the States to permit them to do this. It has done this by way of loans and grants, including assistance for unemployment purposes. We make the money available to the States without any interest charge whatsoever. The details of the management of the scheme are in the hands of the State governments themselves.
I have great difficulty in believing that the methods that the honourable member has mentioned, and the type of mortgage he has mentioned, are imposed in fact by the State authorities. Nonetheless I will find out from the States what the true position is. I will send a copy .of the honourable member’s question to the State authorities. If it so happens that what he has said is correct, I will then see whether something can be clone about it.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. Can he give any further information to clarify the charge that he misled this House in an answer he gave this week in regard to the reports of the Geneva Conference on arms and supplies being sent to North Vietnam?
– I think this question must originate in a statement made by a member of the Opposition that an answer provided to another member of the Opposition was incomplete. The House will remember that the question concerned the presentation of a report by the Legal Committee of the International Control Commission in Vietnam and that that report, a special report presented in June 1962, set out clearly that there was evidence that North Vietnam was sending arms, munitions and armed personnel to South Vietnam and was using the zone in the North to incite and to encourage armed actions in the South. I understand it was claimed by an honourable member opposite that charges of aggression were also presented against South Vietnam and that therefore this answer was not complete and accurate. Mr Speaker, the answer is complete and accurate and no charges of aggression against South Vietnam were made in the document at all.
It may be that somebody has been misled by reading a book referred to as having been written by the honourable member for Yarra. I have not read that book nor didI quote from it. What I did quote from is the report of the Commission, which is freely available to all honourable members who are interested. The relevant facts are the two findings - that there was evidence that the North Vietnamese had ‘allowed the zone in the North to be used for inciting, encouraging and supporting hostile activities in the zone in the South aimed at the overthrow of the administration in the South’, and that there was ‘evidence to show that armed and unarmed personnel, arms, munitions and other supplies have been sent from the zone in the North to the zone in the South with the object of supporting, organising and carrying on hostile activities’. In the rest of this document the Legal Committee says that there is also evidence that South Vietnam has been receiving military assistance from the United States to help to counter this aggression. Quite clearly there is an immense distinction between a finding that aggression in fact was being carried on and a finding that those who were being attacked were seeking and getting support to repel that aggression. The answer was complete and was accurate and if indeed, as was claimed in this House, the book written by the honourable member for Yarra obscured those facts, that is a reflection on the book and nothing whatever to do with the facts.
– You are obscuring the facts.
– I did not say it.
– Order! The honourable member for Yarra will cease interjecting.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question. It is now over 2 years since he first outlined to Cabinet his proposal for an Australian industry development corporation and it is just 3 months since he last told me that the Prime Minister had agreed that it would be discussed by Cabinet at an appropriate time. I ask the right honourable gentleman whether Cabinet has yet discussed the proposal and, if so, with what result. If not, when does he expect that Cabinet will discuss it?
– I certainly would not disclose whether Cabinet had discussed any business. However, I am able to say that I have not invited Cabinet to discuss the business to which the honourable member referred. When it is propitious to do so, 1 will.
– I ask the Treasurer a question supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Shortland. Is it a fact that the Rural Bank of New South Wales has tent on easy terms a total of $ 17.5m to thousands of drought stricken farmers, about$5. 5m of this amount having been lent since January of this year? Are not the loans for 7 years at an interest rate of 3%, and in some cases are the repayments not to commence for 2 years? Is it a fact that the Commonwealth’s generosity in this field was referred to in the New South Wales Governor’s Speech in Sydney a few days ago and that it has saved thousands of farmers from utter ruin and has put them back on their feet?
– I think that the most important part of the question asked by the honourable gentleman was his drawing attention-
DrJ. F. Cairns - To the political content.
– Maybe, but the honourable member does not understand what political content is. The important part of the question was the drawing of attention to this Government’s philosophy regarding droughts, fire and flood, which has changed dramatically over the last 3 or 4 years. In other words, we believe in keeping the farmer on his property, and for that reason in certain circumstances State governments make available approximately $6,000 per man for carry on purposes and approximately $10,000 for restocking purposes. This has the dual purpose of keeping the farmer on his property and of rapidly getting him back into production after the effects of drought, fire or flood have subsided. I thank the honourable gentleman for giving me the opportunity to state the Government’s philosophy. As to the means that are available, I have already indicated, in reply to a question by the honourable member for Shortland, that we provide the funds and the States do the administrative work. Also, the honourable member for Macarthur is right in saying that the Rural Bank of New South Wales is playing an important part in the help that it is giving to deserving farmers. I do not know the exact figures, but I can say that the Bank is doing a job and is providing funds at reduced rates of interest.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. Last night in this House the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbet t) quoted two lengthy references in support of his argument about the case for benefit-cost analyses in rural areas as compared to the cities. He referred to a Professor Munro and a Dr Alan Patterson and then, to use his own words, what these two eminent men had said. While listening to him-
– Order! The honourable member must not debate the subject matter. He may explain where he has been misrepresented. I must say that the sphere is extremely limited.
– While listening to the honourable member for MaranoaI said to myself: ‘This is very strange. They are my words’. When 1 approached the honourable member I asked him whether I was the person to whom he had referred. He said that he did not know. In fairness to the honourable member, in my opinion he was quite genuine when he said that he did not know. However, I ask for the record to be put straight.
– I, too, desire to make a personal explanation. I quoted from a report of a meeting of the Darling Conservation Association which was held at Stanthorpe on 9th July 1968, in which Professor Munro referred to the words of a Dr Alan Patterson. I understand that Dr Alan Patterson is also known as Dr Rex Patterson. If the honourable member for Dawson wishes to be known as Dr Rex Patterson, that is all right with me. I quoted from the report of the meeting, and that is how I came to refer to Dr Alan Patterson.
Report on Item
-I present a report by the Tariff Board on the following subject:
Pigments and Colour Lakes (Dumping and Subsidies Act).
The report does not call for any legislative action.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave - Mr Speaker, I am sure that members will be interested to learn that the Government has decided that the site for the permanent television transmitting station to serve Cairns and surrounding areas will be on the summit of Mt Bellenden Ker, a height of about 5,000 feet. The estimated total cost of establishing the national station on this site will be $1,770,000. Of this amount, $l.lm will be for access, building and engineering services to be carried out by the Commonwealth Department of Works. This will be referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Public Works for examination but in the meantime the Department of Works will proceed with full documentation pending a report by the Public Works Committee. It is proposed to build a cableway to the summit of Mt Bellenden Ker rather than a road, the construction and maintenance of which would present tremendous difficulties and would be a most cost-intensive operation.
When the proposal for the establishment of the Cairns television service was examined in 1964, it was decided to site the stations on Mt Bartle Frere, which is 5,200 feet above sea level, at an estimated cost of $1,120,000, of which $560,000 was for building and associated works, including a road to the summit. The technically superior location - on Mt Bellenden Ker - was not recommended at the time because of the apparent greater cost of access either by road or by cableway. However, subsequent surveys of the access route to Mt Bartle Frere revealed that the terrain was more rugged than anticipated. Because of this, the Mt Bellenden Ker proposition was re-examined and it was found that, although the revised capital cost of establishing the station on the latter site was about the same or perhaps a bit higher than it would be for Mt Bartle Frere, the annual maintenance cost was lower. In due course too, part of the development costs of the Mt Bellenden Ker site will be offset against the benefits it will provide to radio communication services. My own Department plans to use the transmitter building for a repeater station for a radio telephone service between Atherton and Cairns, while the Department of Civil Aviation will use it to establish improved ground to air communications in the area. Technically, as I have mentioned, Mt Bellenden Ker is the preferred site. The shorter unobstructed transmission path into the urban area of Cairns will provide clearer reception and, since the site is about 35 miles closer to the control point and maintenance centre at Cairns, a better transmitter maintenance service will be provided. The Bellenden Ker transmitters will serve Cairns and district, the coastal plain north of Cairns to Mossman and south to Tully, and the Atherton Tableland. A good service will be provided for about 90,000 people.
This has been a matter of great complexity involving many technical surveys and detailed examination not only of the two preferred sites but also of several others. Because of the foreseen difficulties and delay in establishing a permanent location, approval was given to establish temporary national and commercial stations in Cairns, and these have been operating for some time. However, their service area is greatly restricted and, although it was known in advance that this would be the case, nevertheless there have since been many representations for an improvement in the service, particularly from north of Cairns and on the Atherton Tableland. I make no apology for this since the temporary stations were established only as a stop gap measure pending the provision of the permanent stations. It was our aim to select the most suitable permanent site, having regard to all the circumstances. This necessarily has taken some time to determine. Both the national and commercial stations will operate from Bellenden Ker. The new installation should be ready for use not later than the end of 1971.
I present the following paper:
Establishment of Regional Television Stations for Cairns and surrounding area; - Ministerial Statement, 29th August 1968 - and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Webb) adjourned.
– by leave - I wish to inform the House that the Government has approved a revised pay structure for other rank personnel in the Services. The new pay structure will not mean a general pay rise for servicemen, but most of the skilled other rank personnel in the Services will receive increases. Every serviceman or servicewoman receives a basic pay rate equivalent to what was formely the six capital cities basic wage. After adjustment is made for board and quarters supplied in kind, elements are added to the basic pay for sen-ice disability loading and the particular skill and rank of the individual serviceman. All servicemen are paid a clothing maintenance allowance and married personnel receive married allowances. The Service pay structure for other ranks in the Army and the Air Force operates on a system of pay groups related to degrees of skill. A serviceman is able to progress to a higher group if he acquires a higher skill or learns a new trade. The Navy has not used the group pay method but has operated mainly on a common pay scale system for various ranks.
There is a large number of different trades and skill variations in the Services. The pay groups structure is designed to ensure that pay for a particular trade or skill is aligned with that paid for comparable work in a civil occupation after making allowance for the differences in Service and civilian employment. The pay groups and the various skills within the groups are regularly reviewed by an interdepartmental committee representing the Treasury, the Public Service Board, the Service departments and the Department of Labour and National Service. This committee sees to it that new trades introduced into the Services are allotted to an appropriate pay group, that due recognition is made for changes in particular trades or skills, and that changes in civilian employment awards are reflected by appropriate adjustments in the group pay scales.
Up to the present time the Army and the Air Force have had seven pay groups covering the complete range of skills. This has not allowed sufficient variation to cope adequately with the large number of trades and musterings within the Services, and changes in skills due to the rapid pace of development of the Services. To provide the additional flexibility in adjusting the rates of pay for the various Service musterings, the revised pay structure provides for additional pay groups to the existing seven groups, these additional groups being spaced at intervals representing steps of $1.75 per week. As the need arises to provide for an increase in the skill assessment for a particular trade or mustering, that trade or mustering will be moved forward the appropriate number of steps to the selected new group. The current review discloses the need for a twenty-one group structure at this time - that is, for fourteen additional groups - but the total number of groups will be increased as this becomes necessary.
The new pay structure will enable closer relativity to be maintained between civilian award rates and the pay of Service personnel exercising comparable skills, including military skills. The Royal Australian Navy will convert to the same system as that used by the other Services. Some details of the application of the new structure, particularly insofar as it related to the Navy conversion, have still to be finalised but it is expected that these will be resolved shortly.
Those to benefit from the review will be the more highly skilled personnel. Recruits and relatively untrained servicemen will not benefit; but, as in the past, general community wage variations stemming, for example, from national wage case decisions, will continue to be passed on to all personnel. Adjustments under the new pay structure will not necessarily be restricted to one pay step at a time. The pay of some musterings will be advanced several steps immediately. The new pay structure will operate from 29th February .1968 for the Air Force, and 1st March 1968 for the Army and the Navy. It is estimated to cost an additional $12.2m annually. With the retrospective adjustment, the cost this financial year will be of the order of $17m.
I present the following paper:
Revised Pay Structure for the Armed Services - Ministerial Statement, 29th August 1968 - and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That the House at its rising adjourn until Tuesday, 10th September, at 2.30 p.m.
Approval of Work - Public Works Committee Act Mr KELLY (Wakefield- Minister for the Navy) [11.32]-I move:
The proposal is to construct a fifteen storey steel framed building to accommodate Telecommunication equipment to serve the western sector of the Adelaide telephone network. The estimated cost is$6m. In reporting favourably on the proposal the Committee recommended that the Department of Works investigate means of accelerating completion of the building contract if the demand for telephone services grows unexpectedly. The Department of Works will keep in close contact with the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and will consider with that Department the need for accelerating completion of the project, should the growth in the demand for telephone services warrant this course of action. Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution, detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 28 August (vide page 683). on motion by Mr McMahon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Whitlam had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘this House is of opinion that the Budget is inadequate in that it does not make provision:
to lighten taxes and health costs for families and to increase benefits for them,
to plan defence procurement and expenditure,
to meet the problems of Australia’s capital and provincial cities, and
to retain control and promote development of Australia’s mineral, fuel, land and marine resources’.
– I support the amendment so ably moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). This Government continues to adopt an altitude of almost callous disregard for age, invalid and other categories of pensioners. Those in the community with the greatest need and the smallest means are, under this Budget, no better off financially than they were 2 years ago. The last increase in pensions was that provided 2 years ago in the Budget of 1966. The increases in this Budget of $1 for single pensioners and 75c each for married pensioners merely restore to pensioners the loss in purchasing power that has occurred in the last 2 years. A perusal of the consumer price index, which measures increases in the cost of living, shows that costs have continued to rise since 1966, the June 1966 figure being 136.5 and the March 1968 figure - the latest available -being 143.5.
From the moment the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) announced these miserable increases the purchasing power of the pensioners commenced to fall. In the same Budget speech the Treasurer announced increases in sales tax of21/2% on a specified range of items. Manufacturers have already said that it is impossible to offset the increases in sales tax without increasing the price of low cost items out of ail proportion. They have said that the minimum increase in the price of items costing less than 10c will be 10%, notwithstanding that sales tax was increased by only21/2%. The increase in sales tax took effect from 14th August, the day after the increases were announced, but the increases in pensions will not take effect until the first pension pay day after the legislation comes into operation, which could be next November or, at the earliest, some time in October. So in this period of creeping inflation, the purchasing power of the pension increase starts to decline, along with the rest of the pension, even before the increase is received by the pensioner. The earliest date at which the lost purchasing power will be restored is 1969, when the next Budget is brought down, but if this Government runs true to form there will be no adjustment to pensions until 1970, because it took the Government 2 years to grant the present increase. I repeat that this Government shows a callous disregard for those in the community with the greatest need and the smallest means.
The Treasurer, of course, has the happy knack of using average weekly earnings as a measuring rod to show how real wages have increased. If average weekly earnings are to be used as a guideline to measure the value of wages, surely the same guideline can be used to measure the purchasing power of the pension. In 1947, under a Labor government, the age pension represented 23.2% of average weekly earnings. In 1955, under the Liberal Government, the percentage bad fallen to 19.6% of average weekly earnings. In 1963 the age pension represented 21.1% of average weekly earnings. This was the last year in which pensioners, married or single, received the same rate. In 1966 the standard rate pension had fallen to 20.8% of average weekly earnings, but the married rate pension had fallen to 19.1%. Average weekly earnings in September 1967 amounted to $63.40 but the standard rate pension had fallen to a new low of 20.5% of average weekly earnings while the married rate pension had fallen to an all time low of 18.5% of average weekly earnings. Average weekly earnings at the end of last year amounted to S66. This is the last figure available. At that time the standard rale pension represented 21.21% and the married rate pension 18.93% of average weekly earnings. So, fast year, although the standard rate pension represented a higher percentage of average weekly earnings than it did in 1966, the married rate pension had fallen below the percentage of 1966. The pension, expressed as a percentage of average weekly earnings, is still lower than it was under Labor.
When he was a back bencher the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) spoke out strongly about needed reforms in social services. It is to be regretted that his performance since becoming a Minister has not been in line with the promises that he made as a back bencher. The sting was taken out of him when he was appointed to the Ministry. It is to be regretted that, for instance, in this Budget the wife of an invalid pensioner who has not herself reached 60 years of age will receive an increase of only $1 in her weekly allowance, giving her an allowance of $7 a week. Unless the wife can find a job, she and her invalid pensioner husband will have to live on a pittance of $21 a week. Labor’s policy provides, on the other hand, for a full pension to be paid in such circumstances to a pensioner’s wife.
The Minister for Social Services when he was a backbencher, took every opportunity available in this place to advocate abolition of the means test. In view of his advocacy of this much needed reform, one would have thought that this Budget would have made some move towards that end. In 1954 a single pensioner received a pension of $7 a week, and the allowable income was $7 a week, or 100% of the pension. In the same year a married couple received total pension of $14 a week, and the total allowable income was $14 a week, or 100% of the pension. The rate for a single pensioner is now $14 a week, and the allowable income is $10 a week - a fall from 100% in 1954 to 71.4% today. The total pension for a married couple is now $25 a week, and the allowable income $17 a week - a drop from 100% to 68%. The Government made quite a song about 2 years ago when it raised the amount of allowable income for single pensioners to $10 a week and for a pensioner married couple to $17 a week. This was the first increase in the allowable income since 1954. As I have already pointed out, $17 then did not represent as much value in terms of purchasing power as did $7 in 1954. The continuing increase in the cost of living over the last 2 years has further reduced the purchasing power of the allowable income, as I have shown.
The Australian Labour Party has a definite policy concerning abolition of the means test. We believe that abolition would be a practical proposition within the life of two parliaments. We intend to get our Economic Planning Committee to cost the proposition and to outline a working programme designed to achieve this end. We believe in justice for those who are retired. They are suffering severely at a time when the standard of living of the community is supposed to be rising. Abolition of the means test would assist the many thousands of loyal public servants who are now retired and who during their service compulsorily paid large sums into superannuation funds. Such people pay twice. They have to contribute to the National Welfare Fund by way of taxation and, because of the means test, they cannot derive benefit from that Fund. In addition, they have been compelled to contribute, according to the scale for the appropriate salary range, for units of superannuation. The means test is a most frustrating and annoying factor with which retired people are faced. It makes a mockery of thrift and denies age pensions to those who have saved during their working lives. Abolition of the means test is not an impossible objective. Since 1958, age pensions have been paid in New Zealand to all over the age of 65 regardless of income or assets. In Canada, there is no means test for persons over the age of 70. In the United Kingdom, there is no means test for men over 70 and women over 65. If this sort of thing can be done in those countries, surely it can be done in a country like ours.
Every member of this Parliament has been guilty of advising people reaching the retiring age how to reduce their assets in order to qualify for a pension. On the advice of members of this Parliament, many people purchase a ticket for a trip to the United Kingdom before applying for the pension. Consequently, money that could be spent in Australia is spent in other countries. In this way, assets are dissipated needlessly in order to qualify for a pension. This kind of action is forced on retired people by the meanstest. It is psychologically bad because it does not encourage thrift. To many people it is humiliating to have to go before an officer of the Department of Social Services, no matter how well meaning its officers are, and submit themselves to all sorts of questions about their private affairs. It is assumed, mark you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the poor will try to cheat. Consequently, they are subjected to all sorts of embarrassing questions. Abolition of the means test would remove this embarrassment and relieve the Government of the tremendous cost of conducting these investigations.
Theage pension should not be regarded as a handout. It is the right of those who have contributed throughout their working lives so that they may receive something in return when they retire. The pension is no more a handout than is a grant that may be given to a professor to enable him to undertake scientific research. It is no more a handout than is the subsidy paid to a wheat farmer or that paid out of the$26m dairy industry subsidy to a dairy farmer to enable him to continue dairying. It is no more a handout than is the portion of the $4m cotton bounty received by an individual cotton grower. The ‘Australian Financial Review’, in its issue of 15th August, directed attention to the$43m that this Budget provides for the Wheat Industry Stabilisation Fund in the current financial year, and pointed out that this works out at about $780 for each of Australia’s 55,000 wheat growers, who are engaged in one of our most profitable rural enterprises. I do not criticise the use of this Fund. I merely point out that the age pension should not be considered any more a handout than is the wheat industry subsidy.
The amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition describes the Budget as being inadequate because it does not make provision to lighten taxes and health costs for families and to increase benefits for them. Australian families are faced with a real problem in meeting the increased costs of food, rent, rates, clothing, transport and many other requisites. Families now face increased sales tax on a variety of household necessities. AsI have already mentioned, manufacturers have made it clear they intend to raise some prices by more than the equivalent of the 21/2% increase in sales tax provided for in this Budget. The rate will be increased in respect of commercial motor vehicles, motor spare parts and accessories, batteries, tyres and tubes. As a result, transport costs will rise and so will the cost of living. Increased rates of sales tax will apply also to printed matter, sweets, soft drinks, ice cream, soap, detergents and a host of other commodities. School requisites also will be subject to a higher rate. Parents will have to pay more for exercise books, pencils, pens, rulers, blotting paper, etc. This means that family costs will rise. Furthermore, licences for television and radio sets will cost more. The cost of a combined broadcasting and television licence is to be increased from $17 to $20 a year.
This is certainly not a family Budget. The burden imposed on families will be made even heavier by higher State taxes that will result from the financial squeeze imposed on the States by the Commonwealth This squeeze is so severe that some of the Premiers have already stated that they will have to raise more revenue to meet the deficits for which they will have to budget. These additional State taxes will be added to those that were forced on the States by last year’s Commonwealth Budget, which resulted in higher transport costs and hospital charges as well as turnover and wage taxes in Western Australia and Victoria. We can expect more of this sort of thing in the future as a result of the Budget we are now considering.
Since 1963-64, wage earners have assumed a greater proportion of the tax burden. As a result of the Government’s failure to reform the pay as you earn tax schedules at the various levels of money income, the lower and middle income groups have been subjected to far greater tax increases than have been imposed on those in the high income group. It has been pointed out that since 1963-64 average weekly earnings have risen by 20%, but income tax has risen by just over 30%, making allowance for concessional deductions for a wife and three children. The economist of the ‘Australian’ directed attention to the income tax schedules when last year’s Budget was being debated. The present Budget does nothing to rectify the anomalies that were pointed out on that occasion in debates in this Parliament and by the experts outside the Parliament. The economist of the ‘Australian’ pointed out, for instance, that a man with an income of $10,000 a year in 1963-64 would have received a 20% increase in earnings by 1967-68 and that the tax payable by him, if his deductions had remained the same, would have risen by just under 20%. But with an income of $20,000 a year, under the same conditions the tax burden would have increased by only 15%. Over the same 3-year period the minimum wage rose by 1 1 % but the wage earner on this income would have had a 17% increase in his tax burden.
The Treasurer has admitted that people in the lower income groups, particularly those earning between $1,000 and $10,000 a year, are taxed out of all proportion to the big income groups. On television on 18th August he said:
I think these people, on international terms, or when comparing th: m with others, are pretty heavily (axed.
He said that he had discussed a reduction in personal taxation with the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), and then he stated:
With defence expenditure rising the way it is, and it has for the past few years, we felt that we could not touch it this year.
This simply means that the Government is placing the burden of financing our defence effort on the poorer sections of the community. Those with the greatest needs and the smallest means are paying for the war while the wealthy few are getting defence on the cheap.
On 21st August the financial editor of the Sydney Morning Herald’ drew attention to the anomalies in the income tax schedules. He pointed out that 2 years ago the Federal Treasury could assume that it would receive about 25% of any increase in wage rates declared by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission but that today, as average incomes have moved up the graded tax scale, the Government can expect to reap nearer to 30%. With every rise in money wages, even if real wages do not rise, the recipient goes into a higher income bracket, lt is interesting to quote an extract from the article to which 1 referred, lt states:
To an employee on a taxable income of $3,300 a year (about $64 a week), the taxation payable on an additional dollar of income is 29c (including the 21% levy).
Average weekly earnings per employed male are now probably above $3,300 a year. Of course, not all of the earnings are taxable; there ane dependant allowances and so on.
But that $3,300 has only the purchasing power that $2,600 had 10 years ago, according to the consumer price index.
And the income tax rate on the marginal dollar at $2,600 is 5c less than at $3,300 (again, including the recent 2i% levy in both cases).
Any worker whose pay rates have only kept pace with living costs would now be paying about $2 a week more tax. Thus, the effective incidence of our income tax schedules is more regressive than the surface figures indicate.
The existing schedules were designed for a pattern of real earning standards in relation to money wages that no longer applies.
That is a very interesting article and should receive the close attention of the Treasurer, but if he acts as he has acted since the last Budget nothing will be done again. It is estimated that the net revenue from pay as you earn income tax will increase by $201 m this financial year. Last financial year the increase was $184m. While these figures show increases in wages, the fact is that money incomes have risen faster than real wages, thus placing wage earners in higher income brackets. This means that they are paying higher income tax. It means also that the actual take home pay has been reduced. Despite these anomalies and injustices, admitted by the Treasurer incidentally, the Government is prepared to let them go on and to allow those on lower incomes to carry the burden of defence until 1971 at the earliest. [ would like to conclude my remarks by saying a few words about the housing situation in Western Australia. This matter was discussed to some extent during question time today. At the beginning of this session, on 13th August, I asked the Prime Minister a question about a special grant of S5m for housing in Western Australia. He replied:
This matter was discussed at some length by the Treasurer and myself with the Premier of Western Australia. I do know that a considerable amount of that money which was set aside by the Western Australian Government last financial year to build houses was in fact not spent and therefore can be carried forward to be added to the same amount this year as was set aside last year to provide a considerably increased amount which can be spent on building houses in Western Australia through those two sources. It is true also - I think anybody coming from Western Australia would admit that it was true - that the provision of money alone is not a solution to the building of housing in Western Australia where the provision of manpower - building tradesmen - and materials is at least as important, unless the provision of money is merely to push up the cost of houses without advantage to those who have to buy them.
The fact that the Western Australian Liberal Government has not expended last year’s allocation is a reflection upon that Government, but it does not relieve the Commonwealth Government of its responsibilities in regarding the unfortunate housing situation in that State.
The Treasurer, in answer to a question that I posed to him today, admitted that the population growth was greater in Western Australia than in the other States but he refused to assist Western Australia by providing additional finance to house the newcomers to that State. The Western Australian Premier has stated that material and labour are available if finance can be made available; but finance is lacking, so rauch so that money has to be diverted from other urgent works for housing purposes. Due to mineral development and repercussions from it Western Australia has had a higher percentage population growth than any of the other States, but these people need houses as do those who are not recent arrivals but who have been waiting for years for houses. The rapid rise in land prices in Western Australia is an indictment of the Western Australian Government. A serious housing crisis exists there. To meet this crisis the Government proposes to increase its house building programme from 1,200 to 1,800 houses a year. This number is not nearly enough to meet the backlog, let alone the current needs of the people. When the Labor Government in Western Australia was faced with a similar problem about 12 to 15 years ago, it met the problem by instituting a programme which provided for the State Housing Commission to build 3,400 houses in each of 2 years and 4,000 houses in the other year of a 3-year period. Now, years later, with a rapid increase in population, all the present Government can aim for is 1,800 houses. There are now 17,300 outstanding applications on the books of the State Housing Commission - the highest number for 15 years. The waiting period has increased to 3) years, and it is worsening month by month.
The McCarrey Committee, which was established to inquire into and report on the land and housing crisis in Western Australia, submitted a report and made seven important recommendations, of which only one has been implemented, namely, the setting up of a committee. The State Government says that action on the other recommendations is pending. It is like a lot of reports that come before this Parliament - action is always pending, but very rarely taken. The great tragedy in Western Australia is that the highest profits are going to the land speculators who do nothing to earn high profits. All they do is buy up parcels of land, wait until the value rises and then sell at huge profits. These speculators could be controlled by a government that wanted to control them. The State Housing Commission, for instance, has land which is surplus to its requirements. It could quickly release as much of this land as possible at reasonable prices. The Perth City Council and some of the shires have land available and they could do likewise. As a result of this action the cost of land would be forced down.
Some State Housing Commission land has been released, but not in sufficient quantities to counteract land speculation. When land is released conditions should be imposed on the subdivider and if he does not carry out the conditions heavy penalties should result. The average working man in Western Australia has been placed in the position where he cannot hope to own his own home. He cannot compete because of the high land prices. This applies also to the man who may be on overtime and whose wife is working. But how much worse is it for the young married man who has a young family? What chance has he of purchasing a block? He may save $250 towards the price of a block but by the time he has saved this amount the price of land could have jumped up by another $500. He is losing ground all the way. People in such circumstances have to apply to the State Housing Commission in order to get a house because they cannot buy land on which to build their own homes.
All I have said in condemnation of the State Government because of its lackadaisical attitude towards the housing of the people does not relieve the Commonwealth Government of its responsibility. The Western Australian Government is gradually waking up, but with the finance it receives it cannot do as much as it should be doing. That is why this Government should provide more finance. Judging by the answer given by the Treasurer today in answer to a question I asked, it does not seem likely that the money will be provided. I repeat that manpower and materials are available; the only item missing to bring these items together is finance to build these homes. I believe that this Budget is entirely inadequate and T wholeheartedly support the amendment that was moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I rise to support the Budget presented to this House by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and to oppose the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). The honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) made no mention of the Budget strategy. (Quorum formed). Mr Deputy Speaker, the honourable member for Stirling, who drove honourable members from the House by his speech, made no mention of the Budget strategy. He ad vocated greatly increased Government expenditure yet criticised the Government for raising additional revenue. However, he gave no explanation as to how he would finance a larger deficit nor did he direct his attention to the economic consequences of such an increased deficit.
In explaining the economic strategy of the Budget the Treasurer said:
From the economic standpoint we have aimed to provide a budgetary context for stable and well balanced growth.
The Budget is a balanced budget, balanced not in the sense that income equals expenditure but in the sense that there has been a proper assessment of the relative importance of defence, welfare and national development. It is a Budget designed for a free enterprise economy. It demonstrates an understanding of the psychology of enterprise. From the use of such understanding in the drafting of the Budget comes an economic strategy designed to enlarge the per capita production of the nation. This approach to Budget planning is in sharp contrast to the type of economic strategy which honourable members opposite advocate. In concentrating on the distribution of the national cake they not only ignore the importance of a strategy which will enable a larger cake to be produced; they also overlook the circumstances which enable the cake they presume to divide to be produced.
There is a limit to the amount of revenue which it is both possible and desirable for a government to raise. There are many competing demands upon the moneys in fact raised. The allocation of available funds involves the determination of priorities as between welfare, defence and development. Within each of these fields priorities for fulfilment must be worked out. Having accepted that these decisions must be made and that there will always be those who disagree with the Government’s determination of priorities, the fundamental issue in a Budget debate is the conflict between those who believe in the free enterprise system and those who would replace it. Honourable members opposite who criticise this Budget camouflage their Socialist intent and demonstrate their complete lack of appreciation of the Budget strategy necessary for a free enterprise economy.
Whereas 12 months ago concern was properly expressed at the imbalance between the public and private sectors of the economy, the Treasurer is to be congratulated upon the outcome of the measures taken in last year’s Budget which resulted in the rate of growth in Commonwealth expenditure being reduced from 12% to 10% During last year private expenditure increased faster than in the year before; private employment absorbed a higher proportion of the increase in the work force; consumer spending rose at an increased rate, and private capital expenditure increased rapidly. With a generally buoyant economy it is anticipated that this year there will be a rise in employment; in the level of incomes; in consumer spending; in private capital expenditure; in investment in plant and equipment; in productivity generally, and in mining and farm output. In the light of these expectations it is not surprising, indeed it is appropriate, that the Treasurer should express some concern at the possibility of what may prove to be overstrong demand forcing both a diversion of imports and an increase in local costs and prices. A Budget must take account of the economic indicators and where necessary include measures to reduce inflationary pressures. The adequacy of the reduction in this year’s estimated deficit to counteract inflationary pressures will, to a significant degree, depend upon the effect of this year’s season on farm output, the level of commodity prices and the growth of incomes from minerals.
The economy will need to be kept under close scrutiny to see that inflationary pressures do not get out of control. The role of a budget is not merely to enumerate ways in which the Government will collect its revenue and the manner in which it will expend the revenue so collected. In addition to doing this, a budget must be designed to ensure the sound development of the economy in the best interests of the people. This purpose is certainly the inspiration of this Budget, as it was of last year’s budget and must be of next year’s budget. Contrary to the inference to be drawn from a commentary on the Budget which appeared in the ‘Taxpayers Bulletin’, the people of Australia are putting great effort into the development of the nation. No spectacular urge to industry or to people generally is necessary; nor would it be desirable. To say that the Treasurer voices ‘the feeling of complacency’ because ‘all is well so leave well alone’ is a compliment rather than a criticism.
The degree of encouragement appropriate at any particular time must be assessed against the capacity of the economy and its potential to respond. If the resources of the nation are being used to the limit of their capacity, spectacular urge to greater effort will have deleterious effects. A sound budget, as this one is, must maintain or, if necessary, create that climate in which sound economic progress is most likely to take place. Attention must be paid to the many economic indicators which make it possible to the skilled observer to forecast with a degree of accuracy the economic weather ahead. In planning budget strategy, the effect of any measure to prevent or, if necessary, cure any instability is only capable of accurate forecasting if its effect upon confidence is considered. Indeed, budget strategy must aim to maintain confidence at a stable level.
– Does this Budget do that?
– This Budget certainly does maintain the level of confidence. But the development in the economy of overconfidence can be as damaging to its stable development as a loss of confidence. The Australian economy is a free enterprise economy - and may it remain so. However, the allocation of resources, the distribution of income, and the nature of development are influenced both by the free market system and the decisions of the Government. For a government which believes that the free enterprise system produces the best result for the people, the decision to interfere with the market involves a decision as to whether the specific objective is worth the loss of individual freedom that is required to achieve it. Even if the objective is worth achieving, care needs to be taken to ensure that it is achieved by that means which least interferes with individual freedom.
Those opposed to free enterprise, those who would replace a free enterprise economy by a socialist one, not only approve or fail to recognise or to admit the restrictions that their proposals would impose upon individual freedom, but rarely appreciate the importance of taking account of the effect on confidence of budgetary decisions taken by the Government. Confidence is sensitive and volatile. A decision 3 years ago by the Labor Government then in office in South Australia to reduce that State’s intake of migrants, because of the pressure of demand for services caused by their arrival, was made without a proper appreciation of the manner in which such a decision would concurrently reduce the demand for housing and impair business and consumer confidence so that the expectation of a slump in the building industry and the economy generally was realised as a consequence of an actual slackening of demand and an expectation of such a slackening. To restore confidence where there is lack of confidence is more difficult, Mr Deputy Speaker, and takes longer than to destroy the confidence that formerly existed.
Although the size of the migration programme must be determined in the light of the capacity to meet the addition to consumer and capital demand caused by the arrival of increased numbers of migrants, I was pleased to read in the Budget that the programme has been increased. I hope the Government will do all in its power to dissuade any State government from actions designed to slow down the flow of migrants unless that government has first carefully examined the measures it is contemplating in the light of the effect they might have on the State’s economy. Both the direct effects and the indirect effects which they might have on confidence in and expectations of the future of that State’s economy must be considered.
The buil’ding industry is a particularly sensitive indicator of the condition of the economy. Here, however, we are faced with a paradox. Governments are often criticised because the industry virtually produces on indent against firm orders or in face of a pressure of demand which results in sales before completion, ft does not generally supply houses from stock. Delays in delivery are caused by the need to fulfil first received orders as well as the time taken to produce a particular order. If the delays are excessive, due to strong demand pressures, the price of housing in the existing stock is pushed up. Because of the nature of the industry and the cost of holding a finished stock of houses for selection by prospective buyers, any attempt to convert the industry from sales on indent to sales out of stock would be likely to cause a weakening of confidence and set in motion a contraction in the industry which could easily spill over into the economy as a whole. I urge the Government to assist the industry in forecasting the likely demand for housing, taking account of the existing stock,- the demand from young couples and the demand from migrant families. More accurate forecasting should enable the pressure of demand to be kept within safe limits so that it is not so severe that undue waiting time forces an increase in prices of houses and not so weak that business and consumer confidence is impaired.
When an economy is finely balanced it does not need drastic measures to restore stability to those areas where instability is appearing. Remedial measures will often achieve the desired effect, more so because of their indirect influence on confidence than from their direct effect upon the forces at work in the economy. Drastic measures are more likely to over-correct and cause instability of another kind. The Government has shown a full appreciation of the importance of maintaining a stable ind fair economic climate. 1 am sure it will use every effort to maintain the economy’s stability. lt will continue to identify areas of instability before they infect the economy as a whole and will’ cure such problems by measures less drastic than would bc essential if the instability spread.
The Budget in many ways is a trend setter with new measures to improve assistance available to the chronic sick; for the establishment of a training scheme for widow pensioners to help them, where appropriate, rejoin the workforce; to provide grants for the building of school libraries and pre-school teachers’ colleges; for the advancement of the Aboriginal people and for the creation of drought bonds. A Budget debate is not the occasion on which to discuss the details of these new measures. It should be pointed out, however, that all of them appear to be the forerunners of the application of dramatic new concepts. The proposed training scheme for widow pensioners could easily become the basis of a training scheme designed to give all married women the opportunity to up date the skills and education acquired by them before marriage so that, when it is in the interests of their families and the growth of the economy, they might be enabled to rejoin the workforce. Measures should also be introduced to ensure that the re-entry into the workforce of widows and married women is not brought about prematurely by obsolete legislation.
I urge the Government to make a close examination of the tax structure and the incidence of liability for tax. The present tax structure was designed not merely to be a means of collecting revenue but to achieve a social objective. The degree to which this objective is being achieved should be examined in the light of the changes that have taken place since the structure was devised. It will be found that significant changes have taken place. Some of these changes now tend to nullify the impact of the tax structure in the fulfilment of the social objectives which, in part, it was designed to achieve.
Help for the aged, the sick and the needy is in the forefront of the Government’s programme. In the past an adequate minimmum standard of care for the acutely sick pensioner has been available. The Government is to be congratulated for taking steps to make possible the provision of an adequate minimum standard of care and accommodation for all those who are chronically ill and in need of intensive nursing care. It is to be hoped that the nursing home benefit available for patients who require less intensive care will be kept at such a level that with the pension they will be able to afford the cost of an adequate minimum standard of care and accommodation without the need to rely on the assistance of others.
