26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. 3. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. Has the United Nations General Assembly written to the Parliament of Papua and New Guinea about the holding of United Nations supervised elections in the country? If so, what briefly were the contents of the communication? Does the United Nations want elections to be held in Papua and New Guinea similar to those proposed for West Irian? Will the Minister inform the United Nations that the present method of carrying out elections whereby every person who wishes to vote does so secretly is considered by the people of Papua and New Guinea to be the best method for that country?
– The United Nations has not written to the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea. I think the honourable gentleman probably has in mind the adoption in the United Nations General Assembly of a resolution concerning Papua and New Guinea in a form which expressed the view that there should be an early move to hold a general plebiscite there in relation to the granting of independence and the election of a government. The text of that resolution was conveyed formally by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations at New York. Apart from the reference to United Nations supervision in the relevant resolution the United Nations has not laid down any requirements or made any suggestions regarding procedures for elections in Papua and New Guinea but it is familiar with the system of voting followed for the election of the House of Assembly. The last visiting Mission of the Trusteeship Council to the Trust Territory of New Guinea was present in the Territory when elections were being held. The Trusteeship Council has commented favourably on the method of conducting elections in the Territory.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Social Services and MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs. I refer to the Aboriginal study grants scheme, which the Minister and his colleague the Minister for Education and Science jointly announced on 15th November last and which is aimed at assisting Aboriginals to undertake courses of education beyond secondary school level. I believe that there are a number of Aboriginals who may now wish to resume their secondary education with a view to gaining admission to a tertiary course. As these people do not receive assistance from State education authorities, has any consideration been given to including them within the scope of the Aboriginal study grants scheme?
– In answer to the honourable member, I am glad to say that the Minister for Education and Science in consultation with my Department has arranged to make these grants available to Aboriginals who have not completed their course of secondary studies before they leave school but who wish to proceed to some form of higher education. The arrangements that have been made in his Department, I understand, are that such Aboriginals should make application for these grants to the regional office of the Department of Education and Science in their area. I believe that this is an excellent idea. I think that it will give Aboriginals, who, in the past, have not been able to take full advantage of Government schemes, the opportunity to go forward and to complete their education above the secondary level.
May I say in passing that I should acknowledge the work that has been done in the past by the organisation known as Abschol, a university organisation that helps Aboriginals in their education in this field. Abschol is still active to some extent. What the Government is doing is taking over and amplifying what Abschol has done in the past. I think that the House, and I certainly, would like to acknowledge gratefully the lead that Abschol gave in the past, before these Government schemes became available as they are now, and to say that there is still in my view a place for its further activities.
– I ask a question of the Prime Minister. Has the Prime Minister been informed within the last 24 hours of the bombshell announcement made yesterday in
Hobart by the Warden of the Hobart Marine Board that Tasmania and other feeder ports will have to pay extra freights to get their overseas produce to Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle when containerisation commences this year? Is he aware that spokesmen for the British container consortia informed a fact finding committee of the Hobart Marine Board to this effect only recently? Is the Prime Minister aware that the Minister for Trade and Industry made a definite statement in this House at question time on 23rd February 1967 to the effect that freight rates would be equalised all over Australia when containerisation commenced and that the Senate Select Committee on Containerisation was given the same assurance in 1967 by consortia container companies? If Tasmania is to be exiled into a differential freight rate world, does the Prime Minister realise the tragic economic consequences to our island?
– Order ! The honourable member’s question is becoming far too long. He is giving information.
– I am oh the last sentence, Mr Speaker. It is a very important question. Will the Prime Minister and the Government endeavour to confer with the consortia to make sure that there will be no differential freight rate anywhere in Australia?
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport will answer the question.
– -The position as far as the movement of container goods from Tasmania and from ports in Tasmania is concerned is that at this stage there is to be a differential container freight to that which will operate from the principal mainland ports of Fremantle, Melbourne, Sydney and Newcastle, and from the other outports of Adelaide and Brisbane.
At the same time, the position as far as conventional shipping from Tasmania is concerned is that there will be available still to Tasmania space on these conventional vessels at an identical rate for the sea leg as that which would apply on the container ships. The situation at the moment is that the cost of moving goods from Tasmania to the principal container ports on the mainland is such that it has not been possible, as I understand it, for the total freight from Tasmania to ports in the United Kingdom to be contained within the present set rate for the land leg and the sea leg of the container movement.
However, the position will be watched very closely by the Government. It is hoped that before long it will be possible for the container operators to come to suitable arrangements with those people who will trans-ship goods from Tasmania to the mainland so that they will be capable of being moved at the same rate.
As the honourable member will understand, the container freight has two component elements - the sea leg and the land leg. The basic cost for the sea leg will remain available to Tasmanian shippers because conventional ships will still ply in the Tasmanian trade in exactly the same way as they have done in the past. So the consequences which the honourable gentleman foresees will not eventuate. But the Government is concerned to ensure that in the future there should be the possibility of establishing a standard container freight rate for all ports in Australia - the principal ports of Melbourne, Sydney and Fremantle as well as the outer ports. The Government is working to this objective. It will certainly keep the position very closely under watch.
– My question, which is directed to the Treasurer, refers to sales tax on cans for marketing taxable soft drinks. Item 95 of the First Schedule to the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act, when first enacted, did not refer to cans. Could it be amended to read: ‘Bottles, jars, cans and similar containers, boxes, cartons, cases and crates . . .’?
– I do not know, but I will have a look at it.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether it is the intention of his Department not to replace public telephones which are continually being destroyed by vandals. Is he aware that many public telephones so destroyed in the metropolitan area of Sydney are not being replaced and that this is causing great public inconvenience? Would it not be possible for his Department to manufacture an indestructible instrument or some apparatus which would lessen the damage that is caused by the menace of vandalism?
– This question of public telephones and the equipment in public telephone boxes is under constant research within the Department. At present it is impossible to devise an indestructible instrument or indestructible equipment for use in public telephone boxes. I indicated to the House some time ago that public telephones are not being replaced in areas in which constant damage occurs as a result of vandalism. From memory, it is costing the Post Office approximately $1.5m per annum to repair damage to public telephones which is caused by vandalism. I think that most Australians - probably 99.9% of them - greatly regret that we have this type of individual in the community, because a public telephone is of great importance to many people. Although the proportion of private telephones is high in the community the large bulk of the population has to depend on public telephones. But I think that even in relation to ordinary use the provision of public telephones is not quite as important as it can be in the case of an emergency requiring the calling of a doctor, an ambulance or a hospital or some organisation of this nature. I only hope that the public of Australia will help us to locate the vandals so that proceedings can be taken in the courts. It is quite obvious from several cases, in New South Wales particularly, that the courts impose very heavy penalties on people who are detained for causing damage to our public telephones.
– The Prime Minister will recall that last year I asked a series of questions regarding the activities of the Joint Commonwealth-State Decentralisation Committee. I now ask: Can he give the House any information regarding the progress that the Committee has made with its study of this matter?
– I take a point of order that there is a question on this matter on the notice paper. I refer to question No. 1179.
-I think the question is in order. Although there is some similarity the questions are not identical and therefore I call the Prime Minister.
– I would have to get the latest information to. date and provide it to the honourable member.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. Does the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s statutory authority to protect Australia from acts of espionage, sabotage and subversion extend to procuring the theft of purely commercial documents from the Japanese Embassy? Has the Attorney-General asked the Commonwealth Police Force to interview Mrs Hoffmann on her well publicised allegations and report to him on any possible breach of Commonwealth law? Will the AttorneyGeneral also direct that Organisation similarly to interview . Mrs Hoffmann and report on proposals to her by any person in any embassy in Canberra to obtain illegally, as its agent, similar information from the embassy of another friendly power?
– The honourable member asks whether something is or is not within the charter of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. I think the charter of ASIO set out in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act of 1956 is quite plain. The English is quite clear to read. If the honourable member goes back and reads that he will be able - with his legal qualifications - to form his own firm opinion as to what its charter is and how far it extends. As to the balance of his question, the answer is no.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. Having just returned from the Minister for Customs and Excise, and having been advised by the Minister that as the law must be observed and must take its course concerning a young female teacher who made one mistake and brought in one transistor radio, the duty on which would be ‘ $20, and then having read in a newspaper that the Department has recommended one gentleman who also has made only one mistake for a job in private enterprise at a higher salary I ask: Can the Minister tell me what justification there is for what appears to be a double standard?
- Mr Speaker-
– Have you got your riding instructions?
– I do not need any riding instructions from the honourable member or anybody else, thank you. The Prime Miniswas kind enough to give me, as Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, some information that I do not carry in my head on a subject that he happens to have been studying very carefully over the last few days. I do not carry in my head the details brought forward by the honourable member. I will refer the matter to my colleague in another place and obtain for the honourable member a considered reply. From what the Prime Minister has just said, I am not at all sure that there is a great deal of accuracy m part of the honourable member’s question.
– Can the Minister for Immigration indicate when the Government intends to reduce to 3 years the 5-year residential qualification period for naturalisation purposes?
– Let me make one point clear at the outset: There will be no general reduction in the residential period from 5 years to 3 years. What I made clear in a statement in the last sessional period was that where a person specially qualified because of his knowledge of the English language, both written and oral, had good reason to obtain a position which normally was maintained only for Australian citizens the period could be reduced from 5 years to 3 years. It would be a special provision and not a general provision. To answer the substance of the question, I hope that the legislation will be introduced in this sessional period. Whether or not it can be passed in this period will be subject to the programming of the House.
– I had wished to address my question to the Minister for Trade and Industry but in bis absence I address it to the Minister for Shipping and Transport in his capacity as Minister assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry. I refer to a report of an agreement last week between the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia and the Chairman of the Tariff Board on future tariff policy. Will the
Minister say whether or not the statement reported to have been made by the Chairman of the Tariff Board may be interpreted to mean that all difficulties about future tariff policy have now been cleared away and that henceforth Tariff Board reports based on the policy proposals made by the Board in its annual reports of 1967 and 1968 will be accepted by the Government and industry?
– I presume that the honourable member is referring to reported discussions between the Chairman of the Tariff Board and representatives of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia. Whether or not manufacturers throughout Australia are prepared to accept future reports and decisions of the Tariff Board is, of course, a matter for them to decide. The Government’s policy has been enunciated by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister in this House. The position, as I understand it, will continue to be that the Government will take its decisions in the light of the circumstances of each particular case and on each report submitted to it by the Tariff Board.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is it not correct that over recent years there has been a steady decline in the shipbuilding industry in the port of Sydney? Is the Minister aware that this position is causing grave concern to both employer and employee? Has the Government any plan, in the sphere of either naval or merchant marine shipbuilding, that has for its purpose the arresting of the decline to which I have already referred?
– It is true that there have been representations from unions connected with Cockatoo Dock as to the future building programme for that dock and, in particular, for the port of Sydney. However, it is also true that over the last few years there has been a very substantial increase in shipbuilding orders throughout Australia. The shipbuilding industry generally has operated in fairly buoyant conditions although, because of the nature of the industry itself, it is always difficult to ensure that there is an adequate flowthrough of orders to maintain all sectors of the work force within each yard in full employment. The problem within the shipbuilding industry is one that will be considered by the Tariff Board during its current examination of the reference which was submitted to it by the Minister for Trade and Industry late last year. The’ future possibilities for each of the yards throughout Australia depend, to a considerable extent, on the ability of the yards to tender competitively and within the budgetary commitments of intending shipbuilders. There are throughout Australia and in Australian waters quite a number of shipowning companies which have quite extensive programmes for shipping expansion. I have no doubt that the demands of Cockatoo Dock will be taken into account by each of these shipowners at the time they are placing future orders.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Education and Science. Has he seen a report in the Brisbane ‘Truth’ of 16th February 1969 relating to the cruelty involved in the trapping of kangaroos in Queensland? The report states that professional hunters are building barbed wire and netting snares with the efficiency and organisation of a military operation and that these snares are increasing the bag of the hunters by 300 a week. The report goes on to say that the kangaroos are left in the traps for up to a week, where many of them die of thirst and starvation and others severely injure themselves when trying to escape. Will the Minister investigate the report and if he finds it to be true take action to prevent further wanton cruelty to our native wildlife?
– I would certainly be concerned if the substance of the report to which the honourable member referred were true. I have no particular information available to me that would say whether it was or was not true, but I have no doubt that whatever publicity may be given to these activities will attract the attention of the State authorities who, under the present arrangements, are the authorities that would need to act in these matters. The Commonwealth, of course, has direct responsibility in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. Having said that, I should like to emphasise that the Commonwealth has an interest in the general problems of conservation. The Division of Wildlife Research of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has done a good deal of research into the problems of the conservation of various species and I believe that this is of benefit to conservation authorities around Australia. Before Christmas the Commonwealth made a decision to support the Australian Conservation Foundation financially to the extent of §50,000 for the next 5 years to enable it really to get ahead with its task of educating and bringing the problems and difficulties of conservation to the notice of those in authority.
Much more recently than this, the Prime Minister wrote to the Premiers suggesting that it may be appropriate for the relevant Commonwealth and State Ministers to meet to discuss the general problems of conservation. There are sound reasons for this approach. It is believed that the conservation of native animals and plants is an important part of the protection of Australia’s national heritage and Australia has a unique opportunity to take some action in this area before too much damage is done. In this sense our position is unique and should be compared with the situation in a number of overseas countries that have acted far too late. We believe that a national policy to deal with some of these aspects is required and that it should ensure that the research efforts of CSIRO are undertaken in the best possible way to assist the authorities in the States, and determine whether there is a need for reserves that should flow across State boundaries. There is clearly a need for the co-ordination of game laws. These are some of the matters that might be discussed.
– This is a Dorothy Dixer.
– A number of people are interested in this subject.
– I take a point of order. This is the time for questions without notice, and this long answer is an abuse of question time. The question is quite obviously a question which should be placed on notice.
-Order! The Chair and not the honourable member will decide whether there is an abuse of question time. The question was quite full and lengthy. This is a tendency that is becoming too prevalent on both sides of the House. On occasions a Minister must give an equally Jong and involved answer to such a question. lt would be in the best interests of all concerned at question time if questions were shortened and the answers given by Ministers also were shortened.