The trendsetting innovations in the Budget are signs of an exciting new approach to the nation’s social security programme. In his speech on Tuesday the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said:
Our aim is a social welfare structure which identifies the most needy and sees that those who have no other means are provided with enough to live on in a modest, self respecting way without requiring any other assistance from outside the pension.
The assurance that the Government will aim to provide an adequate minimum standard of living for ali who are in need, whilst encouraging all to work and to save so that they can live above that minimum is a new and enlightened approach to social welfare. If this is to be done without destroying the incentive to save and the incentive to self reliance, the means test as we know it today must be abolished or its structure must be amended. At present, both in the case where means as assessed exceed permissible income and in that where means reduce eligibility for supplementary assistance, there is a nil incentive factor. Whilst it is reasonable to convert assets to notional income on the basis of the annuity value of those assets, it is entirely unreasonable to destroy the incentive to save and the incentive to self reliance by reducing pension entitlement at the rate of $1 for each $1 by which income or notional income exceeds the prescribed permissible limits. From an economic point of view anything that generates domestic savings would be in the long term interests of this nation. Although increased savings would cut back consumer spending, it is unlikely that such a consequence would affect the existing living standards. It would tend rather to moderate the rate of increase of our standard of living today so that we would enjoy a more rapid rate of increase tomorrow than would otherwise be the case.
I congratulate the Government for its recognition of the need to overhaul the social service structure and I commend it for its early acceptance of dramatic new concepts in the achievement of the new goals it has set. [Quorum formed.]
– The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) must have been reading his speech through rose coloured glasses, because he congratulated the Government on at least a dozen occasions. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) gave this Budget the title of Social Welfare Budget. On closer examination, I find this is certainly a minomer. What about the 95% of the people who will be socked an additional $3 a year for a television and radio licence? Postal charges will be further increased. What about the increase of *2i% sales tax on the general rate bringing it to 15%? Is it not another sock? These high taxes will hit all the people, including the pensioners. The pensioners are to receive a paltry increase of$1, but by the time everything is passed on, the pension increase will be completely eroded.
Consumers will be further socked by the increase of sales tax. They will pay more for such items as school goods and accessories, leather and plastic school bags, exercise books, pencils, rubbers and rulers, confectionery of all types including lollies, chocolates, ice creams and Easter eggs. The Government has not failed to sock even the kids in this Budget. The price of printed matter will also be increased. This covers a multitude of items such as election matter, invitations, birthday, Christmas and wedding cards, and wrapping paper. Consumers will pay more for soaps, detergents, polishes, lacquers, disinfectants, cordials, musical instruments and sporting goods. The one item that the Government has left untouched relates to dogs. It did not increase the sales tax on powders for dogs. Then we have the increase of21/2% in company tax. This will be passed on to the consumers. Air navigation charges have also been increased and this will mean higher air fares.
Before I comment on social servicesI think it would be well to go back and look at some of the promises that were made by previous Liberal-Country Party Governments. On one occasion Sir Robert Gordon Menzies said:
Australia still needs a contributory system of national insurance against sickness, widowhood, unemployment, and old age. It is only under such a system that we can make all benefits a matter of right, and so get completely rid of the means test.
They still remain as words. He continued:
During the new Parliament we will further investigate this complicated problem, with a view to presenting to you at the election of 1952 a scheme for your approval. We are still waiting for the scheme. The general increase of $1 a week in age, invalid and widow pensions is belated and is much below what was expected by pensioners. This category of pensioners received no increase in last year’s Budget. The most the Government could hand out this year was $1 per week, although pensioners’ organisations in Australia were asking for an increase of $4 per week, which would barely have covered the increase in the cost of living during the last 2 years. The gap between the married pensioner rate and the single pensioner rate has widened further.
An amount of $28 a week will be paid to two single pensioners living together, but a married pensioner couple living together will receive only $25 a week. So if a married pensioner couple want to increase the total amount of their pensions to that of two single pensioners, the only thing they can do is to get divorced and continue to live together. In that way they would receive an additional S3 a week. The gap between the married couple and the single pensioner is to be $3 a week, as against $2.50 previously. It is wrong for the Government to discriminate in this way. The basic rate for all age and invalid pensioners should be $14 a week.
It is notable that there has been no increase in the supplementary allowance for rent paid by pensioners. But since the increase of $1 a week in pensions was announced, the Liberal Minister for Housing in New South Wales has said that he intends to increase by 25% the rent paid by pensioners. The sharks are getting in for the little increase which the pensioners are to receive. There has not been any increase in the funeral allowance. The cost of dying is as high as the cost of living. If a nonpensioner buries a pensioner he receives a funeral allowance of $20; if a pensioner buries another pensioner he receives a funeral allowance of $40. These rates have remained unchanged for a long time, and they should be increased.
When one examines the many fields of social services one finds that the majority of pensions and benefits remain unaltered. I refer to maternity allowances, unemployment and sickness benefits, funeral benefits, the provision for homes for the aged and accommodation for disabled persons, and supplementary allowances for rent. Maternity allowances were introduced first by the Fisher Labor Government as far back as 1912. They were last increased by the Curtin Labor Government in 1943, when they were increased to $30 for the first child, $32 for the second child and $35 for the third and subsequent children. So it is 25 years since these rates were increased. They are quite inadequate. It is very expensive to bring babies into the world. Increased population is needed and, in my opinion, an increase in maternity allowances and child endowment would be a good investment.
I turn to sickness benefits, which are also very much out of date. A single person receives $8.25 a week and a married person receives $14.25 a week, plus $1.50 a week for each child. We can see how inadequate these benefits are when we consider that rent for a house would more than absorb the benefit which people receive when they are unemployed. The latest statstics on unemployment show that on the average approximately 65,000 people are unemployed all the time. The present benefits are quite inadequate. The high cost of living which this Government allows to go unchecked is retarding family growth. Parents are forced to limit their families in order to meet higher living costs. For this reason the Government should reexamine what the Treasurer terms a social welfare Budget. If one examines all aspects of the Budget one finds that it is far from being a welfare Budget.
I now want to say a few words about returned servicemen. I refer to what a former Liberal Prime Minister. Mr Menzies as he then was, said on repatriation in 1949. He stated:
Repatriation remains a great and proud responsibility.
The Opposition parties-
That is, his parties - contain a majority of members and an overwhelming majority of new candidates who are ex-serviccmen. We shall see to it that there is speed, financial and human justice and understanding in our administration of soldier problems.
They still remain as words. Nothing has been done. When we look at the Budget we find that most of the rates for war pensions remain unaltered. The returned servicemen are very critical of this. As a matter of fact, last year the National President of the Returned Services League said that repatriation provisions in the Budget were a disgrace to the Government and a betrayal of those who had suffered in war.
Let me examine the increases which have been granted in repatriation pensions. The special rate pensioner - that is the totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner - is to receive an increase of$3 a week. His wife and his children will not receive any increase. Then I come to the intermediate rate of war pension, which applies to only a few returned servicemen. The rate is to be increased by$3 from$21.25 a week to $24.25 a week. Again there is to be no increase for the wife and children. The general rate pensioner will receive nothing at all out of this Budget. The Government’s promises have fallen flat. I shall give an example of how repatriation pensions have been eroded over the years. In 1920 the TPI pension represented 103% of the basic wage. In 1949 it represented 84%; in 1950, 101%; in 1966, 93%; in 1967, 81%; and now when the present increase is added, it will represent 87%.
Pensioners who receive a percentage of the general rate pension are to get no increase, although the rising costs of living have reduced the value of pensions. This pensioners are suffering as a result of the Government’s failure to carry out its promises. I turn now to a comparison which shows how the general rate pension has been eroded. In 1920 the general rate pension represented 54% of the basic wage. In 1943 it represented 52% and in 1950, 51%. Last year it had been eroded to 32%. I suggest that at the present time, general rate pensioners probably receive 30% of the basic wage.
I think that the Government should do something to formulate a plan for the pensioners. The Government has no plan at the moment. 1. believe that a national insurance scheme should be introduced. In this context I wish to refer to a paragraph that appeared recently in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ with the heading: ‘How to Make Millions? (Start an Insurance Company!)’. An item in a recent issue of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ shows that immense wealth can be derived from an insurance business. The paragraph tells how a wonder boy’ turned a few hundred dollars into a fortune of millions by starting, at the age of 22. his own insurance company with only $558. This paragraph continued.
At time of his death at 61, Howard Ahmanson was chairman of six wealthy companies including the largest ‘Home’s Savings and Loan Company’ in the world.
Sir Robert Menzies said that we should have a national insurance scheme. I believe that this is the only way in which pensioners will ever receive the justice to which they are entitled. The miserable increases granted in pension rates make it obvious that a special pensions tribunal of some kind should be set up to fix pension rates.
These rates should not be left to the whim of the Treasurer. When the Treasurer prepares his Budget apparently he looks around, deals with everybody else first and then turns to consider pensioners and states: I think that we are able to afford them a rise of 50c per week’. Pensioners should have their pensions determined by an arbitration court in the same way as everyone else has wages determined by an arbitration court.
As 1 have said, the title that the Treasurer gave to this Budget is a complete misnomer. The Government should set up a national insurance scheme covering all forms of insurance. The profit from this scheme could form the basis of a welfare fund to provide a better pension rate for pensioners. Insurance money belongs to all the people. Insurance is a great money making business. Australian pensioners should receive the benefits from insurance - not the investors in insurance companies, many of whom are not living in Australia at all. In 1949, Mr Menzies, as he then was, suggested that Australia should have a national insurance scheme. But nothing has been done about it. Until we have a proper tribunal to determine these matters we will remain in the rut in which we are today.
I refer for instance to insurance in the field of workers’ compensation. At one time we worked out the figures in this respect. We found that, over a period of 5 years, £l()0m was paid in premiums for workers’ compensation. But we found also that only 60% of that amount went to the people who required compensation. So, nearly half the amount of money that is paid into this kind of insurance does not go to the benefit of the people who need it. It goes to investor1!.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before lunch I was explaining the erosion that has taken place in the value of pensions, fixed incomes and the incomes of the public generally. The rising cost of housing is serious. The cost of rent, food, clothing, and every other commodity needed by the community is continually increasing. To allow costs to chase prices is stupid and absurd, yet the Government stands aside and lets it happen. Rising costs will eventually smash Australia’s economy and bring about another Premiers’ plan. We all remember the calamity caused by the depression. State Premiers are always moaning about inflation but do nothing about it. They could do something by handing over to the Commonwealth their power to control prices. The problem then could be attacked by one national authority. That is the only way to control inflation properly. If prices were controlled in the same way as are salaries and wages, inflation could be halted.
The next matter I would like to speak about is foreign affairs. I ask the Government of Australia what it is doing to bring peace to the world. For that matter, what is any government anywhere doing about it? To fight for peace is sensible and important, and it should have priority over all other things. A greater interest should be taken in world peace. There is no indication or sign that the Gorton-McEwen Government is interested in world peace, lt never mentions negotiating with other countries. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) never mentions matters of peace at any time. Neither do other members of the Government. Just let us look at the amount allocated in the Budget for expenditure on defence, which in other words could be called expenditure for war, not peace. The approximate amount allocated for defence in this Budget is $ 1,300m. The sum allocated for foreign aid is $143m. Of that amount S87m goes to Papua and New Guinea. Let us compare the two amounts - $ 1, 300m for war and S56m for peace. Expenditure on foreign aid is expenditure on peace. The difference between the two amounts is S 1,244m in favour of war. This is a fair indication of what is occuring all over the world. The United States of America. Russia, France and China are spending not merely millions but billions of dollars on defence. We remember that trillions of dollars were spent on the Second World War, which was supposed to be the war to end all wars and to give the world permanent peace. But there are still wars. Let us think of the large amounts that are being spent on space research. The United States of America last year budgeted $746m for space research. Russia is spending an equal amount. Both countries are fighting in a race to the moon. What do they hope to gain by being the first to reach the moon? Photographs of the moon show it to be a barren place. To spend money in this way is a disgrace. Millions of dollars are being squandered on the race to the moon while two-thirds of the people of the world go to bed hungry every night. As I pointed out earlier, these countries are also spending millions of dollars on an arms race. The amount of defence expenditure in the world year by year would not only properly feed all the hungry people in the world but would provide each family with proper housing, hospitalisation, health care and education.
Amidst the gloom there are some bright spots. One of the good signs was the recent treaty for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons that was signed by fifty-six nations. The talks on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons were sponsored by the United Slates of America, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United Kingdom. Australia did not sign the non-proliferation treaty. 1 do nol know why it did not. The treaty is a further step towards cutting down expenditure on arms. The main good sign is that the USSR and the UK are in agreement on this and have a common cause. The regret is that China and France are not parties to the agreement. Talks are taking place in the United States and Russia to find a way to place limits on the stockpiling of missiles. Mr Kosygin, the Premier of the USSR, recently put forward a nine point plan on disarmament, lt is likely that there will be no progress towards peace in Vietnam until after the American presidential election in November or after the inauguration of the new President in February. Mr Humphrey, one of the presidential candidates, is taking an interest in China. He has said that if he becomes the President he will immediately commence talks with China. That is sensible. I am quite convinced that we will never be on the road to peace until China becomes a member of the United Nations. Recently U Thant invited China to talks on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and disarmament but she refused. China could not have been expected to do otherwise. If the rest of the world wants China to take a hand in these things it should invite her to join the United Nations.
Another matter of importance is the case for a national overseas shipping line. The absence of a national overseas shipping line in Australia is contributing to the adverse state of our overseas balances. When I look at the way shipping freights have increased over the years, I am surprised that the Government does not extend the activities of its national shipping line from Australian waters to overseas waters. In 1950 freight on our exports cost SI 08m. It has been increasing ever since. In 1967 it was S3 10m and this year will be $320m. If we had our own national overseas shipping line more than half of that money would be saved. The establishment of our own overseas shipping line would increase employment in our dockyard. Most of all it would help our overseas balances. We pay freight to the head offices of overseas firms - not in Australia but overseas. We not only have to remit the money there but we also have to pay exchange on it; that adds lo our balance of payments deficit.
I would like to speak about the interest debt of the Post Office. I have mentioned this matter before. The Government set up a committee under the chairmanship of Sir Alexander Fitzgerald to ascertain the national debt of the Post Office since federation in 1901. The Government has been acting on the recommendations of this committee. Until 1959 the interest charges paid by the Post Office on money used in its development were negligible - little more than Sim a year - but as soon as the Government changed its policy to a policy described as commercial bookkeeping, the Post Office was faced with far higher interest charges. In the first year of the new policy the Post Office had to find more than $30m in interest charges. The interest bill of the Post Office has increased annually. This year it will be about $94m. Since the introduction of the new system of accounting the Post Office has had to pay about $490m in interest charges. It is even paying interest on its earnings. The money earned by the Post Office goes into consolidated revenue. From consolidated revenue money is allocated to the Post Office for capital works and upon that money the Post Office pays interest. In effect the Government is using the Post Office as a taxing machine. No wonder postal charges must be increased. Postal charges have been increased not to meet losses incurred by the Post Office but to pay its interest bill.
I turn now to review the national debt. At 30th June 1955 the Commonwealth’s share of the national debt was S3,997m. At 30th June 1965 the Commonwealth’s share stood at S3, 134m, representing a decrease of 22% in the intervening 10 years. But in those 10 years the States’ share of the national debt increased from less than S4,000m to a little more than $7,000m, representing an increase of 84%. Local1 government bodies have been strangled by debt. In 1955 local government’s share of the national debt stood at $353m, but 10 years later it was $820m, representing an increase of 132%. The share of the national debt incurred by semigovernment bodies has increased in the 10 years from 1955 to 1965 from $ 1,800m to $4,529m. So the pattern is obvious: The Commonwealth’s share of the national debt is decreasing while the shares incurred by the States, local government bodies and semi-government bodies are increasing. There are many reasons why the Commonwealth’s share is decreasing. In the 10-year period which I have referred to the Commonwealth’s annual interest bill on its share of the national debt amounted to $l29m, that of the States to S379m, that of local government bodies to $42m and that of semi-government bodies to $226m. So, in a year the Commonwealth, the States, local government bodies and semi-government bodies must pay total interest of about $776m on their share of the national debt. In New South Wales the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board borrows so much money that 50% of the rates which it derives from its services go to the payment of interest. Eventually the Board will be receiving from rates only sufficient to pay its interest bill. Then sewerage projects in Sydney will come to a halt. This is a trend which the Government fails to appreciate, lt is going on all the time.
– May I at the outset thank the honourable member for Watson (Mr Cope) for being kind enough not to call a quorum when a Government supporter was addressing the Chair. It has been the practice of honourable members to call quorums so as to deny Government supporters part of their valuable time when speaking in the debate. It is interesting to note the alacrity with which members of the Opposition have supported what is virtually a motion censuring the Government. It is the duty of the Opposition to keep its benches full in order to support what should be a serious motion. The Opposition’s attitude is nothing more than prostitution of the forms of this House and brings the entire parliamentary structure into ridicule.
When the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters) called the first quorum today there were three Labor supporters in the chamber. After the bells had finished ringing there were another two Labor supporters in the chamber. When the second quorum for the day was called there were 17 Government supporters and 6 members of the Opposition in the chamber. When the bells stopped ringing the Opposition’s numbers had swelled to 9. On that occasion the honourable member who had called the quorum left the chamber. He returned shortly afterwards and within a matter of minutes went to sleep while his colleague the honourable member for Banks (Mr Costa) was speaking to the amendment, which I have described as a motion of censure. I submit that if the Opposition uses the forms of the House to sponsor what is in effect a motion of want of confidence in the Government, it has a direct responsibility to see that its members support their colleagues. To what extent have Opposition members done this in the last few weeks?
Since the Parliament resumed on 13th August we have had virtually two motions of censure. On the first occasion the Opposition was so deficient in anything with which to censure the Government that it selected an episode of 17 months ago and chose to rely for the burden of its evidence on hearsay. This was the best the Opposition could do. It chose, above all else, to censure a Minister for Repatriation. How short are Labor memories, because in 1949, when the Labor Government was summarily thrown out of office, the Labor Minister for Repatriation was defeated at the polls. He was defeated as a result of want of confidence in him on the part of the electors in his State. May I also take honourable members back to 1946, wh-n my predecessor defeated the then Minister for Repatriation. So, in two successive elections two Ministers for Repatriation were thrown out of this Parliament for their lack of consideration for the requirements of exservicemen, and both were Labor Ministers. Since 1949 the Labor Party has not been able to gain office, and I cannot imagine its holding office in the future.
I have said that the action of honourable member;; opposite in calling quorums when they should be prepared to support one another in such a serious matter as the amendment now before the Chair is nothing more than holding this Parliament to ridicule. We have before us an amendment moved the the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) which, apart from advocating a cut in defence expenditure, makes not one suggestion of how the millions of dollars may be plucked from the air to create the welfare state which a Labor administration would initiate.
– Is the honourable member against the welfare state?
-I am against the honourable member’s Socialist brand. Here is an opportunity for a Labor opposition that claims it is the alternative government of this country - God help Australia if Labor ever again forms a government in the Commonwealth sphere - to give us a blueprint setting out what it would do for the people of Australia.It has failed lamentably to do this.It has talked in the broadest and most abstruse terms of what the Government ought to do. lt has not for one moment hinted at what it would do should it assume office. The Opposition has no sense of responsibility. It has not even been objectively critical in formulating the terms of the amendment that it has sponsored. The delaying tactics of honourable members opposite in calling for quorums are only postponing the implementation of legislation to give effect to the provisions of what I believe to be an outstanding Budget. One would have thought that, had the Opposition chosen to do so, it could have revealed to this Parliament and the people of Australia the financial wizardry to which it lays claim and that it would have informed us how it proposes to implement the manifold benefits that it would have us believe it wishes our society to enjoy. I have been astounded to see that, although we are debating what is virtually a motion censuring the Government, Mr Deputy Speaker, some honourable members opposite have found little or nothing to criticise the Government for, and have in fact complimented it on certain steps that it has taken. I believe that the Government rightly should be complimented on what it has done. The present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), who has not been in office very long and who has not been a member of this House very long, has given certain assurances to the people of Australia.
– He has been in officetoo long.
– The honourable member need not worry about that. Honourable gentlemen opposite are not sure yet who will be their leader. We at least are certain who is our leader. The Prime Minister, when he contested the by-election for the seat of Higgins, gave certain assurances not only to the people of that electorate but also, as Prime Minister, to the electors of Australia. At this, the first opportunity that he has had as our new Prime Minister, he has had most of those assurances implemented in this Budget. For that, he deserves the plaudits of society, and he is receiving them.
– Three months-
-Order! The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith should cease interjecting.
– The honourable member has already made his lamentable contribution to this debate. Apparently, be objects to others being extended an opportunity to present their contributions. The Prime Minister gave the people of Australia certain assurances. Already, he has established a Cabinet sub-committee which has interested itself in the welfare of the sick, the aged, the handicapped and the young. Do Opposition members find themselves in disagreement with this? Surely they do not. In the field of health, assistance is provided for in the current Budget by way of long term sickness benefits, supplementary nursing benefits and assistance for handicapped children. What has been more needed in this community for some time than relief from the burden of worry for a family that has been afflicted by chronic sickness for a lengthy period? In this Budget the Government has made provision to remove that burden of worry. Do Opposition members protest against this?
– One must be a member of a medical benefit fund in order to benefit.
– No. Strangely enough, that is not necessary. The honourable member ought to read again the provisions of this Budget. Here is just one problem that is being removed. Opposition members, presumably, have no objection to this proposal. In the realm of education, this Government has a very fine record of which it can justly be proud. Here again, it is going even further along the road on which it has already set foot. University grants have been increased as a result of the triennial assessments that have been made from time to time. Assistance has been given in the provision of science laboratories. Financial help has been given in respect of teacher training courses and of colleges of advanced education. In the present Budget, we propose to assist still further by giving assistance for the establishment of libraries in schools. Do Opposition members claim that it is wrong to give this aid? The answer, 1 believe, is no. I turn now to pensions, Sir. These are to be increased. Those who have been disaffected most are to be assisted most.
– The increases will enable pensions barely to catch up with the cost of living.
– I remind the honourable member that, as I pointed out a little earlier, two Labor Ministers for Repatriation lost their seats at successive elections as a result of Labor’s attitude. It remained for a Liberal Government to alter the interpretation of the onus of proof provision in the Repatriation Act, thereby enabling many more ex-servicemen to avail themselves of repatriation benefits. As a result of this action, many thousands of exservicemen who fought well for this country are now receiving various repatriation benefits. This action was needed; it was taken by a Liberal government; it had been rejected by a Labor government and, as a result two Labor Ministers for Repatriation lost their seats. This Budget will assist many deserving groups dependent on pensions. All kinds of pensioners, particularly totally and permanently incapacitated exservicemen and ex-servicemen on intermediate rates of pension, will benefit as a result of this Budget.
Opposition members who claim that the assistance afforded in this Budget is inadequate perhaps need reminding that until the Commonwealth Government came to the rescue and assisted widows under certain conditions for the first 6 months, the only surviving State Labor Government in Australia chose to pay widows less than the normal rate of widow’s pension. Is one to assume that the members of that Government belong to a Labor Party different from the one to which Opposition members in this Parliament belong? The Commonwealth Government has increased its allocation of funds for this purpose by 50% to help the States out of the dilemma in which they find themselves. Is this the action of a miserable government? All these budgetary achievements have been possible without any increase in personal income tax. This in itself is an achievement on which, I believe, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) deserve to be complimented. In the consideration of any Budget, of course, there is always ample opportunity to offer criticism. It is always said that enough is not being done. It is usually said, too, that the scope of the assistance given is not sufficiently broad. The Opposition, however, has offered only destructive criticism of the present Budget. It has not suggested any alternatives to what the Government is doing. As a consequence, in my view, the Party that forms the Opposition has lost any chance it may have had of being truly an alternative government. 1 believe that it has no hope of forming a government.
In my view, there still happens to be room for further improvement in budgetary action. Let me here discuss the situation of ex-servicemen who served in the 1914-18 war. Because better records were kept during the 1939-45 war and subsequent wars, it is far easier to give the men who served in those wars the benefit of the doubt in respect of the onus of proof than it is to do this in respect of the exservicemen who were in the 1914-18 war. 1 believe that the men who served in the 1914-18 war were subject to a different medical examination at the end of their service. Attention was paid to any particular injury or sickness that may have been sustained during service and service records were not as accurately kept as were those of men who served in the later wars. In this situation, I believe, the men who served in the 1914-18 war are deserving ot more consideration than they at present receive. I believe that the means test should not apply to men who served in that war and who are in receipt of a service pension. I believe that the doubts surrounding details of a man’s service under the conditions that applied in the 1914-18 war are such that he merits more sympathetic consideration by the various repatriation tribunals. This, to my mind is needed.
I draw to the attention of the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) the fact that the homes savings grant is denied to a person who may have received some finance through a State government housing scheme. A person who secures assistance through a terminating or continuing building society is eligible for the grant; the money received from the society comes from Federal sources. So there is, in fact, no difference between that person and the person who builds through a State housing authority, but the latter is denied the opportunity to benefit from his savings. If this barrier could be removed it would be an improvement. This proposition, which has been put to the Minister, has the unanimous support of all State Ministers for Housing and deserves further consideration.
It is proposed to increase sales tax on sporting goods. My friend, the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie), said that this will increase the price of a Sherrin football by 55c. I like the game of football; I played it many years ago. But I believe that this sport can well afford the additional 55c. However there are instances where sales tax should be reduced, not increased. I think of life saving societies which are forced to buy gear. Although the gear is used in the pursuit of pleasure it is also used in the saving of lives. It is used for humanitarian purposes in helping Australian society. In many cases life saving boats are donated to the societies. But oars are a tremendously expensive item, and there is justification for the remission of sales tax on such gear. There is certainly no justification for the imposition of a higher sales tax. Many pursuits in which youth engages are supported by parents but they do not have a big and lucrative following like Australian rules football, which is big business in anyone’s language. I am thinking of youth club activities where the support is by way of small contributions. Here again I believe there is justification for reducing sales tax on the equipment used.
It would be unusual if I did not refer to the fruit industry, seeing that I represent a fruit growing district. I congratulate the Minister who was responsible for sending a mission to the Near East to establish new markets. I understand that a problem arises from the fact that because of tropical and sub-tropical conditions there is a limit to the shelf life of fruit that may be exported from Australia and as a result a limitation is placed on the quantity of fruit exported. There is certainly no lack of ability on the part of some countries to consume more fruit. I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) to investigate the possibility of establishing cool stores in some of the countries where we may establish lucrative export markets - for instance, at Manila in the Philippines, and in Singapore, Malaya and Sabah. The freight on exports to these countries is low when compared with the current freight rates to the United Kingdom market and other traditional European markets. In the Near East we will have the opportunity to export more fruit at lower freight charges. This area could be the salvation of some of our export fruit industries.
Another problem with which the fruit industry is confronted is the need for some form of price support. The Government is already supporting primary industries that are dependent on the vicissitudes of overseas markets and their ability to buy. The Government is assisting these industries by a form of price support structure. The fruit industry is deserving of similar consideration. The Government is supporting the dairy industry to the extent of about $27m a year and is aiding the wheat industry, cotton industry, dried fruits industry and many other industries. The sugar industry is assisted by the domestic rebate. While we are in the position where we must support these primary industries, I believe that we must give consideration to the fruit industry which plays such a tremendously important part in the economy of Tasmania. 1 admit that it is necessary for the various fruit boards in the States to evolve a system that will be acceptable to all and which will avoid the need to seek section 96 grants whenever the industry is in difficulty, but it ought to be possible to devise some means of protection for the local market in Australia. There are traditional markets in Melbourne and Sydney. It ought to be possible for the boards to get together under the direction of the Department of Primary Industry and, with the advice and assistance of the Department of Trade and Industry, evolve a price support structure that will ensure that the industry has the opportunity confidently to continue to produce, knowing that it will be supported up to the cost of production and that it will be enabled to find overseas markets. I hope that this proposal will be evaluated and I sincerely trust that we will be able to find an answer to the problem before next year’s fruit export season commences.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I support the Budget and I oppose the amendment. I hope that I have been able to supply at least some tangible reasons why the amendment should be defeated.
Mfr CHARLES JONES (Newcastle) [2.52] - At the moment the House is debating the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1968-69- in other words, the adoption of the Budget introduced by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has moved an amendment which ought to be recorded once again. It reads:
That all words after ‘That’, be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: this House is of opinion that the Budget is inadequate in that it does not make provision -
The amendment draws attention to the shortcomings of the Budget. The honourable member for Franklin (Mr Pearsall), in the usual manner of Government members, tried to claim credit for everything that is good in the Budget - we do not deny that the Budget does contain some progressive proposals that will improve the lot of the people in the community - but proceeded to attack all the distasteful features of the Budget, including the proposal to increase sales tax. He wants to have his apple and to eat it too. The sales tax proposal illustrates the inequity of the Budget. The increase from 12±% to 15% will apply to many of the things that people in the community are required to use. It will seriously affect the people in low income groups. Sales tax is an inequitable form of taxation because it has no regard to the income of the individual: Whether he is on $10,000 or $1,000 a year he still pays the same amount of sales tax. That is why we in the Labor Party have always pledged ourselves to reduce sales tax and to concentrate on the more equitable form of taxation, namely, to increase direct taxes or, in other words, increase income tax. People then would pay according to their ability to pay.
When considering this form of taxation we should also bear in mind the people who are going to be involved. The parents of boys and girls now attending school will now have to pay an additional 2i% on all the books etc which they need. Parents will have to pay an additional 2i% tax on toys for children at Christmas. I do not have to tell honourable members the turnover in this community on the purchase of toys. The people will have to pay this increase whether the individual concerned has an income of $2,000 a year or, as I said earlier, an income of $10,000 a year. This indirect form of taxation should be eliminated, not increased. It is a burden imposed on the people least able to pay. The Opposition strongly opposes sales tax. I hope that when the Bill to give effect to this proposition comes before the Parliament at a later stage, the Labor Party will be prepared to oppose it in both Houses and will let the Government bear the odium of its effect.
So far as the rest of the Budget is concerned, I think it is a dishonest Budget. The Government referred to it as a welfare Budget. 1 would tag it as a dishonest Budget because in the period prior to 13th August, when the Budget was presented, the Government saw fit to leak to the Press and through the various channels available to it information to the effect that the pensioners were to be granted an increase of $1 a week. In the time before 13th August the pensioners firmly believed that they were to receive an increase in pensions. That was all the pensioner was entitled to, that was all he could expect and that was all he was to get. The pensioners were conditioned by the Press, which supports the Government, to expect an increase of $1. But a poor old married pensioner did not get an increase of $1; he or she received an increase of only 75c a week. What is the reason for this disparity between the single pensioner and the married pensioner? Does the Government believe the old story that two can live as cheaply as one? The Government has acted dishonestly so far as pensions are concerned.
I do not accept the view that an increase of $1 is sufficient to meet, the requirements of the pensioner today. I do not accept the view that this is the amount they are entitled to as a result of increases in the cost of living and increases in wages which have occurred since the last pension increase in October 1966. The Government should bear in mind that wages are increased by the courts handling these matters as a result of evidence submitted. That evidence disclosed that prices in the community at large had increased and that the ability of industry to pay had also increased. The factors that the unions emphasise when presenting their cases through the Australian Council of Trade Unions are. firstly, the increased cost of goods in the community and, secondly, the ability of industry to pay.
So far as profits of companies are concerned, it is an accepted fact in the community today that they are increasing. One has only to study the stock exchange reports to get the real story about the increases in profits. I want to come back to the question of wages. In July 1966 the basic wage was increased by$2 a week. That increase lifted it from$30.80 to$32.80 a week. At the same time the concept of the minimum wage was introduced for the first time. The basic wage was eliminated and we had this new idea of the minimum wage. It meant that every wage earner up to the level of but not including tradesmen had his wages increased by a maximum from $32.80 to a total of $37.75 a week. There was an increase of $5.75 compared with the amount set in July 1 966. I will admit that some people did not derive any great benefit from this increase and from the introduction of the minimum wage because their margins, even though they were small, were not affected advantageously by the $3.75 which was added to the then basic wage to form the new minimum wage.
In December 1966 there was a percentage increase for tradesmen, to use the term applied to the metal trades award. The fitters margin was increased from $10.60 to $12.30. Then, in July 1967, there was an increase of $1 in the minimum wage generally. This lifted it from $36.55 to $37.55. There was still no increase for the pensioners in that period. In December 1967 the court which was handling the metal trades increased margins and granted the tradesmen$5.20 a week. Originally the amount was $7.40 but, as a result of a dispute within the ranks of metal trades workers, the original decision was reviewed and they were granted $5.20 irrespective of what over-award payments they were receiving up to that point of time. Recently there was the decision by the court handling the metal trades which decided that the tradesmen’s margin was to be restored to the amount determined in December 1967. Therefore, as from 27th August this year, there will be a further increase in the tradesmen’s margin of $2.20. The same total applies to all workers below the rate of tradesmen.
Honourable members should bear in mind that the tradesman today is not the well-paid worker that he was pre-war. We must take into consideration the amount paid in bonuses and the way that margins have been lifted for all people in the community. In my opinion the tradesman today is an average wage earner in the community. The wage of a worker below the level of a tradesman has increased by amounts of$3. 30 and$6.75 in the period from July 1966 to the present time. On the other hand, in that same period, the total award wage of a fitter has increased by $12.10.
What is the real position so far as the pensioner is concerned? In the same period the single pensioner received an increase of $2 a week. That is the total of the increase in his pension after this present increase is paid. Following the practice in previous years, I think, the Government will decide to pay that increase as from the first pay period in October. Therefore, up to that date the pensioner will have received an increase of $2 a week but the worker below the level of a tradesman will have receded an increase ranging from $3.30 to $6.75. The tradesman and other men above that level will have received a minimum increase of up to $12.10.
The Government, its supporters and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission have always stated that increases in wages do have an effect on prices. But, do the pensioners receive any subsidy? When a pensioner enters a shop to buy the goods that he requires does the shopkeeper say: ‘Because you are a pensioner I will give them to you less 50% on the price 1 am charging the man in industry who is working?’ Of course they do not. The pensioner has to pay the same price, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you and I have to pay.
I want to come back to the question o! the 21% increase in sales tax. The pensioner will have to meet that increase from 121% to 15% in sales tax just as honourable members will have to meet it. I say that the Government has been dishonest in what it has been saying about this so-called welfare Budget.
I want to deal now with some other aspects of social services to which the Government has not seen fit to refer in the Budget. The Government certainly has not done anything about them. For example, let us consider the maternity allowance. The maternity allowance was last increased on 1st July 1947. At that time the figure was set at $30 in cases where there were no other children under 16. In cases where there were one or two other children under 16 the figure was set at $32. In cases where there were three or more other children under 16 the figure was set at $35. If maternity allowances had kept pace with the consumer price index the amount of $30 for the first child would have risen to S82.15 today. For the first and second child it would have been $87.63 and for the third and all other children it would have been $95.85. This shows the extent to which the Government has allowed these important social welfare payments to deteriorate. Today they have no real value.
There are many other aspects of this subject. I could, for example, deal with child endowment. Endowment for the first child has not been increased since its inception on 20th June 1950. If we had applied the same formula of the increase in the consumer price index, endowment for the first child today would be $1.04 as against the present 50c. Endowment for the second child under 16 years was last increased on 9th November 1948. Today it is $1. If it had kept pace with the increase in prices, it would now be $2.40. The same can be said of endowment for the third child under 16 years. It was last increased on 13th January 1964 and is now $1.50. If the formula related to the consumer price index had been applied, it would now be $1.72. These are further examples of what is happening in the field of social welfare.
One area in which the Government has been most unsympathetic is that dealing w.’th people who are unavoidably absent from work and must apply for the sickness benefit. The number of people in this category is not insignificant. I asked the Library to take out some figures for me. I do not have time to give all the details. However, the figures show that in 1967 the lowest number of people registered for sickness benefit was 9,197 in March and the highest number was 10,734 in August. The figures for this year extend to the end of July. The lowest monthly recording is 9,160 in January and the highest is 10,164 in March. In 1967 there were seven months in which more than 10,000 people were registered for sickness benefit. What is the position with sickness benefit? The last time it was increased was on 1st March 1962. At that time the rate was increased to $8.25 for the husband and $6 for the wife. If we apply the formula based on the consumer price index, we find the rate of $8.25 for the husband should be $9.62 and the rate of $6 for the wife should be $6.99. These are some of the anomalies that still exist, but the Government refuses to do anything about them.
The point I want to emphasise is that $8.25 is not nearly sufficient to give a person a reasonable financial status when he is too ill to work. I said that the monthly average of people in this category was 10,000. This is another field in which the Government should be giving more assistance. I will not deal with unemployment. We know that some 70,000 people are drawing unemployment benefit at this time. I would like to see honourable members opposite trying to exist on $8.25 a week with an additional $6 allowed to the wife. How would honourable members like to be living on a weekly income of that size? I ask: How can it be said that this is a welfare Budget?
I turn now to some aspects of the economy that have not been dealt with in the Budget. One matter that docs concern me today is the situation of the Australian steel industry. Once again I have here some figures from the Library. They disclose that in the last 10 years Australia exported $620,611,000 worth of steel and imported $696,715,000 worth. We have the largest known deposits of iron ore and the richest iron ore in the world; but what are we really doing? What is the Australian steel industry doing to increase our exports? I believe that it is not doing enough. If the industry itself cannot undertake the necessary development to build the steel industry - not iron ore or coal, but steel - into one of our largest export earners, the Government should encourage the establishment of another company for this purpose. Honourable members on this side of the House, myself included, believe that the Government should move into this field either in its own right or in co-operation with one of the State governments and establish an Australian steel industry that will concentrate on increasing our exports.
Year after year the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd has said in its annual reports that the quality of steel produced in Australia is equal to that produced anywhere in the world but its price is cheaper than the price of steel in any other country. But what is the position today? I have quoted the figures. I do not have time to go through them year by year, but I can assure the House that the figures I have given are correct. In 1966-67 we exported $46m worth of iron ore. Last year we exported $100m worth. In 1966-67 we exported $71m worth of coal and last year we exported $86m worth. It is all very well to export our raw materials, but the production of raw materials does not provide the major employment opportunities. The real labour content is engaged in the manufacture of steel. The steel industry and the subordinate and associated industries, which are so important for the development of Australia, are the big employers of labour. As I said a moment ago, the Government should be applying pressure to BHP to compel it to expand its activities. If the company does not have the financial resources to do so, the Government should assist it or alternatively should establish an iron and steel industry in co-operation with the States.
Another matter I would like to mention is the failure of the Government to encourage the development of Australia as a whole. At the moment we hear a lot of people talking about decentralisation. Honourable members in the Australian Country Party continually raise in this Parliament and in the State Parliaments the question of decentralisation. It is a great old hobby horse and a great old talking point for them. But what do they advocate? They advocate that we give assistance to some little tinpot industry in some country town, that we provide $10,000 or $20,000, give it some free land or exempt it from rates for a short time. This is all that is said about decentralisation. In reality there is no national planning in Australia.
The latest report of the Department of Immigration discloses that the annual intake of migrants has increased from 97,777 in 1959. After the Budget had been introduced, the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) advised the House that this year the Government was planning to bring 160,000 migrants to Australia. This figure included migrants who come here on assisted passages and those who will pay their own fare to come here. But what is the Government doing about national development? What is the Government doing to ensure that these people who come to Australia have adequate opportunities. We go out of our way to attract these people. The overseas offices of the Department of Immigration and the Department of Trade and Industry give a rosy picture of Australia and tell people why they should come here. I am not discounting the propaganda that is circulated; in the main it is fairly factual. But what happens to these people when they come to Australia? Most of them finish up in the capital cities. Figures I have here, based on the censuses from 30th June 1947 to 30th June 1966, show that the population of Sydney rose from 1,484,004 to 2,444,735 an increase of 64.7%. The population of Melbourne has increased from 1,226,409 to 2,108,499, a percentage increase of 71.9. The population of Adelaide has increased from 382,454 to 726,930, or an increase of 90.1%. Brisbane’s population has risen from 402,030 to 719,140, an increase of 78.9%. The population of Perth has increased from 272,528 to 499,494, an increase of 83.3%. The population of Hobart has risen from 76,534 to 119,415, an increase of 56%. In all, the Australian population in the period 1947 to 1966 has increased from 7,579,358 to 11,550,444. an increase of 52.4% .
The figures that I have just quoted disclose that every Australian capita] city during that period has bad a population increase in excess of the average Australian population increase. If all the people are put into our capital cities we will run into problems similar to those which were put forward on 10th November 1965 by Mr C. E. Ferrier, Chief Planner of the New South Wales Planning Authority, who said that every 7 years Sydney will be committed to an expenditure of $2,000m just to maintain road, rail and other forms of transport as well as water and sewerage services. The population of Sydney is expected to rise to 5 million by the year 2000. The population of Melbourne is expected to rise to that figure also. Where will we finish up when Melbourne has a population of 5 million, Sydney has a population of 5 million and the populations of the other capital cities are increasing at a somewhat similar rate?
I believe that this Government should have accepted the responsibility of forming a national planning authority which would be charged with the responsibility to determine what we are to do with the people who are being brought to this country, bearing in mind that 160,000 migrants will enter Australia this year. The Government has no plans concerning what it will do with these people. It will allow them, as it has allowed migrants in the last 20 years, to flock into Sydney, Melbourne and our other capital cities. What the Government should do at an early date is form a national planning authority somewhat similar to the National Capital Development Commission which has been charged with the responsibility of developing the Australian Capital Territory. I congratulate the National Capital Development Commission on the work that it has performed, the excellence of the plan and the manner in which this has been implemented in Canberra.I say that with all sincerity. The National Capital Development Commission has done an excellent job.
I do not ask the Government to extend the activities of this Commission.I ask the Government to establish a similar commission to be charged with the responsibility of planning the development of Australia and not just the Australian Capital Territory. This should be a commission that will do the job systematically. I think all honourable members will agree that if the growth of Australia is to be planned this must be done systematically. There is no reason in the world why, in New South Wales for example, we should not be setting out to plan for an additional two cities similar to Newcastle or Wollongong. I live in Newcastle. I think it is an excellent city. In Newcastle we have not the transport problems that are to be found in Sydney and Melbourne. Last Friday, it took an experienced Commonwealth driver13/4 hours to drive me from Bankstown to Hornsby, a distance, I would say, of less than 30 miles. I can drive from Hornsby to Newcastle, a distance of 90 miles, in the same time, and I am not a speedhog.
This is the position that faces some people in both Sydney and Melbourne. Therefore I believe that other cities should be planned for areas in the country. I am not adamant as to where these cities should be located. One might be situated at Wagga. Another in the northern areas of New South Wales possibly might be located at Tamworth or Armidale. The same sort of planning could be adopted for Victoria.
Either activity must be expanded or a completely new city altogether should be built at a different locality. Concerning Victoria, I ask: Why should there not be an additional centre created for that State? Possibly Portland could be used as the exporting port for any new city that was created in Victoria. Is there any reason why Port Augusta could not be developed as the next city in South Australia? Not only is it the second city in South Australia but also, most importantly, it is the one city in that State somewhere near comparable in size with Adelaide at this time. I turn to Queensland. We have heard talk for years about the development of the Fitzroy River basin. There is no reason in the world why that area should not be developed. This Government has the power to direct foreign capital into these centres for the development of the cities I have mentioned and of industries which could be developed here.
The Government talks about decentralisation. There is one way in which it could start to tackle the problem. I refer to the location of our State parliaments. In Sydney at the moment a rumpus has arisen about whether the Sydney Hospital should be demolished. The real reason for this suggestion is not that the hospital should be relocated at Randwick or Parramatta. The truth is that the Government of New South Wales wants the hospital site for its new parliament house. That is why the present Sydney Hospital is to be demolished. It is to provide the site for the new New South Wales parliament house. Why does not the New South Wales Government show some real initiative in the matter of decentralisation and national planning? The Commonwealth Government, as the controller of the finances of the nation, should be prepared to assist the Government of New South Wales in this respect. Why should not the capital of New South Wales be located at Tamworth, Armidale or even Dubbo? The capital could be established wherever the proposed national planning authority decided that a new city should be established to accommodate 300,000 to 500,000 people. This could be the first move in this direction by the Commonwealth Government.
The same argument can be applied to the various Commonwealth departments. Is there any reason in the world why the
Department of Social Services, the Taxation Branch and the Department of Immigration should be located in Sydney? The British Government has decentralised some of its departmental activities. If a person writes to the British Government on some issue concerning national welfare, he does not write to London where the British Parliament is located. He writes to Newcastle-on-Tyne where the department dealing with these matters is located. This is the sort of planning that this Government should be undertaking. I hope that in the not too distant future the present Government or what is now the Opposition when we become the Government after the next election will include in its plans provisions for the establishment of a national planning authority which will carry out this type of planning which will provide for development other than in existing capital cities. This can be done. Honourable members opposite smile at my remarks. But I do not see my friends in the Country Party benches acknowledging approval of my suggestion because this would mean the end of the Australian Country Party. No longer would the seat of New England be a Country Party seat. It would be a Labor seat. The electorate of Farrer, which embraces Wagga, would no longer be a Liberal Party seat. It would be a Labor Party seat.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, we have just heard the greatest lot of humbug about decentralisation from the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). Here is a political party which believes that the people of New South Wales are represented by the electorates contained in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong. This party’s idea of decentralisation is to move factories out of Sydney to either Newcastle or Wollongong. Here is a party which has advocated the loss of country representation by the adoption of the principle of one vote one value. The adoption of this principle would eliminate immediately 3 or 4 country seats irrespective of which party holds those seats. This suggestion shows up the insincerity and humbug of the Australian Labor Party. I am reminded of that famous speech made publicly by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) some years ago in which he said at a public meeting in Sydney: ‘Far too much money is being spent in country towns and country areas. Australians are a race of suburban dwellers’. He went on to be more insulting by saying that cities were seats of culture and that by contrast barbarians lived in the country. This is the opinion of the Australian Labor Party of those people who live outside the Sydney metropolitan area, and the Newcastle and Wollongong areas.
In my speech, I wish to draw the attention of the House first to a statement made by the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) who said, quoting an industrialist, that we wore blinkers and that we tended to concentrate our efforts, our energies and our real concern on ourselves and to forget about the overall picture. T am afraid that, as the Minister said, these remarks apply to a great many Australians and to a great many members of this Parliament. Obviously these remarks apply to members of the Opposition because their interests are not very wide. 1 think the recent speech by the honourable member for Newcastle shows how narrow the thinking of Opposition members can be. The great problem that faces every government drawing up a budget is to draw up a list of priorities. I believe that this Government had done this very effectively and very well. Tt has sorted out the areas of greatest need and has endeavoured to render the greatest possible assistance in those areas without taking anything from defence and development. This is a very difficult problem.
We in the Australian Country Party - and no party has a broader national outlook - do our best to appreciate the overall picture. We believe that the Government has made a sincere attempt to give relief where it is necessary and still to look after the defence and development of the nation. Perhaps greater encouragement could have been given to Australian industry and Australian enterprise. Anybody but a rabid Socialist would agree that if this country is to develop it must have finance. Obviously, if we are to develop the potential to its limit, or to anywhere near its limit, we must draw on resources from outside this country. I believe that we should be making a greater effort to enable our own local enterprise to develop our mineral and rural potential. The Government could do a good deal more to assist sound enterprises to borrow money in order to develop our own industries and our own potential and to retain the assets of and equity in this country for Australians and for the use of Australians. If we are to survive, particularly in a developing country, we must exploit, to the very limit, our mineral and rural resources.
A mountain of iron ore is not much good to us if it is standing out in the arid desert of Western Australia, and vast fertile areas of land are not much good to us if they are in the arid zone, but much can be done in these areas. If we sell our iron ore I believe that we must make sure that we use some of the proceeds to establish a worthwhile, permanent income earning asset. We should build dams and irrigation schemes. We should bring land into production. There are untold thousands of acres of land which could be brought into production. We should build roads, railways, aerodromes, ports and better lines of communication. We should replace what we have to sell with a permanent and worthwhile asset. There could be an end to minerals. In recent years we have made tremendously important discoveries of vast mineral resources, but who is to say that other countries may not at any time find greater and richer deposits? Who knows what is under the ice caps and snow a: the South Pole? Who knows what is under the vast areas of Canada, Alaska or even Russia? In this morning’s ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ I read that the Rio Tinto company proposes to develop vast copper deposits at Bougainville which will produce more than double Australia’s total production. 1 think that we have to keep our feet on the ground and see that we do not become victims of the idea that minerals are the complete answer to all our problems. Export earnings are of first importance to a developing country. If we cannot increase export earnings we cannot maintain a high standard of living and we cannot develop our secondary industries in order to provide full employment. We all appreciate that the establishment of factories is the only means of providing employment for large numbers of people. Unquestionably, Australia’s greatest asset is her rural industries and her vast rural potential, which as yet has scarcely been scratched and which still makes tremendous development possible. Minerals may be found in untold quantities, but we know that there is a very little amount of arable, good farming land in the world. We know that the world’s population is increasing, that onethird of that population is starving and that one-third is undernourished. The v/ay must be found to feed these people. I remind honourable members of what Mrs Gandhi said when she was in Australia. She said that poverty anywhere is a threat to prosperity everywhere. The world cannot allow vast quantities of food to be wasted when there is so much want.
Surely our greatest and most permanent asset is our great rural potential. At the present time, if it were not for the tremendous inflow of overseas capital our balance of payments position would be in a disastrous state. We must remember that the inflow of overseas capital could taper off very quickly. It could even stop within the forseeable future. Most of the money that is pouring in is being invested in a speculative way, in holes in the ground, and as yet it has not been proved that there is anything underneath these holes. It could be that within a very short period Australia will call again for the rural industries to lift their production in order to earn export income and to prevent unemployment and economic disaster. No doubt the rural industries will respond again - as they have always responded during peacetime and wartime - and lift their production, despite all the odds that face them. To re-echo the statement made by my colleague the honourable member for Calare (Mr England), 1 believe it is time that secondary industry pulled up its socks and made a greater drive for efficiency, lt is time it stopped hiding behind tariff walls, calling upon a cost-plus system every time it gets into the least bit of trouble. Secondary industry should try to match the efficiency of rural industries. I am not suggesting that the Australian farmer has reached the limit of his efficiency - far from it - but 1 remind honourable members that the Australian farmer is by far the most efficient farmer in the world today. In both value and quantity he produces twice as much as the American farmer and three times as much as the British farmer. He has been quick to apply new methods and to use effectively the findings of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and our agricultural departments.
The wheat industry is a striking example of efficiency. It has been able to cut its cost of production, despite increases, over which it has no control, in wages and in the cost of equipment, fuel, transport and services. The wheat grower has not only managed to survive but has been able to cut his cost of production, lift his production and earn more export income. We have the ridiculous situation today where the cost of manufacturing raw materials is greater than the cost of growing the products. Woollen goods are an example of this. The total cost of producing the raw material is very small, but even if manufacturers got the wool for nothing people still would not be able to buy suits cheaply. At present it is costing more to put our fat lambs into the butchers’ shops than it costs the farmer to breed and rear them. The cost of bread is outrageous when we compare it with the return to the wheat grower. There is scope for a drive for efficiency in our secondary and manufacturing industries. The farmer has been forced to become efficient, because if he had not done so he would not have survived and this nation would not be in its present position.
Over the last 20 years there has been an increase of approximately 100% in production from our farms, with a 20% reduction in the labour force. The cost squeeze is becoming intolerable for the farmer, because he is at the end of the line. So far the manufacturing industries have been able to pass on increases in their costs, but they are reaching the point where they are finding it impossible to pass on these increases. They are finding, too, that they are being prised out of hard-won new export industries. 1 refer to an article which was written by Mr A. J. White, National Chairman of National Export Week. He said:
It is the considered view of the Export Development Council that unless Australia can double present export income over the next 10 years there is a danger that the nation will be unable to maintain an increasing standard of living.
He went on to say that costs have got out of hand, even so far as the manufacturing industries are concerned. An export drive is useless if we cannot meet the market. Our Department of Trade and Industry has done a tremendous job in developing new markets. Those of us who have been overseas and have talked to our trade commissioners and businessmen overseas could not help but be impressed by the standing of our trade commissioners in the commercial life of those countries. I have been told over and over again that our trade commissioners are the best in the world. They are businessmen first of all, not broken down diplomats or broken down politicians. Our trade missions have a tremendous potential for developing export markets for our manufactured goods. We must have an export market for manufactured goods if we are to build up the community, to provice employment and pay wages. But we are allowing this opportunity to be destroyed by ridiculous increases in costs, lack of efficiency and raising wages without increasing production. The nation cannot survive if it cannot maintain increased production.
We on the land are very grateful indeed to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) for the introduction of drought bonds. Details have not yet been spelt out but the principle has been established. It is designed to encourage the progressive man to help himself. I think the principle of issuing drought bonds could be applied to the inside areas as well as to the arid areas. They should be made available first of all in the arid areas where it is impossible to conserve fodder and where losses from drought and fire are tremendous. Drought bonds can do much to assist the man on the land to become independent and so assist the nation. I am confident that the Treasury will find that drought bonds will not be a cost to the nation but an investment.
We are grateful for the increase in the superphosphate bounty. I do not like bounties on subsidies on principle, but when manufacturing costs rise at the rate they do it is imperative, again in the interests of the nation, that the industries which supply our vital export markets be given the opportunity to develop and to increase their production. No single item is more important in this regard than superphosphate. Tax concessions are always worthwhile when they induce people to help themselves, when they assist people to make preparations against day of drought and loss rather than call to governments for assistance. Drought bonds will make it possible for many a primary producer to provide against losses in a way that he has never been able to do before. I repeat that I think drought bonds could be applied to the inside areas where vast sums are being spent on fodder conservation, machinery and that sort of thing to meet a drought that perhaps comes only once in 10, 15 or 20 years. But this is something to be worked out.
Tax concessions have done a tremendous amount to eliminate the recurring losses that result from drought, particularly during the fast major drought over perhaps the most fertile portion of Australia in the western district of Victoria, the Riverina, the south western slopes and the southern tablelands. Much has been done in these areas to eliminate the losses one would have expected and which could not have been avoided 20 years ago. The losses on improved country have been a fraction of what they have been on unimproved country. With a better water supply, conservation of fodder and better pastures we have been able to come through this drought without a disastrous effect on the whole economy. This is due principally to the tax concessions that have induced the farmer to make better provision for himself.
We are approaching an age when the use of atomic energy in industry must be considered. Quite recently, in company with other members of the Government Members Atomic Energy Committee, I was fortunate enough to spend 2 days at Lucas Heights. Atomic energy opens up all sorts of exciting prospects for the future in the manufacturing field, in the provision of power for the remote areas, and in the desalination of sea water. We will be able to feed half the world. It may be impossible today, and not possible tomorrow, but the time when we will be able to do so is not very far away. I am quoting the opinions of some of our leading atomic scientists. Atomic energy could very quickly put this nation amongst the leaders in industry and development in this part of the world, if not in the whole world.
I now want to refer briefly to education. With all this development we must have greater concentration on education - not only on academic education but on the training of engineers, technicians, skilled artisans and plant operators. Sometimes too much emphasis is placed on the academic side and not enough emphasis is placed on training the very necessary people who work and service the machines and without whom no advancement could be achieved. Vast sums of money are being spent by governments on education. There is one field we must watch and not neglect. The great independent schools should not be allowed to fall by the wayside. We know of the pressures on public schools at the moment because of lack of buildings and staff through years of neglect, particularly in New South Wales. We know that if the independent schools are forced to close the pressures on government schools will increase many times. I believe in the two streams of education not only from a purely economic point of view but because the independent church schools have much to contribute to the soundness, the character and the steadiness that is lacking in so many of our young people today.
This is a good Budget. I believe it represents a serious attempt by the Government to give us a carefully thought out list of priorities. I believe it is a Budget that will do the very utmost for the needy and which will do the very best to develop the nation and keep it safe. I support the Budget but oppose the amendment.
– The honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) on the whole seems to have been speaking as a member of the Opposition. No doubt he spoke with a view to his speech being published in his electorate; but those in the electorate of Hume who read in the local newspapers his very penetrating criticisms of Government policy and the way in which that policy has been very much against the interests of Australian farmers in recent years should remember that on other occasions the honourable member for Hume has voted with the Government in support of that kind of policy.
The Budget has displayed a very significant thing for the Australian people. The most significant thing about the Budget was the speech by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on Tuesday night last. The Prime Minister has changed the atmosphere and has changed the emphasis. We have recently gone through a period of 5 years in which the amount of money spent on war and defence in Australia has more than doubled. We have gone through a period in which we have been taught to think in terms of the downward thrust of China towards Australia, the domino theory, the threat of yellow and red hordes, and the necessity to spend fantastic sums on defence such as 5300m on aircraft which we may never use. But on Tuesday night there was a complete change of emphasis. The Prime Minister said:
Secondly, there are many competing needs in the years ahead - the need to build our population, the need to strengthen our industrial muscles and improve our technology, the need to develop our resources, the need to improve education, the need te eradicate poverty, and many other needs. Meeting these needs, Mr Deputy Speaker, will, in itself, increase and improve our ability to defend this nation, and under present international circumstances we do not intend to sacrifice these other needs. We do not intend to seek guns instead of growth at the cost of stunting our growth. We will not ignore our other requirements in order to mobilise for war. but our forces will grow, their fighting power will grow, the cost of defence will grow, and this will be regarded as one important need among many for the nation though not as a need which overrides all else.
This is a new emphasis. There is no panic; there is no tension: there is no reference to yellow or red hordes. This attitude is inconsistent with that of a former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. It is inconsistent with the present right wing view. It is inconsistent with the concept of Fortress Australia or an Israeli type defence. Government spokesmen in their Party rooms are critically finding fault with the downward thrust idea and the domino theory. They are saying that Australia must be much more realistic than this. This is a much more moderate view that has come from the Prime Minister. It is very close to the Cairns line, as Democratic Labor Party spokesmen have recognised for some time. I am gratified that Government spokesmen in their Party room are now saying what I have been saying here for 5 years.
– Nothing of the sort.
– Possibly this is not said in the Country Party room. One would expect that it would take the Country Party not 5 years but 25 years to catch up. But I am talking about the real Government supporters - members of the Liberal Party. I am gratified that the Government has come round to this more moderate and sensible point of view. I am gratified that it shows no signs of having khaki elections; of beating the can of anti-Communism. I am gratified by the sensible view it has taken of recent events and the restraint which it has demonstrated in relation to them. So we can now begin to debate in this Parliament on the basis of social priorities and economic needs. We now have a chance to consider those things which the London Times’ 5 years ago said were never adequately considered in Australia because of the irrationality of our anti-Communism. The Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly), who is at the table, will be gratified, I am sure, at that result. We will now be able to discuss much more sensibly matters such as tariffs, social services and education - matters that are of vital importance for Australia but which have been hidden, confused and distorted by the irrational and stupid antiCommunism which has so much influenced the Government. I am gratified to know that in his speech the Prime Minister gave an indication of the existence of new circumstances.
What are these other things which the Prime Minister considers are essential and which we are now able to consider in terms of social priorities and national interest? Firstly he mentioned social services. He believes that in this field the Government has done very well. He said that LiberalCountry Party governments in the past have added vastly to social welfare in this country, but when one examines what those governments have done the best that can be said for the policy of the Government is that in some fields it has kept social welfare abreast of the cost of living, but with very significant lags. Take pensions for example. The increase of $1 in pensions as outlined in the Budget does no more than bring pensions up to the level at which they should be if they had kept pace with the cost of living, but there has been a 2 year lag. Pensions are now at the level at which the index shows they should be in order to maintain their relative value of 2 years ago, but for 2 years pensioners have been living at less than the standard which they enjoyed 2 years ago. So, having in 1968 brought pensions to the level at which they should have been 2 years ago, there will now be a lag until 1969 or 1970, depending on the date of the next election. before pensions will again be increased. The Government’s policy has been to deal with social welfare just before an election in order to bring basic social service benefits to a level at which they will maintain cost of living parity, but with very significant lags. Of course, as the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) pointed out earlier this afternoon, some important social service benefits have not been increased at all.
At all events, the Prime Minister has recognised, by implication, that something much better has to be done. In his speech on the Budget he said:
We had perforce - becau.se il is noi possible in 6 months thoroughly to overturn! a social services structure which has not been overhauled for some decades - to raise social service pensions generally across the board.
Honourable members will see what is implicit in that statement: For decades the Government has not overhauled the social services programme across the board and the only reason why the Government is overhauling social services now is that we have a new Prime Minister - the right honourable John Gorton. But he cannot do it in 6 months, although he recognises the necessity for doing it. All right, that is a satisfactory starting point for all of us. Let us recognise the necessity for overhauling the social services programme right across the board. Let us not expect the right honourable John Gorton to change things so much that he can overhaul the social services structure in 6 months after a decade of neglect by the right honourable Harold Holt, the right honourable Sir Robert Menzies and their followers. Let us not expect too much from the Prime Minister over the next 6 months but let us judge him on what he does. I submit that what we need to have in mind with regard to these requirements is a regular programme so that social services are adjusted every year - not every second year or just before an election, but every year. What we need is a programme of improvement - of advancement - of the kind outlined by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in leading for the Opposition last week, ft seemed to me that the Prime Minister missed completely the point made by the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition wants the Budget to be converted into a programme to get rid of unnecessary poverty. He wants a programme to raise the social services structure to an adequate level, but he wants to do it every year systematically in accordance with the programme, not just before an election when a government is out to win votes. The tendency of this Government over the last two decades has been to make improvements in pension rates and other social services in the Budget delivered prior to an election. This is why a lot of people think that an election will be held this year. But in the year following an election, and very often in the year after that, no increases worth mentioning are made in social services. Cynicism of this kind, which the Government calls a social services programme, is not good enough.
Secondly we need to have priorities so that the needy will be cared for first. The Prime Minister has recognised this need, but it has not been met. It must be recognised that to a significant extent the Government has shifted its distribution of welfare somewhat up the income scale. In certain outer Sydney electorates - middle class electorates, such as the electorate of Bradfield - there are pensioners who do not live on the pension alone. Under pressure from back benchers representing such electorates, through the Government Members Social Services Committee, there has been a tendency for the Government to improve the living conditions of these people. I do not mind helping such persons, provided that we can afford to help them, and provided that we meet our more urgent needs first. This, then, is the second thing that we would require from the Government.
These changes will cost something. I believe that when we are considering costs, we must at the same time work for more equality. No-one can say that a man working at award rates, or at a remuneration near award rates, for 40 or 44 hours a week can earn the income that he needs to provide for a family. His wife has to work, and invariably she does. For him, taxation is unfair. In the last 2 decades, he has been required to pay an increasing proportion of taxation which is not levied in relation to his income but is at a flat rate. The increase of 2i% in sales tax rates proposed in this Budget will be levied according to what is spent on consumption, not according to the income which one has and out of which one has to pay for consumption. On the other hand, there has been a fantastic growth of inequality in this country over the last decade. I suppose that none of the great financial booms that have preceded the present one has seen such a fantastic increase in capital gains, none of which has made any contribution to national revenue. A couple of weeks ago, the Melbourne newspapers published information concerning the annual report of Loloma Pty Ltd, a holding company that has a portfolio of Great Boulder shares. The newspaper reports stated that in June 1966 those shares were worth $579,000. In June 1967, they were worth $3m and in June 1968 they had become worth $12m.
– They would not be worth that if they were sold.
– Many of these shares have been bought and sold over and over again on the Melbourne and Sydney stock exchanges while this boom has been going on. Very many people, including, no doubt, the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham), who has just interjected, have profited from sales of these shares on the Melbourne and Sydney stock exchanges during that time. I am quite sure that many members of the Liberal Party of Australia who sit on the benches opposite have profited considerably from sales of these shares. Perhaps even honourable members from South Australia have profited also. It is of no point to say that these capital gains are not realised. Of course they are realised, and very frequently. But, up to now, the Government has not helped the most needy people first. It has not been fair in what it has done. We expect much better from the new Prime Minister than came from the two Prime Ministers who preceded him. Can this Government change? Can we expect any change in a government that is made up essentially of men who are drawn from the ranks of what are regarded in this country as the upper social classes - men who on every occasion identify themselves with the establishment? I shall look at this aspect more closely in a few moments when I come to deal with education.
Let me now turn to health. The health services in this country are costly and inefficient, and have become so because of conservatism and private privilege, which have dominated their structure. The old concept of the family doctor is no longer relevant today. Those who render medical services today have to have available a vast range of modern equipment if they are to perform these services properly. They have to be part of a system on which they can draw in order to do their work properly The earlier idea of the isolated doctor working by his old-fashioned medical methods is no longer appropriate. Private insurance, as a basis for the national health scheme, is no longer appropriate; it is costly. In both these aspects, the system must change. But I would say that a Liberal Government cannot change either of these features of the health scheme in a progressive direction. So I ask: Will the present Prime Minister, the Right Honourable John Gorton, be any different from his two distinguished predecessors, who were themselves spokesmen of the same kind of conservative established social class as he will find himself to be representing.
– It all comes back to the hip pocket nerve.
– It comes back to a social nerve, too - a nerve of social awareness, based on a feeling of superiority that is found in people in any country, no matter how egalitarian that country mav he. Some people feel that they are somewhat above those who are not quite so well educated and have not quite so much money. More than the hip pocket nerve is involved here. If that were all that were involved, we would get different results.
I shall now discuss education. Here we find the illustration of what I have just been saying. We believe that this is an egalitarian country, but education has never been fairly distributed and fairly available to all in our society. In a recent publication, Higher Education in Australia’, we find, at page 146. a table showing the occupational classification of males and of the fathers of university students in Victoria.
– Who wrote it?
– This is a very interesting and significant table, and it was not written by anybody. U is merely reproduced in this book.
– Who wrote the book?
– The book is made up of a series of articles, and I would have expected the honourable member to have been aware of that. The table sets out the proportions of different classes in the community compared to the proportions of children of those classes found in the universities. It shows that professional, technical and related workers represent 7% of the community, and 27% of university students are children of people in that group. Administrative, executive and managerial workers make up 9% of the community, but 26% of university students are children of that group. Clerical workers represent 8% of the community, and 8% of university students are children of that group. Farmers, fishermen, hunters, timber getters and related workers - in other words, those who have an affinity with the Australian Country Party, one might say - make up 12% of the community, but only 7% of university students are children of that group. Workers in transport and communication occupations represent 7% of the community, but only 2% of university students are children of that group. Craftsmen, production process workers and labourers not elsewhere classified represent 45% of the community, but only 13% of university students are children of that group. The article in which this table appears goes on to state:
A similar degree of social restriction is reported by Schonell, Roe and Meddleton. Eight per cent, of working males in Queensland are in professional, semi-professional and administrative occupations, but from these come 42% of students’ fathers, while only 3.3% of students are sons of the 35.3% of working males who are in semiskilled and unskilled jobs.
This is the sort of inequality in the social class structure that prevails in Australian education. Something should be done about this if the Government is to meet the needs of the most needy first. But what is happening? The ‘Canberra Times’, in its issue of 15th May 196S, published the following report:
Professor Burton said in Melbourne yesterday that scholarships were getting harder to get and the opportunity for students to receive tertiary education through them had steadily dwindled.
The number of scholarships offered, compared to the number of students enrolled for degree courses, had fallen from 58% in 1951 to 27% in 1966 . . .
So not only has there been this great inequality in Australian education; in the time during which Liberal governments have been in office in this country it has been getting worse, not better. All that the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) had to say in answer to Professor Burton was: ‘Oh, don’t look at the composition of what we are doing. Don’t look at the way it affects various people. Look merely at the total.’ He went on to state the number of dollars that have been spent, as though the number of dollars spent is the measure of all things. This is something that we could expect the present Government to put right if it would adopt social priorities of the sort that the Australian people need and want.
Let me now turn my attention to arbitration. Australia is still plagued by a wageprice spiral. This is still the most significant economic problem in Australia. Modern industry has the power to determine its own prices within a very significant range. We are no longer in a competitive situation in the sense that industry has not power to do this. Today, modern industry can determine its prices quite significantly and critically. In any modern industrial community, there must bc some deterrents against price increases - against the wage-price spiral. As I have said, this is the most significant economic problem in Australia today. A government that does not seek to find some kind of solution to this problem of the wageprice spiral abdicates its authority in relation to the most significant economic problem that we face today. It is improbable that direct price control can be used. It may well be ineffective, but it certainly is improbable under existing circumstances. The best deterrent for price control that is available in Australia today is the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission; but as the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr E. James Harrison) showed recently, since 1961 there has been a significant change. In 1961 the Arbitration Commission was concerned to lay down and apply the principle referred to by the President in 1965, when he said:
In my view the 1961 judgment should be followed because of the correctness of the principle it laid down and its approach to the question of basic wage fixation. Nothing has been put which causes me to think that the 1961 judgment was not correct.
But that principle has been changed by a couple of judges who were appointed by the Government to the Commission for the particular purpose of changing the principle.
– And they have not been heard of since.
– That is so. What was the principle? The principle was that one of the basic purposes of the Arbitration Commission was to fix a basic wage - a wage fixed upon the needs of the Australian worker who was regarded as a human being in a civilised community. Having arrived at this quantity of need the Commission was then required to adjust it in accordance with cost of living increases so that the need was not broken down. It was a principle of social justice - but it was a principle based on economic common sense. I emphasise that point. When the wage was fixed in this way and there was an increase in the cost of living, the unions had the right - and, of course, exercised it - to go to the Commission and say that there had been an increase in the cost of living. A prima facie case having been established for an increase in the wage to make up for the difference, the employers then had the onus to show that there should not be an increase in the wage.
That principle, which was the only effective deterrent to unnecessary price increases in Australia, was broken down by this manoeuvre led and induced by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury). The honourable member for Blaxland said:
The fact that this was the view of the President of the Commission gives added weight to its intrinsic import and is another reason why the 1961 concept should never have been departed from. But what did the new bench decide? This is where the whole structure of wage fixation in Australia commenced to fall down and this Government did nothing about it.
He went on to point out that this Government had organised the whole affair. So in changing that principle, and the application of that principle by the Arbitration Commission, this Government deliberately and consciously took away the only price deterrent that was usable in Australia. While the employers knew that if there was an unnecessary increase in the cost of living the unions would go back to the Commission and the responsibility would then be upon them to defend that cost of living increase, there was a tendency to defer price increases. What beats me is that members of the Australian Country Party, who know how dangerous increased prices can be, have not applied their common sense to see exactly what the Minister for Labour and National Service, the spokesman of big business monopolies, was out to do when he sought to achieve his purpose. This has injured the farmers and has caused much of the situation that the honourable member for Hume was going on about a while ago. But no, they go on blithely accepting this kind of thing because it is part of politics, part of the social prejudice that brings about the position of the parties in this House.
I turn now to tariffs. This is the second most important economic problem in Australia. The Tariff Board has the responsibility of giving protection to Australian industry if it is economic and efficient, broadly speaking. What kind of standards apply? In the Tariff Board and in the Government departments concerned are people who have had business training or academic economic training in universities. They tend to think that the only possible standard of efficiency and of being economic is the money standard. If goods and services can come in from overseas at a lower price than they can be produced here, those people are inclined to say that Australian industry is not economic. They measure it on the international standard, but what is the international standard? The international standard, significantly - this is one of the most important economic events of the day - is based on the huge concentrations of capital from the United States of America in countries like Korea and Formosa, and on new developments that are taking place in Communist China, which bring together the most modern machinery and labour employed at slave rates. So when goods produced under those conditions come to Australia and are sold for less than they can be produced in Australia the Tariff Board, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Treasury say that the Australian industry is not economic.
But efficiency is a matter of history as well as being a social question. Where Australian industry can pass the test of having modern machinery and skilled labour, it should not be permitted to be closed down. Where we have an industry like the textile industry that has modern equipment and labour as skilled as anywhere else in the world, the Australian Labor Party says unequivocally that that industry should not be closed down because some industry working under slave labour conditions in Formosa, South Korea or China can produce for less. We say that the standard of efficiency is the standard of the machinery and the skill of the worker, and do not intend to apply the standards that require workers to work 70, 80 or 90 hours a week for a few pence. It is very desirable to see industry developing in those countries, but we must say to the world that we are not going to put our industries out of operation to facilitate the exploitation of men and women in those countries at slave labour rates. It must be remembered that one of the significant aspects of the under-developed countries is not their need for aid but the degree to which American capital is exploiting them and the degree to which modern Communist governments are exploiting them. We are not going to accept their standards. Even though the Government is prepared to take the advice of the Tariff Board and of its academic experts in the departments and to accept their standards, we are not.
I do not think that this problem ought to be solved in terms of setting the country against the city, as the honourable member for Hume did in his speech. He wants to solve this problem by attacking secondary industry, which he says is quite inefficient, and defending primary industry, which he says is efficient. If the Country Party wants to drive a wedge between the city and the country to solve Australia’s current economic problems, let it do so. I do not think it will be of value to the Country Party any more than to the city sycophants in the Liberal Party, which the Country Party really keeps in office.
I wanted to say something about the balance of payments. Unless we are able to take a new and much more logical view of our balance of payments and of our dependence upon foreign capital inflow we will be in serious difficulties before very long. Unfortunately I have not the time to deal with this in detail. It is obvious that the invisibles in our balance of payments, amounting to $742m, require special attention.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Stewart)Order! The honourable members time has expired.
– 1 rise to support the motion moved by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and to oppose the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition.
– That is surprising.
– I do not think it is. I propose to begin my speech by replying to what was said by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns). He has just finished a quite remarkable speech to the House. He raised a number of matters associated with the speech delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and with Government policy in relation to economic affairs. I feel his comments should be answered immediately.
The House has been accustomed for a number of years to the honourable member for Yarra speaking with a spurious form of conviction on economic, international and defence matters. From time to time he has made statements which have impressed at least some of his colleagues of the Opposition and some of those Press people responsible for reporting speeches made in this Parliament. 1 well remember last year when he made what I regard as the most fascinating statement ever made in this Parliament. It was the honourable member for Yarra who said, in a speech delivered to this Parliament, that if people like himself had been in charge of affairs in the period of 1943-1944. instead of people like us - indicating honourable members on this side of the House - then it would have been possible to have negotiated with the government of Hitler’s Germany. He said that the unconditional surrender policy followed by the Allies at that time had had profound and lasting effects on post-war Europe and that we should have been able to be more flexible, to have negotiated with those people, to have understood them and to have brought their line of thinking to a line more in keeping with our own.
I do not think there are many honourable members in this Parliament who are naive enough to believe that any sort of deal could have been arranged or any discussion could have been held with people like Herr Hitler or Herr Himmler or those who commanded and led the enormous forces of the Third Reich. But the honourable member for Yarra is one person who is sufficiently conceited to believe, as he stated, that it would have been possible for him, were he in a commanding position, to negotiate, and to negotiate successfully. No doubt he believes that had he been in the position of Comrade Dubcek, he would have been able to negotiate successfully with the leaders of the Kremlin and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. No doubt he believes that if at some future stage of our history he could be a sort of chief commissar for the Commonwealth of Australia he would be able to deal with the people who will rise to power in mainland China, Red China. Well, if he does believe these things all 1 can say is that he has some changes of heart and mind coming because even the President of China has been having a bit of difficulty in recent times with some of his own people. I understand that Red Guards and various other forms of guards from time to time come into conflict, that in fact China is a mass of conflicting people and groups at the present time and ‘.hat the situation there is almost as bad as it was in the old war lord days.