– I would like briefly to make two other points. A very large number of people in many different parts of Australia have a special concern for the problems of the conservation of Australia’s plants and animals. They will not appreciate the activities of Opposition members who have tried to prevent the information I am giving from becoming available. Having said that, I hope that the States wil’l see the problems and the importance of conservation in the same light as the Commonwealth and that the conference proposed by the Prime Minister will in fact take place.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. I might inform him that I have just received an answer from the Minister for Trade and Industry to a question which I had on today’s notice paper in which the right honourable gentleman informs me that the results of the investigations into the case of an officer of his Department who resigned last September were adjudged not to provide sufficient basis for a charge under the criminal few. I ask the honourable gentleman: Did the Crown Solicitor receive reports from the Commonwealth police on their investigations into the case of the officer of the Department of Customs and Excise who resigned after becoming aware that he was to be dismissed for misconduct? Did the Crown Solicitor recommend that prosecutions could or could not be launched against that officer under the criminal taw?
– In dealing with this question one would need to consider the matters raised very carefully and see that if a reply could be given, it was very accurate. I ask that the question be put on notice.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I am sure that the Prime Minister believes, as I do, that a policy of live and let live is not good enough for Australia and that we must live and help live. I therefore ask whether the right honourable gentleman will give consideration to making this year a special year for the Australian Government to purchase wheat from the Australian Wheat Board for distribution, where needed, to our northern neighbours so as to create the triple advantage of improving their diet, giving practical application to our goodwill and relieving the storage problem for wheat in Australia.
– I think it is well known that a considerable amount of aid which is provided by Australia to overseas countries is in the form of wheat.. I think that it might also, though, be borne in mind by the honourable gentleman that there are very many people in the region to our north who, strange as he may find it, would much prefer to eat some other grain.
– I said ‘where needed’.
– The honourable member said ‘improving their diet’. I think it is up to them to decide which grain they want to eat The assistance given, by way of food aid,, whether it be in the form of wheat or flour or whatever it may be, is part and part only of that assistance provided to countries to our north. That is all I can say in reply to the honourable member.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission announced early in February last that Australia is a party to a four-nation chemical and biological warfare research agreement. If so, what are the contents of the agreement? Does the agreement go any further than providing for an exchange of information on chemical and biological defence, as stated by Senator Anderson in the Senate on 28th November 1968?
– The Minister for Defence will answer the question.
– I would confirm the right honourable gentleman’s understanding that the answer given by the Minister for Supply in another place is correct and that as far as this country is concerned the agreement calls only for the exchange of information. In this way the Australian Government keeps its information up to date for purely defensive reasons.
– My brief question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Has he seen the reports in some newspapers that on the introduction of colour television into this country the fee for all viewing licences will almost certainly go up, and go up considerably? Will he inform the House whether this is likely? If it is, will he tell us why viewers with television sets capable of receiving only black and white pictures will be expected to pay for the cost of colour television?
– I have to inform the honourable member that the matters to which she refers have not received the consideration of myself or of the Government. I therefore cannot give her an answer as to what will be the situation if and when colour television is introduced into Australia.
– I ask the Minister for Defence a question supplementary to that asked by the right honourable member for Melbourne. I refer the honourable gentleman to the facilities he has made available for Opposition members to visit the Innisfail testing unit. I refer him also to his statement in this House last year that research into chemical warfare of a defensive nature is undertaken at the Maribyrnong laboratories of the Department of Supply. Will the honourable gentleman make the same facilities available to Opposition members to inspect this research at Maribyrnong? Further, will the honourable gentleman make facilities available for Opposition members to inspect the Pine Gap project?
– I will refer the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question to my colleague in another place who is responsible for establishments at Maribyrnong such as the Defence Standards Laboratories. In the case of Pine Gap, there will be no facilities provided for inspection.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration a question. By way of preface I draw his attention to the large number of happily settled migrants who came to Australia as political refugees from Communist regimes imposed upon the countries of their birth by the Red Army. In view of the Government’s concern to ensure that all migrants are and remain happily settled here, does he not agree that it would offend many such migrants if troops of the Red Army were allowed to visit Australia? Will he give careful consideration before granting visas to troops of the Red Army and will he take into account that the British Government refused visas to these troops?
– I assume that the honourable gentleman refers to that body of troops of the Red Army known as the Red Army Choir. A good deal of publicity has been given to the suggestion that the Red Army Choir will be an integral part of the Adelaide Festival to be held in about a year’s time. Whether or not the choir will participate will depend upon two things: First, naturally, whether they come, and second, whether the organisers of the Festival invite them to be part of it. So far as I can ascertain no application has been made by the organisers of the Festival, any other entrepreneur or any other person for visas for this body of people. If and when an application is made, of course the application will be considered in the light of existing circumstances. At the moment I would not give any indication at all as to what the outcome of any application would be because it is not proper to do so until a factual situation exists, The honourable gentleman referred to people who came here and made their homes, especially in the immediate post-war years,- as displaced persons, because they saw no future in the land in which they lived or were unable to return to the land in which they were born. There is no doubt that these people have proved to be valuable settlers of Australia and are now in fact Australians.
– I ask a question of the appropriate Minister who I think may be the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that recently eight West Irians sailed on a raft for 5 weeks from Merauke to Thursday Island without adequate food, water or compass? I understand that one died on the voyage. Is it a fact that they had been prisoners and risked their lives in this desperate attempt to escape from Indonesian control in West Irian? Is it also a fact that they were alleged to be Communists and were handed over to the Indonesian Army at the border of West Irian? If this is so, is it an example of the bias of the Australian
Government towards the Indonesian Government, and does it mean that anyone pursued by the Indonesian Government will be treated as a Communist and given no protection or sanctuary?
– It is correct that eight refugees from West Irian landed at an island in the Torres Straits. They’ were interviewed by the Australian authorities and consented to go to Papua and New Guinea where their applications to be treated as refugees and given permissive residence in the Territory are being examined. I am hot aware of what stage that examination has reached. I point out that quite a considerable number of people cross the border from West Irian into the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Some of them do this accidentally and usually they go back when asked and when their errors are pointed out. Others do it with the intention of carrying out aggressive or political activities against the area they have left; naturally they are returned. Others genuinely seek permissive residence. When their cases are processed and they undertake not to engage in political activities and are found to be satisfactory in other respects, they are accepted for permissive residence. I have no detailed information as to the cases of these eight people who, as I have said, voluntarily went to Papua and New Guinea to have their request for permissive residence examined. However, I undertake to ascertain what the position is.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Government’s approach to the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement which I assume will be discussed with the State Premiers next week. Because of the vital relationship between roads and the total area which a State Government endeavours to serve, I ask the right honourable gentleman whether he is in a position to give to the House an assurance that no amendment will be made to the area component in the existing formula-
– I rise to order. This is purely and simply a matter of policy.
-The question is in order.
– I shall repeat the last sentence. I ask the right honourable gentleman whether he is in a position to give to the House an assurance that no amendment will be made to the area component in the existing formula before a most thorough evaluation of the relationship which I have mentioned is undertaken..