The honourable member for Yarra pointed out that the Prime Minister, as head of the Australian Government, had said the other night that it was not the intention of his Government to seek guns instead of growth at the cost of stunting our growth. The honourable member lor Yarra said that this was a clear indication that there had been a change of heart and mind in the Government and in the ranks of the Liberal Party and that this line was more in common with what he described as the Cairns line. I realise that there are, and that there have been, some egocentric convulsions in this place from time to time but I regard that one as being surely the most remarkable manifestation of them all.
The truth is that on Tuesday night the Prime Minister reiterated a policy which has been the policy of the Australian Government for many years past. The Prime Minister said that ‘under the present international circumstances’ the Government did not intend to sacrifice the other needs of the community, which are, of course, growth of population, economic development, and so forth. This always has been the position. Since I first came to this place in 1949 the Australian Government has never been at any stage in a position in which it could be compared with, for example, the government in Germany in the 1930s where the choice was guns or butter. The truth of the matter is that the Australian Government has always adopted a balanced approach to its international position and has spent that amount of money considered to be sensible for the defence programme being prepared and carried out in the country.
Particularly since 1949 it has been true to say that this country has known the greatest period of economic growth and expansion in its history. It is quite obvious that at no stage since 1949 has there been any sacrifice of the vital needs of the internally growing Australian economy. Therefore I feel that the honourable member for Yarra is guilty of making a political speech, a speech in which he was seeking to misrepresent what he knows to be the actual facts in relation to Australia’s defence policy over recent years.
I want now to turn to a number of matters dealt with in the Budget. In view of the fact that so many aspects of social services and developmental projects have been dealt with I propose to say something about the moneys provided for repatriation benefits. The changes made by the Government in this Budget will assist many thousands of ex-servicemen, war widows and orphans. The Government proposes to increase the special total and permanent incapacity rate by $3 to $33.50 and to increase by the same amount the intermediate rate of pension which is payable to those who, because of war caused incapacity, can work only part time or intermittently. This will make the intermediate rate $24.25 a week. For war widows, the basic pension will rise by $1 to $14 a week. This means that those who qualify also for the domestic allowance will now receive a total of $21 a week. Again, this year increased pensions will be payable to the children of deceased ex-servicemen whose deaths have been accepted as due to war service. In cases where the mother is alive the increase will be $1, the first child receiving $5.40 a week, and subsequent children receiving $4.25 a week. In cases where both parents are dead the increase will be $2 making the total $10.15 a week.
With a view to providing additional compensation for those who although able to work are nonetheless seriously incapacitated by war caused disability, the Government has introduced a new allowance which will be known as the special compensation allowance. The maximum rate of the allowance will be $3 a week for those on the full general 100% rate, scaling downwards proportionately to $2.25 a week for those on the 75% rate. Because the eligibility for this allowance is based on actual severe incapacity, it will not necessarily be paid to all those who are now receiving pensions between the 75% and the 100% rates. Some such pensioners receive those rates under statute or long standing practice, even though the rates do not reflect their present actual incapacity. These pensioners are former tuberculosis sufferers who under the statute must receive the 100% rate for life, although their present actual incapacity may be less, and sufferers from defective vision and defective hearing who are in the 75% to 100% group because their pension rate is assessed before the vision or hearing is corrected by spectacles or hearing aids. These pensioners will not automatically be excluded. Their cases will be individually reviewed and their eligibility for the allowance determined in the light of their present actual incapacity. There will be a normal right of appeal if any of them are not satisfied with their assessments for the allowance.
A number of allowances payable under repatriation arrangements will also be increased. They are attendant’s allowance, education allowance, except in the case of professional students, clothing allowance and training allowance payable under various repatriation training schemes. The Government is also making two additional changes. The first is the extension of the eligibility for gift cars to include certain multiple amputees who do not qualify under the existing eligibility, which requires the amputation of both legs above the knee or complete paraplegia. The second is the extension of eligibility for the service pension to cover those on current and future service under the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act. Thus service pensions will be available to those now serving in Vietnam. The Government believes that the strenuous nature of this service warrants recognition because of the possible intangible effects on these men in the future. 1 would like now to turn from the repatriation benefits to a point on housing which I hope will be brought to the attention of the Treasurer. This problem has been referred to in other speeches during this debate and it relates to home mortgage interest as an income tax deduction. It arises from the cost of financing homes as related to the yearly incomes of individuals, particularly in the rural sector of the economy. This is the real problem. The cheapest finance available is through the savings banks and the building society movement, but a large proportion is through the life insurance offices which make higher charges for their loans, including the cost of life insurance cover. This in many cases is far more than is necessary in the circumstances of the borrower. This is due to the selling pressures of these offices. Their present loan policies are far too inflexible and should be broadened. Presumably under the Government’s new proposals they will have to charge less for their money if they receive the benefits of the State guarantee.
Surely the only effective way to assist anybody, irrespective of his or her age or status, is to give a straight out tax deduction for interest paid on home loans up to a maximum of $1,200 a year. This would be an extension of the technique that we now have. It would operate in the same way as do the deductions for taxation purposes of life assurance and superannuation payments. It would involve very little additional cost to the Treasury, for obvious reasons. It would be the best investment incentive that any government could give to encourage savings. The growth potential of an individual’s assets would be better than any life office or superannuation fund could expect to provide for him over the same period. Later, conjointly, he could provide for superannuation or other forms of investment savings, even life insurance. The effect should be to reduce the yearly cost of home purchase by the taxpayer and to direct savings into a basic national asset - homes for the individual - which should encourage the natural population growth in Australia.
A third aspect of the Budget that I think deserves to be discussed much more than it has been is the financial relationships of the Commonwealth with the State governments. We face a conflict of interest as a result of the international pressures that have led the Government to enormous defence expenditure whilst seeking to maintain taxation at an optimum level consistent with the demands of Government policy. It has not been at all possible to provide for the State governments the vast sums of money that they as independent groups of people making assessments in respect of their own responsibilities believe to be necessary for the fulfilment of the programmes that they have for education, transport, development and a whole host of other activities. The Commonwealth, where the welfare and survival of the nation is concerned, has every right to demand that the States will be subordinate in their requests for more and more public revenue. But I am less sure about the concept that it should be the Commonwealth Government that should be more responsible for the internal development of Australia than the State governments, having regard to their sovereign rights and their own peculiar and particular responsibilities. I take the view, therefore, that this matter must be under constant review. I believe that the State governments will have to face increased taxation in coming budgets which will be emerging in the State capitals in the near future. It is inevitable that this will be the trend andI trust that the Commonwealth Government will not seek to frustrate any of the plans that the State Governments may have for the implementation of their proper taxing powers.
In the last minutes available to me I would like to turn to a separate matter altogether and that relates to our defence expenditure over the next few years and the basic defence planning that has been spoken about so much in recent limes. Some months ago I spoke in the Parliament about the F111 aircraft, which will play an important and vital part in Australia’s defence over the next 15 years. I told the House at the time that this is a sophisticated, complicated, very modern aerial vehicle which has introduced a new concept in the handling of aeroplanes and a new technique in flying. When it is operating properly it is almost as different from other aircraft as the helicopter is from the standard type of aircraft that we see flying in and out of our capital cities every day of the week. I pointed out that the number of aircraft that had been destroyed by accident or by operational commitment in South Vietnam in relative terms was quite small and that comparison with the history of sophisticated but less modern aircraft showed that the Fill had an exceptionally good record in fact. I thought, therefore, that 1 might say something to the Parliament quite briefly and quickly about the reasons that have since emerged for accidents to the F104G Starfighter, which is being used extensively in the modern West German Air Force. This is called the F104G. Honourable members will remember that 87 of these aircraft have been destroyed in crashes and that 43 of their pilots have been killed. It is a terrible tragedy that such a shocking series of events should take place. Military flying is a dangerous business. Some of us are more familiar with the essence of that fact than others are. But it is true that if a highly efficient and modern air force is to bc maintained a country must be prepared to make sacrifices in terms of humanity as well as equipment to ensure a high standard of defence. In ancient times this was called the price of admiralty.
Pilots who fly the Starfighter call it the widow maker with something approaching affection. They praise it as one of the finest aircraft ever built, but recognise it as a killer. Since it was introduced into the West German Air Force in 1961, the Luftwaffe has lost the equivalent of two battle strength wings and their reserves. In terms of hard cash, at SI. 2m each, the loss of the Starfighters is equal in value to 4,000 World War II Messerschmidt 109 fighters. What has caused the chain of accidents to the much vaunted aircraft that was to have been the peerless backbone of the West German Air Force? The answer is almost as complicated as the aircraft itself, which is saying a lot.
The basic point to remember is that West Germany, with the strongest air force in Europe today, flies far more Starfighters than any other type of aircraft. Its accident rate, therefore, is automatically higher. The second clue is the ‘G’ in its name - the FI04G. This stands for Germany and for all the extra bits and pieces that German defence planners demanded be built into the all purpose machine that they required. The F104G is heavier and higher powered than the original US Starfighter. So. by these changes, the design of the designer is interefered with. Those requesting the changes are already setting up the crosses to be put into the graves of the people who will be killed as a result of this effort to make the concept that has been developed for defence better than the designer himself was hoping to achieve.
As 1 said, the F104G is heavier and higher powered than the original US Starfighter. Modifications include advanced electronic systems for navigation and target finding in all weather conditions, improved radar and auto-pilot control. These modifications have added not only to the weight but also to the handling characteristics of the aircraft and to its vulnerabilities at low speeds. The American version was designed primarily as a fine weather interceptor, whereas the German Starfighter in its various forms is also a nuclear strike bomber able to carry an atomic bomb fifty times more powerful than that dropped on Hiroshima, a ground support fighter bomber and a fighter reconnaissance aircraft. The result is a whole mass of problems for the men who fly the Starfighter. The handbook for pilots, which must be memorised, is as thick as an encyclopedia and the technical notes for maintenance weigh more than 2 cwt. This, of course, puts an additional strain on understaffed ground crews who have come in for a good deal of the criticism about the aircraft’s poor record.
An early feature of the Starfighter crashes was the high fatality rate among the pilots. In most modern jet fighter crashes, the pilot is able to use his ejector seat to escape safely. But in the F104G, the original bang-seat’ had a deadly reputation for having a delayed action. The number of pilots who escaped from low level crises was almost nil. This, more than anything, harmed the morale of the fliers.
One of the wing commanders of the German Air Force was quoted as saying, when the crash series was at its worst: The crashes have poisoned the spirit of my squadron. My pilots have lost confidence in their machines’. Eventually, after pressure from the pilots themselves, the West German Defence Ministry agreed to install the advanced British made Martin-Baker seat which can operate at ground level. The result has been a vastly encouraging drop in the number of fatalities in such conditions. But the Starfighters stigma remains, and the ‘flying coffin’ tag will take a lot of losing.
My reason for mentioning this matter is that when the Fill is brought to this country a valuable contribution to the morale and the welfare of the Royal Australian Air Force can be made in this Parliament and, equally, a bad blow can be struck in this Parliament against the morale of the RAAF if we start to lose some of these aircraft. It is essential basically that members in the House of Representatives develop this morale and come to understand that once the era of highly sophisticated modern aircraft is reached, they will need the gumption to put up with the inevitable accidents and sad events that will accompany the acquisition of this equipment.
In the 1930s, we brought into this country an aircraft called the NA33. We put all sorts of things into that aircraft. The only thing that we did not put in was the kitchen sink. That aircraft became what we called the Wirraway. We converted a relatively docile and almost perfect aircraft into a quite different aeroplane, with high speed stall characteristics, that was very dangerous in relative terms when compared with the NA33. It was very dangerous to fly. 1 make this appeal: We have gone to Fort Worth in Texas already and we have said that we want various modifications put into the Australian version of the FI 11. It is my fervent hope and prayer that when we get these aircraft in Australia we will all understand what has happened with the F104G Starfighter in Germany and that we will not seek to do what we have done in the past, that is, to take our FI 1 1 strike reconnaissance aircraft and convert them into aircraft that will do almost any and every type of job that there is to do. Above all things, 1 believe that Australians must be given at least a couple of years to learn to handle this highly sophisticated, modern equipment, I am confident that when they have had this time they will prove to the rest of the world, as they have done before, that in this field of human endeavour the pilots of the Royal Australian
Air Force will stand comparison with any people in a similar service throughout the rest of the world.
I believe that this is important for the reason that governments in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok and Manila look to Australia and ponder our capacity to assist them in the event of them finding themselves in situations which they have defined as representing threats to their survival. Whatever the honourable member for Yarra says about people being consumed by domino theories and downward thrusts becomes rather offensive and an intellectual impertinence on his part when, what he is doing in fact, is saying that the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the Prime Minister of Singapore and the Prime Minister of India do not know what they are talking about. This converts the arguments of the honourable member for Yarra into sophistry and basically into a form of intellectual depravity.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, T support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and I will vote in favour of it. But I desire to make my contribution this afternoon on the present crisis that exists between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. During the last parliamentary recess I travelled overseas with an all party study group which was looking into the economic affairs of the European Economic Community. We terminated our tour of duty in London. After the tour I visited Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. I was in Czechoslovakia from 13th July to 18th July. It was a time of crisis. During that period the five Warsaw Pact nations had a meeting in Warsaw. Honourable members know that it delivered a message on the night of 17th July and that, later, the Czechoslovakian Presidium replied to that message. I later travelled to the Soviet Union where I spent 4 days. The 10 days that I spent in Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union had a very profound effect on my attitude and, I bel’ieve, will have a great effect on the development of my thought in the future.
I travelled widely when I was in Czechoslovakia. I met members of the Presidium of the National Assembly. I had become rather friendly with Dr F. Kriegel, who was the leader of the Czechoslovakian
Inter Parliamentary Union delegation. I first met Dr Kriegel in Dublin in April 1965, at the spring meeting of the IPU. I met him again in Ottawa in September of that year. I met him again when he ted the Czechoslovakian delegation to Australia in April 1966. I developed a firm and very friendly understanding with him. We discussed wide issues of world affairs. In fact, we agreed on many issues, particularly on the approach to the Vietnam war. lt is interesting to note that Dr Kriegel, who is now a member of the Presidium of the Czechoslovakian Government - the new progressive liberal government in Czechoslovakia - was one of the people who was taken away by the Soviet Union armed forces on the night of 20th August. Mr Dubcek and three other persons were taken, an Dr Kriegel was one of them. Dr Kriegel was a great and proud Czechoslovak national, but he also had a feeling of internationalism.
When Dr Kriegel was in Australia he expressed a view which was published in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of 15th April 1966. He praised my views on Vietnam, and said:
No honest politician could bind himself to the United States policy in Vietnam, which was a mass crime.
Every member of our delegation which travelled through Europe will agree not only is it the view of the new Czechoslovakian Government but no matter whether we travelled in Western Germany, in Belgium, in Holland or in any other country we found that the position of Australia and the United States in Vietnam was an isolated one.
During my visit to Czechoslovakia I travelled to Sudetenland. T travelled through Bohemia to Prague. I went to Bratislava and I saw a good deal of Slovakia. I had discussions not only with the ruling Party of the National Front - that is the Communist Party - but also with the Vice-President of the Presidum of the National Assembly and the Vice-President of the People’s Party, which is a Catholic Party. I also had discussions with the Social Party in Czechoslovakia. Not only did the Communist Party cleanse itself of the failures of Novotny, but so did the People’s Party and the Social Party. They cleansed themselves of the forces that were subservient to the Communists and they said that if there was to be an honest government in Czechoslovakia in the future it had to work along lines parallel to their views and there had to be honest discussions so that an amicable and progressive government could be created.
Dr Kriegel is now Chairman of the National Front. 1 found the new government determined to build a socialist society based on democratic principles, which included freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly and of worship, freedom to travel and freedom to migrate. The only barrier to travel would be foreign exchange. Persons of authority admitted that errors had been made by certain intellectuals in the free Press, but they felt that instead of stifling their expressions they should be met by correct leadership in the Press. One of the most impressive aspects of the new Czechoslovakian Government is its willingness to examine its past; to examine the crimes which have been committed against the citizens and to try and rectify, by compensation and other means, the wrong done.
When I was in Czechoslovakia the London ‘Financial Times’ carried an article in which it was estimated that it would cost approximately £st g 100m to compensate human beings for some of the crimes that had been committed by past governments in Czechoslovakia. Some people might say that it is easy for governments to start to look at their past crimes, but how many governments are prepared to examine their past? I felt that this was a good and healthy attitude for the Czechoslovakian Government to adopt. It was prepared to discuss openly its past shortcomings and to try to rectify them so that it could produce an honest, open and democratic society.
On 18th July, which was my last day in Czechoslovakia a communique was published on the five power Warsaw Pact meeting in Warsaw. On the previous night the Czechoslovakian Presidium had met and drafted a reply. The afternoon newspapers carried both statements on the front page. When I arrived in the Soviet Union I was disappointed to find that there was not the same open frankness. The Soviet newspapers carried only the statement by the five powers in the Warsaw Pact. They did not carry the statement by the Czechoslovakian Government in reply to the criticisms which had been levelled in the five power communique. During my stay in Czechoslovakia I found a strong friendship towards the Soviet Union. But 1 also detected an uneasiness among the Czechoslovakians, particularly with regard to the presence of Russian troops in Czechoslovakia for so long after the Warsaw Pact manoeuvres. All the Russian troops should have been withdrawn from Czechoslovakian soil by 30th June. By 18th July they were still on Czechoslovakian soil in substantial numbers. I believe that the mistake made by the Russians was in the way in which the troops were being withdrawn.
The Warsaw Pact manoeuvres were held in West Bohemia - that is west of Prague - and the troops came in through Poland and Eastern Germany. They were withdrawing them a unit at a time and taking them across the full length of the Czechoslovakian nation, out through the eastern sector where the Ukraine borders Czechoslovakia. Whether it was meant to intimidate Czechoslovakia or not, it was accepted as such. lt helped to build tension and to rupture friendship. In my opinion the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia was a clumsy tactic unci was self-defeating.
From Prague I flew to Moscow, where I had frank discussions with Russians at varying levels over a wide spectrum. I particularly raised the Czechoslovakian crisis on every possible occasion. I was not overhappy about some of the Russian explanations to me on the first day of my visit, but by the last day I was convinced that there was a marked change in their attitude. 1 asked the people wherever I went whether they thought the Czechoslovakian crisis would result in military intervention. I found no Soviet citizen at any level who was prepared to admit the possibility of military intervention in Czechoslovakia. in my view the Russians had at least three major concerns. They were quite frank about the fact that their most important concern was to maintain the military balance of power in central Europe. There is no doubt that they will be concerned about this for some time. Another concern was the free Press. Lastly, the Russians were bewildered by the fact that after 20 years of Socialism in Czechoslovakia there were still three political parties in existence and functioning in Czechoslovakia with their own newspapers. If we look at the history of the Soviet Union, we may agree that the Russians are entitled to have certain fears. They lost 20 million people in the last world war. While I was in Leningrad, at my own request, 1 visited the Leningrad war cemetery. There were at least 600,000 people lying at rest in that cemetry. This visit enabled me to have some understanding of the great sacrifice that was made. I also saw, at my request, the film ‘The Siege at Leningrad’, which clearly depicts the suffering of the Soviet people during the last war. I have a deep feeling for the suffering of the Soviet people in their contribution to victory over Nazism in the Second World War. In my criticism of the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia I speak with some understanding of the suffering of the past. But 1 say to all members, no matter in what part of the House they sit that if they have any feeling of friendship for and want to assist in any progressive struggle on the part of the Soviet Union they should be honest in their criticism of the stupid, cruel, blundering decision by Soviet Union to invade Czechoslovakia. 1 told the Russian people wherever I met them that in my view many of their beliefs were exaggerated and magnified. I found that only one side of the story was being put in the Russian Press and not two sides. Earlier I referred to the publication of the decision of the five powers of the Warsaw Pact without any Press statement about the reply of the Czechoslovakian Government being issued. I shall quote from a local publication. I shall not quote from what has often been referred to as the Capitalist Press or, as the Soviet Union describes it, the Imperialist Press; [ shall quote from a news sheet published by the Soviet Embassy in this country. This news bulletin, dated 23rd August 1968, states:
WHY DID ALLIES ARMED FORCES ENTER CZECHOSLOVAKIA?
It is generally known that the Party leaders and statesmen of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic have asked the Soviet Union and other Allied states to render the fraternal Czechoslovak people urgent assistance, including assistance with armed forces. This request came wilh the appearance of a threat to the socialist system in the country.
The people who compiled that article are either fools or are completely out of touch with the real facts. The past week has shown that no Czechoslovak personnel or forces came forward and asked the Soviet Union or the Warsaw allies to intervene.
Over the past 20 years the Czechslovakian people have never been so united behind any government as they are today behind the government of Cernik and Dubcek. A personal and close friend for whom I have great admiration, Dr F. Kriegel, is the leader of the National Front and a member of the Presidium in Czechoslovakia, which had dialogue with the Politburo of the Soviet Union in Bratislavia. The Soviet news bulletin includes this further passage:
That is the jargon of the Soviet Union. Let me give the House some of the background of the so called opportunists. Dr Kriegel is a medical doctor and the superintendent of a Prague hospital. He was a member of the International Brigade in Spain in the 1930s. He was a medical doctor with the Chinese forces who fought against Japanese Fascism in the Second World War. After the Second World War he returned to Czechoslovakia and in the early 1950s became a Minister in the Czechoslovakian Government. Because of his liberal progressive views he was stripped of his rank and put under surveillance by the Salinist clique that ran the country at that time. Eventually he was reinstated in his Party and became the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Czechoslovakian National Assembly and a member of the central committee of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party. He has for a number of years led the Czechoslovakian delegation to the Inter-parliamentary Union. Members of both Houses who have attended the inter-parliamentary Union know that he is a great and proud Czech nationalist.
Last January, before Novotny was replaced, the Presidium of the Czechoslovakian Party was locked 5-5. The Presidium had to return to the Central Committee of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party, to which by this time Kriegel had been elevated, lt was Dr Kriegel who proposed the motion of a secret ballot which eventuated in the overthrow of Novotny. Later he was elevated to the Presidium of the
Czechoslovakian Communist Party. President Svoboda replaced Novotny and the voting strength moved from 5-5 to 11-4 in support of Dubcek. This gives some idea of the struggle for democracy and freedom in Czechoslovakia.
I think all honourable members will agree that over the past 10 years there has been an easing of tension and a breaking down of the cold war. This stupid blunder of entering Czechoslovakia could start a new arms race. It is my personal view that within the Soviet Union the liberal progressive forces were defeated when the hardline dogmatists and the militarists combined against them. I hate to see in any government, whether it be in the United States of America or the Soviet Union, militarists coming to the top. As history unfolds the events of that tragic day to 20th August when the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union decided to invade Czechoslovakia, will be seen as a victory for the dogmatists, the hardliners and the militarists who rolled their armies into Czechoslovakia. Consequently those events set back the Soviet Union and even the struggle for peace between East and West by a decade.
A decision was made by the six socialist powers in Bratislava on 3rd August. Subsequently the Soviet and its allies broke the agreement. The participants in the conference at Bratislava expressed their firm resolve to do everything in their power to promote all round co-operation between their countries on the basis of the principles of equality, respect for sovereignty and national independence, territorial integrity, fraternal mutual assistance and solidarity. Some of the people in positions of power in the Soviet Union obviously had no intention of keeping to its terms. These militarists and dogmatists have rolled their armies forward. As certain honourable members have said, this sort of thing gives fodder to men like the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) who, on 22nd August, said - and I quote from page 521 of Hansard:
The policy of reliance on the goodwill of Russia’s leading rulers is obviously nonsense, because these men are liars who are out to deceive. They will do to the world, if they can, what they are doing tonight and have done in the past fortnight lo the people of Czechoslovakia.
– Hear, hear!
– The honourable member for La Trobe says ‘Hear, hear!’ There are those who think that all the people in the Soviet Union have this hate, this fear and this distrust, but I do not believe that is correct. I believe that there are people in this world - whether they come from Russia, from the United States or from the East or the West - who want peace. What we have to strive for is goodwill. Pope John said that men of goodwill must strive to make the world a better place in which to live. There must be elements within the Soviet Union that can raise their heads. In an article ‘Alone in a Marxist World’ the famous American newspaper correspondent Harrison E. Salisbury of the ‘New York Times’ gave a ray of hope. He said:
The altitude of Russian Liberals towards Prague had already been clearly set forth in the remarkable manifesto of the Soviet physicist, the father of the Russian H-bomb, Andrei D. Sakharov, made public only three weeks earlier. “There can be no doubt’. Sakharov wrote, ‘that we should support their (the Czechs) bold initiative which is so valuable for the future and socialism and all mankind.’ Sakharov called for Moscow’s full support for the new Czechoslovakia - not only political but economic; he called upon his Government to adopt the same attitudes towards intellectual liberty which Prague had done. lt seemed clear that the brutality of the Muscovite action in Czechoslovakia would reinforce rather than weaken the Russian intelligentsia in their determination to end the debilitating censorship and thought control which, as Sakharov and other liberals noted, was not only damaging Russian development, but a clear violation of the Societ Constitution.
When I was in the Soviet Union I noted an atittude which gave some hope for the future. In Leningrad 1 attended a concert where 4,000 young people listened to music ranging from folk songs to the songs of the Beatles. I felt a warmth radiating from the whole audience. I looked around and I thought that there was some hope for the future. I also found that hope in private and challenging discussions with the people- I spoke about the great healthy pride of the Czechoslovakian people who were prepared to examine minutely the crimes of their past that had been hidden away. I had discussions with members of the political party and challenged them to discuss not only in the political parties but in the schools, aspects of Stalinism, and also to discuss Malenkov and Beria. Until such times as these things are discussed at all levels within the Soviet
Union there can be no freedom and no understanding, only fear, because a country cannot sweep its history under the corner of the carpet. It has to be discussed honestly. When the past is discussed and faced up to honestly past crimes cannot be committed again. I think there is some hope in the Soviet Union. There is no looking over the shoulder, as one is led to believe. One can go anywhere and discuss anything with anybody. It seems to me that the views expressed by Harrison Salisbury prove that there is some hope within the Soviet Union that men of goodwill from the East and the West will strive to make the world a better place in which to live.
When I was at home in bed ill last Thursday I was pleased to note the restraint, with a few exceptions, exercised in the debate on the terrible crime that has been committed in Europe. I say to those honourable members, who have some respect for the friendship of all the Socialist states and for all the people of the world that to give honest and constructive criticism is the only way in which we can bring forward the liberal progressive people who stand against the dogma and the narrowness. Those people have to come forward to make this a better and more tolerant world in which to live. We do not want to see this country move into another arms race, spending more and more of the gross national product on arms, nor do we want to see the United States spending more and more money on arms or the Soviet Union spending more and more on fear campaigns and armies. We want to see more money spent on science and technology to raise the standard of living and to wipe away poverty, disease and hunger. We want to ensure that the under-developed nations of the world receive greater economic aid which will not be spent blindly and stupidly in another arms race.
– I support the motion of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and oppose that of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). The whole of the speech delivered by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) dealt with the invasion of Czechoslovakia. Expressions such as stupid blunder were used during the course of his speech. I can only say that the people of Czechoslovakia must be very happy to know that the honourable member for Reid is on their side. He expressed the disappointment and confusion felt within the left wing of the Australian Labor Party and the various Communist parties in Australia. He attempted to liken the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia to the American presence in Vietnam. He quoted at length remarks made by a Dr Kriegel concerning events which took place before 20th August. I wonder what Dr Kriegel would say about Vietnam now? The honourable member’s leader in the left wing of the Party, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) took this same line last Thursday when participating in the debate on the invasion of Czechoslovakia. On that occasion the honourable member for Yarra said:
The action that has been taken is, as 1 say, incredible, lt is incredibly stupid-
Stupid’ is the important word - on the part of the Soviet Union. It sets back that country’s reputation all over the world by more than a decade.
I see honourable members opposite looking forward happily to the day when the Russians withdraw from Czechoslovakia so that honourable members opposite may commend the Russians for their kindness.
– How stupid can you get?
– There are lots of examples of stupidity in this place, and the honourable member for Wilmot is one.
I would like to draw the attention of the House and the people of Australia to something which concerns me deeply and which I believe is an increasing problem. I refer to the wave of so-called public dissent which is manifesting itself in illegal demonstrations and even riots involving a few academics and some of the student population of Australian universities. Demonstrations, frequently associated with violence, are ruining the reputation of our university students. Most students wish to be left alone to pursue their studies so that they may move as quickly as possible into their chosen field of endeavour. I believe that fewer than 1% of university enrolments comprise the rat bag element which Australians now tend to label all university students. The Australian taxpayer subsidises university education very heavily and is entitled to know where his money goes. He is entitled to know the identity of the activists and manipulators who incite so much dissent. He is entitled to know their motives. We can expect little or no information from university councils. Most councils are heavily weighted with university staff, who are frequently the small but vociferous element. 1 believe that behind this protection the Australian taxpayer and therefore the Australian parent will find the identity of the real trouble makers.
It is our job as the elected representatives of the Australian people to shed some light upon the activities of these trouble makers. Last year the federal taxpayer - I disregard contributions made by State governments - financed more than 8,500 scholarships to Australian universities. This year the Australian taxpayer will provide approximately $8m to South Australian universities alone. The statement of receipts and expenditure for 1967-68, presented by the Treasurer confirms that almost $6m was paid to South Australian universities in direct Commonwealth grants. This does not take into account matching contributions paid by the South Australian Government. The federal taxpayer undoubtedly makes a significant contribution towards the salaries of university staff. I believe that probably 90% of university staff are the conscientious and industrious academics traditional associated in our minds with places of advanced education. It is the remaining 10% whom, I suggest, we should examine more closely. Mostly they disclaim allegiance to any political party. In particular they appear to resent any suggestion of an admiration for Communism. But almost every philosophy and belief which they describe is based on the gospel according to Marx. I can respect a ticket holding Communist, at least for his honesty on that point only, but 1 can only despise the academics and intelligentsia, referred to by the honourable member for Reid, who proudly claim that they are not Communists but who then proceed to propound Communist philosophies. What young mind can find it easy to resist such brainwashing if it is dished out by a university lecturer or professor when all of our primary and secondary schooling - our whole way of life even - trains us to respect and to have absolute confidence in our teachers? University councils should be taking some positive action to curb this redder than red minority. They should not be permitted to stir up so-called student unrest, spreading subversive propaganda in the university’s time as well as their own.
Academics are, quite properly, I believe, among the most highly organised and best paid groups in Australia. Salaries are usually in the vicinity of $12,000 a year. In addition they enjoy superannuation, generous study leave and long service leave. UnfortunatelyI do not have time to list all of the fringe benefits. As far as I have been able to ascertain, academics are subject to virtually no discipline by university councils. When a university appointment has passed the provisional period, which is usually 3 years, the academic appears to be beyond any discipline. Even if university councils were disposed to ensure that the university received value for its money, few seem to be able to bring themselves to attempt to control their unruly colleagues. The Eggleston report, which was presented to the Parliament in 1964, referred to the twin aims of education and research in the universities and to their third function, which is to act as the guardians of intellectual standards and intellectual integrity in the community. The report stated that universities should be ‘proof against the waves of emotion and prejudice which make the ordinary man, and public opinion, subject from time to time to illusion and self-deceit’. The report stated further than universities may be expected to foster outstanding intellects. It stated:
The community may properly expect to draw inspiration from them and to call upon funds of wisdom and experiencewhich ought to be collected within the walls of such academic institutions.
I regret to say that we all are becoming accustomed to seeing some of these guardians of our intellectual standards busily engaged in demonstrations, protest marches and anti-American and anti-government activities, but very rarely against Communist aggression. You can see them almost any day in the city of Adelaide. At least one of them is a fully fledged professor, complete with Beatle-style long hair and Beatlestyle beard, wearing offbeat clothes and bongo beads.
– Do not look at me.
– I am not looking at my friend the honourable member for Angus. I know that he has met in debate on some occasions the gentleman to whomI refer. I strongly urgethe Government to takea stand somewhere in these matters and to insist that university councils choose staff not solely on academic qualifications but also on ability to impart knowledge. Having made an appointment a university council should be strong enough to ensure that the staff gives value for salary and is subject to the same disciplines as apply to any other privileged group of leaders in the community. I repeat that I am not attacking all academics or even suggesting that a majority of academics are like this. What I say is that an unsatisfactory condition does exist and can be solved only by the majority of academics themselves.If academics themselves are unwilling or too apathetic to do anything in this matter, control must be exercised by governments, which, after all, represent those who pay the taxes. The Government might also examine the method of appointing vice-chancellors. I understand that their salaries are negotiated privately and are never divulged. If this is so it seems to me to be a most improper way of handling public funds.
In South Australia two organisations managed by university academics could well be brought from the shadows. One is the local Campaign for Peace in Vietnam, boasting two professors and several Ph.d’s on the executive and an impressive list of academics among its sponsors. Some of the old names fromthe notorious Peace Conferences of 1953 and 1957 continue to appear and there are interlocking connections with the Committee for the Statement on Vietnam as well as the Association for International Co-operation and Disarmament. Despite the tremendous amount of evidence of Communist infiltration into these movements, the South Australian executive of the Ca mpaign for Peace in Vietnam continues to raise and to spend very large sums of money and to devote a great deal of energy in pushing what I believe amounts to Communist peace propaganda. Last Friday, 23rd August, I noticed in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ an advertisement authorised by what is, apparently, a new organisation. This was its first advertisement; I imagine it has just started. It is called Teachers for Peace in Vietnam. Reading through the list of sponsors, I noticed almost the same set of names as we have in the case of the Campaign for Peace in Vietnam.
– The honourable member is afraid to go home at night.
– My idea of peace is entirely different from the Opposition’s idea of peace. Its idea of peace is surrender. The other organisation in South Australia that I would like to mention is the Council for Civil Liberties with its Campaign for Electoral Reform, which also is managed by university academics. Probably they are sincerely interested in protecting the freedom of the individual. But then, Mr Deputy Speaker, who is not? However, they ignore the fact that the Communists use civil liberty ultimately to destroy civil liberty. The President of the South Australian branch of this movement, who was to have visited the Soviet Union is reported in the Adelaide Press to have said that his major concern is the liberty of the individual. It is very interesting to note that a least one member of his committee is a very well known, ticket holding Communist and another is an almost equally well known South Australian clergyman, active in provocative peace demonstrations in Adelaide and something of a specialist in defiling the Australian flag and sanctifying that of the National Liberation Front. Because it is significant, I should like to cite this statement by the President of the South Australian branch of this organisation, which was reported in the Press last week:
It would be hypocritical for me to protest as I have done about the aggression of the US in Vietnam and fail to do so in the case of what appears to me to be an equally immoral action in Czechoslovakia.
I thought that that seemed to tie in rather neatly wilh what the honourable member for Yarra had to say in this debate last week. He said:
I prepared for myself a statement of my view of it so that if somebody happened to ask me later what I said on the day that this thing happened - that sort of question is sometimes asked - I would be able to answer. This is how I saw it:
He then went on to say:
Those who hu ve supported aggression in other places like Vietnam have no right to protest against aggression by the Soviet Union in Czechoslovakia. They can best help Czechoslovakia and best expose the inhumanity of the Soviet Union by ceasing themselves lo support and cany on aggression.
We on the Government side agree with this, but the big difference is that the honourable member for Yarra and his supporters in this place and in the Council for Civil Liberties claim that the allies - and they always mean the Americans - are the aggressors.
– That is the party line.
– That is the staunch left wing party line. We on the Government side believe - the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) referred only this morning to this matter and to the mountain of irrefutable evidence that supports us - that the Communists in the north are the aggressors. I never cease to marvel that there are so many highly trained thinkers in all sorts of disciplines who rush in and gobble up every morsel of Communist propaganda, rather like drug addicts using LSD, and producing a somewhat similar result.
The technique of manipulating fellow travellers and innocent front men and women to advance the cause of international Communism was perfected and described by Communist Party leaders years ago. Never appear in the foreground’, say the Communists. ‘Let our friends do the work. We must always remember that one sympathiser is generally worth more than a dozen militant Communists. A University professor who, without being a Party member, lends himself to the interests of the Soviet Union, is worth more than 100 men with Party cards.’ There can be no doubt that the Communists are getting very good value in this way in Adelaide and I believe that the Australian public is saying loudly and clearly: ‘For heaven’s sake, someone do something about it’. If the university councils cannot or will not, I urge the Government to act.
– I wish to emphasise this afternoon the second clause of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), which refers to the Government’s failure to plan defence procurement and defence expenditure. The purpose of this part of the amendment seems to have been completely misunderstood by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), if one judges by his speech in this House on Tuesday night. The right honourable gentleman refuted any suggestion that Australia will not be better defended because of money appropriated in the Budget. He adopted the conventional inventory approach which has characterised most statements by Prime Ministers and senior members of the Government in this House. This consists of reading a lengthy list of defence purchases in the belief that this constitutes a complete answer to any criticisms of defence policy.
Sir, it is disappointing that the Prime Minister should so readily have succumed to this immature emphasis on conspicuous expenditure. In effect, what his statement on defence expenditure boiled down to was a long list of defence items in search of a coherent rationale for their employment. It is the purpose of the Opposition’s amendment to criticise the whole basis underlying the Government’s defence expenditure and to point up the complete lack of planning and projection of defence costs in the years ahead. It is interesting to note the markedly different attitude of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in the section of this year’s Budget Speech devoted to defence. Honourable gentlemen will recall the note, almost of panic, sounded by the Treasurer last year concerning the rate of escalation of defence expenditure. His tone this year is muted. There is a deliberate playing down of the consequences of unplanned defence expenditure. Both the Treasurer and the Prime Minister have spoken feelingly about how defence expenditure had drained money away from economic growth and the development of economic capacity. Both stressed that Australia would not be helping itself or its allies if capacity were overreached. In his Budget statement last year the Treasurer said:
It is not, however, the present level of defence spending so much as the rate of escalation that concerns us most. Plainly we cannot continue for long to meet anything like Ihe rate of increase of recent years without deep impairment of the economy. . . . Defence subtract from the resources available for growth. It seriously weakens the potential for growth and the capacity to support expanding effort is whittled away.