– I am not in a position to give the House any assurance as to what will result from the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement discussions. I can assure the honourable member that whatever does result in that or any other field will be as a result of careful examination and study.
– I ask the Prime Minister: When was the last occasion before the resignation of the officer of the Department of Customs and Excise in November last on which a public servant- resigned after becoming aware that he was to be dismissed for misconduct? Is it true, as reported, that this officer now receives a higher salary in the job which he obtained on the recommendation of the Chief Officer of the Department which dismissed’ him?
– I am not . clear of the exact date on which officers’ who were under notice of dismissal resigned, but I have been informed by the Public Service Board that there have been two cases in the last 2 years - one last year and one in the year before. But the days or months I do not carry in my head. In relation to the second part of the question, I think that the House should be aware that after the appeal against his dismissal had been rejected by the appeals board ‘ Mr Hoffmann approached the Chief Officer of the Department and asked him for help so that he could try to establish himself and rebuild his life outside Canberra in some other occupation. This was done on a personal level by the Chief Officer. Neither the Minister nor any other member of the Government knew it was being done, but when the Minister knew he could understand, as I can understand and as I would hope all decent people would understand, the reasons for this sympathy shown by the Chief Officer. Mr Hoffmann had been known to his fellow officers for some 20 years.
– You would not do that for a postman.
-Order! The honourable member for Wills has been continually interjecting. I ask him to cease.
– And he pretends to have a streak of humanity. Mr Hoffmann had been employed and known to the officers of the Department for some 20 years as a conscientious, hard working officer.
– Then why was he sacked?
– He committed a wrongful act which made it necessary that he be discharged. He bad already been punished in that he had been suspended without pay for approximately 2 months since 17th September. When he went to the Chief Officer he indicated that he was in quite difficult financial straits as a result of losing that pay for that period of time and because of the considerable medical expenses which he and his family bad incurred and which were pressing as a burden upon him. He was punished by losing his job, and having been found another job he is continuing in that sense to be punished in that the payment he is receiving for the job he is now in is considerably less than he was receiving from the Department of Customs and Excise. Under those circumstances I think it is rather disgusting to seek to denigrate the attempt of an officer to help somebody else in trouble, even though that person has had to be punished for a wrongful act.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question. I refer to the state of the Port Augusta to Alice Springs road, which I found when I drove over it recently to be in what could be described as a hazardous condition. In view of the recent report made to the Government by the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads wiN the Minister say whether finance can be made available under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act in order to seal the road, especially since most of it runs through South Australia? It certainly could not be described as a highway.
– I assure the honourable member that the careful consideration to which the Prime Minister referred a few moments ago will Include consideration of road needs, such as those of the north-south highway. Tn addition an interdepartmental examination is being made of the possible route, the proposed width of gauge and possible improvements to the north-south railway between Alice Springs and Port Augusta. Inasmuch as the railway inquiry relates to the inquiry in respect of the road there is, I think, every possibility that the very real problem to which the honourable gentleman has referred will receive consideration from the Government.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) agreed to:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 18 March at 2.30 p.m.
Report of the Public Accounts Committee
- Mr Speaker, as Chairman I present the 104th report of the Public Accounts Committee. I seek leave to make a short statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– This report relates to your Committee’s inquiry into the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission. The serum laboratories themselves were established during World War I and were administered as part of the Department of Health until 1961 when they were transferred to commission control. By that stage the wide area of activity of the laboratories had involved substantial investment and development and the Government recognised the importance of the Laboratories continuing to maintain their position in the various health fields. The evidence taken during our inquiry shows that the Commission has applied itself vigorously and imaginatively to the achievement of this objective, notwithstanding local and import competition for its commercially produced products over the period and certain administrative impediments that have confronted it and which are referred to in chapter eleven of your Committee’s report.
Since their establishment, the Laboratories themselves have been located at Parkville in Victoria. Arising from the evidence tendered, your Committee believes that the stage may now have been reached where, for strategic reasons, consideration should be given to a . greater degree of decentralisation of development of the production facilities for vital sera. Your Committee also believes that, in the interests of flexibility in the convening of meetings of the Commission, the Department of Health should confer with the Commission to assess whether an amendment to section 16(2) of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act is desirable. In connection with the Commission’s powers of delegation, your Committee believes that, in the interests of efficient administration, the Commission should complete the redevelopment of its scheme of delegations, in written form, at the earliest opportunity. Your Committee has also considered the argument advanced during the inquiry that a conflict exists between sections 19, 21 and 22 of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act and the claim that the introduction by the Commission of more refined accounting techniques will not achieve their full purpose until the costs of non profit making research type activities have been isolated in the Commission’s accounts. Your Committee believes that a useful purpose would be served if sections 19, 21 and 22 of the Act were to be reviewed. It also believes that the Department of Health should seek funds under its own votes to meet the cost of activities that are currently subject to ministerial determination under section 15 (b) of the Act.
During the inquiry we were disturbed to find that the Department of Health, which had framed the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories legislation, was unable to define the meaning of a reasonable return on the capital of the Commission as required by section 21 of the Act. Your Committee believes that the Department of Health and the Department of the Treasury should seek to clarify for the guidance of the Commission the meaning of the expression ‘reasonable return on capital’. Under section 34 of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act there is no requirement that the Minister must consent to borrowing by the Commission. No limit is placed on the amount that may be borrowed and no reference is made to the rate of interest at which borrowings may be made. When this section is compared with corresponding sections in the legislation governing the Australian National Airlines Commission and the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission it appears to your Committee that all statutory authority legislation governing trading enterprises should be examined critically with a view to achieving uniformity of arrangements, between the enterprises concerned, wherever practicable. Finally, your Committee believes that, subject to its nature as a competitive trading undertaking, the Commission should ensure that its reports provide as much information as possible regarding its activities, for the benefit of the Parliament and the public. I commend the report to honourable members.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I move:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966 the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: Augmentation of sewerage in northern and central zones, Darwin, Northern Territory.
The proposal involves the construction of a main truck sewer, pumping station, and rising main in the northern zone with treatment lagoons at Leanyer Swamp, and a main trunk sewer, interceptor sewers and pumping stations in the central zone, together with a deep-water marine outfall for disposal. The estimated cost of this work, which is required to relieve overloading in the central zone and meet development of both zones, is $4. 55m. I table a plan showing the proposed work.
– The Opposition has no objection to the reference of this work to the Public Works Committee. It is hoped, however, that the provision of more sewerage in Darwin will not result in substantial increases in the present very high level of rates in the area. lt is hoped that the Government will soon make some decision regarding this matter. The second point I draw to the attention of honourable members refers to sewerage in general in northern areas. Although it is no doubt to the Government’s credit that there has been an increase in the rate of sewerage construction in the Northern Territory I should like to draw to the attention of the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly), who represents the Minister for Works in this chamber, that there are many other areas in the north, particularly in coastal
– We are dealing only with the north at the present time. Many areas are in desperate need of sewerage. There is a very high rate of unemployment in these areas at the present time. Thousands of able-bodied men are unemployed during the period from December to June each year. The Government could give some consideration to the acceleration of provision of funds to tocal authorities so that these men could obtain employment, particularly on sewerage works. The same arguments can be advanced in relation to other parts of Australia. There is a very pressing need for additional sewerage in the capital cities of Australia. It seems that the rate of sewerage development is falling behind the rate of population growth in Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong and Melbourne. I suggest that this is a very serious problem and that the Minister should notify the Government about the importance of sewerage to other parts of Australia.
– I support the motion and welcome the Government’s intention to spend $4.55m on sewerage development in Darwin. I am very glad to see that this work is to take place, because the construction of sewerage projects is delaying much-needed housing and land development in Darwin. The development of land is tied up with the supply of services such as electricity and water.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
The proposal involves the construction of a three-storey unit to house 104 salaried officers and including a manager’s flat, a three-storey unit to house 109 industrial workers and including an assistant manager’s flat and a single-storey building containing administration accommodation, dining and kitchen facilities. All buildings will be constructed of load bearing brickwork roofed with galvanised steel decking suitably insulated, and bedrooms, dining areas, kitchen and offices will be serviced with evaporative cooling. The new building will replace the existing sub-standard accommodation of Stott and Todd houses. The estimated cost of the work is $1.7m. I table plans of the proposed work.
– I rise again with pleasure to support this motion and point out that the citizens of Alice Springs will be very pleased to notice the continued Government interest in that area. I might add that the old hostel consisted of old wartime buildings, and although the manager made great efforts to make them livable and pleasant this will be a very welcome adjunct to the Department of Works force and Government servants generally. The only other thing that I wish to say is that I hope the building will be air conditioned. In any case, it will be greatly appreciated by those citizens of the Territory.
– Although the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) praises the Government for the proposal to erect a hostel to house its workers in the Alice Springs district, I would also draw attention - as I did in relation to sewerage - to the fact that there are other parts of Australia where Commonwealth employees are in desperate straits as regards obtaining housing facilities, particularly in the capital cities and the large provincial cities. It is very important that this is put in perspective. It is essential that this whole housing problem be tackled because, like the sewerage problem, the problem of securing efficient and cheap housing, particularly for the working people, is becoming more and more difficult.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Dam - Northern Ireland - Roads - Television - Aboriginals - Oil Drilling on Great Barrier Reef - Cost of Litigation
That grievances be noted.
– I am glad that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) is in the House because I rise to put straight the industrial record of the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen, so badly besmirched by the very wrong, near-wicked statement made by the Minister for Labour and National Service in this House on 25th February. He said:
The AFULE, having defied the decision of “the Commission, and the rules of court, took direct action and went out on strike.
He then went on to say that as a result of intervention by the Australian Council of Trade Unions the AFULE accepted its advice and did what it should have done in the first place. Sir, that statement has no basis in truth, That statement further underlines the disinterest of the Minister and the Government in ascertaining the facts in relation to the system of conciliation and arbitration as it now works, and it also underlines the Government’s one aim, that is to use the penal provisions of the legislation to hammer the workers into industrial submission. I say to the Minister and to the Government; thank goodness the members of the AFULE will never submit to the fear of penalties. Everyone will learn some day that penalties will not run trains, and this Government is near to learning that penalties will not give industrial peace in Australia. The AFULE did not defy the Commission because there was no decision. In fact, a decision has not yet been given on the matter that is the cause of this dispute.
The AFULE did defy the attitude of the State Governments and this Government towards conciliation and arbitration and the determination of the employers led by the governments not to conciliate at all in matters affecting the wage structure of Australia. The case of the AFULE was conducted properly. We observed every rule of the Commission, and it was the employers - headed by the Government of New South Wales - who destroyed conciliation and arbitration in this case. It was the Government of New South Wales, or the Minister representing it, which was responsible for all of the destruction that happened as a result of the rail stoppages involving the AFULE. From the date of the first federal award in 1925, right through the years, the first year acting driver within the framework of the locomotive enginemen’s employment was treated as a craftsman. His wages were put level by the court in 1925 with those of a craftsman and remained at that level through the years. In 1934 his 10% was restored before that of other workers because he was. treated as a craftsman by the court. So it was, even in 1959 and 1963, that the wage level of the first year acting driver within the railway services of Australia was accepted as flowing automatically from the metal trades rate inside the railway services which flowed automatically from the main federal award decision’.
The metal trades rate within the framework of the Australian railways system again flowed automatically from the metal trades decision of 1968, but not to the. craftsmen of the AFULE. They were told by the various Railway Commissioners that it was a matter for the court to decide on work values. I ask the Minister: When is this Government going to listen even to the words of the employers and say that this term ‘work value’ is a misnomer? How does one assess a work value without first having a basis on which to work? How does one arrive at the work value in any field of employment anywhere in Australia without first having a standard set? Since the system of conciliation and arbitration was established in Australia the metal trades rate has been standard. Once you destroy that standard without putting anything in its place you destroy industrial peace in Aus-, tralia for ever.
In this case the union knew that it faced great difficulties. We followed- the rules of court. The Commission handed down its decision on 18th October 1968, which reduced locomotive enginemen from the status of craftsmen to that of semi-skilled workers after all the years from 1925. Strangely enough, this award was to operate only from 18th October until 31st December. We pleaded with our membership to give us the opportunity to do something about it ourselves. We saw the Railway Commissioners in the third week of November 1968. We were told by them that if we again took our case back to the Commission - I hope that the Minister is listening to this - and established the existence of a dispute they would discuss it with us in the first week in January. We did just that. We served the necessary documents. On 18th December a dispute was found to exist. The Commissioners were as good as their word and agreed to meet us on 7th, 8th and 9th January. On 31st December I received a letter from Mr Morris, Minister for Transport in New South Wales, addressed to me personally as the General President of the AFULE. This is the cause of all of the rail stoppages in Australia at the present time. It stated: the present New South Wales Government does not propose to usurp the functions of the Arbitration Court nor will it act as an appeal tribunal on the decisions of that body.
In effect, what Mr Morris told the AFULE through me was that the Railway Commissioner of New South Wales was not allowed to conciliate. When the Commissioners met us, as promised, in the first week in January, we were told bluntly that they were not prepared to conciliate on a claim held by the Commission to be properly founded.
They were not prepared to conciliate because of what Mr Morris had stated in his letter of 31st December. He went to his office in Christmas week to create industrial trouble in Australia. We did the right thing. When it came to 31st January and the second rail stoppage took place, we were advised by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, after it consulted the New South Wales Railways Commissioner, to go into conference. We did that again, and the conference was just as abortive as was the first one. Came the last rail stoppage - I want to underline Ibis - and the ACTU told the Railways Commissioners that it was not prepared to intervene except on the basis that the AFULE would agree to what the ACTU was able to hammer out. Strangely enough, while the New South Wales Railways Commissioner was not available to see us on 7th and 8th January, the Secretary transmitted to us the information from Morris that they were not prepared to conciliate. On this occasion we agreed at 11 o’clock at night to let the Australian Council of Trade Unions come in and assist us with the dispute. Trains would not be running now if locomotive men were not accepted as craftsmen in Australia. The men would go to gaol first, and there would not be enough gaols to hold them.