There is a complete lack of this urgency in the Treasurer’s remarks about defence this year. He notes an increase of 9% in defence expenditure, which is considerably below the average rate of increase of 22% over the years from 1962-63 to 1967-68 which the right honourable gentleman mentioned with alarm last year. The Treasurer says the estimated expenditure of $1,2 17m for 1968-69 is based on a careful assessment of the cost of maintaining defence Services and the establishments and proceeding with their planned expansion and re-equipment.
I believe that both his subdued tone and the slowing-down in the rate of escalation of defence expenditure are largely illusory.
There is reason for very grave concern about the course of defence expenditure in the years ahead. I want to refer briefly to the overseas defence bill for 1968-69. The Treasurer estimates this at $375m, made up of $122m in credits and $2S3m in net cash. Since 1964-65 this overseas spending on defence is about one-third of the estimated net apparent capital inflow for 1968-69. It is about 12% of Australia’s estimated export receipts for 1968-69. This emphasises the very heavy strain on the balance of payments of this external defence expenditure. The real rub of defence spending comes towards the end of the comparatively brief section of the Budget devoted by the Treasurer to defence expenditure. The right honourable gentleman pointed out that the Government’s military advisers are engaged on a most comprehensive review of Australia’s strategic situation and prospects. He said:
When this review has been completed, a new defence programme will be drawn up to carry the planning of our defence capability forward into the 1970s.
The honourable gentleman said that this programme would replace the 3-year programme which expired late last year and which the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) sought to replace earlier this year with a review of his own. The House will recall how the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) slashed this statement of any coherence or significance and humiliated the Minister for Defence by making him read a statement shorn of sense and significance. The Government certainly has not rushed at the task of planning Australia’s defence capability for the 1 970s.
The Prime Minister, during his memorable visit to the United States, among numerous absurd and incomprehensible statements denied that there would be any defence review. He has since gone to remarkable lengths to elucidate for the House the difference between a defence review and a strategic re-assessment. What is certain is that the strategic re-assessment when it comes will be a statement of the obvious. It will contain propositions that have been included in the policy of the Australian Labor Party for some years. The strategic re-assessment will finally announce the Government’s acceptance of British withdrawal from South East Asia as a fact of life which should have been foreseen when the last defence review was made. Planning for such a contingency should have been included in that review. The reassessment will also recognise another essential axiom of Opposition policy: That a military solution in Vietnam is impossible and that America will have largely disengaged from South East Asia by the early 1970s. I believe it will also reappraise substantially the forward defence policy which has spread Australia’s military strength thinly through South East Asia and carried our strategic borders to Ubon and Nui Dat. After the Prime Minister’s statement of self-evident truths, which certainly could have been made at any time in the last 12 months, the Government will resume Australia’s defence planning.
If the Government is capable of resuming viable defence planning after the paralysis induced by British withdrawal and the deterioration of America’s fortunes in Vietnam, then a heavy upsurge in defence expenditure seems inevitable in next year’s Budget. If a 3-year plan is announced at the end of this year it is difficult to see how further heavy expenditure on defence equipment can be avoided in 1969-70, 1970-71 and 1971-72. This will be necessary because the present defence structure lacks both logic and logistics. The last 3-year defence plan has reduced the defence Services to an unparalleled level of incoherence in their contribution to overall defence strategy. We have a Navy which is largely equipped for anti-submarine warfare with very limited strike capacity. Support capacity for land based forces and the ability to transport quickly large numbers of troops by sea lift is also restricted. The Navy has not even adequate capacity to patrol Australian waters, a fact admitted by the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly) himself.
The Army lacks the supporting weapons and the mobility which would enable it to undertake independent operations. This is illustrated by its role in Vietnam where it is completely dependent on American longrange artillery and helicopters. It would be impossible with the present equipment of the defence services to form an air mobile division which could be transported quickly and employed in independent operations effectively. Furthermore, the Army is backed by the Citizen Military Forces which are inadequately equipped and which would be impossible to mobilise quickly in time of limited warfare. The Air Force lacks transport aircraft and is equipped in an extremely lopsided fashion with attack aircraft. We have a high performance intercepter fighter in the Mirage and will have a highly complex and sophisticated weapons system in the Fill. But we have no tactical support aircraft or helicopters which could be used in close support of Army units.
The total picture is of an extremely illbalanced and unco-ordinated structure of forces which completely lack flexibility and mobility. This haphazard structure has evolved because each of the Services has favoured its own area and special interests without concern for total objectives. The Government must accept responsibility for this because of its failure to lay down and insist upon guide lines for the services in formulating their planning. Without these guide lines the individual Services have sought to guarantee their receipt of a larger share in future Budgets by concentrating on spectacular new weapons.
New developments have been undertaken without much interest in or information about total resources requirements. Overall objectives and missions related to these objectives have been sacrificed to the primacy of the individual Services and there has been an aggregation of separate Service plans rather than a unified Department or Defence plan. This has produced the situation that the Australian Services are completely lacking in strategic and tactical balance. New developments have been undertaken without any consideration of their relevance or how they can be linked logically into a coherent defence structure. This has been the net result of the operation of defence planning in Australia in the last decade and, in particular, in the period of operation of the last 3-year defence plan.
It is impossible for Australia to exercise the independent initiatives required in the 1970s with such an imbalance of military forces. At a time when the scope and methods of modern warfare and defence technology have made the conduct of war by individual services operating in separate and independent roles an anachronism the organisation of Australia’s defence is absurdly antiquated. Today there is a diminishing relevance of the traditional boundaries between the Services in the implementation of major missions such as continental defence or limited warfare. At a time of rapid change the Australian structure is still1 geared to a traditional pattern of differentiation between the Services which is no longer relevant. In a period when the mission roles of the Services have become increasingly interchangeable, the Australian forces are lacking in capability for flexibility and mobility.
As the Services exist at the moment, it is impossible to co-ordinate them for the mobile and independent role which, 1 believe, the Government’s strategic reassessment will1 prescribe. Quite clearly, there will need to be considerable rationalisation and re-equipment of the Services, particularly in the areas of transport and support weapons. This implies a considerable increase in expenditure on equipment needed to modernise the forces so that they can be co-ordinated effectively in military operations. This urgent need for reequipment exposes the Australian forces to the dilemma which Canada faced in the early 1960s. Canada found that at a time when considerable re-equipment was needed to bring the forces into line with national1 objectives, the overwhelming proportion of the defence budget was absorbed in maintenance, administrative and personnel costs. There was not enough money for reequipping and modernising the Services.
It is obvious from an examination of the Estimates that the bulk of our defence budget is being absorbed in wages, maintenance and administrative costs. About 70% of the budget for the three Services is absorbed in pay, salaries, administration, repairs, maintenance, stores, accommodation and technical facilities. Only the Army has succeeded in keeping these costs at a reasonably stable level in the past 3 years. The Department of Air estimates show a rise of about 30% in personnel administrative and maintenance costs for 1968-69. and the Navy has estimated that basic costs will increase by $27m while aircraft purchase and manufacture is expected to fall by S20m. This indicates that the amount of money available for re-equipment is shrinking or, at best, is remaining stationary while personnel and administrative costs are rising rapidly. This squeeze on re-equipment comes at a time when re-equipment is imperative if balanced defence forces are lo bc built.
If Australia is to have the modern and mobile military forces it needs, there are only two possible alternatives for the Government: Either the allocation for defence spending can be increased or personnel, administrative and maintenance costs can be reduced to free resources for new equipment. Defence spending currently is running at the rate of about 4.5% of the grass national product at factor cost. If the Services are to be re-equipped in the way T have suggested without a reduction in personnel and administrative costs, rather more of the gross national product will have to be spent on defence. In other words, unless a substantial saving can be made Australia will enter the 1970s spending a proportion of the gross national product on defence which, in the words of the Treasurer, could only gravely impair the economy.
It must be remembered that in addition to new equipment expenditure which the 3- year defence programme will bring, there is stilt a considerable amount to be paid overseas from the last defence plan. In last year’s Budget Speech the Treasurer mentioned a sum of $600m outstanding on defence orders abroad. He has not given any estimate of the sum outstanding in this year’s Budget Speech, but it must be at least $450m. This overlapping can only increase further the burden of defence spending, and unless ruthless pruning can be made of personnel, administrative and maintenance costs it is difficult to see how the defence budget can be kept below 5% of the gross national product from 1969-70 onwards.
The Government has had many opportunities to rationalise and economise in the structure of defence expenditure. It has made only token gestures in this direction since Sir Robert Menzies scuttled the Morshead report which recommended the consolidation of the defence departments. At a time when comparable countries are moving towards increasing integration of the defence structure, Australia retains the most fragmented and least integrated defence structure in the world. There has been no serious attempt to achieve economies by integration which would eliminate duplication and, in some cases, triplication in the defence structure.
The United Kingdom and the United States have achieved substantial economies in manpower and finance by integration of command structures and defence administration. Canada has been forced to the ultimate end of unifying the Services into one defence force under a single Minister of National Defence and a single ChiefofStaff. In Canada it is estimated that elimination of duplicated functions alone will save about one-sixth of the defence budget each year. If a comparable elimination of duplicated functions could be achieved in Australia, this would free about $200m a year for essential re-equipment. However, the Government has made negligible progress towards integration, which is the logical result of the greater interdependence and interchangeability of air, land and sea forces in the modern defence context.
The Minister for Defence has paid plenty of lip service to the need for rationalisation of the defence structure but little has been achieved. The establishment of a tri-service defence college at Duntroon, where all Service cadet officers would get a common training, has been accepted in principle but no progress has been made in setting a timetable for such an integration. The only positive contribution of the Minister for Defence has been th: organisation of joint defence planning now in progress. This much vaunted reorganisation has been described by the Minister as a far-reaching reorganisation of the Department’s planning and staff arrangements. His announcement received a volume of publicity which would not have been inappropriate if immediate unification of the armed Services had been announced. The Minister said that the Joint Service Committee structure would be replaced by a series of planning staffs to deal with long range policy, equipment requirements, joint warfare, joint operations, joint operational logistics and joint Services communications.
I should like to make some brief observations on this reorganisation for which so much has been claimed. Firstly, it is largely an administrative reorganisation of the Department of Defence m a belated attempt to give it more teeth in dealing with individual Service departments. Secondly, it is quite uncertain at this stage how extensive this reorganisation will be. The highly influential Defence Committee and ChiefsofStaff Committee retain all their powers, and individual members are still free to assert the interests of their Services as they always have done. The reorganisation seeks to make the Joint Planning Committee supreme within the Department of Defence and gives it a series of planning staffs to direct.
It is not known at this stage how the other inter-Service committees and the subcommittees which service them will be affected by the reorganisation. Further, it will take at least 2 years for this reorganisation to be effective in any way. This means that the reorganisation will have no impact on the next 3-year defence plan and the expenditure which will flow from it. This 3-year plan will be decided on the same pattern of inter-Service rivalry and jockeying for prestige equipment that always has prevailed. It may have some impact on the subsequent defence plan but this is by no means certain.
In essence, the reorganisation of the Department of Defence is a very minor step in the direction of rationalisation and integration. It will not bring any savings in personnel and administrative costs. On the contrary, it seems that the recruitment of a substantial number of additional personnel for the Department of Defence will increase costs with no commensurate reduction in the individual Service departments. Tt is impossible to see any significant integration of the defence structure with subsequent substantial reductions in costs within the next 5 years. It is also extremely likely that the new defence plan will prove equally as expensive and as illogical and uncordinated as did the last plan. lt is most unfortunate that the new defence plan will be made on conventional lines with almost complete separation between planning and decision making, weapons systems and forces on the one hand and budgeting on the other. Long-range planning for weapons systems, forces and supporting elements still will be made by the Services, largely on the basis of their individual estimates of the forces required to assure national security. There will be no attempt to match objectives with resources.
The Government has missed an admirable opportunity to introduce on a modest scale an integrated planning, programming and budgeting process on the lines followed by the United States and Canada. This would have required the Government to state its defence policy objectives and to submit decision making and expenditure to a rigid process of constant reassessment and control. It would have allowed the feasibility of alternative programmes to be tested by cost effectiveness techniques which are commonplace in Australia’s industrial life. Such functional or mission orientated budgeting, with costs projected at least 3 years into the future, is essential if Australia’s armed forces are to be effectively coordinated. The standard appropriation categories of the existing Budget, as well as being extremely uninformative, can take defence planning only a year into the future. There have been so many promises that there will be a normal 3-year defence review presented to this Parliament by the Prime Minister or by the Minister for Defence. The Opposition and, indeed, all those who are interested in questions of defence in this country, have been anticipating the Government’s programme to be outlined in that review. But the defence review has been held in abeyance. There is still no indication from the Government as to when the defence review will be presented to the Parliament.
Sir, I have referred already to the statement delivered earlier this year by the Minister for Defence. At that time its purpose supposedly was to outline Australia’s defence programme for the next 12 months. It was quite obvious when the Minister for Defence presented thai statement to the Parliament that there was a great deal of difference in the approach that other Cabinet members believed should be made to questions of defence in Australia. The Minister for Defence wanted to state his point of view. However, he was overruled by the Prime Minister. It is quite obvious from what has been said by the Minister for Defence that there are other Cabinet members who support his attitude as against that of the Prime Minister. So, we are still awaiting the 3-year defence review.
There has been talk of integration of the Services, by the Minister for Defence and by others, but there is no plan dealing with this aspect made available to the Parliament or, indeed, to the defence forces generally. Therefore we believe that if some positive action is not taken by this Government in the immediate future along the lines I have suggested, the problems I have referred to this afternoon will continue. If this is not done, the sustained economic growth advocated by the Prime Minister when he addressed the House only a few nights ago, must, in his own words, be stunted by increasing defence spending.
Finally, I believe that Australia’s defence must be stated in terms of basic objectives and that these objectives must be presented in terms of programme budgeting for defence on the lines adopted in the United States and Canada. The Government has failed to give urgent priority to the rationalisation and streamlining of defence planning and organisation along these lines, lt has been possible in Canada and, to a certain extent, in the United States to integrate the forces successfully. There has been, undoubtedly, a large saving, a dramatic saving, in defence spending in those countries. I pointed out this afternoon that much of the money available in our Budget is now being spent on administrative and other costs not related to purchases of equipment.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– The introduction of a Budget by a Treasurer presents an opportunity for a government to put forward its policy for the next 12 months. It also enables Ministers to explain improvements or alterations, as the case may be, within their own departments. The Treasurer may be likened to a candidate at election time who having delivered his opening speech expects to get everybody’s vote. I think we are all familiar with that feeling and that we disregard the fact that all that is probably required is a simple majority. The same position applies in this case, as a simple majority of votes for the Budget will enable the Government to proceed without embarrassment. Following the
Treasurer’s Budget Speech is the Budget debate. Contributions are made to the Budget debate from both sides of the House, usually with the Opposition being critical to the point of moving an amendment. That has happened in this instance. On the other hand, Government supporters show general approval of the Budget but exercise the right to express their own ideas as to the complexity of running the country, with the diversity of potential production, of commerce, of needs, of great natural opportunities and of the hazard of flood, fire and drought that we have inherited.
In the brief period allowed - members of the House are usually allowed half an hour each to debate the Budget, but on this occasion the Whips have requested that each honourable member shorten his speaking time - I will examine the broad outline disclosed by the Budget papers. It is competent for one to speak on any subject as long as one keeps within the time limit, but 1 prefer to deal with the broad outlook of the Budget, realising that the varied sections of the Budget and the varied items have been very fully dealt with over the last week or so and also realising that one would need considerably more time to deal with each matter in great detail.
Even the Opposition must agree that on any standards the Budget must be accepted as a good Budget for Australia. I do not think that there can be any general complaint about it. Admittedly, there are aspects of it that each of us would wish to discuss. In my own interests and the interests of my constituents, I propose to have something to say about it. The Budget generally discloses and stresses the steady growth that has marked the Budgets that have been introduced for many years now, which have prospered and benefited the country. It provides for the needs of people in various walks of life and in varying degrees. It assures production of essential goods within Australia and displays the means of protection for our people and their assets. As I said earlier, it is not my intention to examine the Budget in detail. A more appropriate occasion for doing that is during the Estimates debate or during the debates on the Bills that will be introduced at a later date to give effect to the Budget proposals. However, I wish to comment on matters which have special interest for country dwellers, be they on farms, in towns or in cities, all of which are found in the electorate of Lawson.
There are matters of general interest contained in the Budget which affect all people, and 1 do not intend to deal with those. The Country Party of Australia claims that its members are specialists in the needs of country people, and as a member of that Party I will confine my remarks to matters of special interest to country dwellers. My Party feels that country people, on farm, in town or in city, have a great deal in common. They have worked together to build up the assets that they have today, and they will continue to work with one another to establish in country areas a sort of esprit de corps, so that those who live in outward parts of the State will not be overlooked or forgotten by their representatives in the Commonwealth Parliament at least, and I hope in the other Parliaments in the various States.
Australia basically commenced its history as a primary production country. It is still heavily dependent on agricultural and pastoral industries for its productive income. It is overwhelmingly dependent on those industries for its export income. It has never been questioned that any major disruption of the value of exports of primary produce would be devastating to the economy, particularly to secondary industry, dependent as it is on imports of plant, equipment and raw materials. Those honourable members who recall the depression of the 1930s will realise that one of the two great factors that brought that depression about was the fall in the value of primary production exported overseas. The other factor which had a similar effect was the shrinkage of loan money coming from overseas countries.
That was a classic example of a depression caused through no fault of the people of this country, and through no fault of the farmers and graziers who did their best to supply, as they had done in years gone by, those goods which they set out to produce. The fault lay in the fact that the value of those exports was so poor that the reaction was felt throughout the length and breadth of this land. Many of us struggled along from year to year, but there were others who could not struggle along and had to go out and more or less fall by the wayside. Many of them walked down the roads and called in at every homestead to collect their bag of sugar or tea. We do not want a repetition of that type of depression. In order to prevent it we have adopted certain attitudes in our way of life. Over the years we have prepared for the stabilisation of those industries on which we depend. This is particularly so with the great wheat industry.
The wheat stabilisation scheme has, over the many years it has been in operation, ensured the production of sufficient crops of wheat and the proper distribution of the proceeds from the sale of wheat. Although the wheat stabilisation scheme was originally introduced by a Labor government - a government of the same political colour as the Opposition at the present time - it has been so vastly improved by the present Government since it came into power that it is acknowledged as one of the finest that has ever been operated in any industry. In the Budget Speech, under the heading ‘The Economic Outlook’, the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) makes but a passing reference to the rural scene. This is despite the fact that, as we ali know, primary production is one of the industries holding the stability of this country. The Treasurer said:
In recent months, good rains have fallen over practically all parts of the continent.
That is a fairly bald statement to make, to say that good rains have fallen over practically all parts of the continent. He continued:
If the season holds there could be a record farm output this year. Depending on prices and the level of rural costs, this could bring a considerable lift in rural incomes.
Note the expression, ‘depending on prices and the level of rural costs’. If this could bring a considerable lift in rural incomes it could also bring general prosperity in the towns and cities as well as on the farms. The Treasurer is speculating that following on these good general rains - with the two qualifying factors of prices and the level of rural costs - there could be a considerable lift in rural incomes.
Again, under the heading “The Economic Outlook’, which is supposed to give the people an indication of our prospects in the coming year, this statement was made:
With the ending of the drought-
That is a bald statement, if you like- sales of farm equipment can be expected to pick up.
I think that expression might have been qualified by altering the words ‘sales of farm equipment can be expected to pick up’ to ‘the desire to purchase can be expected to pick up’. At present any thought of buying is probably no more than a desire following the ending of the drought. The statement in the Treasurer’s speech suggests that overnight the banks have become full of money for the farmers to borrow and that the shops are full of farm machinery ready to be purchased. This is ridiculous. A shortage of ready money is one of the problems that we have in country areas now.
The statements I have quoted are typical of departmental thinking. They commence with a brief fact, which then becomes submerged in wishful thinking. I am reminded of the old tale of two mates who were lost in the bush and very hungry. Said one: ‘If we had some bread we could have some bread and butter - if we had some butter’. That is the position in which many of us in country areas find ourselves today. The drought is still fresh in our recollection. We have not forgotten the bad time we went through only a couple of years ago. Our stock position, with depleted herds, is a constant reminder. But overnight, according to statements in the Treasurer’s Budget speech under the heading The Economic Outlook’, the drought is over and everything is bright again. Unfortunately, though we as country people realise that the drought is over, we still have a quite big problem to solve before we are properly back on our feet.
At this time there is a story being told to wheat farmers that the wheat industry is the most prosperous of all rural industries, with one exception. Let us examine the facts. Unfortunately, there is no dissection of farm production costs, but any practical wheat farmer will either deny this assertion or ask that it be qualified in terms similar to those used at page 9 of the publication ‘National Income and Expenditure 1967-68’. I shall quote from a passage headed ‘Income of Farm Unincorporated Enterprises’. Let us have no doubt about the truth of these statements; I am quoting from an official publication that is circulated with the Budget papers. The following statement is made:
The income of farm unincorporated enterprises is tentatively estimated to have decreased by 36% to S867m, the lowest for a decade. Drought and lower prices both contributed to this fall. Costs rose by 2% in 1967-68 compared with an increase of 7% in 1966-67. The slower rate of increase was due mainly to lower marketing costs associated with the heavy reduction in the volume of farm production.
Does this ring true and accord with the story being circulated that the wheat industry is the most prosperous of all rural industries, with one exception?
If we look at the balance of payments position, which is shown at pages 40 and 41 of the ‘Treasury Information Bulletin’, another document issued with the Budget papers, we find that recorded exports were $3.023m for 1966-67 and$3. 045m for 1967-68. Imports were$3,045m for 1966- 67 and$3.268m for 1967-68. I suggest that these figures tell the story very truly. It would seem logical to think, in view of the fact that wool and wheat form a very large part of our exports, that some additional stimulus to the pastoral and agricultural industries, or the farm industries as they are called, might well help to close the gap shown in the figures. On the contrary there is a move at present to change the wheat stabilisation plan which has been so successful, not only for the industry but for all those associated with it, and which has been to our economic benefit. I deplore this move. We feel that it could have been avoided if. it being known that the present plan terminated with the end of the 1967-68 harvest, earlier attempts had been made to have consultations between representatives of the parties concerned - that is, the Commonwealth Government, the States and the wheat growers. After all, these arrangements are dependent for their success on full co-operation.
I am somewhat disturbed to learn that, with so much at stake in the great wheat industry, the Commonwealth should apparently he free to vary an agreement to the point where, as the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) so aptly put it:
If the industry refuses to accept the variation, the consequences would bc quite terrifying - no Australian WheatBoard, no organisation to market and export our wheat and no home consumption price. In other words, the end of a stabilisation scheme of inestimable value to us all.
I suggest that 12 months before the renewal of the 5-year agreement, there should have been consultations between the parties. This would have given growers a knowledge of the conditions before sowing the crop. We are now faced with a crop to be stripped very soon without our knowing what the conditions will be for the handi ng of it during the coming year. lt should be said that the Australian Country Party has always been identified with proposals to assist primary producers, not only for their own benefit but because, as I have frequently said, they are producing foodstuffs for home and for export. The value of these products spreads far beyond their farms, their towns and even their own States. But to obtain the full support to which they are entitled, it is essential that they should have their needs fully documented and their plans supported to the maximum extent within their own ranks. I hope that this temporary problem can be overcome, that the wheat industry will be able to retain its security and that the wool industry will arrive at a suitable arrangement to provide the stability so necessary for its future progress.
While speaking of wheat,I am reminded that the Minister for Primary Industry has intimated that the amount ot the first instalment on the 1968-69 crop may be announced in early October.I ask him to take into account the present shortage of money in country districts. The existence of this shortage should remove any danger of inflation and should enable the payment to remain, as in the past, at $1.10 a bushel.
I wish to speak of many other matters, but I promised that I would limit my speech to 20 minutes. So I regretfully postpone my comments on the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges - work which has been most successful but which has brought with it some headaches that I hope the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) can cure. We have had a tremendous multiplication of the number of trunk lines, but we still, unfortunately, have too many manual exchanges in country areas. However, I mainly wanted to dispose of the story that primary producers are doing well.
They are just carrying on and any assistance that can be given to them will be very much welcomed. I point out that farmers have a record for making good any loans they receive. They have a record for distributing their money. They are good spenders. No section of the community would give a better return for any assistance than would the primary producers and the people who live not only in the western areas of New South Wales but in all the country areas of Australia.
– Last Tuesday night this House heard a shabby and shoddy speech in the Budget debate from our lame duck Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), who said:
We do not intend to seek guns instead of growth at the cost of stunting our growth. We will not ignore our other requirement!! in order to mobilise for war.
Trying to placate both factions in his Government and pleasing neither, he showed us, in such a statement, the measure of his confusion and his indecision. We have not the type of guns that we need and our growth will be stunted by paying for those which we have stupidly imported. They are not only of the wrong type, bought at the wrong time for the wrong purposes and at the wrong prices, so far as we have firm prices at alt, but above all they were bought for the wrong defence strategy. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall), now ostensibly overseas to take delivery of the first of the Fill aircraft, is actually there to negotiate for further time to pay. Imported defence equipment, even of the wrong type, does cost foreign exchange. Without the miraculous inflow of hot money to Australia for the purchase of mineral shares, this year Australia’s foreign exchange reserves would have completely disappeared. Let there be no mistake on that point. The Government hopes for the miracle to repeat itself this year and has put the bra tees on our development accordingly.
This is the crazy irony of it all, that before delivery of the first Fill bought, let it be frankly stated, to drop atomic bombs on Indonesia because of the scare of 1963, 1964 and 1965, the Prime Minister unsuccessfully approached that country for a treaty of friendship, lt is good that he did, but the point I wish lo make is that this is how far our defence planning is behind the march of events. The Prime Minister well knows that our growth was being stunted and our overseas trading position weakened by this stupid rush purchase for which he inherited financial liability. The Government in fact is fudging; it is stalling for time on defence and defence strategy. The deliberate strategic review delay gives it a financial breathing space while it waits to see what will happen next, so bewildered is it by the turn of events and so embarrassed is it financially in its external trading relations.
The Prime Minister’s speech is typical of his confusion and his ineptitude. He is still a senator groping his way in the House of Representatives - the poorest Prime Minister this country has ever seen. A budget, in its final analysis, is an expression of the political values of the government of the day. In this case it is notable for its lack of them. Through its budget a government can regulate the level of economic activity, achieve redistribution of income, calculate natural resources and determine the rate and character of economic growth. The present Budget is artful; it is also snide and hypocritical. It is a budget of a government which is running scared. We can have no cause for satisfaction over Australia’s true rate of economic growth. There are today forces operating in the economy which are severely hampering the growth of natural productivity. For these the Government is directly to blame. Here are the words of Sir James Vernon, whose committee’s report on the Australian economy was so promptly buried by the Prime Minister. It was too hot to handle. This is what he said, as reported in the London ‘Times’ a few weeks ago:
To think that everything will move in favour of primary produce is naive; to think that minerals can bale Australia out of all its troubles is equally naive. Investors could cut their Australian commitments from a torrent to a trickle.
I remind honourable members that Sir James Vernon predicted that by 1974 the outflow of dividends, payments and royalties would have exceeded the inflow of investment capital. Those conditions have almost already arrived. Again, I quote the words of another gentleman who was most probably a supporter of the Government. I refer to
Sir Charles McGrath, the chairman of the celebrated Repco Ltd automobile engineering firm, who said a fortnight ago:
We are sailing too close to the wind. We have ignored a trading deficit of $5,500m in the past 10 years, and this by any stretch of the imagination is not paying our way. Mineral exports alone will not solve the balance of payments problem. The blaze of publicity given to minerals has given a false impression that the balance of payments problem was nearly solved.
This country is suffering from fragmentation of thought, lack of planning and absence of national priorities. There are sharp differences of opinion as to the importance of this or that sector of our economy, be it primary, secondary or tertiary. This is narrow minded nonsense. It is time that Australians grew up and developed a truly national outlook on our economy. Exports need to be developed in the next 10 years. How they are to be developed in all the fields of secondary production with the current restrictive franchises on exports is a question to which this Government has no answer. The main economic dangers facing this Government are, firstly, a rising bill for defence imports; secondly, a continual decline in terms of trade for primary exports; thirdly, a growing Australian dependence on the volatile Japanese economy; and fourthly, the slow rise in exports of manufactured goods.
This Budget is like a house built on shifting sand. Its foundation is over-dependence on a miraculous flow of capital fleeing from Great Britain and its devaluation. The Government, I repeat, is running scared because a check in the Japanese economy would reduce mineral export earnings, and tightening of exchange controls by either the United Kingdom or the United States of America would reduce capital inflow. These are the tantalising years to which the Treasurer referred when speaking recently to a sophisticated business audience in Sydney. The tantalising years are those in which a worsening turn in our world prices for primary produce would erode mineral export price increases. Australia today is completely vulnerable, as never before, to sudden shifts in internal capital movements. In addition, it is vulnerable, as always, to world commodity price changes.
With great unction the Treasurer has announced this Budget as a compassionate one. Never was so little largesse handed out with so much flourish. The 50c weekly increase denied to the aged, the ill and needy last year has been given to them, together with a 50c increase. The Government’s benevolence has not even restored the pensioners to the purchasing power of 1966. There is an old Celtic belief that at the foot of the rainbow was to be found the leprechaun’s pot of gold. At the foot ot the McMahon rainbow Australia’s pensioners have found only a dollar hill from Dollar Bill. Even interpreting the increase as conscience money, it shows the narrow limits of the Government’s conscience. I remind honourable members of the words of a recent report of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, which has done such wonderful work in Melbourne in an investigation of poverty. The report stated:
Poverty is a nagging fear of insecurity; il is having to pay almost half the pay packet for inadequate housing for a family. … lt is the nagging pain of a toothache or illness that can only be relieved by a long and costly journey for free treatment to a dental or public hospital. . . lt is the razor’s edge on which the family budget is balancing. One slight extravagance, one hire purchase too many, and the structure comes tumbling down. … lt is the widow or deserted wife who has to work each day and leave her children - providing she can obtain such work - not knowing whether they are safe after school.
Here are the words of the South Coast Labour Council, within my own constituency, speaking for some 40,000 trade unionists. The letter that I received reads:
At the last meeting of Council held August 14 a resolution was carried strongly condemning the Federal Budget of August 13 as a Budget designed to defraud the salary earners and the pensioners. This is a Budget that has failed to recognise ordinary people - the old people, the young people, the people raising families.
The Budget has completely ignored the necessity to increase child endowment and maternity allowance. The Budget imposes an additional burden on lower income groups by increases in indirect taxation, thus taking an increased proportion of workers’ earnings.
I will have more to say on that point later. The letter continues:
The Government has completely disregarded ihe programme of the ACTU for improvements in social services generally. The Government lias robbed health and education by huge increases in defence spending.
The miserable $1 increase for pensioners should stand condemned by the community. The increase in TV and radio licences and the increase in sales tax on necessities Wm deprive the pensioners of any advantages from the increased pension.
We will call on the Federal Government to withdraw the Budget and replace it with a budget in the interests of the ordinary people.
If proof were needed of the snide thinking of the crafty calculation of the Treasury it is to be found in the ratchet effect of the present pay as you earn taxation structure. In 1 954-55, when his average earnings were $34.30 per week, the average Australian taxpayer paid 4.3% of his income in wages tax. Today, with average weekly earnings of S64 per week, he is paying just over 12%.
A liberal Government will scarcely contradict a report by a namesake of mine, a certain J. K. Connor, LI.B., released by authority of the Liberal Forum of the Liberal Parly of Australia. He stated that an average middle level salary earner with a net income of S98 per week pays in income tax $835. In Canada he would pay SA550. and in the United States of America &A500. The same report stated that under a government demanding the highest possible level of individual enterprise and effort one would not expect to find an income lax system which so actively discouraged initiative and enterprise. The report further attacked the taxation structure as discouraging and destroying the pattern of investment so as to encourage artificially high prices for agricultural land and to destroy the pattern of returns on them. The report literally blasted the present tax structure as being a ‘battery of provisions which reflected a vision of closing taxation loopholes - nol that they should not be closed - rather than studying basic tax and interrelated economic principles’.
The best of all Australians are those who are rearing young families of Australian citizens. Their needs have been brutally ignored in child endowment, tax concessions and maternity payments. Price control for all commodities affecting living standards is vital, and a Labor government will certainly introduce it with the overwhelming support which it can anticipate by referendum. The Australian tax structure has reduced the level of personal consumption as a proportion of gross national expenditure from 64% to 59% in the last 5 years. Australian personal consumption is already significently below the standards of other developed comparative countries, particularly the United Kingdom and the United States. In further proof of the snide nature of this
Budget 1 quote the Financial Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald’. On 21st August, he said:
Two years ago the Federal Treasury could assume that it would receive in taxation (both direct and indirect) about 25% of any increase in statutory wage rates declared by the arbitration authorities. Today, as average incomes have moved up the graduated tax scale, the Commonwealth can expect to reap nearer 30% of any wage rise’.
The Treasury estimates of pay-roll tax receipts for this year is exactly 8.5% higher than last year’s actual revenue, but the estimates for pay as you earn income tax collections for the same comparable period ending 30th June 1969 are up by 13.4%. The difference between these alone would give the Commonwealth additional revenue amounting to $75m from wages taxation this year. This is a moderate estimate of the extent of the Federal Government’s inbuilt annual windfalls from the ascending scale of income tax rates as people’s money income advances in line with rising living costs. Last year’s actual windfall was even better; the Treasury picked the workers’ pockets to the tune of S90m for increased wages tax in that year.
I repeat that the Budget is snide. The whole tax structure is dishonest, unfair and oppressive. It bears most heavily on the low and middle income wage and salary earners and their families. Savage penalties on trade unions are weakening the power of the trade unions to fight these injustices. The basic wage and margin principles have been destroyed. Quarterly wage adjustments have been abolished. Price control on food, clothing and living costs is non-existent, and fares for travelling to work are not tax deductible. The Treasurer and the Government have abandoned all pretence of impartiality in relation to the arbitration system. The first step by this Government in undermining arbitration was to intervene through counsel who claimed to be speaking in the national interest. This has been taken further, by direct and repeated pressure both in Parliament and on public occasions, by the Treasurer’s outbursts. His comments in the presence of Sir Richard Kirby, President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission some weeks ago in Sydney were an all time low in direct Government coercion of a hitherto independent tribunal.
To every application for a wages increase to catch up with increasing living costs the stereotyped reply comes from the employers’ advocates that there can be no increase without a rise in production, lt is relatively easy for management to think that the solution to this problem is that they should get even more work from their employees. lt is more demanding intellectually for management to analyse how to use its plant and its capital more productively and, above all, how to improve the quality of its own managerial decision-making. As was magnificently stated by the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr E. James Harrison), no statistical index of industrial productivity exists. This Government completely destroyed the legislation of the Chifley Government which was designed to set up an Office of Economic and Industrial Research whose functions were to collect and compile, and keep up to date, information which might be of assistance to the Arbitration Court and to carry out research in respect of such matters as directed. The information collected was to have been available to any person or organisation wishing to obtain it. The findings of the Office of Economic and Industrial Research would have eliminated months and years of unnecessary argument and evidence in applications for wage increases. The system of managerial education in Australia today is lagging far behind that of most other western democracies. Expenditure by Australian companies in industrial research and development lags well behind that of other developed and developing countries. In the highly competitive world of industrial technology Australian industry expends on research only about 10% of the amount per capita expended in the United Kingdom and 6% of that in the United States of America. I quote here another leading industrialist, Sir Samuel Jones, of Standard Telephones and Cables Pty Ltd. He said in Sydney last week that unless something very positive is done by improved industrial management the 1970s would be bad for Australia in spite of what a lot of people have been saying recently about our spectacular new mineral developments and that very many sectors of Australian industry could undoubtedly raise their own standards of planning and administration before attacking the workers whom they employ and for whom they provide the means of production.
It is in the field of indirect taxation that the Treasurer and the Government surpass themselves in pocket picking. For the year 1967-68, excise duty on beer, petrol, diesel fuel, tobacco and cigarettes yielded S854m. The total tax paid by the private and public companies of Australia totalled S837m. The ordinary consumers, the ordinary people of Australia, paid SI 7m more than did all the industrial and agricultural giants. 1 turn now to another critic of this Government. These are the words recently uttered by Professor Whitmore, professor of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Sydney: lt is in Australia’s interest not to live on overseas technology hut to develop her own based on the special characteristics of her raw materials.
He said that there was no overall policy for the proper development of mineral resources based on a determination to observe and control Australia’s interests, and very little appreciation of the urgency for formulating one, and that piecemeal decisions had been made on the basis of various partial criteria, some of them rather emotional, and all based on inadequate data. He also said that the oil exploration policy could be taken as an example. I am glad to see the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) at the table. Professor Whitmore further said that he was not suggesting that the policy decision of paying an incentive bonus on crude oil was in itself short-sighted, but the shortness of vision was in not providing safeguards against the situation which was likely to develop if the policy successfully achieved its objective in encouraging a vigorous search for oil; and that it was to be hoped that the off-shore drilling provisions proved equitable for Australia in the long run, although the present portents were not encouraging. He said that in certain sections of the mining industry there was a real danger that Australian companies could come under the direct control of overseas groups for the purchase of shares through the usual channels, that up to date figures were urgently required to assess the amount of paid-up capital and shareholders funds going into mining enterprises, and that Japan had set an example in this respect by releasing regularly figures showing the amount of foreign capital in the share market.