When we met with the Railways Commissioners^ - representatives of the ACTU were present - the following was agreed:
The Commissioners are prepared to acknowledge the historic relationship between the acting driver and the tradesman which was disturbed by the Wilson Award’ and would not put any counterargument against the Union submission for readjustment.
Had it not been for the attitude of Morris I have no doubt that we could have had discussions with the New South Wales Commissioner as far back as 17th November. However, we got this letter - this rotten letter, if I may use the term - which was written by Morris on 31st December to a union. The Minister for Labour and National Service said that he hoped to see a peaceful atmosphere in the industry, but I ask him: Could he lead a union in a peaceful atmosphere when letters of that character are being thrown in his face? If the Archangel Gabriel came down to earth with gilded wings, he could not persuade unionists to be peaceful in such circumstances. The Minister referred to 3 or 4 men, but there are 13,000 AFULE members who speak with one voice on this subject.
We are back again before the Commission and we have industrial peace, not because of the letter from Morris but because of the agreement which was accepted unanimously by the Railways Commisisoners and put on record before the Commission. The case, which is presently proceeding harmoniously, could have commenced on 7th January. The Commission said that it could proceed on that date, but because of Morris’s letter and because of the attitude of the State governments who said that conciliation would not operate, we had the situation that existed. This strike lies at the door of those responsible for them, and not at the door of the AFULE.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I propose to speak briefly on a taxation matter. I shall be brief because I understand that a number of members wish to use the forms of the House to raise a number of miscellaneous matters and the chances of an opportunity to speak rest upon the brevity of all members. The fact that I shall speak briefly does not in any way reduce the importance of the matter I am about to raise. I believe that there is an anomaly in the regulations under the Commonwealth Income Tax Assessment Act. I expect anomalies in income tax legislation, but this one could be corrected easily. I believe that this provision is unjustly administered. I refer to the discrepancy between employees who work for large organisations, including some Public Service departments, Which have canteen facilities, and members of the community who are employed by smaller firms, or branch offices, which do not have canteen facilities. The House, and the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in particular, will appreciate that most canteens serve meals at cheap prices. This is possible only because the employer, or the government, is prepared to subsidise the food supplied at either below the actual cost or near to the cost. The charge certainly is much lower than what an equivalent meal would cost in a restaurant.
Persons who enjoy such canteen facilities derive benefits which are free from taxation. I submit that the people who do not enjoy cheap canteen meals, because their employers do not offer such a facility, are less privileged and are at a disadvantage. I see no reason why a person who is employed by a small firm which has no canteen facilities should be any more worse off financially, or should be disadvantaged in respect of taxation, than his brother worker who is employed in a huge industry or government institution. Many firms are aware that because they do not provide canteen facilities the employment they offer is less attractive, and they would be willing to compensate staff by granting meal allowances. Such meal allowances could take the form of meal vouchers which should be free of taxation since they are given in lieu of canteen meals. This system of meal vouchers, free of taxation, has operated for about IS years in the United Kingdom. It is given wide support by employers and people who have no canteen facilities. I submit that an employer should be permitted to issue a voucher equal to the value of that part of the meal that he would subsidise in a canteen, such value not to exceed say 50c. Such luncheon vouchers should not be regarded as taxable income of the employees provided the vouchers are exchanged at a bona fide restaurant, snack bar or similar place.
Large institutions, including the Government and big companies, provide canteen meals at their head offices or at administrative headquarters but at branches, which have minimal staffs, there are no such facilities. Employees there are denied the amenity. In other words branch employees in the lower income bracket, and employees of small concerns, are denied advantages that their fellow employees receive at large institutions, head offices and elsewhere. This is neither fair nor reasonable, particularly when government institutions are the discriminating agents in this matter. Frequently in this House we hear references to the need to encourage small businesses. This is a constructive means of doing so. The only people who will benefit will be those in small organisations and, of course, thousands of small eating houses and luncheon bars, which will gain increased custom. I appeal to the Government to consider this matter when it is reviewing the Budget and to rectify the situation. It will cost the Treasury very little but will be of immense value to those in the low income groups.
– I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) some irritations, disappointments and deficiencies in the National Health Act as amended in November 1968. The amendments came into operation on 1st January and affect medical and hospital benefits. The Minister, in discussing the proposed amendments, said:
Patients with pre-existing or chronic ailments, or long term illnesses involving treatment in hospital for longer than 3 months, win benefit when the new Commonwealth legislation comes into force on 1st January.
The Minister said that the Government would assume the financial responsibility for meeting such patients’ claims, no matter how long they remained in hospital and regardless of whether they were treated for chronic illnesses or ailments which existed before they took out insurance. He also said:
The Government has also undertaken, without the need to insure, to pay a supplementary benefit of $3 a day to patients in nursing homes requiring and receiving intensive nursing home care. This payment is in addition to the $2 a day Commonwealth nursing home benefit already available to all nursing home patients. Under the new arrangement nursing home care patients would be defined in genera] terms as those with disabilities or infirmities which normally kept them confined to bed, who were dependent on nurses for virtually all their personal needs and who required constant care under the control of trained nursing staff.
Many patients and retarded children, or those upon whom they are dependent, who should receive the $3 a day supplementary allowance do not receive it and it is difficult to understand the discrimination against them. I will give some examples. The sister in charge of the Hall for Children at Hazelbrook has written the following letter:
I now have the result of my application for the additional Commonwealth benefit of S3 per day as promised in the last Budget. I am sorry to say that your child was not granted the benefit.
Five children were approved and they were neither the best nor the worst conditions we have nor were they the oldest nor the youngest. Actually 1 am unable to see why those five were granted.
I feel that all the children we have at The Hall’ are approximately in the same mental bracket and I find it difficult to see why the Commonwealth Department of Health should discriminate. I understand the financial burden you are under and in my opinion your child is eligible for the extra benefit which would considerably reduce our fee.
That is the opinion of the nursing sister at this home.
A man who was a patient in the Lady of Snows Hospital at Wentworth was receiving the allowance of $3 a day. He suffers from cerebrovascular inadequacy, and atheromatous peripheral vascular disease. He was transferred to a similar hospital nearer to his family, because they had to travel to visit him. He was deprived of the supplementary allowance of $3 a day when he changed hospitals. Although he still suffers from the same complaint the allowance was taken away from him.
I have a whole list of similar complaints relating to children in the Crippled and Retarded Child Home at Revesby. The home has 55 patients and of these only 35 receive the supplementary allowance. I visited the home and looked at every patient. They all appeared to me to be in the same condition, but some children get the allowance and others do not. One child who receives the supplementary allowance of $3 a day is a mongoloid, has recurrent bronchitis and is on routine vitamins. She has daily physiotherapy for walking and requires full assistance for bathing, feeding, dressing and toilet. On the other hand, another child in the same ward, who is a mongoloid with recurrent bronchitis, has no speech and requires full assistance for dressing, feeding and toilet and who receives regular speech therapy, has not been given the supplementary allowance. Yet the complaints from which both are suffering seem to be the same.