He stated that it was high time Australia instituted a similar practice, that there were dangers in a heavy inflow of foreign capital to the recipient nation which could lose a grip on its destiny by the intrusion of policies and objectives of overseas companies through the medium of their Australian shareholders. He also said that friction was unlikely to occur whilst there was close alignment between the overseas policy of the foreign country and the investment recipient, but difficulties were almost certain to occur when policies diverged. He said that association with foreign mining companies did not ensure that we would have access to modern technology, that rethinking of the role to be played by the Government in teaching and research was essential, and that government direction was almost urgently needed on how our limited scientific resources could be best deployed for the common good.
I should like to quote in conclusion from a book which has created a sensation in Europe. I have quoted from this book on previous occasions in this House, lt is by a Frenchman named Servan-Schreiber and is entitled: “The American Challenge’. In it, the author said:
During the past ten years, roughly from the end of the Cold War and the launching of the first Sputnik, American power has made an unprecedented leap forward. It has undergone a violent and productive internal revolution. Technological innovation has now become the basic objective of economic policy. In America today the government official, the industrial manager, the economics professor, the engineer, and the scientist have joined forces to develop co-ordinated techniques for integrating factors of production. These techniques have stimulated what amounts to a permanent industrial revolution. The Americans call it ‘cross-fertilisation.’
The originality of this revolution consists precisely in the effect this fusion of talents has on decisions made by government agencies, corporations, and universities.
This combination of forces has been called, by Professor Galbraith, a ‘technostructure’. The author continues:
The power, the speed, the pervasive nature of American investment are a warning and a challenge to us. What kind of future do we want? lt is time for us to take stock and face the hard facts, otherwise we will face a rude awakening. He further said that today we have barely time enough to comprehend what is happening to us. I shuddered when I listened to the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr Gorton), the man who is supposed to give a lead to this country, the man who is supposed to be its most advanced, its most capable and far-sighted citizen, saying that this country was capable of further national development. The influx of overseas technology is already here. It is not merely the inflow of capital - I exclude the recent inflow of hot money for share purchasing purposes - that is important. This country generates 90% of its own capital requirements. Only 10% of the capital that is coming in from overseas is imported. The important thing is that together with that 10% is coming technology, managerial expertise, royalties patents, processes and superior scientific and technical knowledge.
The Americans are not to be blamed for what they are doing; we are to be blamed for not erecting the proper defences, and this Government itself is to be blamed because of its incapacity and its ineptitude. Today the danger for any industrial country is economic aggression. Economic aggression is occurring in Australia today and this Government is incapable of doing anything about it.
– I do not intend to follow the rantings and ravings which the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) so laboriously read to the House. We on this side of the House have only 20 minutes in which to speak. Incidentally, it is interesting to note that while we have voluntarily cut our time down the Opposition has so little support for the censure motion moved on the Budget that it is not able to get sufficient speakers to keep the debate going.
– I rise to order. I should like to point out to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the statement made by the Minister is completely incorrect.
– Order! There is no substance in the point raised by the honourable member.
– I want to refer to some remarks made about my particular portfolio by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I must say that he made remarkably few on this occasion. But we have always noted that he is a person who has very little interest indeed in national development. He said that this was not a development Budget, that there is no mention at all of any new planning for developmental projects.
It may be almost true to say that there is no mention in the Budget itself of new projects, but when we come to look at the full Budget we see that provision is made for new projects of a total value of tens of millions of dollars. What the Leader of the Opposition has tried to do in his usual style of telling half truths is to engage in a sort of legal quibble and to make it appear that the Government has not gone ahead with national development. In actual fact, many new projects have been included. I shall refer to some of them. Provision of $2.5m for the main dam on the Ord River scheme appeared in the Budget for the first time this year. When completed, the Ord dam will be by far the largest water storage in Australia. Provision has been made for water research scholarships. Provision of $3m for the Emerald dam appeared in the Budget for the first time this year. Provision of Si. 5m has been made for salinity weirs on the River Murray, and they are almost completed. An amount of $14m has been provided for the Gorden River power development scheme in Tasmania. An amount of $15m has been provided for the gas pipeline from Gidgealpa in South Australia. An amount of $1,250,000 has been provided for new long-term programmes in area 3 of the brigalow scheme. Provision of $7,850,000 has been made for beef roads, for which we now have a 7-year programme. Yet the Leader of the Opposition says that there is no provision in the Budget for spendings on new development projects. I wonder whether he has been able to read or to comprehend the Budget.
What is national development? I have referred only to those projects associated very directly with national development. But there is also the expenditure in the Northern Territory. An amount of $6,750,000 has been provided for roads, stock routes and water schemes in the Northern Territory. If you spread the net further to roads and railways you find that another $300m has been provided in the Budget. This is the greatest contribution that has ever been made towards national development in the history of the Commonwealth Budget. Of course, decisions on national development are not made at
Budget time in the same way as they are made on whether we are going to increase pensions or repatriation benefits. Decisions on national development are made as a result of discovery, assessment, mapping and development of our great national resources. They are made after a very full and very thorough assessment of the costs and the benefits that will come from such development.
During the course of the year one naturally expects to see a number of projects on which work has reached the stage where a decision can be made and which can be included in the Budget. For example, while we have made some contribution with the national water resources development programme, another six programmes are now being considered and it is hoped that within a matter of months we will have sufficient information to at least allocate some more money for the programme. Also, for quite a considerable time work has been continuing on the site of a possible new storage on the River Murray. 1 hope that by the end of the year the River Murray Commissioners will have sufficient information available to them to make a decision, because a new storage is urgently required on that river. I mention these matters to point out that decisions on national development are not just thrown in at Budget time. Intense study is made and cost-benefit analyses are prepared, and decisions are based on the results of these analyses.
The Leader of the Opposition in his speech made a very snide remark in which he alleged that the decision to proceed with the major dam on the Ord River was taken because there was a Senate election pending. I suppose that he has to find something to put in his speech on the Budget, but surely he knows - and he can check with the Western Australian Government if he does not know - that the late Mr Harold Holt and I were in Western Australia in September and we met the members of the Western Australian Cabinet. We said: ‘As soon as you get your final results on this year’s crop on the Ord we will give the matter high priority, we will consider it, we will come to a decision and we will let you know as soon as we possibly can’. The members of the Western Australian Cabinet said: ‘AH right, we will have the final results on cotton and the other crops by the second half of October’. We duly looked at these. There were improvements, particularly in two fields. One improvement was that for the first time we saw an alternative crop to cotton emerging. This crop was sorghum, which has given remarkable results in the Ord. Another improvement was a new variety of cotton called Stoneville, from which greatly increased returns were expected. Costs were better and stub cotton proved itself on a much larger scale. The net effect was that the Government was in a position to make a decision, and it made the decision. If it had wanted the maximum electoral kudos out of the Ord, of course, it would have given a decision a year earlier, when there was a general election pending, not at a time when there happened to be a Senate election pending.
The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), who is the shadow Minister for Northern Development, had been saying for 4 years: ‘You ought to go ahead with the Ord’. We decided to go ahead and his leader says: ‘But you only did it for electoral purposes’. How divided is the Australian Labor Party? We all know that its hands are not too clean in these matters. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. We all remember that great occasion just before the 1949 election when, with magnificent pomp and ceremony, the first charge was blown on the Snowy Mountains where the dam was to be situated. It was not until the charge had been exploded and the echoes had died away that it was found that they had blown the charge 4 miles upstream from where the dam was finally built. The current Budget provides the greatest Commonwealth spending on national development that has ever occurred in the history of Federation. This is over and above State spending from loan funds, tax reimbursements and State taxes.
The States have constitutional responsibility in a number of fields. For example, take water. The last year has been an exceedingly difficult one as far as water is concerned. Everyone has been calling for a greater effort to be made in water conservation. The States have constitutional authority in this field and they have stepped up their spending quite considerably. But we have a developing programme, which recently has increased very considerably, in Which the Commonwealth gives assistance to the States for water conservation. First, we set up the Australian Water Resources Council. An accelerated programme of assessment of surface water and of underground water has been undertaken - a 10- year programme, with the Commonwealth supporting the States quite strongly. Then we provide financial assistance for projects which are regarded as being so large that they are not within the resources of the individual States. Such is the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric scheme. We have already spent S660m on this scheme, and we will have spent $800m by the time it is completed. Another $49m will be spent on the Ord. Additional money has been spent on the Western Australian comprehensive water scheme, on flood mitigation in New South Wales, on the Blowering clam, on the River Murray Commission and the like. The Commonwealth has made a very considerable contribution to assist the Slates in these projects.
Over and above that we have said that we would introduce - and we have introduced - the national water resources development programme under which an amount of not less than $50m will be made available to the States over a period of 5 years. Already the Emerald dam scheme and the salinity weirs on the River Murray have been allocated grants under this programme. Then we have retained, as a consultant body, the technical investigation team in the Snowy Mountains Authority which has shown itself lo be so competent and so outstanding in water resources investigation and hydrological work in Australia. Already work is flowing in to this body from outside organisations, and I believe that it has more than 400 man-years of work ahead of it.
Lastly, in this Budget we have filled in yet another gap. Though it is a relatively small gap, it is very necessary to be filled. A fund has been established to enable improved research to be carried out into water resources. Research will be carried out into such matters as the hydrology of small catchments with particular reference to the yield of farm dams; the effects of changes in land management on quantity and quality of water available; improvement of techniques for measuring stream flow; improvement of techniques for finding and developing underground supplies; and artificial recharge of underground storages. Those are the sorts of things that this research fund will support and make available to people for study. This is a most useful and interesting field in connection with water.
The Leader of the Opposition, in proposing his amendment, which amounts to a motion of censure of the Government, said that the Budget was inadequate in that it did not make provision for the Government to retain control and promote development of Australia’s mineral, fuel, land and marine resources. As honourable members realise, the development of mineral resources in Australia, other than in the Territories, is in the hands of the State governments. The Commonwealth has certain fields of authority, but the original decision to grant a permit to explore is in the hands of the relevant State government and after a discovery is made by a particular company it is the State government which gives the licence or lease and which states the various terms and conditions in that licence or lease.
Sometimes I wonder what members of the Opposition want. Are they saying that the States should allow people to come in, discover resources and get them up to the stage of development, and should then say: *We are sorry. Yours is an overseas company, or a company with a proportion of overseas money; so you cannot develop your discovery’? That would be ludicrous. Do they say that in respect of the project on the Savage River in Tasmania, for example, where a company largely owned by overseas capital, although it has some Australian capital, has been given a permit by a Lab/r government? I know that the case was put to me very strongly that we should allow that development to proceed. What can the Commonwealth do? It can refuse an export permit. We have done that on occasions on the ground of cost. But I certainly would not do it just because the company concerned happened to have a larger proportion of overseas ownership than we would desire. We want to see the greatest possible Australian participation, ownership and management.
I know that the honourable member for Cunningham will be interested to learn that we are setting up an Australian Minerals Council. I have written to my counterparts in the States on this matter, and they have agreed to meet in Canberra later in the year. At that meeting we will be able to discuss many of the problems associated with the proper development of mineral resources. It is interesting that members of the Opposition call out: ‘Go home Yank’; but usually they are the first to try to woo the Yanks back again when they look like going. Every Labor leader who becomes Premier of a State immediately goes overseas to try to attract overseas capital to his State. What would members of the Opposition do? Would they reduce the pace of development? Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition is referring to oil. Here again the States are in control of the licences and permits relating to areas on land. Only in respect of off-shore oil do the Commonwealth and the States, through the joint legislation, each have a measure of control.
I was very interested to read that the Leader of the Opposition, who showed so little interest in the off-shore oil legislation that he did not speak on one occasion during the many hours for which it was before this chamber, went to Melbourne recently and launched a book which was written by the Leader of the Opposition in Victoria, Mr Holding, and which is called The Good Oil’. Where did they hold this launching? One might have expected that they would hold it at the Trades Hall, but I realise that there is just a little stiffness between the Leader of the Opposition in this place and some members of the Labor Party. They did not hold it there. One might have expected that they would hold it in a small hotel or somewhere else like that. However, in the Press yesterday we read:
Yesterday, at a lavishly mounted Press conference at the Southern Cross Hotel. . . .
An American owned hotel was selected by the Leader of the Opposition for the launching of a book which is a most extraordinary one. It contains a great many inaccuracies. The first very interesting passage in the book is in the preface. I presume that the Leader of the Opposition in this place agrees with these words, as he supported the launching of the book. The preface states:
I wish to thank all those experts and interested people who have given so freely of their knowledge and who, for obvious reasons, wish to remain anonymous.
Why would a person wish to remain anonymous if he gave information to the Leader of the Opposition in Victoria? The reason would be either that he divulged information that was given to him in confidence or that he is in a position of trust such as a public servant or oil company employee occupies, and that he disclosed information given to him in trust.
What a shocking thing it is to start a book such as this by stating that people who have given information wish to remain anonymous. It is no wonder that they wish to remain anonymous, because so much of the information that they gave is inaccurate. If a person wishes to put out a book such as this for 30c a copy - I must admit that mine was given to me free - why should not he make certain that the facts are correct even if the inferences drawn from the facts are flavoured with the Labor view? But, of course, the Leader of the Opposition in this place has never allowed facts to cloud the issue if he has thought it politically expedient to take a certain view.
Let me refer now to the other most extraordinary passage in this book. It is the one in which the Leader of the Opposition in Victoria, supported by the Leader of the Opposition in this place, says:
On reflection, we can now ask why the Victorian Government, or one of its instrumentalities, did not adopt the BHP role and invite Esso to join it in such a profitable partnership.
In other words, what the Labor Parry in Victoria is recommending is that the State Government kick out the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd - the great Australian company which had the lease and which got an overseas partner to work with it - and associate itself with the overseas company and make use of its funds. That is what the Victorian Government should have done, says Mr Holding. What an extraordinary situation it is that a magnificent company that has done so much to develop Australia would, if Mr Holding had had his way, have lost all its leases so that the Esso company could benefit. Really this is a most extraordinary proposition. I could go on, but unfortunately I have not time to do so. I have to finish my speech very shortly.
Let me mention one final passage in this book. It says that the public will not benefit either directly or indirectly. What arrant nonsense that is. In one of the many areas in which companies have been trying to find oil, it has been found. Of course, in
Labor’s view the greatest sin is to be successful. It is ludicrous to say that the public will not benefit. There will be reduced prices for gas. Already heavy royalties are being paid. Enormous royalties will be coming from these discoveries. Taxes will be paid. It has been assessed that 50% of the profits will come back to governments in one way or another. In regard to overseas balances, today we import $340m worth of oil, but very soon we will be at least 80% self sufficient. Products such as liquid petroleum gas will be exported. Petrochemical industries will be set up. Employment will be available in pipeline construction, ship building and other fields.
The joint legislation was supported by all the Labor Premiers. The Government led by that white haired boy of the Labor Party, Mr Dunstan, was the first one to enact the legislation. By comparison with the Leader of the Labor Party in this place, he is a statesman, because he realised that the legislation would benefit all Australia. I conclude by saying that it is just a legal quibble and a half truth to say that in this Budget there is no mention of new spending on development projects. Far from not being a development Budget, it will make the greatest contribution to national development that the Commonwealth has ever made in its history.
– It is a well known fact that as the Budget debate comes round each year speakers cannot always have something fresh to say. After all, the problems are much the same this year as they were last year and as they will be next year. Many honourable members are advocating certain changes. I find that the best way to get something done, whether under a Labor government or a LiberalCountry Party government, is to keep at it all the time in the House. I have said here before that once upon a time I was able to help to obtain £300,000 for dried fruit growers in Victoria when growers in other States received nothing. It was said that every time I got up in the House I spoke about dried fruit growers and how they wanted financial assistance from the Federal Government. Honourable members may have heard 3DB, a broadcasting station in Melbourne, broadcast an advertisement for Robur tea. When the Robur tea advertisement came on the air a certain person there would supposedly smell the aroma of the teapot and say: ‘Ah! Robur.’ When I got up in the House after talking about dried fruit for months and months, all the Labour members who are so loudly cheering me now would say: ‘Oh! Dried fruits again.’ One must be consistent in this House and keep on dealing with a subject. I find members generally approve of that. It may be called ‘tedious repetition.’ It is not. It is good advocacy. I am saying this because I have no exception to this rule and some of the things I am going to say tonight are things I have said on other occasions.
Let me mention first of all, as I have done so often, water conservation. Since the drought certain Labour members have been advocating water conservation for the first time but for years and years we did not hear anything about it from them. When the drought hit Melbourne, Labour members said: ‘We want greater water conservation.’ I ask the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) who is trying to interject, how often he had spoken about water conservation before the drought hit Melbourne. Absolutely not at all. Now he would like people to think that he is the great advocate of water conservation. Surely, if nothing else, I have been consistent because in this House year after year I have said that we must have priorities for Government expenditure. The first priority is defence. It is No. 1. What is the good of having wheat farms, houses, motor cars and parliaments if we cannot defend them? Therefore, No. 1 priority for government spending is defence. When the din of all the interjections dies down I will go on. I wish I had more time in which to speak. No. 2 priority is water conservation for the simple reason that we can grow wheat, wool and certain crops on dry land, but the additional crops we could grow and that we have an Australian and export market for are irrigation crops. Therefore, No. 2 priority is very definitely water conservation. Someone might say to me: What about the pensioners? I am all with the pensioners for the simple reason that if we have water conservation and can build up our irrigation areas in this country there is not the slightest doubt that we will have enough money to give the pensioners more and to lift the standard of living in Australia.
I have listened to the speeches of the Labor Party members very closely. I listened to the speech of the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) just now. I thought that his first three or four remarks about the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) - honourable members can read them in Hansard if they did not hear them - were a disgrace to this Parliament. I have been here a long time. I do not agree with the policy of the Opposition but I appreciate their friendship. When you hear the member for Cunningham speaking you would think every member of the Government was a scoundrel. I object to this. It is wrong. I never cease to marvel at the speeches of Labor Party members after our 19 years in Government and their 19 years in opposition. As soon as Parliament reassembled in 1950 after the general election the first thing Labor members said was: ‘As soon as we get another election we will defeat this Government’. They have made a lot of attempts to do so since. They have been completely unsuccessful and now the Government is stronger than it has ever been in the history of Australia. On the other side, the Opposition is weaker than it has ever been. Still, tonight, we heard the honourable member for Cunningham say that if Labor gets the opportunity it will throw the Government out.
I want to deal with one or two details. When someone like the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) starts interjecting, perhaps I should give him preference. He recently said: ‘What is the Country Party doing about decentralisation?’ He said that Labor wanted to build a satellite city at Maryborough, Bendigo or some other place. Does he mean to tell me that the Labor members in metropolitan Melbourne, if the satellite city were in Victoria, would allow industries to go from Melbourne to that other centre?
– Of course they would.
– Let us talk about the honourable member for Scullin.
-Order! I would suggest that the House come to order and that interjections and assistance on the left hand side of the honourable member for Mallee should cease.
– He is provoking us.
-The honourable member for Watson wilt not be here to be provoked if he does not obey standing orders.
– I can assure you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that I do not want any assistance in making this speech. I was speaking about the honourable member for Scullin. If this scheme that the honourable member for Newcastle was talking about came about and it was proposed to transfer elsewhere an industry that is working satisfactorily in the electorate of Scullin, the honourable member for Scullin would say that it must stay where it is because all the people employed in that industry would be dealing in the shops in his electorate. The first thing a member of Parliament has to do is to stay in parliament, because if he is put out of parliament he cannot do anything. The honourable member for Scullin knows that rule. I hope he comes back here after the next election.
– I raise a point of order. Mr Deputy Speaker. Will you stop the honourable member for Mallee from provoking the honourable member for Scullin?
-Order! I want to pass one word to the House in regard to these facetious points of order. If members persist .in taking facetious points of order the Chair will take action against those members who continually do this.
– I have only a short time in which to speak. I hope that the Government Whip will give me extra time when I am due to sit down. I was referring to the honourable member for Newcastle and his great scheme of decentralisation. I want to quote what the honourable member for Newcastle said in an AddressinReply debate after this Government came into office. On 21st March this year he said:
In my opinion the real producers is Australia are those people engaged in secondary industries, not those engaged in primary industries.
All the time we hear other Labor members saying that they support primary industry and what a great thing primary industry is. Here is a man who comes out and tells us very definitely that that is not so. The honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) has just come in to the chamber.
– And full of fight, too.
-Order! The honourable member for Mallee will resume his seat. I warn the House for the last time: The honourable member who makes the next interjection will be named without any further warning.
– If the honourable member for Hunter is full of fight, as he said he is, I can accommodate him. Let me quote what the honourable member for Hunter said in this House yesterday. He said this:
The Government, under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act, requires the States to spend not less than 40% of the money it grants on roads for rural areas other than main roads. This imposes on the States a burden that they cannot carry.
Does the honourable member for Hunter think that it is a burden on the States to spend money that is given to them? Surely he does not suggest that. I think he was having an indirect hit at the provision that 40% of roads funds shall be spent on roads in rural areas. I think he wanted more of the money to be spent in the metropolitan area. In doing this he illustrated the centralisation policy of the Party that he represents.
The greatest complaint from which Australia is suffering at present is prosperity. It has been said very truly that for every nine men who can stand adversity, only one can stand prosperity. A study of history shows that the collapses of nations in the past was caused not by bad times but by prosperity. They forgot the very principles that make and maintain nations. People say that things are changing in this country, and that we have a good standard of living. But have we a good standard of conduct? The role of the Federal Parliament is not restricted to money matters. The Parliament should also guide the conduct of the people. The conduct of about 90% of the population is excellent. The conduct of the balance of 10% gives rise to misgivings. I refer honourable members to the conduct of university students. They represent a very small percentage of the population. The behaviour of some of them is brought about by having too much money. Other young men are getting as much money as people with families. When they get the money, they spend it in a way that is not in the best interests of themselves or the nation.
In a recent speech in Melbourne the Governor-General said that things are changing. Everyone can see that. But are they changing for better or for worse? That is what the Federal Parliament must learn in order to understand the general situation. What yardstick should be used to judge the situation? I think the criterion is this: Are we taking into the new era principles of honour, justice, service and Christianity? If not, things are changing for worse. If we are taking those principles forward, everything is all right. I want to say something now that is not often said in a parliament. People in this country are saying more and more often that there is no God. I ask such people whether they can explain how a watermelon gets a lovely pattern on its skin. They cannot explain how it gets its seeds or its exquisite flavour. We have to return to the principles that built this nation.
I wish to refer now to primary industry. I wrote an article for certain newspapers this week, and it included this passage:
Country Party members have, through the years, said that the high cost level in Australia is chiefly the result of our protective tariff level, favourable to secondary industry but devastating to primary industry with a surplus for export The Country Party has stressed the need for adequate finance being made available by the Commonwealth Government to give these primary industries price support equal to the secondary industry tariff protection advantage. This has become increasingly necessary and urgent.
My remarks relate to wool, wheat, dried fruits, dairying, citrus fruits and countless other products of the soil; but tonight I wish to refer specifically to the wheat industry. Members of the Labor Party are always saying: ‘Look at all the Jaguars and other expensive cars in the Mallee. You cannot park your car there because of the prosperity’. People from the cities do not know what they are talking about when they say: Look at the great holdings the farmers have’. Honourable members are aware that the value of land has increased. That unearned increment raises the value of the properties and is said to be a great asset of primary producers.
Land sold at about $16 an acre after World War II is now being sold at $80 an acre. This is supposed to make primary producers rich. But they can take advantage of such prices only if they sell out. Most farms pass from generation to generation and the owners do not want to sell them. Only a very small number of farms are sold. To all other primary producers the high prices of land are no advantage. They are a burden. Because of the higher values the primary producers are subject to higher rates, taxes and other charges. Because of the tariff protection given in Australia to secondary industry, exporters of wheat and other primary products are in a perilous financial state.
Secondary industry has priced itself out of world markets. It exports so little that it earns very little overseas income for Australia, and the products of secondary industry that are exported are highly subsidised. If a primary producer, or anybody else, can buy in Australia everything he needs for his production and can sell all his production in Australia, he does not need stabilisation in his industry. The fact is that wheat growers grow a certain amount of wheat for home consumption and the rest is sold on the world market. They are protected on the world market only for the quantity specified. I am pleased that the Government has decided to increase the amount of the export guarantee from 150 million bushels to 200 million bushels. I have said to the wheat growers in the great wheat growing electorate that I represent that they will not be in any way dissatisfied with my advocacy on their behalf.
I want now to return to the subject of roads. The allocation to rural areas of 40% of expenditure on roads has been of great advantage to the nation. I have in front of me many accounts of the great improvements in rural roads. Conditions have improved tremendously. It is necessary for the benefit of primary producers that the present system of allocation of 40% of roads funds for rural areas should be continued. A man who has been a president of shire councils associations has said that the 40% allocation for roads in rural areas is the greatest advance since the advent of railways.
Sometimes I cannot get much attention from the Opposition but I note that I am getting a fair bit of attention tonight. I appreciate it. The honourable member for the Riverina (Mr Armstrong) reminds me that I have only 3 minutes left for my speech. I deplore what has been said in the
Horsham Press about my colleague, the honourable member ‘for Wimmera (Mr King). No man anywhere has so firmly stood his ground and fought for the wheat industry. I deplore the criticism of him. I think that the man responsible for the critical article in the ‘Wimmera Mail Times’ should apologise to the honourable member for Wimmera, who is a wheat grower and a great advocate for the wheat industry in this House. What has been written about him in the Wimmera Press is nothing less than disgraceful.
I want now to quote to honourable members a little -verse. It has been quoted before, but I believe it has particular point in reference to the 40% allocation of roads funds to rural areas. I give credit for first quoting the poem to Councillor Whyte of Wentworth, across the Murray River from Mildura:
The man from Cocklebiddy bumps along the dusty track,
It’s grand the way that hardy driver steers,
The ruts and corrugations that plague the man outback
Have kept him in good practice through the years.
But how it wears his vehicle! ‘It’s costly’ he complains,
And then I need a four-wheel-drive to travel when it rains.’
He says it seems a pity, in the busy bustling city,
Roads are sealed and smooth and straight and true,
But traffic’s so congested that progress is arrested
People are frustrated and they don’t know what to do.
Just spread those roads outback,’ he says -
This is his point of view -
There’s room for all those cars out here, and all their owners too!’
– I always suspected that the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) had more supporters among members of the Opposition than among his own colleagues, and this was rather obvious from the interest shown in his speech by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin). I congratulate the honourable member for Mallee. In May 1945 the White Paper entitled ‘Full employment in Australia’ quite clearly enunciated the principles which were to guide Commonwealth governments in the determination of their Budgets. Paragraph 5 of that document states:
The policy outlined in this Paper is that a. government should accept the responsibility for stimulating spending on goods and services to the extent necessary to sustain full employment.
It was further explained that some parts of total expenditure are more likely than others to start fluctuations in employment. The White Paper in 1945 clearly set out that human resources were to be the principal ingredients of any Commonwealth Budget. If one may take a moment to expand the philosophy initiated in that White Paper, it is that full employment of human and material resources is the basic principle which has to guide a government in the determination of its Budget and certainly is the principle which has to guide the Commonwealth Government in the determination of a Commonwealth Budget. I suggest that this has been accomplished in several ways, but the most important way in which it has been accomplished was set out in the policy speech of 1963. If a high rate of growth of the Australian economy can be engineered and obtained the full employment of human and material resources is possible. In 1963 the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, stated that he wanted the Australian economy to grow by 25% in real terms within 5 years. The 5 years have passed and the 25% in real terms has been accomplished. Now we are entitled to ask whether this is very significant. It is in fact rather significant. After all only three or four countries in the world have been able to attain and sustain a higher rate of growth than that 25%. I refer to countries such as Japan, Taiwan and Israel in years other than last year. Australia has been among the very highest of the developed countries and the countries with a high standard of living.
Last year as part of this programme the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and the Government decided to pursue economic growth by budgeting for a substantial deficit. In some ways, in spite of the drought, a higher rate of growth was obtained than was anticipated. It is well to remember that on that occasion the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), commenting on the “Budget of 1967-68, said that it was deflationary. He has been proved to be incorrect. In this case, as in so many others, I suggest that he has done most of his calculations with matchsticks, and that just <Joes not work. What was the situation to which the Treasurer had to respond in August 1968? What was the position leading up to the presentation of the Budget? The position leading up to its presentation was one in which there had been a far higher rate of growth, of employment, of demand for household consumption goods as well as for durables than could be sustained in the long term. There had been a higher rate of growth of these factors than could be sustained if a measure of internal balance had to be maintained in the economy.
Once the decision was made that the Budget had to be contractionary or relatively deflationary this year, the principle was put into effect. In fact this year’s Budget is the second most contractionary Budget that the Commonwealth has introduced since the credit squeeze. In order to support that point I refer to the publication National Accounting Estimates of Public Authority Receipts and Expenditure’. When we look at the deficit which has been sustained in recent years and compare it with the one that is sustained this year it becomes rather obvious from Table 1, Receipts and Outlay of Commonwealth Budget, at pages 6 and 7 of that publication, that the deficit, as a proportion of the total Government outlay, increased in each of the preceding 4 years. In 1964-65 the deficit, as a proportion of the outlay, was 4% . The next year it was 5% . The following year it was over 10%. Last year the proposed deficit was over 11%. There has been a continued rate of increase in the stimulus given to the Budget by the Government. This year, instead of increasing the proportion of that deficit, the Government has decreased the proportion to 8% - a severe and a significant change in the direction of the economy. That step was taken because the Estimates for the previous quarters indicated that it ought to be taken. This was done because it was necessary.
The Leader of the Opposition apparently is not aware of the events with respect to the economy of the past 4 or 5 months. He complained that certain statistics were not available to him. It is very simple to telephone the Commonwealth Statistician to obtain them. From the information I received in response to a question I asked yesterday it appears that the Leader of the Opposition has sufficient staff to do all the telephoning that he would desire to have done. He decided’ not to criticise the Budget in any economic way but rather chose to ignore it. He reminds me of the prehistoric animal called the brontosaurus whose internal communications system was so poor that an attacking animal could chew its tail right off before it was aware of the attack. Such an animal soon became extinct. I suggest that with respect to economic and political affairs the Leader of the Opposition ought to look over his shoulder a little more often.
Here we have the second most contractionary Budget since the credit squeeze. If the Government deserves any credit it is because in this situation it has been able to engineer a Budget which makes substantial and real alterations in the field of social services. That is credit to which the Government can rightly lay claim in its Budget. There are other matters which have been the concern of the Treasurer in framing the Budget. I refer to the principal criticisms that have been made of it by the Leader of the Opposition, my good friend the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) and the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns). They decided that the best means of criticism of the Budget was not to make an assessment of the economy, not to talk about rates of growth but to talk about the necessary imposts that have had to be included in the Budget; in other words to talk about the increases in taxation that were necessary. It was decided quite early, in comments on the Budget, that the indirect taxation proposals provided the greatest source of fruitful criticism so far as they were concerned. The Leader of the Opposition had this to say:
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.
He then said:
Secondly, the Budget is regressive because of the increase in indirect taxation.
Obviously these comments had been written for the Leader of the Opposition by somebody else. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports did not make quite such a damning criticism. On Budget matters the honourable member has an unfortunate failing. In economic matters he is given to more honesty than should be appropriate in a shadow Treasurer, especially when he is a shadow. The honourable member said:
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. . . .
The honourable member for Yarra also decided to examine the regressive nature of this indirect taxation. The argument which the Opposition advances on the Budget is simple: The levels of income tax should be altered in a year such as this - that is the progression - and the indirect taxation proposals, such as the sales tax, are not equitable. Is this so, or are the members of the Opposition not up to date with the latest views? I turn to none other than the British Labor Chancellor of the Exchequer who, in his Budget brought down earlier this year, made some necessary alterations in taxation. Some of those necessary alterations were with respect to indirect taxation. On 19th March he said:
The old dilemma between direct and indirect taxation presents itself in a peculiarly acute form this year. Yet much of the traditional argument is now, to my mind, largely out of date. Indirect taxation, particularly if used in a selective way -
That is the way the Commonwealth Government has used it in this Budget - is not nearly as regressive as in the old breakfast table days.
I do not suggest a diet for the Opposition but I think it is appropriate to consider that statement. The Chancellor of the Exchequer continued:
Nor is it by any means any longer the case that direct taxation is substantially paid only by the relatively well-to-do. Income tax falls significantly, and is certainly felt to bear heavily, upon those with average and even somewhat below average incomes.
So, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer who has some responsibility in government, rejected the proposition advanced by his colleagues in this place. His statement continued:
My main conclusion is, therefore, that I ought to look for obtaining the bulk of my additional revenue from indirect taxation, but that it should be levied in as selective and non-regressive a way as possible.
He has made his judgment - correctly I would suggest. He also said something about the proposition that in a year such as this the progression of income tax rates should have been altered. This was the second proposition advanced by the Leader of the Opposition: The honourable member for Melbourne Ports, more intelligently, steered clear of that situation. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer stated further: In a year when rates of taxation are bound to go up, there is in my view a good deal to be said for not at the same time making major changes in the basis of taxation.
I would submit that the Government’s case is strengthened by the actions of the British Labor Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, we think, has acted appropriately.
The Government has decided to make large and sustained changes in our immigration programme and to increase expenditure on immigration. The Government has decided to spend millions of dollars extra on immigration. One may pose the question: Is the Government considering immigration in a lopsided way? In so many levels of government expenditure one considers alternative avenues of expenditure. When changes are made, for example, in pension rates, changes are often considered in respect of benefits to superannuitants or others who fall just outside the means test. When changes are made in public expenditure alternative changes in the level of private expenditure are considered. Budgets have been framed so as to alter the relations between private and public expenditure. One becomes in a sense a substitute for the other. One feels that often the Government has failed to realise that immigration is merely a part of the general population growth. When a Minister for Immigration considers one side of the coin and not the other one wonders whether immigration has become not an appropriate addition to the Australian economic programme but the heart of the long term Australian economic programme.
Another matter that might be considered when more time is available is the projected alteration in the pattern of expenditure on education. Without going into the details of this expenditure, one must ask whether it is being incurred in a field which is socially most necessary or in a field which will give the greatest economic return to the Government. More may be said on that subject when the appropriate legislation is before the House.
One was privileged to listen to the speeches made by the Leader of the Opposition, his shadow treasurer and the honourable member for Yarra. One was also privileged, in a sense, to listen to the speech made today by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). One could not help but feel that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition fastened on the new idea of programmed budgeting in order to lift himself into the forefront of programming and budgeting with respect to defence in this country. Frankly, I did not find his speech greatly interesting. My understanding of programmed budgeting is that it is something used so that more appropriate choices may be made between products and expenditures. The more appropriate choice could be made between, for example, toys and tyres or cheese and ice cream, having regard to the purposes for which they were needed. In other words, programmed budgeting enables one to make the most appropriate and economic use of the time available. Without wishing to be unkind I suggest that if the Deputy Leader had applied programmed budgeting to his speech he would have omitted most of it.
This year’s Budget has been drafted under circumstances that have not been particularly easy. One cannot leave aside consideration of the problem of devaluation and other problems. There will always be differences of opinion with respect to heads of expenditure but with respect to the overall Budget strategy there has been no criticism. The only criticism has been in respect of techniques of taxation - techniques which are supported by the only other Labor central government in the world.
– When the Budget was announced in this chamber by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) I was overseas. The Australian Ambassador in Mexico City was kind enough to supply me with a copy of the analysis of the Budget which had been forwarded to him by the Department of External Affairs. Then later I had the benefit, again from his hands, of the first newspaper that gave a fuller ireport of the contents of the speech. So it was that, away from the excitement of Budget night in this place, where for some 12 years I had been present on such occasions, I turned my attention to this analysis. With some excitement, because I knew the significance of the speech, I ran my eye down the summary and analysis that were available to me. I recognised that this was a statement of the fiscal policy of the Government for 1968-69.
The summary, I found, was a very good extract of the main items. It quickly pointed out to me that there was to be a rise of 9% in defence expenditure, lifting it to SI, 2 17m; that there was to be an increase of 16% in external aid programmes, exclusive of those for Papua and New Guinea - and this pleased me because I am one who has been pointing out that our external aid programme might be edged a little higher. The grant to Papua and New Guinea, according to the summary, was to be $87m, a 12% increase on that of last financial year. The summary indicated that a wide range of social welfare benefits covered age, invalid and widows’ pensions and also repatriation benefits. How pleased I was when my eye caught the fourth point, which referred to a rise of 19% in expenditure on education, including a new school library programme. My memory took me back to the representations from so many sources in my electorate seeking assistance for libraries. So this I hailed with delight. Also, there was to be an increase in the number of Commonwealth scholarships. The fifth point related to the imaginative scheme for a $10m trust fund for Aboriginals, to be used for assistance in the fields of housing, education and health, and for assisting enterprise carried on by Aboriginals. Sixthly, there was reference to the drought bond scheme which was to be introduced.
The summary then turned to revenue. Having tried to digest quickly this very accurate summary of the expenditure provisions, I found that the revenue provision was quite equitable. This summary, Mr Deputy Speaker, indicated to me some original thinking on the part of the Government. I saw in it the fulfilment of obligations in the defence area. Who could possibly consider a Budget for the current financial year not rising with the commitments that we had been informed were ahead of the Government in the various fields of the defence Services? There was recognition of responsibility, as I have said, in the field of external aid. The education problem had been faced and, notwithstanding the criticism of our friends opposite, I believe that this was a sensible assessment of what could be done at this time by the Government in the field of education. Before I conclude I want to refer, of course, to social services, in regard to which so much has been done, but I shall leave that till later.