Another child at the home who receives the supplementary allowance is a mongoloid suffering from defective vision and recurrent rhinitis. She is on routine vitamins, requires assistance with walking and needs full assistance with feeding, bathing and dressing. In the same ward, another child who is a mongoloid with recurrent bronchitis and chonic rhinitis, who has no speech and who requires full assistance for all personal needs does not receive the supplementary allowance. All these patients are in the same hospital. I can give no fewer than 13 of these examples, but I think I have said enough to cause the Minister to look into this matter. The general tenor of complaints about the scheme is that the benefit does not flow to the patient. The nursing home merely increases its fees to absorb the additional $3 a day benefit. Evidently a very small proportion of nursing home patients qualify for the benefit. Disappointment with the new scheme may stem from an expectation of benefits that were never intended. A clear statement by the Minister on the purpose of the additional subsidy, in my opinion, would clear the air.
From my observations, I believe that every patient in the home at Revesby should receive the allowance. I would :ike the Minister, if he possibly could, to go to these homes and took at the patients for himself. He may then be able to correct some of the anomalies that have occurred. The charges made by the homes place a very heavy burden on families. The lowest charge for a patient in these convalescent homes and hospitals is $40 a week. If the patient is a pensioner, he has difficulty in meeting the charge. He would receive a pension of $14 a week and in addition the allowance from the Commonwealth of $2 a day, making a total income of $28 a week. Yet the lowest charge is $40 a week. This leaves a deficiency of $12 a week. Frequently those responsible for the patients cannot make up the deficiency of $12 a week. In my opinion, every pensioner, whether invalid, aged or widowed, should receive the supplementary allowance of $3 a day. The amount they now receive is insufficient to cover the cost at a home. If the patient is a member of a working family on small wages, great difficulties are experienced in making up the difference between the patient’s income and the fees charged by the home.
As I said, every one of the children in the home at Revesby and similar homes and every pensioner in a hospital home should receive the allowance. This would ease the financial burdens now placed on many people who cannot afford to make up the difference between the amount they receive from the Commonwealth and the amount they must pay to the hospital or the home.
– I wish to broach a subject that I am afraid I have raised on previous occasions. This is the matter of Chowilla Dam in South Australia. I am afraid that I may over a period of time, in my speeches and questions in the House, perhaps in the Party room and in other places, have bored honourable members to perdition.
– You certainly have.
– I trust that the honourable member has an issue. Possibly he has. He raises so many issues on behalf of his electorate, as is very right and proper. From my point of view, I make no real apologies for having done so on behalf of my electors.
I would point out one other thing. We had the idea some weeks ago that we would have a chance to express our views on this matter in this House. I have been waiting for some period of time to see whether I would have this opportunity. As it did not look as though there was an awful lot of interest in this matter among honourable members on the other side of the Parliament who move motions of urgency, I decided to grab this opportunity to put some of my views on it. That is what I now intend to do. I think it is just as well for the House to be aware of a certain amount of background relating to the attitudes of South Australians on this matter. For instance, if a dam at Dartmouth really will give a yield of water to the River Murray system four and a half times greater than a dam at Chowilla, the logical choice is Dartmouth. But, frankly, it is not so easy to get this through to South Australian people because of several factors I would like to mention. The first is that there is a general belief in South Australia, which I must admit I have not asked the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) to have checked out, that a former Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, took out a writ against the Federal Government’s proposal to establish the Snowy Mountains scheme because he felt that the establishment of that scheme would deprive South Australia of some of its water rights. It is generally believed in South Australia that this injunction against the Federal Government was not removed until Sir Thomas Playford had been promised a supply of water, which we presume was the Chowilla Dam.
There is another addendum to this matter which is generally believed in South Australia. It is that there was to be a release of water via Tumut of 500,000 acre feet into the River Murray system. That is one part of the background. The next part is that, quite logically, a small State like South Australia, when it is apparent that the Chowilla scheme is not as high yielding as was first thought, then starts to think of the other half of the question which is this: The Snowy scheme, which has been a magnificent success in almost every way, has enabled the supply of water and the supply of electricity to the grid particularly of New South Wales and especially of Sydney. If South Australians do not get the benefit of a dam that they regard as their own, they are rather apt to regard that $80m, which is the assessed amount of income tax gathered from South Australian sources, as their proportion of the cost of the Snowy Mountains scheme. Quite logically, as a small State, South Australia feels that it is not its job to subsidise a scheme that has been of some considerable benefit to New South Wales and, in some ways, to Victoria.
I think it is true to say that South Australia gets no benefit whatever during the normal years from the Snowy Mountains scheme. In time of restriction it does get some marginal help. This is, of course, important because it is on periods of restriction that the yield is based and planning of water resources can occur. I find, leading from this, that there is a lack of understanding about the difference between yield and the average flow of water, which takes into account high peaks during times of flood. Frankly, I have heard more nonsense in statements about this at nearly every level of discussion than one would believe possible.
The only basis on which planning can occur is on the basis of yield. In layman’s language, yield is the safe amount of water that can be dragged out of a dam during all times - in other words, during periods of restriction - and what happens when surplus flood water comes down a river or a creek is of very little consequence. This can be trapped. The bush method of looking at it is to say: ‘Look at the water we have saved’. The water saved is of no importance unless it can be saved every year or unless the dam gives a supply that can yield so much every year. This is a rather technical matter which honourable members will agree has made it extremely difficult for the average member of the public in South Australia to absorb. Of course, it is also fair to say that the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia is not short of political clues. He has entered the field very rapidly to cash in on the parochialism and sentimentality of man, and the bush method of thinking of man when he is faced with a highly technical problem.
I am putting up these issues so that the House will understand some of the problems that are occurring in South Austrafia. I have posed certain questions on this matter to the Minister. When I receive answers to those questions, and if the Minister gives me satisfaction in those answers, I can go no further than to support the technical committee’s findings in the report presented to the River Murray Commission. It would be quite futile for any member of this House to do other than this. The report is the most up to date report. It is based not on parochialism, sentiment or political ideas that come off the top of the head of someone who does not know what he is talking about; it is a report that is based objectively on yields concerning the flow in the River Murray system. Somehow or other we have to get through on this point. I accept that report and its two associated reports, subject to the questions that I have posed.
They are not alarmingly difficult questions, but they do deal with the aspects of the report that are in doubt to me. Slightly on the other side of the ledger, as all my questions are posed to make sure that Dartmouth is indeed as good as the report suggests, is another point that honourable members might well consider. On the surface, Chowilla is cleared on the ground of salinity, which is the basis on which it was most condemned by the bush expert opinion in the first place. But. there is an imprecise statement which suggests that the salinity problem may not be so clear from Chowilla at the end of a period of restriction. Here is another matter .on which, to my mind, we need more knowledge and a few more answers. I appreciate the opportunity I have had this morning in the last 10 minutes to sum up brieflly some of my feelings on this matter. I conclude with the plea that for the sake of South Australians who feel let down over this matter, and for the sake of my electorate, which probably feels doubly let down, serious consideration be given to building the Chowilla Dam next if it fits in with the pattern of water holding capacities in the Adelaide Hills and if it fits in with the pattern of the flow of water and requirements at different positions up and down the main stream of the River Murray.