I have referred to the fact that in the revenue area of the Budget it seemed to me that there was a balanced and equitable call upon the Australian community to make possible this sort of expenditure. I have said that I then had the benefit, Sir, of a quick reference to one of the national newspapers. Our Australian newspapers do not always please members of Parliament, but read them we must and correct them at times we must. However, I want to pay tribute to the very fair treatment of the Budget by the national newspaper that I had in my hand in Mexico City. I found that it indicated that this Budget was the first Gorton Budget. There was recognition, therefore, of the leadership of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), although it is the task of the Treasurer to present the Budget on behalf of the Government.
The newspaper indicated in one of its headlines that the Treasurer aimed at stable growth in the Budget. Well, this might be a glib expression, because this Government has quite consistently talked, in its Budget speeches over recent years, of stability, growth and development. So I expected the reference; and it was a fair reference. Another headline stated that there was to be more for the States and the Territories. I have indicated the provision for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and I trust that the various States, notwithstanding a murmur or two that we have heard, recognise that the Commonwealth has done very well by them under the agreement that has been made. There was reference in the headlines of the Press to spending on defence, which is to be increased by $10lm
In the editorial of the newspaper the Budget was referred to as most unexpected. It was said that it had a dual character and it was suggested that this dual character was, politically, a shrewd and perhaps brilliant touch. The editor went on to say that the Gorton Government was obviously exerting itself to establish an image of social concernedness in its first budget and that some of its new ideas were very good indeed. That just confirms, Sir, my own quick assesment of the impressive analysis that I saw first. I also noted with approval that the editor referred to the fact that the Treasurer had claimed that there would be a stronger rise in the employed work force than last year’s notable increase of 131,000 persons. I just want to underline the fact that under the administration of this Government last year there was such a substantial increase of 131,000 persons in the employed work force of Australia. Of course, the editor did not refrain from pointing out that all of us can learn. He said:
But the times have changed and the extraordinary thing is that Mr McMahon seems less alive to the uses of monetary measures than he was a year ago.
So there is something there for debate and analysis. We do not necessarily agree with this editor but I mention that reference so that no-one can accuse me of just picking the eyes out of a good editorial and not making reference to any criticism.
An annual stocktaking is a feature, Sir, of any Budget of any government. It is an unwise, foolish government, I would suggest, that does not try to give an honest assessment of the year that has passed. There is an aspect of forecasting, of course, as one looks into the 12 months that are ahead, and this becomes the basis of fiscal policy. The Treasurer, in the summing up of his speech dealt with this aspect, I felt, very effectively. He said that the annual Budget is a time for taking stock of where we stand and what may lie ahead of us. In other words, he indicated that it was not the short term that any sound government should consider. There is a responsibility upon a national government such as ours to look as far into the future as possible. Every honourable member knows the difficulty of estimating under a system in which we have an annual Budget based upon cash receipts and cash expenditure. That is why in the field of our business undertakings we are leaning more and more to the establishment of statutory corporations or statutory authorities, trying to free those undertakings of the inhibitions of annual budgeting, giving to them the opportunity to plan according lo a 3-year or a 5-year programme, and leaving them free of day to day administrative control by any Minister. In this area of statutory corporations, I am one who keenly advocates the setting aside of the truly business undertakings of the Commonwealth so that reputable officers under a statute might be responsible to the Government for the conduct of their activities. So 1 am pleased to refer to this realistic stocktaking.
I have referred to the fact that I was in Mexico City, a delightful city of 7 million in a country that has a population of 45 million. 1 pay tribute to the fact that notwithstanding great difficulties Mexico has achieved so much in such a relatively short time, lt was an inspiration to go to such a city and find the streets so wide, the city so clean, the buildings so modern and the preparations for the Olympic Games so well advanced, and to find that in financial activities and in national government it was most noticeable that the integrity of the national leadership in that country was recognised and admired by the people.
On this particular trip I had the pleasure also of a few days in San Francisco early in August. While there I had the oppor1tunity of meeting a sound cross-section of leaders in the banking and commercial fields of that important city. When 1 was speaking to a luncheon meeting of the American-Australian Association I found a most receptive audience when I spoke of my own State of Western Australia and its phenomenal progress. I referred, of course, to its immigration intake. I will mention a few figures in this connection. I spoke of the sound economy of Western Australia which, in this very year of 1968, has so risen that the State is in a position now to withdraw from being an applicant to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I referred to the cheap land development policy. The Government of Western Australia over the past 9 years has opened up so much land in the country districts that it is the envy of many places around the world. When I spoke of the mineral discoveries in my State my speech would have been deficient indeed had I not referred to the fact that the iron ore discoveries in the last few years in Western Australia, particularly in the north, were of such a volume that it ought to go on record that there is sufficient in these iron ore discoveries to meet the entire world demand for iron ore for the next 100 years, even if all other known existing sources of supply were to cease. This is an indication of how fortunate Australia is, including this particular section of it.
The Western Australian Government, in its report for the period 1959-1968, has dealt, in quite succinct terms, with its immigration success. After lagging for some time behind the eastern States, Western Australian immigration is now running at a record figure. In the last financial year it amounted to 18,768 persons, or 14% of the total settler arrivals in Australia. Only 3 years before, when figures for settler arrivals in all States were first published, Western Australia’s share was only 7%. So here is a doubling - a 100% increase.
– Tell us how they are being housed.
– My honourable friend from Stirling would interject on me. I would remind him in the hearing of those who are in the House at the moment that the Western Australian housing programme for immigrants cannot be criticised to any great extent. The housing achievements of Western Australia stand on their record as quite splendid.
– Why are there 17,000 applicants for State Housing Commission homes?
– We will return to the housing situation when the Estimates are discussed. We will then have the opportunity of dealing with housing State by State and throughout the nation in far greater detail. The increase in immigration is partly a response to the general buoyancy of the State’s economy but it is mainly attributable to the policy of self-help which has prompted employers and the Government to go out across the world to recruit the particular types of immigrants the State has needed. This is worth emphasis and I would hope that some other States and some other great employers of labour in Australia would knit their effort into that of the Department of Immigration because it is factual - and the Department would acknowledge this - that many firms and the Government of Western Australia have sent missions abroad for this purpose.
One of the most encouraging features of the all-round advance in Western Australia is that the momentum shows no sign of slackening. It might have been expected that as Western Australia caught up with the more prosperous States the Commonwealth and State financial relationships, being heavily weighted in favour of the status quo, would start to act as a brake on the development of the western State. But that is not so. The momentum is continuing, and we are grateful, too, for even further discoveries in the mineral field. My friend from Stirling will agree that there is an air of excitement in the State.
– We still need houses.
– We will house the people and perhaps I will raise my voice, as I have done already, to support the voice of my friend, because I feel that in this current financial year the Commonwealth should find more funds for housing in Western Australia. I believe that the pipeline should be cleared. Although many houses have been constructed there is a deficiency of housing funds to enable our workers and others to purchase a home. If we could get the finance to clear the pipeline the building industry would move further forward.
I suggest that the Treasurer may well be proud of the overall progress of Australia, for it is not only my own State of Western Australia which is making significant progress. The Treasurer has every reason to be proud of our banking system. I feel that I should refer for a moment to the fact that, as one travels, queries are raised in the banking area about whether we are wise in keeping our banking system completely closed to the influence, the encouragement and the challenge of overseas banking organisations. We need to be careful that, in our own expanding country, we do not restrict the advice and practical help of world-wide banking institutions. We are always seeking to increase overseas investment here to help us. Perhaps the implacable attitude of the Treasurer and the Government in respect of overseas banks actually carrying on operations here in competition with our own institutions needs to be considered and, in due course, changed to some degree. I raised a question in relation to this matter in the House during this last week. Part of the Treasurer’s reply fortunately was open in that, as he concluded, he said:
Nonetheless. … I will again have the matter looked at.
This is the flexibility that I believe Australia must seek in any government today - a desire to put down a thorough analysis of where our banking institutions stand and their impact upon the monetary policy of our countries. If we find that we are to any extent inhibiting our banking system by the lack of competition, we should be big enough and flexible enough to state categorically where the difficulties are.
The Prime Minister’s basic policy has been reflected clearly in the Budget speech. When we come to discuss the estimates of the various departments we, as members, will have the opportunity to refer more specifically to the fields that attract our attention. Whilst defence planning is realistic, responsibilities at home have not been neglected. The Prime Minister himself in his inspired speech in this debate brought out that fact. Opposition members can criticise a government with very great ease, for the responsibility of government is not theirs. Theirs is the task of pure criticism. As my colleagues have pointed out, often we find that their criticisms have not had a very good foundation. Nevertheless this task of criticism is the responsibility of an opposition. It is for that reason that the Government expects the Opposition to talk about the affluence of our country and to demand increased benefits; butI believe that our social services structure is sound enough to withstand a battery of criticism from the Opposition.
Because of the time available to me, unfortunately, I do not have the opportunity now to deal with those expansionary provisions in the social service field in the current Budget. Let me remind my friends opposite who would criticise the social service benefits that many people in friendly countries envy the benefits that we have today. I think of the entire absence of assistance for a widow and her children who live in one of the four countries 1 visited. I remember the case of two sisters, two working girls, who are fortunately in a position to assume responsibilities for their kith and kin. They have taken in a widowed sister and her four children because their nation makes no provision at all for that widow and her children. We need to remember that in this country, under the leadership for so many years now of this LiberalCountry Party Government and administration, we have had a very wide expansion in benefits for those people who are in need. Why do we have a means test? We have it to define those people in the community upon whom the taxpayer’s money should first be spent. 1’want to remind the people who may be listening to me at this moment that this must remain the first responsibility of a government whilst we have taxation based upon the payment of benefits for those who are in need.
The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) is interpreting soundly. I believe. I the wish of his Prime Minister and Government in “setting up a welfare committee to review the whole of the welfare field. Only last month the Minister for Social Services, when speaking in Melbourne, indicated that it was his firm conviction that a forward looking plan was needed in the social service field. I am firmly convinced, from my own association with the social services programme for some 12 or 13 years, that we will need to recast the whole programme because, as we. have liberalised the means lest, we have moved out into a field which is now affecting our tax structure. We are now getting demands from people who, I believe, are unjustified in their demands for a pension free of the means test and .for the entire abolition of the means test. This raises the need for all of us in this country to make a contribution during our working lives to a national scheme. If we wanted a pension, then by that means we would have paid for it during our working lives over and above our basic taxation contributions. This is the only just basis upon which those people concerned could justifiably ask for the abolition of the means test.
If, during the course of this Budget debate, members of the Opposition want to take the Budget apart, if they want to tear into the Government and criticise it section by section, then the Government stands ready, 1 believe, to face an election based upon this Budget. If the Opposition wants to fight the Government upon the provision for social services and upon aM the other ramifications of the fiscal policy that this Budget embodies, 1 believe that all honourable members on this side of the House would face an election gladly. We expect that the people of Australia would give another very broad and soundly supported mandate for a period of 3 years.
– My honourable friend from Tasmania may interject. In his own heart he knows that his Party has not got a hope of becoming the government. The Opposition amendment has no hope of success. I am pleased indeed to add my commendation of the fiscal policy announced by the Treasurer in such a sure and dynamic way.
Mr DOBIE (Hughes) [10.151- As this Budget debate draws to a close I rise to congratulate the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) on this the most successful of his three Budgets. I would also like to applaud the very fine speeches by the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) and the honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver). Not only is there much to commend in the specific proposals, but also the Budget should be applauded, for what the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has described as its significant step towards the solution of the problem of the needy in our community. All too sadly there has not been a solution for all the problems that beset the community, but it should be realised thai there has been a fresh approach to those who have special problems.
The fact that there has been general acceptance of the sound economic proposals underlying this Budget reflects the confidence held by the Australian electorate that this Government has not, does not and will not fall into the error of pandering to sectional interests for petty political gain. The reputation of the Menzies Government, the Holt Government and now the Gorton Government for sound economic policies is well founded and this Budget confidently promises that the economy shall remain on an even keel and on a straight course.
Restraint of inflationary pressures has been the keynote of the many proposals within the Budget and, though I do not plan to use this debate to quote figures or statistics, the indicators are sure and steady. Forward planning by industry and commerce is confident, the level of the share market remains bouyant, the nation is enjoying the lowest ever unemployment while the monetary system is liquid and anxious to meet the future. The list is long but it reflects a clear confidence that under the policies of this Government, and of the Budget in particular, things will be all right. Naturally, statistics would support this atmosphere of confidence. One need only look around to see those statistics in action - new homes, new schools, a greater concern for higher levels of education. But what do all the.se economic indicators mean to the man in the street? What do they mean for those on fixed incomes or those saving towards their own homes?
– Very little.
– Thank you. They mean that insidious inflation will not eat away hard earned savings. Let us not forget that we do have one of the lowest inflationary pressures in the world. But the person who was hit the hardest by inflation in the days just after the Second World War was the man on the fixed income and he is very sensitive to the pressures of price increases. Of course, there is great disappointment that there was no easing of the means test so that superannuitants might become eligible for at least a part pension and the fringe benefits that apply. Their disappointment is keen arid I strongly support them in their case for greater consideration. While I am partly reassured by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentwortb) that their position is at present under review and examination, I share their disappointment that, at a time when a fresh look was taken at the needy, the chronically ill and the infirm in the community, the Budget was not able lo do more for the superannuitants. I hope that the Government will do something in the near future to make the lot of this dramatically increasing number of people who make arrangements on their own for old age, more enjoyable and ‘less worrying.
As I have already mentioned, the Budget has done much to counter inflationary pressures and to this extent all on fixed incomes and those who are undertaking a serious programme of savings will certainly benefit. But what of the Opposition? We have heard i.i this Budget debate a collection of denials, personal abuse and prophesies of gloom. We have heard mention of fairies and fireflies by the honourable member1 for Capricornia (Dr Everingham), a vicious personal attack on the Prime Minister by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), and an interesting fighting battle between the honourable member for- Dawson (Dr Patterson) and his leader as to where priorities should lie. There was little more coming from the Opposition benches.
But what of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) himself? His greatest claim was a sincere cry for more sewerage. But on the whole, his Budget speech, which set the tone for the whole of the Opposition debate, was a remarkable broadside of squibs and a crying appeal for centralisation of all Government activities. Not only was he carried away by the need to have all control emanating from Canberra, but he believed that the order of priorities was something for the academics alone. He said: ‘We will do it all’, and the protestations from a few of his own members about problems of inflation went out the window. Last year, we had the Leader of the Opposition claiming that the basic difference between his Party and the Government was a matter of priorities - a charge which we were and are only too happy to accept and answer. Now we see him forging ahead into the mists, not of the lakeside but of the frustrated political ambitions of his predecessors for the past 20 years. He has named every conceivable matter that suffers some shortage and called it into calculations for this Budget. But let it be known that this Government is dedicated tq federalism. We believe that State governments, local government and the Federal Government each must have its place and, imperfect though it may be, this is the system which we support and which most thinking people in Australia support as well. The answer is not in centralising all into Canberra, as the Australian Labor Party would wish to do. We clearly deny this attitude and believe that, far from centralising, the role of the Federal Government should be to establish even more firmly the areas of responsibility and authority of both State and local government.
The Leader of the Opposition can say that all that need be done is for the Federal Government to offer everything, ignore the price, or should I say the cost, forget about cost inflation spirals, forget about international trading obligations and markets, forget about the need to develop our natural resources, forget about the need to foster an intelligent plan for Australia, and, above all, forget about the need to protect those things which we have and about which we are envied in so many lands around the world. All we have to do, he says, is down tools, forget all our obligations, forget all about our national heritage - forget it all except the wish of the Australian Labor Party to cross over to the government benches. And to achieve this all Labor has to do, or so it thinks, is to give everyone sewerage!
One great President of the United States of America said that he campaigned for chicken for Sunday dinner in every American home. Now we see the great promise of the Party opposite; it is a cistern in every home by Christmas. Of course, it is important. Of course it is a crime that Sydney, under a Labor government for 24 years, saw the decision for a Si 00m Opera House prevent tens of thousands of outer suburban homes from being sewered. In my own district we have suffered from this Labor apathy as much as any place in Australia. In Sutherland we have had sullage in the gutters in our main shopping centres. Yes, we cry out for sewerage for the homes of all our people, but we cannot forget that we have such examples as the Labor dominated Sutherland Shire Council deciding to spend over $lm on two swimming pool’s within 5 miles of some of Australia’s best beaches. Yet the Leader of the Opposition seeks political advancement by promising sewerage to all, by forgetting the performances of his Labor colleagues in New South Wales and in such places as the Sutherland Shire.
Let him promise the world without any regard for the cost. But, thank heavens, the country has a government and a Treasurer who are concerned with the development of a stable economy, who earnestly seek to establish an economic climate that will allow full personal freedom of choice without the spectre of inflation coming at them from every corner. This is a government that believes, I am pleased to say, that it is as important to protect the way of life in this country as it is to develop the country itself. Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker, the Budget is something that Australians should acknowledge as having had a regard for all that is held dear by all Australians.
– The other day I came across a quotation by Dale Carnegie, the American author of the book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. In it he said:
Criticism is futile because it puts a man on the defensive and because it usually makes him strive to justify himself.
We have had plenty of criticism of this Budget from the Opposition. Of course, as the honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver) said, it is the role of the Opposition to criticise. But it has not really been necessary for honourable members on this side of the House to endeavour to justify the Budget. Its justification, I believe, should be apparent to all thinking people. Once again the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has presented a Budget based on current prosperity and stable growth, and I congratulate him. Incidentally, I suggest to honourable members opposite that they should read Dale Carnegie’s book. ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. Perhaps it could help them to improve their image. Or better still the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) could perhaps follow its teachings in his dealings with his Party’s executive. Of course, the Opposition has become so weak over the past few years that on many occasions the Press has felt the necessity to take over the role which honourable members opposite are failing to perform adequately. One would thus have expected the Press to be highly critical of the Budget, but this was not the case. On the contrary, the reception which this Budget received was most favourable. Most Australian newspapers agreed that it was politically and economically sound. The Melbourne ‘Age’ called it a benign Budget.
The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ used the words ‘a shrewd, perhaps brilliant touch’. The ‘Canberra Times’ said that events may prove that the 1968-69 Budget marked the beginning of a new compassion. The Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ said it was a Budget that the Treasurer could present to the nation with confidence. The man in the street appeared pleased and finance and business reacted favourably. The Melbourne Age’ reported in its financial section on 15th August:
The Budget increase in company tax scarcely created a ripple in share markets yesterday.
It went on to say:
Stockbrokers yesterday seemed happy with the Budget. One said, ‘It is sound, progressive, and will consolidate the considerable growth expected in the economy. I can sec nothing to stop the equity market forging ahead.’
His remark reflected the tone of the industrial market: Leading shares were well supported all day with the result a gain of two points in the leaders index.
This was the general public reaction to the Budget. The Budget is, of course, the most important economic and political happening of the year. Directly or indirectly, everyone and everything in Australia is affected by its contents. It sets out how the Government raises its income and how it proposes to spend it, and the Commonwealth Government does the biggest spending in Australia. lc spends money at the rate of about $ 1 8 rr : a day. But as Micawber told David Copperfield, one cannot for long spend more than one earns. Consequently, fresh handouts and giveaways cannot take place without increasing the Government’s income, which would normally mean increasing taxation. However, due to the sound economic growth which has taken place in the national income within the life of the present Government, revenue this year will increase by about 9% to $5,950m. Thus the sound policies of this Government have enabled the increased expenditure brought about by rises in the rates of pensions and other social service increases to be financed without any major increase in taxation.
I must say that I was most disappointed by the contribution of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) to the Budget debate. In Victoria we had our local municipal council elections last Saturday. I am sure that if any prospective councillor had delivered the speech of the Leader of the Opposition ‘ he would have romped in. It was a speech which would have done justice to any shire president, but it was hardly the speech one would have expected from a federal parliamentarian who holds himself out as a future Prime Minister. One would have expected the Leader of the Opposition to be concerned with wider national issues and to leave council matters to those whose duty it is to attend to them. The honourable gentleman waxed eloquent about such council matters as sewage, roads, public transport, schools and hospitals, but it was not the speech of a national leader. Of course there was probably some method in the honourable gentleman’s apparent madness. He is obviously concerned at the lack of electoral appeal of the Australian Labor Party, particularly among the younger voters. As the new.. suburban areas have grown since the war, their young residents, often from families which iti depression days had voted Labor, have turned to Liberal governments because they realise that Liberal governments can give them the kind of life for- which they are striving.
– What about the Country Party?
– And the Country Party also, although that Party is not represented in these areas. 1 am sorry that I omitted to mention the Country Party. In these young people’s minds, Labor ‘ with its moribund outlook has become firmly identified with the inner city industrial areas with which these voters have little ‘ in ‘ common. The honourable gentleman is now ‘making an all out bid to bring these suburban dwellers into the Labor fold. He. is seeking to establish himself and his. Party as the champions of suburbia, offering golden promises to hundreds . of . thousands of voters who live in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Sydney and other large cities of the nation. He believes .that if he can succeed in attracting sufficient of these suburban votes away from the Liberal Party he will have taken . a great stride towards fulfilling his lifelong ambition to be Prime Minister.
The theme which the Leader of the Opposition propounded in his speech was not original. Undoubtedly, he had read that in a speech in February this year the Prime Minister had said that whilst we must develop our northern and outback areas we must not neglect the problems of our great southern cities. The Leader of the Opposition merely decided to jump on the bandwagon and to turn the idea back on the Government. As one who represents an outer suburban electorate in Melbourne, I realise only too well that there are major and growing problems to be overcome in the cities.
– Which electorate is that?
– The electorate of Deakin, a very fine electorate. On more than one occasion 1 have said in this House that some assistance should be given by the Commonwealth to the Victorian Government for the construction of its underground loop railway, and that assistance should be given to the New South Wales Government for the construction of the eastern suburbs railway.
On a national level the Leader of the Opposition failed miserably to upset the logic of the Budget. Throughout his speech, he avoided any meaningful discussion of the economic circumstances which prompted the Treasurer to slow down the rate of growth in government spending and to increase taxation receipts from the private sector. If the truth were known, he probably could find little to disagree with in the interpretation by the. Government of the state of the economy and its likely development during this financial year. He certainly put forward se serious criticisms. As the Press said, it was a disappointing speech.
This has been called a welfare Budget. Unfortunately, there is never enough in the kitty to do all that any government would like to see done in the social service field. This position will undoubtedly remain with us until we clean the slate and start off afresh with a scheme to which all will contribute and from which all will benefit. Nonetheless, in this Budget considerable sums have been made available for social services by increasing the rates of age, invalid and widows’ pensions, the wife’s allowance and an additional pension for children. Other measures proposed will assist certain widow pensioners, rehabilitation trainees and the surviving spouse where one of a married pensioner couple dies. The Prime . Minister has made it clear that he wants to see a continuing emphasis on social welfare and I understand the Welfare Committee of the Cabinet will continue to review the whole field of social welfare constantly.
I was delighted with the announcement in the Budget that the Government would establish a programme for libraries in government and non-government secondary schools throughout Australia and would make a sum of $27m available to the States over a 3-year period beginning in 1969. It is good that this assistance, as was the case with grants for science blocks, will go to both government and non-government secondary schools. In this way, we will see the quality of education in all schools improved. This Government believes in the duel system of education. It believes people should have the right to send their children to either type of school. Although education is essentially a State concern, this year the Commonwealth will provide an estimated sum of S120m for education or 19% more than the expenditure in 1967-68. This is no mean record.
External aid this year, including the grant to the Administration of Papua and New Guinea, is estimated at Si 44m or 13.6% greater than last year’s expenditure. In addition, Commonwealth departments are expected to spend more than $23m in Papua and New Guinea. Australia’s aid to overseas countries is a most unselfish act when one considers that Australia itself is a country crying out for development. During the recess I spent a short time in Indonesia and Malaysia. In Malaysia I learned that we were assisting with the construction of roads and bridges in Sarawak and Sabah as a joint project with the Malaysians. We supplied the technical know-how, the prefabricated bridges, the cement and other supplies from Australia, and the Malaysians supplied the labour. On these projects, I am told, for all to see were signs proclaiming that these were joint Malaysian-Australian projects. This to my way of thinking, is the way we should be giving aid. The supplies which went into these projects all came from Australia and consequently gave employment here in Australia to Australian workmen.
But the position is different with the grant that we have given to Indonesia. Here we give an outright grant of $12m to the Indonesian Government in hard international currency. The Indonesian Government can spend this currency in any way it wishes, in any country it wishes. It does not and probably will not spend this money in buying goods or supplies from Australia. The money can be spent in Russia, the United States, or any other country. It does not help with Australian exports and it does not help with employment in this country. No one to whom I spoke in Indonesia was even aware that Australia was assisting Indonesia with this grant. No doubt members of the Suharto Government knew about it. But why should they give publicity to it? It would be quite natural for them to want any credit which accrued from this money to go to their government, which is sorely in need of support. Our motives may be humanitarian, and I do not complain of this - indeed I support it - but T do believe it is common sense for Australia to get some kudos in return.
The Russians certainly see that they get publicity from their projects. In the main street of Djakarta, prominently displayed, was a huge sign reading: ‘This building is being erected by the USSR’. Maybe the members of President Suharto’s Government thank Australia for the $12m. But what good does it do Australia if no one else knows about it, particularly as many people feel that a coup could take place at any time in the future and a totally different Indonesian Government be installed in office? I would prefer to see specific projects by the Australian Government which would be there for the Indonesian people to see. This would give us some return in goodwill from the Indonesian people.
Throughout Djakarta one sees the concrete shells of the prestige buildings erected by Sukarno and never completed. Indonesia is critically short of hospitals and trained hospital staff. How much more practical it would be if the Australian Government were to use even some of the $l2m to transform one of these shells into a modern hospital and to staff it with Australian personnel. These Australians could, over a period, train Indonesians to run the hospital. A plaque could be placed on the building stating: ‘This hospital was given by the Australian people to the Indonesian people’ and some goodwill would come back to Australia for our effort
The special grant to Indonesia of S 10.7m announced on 12th August last by the Department of External Affairs allowing Indonesia to import goods from Australia with this money at least will ensure that this particular grant will give employment in Australia. I believe, however, that the method of giving the $12m annually should be re-examined by the Australian Government.
Government spending on defence this year will rise by SI 02m to $1.217m. The Prime Minister said on Tuesday night: . . our forces will grow, their fighting power will grow, the cost of defence will grow, and this will be regarded as one important need among many for the nation, though not as a need which overrides all else.
This Budget has shown that social welfare will not be overridden by our defence requirements. But it must be obvious to all that Australia cannot allow itself to be inadequately defended. We can no longer rely on Britain which, under a Labor Government, has been so weakened that it has had to retreat east of Suez. We can certainly not rely on the United Nations, as the Opposition has so often told us we can. The United Nations was powerless to prevent war in the Middle East, powerless to prevent virtual genocide in Biafra, and powerless to hold back the brutal invasion of Czechoslovakia by Russia. The Russian veto has seen to that. The United Nations has even proved powerless to bring small and defenceless Rhodesia to its knees. The Soviet action in invading Czechoslovakia has immensely strengthened the presidential campaign of Republican Richard Nixon and it has destroyed what slight hopes the so called ‘dove’ candidate, Senator McCarthy, had of winning the Democratic candidacy. Senator McCarthy’s claim that but for Vietnam, but for the Bay of Pigs and but for the landing of the marines in the Dominican Republic the Russians would not have dared to move against the Czechs will convince few Americans, and anger more, for it seems like twisting the formula ‘My country right or wrong’ into ‘My country always wrong’. The line taken by the Opposition Leader here in
Australia was remarkably like that of Senator McCarthy in America. He has endeavoured to prove in some strange way that the Americans are to blame for the Russian invasion because of the ‘erosion of influence’ - those are his words - of the United States in Vietnam.
– Hear, hear!
– No-one has done more than members of the Opposition to erode the influence of the United States over Vietnam, and well they know it. The former Leader of the Opposition, the right honourable member for Melbourne who has been interjecting, said only a week or so ago:
I see as much virtue in the Russian case asI do in the Czech one.
– So I do.
– The right honourable member for Melbourne agrees. At the weekend he went even further. He stated that the motion which was passed in this House last week condemning the Russians should have also condemned the United States of America for its role in Vietnam. This attempt by some Opposition members to place the United States in the same category as the Russians will not fool the Australian people. As the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said in answer to a question I asked on Tuesday:
What is happening in Vietnam is entirely the reverse of what is happening in Czechoslovakia.
– Don’t you believe it!
-I would believe the Prime Minister, at least he is the Prime Minister, which is a position no member on the Opposition side of the House has achieved. We and the United States are in Vietnam to resist the same sort of Communist aggression as the Russians are engaged in in Europe. We are in Vietnam today to try to safeguard for the Vietnamese those very freedoms which the Czechs also desire and which they are denied. The Czech disaster has resulted in an even more clear cut emergence of what orthodox hard line Communism really means. Stripped to its essentials it means a denial of freedom - of freedom to talk, of freedom to write, of freedom to act, according to individual conscience. If Opposition members cannot see the parallel in what the Communists are doing in Vietnam and what they are doing in Czechoslovakia they must be very naive indeed.
There have been many speakers in the Budget debate. I understand that I am the last. During this speechI have not endeavoured to range over the whole spectrum of the Budget. I believe that most points have been adequately covered by the various speakers. Since the Liberal-Country Party Government came to office some 19 years ago we have seen remarkable growth and stability in this country. The present Budget will most certainly result in a continuance of these conditions. I commend it to the House and I most strongly oppose the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– Order! In accordance with standing order 226 the Committee will first consider the Second Schedule of the Bill.
– I suggest that it might suit the convenience of the Committee to consider the items of proposed expenditure in the order and groupings shown in the schedule which has been circulated to honourable members. The consideration of the items in groups of departments which have a functional association with one another has met the convenience of the Committee in past years. The rearrangement will also ensure that the departments are considered whilst their Ministers are in Canberra. The Schedule is as follows:
– Is it the wish of the Committee that the items of proposed expenditure be considered in the order suggested by the Treasurer? There being no objection, the right honourable gentleman’s suggestion will be adopted.
Proposed expenditure, $4,719,000.
– I present the report of the Printing Committee, sitting in conference with the Printing Committee of the Senate.
Report- by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I rise tonight to reply to what I consider to be a serious accusation made against me this morning in the chamber at question time by the honourable member for Grey (Mr Jessop). He said that I was propounding Communist Party North Vietnamese propaganda in bringing into the Parliament the controversial film ‘Inside North Vietnam’. I will give honourable members and the people of Australia a brief history of the film. It was produced by Felix Greene, who was born in Great Britain and lived the greater part of his life in the United States of America. A Roman Catholic by faith, I believe- he is a brother to Graham Greene, the Roman Catholic author.
– And a Communist.
– I do not know of any political party that Felix Greene belongs to.
– You are a liar, Jones.
– Order! The honourable member for Hunter will resume his seat. The honourable member for Darebin will withdraw that remark.
– I simply want to say that he is a liar.
– Order! I name the honourable member for Darebin.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the honourable member for Darebin be suspended from the service of the House.
– He is a liar.I repeat that he is a liar.
– Order! The honourable member for Darebin will cease interjecting and passing uncomplimentary remarks.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Notwithstanding the vast amount of money spent on education by the Commonwealth and the States, the people of New South Wales have been denied the right to see this very penetrating and effective film. I have not received one complaint following the five screenings of the film with which I have been associated. Nobody has complained that the film is political propaganda, is disloyal to the nation or is in any way blasphemous or offensive.
I raise my voice tonight to deny this unjustified accusation of the honourable member for Grey that I am propounding North Vietnamese Communist propaganda. I bear the honourable member no malice, just as I bear no malice to any man. I raise my voice because I have deep feelings for human beings, no matter where they live. I raise my voice because of the cruel unhumanity of man to man occurring in the world today, particularly in North Vietnam and South Vietnam. In 1954, after the defeat of the French, the people of Vietnam could see the feeble light at the end of the long tunnel after 60 to 80 years of war. They scented the right to run their own country. Yes, Mr Speaker, I brought this controversial film into the Parliament so as to enlighten some of the bigoted and biased members, of this House. But what did they do? They would not open their minds to it. Many of them boycotted the film. I do not believe that the honourable member for Grey has seen the film, so he is .not fit to comment on it. He has based his attitude on information fed to him by somebody else. He has been a puppet for somebody else, making his allegations against me at the instigation of somebody else.
Most of the people who saw the film in the Parliament were impressed with it. This has happened wherever it has been shown. I was particularly honoured by the attendance of members of the Country Party last night, together with members of my Party, in the Senate Club Room. I was honoured to see the Senate Club Room filled to capacity. If my actions inside or outside the Parliament aid some foreign political ideology I regret them, because it is not my intention to do that, but if I have to make a decision between truth and popularity I will settle for the former any day. Endeavours to obstruct the showing of this film by applying political censorship -
– I do not blame the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James). How can 1 blame him when a prominent television station put on an interview by the same journalist with Ho Chi Minh, which was straightout propaganda for North Vietnam? This is just one of the many strange things that happens with respect to the attempt to stop Communist aggression by North Vietnam against South Vietnam. Earlier today I asked a question of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) concerning ships trading into Haiphong that were flying the British flag. The Prime Minister replied that according to the information he had received thirteen ships registered in Hong Kong, owned by Chinese Communists in Hong Kong, were engaging in this trade. As they loaded not at British ports but at ports in Communist China and elsewhere, they did not come under the strategic embargo concerning war materials. He said that as far as we can ascertain there are no shipments of war materials being carried to Haiphong. I suggest that we tell that to the marines. He said that no protest had been made as these ships could register under the Liberian or Panamanian flags.
No doubt thirteen ships from Hong Kong are trading under the British flag into Haiphong, but Hong Kong is a British colony. It is under British laws and the British shipping register. The British Board of Trade, of which the present Prime Minister of Britain was once President, can control the ships, and that is the reason for the British register. The whole purpose of the register is to be able to control the ships which are on the register, and any British ship is subject, to British law. The British Board of Trade could and should declare Haiphong a prohibited port, and deregister such ships if they refuse to comply with such orders.
But the Australian Prime Minister has not, I. believe, been told the whole truth; or if he has been told the whole of the story as our intelligence department has been able to ascertain it, all that I can say is that the intelligence department is not Al at Lloyds. According to the information I have received from authoritative sources, the following ships are trading into Haiphong, flying the British flag and not registered in Hong Kong but registered in London: , ,- ./, Erica’, 7,105 tons; ‘Shirley Christine’, 6.724 tons; “Taiping”, 5,676 tons; the ‘Bercharmian’, of 7,265 tons. Registered in Liverpool is the Greenford’, a smaller ship of 2,964 tons; registered in Cardiff is the ‘Shun Tai’, of 7,085 tons; and registered in Gibraltar are the Androssmore’, of 5,800 tons, and the A-/ of 7,808 tons.
I admire and respect the old Mother country as much as anyone, but this is not the first time - I hope it will be the last - that I have accused Britain of such action which is so contrary to the traditional British character. The first time was in 1955 at the time of the evacuation of Tachen Islands when diesel engines for landing craft were coming into Hong Kong on ships’ registers as exchange or new engines for the Kowloon ferries and were being transhipped and taken up the Chinese Communist coast in British ships and unloaded in Chinese Communist ports. I was told 1 was wrong, so I went to the American authorities after the British authorities had accused me of making charges that had no foundation. A week later the Hong Kong Standard’ published a paragraph:
Yesterday American and Japanese police raided a ship loading at Yokohama for Hong Kong and took 193 case, of spare parts for diesel engines OK the ship and uncovered a smuggling ring.
However this case is much worse.
– Who told you this?
– ls the honourable member suggesting that my information is not correct? I will give him the evidence, but I doubt whether he will believe it even if it is in black and white. This case is much worse because here we have Australian troops fighting in Vietnam against Communist aggression which affects also our own security in the ultimate. The troops have been sent there by our own Government. British ships are giving aid and comfort, as well, no doubt, as strategic materials, to the enemy. As I understand it, trading with the enemy is still treason and treachery as far as British law is concerned; and war is war whether it is a declared war or not. I sometimes feel that Lord Haw Haw’s spirit must be wondering why his body was condemned ,to’ death. If honourable members do not believe me, Mr
Speaker, let them ask the troops in the field - those we have sent there - for their opinion of this action by Britain. We cannot make an appeal to foreign countries, but surely we can make an appeal and a very strong protest, to the British Government, irrespective of its political colour.
– What has the British Government got to do with it?
– The ships are sailing under the British register and if the honourable member does not know what that means he can look it up, although I have already told him. It means that they are controlled by the British Board of Trade of which, as I have said, Mr Wilson was once the President. Anyone who does not make a strong protest at this lack of action by the British Government is guilty of betraying Australians and allied troops in the field and of being an accessory to Australian casualties.
– I wish to raise a subject tonight that is causing considerable concern and increasing concern in the north of Australia. It relates to what many people in the north arc referring to as the ‘junkets’, particularly of Government Ministers and Government committees, to the northern parts of Australia. We have just had a Press statement that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) are going to the north on what has been referred to officially in the Press handout as the most comprehensive tour of the north ever undertaken by a Prime Minister. That most comprehensive tour will be of 7,500 miles and will last 6 days. It will cover the top half of Australia. The visit will include the brigalow country. Weipa, Groote Eylandt and the Ord River. In other words the tour will cover the same old beaten track that Ministers and Government supporters follow every recess, particularly in the winter.
This is a rather serious matter but members of the Liberal Party who are laughing and interjecting are displaying in this place the attitude that they display in the north. They go to the north like grasshoppers and parasites. 1 point out that my remarks do not apply to all Ministers or to all honourable members. Some visits are justified. For example, when the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) went to Karumbah in connection with the ‘Van Gogh’ incident his efforts were appreciated. That was a case in which he should have gone there.
I understand that three VIP aircraft will be involved in the forthcoming junket. Certainly one will be made available for the exclusive use of the Press which, I understand, will pay for it. The ordinary people of north Queensland, the Northern Territory and the northern parts of Western Australia are becoming increasingly fed up with these flying visits. The visits are nothing more than junkets at the taxpayers’ expense. The worst part about it is that many of these visits leave behind them broken promises and shallow promises. As I have said, the worst offenders are the Ministers and their large entourages which go to the north, with no purpose in mind other than promoting public relations, and go over the same beaten track. 1 do not know where the Prime Minister is going but I can tell you where I think he will be going: He will be covering the same old track, first of all to Gladstone to see the alumina works. Who owns them? Then he will fly to the brigalow area, to Mt Isa, to Weipa, to Groote Eylandt, to Darwin, to the Ord River - the same old beaten track.
Why do not the Prime Minister and his Ministers go and see the people in the northern parts of Australia and learn at first hand the real problems of the north? They are the people who should be seen. Why do they not consider the problems of the people who want water conservation? Why do they not analyse the problems associated with the severity of freight rates? Why do they not consider the absence of television in western Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Kimberleys? I do not think the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme), the great saviour of the Post Officewho is interjecting has been there yet. Why do not the Prime Minister and his Ministers try to do something about the serious regional unemployment that exists in those areas, particularly in the sugar areas? Those are the kinds of things that the Prime Minister and his Ministers should be investigating instead of travelling along the same old beaten track to the barons of foreign investment who no doubt will open their arms to the Prime Minister. He should see the ordinary people, the real people in the north.
Many government committees go to the north year after year. I will name one of them - the Government Members Food and Agriculture Committee. I do not know how long it is since that Committee last visited Mount Isa. One does not mention this committee in Mount Isa, because the people there refer to the members as grasshoppers - they come in at night, accept the hospitality of the mine management, devour as quickly as possible the eats and drinks, depart in a swarm, and repeat the performance in another area the next day. They infer to the people of the north that they have particular policy making powers. They have no powers whatsoever. Some of the Committees are treated with contempt by senior civil servants who thoroughly know the facts of the north. This is a fact.
Is it any wonder that many of the people in the north feel this way about this continual and ceaseless stream of Ministers and their entourages who make up so-called committees. As an example, 1 mentioned one of those committees by name. There is also misrepresentation about some of these committees. For example, I have here a copy of the Mackay ‘Mercury’ of 25th July. It contains an article about an important shire Council which is going to a lot of trouble to prepare a comprehensive case on a water conservation scheme for the Northern Development Committee. The only committee on northern development in this Parliament is one appointed by the Labor Party. But when one reads this article one finds that this great Northern Development Committee to which this case is to be presented is non-existent. Probably it is headed by the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) because he is mentioned in this article. This is the sort of thing that is happening and it is not fair to these people who are genuine in their beliefs.
– It is the National Development Committee.
– Why do they not say that it is the National Development Committee? What could that Committee do? The first thing that this Government says about water conservation projects is that they must be put forward by the State governments. There was another example last week of these visits to the north. Mr Heath went to Queensland in a Royal Australian Air Force jet. Again, he was on this type of tour in order to explore developmental projects. He did not take 6 days to do the trip - he took half a day. He flew around by jet and saw the Brigalow scheme, the alumina works, the Emerald scheme and other projects in half a day. At least Mr Heath was honest. He said he observed them from the air. It was a very cloudy day so 1 am not certain of how much he did observe. When he reached Mackay in his RAAF aircraft he was met by a police squad comprising eight detectives according to the local Press. I do not think Mackay has eight detectives. They must have imported some from elsewhere. They met him at the airport and escorted him to the Boomerang Motel, and a beautiful, placid place it is. Eight detectives and police vehicles with screaming sirens met his VIP aircraft after he observed from the air development project in central and southern Queensland, ls it any wonder that the people of the north treat this junketing in the north with such contempt?
Some of these committees do a good job. For example, the Government Members Mining Committee has a good name in the north. 1 say that in fairness to the members. I am speaking specifically about some of these ministerial junkets. I class this tour next week by the Prime Minister as nothing more than a pre-election stunt, if it is that. Those going on the tour will travel 6,600 miles in 6 days, or whatever it is, to explore, to study, and to absorb so that they will be able to come back to this place and talk intelligently about some of the development projects in northern Australia. It is time this type of thing stopped. I said before that there are many pressing problems in the north. I mentioned some of them, such as water conservation. If Ministers want to go there, then let them do so but let them stay for 3 or 4 days and have a good look at each project. Let them examine the serious unemployment that exists. Let them examine the problem of keeping young girls in the north. There are no or few jobs for girls when they finish school and they must come south to the cities. These are some of the problems that must be tackled. .
– Order! The honourable members time has expired.
– 1 have never heard a greater tirade of nonsense than the comments of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). What did he say? For a start, be said that two Government committees - the Government Members Mining Committee and the Government Members Food and Agriculture Committee - should not go into his atea, the area in which he wants to remain isolated as king, the little parochial situation over which he rules. He denies the right of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) to take an interest in his area. I would like to see the honourable member for Dawson in my area for a change. Let us get back to the point about the activities of these two Government committees. Members of these two committees pay their way around Australia in order to take an intelligent interest in what goes on. It may be that the honourable member feels that the members of these committees spend their time drinking tea instead of looking around. If the honourable member ever went out of his own electorate - and I did not see him at Loxton, which is in my own electorate-
– The honourable member was invited to Loxton, but he did not make it. I will leave that for a while. The point I make is that there are people in this Parliament who are prepared and have gone out of their way to look at Australia. As a member of one of the two committees to which the honourable member referred I object to his petty and paltry fashion of looking at his own area in a parochial way and saying that nobody else should be allowed to come and have a look at it. I hope that the honourable member will take the opportunity of having a look at Chowilla Dam when it is completed. I have had a look at the Nogoa Dam, for instance. I would welcome the sight of the honourable member in my electorate. When he has finished mucking around and has stopped his stupid attack, I would like to know what he thinks about that.
I turn now to his attack on the Prime Minister. What right has any honourable member on this side of the House or on the other side of the House to deny the right of the Prime Minister - an extremely busy man - to take what interest he can in this nation. Of all the cockeyed logic I have ever heard, this takes the bun. The honourable member referred to it as a cheap junket, a low junket - Colonel Junket. I do not know what sort of a junket he means; but if I were in the same position as the honourable member I would welcome the Prime Minister visiting my electorate. Certainly I would not greet his visit with a low attack, even if the Prime Minister of the day were the honourable member for Dawson. This would not seem to me right, reasonable or, indeed, logical. I do not think that the honourable member’s remarks do him justice. He came to this House with something’ of a’ reputation. I hope that he does not persist with this sort of puerile, ridiculous attack.
I wish to make once again the point that I think it is to the credit of members of the back benches on this side of the House that they have formed themselves into these committees and are going all around Australia to have a look, paying their own way. The last ‘junket’ that I went on with one of these committees took 10 days between Perth and the brigalow scrub area at Nogoa. I am sure that the honourable member for Dawson will’ agree that this is a reasonable time for any member of Parliament to be away from his electorate. I feel that although obviously we got only a sketchy knowledge from the trip we saw much that some of us might not otherwise have the opportunity to see. I regret the fact that the honourable member has seen fit to attack not only the Prime Minister but also those who are keen enough to pay their own way to look at electorates such as his.
– I wish to make some observations on one or two matters that have been raised tonight. Firstly, I find it exceedingly difficult to agree with the bitter criticism by the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) of Government action in respect to certain activities associated with shipping and the war in Vietnam. Of course, whee all is said and done, that sanctimonious gentleman stands in this Parliament, or sits silently in this Parliament-
– Mr Speaker, I ask for a withdrawal. The honourable gentleman has described one of the members of this House as sanctimonious. I ask that he withdraw that expression.
– There is no point of order.
– The honourable member for Chisholm sits in this Parliament behind a Government which equips our enemies - in the words of this Government - with wool; wheat and materials of warfare. If he feels so strongly on this other matter it is a wonder he does not rise in his place occasionally and express his views against trade with the enemy if, according to Government supporters, that is what they are. Until such time as the honourable member is prepared to criticise the policy of a government which conscripts men to fight in Vietnam and at the same time supplies the enemies of these men with the sinews of war, I will not accept his criticism.
I want to refer also to the film that was mentioned by the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James). The criticism that was made of the showing of the film, I think, implied that both you, Mr Speaker, and the President were associated with Communists. The implication was that the film should not have been shown to members of this Parliament because it was in some way associated with Communism. The insinuation was that you, Mr Speaker, would collaborate with the President in showing a film of that kind. In that way the criticism was a serious reflection on you and the President. But I think the most biased of us know that you are not in any way associated with the Communist Party. I agree with the honourable member for Hunter that members of the Parliament were entitled to see the film. If we would fall for the propaganda in a film that we see on television or anywhere else, we should not be members of the Parliament. The fact that you and the President saw fit to rise above the bias of certain members of the Parliament and allow the film in question to be shown is something for which you are to be commended. It is delightful to see you and the President on the same side as the honourable member for Hunter.
I have a few remarks to make in support of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) who tonight brought to the attention of the Parliament a matter that has caused some honourable members to criticise him. 1 believe the Parliament is entitled to discuss the matter he raised. I almost cried when I heard the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) make such a moving speech. After all, the honourable member for Angas is a member of the well known Adelaide Establishment. I understand that he has several farms, a few prize bulls and two or three city houses. In addition, he has certain extensive portfolio investments in London. He is probably well able to afford to travel in great personal comfort without having to call upon the public purse. But all of us are not so fortunate. He said that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was entitled to see Australia. Of course he is entitled to see Australia; everybody is. But why do members of the Liberal Party, including the Prime Minister, wait until they are looking for votes and an election is about to be held before they decide to see northern Australia? Why, the Liberal Party has been in office for 20 years, and it was not until the honourable member for Dawson, the previous member for the Northern Territory and other members of the Australian Labor Party forced the issue that the Government saw fit to spend even Si on the development of northern Australia. It was not until the Government at the 1961 election lost so many seats in Queensland that its majority in this Parliament was almost wiped out that the Prime. Minister of the time decided to visit Queensland and acknowledge the existence, of the people there.
Why is it necessary now to use three VIP aeroplanes to take the Prime Minister and a group of journalists, who will praise this great man, on a tour through the northern part of Australia? I understand that this tour will cost $650 an hour. Why is this money being spent to take the Prime Minister on what is in this’ instance a tour merely for election purposes? I would have thought that he would have seen Australia before he went to certain places throughout the world. After all. is said and done, he has made more speeches in Washington, Malaysia and other places than he has made in this Parliament. Why should he leave it until this very last minute to go to northern Australia and why should he use three VIP aircraft for the purpose? Of course no-one worries about the Prime Minister seeing Australia and using whatever transport may be necessary, But what is the objective of this visit? Hie Press seems to be well enough informed from the Prime Ministerial level to say that an election is pending. The Prime Minister has been roused out of his stupor, if I may use that word, and he wants to let the people see the great man who will take us to the Garden of Eden or the Promised Land in social welfare and so on.
The honourable member for Dawson has spent weeks on the road in his electorate letting the people know what this Government is not doing and showing what can be done. But now the. Prime Minister is setting out on a de luxe tour, using three VIP aircraft at a cost of $650 an hour. He and the members of his party will come in like grasshoppers and locusts. They will fly in and out in the same night. As the honourable member for Dawson said, the Prime Minister probably will not have time to do more than shake the hand of the mayor of the town. Why, the waste of money on a venture such as this borders on the scandalous. Why could it not be done at other times of the year? This is just like the promises that the Liberal Party makes at election time. It makes all kinds of pledges and promises on ail kinds of matters, but very little is done after the event. The honourable member for Dawson said that tonight in a country town eight detectives -probably the whole police force for the area - will be taken off their beat in order to escort the Prime Minister from his aeroplane to his hotel, or wherever he may be staying. “Mr Snedden - Which Prime Minister? It is a different Prime Minister.
– I am referring to the Liberal Prime Minister of this country. I can understand him visiting these places; but I do not know why it has to be done with such extravagance, with such splendour and with so many pressmen accompanying him. With due respect 1 think it could be done much more cheaply than at a cost of $650 an hour for three aircraft.
– For each plane.
– Yes. Let those who sit opposite justify this expenditure, if they will. Far from criticising the honourable member for Dawson, 1 think that we in this Parliament are indebted to him for bringing to the light of day the extravagance associated with things of this nature and the manner in which this could have been done just as effectively and much more cheaply. No-one quibbles at the Prime Minister visiting these places in his VIP aircraft, but why is it necessary for two other aircraft to accompany him? Is it necessary to take two add!,tional aircraft merely for the pressmen who want to go? Is it necessary for all those pressmen to accompany him?
I suggest - here I give the Liberal Party first class advice - that they are liable to lose votes by carting three VIP aircraft full of pressmen and others into these places. People will be aware of the extravagance of doing this. I suppose that when all is said and done there would be no sewage at these places nor any of the facilities which normally are necessary. If as much were spent in some of these places as it costs to take the entourage there 1 believe that the expenditure would be worth while in every possible way. I have already mentioned what was said by the honourable member for Dawson and I repeat that I would like an explanation for this. I would like to know what promises are to be made at the places which the Prime Minister will visit. I would like to know what form this trip will take. Will anyone undertake to do something practical in these places? Will an outline of policy be given to the people? Can any honourable member opposite say that on this trip they will not be travelling over the same old course , and visiting the same old towns but that new ground will be broken?
I mention again that it is significant that there is nothing more likely to stir the Liberal Party than the thought of an election. Government supporters revitalise themselves for about 14 days, but if they can they then let matters die for the next 14 years. The people of the north are aware of the things that have been mentioned by the honourable member for Dawson tonight. They know that the Government’s promises and pledges are false and that this trip is a show for an election. I think it will be treated accordingly. Whilst I defend the Prime Minister’s right to travel to these places, I think the honourable member for Dawson was right tonight in criticising the splendour associated with the trip, the wastage involved and the purposes for which it is being engineered.
– The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), who has just resumed his seat, has treated us to a brilliant demonstration of his own horse and buggy attitude to elections, electoral services and national service. However, 1 want to comment on what the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) said because the honourable member for Grayndler tried to dress up his remarks. What the honourable member for Dawson said, in effect, was a backhanded compliment to the backbenchers, at least on this side of the House, and to the Ministers of this Government. He has now put himself on record as having admitted, be it with little grace, that members of Parliament, at least on this side of the House, are paying a very great deal of attention to northern Australia. But no cloudy day could possibly be as cloudy as the mind of the honourable member for Dawson on this topic.
In the last two winter recesses I have worked on the Government members National Development Committee. In this winter recess just past I worked on the Combined Committee on National Development and Mining. I think in 1967 we were able to keep about 10 or 11 days free for our electorates, but this year we were able to have only 8 days. We had hoped that we could organise matters so that members would have 10 or 12 days, but we found that by the time we had gathered a dozen or so members of Parliament together - admittedly they were hard working ones from this side of the House - we could not take even 8 days of winter recess to devote to our electorates and constituents. We were able to take no more than 1 week plus a couple of weekends at either end of that week. We discussed this matter at some length, because it is quite apparent that we would like to spend much more time in many of these areas. But it is equally apparent that we have to look after our own electorates. We also face the problem of gathering together from all over Australia twelve or more members of this Parliament. That is not as easy as it sounds.
Although in the case of the trip made during the last winter recess we had only 8 or 10 days available the combined committees ranged from the agricultural activities at Esperance to the mining activities in the Pilbara region, through to Kunanurra and the Ord River project. Because of the shortage of time, we were able to make only an aerial survey of the Tipperary area. But this was still worthwhile. At Tennant Creek we saw a mining operation where, in contrast with the iron ore operations particularly on the coast of Western Australia, an Australian company is battling with limited ore bodies and has certain problems to overcome. That visit was very valuable to the members of the combined committees. We went to Mount Isa, and we saw the phosphate deposits at Duchess. I will not give to the House the complete itinerary. On the eighth day, the journey concluded in Brisbane.
The main point that I wish to make about the value of these trips is that they bring to life for members the subjects that they discuss in this House. As the honourable member for Dawson has said, when discussing the itinerary that we should follow on these trips many members have insisted that we visit areas that we have visited before. The honourable member for Dawson referred disparagingly to this as establishing beaten tracks - as though it is a terrible thing for us to go back to a particular project that we have seen a year or 2 years before to see what progress has been made or what problems have been encountered in the meantime. On the contrary, this is a most valuable part of the exercise. It does bring to life for members projects which otherwise would be paper projects to them, and it gets rid of any possibility of their being inhabitants of an ivory tower in Canberra completely unaware of the rest of Australia. As for the allegation that these trips are junkets, I know that on this trip in which I was engaged recently as the secretary of the combined committees, we were travelling, inspecting, talking to people and meeting delegations for from 12 hours to 14 hours a day. We started at 5 o’clock, 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock in the morning and went through until from 7 o’clock to 10 o’clock at night.
I wish to comment on another thing that the honourable member for Dawson said. He said that departmental officers travelling with members often hold those members in contempt. I can only completely deny this allegation. It is a remark that, I think, the honourable member for Dawson on reflection should withdraw or qualify. It i« beneath even his usual standards. The departmental officers who accompanied us and the State departmental officers whom we met not only were courteous and informative but also, I believe, were genuinely impressed with the desire of members of these committees to become familiar with the projects on which these State officers were engaged directly. It is true, as I have said before, that we did not have enough time on this trip. But one does not have enough time to do everything one would like to do. Quite frankly, to spend 3 or 4 days on a particular project would not only unbalance a member’s point of view of projects around Australia but also, would make it quite impossible for him to see the whole range of development throughout Australia. I believe that it is very valuable to go on these trips. It is most valuable for people to see for themselves what is being done.
The adjournment debate tonight has at least elicited from the honourable member for Dawson that members on this side of the House at any rate are making themselves thoroughly familiar with projects in northern Australia, that in fact they are not only becoming familiar with them but are following up by going back to watch developments as they take place. There is absolutely no question but that Government members, through their committees, do have some effect on Government policy.
I do not believe that any front bench can completely ignore the feelings of the back bench members. The Opposition might have this attitude in the unlikely event of its becoming the Government, but I assure honourable members opposite that such an attitude does not exist prt this side of the House, and the better informed back bench opinion is, the better the general consensus should be. I believe these trips should take place even more frequently, but I admit that we have not got enough time. Nevertheless, they have great value and even in the short time that is available they do enable members to see in concrete form things that to them would otherwise be merely paper problems.
– I wish to reply for a few minutes to two of the honourable members who have spoken this evening. I refer first, to the honourable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). He said that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) can tell it to the marines that the British Government cannot stop ships going to Haiphong. He said, that the British Government can stop them because we have soldiers of the Queen fighting the rulers of. Haiphong and that it should stop them whether it agrees with our Government or not. He says the British Government is guilty of betraying Australia.
It is typical of his arrogance that be should assume that this Government has the right to be the judge, the chief prosecutor, the jury and the executioner in its own case. This has been the argument of men of violence since Cain slew Abel. They all have wanted to be the judge, they all have wanted to be the executioner in their own squabbles.
– What about the sheriff?
– The sheriff, too. It is utter disregard of the growth of the rule of law in the world. When it comes to a non-military solution of matters affecting world peace and the rights of national minorities, the honourable member is one of the first in this Parliament to oppose it. He does not want a bar of the legal solution of international disputes. He wants to invoke the law of the gun, the law of the quickest gun in the West - or the East.
The honourable member asks this, the national Parliament of a country which h3s signed the United Nations Charter, to disregard the Charter provisions which bind us to carry out the General Assembly resolutions on Southern Rhodesia. In his zeal to cement all British Governments under one flag in every undeclared war undertaken in allegiance to that flag by every little country that happens to belong to the Commonwealth, he is ready to spurn the flag in Southern Rhodesia. He is ready to spurn the wider loyalty to humanity as represented by the United Nations where explicit laws are laid down.
These are grave inconsistencies, but the gravest inconsistency of all emerges when we realise the reason for our involvement with Haiphong. We are in Vietnam because we have decided to be the judge and the executioner in a matter which does not concern Australia. When this country sent troops to Vietnam we were told that it was to stop the thrust of China between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. President Eisenhower, in his autobiography, referred to the negotiations, which were conducted mainly through his Foreign Minister, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, which led up to the American involvement in this stupid war. President Eisenhower, in his book, referred to a different reason for America’s involvement in the war. He believed in the domino theory. He believed in the economic proposition that we could not afford to lose the riches of South East Asia.
– Hurry up. We want to go to bed.
– I still have 5 minutes. The honourable member for Perth can have his turn afterwards. The position is that we are being told by the honourable member for Chisholm, who wants to be judge and executioner, that the Queen should take notice of him; that she should tell everybody who flies the British flag whom he is to trade with. With whom does the honourable member trade? He is trading with the same China whom he says we have to stop. It seems to be good enough for Australian goods, crops, metal, tallow and other strategic and vital materials to be sent from this country to China, by the express wish of this Government. The Government has sent representatives to Red China to urge that country to buy more wheat.So how can the honourable member for Chisholm sit on the opposite side of the
House, amongst other Government supporters who support this policy, and have the temerity to ask the British Government not to do the same thing with Haiphong? This is the essence of the ridiculous.
I want to make one point regarding the junkets in the north of Australia in which some honourable members opposite and Ministers have indulged. Not only have the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) pointed out the lavish nature of these trips, which are quite uncalled for because they are designed only to attempt to influence people by pomp, but also some honourable members who have been in the north have told us that they have gone round looking at mines. It so happened that two committees went to the north within a very short period. They both looked at mines. One committee was concerned with mining and the other committee was concerned with primary production, which might be held to include mining. Why did the members of the committee which was concerned with primary production look at mines and not at water conservation, which is the thing in which Queensland primary producers are interested? Why did they not devote their time to looking at rural products, which are the major producer of export income in Queensland? The members of the Committee are concerned with primary production. Why did they look down mines when another committee had already done this a few weeks earlier? I suggest that it was because they could not get off the beaten track, as the honourable member for Dawson said. They said: ‘This one is a winner; let us plug it’. So they have not looked at primary production as it really matters and as it is really feeling the pinch today; that is, among the rural producers.
– The honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) and the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) apparently are concerned because Government committees have been in the north. On 31st August 1959, before the honourable member for Capricornia ever dreamed of being in the Parliament, the first parliamentary committee went to the Ord River. We who were members of that committee were astounded to. find that the Australian Labor Party, which had never heard of the Ord River, then put on a tremendous television programme for the next election campaign. Members of that Party were caught up with the drama of northern development. But a Government committee went to the Ord River first. Charles Court was waiting for us. He said: ‘We have come to the end of our tether. Thank God you have come.’ We go there two or three times a year.
So the Ord River project came into being; and the tropical pasture research laboratory at Townsville came into being. Let me pause for a minute to refer to the work of that laboratory. The drama and excitement of the development of the north with Townsville lucerne and phosphorus means hundreds of billions of dollars to Australia. The other day, after doing these jobs, we begged our way into Townsville. Almost reluctantly, the people of Townsville allowed us in. But when we got there the people of Townsville and the Press immediately attacked us because we did not stay there for 10 days. Let us not forget that the honourable members for Dawson and Capricornia represent electorates in the north. I do not know of any letter asking them to stay there for 10 days.
– We live there.
– I know that they live there, but they are not doing their job. If they were, why would every shire and municipal council write to us and say: Come back and stay for 10 days’?
– They do not.
– I have the letters from them. I suggest that the honourable member come and see them. He is falling down on his job. He is the man who should help in this matter, because there are administrative difficulties that have to be met. Today I contacted the Department of National Development and .said: ‘Will you brief me on the situation? What are the projects that have a good benefit-cost ratio?’
During our flights we saw some iron ore. Somebody chided us because we looked at mines. We were told by the strength here that there was only SOO million tons of iron ore in Australia; but,. of course, there is 500,000 million tons. It took us 3 years to get the embargo on the export of iron ore lifted. I think the Labor Party imposed that embargo. We began to sell some iron ore to start industries. The reason why we members of the Government Members Food and Agriculture Committee looked at mines was that the mining companies can put in a nucleus of hospitals, roads, schools, ports and railways to start food and agriculture industries. The houses and all the other things I have mentioned represent a nucleus in an otherwise arid and deserted area. This came out of the activities of the committee which honourable members opposite are criticising and which the people of north Queensland, with their fierce individuality, are asking to go back. They are not asking the honourable member for Dawson or the honourable member for Capricornia. They would be wasting their time if they did that, because those two honourable members do not know how to do the job, although the honourable member for Dawson was once head of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. His attack on us is a confession of his own failure: He did not know - that we had an invitation. He has not received invitations,1 but we have. Yet he stands up and talks to us about these matters.
This has been a magnificent effort by Government backbenchers in starting this development. It has meant thousands of millions of dollars of export income for Australia. It means boosting the work of the dedicated men of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization who have spent years and years in the north. This is because of these people who went with us on these trips that started back in 1959. When we first got there all we could see were skeletons of whitened bone because Labor Governments had been spending ali the money in Sydney and Melbourne. It would not conceive spending money ‘ in the north because it is not in its thinking. Labor never heard of the Ord River until we went there, yet honourable member opposite get up and start talking to us on this kind of thing.
The honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) has been writing letters. We understand he is a friend of the
Communists and left-wingers. He believes that the Communists are not bad chaps because they provide a little bit of production and better things for the people. The other day the scared and frightened Russian Communists walked into Czechoslovakia and killed the spirit of liberalism which had started. That sounded the death knell for the theories of the honourable member for Capricornia. The honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) came in here last Thursday with a scared white face - with anguish all over him - because he had been going around trying to say that Communism was all right. Now we know the truth. This was another Communist Government in Czechoslovakia that was taken over by the Russians. The Czechoslovakian Government was not elected by the people. Nor was the Russian Government elected by the people in the way that governments are elected in democratic countries. Yet half the Labor Party support the Communist philosophy. Thirtytwo people voted for the honourable member for Yarra at an election held the other day. Now with the redistribution of electorates and about four or five new seats the object of the left wing of the Labor Party is to win a majority. It will be the end of Mr Whitlam if there are enough scats where Communist influences can put in the left-wingers.
The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) came in here and attacked the Government. The Government members of committees were not working for their own electorates or for ‘ this part of Australia. They were working for the north. When the honourable member for Dawson was campaigning before the by-election he never said one word about the Labor Party’s defence policy. He was ashamed of it and he knew that if he opened his mouth in north Queensland about Labor’s defence policy the Party would not get one seat. He was shrewd enough to keep quiet about Labor’s defence policy. So north Queensland got a different view. At least the Government members committee knew where work could be done. That is why Opposition members are criticising us for not staying in north Queensland for 10 days. The people of the area did not ask us to get out. 1 have letters asking us to come back, and honourable members opposite can see them at any time they like.
Somebody said something about the VIP planes and the cars to be made available to the Prime Minister. I understand that the Leader of the Opposition when he went north for the Capricornia by-election had a whole plane full of journalists and public relations personnel. When I wanted to go to Kempsey last week to attend the flood mitigation conference, which concerned my electorate, it cost the Government $50 to send me by ordinary plane. There were nine empty seats on the VIP flight but I was not allowed to go on it because of the rule under which it operates. Members of the Labor Party had the plane, with the nonsensical result that I went to Kempsey by an ordinary plane for $50 when there were nine empty seats on the VIP plane going there. Mr Whitlam had a big plane full of all kinds of people for the Capricornia by-election. Yet honourable members opposite criticise the Government in connection with the VIP issue after they have driven it into the ground and run it to death. This is the kind of spectacle we get. The Government members committees are proud of what they have been able to do. They are proud of what happened in northern Australia; without them the development might never have happened.
James McCartney of Western Australia said to me that the only hope for the north would come from a party of back bencher3. That was said in 1959. James Gibbard of the Townsville ‘Bulletin’ understood this when we arrived in Townsville. Immediately a huge crowd of people came into the Townsville Town Hall and asked us to stay for 10 days. That is a different story from the stories of the honourable member for Dawson and the honourable member for Capricornia. The people of Townsville have a feeling of remoteness from the national capital. They wanted us to visit the area, but the honourable member for Dawson and the honourable member for Capricornia only offer us criticism.
– I have always had the impression that a statue of Hans Christian Andersen was erected somewhere in Denmark. After listening to the last speech I am inclined to believe that he has been reincarnated in this chamber. The honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) referred to a take-over in 1959 from a Labor Government. A Labor Government had handed over office 10 years before then.
– You have been out for a long while.
– And the Minister was out for a couple of years just after 1959. The honourable member for Macarthur said that in 1959 a party of back benchers went to the north and got a great reception. In 1961 the people went to the ballot boxes. It was not until after they had registered their votes that any action at all was taken by this Government to develop northern Australia. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has been attacked by honourable members opposite. It has been suggested that he does not do any work in northern areas. I do not think any honourable member can honestly claim that he has spoken on behalf of the interests of the people he represents more than the honourable member for Dawson has spoken for his constituents.
As to visits by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), he is welcome to visit my electorate at any time to discuss with the people there why the Government decided to exclude certain municipalities in that area from payment of drought relief. I do not think any person who has examined this situation can properly say that there is any justification whatsoever for the Government’s treatment.
– This is a State matter.
– It is not a State matter. The honourable member does not know what he is talking about. Last Monday I received a letter from the Prime Minister in which he stated that it was a decision taken by the Federal Government. If members of the Country Party knew what they were talking about they would not be chirping like a lot of birds.
– But is not drought relief paid to persons, and not to areas?
– The Commonwealth Government excluded from drought relief three municipalities in the city of Geelong but paid drought relief to four municipal areas forming part of that city for the relief of unemployment. That is what happened. It was done by the Federal Government and not by the State Government, even though a Country Party Minister in another place said last week that it was done by the State Government.
Nobody in the electorate I represent can understand the logic of 46,000 persons in an area in which 110,000 persons live being told they are excluded from the relief payments. The Prime Minister has also said that his Government accepts no responsibility for regional unemployment, but in each letter I have received from him he has promised that his Government will look at the situation. I do not know how bad the situation must become before it receives consideration. This year during the winter period and in most other years, the area of Geelong has had about one-third more people receiving unemployment benefit payments than the Melbourne metropolitan area, even though about 100,000 people live in the Geelong area and about 2 million people live in the Melbourne metropolitan area. When a problem reaches that magnitude, it is serious.
In 1961 the electorate 1 represent was represented by a member of the Liberal Party. At that time the number of people receiving unemployment benefit payments was about 1,000 more than the number receiving such payments this year. Not one word was said here at that time, or in any other parliament, in support of the people out of work in that area.
– Do you not think the Government’s policies have had something to do with the improvement?
– The fact that 2,000 people are out of work is a direct result of the Government’s policies.
-Order! All remarks will be directed to the chair. Interjections are out of order.
– 1 rose to say what I have said. I would be glad to have the Prime Minister come to my electorate to explain to the municipal leaders in Geelong, Geelong West and Newtown just why those areas, of all the municipalities in Victoria, have been singled out for specific exclusion from drought relief funds while other areas similarly placed have been included.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.15 a.m. (Friday) until Tuesday, 10 September, at 2.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Autogyro Parachutes (Question No. 327)
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The ideas of the inventor referred to were first brought to the attention of the authorities in 1961. At that time he was informed that although there did not seem to be any technical reason why his device could not be developed to a practical realisation, in fact it did not meet any known Service requirement. He declined to accept this advice and continued with his developmental work at his own expense. It is not surprising that he has succeeded in further developing his ideas and producing a device that, at least on a model scale, appears to function satisfactorily, for experienced technical people in Departments of the Army, Air and Supply have always believed that this could be achieved. The Service requirements for a device having the characteristics claimed by Mr Everingham have been reassessed, but it is considered that any military advantage that might be gained through the development and production of the equipment would be outweighed by the practical difficulties it would create. In the circumstances it is not intended to take further action in the matter.
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
ns askedthe Minister for t he Army, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
The allegations made by Private Phillipson concerning his treatment at the Military Corrective Establishment have been fully investigated by the Deputy Adjutant-General (Personnel Administration) Brigadier O. H. Isaksson, M.C. His report was submitted on11th June 1968 and normally I would hare made a statement on the matter. However, as Private Phillipson has appealed to the Supreme Court of Western Australia, the Attorney-General has advised that the propriety of any comments relating to Brigadier Isaksson’s investigations is questionable. In fairness to Private Phillipson I am unable to comment on the matter until the appeal has been dealt with.
I might add that, as announced by the Minister for Defence on 4th July 1968, a Committee of Inquiry into the Services’ Detention Arrangements has been set up. This Committee is inquiring into the practices and procedures of the three Services in respect of servicemen under detention and Service legislation, instructions and orders relating to places of detention and to servicemen under detention.
ns asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The Army’s planned expenditure for the financial year 1969-70, on capital works, is $94,000. This figure is an estimate only as planning and development has not reached a stage where firm estimates could be supplied.
It is not practicable at this stage to give any worthwhile indication of possible expenditure on capital works beyond 1969-70 or on maintenance beyond 1968-69.
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
, asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable members’ questions are as folicws
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
What is the re-engagement rate for Army servicemen at the end of (a) a first engagement, (b) a second engagement, (c) a third engagement and (d) subsequent engagements?
– The answer to th-~ honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable members questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
er asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
What is the average cost of houses erected in Canberra by the Commonwealth for rental purposes under contracts let in the past 12 months?
– The answer to the honour able member’s question is as follows:
The average cost of houses erected in Canberra by the Commonwealth for rental purposes under contracts let in the financial year 1967-68 is approximately $8,300.
Vietnam (Question No. 546)
asked the Minister for
External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1, 2 and 3. I do not know what documents were circulated at a meeting of the National Council of Women on 8th February. The Department did not ask for any documents to be circulated. At the request of the National Council of Women, the Department of External Affairs provides that organisation with copies of all of its regular publications. It is for the recipients to decide what to do with them.
They (the Allied forces) shall be withdrawn, after close consultation, as the other side withdraws its forces to the North, eases infiltration and the level of violence thus subsides. These forces will’ be withdrawn as soon as possible and not later than six months after the above conditions have been fulfilled.
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
Has any action been planned by his Department to provide Norfolk Island with an up to date airport by concreting or sealing the present war-time airstrip so that aircraft, faster than the DC4, which now takes 41 hours to fly 1,035 miles between Sydney and Norfolk Island, can be operated?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The provision of airport facilities for aircraft larger than the Douglas DC4 which now operates to Norfolk Island would involve a large and quite difficult engineering problem in the reconstruction, strengthening and sealing of the existing runways.
The Department of Civil Aviation, while having no plans for such a project in the immediate future,’ recognises the short-comings of the existing airport, and hopes to bring it forward as a developmental work when its priority, when compared with the priority of other airport projects throughout Australia and its territories, becomes such that it can be included in a works programme.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
In addition to the enrolments itemised there are 520 (est.) non-indigenous students in the Territory enrolled with Australian correspondence schools. Other enrolments in the Territory not itemised include 285 Administration scholarship holders at the University of Papua and New Guinea, the Institute of Higher Technical Education and the Tapuan Medical College and 378 Administration sponsored trainees at other tertiary institutions in the Territory such as the Administrative College, the Vudal Agricultural College, the Papua and New Guinea Forestry School and the Goroka Teachers’ College.
The nature and cost of the assistance for education in Australia and elsewhere is as follows:
Secondary - Assistance under Administration scholarship and subsidy scholarship schemes meets the cost of tuition, accommodation and all necessary living expenses, together with one return fare to the Territory per annum and is estimated to cost in total an average of $1,225 per student per annum.
University - Administration assistance for three Administration sponsored students comprises allowances to cover tuition fees, accommodation, clothing and text books, medical and dental expenses, living expenses and one annual return air fare to the Territory and is estimated to cost in total an average of $1,830 per student per annum. Administration assistance for the three private students (under the Walter Strong Trust Fund) is for one clothing allowance of $100 and an annual return air fare.
Secondary - Parents who live in- the Territory and send their children to secondary school in Australia are entitled to the Territory secondary education allowance which is at present $290 for the first child and $390 p.a. for second and subsequent children in Australia at the same time, together with one return air fare annually for each child.
Students studying outside Australia receive the same allowance together with the equivalent of a return air fare from Sydney to the Territory.
The Public Service Arbitrator recently handed down a decision which establishes separate rates of education allowance for overseas officers of the Territory public service. This decision has not yet been placed before the Governor-General.
University - The Administration meets the cost of one return air fare per annum as far as Sydney provided that the student is not in receipt of other assistance or fares.
Other education - 12 handicapped children receive an annual return air fare and up to S200 p.a. for tuition only; 17 students at tertiary institutions other than universities receive air fares assistance.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
The following are details of Royal Australian Navy ships in reserve and the date* they were last commissioned in the Royal Australian Navy:
The following ships have been declared for disposal and disposal is being processed:
Royal Australian Navy (Question No. 530)
asked the Minister for the
Navy, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable questions is as follows:
FOUR OBERON CLASS SUBMARINES:
Being built at Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering
Company, Greenock, Scotland. Two (H.M.A. Submarines OXLEY and OTWAY) have already been delivered. H.M.A.S. OVENS is due for delivery in January 1969, and H.M.A.S. ONSLOW in August 1969. Total estimated cost for four submarines outfitted and with a range of base spares is $47.552m.
TWO TYPE 12 DESTROYER ESCORTS:
One (H.M.A.S. TORRENS) being built by Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Co. Ltd at Cockatoo Island, New South Wales, and one (H.M.A.S. SWAN) at H.M.A. Naval Dockyard, Williamstown, Victoria. H.M.A.S. SWAN is expected to complete in September 1969, and H.M.A.S. TORRENS in July 1970. The estimated cost of the two ships outfitted except for Missiles and Ammunition is $43.283m.
TWENTY PATROL BOATS: Being built by a Consortium of Queensland firms (Evans Deakin & Co. Pry Ltd, Brisbane, and Walkers Ltd, Maryborough). Twelve have already been delivered. The remaining eight are expected to be delivered by 30th April 1969. The total estimated cost of twenty ships outfitted except for Ammunition is $15.694m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 August 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19680829_reps_26_hor60/>.