– I wish to bring a matter before the House in this grievance debate today. It is far removed, in terms of distance; from the usual complaints that we bring from West Sydney or from Sydney. The matter, which is not so much a complaint, that I wish to bring before the people of Australia is this: Strange to say,, although there has been practically a war going on for the past 2 years in the north of Ireland, which is a Commonwealth country, very few people have taken a hand in trying to solve the problem. They evidently are leaving it to Captain O’Neill to solve. Captain O’Neill has my deepest sympathy. He has just been through an election and has come out, as sometimes happens in Australia, with practically the same number of votes behind him. In Northern Ireland there is a Minister of religion, a Mr Paisley. Two years ago when I attended a meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Canada I made a speech about the troubles in Northern Ireland. At that time there were four Lords in attendance. One was Lord Glentrim from Northern Ireland. I found him a very nice man to speak to. He said that he regretted the whole affair. But when I made my speech, of which I have a copy here for anyone who wishes to see it, he made some comments to the leader of the Australian delegation, Peter Howson. I do not remember what electorate he was representing at the time. He has been chucked about a bit lately as I have been in West Sydney. However, he is still in Parliament. Lord Glentrim went to Peter Howson and said: ‘I am very disappointed with Danny Minogue. I thought he was a very good fellow’. Peter said: ‘I think he is too. What is wrong with him?’ Lord Glentrim said: ‘He got up and slated the north of Ireland. Do you think he would apologise?’
Peter came to me and said: ‘They are not all satisfied on the other side. Lord Glentrim . the Leader of the Senate in Northern Ireland, would like something to be said or done about it’. I said: ‘Do you want my opinion on it?’ He said: ‘Yes’. I said: ‘You go back and tell him that I came here to defend the rights of small nations. I came here not as an Irishman from the south of Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, but representing the north of Ireland, strange as it may seem. You go back and tell him that if I have said anything wrong this is the place for him to get on his feet and have a go*. That just about finished the argument.
What I want to say here is that I am surprised that so few people, whether they be Liberal or Labor or Calathumpian, never take any interest in the north of Ireland. People come to me and say: ‘You do not like the north of Ireland’. I reply to them: What a damn lie. Why do you want to say that?’ My mother-in-law came from the north of Ireland. People do not as a rule praise their mothers-in-law, but if ever there was a good one Mrs Wallace was one. She was driven out of Ireland some 80 years ago by the same kind of crowd that Paisley is leading today. She came to Australia and worked for Dr Scot Skirving for 10s a week. She was allowed off one Sunday in four to go to Mass. The other three Sundays she was in the kitchen all the time. Until the time my wife passed away my mother-in-law would not have a word said about Dr Scot Skirving. When my wife was a baby her mother was widowed. A runaway horse in George Street killed her husband who was a policeman aged 23 years. She never married again. She reared my wife, Matilda Wallace. She would not have a word said about Dr Scot Skirving because of the kindness he showed the family. I feel similarly disposed towards most of the people of northern Ireland.
I am the trustee - and everything that goes with it - of the Irish National Association in Sydney which has a membership of 7,000. No, 1 am wrong, it is 700, but the Association is hoping to achieve the 7,000 membership one day. The secretary of the organisation comes from what they call the black north in Ireland. The First Secretary for the Irish people came to this country as First Secretary and, I am sorry to say, was killed in an accident on Christmas Eve at the age of 36 years after having spent 4 years as First Secretary in Washington. The man who killed him was driving a stolen car. I do not know whether he was tested with a breathalyser, but he certainly did everything else wrong. He was on the wrong side of the road and travelling at 80 miles an hour. He cut this young fellow, Patrick Campbell, to pieces. When a person like Patrick Campbell can come here to represent the south of Ireland surely to goodness the Irish people can get some credit from this Government.
I remember when Dr Evatt attended the United Nations and there was a discussion of a thing known as human rights. I understand that this is undergoing some surgery in New Zealand. However, it is a doctrine that should be followed in the north of Ireland. We do not want anything for the north of Ireland except a fair go. Two years ago, when I was in Canada, Paisley was in gaol. At that time two people were killed and 5 others went to gaol with him. He turned up the other day at an election. To read the newspaper that I have before me, and also the results of the election, it appears that Paisley is making a sort of protest in gaol. He has gone back to gaol again and he hopes there to solve the problem. I do not know about putting him in gaol. I would put him somewhere else if I had the chance to do it. A man who thinks he is going to control people in the way envisaged by Paisley has no sense of what he should be doing either as a minister of religion or as a member of Parliament. He does not accept all the blame, so Winston Churchill, if he were alive today, should possibly accept the blame. He built Stormont Castle to try to keep Ireland divided and many people here in Australia supported him. They included Lord Casey and several others.
For 15 of the 20 years since Labor went out of office in this country I advocated representation for Ireland, but because certain people in the north of Ireland who are showing their teeth today were not in favour of it, the powers that be in this country - Sir Robert Menzies was one of them - would not in any circumstances listen to the suggestion for representation of Australia in Ireland, except in the north of Ireland. We are not against elections, but when talking about the last election Lord Glentrim told me that it was 20 years since there had been a redistribution of electorates. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard an extract of a report of my speech at the 1966 Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference in Ottawa.
Redistribution as we know it in Australia has not been attempted in Northern Ireland for 20 or 25 years. People there are invariably elected year after year - the same people are elected as members of parliament. We would have no objection to that, if we could get a fair share of the proceeds of government; but the way it is run at the present time there are no proceeds to go around. What happens is that the favoured few get all, and the others get nothing. We have received letter after letter in Australia to this effect. There have been meetings of young people; of boys and girls leaving Ireland and coming to Australia will tell you the story that no matter what job they apply for, they have no chance.
In this morning’s Gazette - and I have no influence on this newspaper - is an article bearing the headline, ‘Ulster Head Beats Split In Party*. This means that the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland is in serious danger of losing his job. To his credit, he is possibly the first Prime Minister in the north of Ireland or any English-speaking government ever to admit that the trouble is all amongst themselves. Prior to this the trouble was put forward as originating in the south of Ireland, by the Catholics and everything else; but today it is confined to the north of Ireland. Three persons were shot there some two months ago. A minister of religion not belonging to the Catholic faith, is serving at the present time six months in jail for his actions. When he gets out, what will happen? Five others are in jail with him. Therefore on an occasion such as this meeting - and in this connection J would put Australia in first place and Ireland in second - we should place before delegates what is happening on their own doorsteps. We have two representatives of the United Kingdom government here in the persons of Lord Shepherd and Lord Leitrim, and surely men like that can take a hand in this situation and see what is happening. I appeal to them this afternoon to recognise what is happening, and when they go back to their country to do something about it.
We can see what is happening in Rhodesia - too late. We can see what is happening in South Viet Nam - perhaps too late. But it is not too late, if we have the co-operation of men here from the United Kingdom and the north of Ireland, to do something about this situation. They can go back to their countries, put their cards on the table and give justice to all. That is all we ask for.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Approximately 40 minutes ago I had a telephone call from the Acting Secretary of the North Queensland Local Government Association. He advised me that his President, Mr Mick Borzi, had instructed him to talk to our people in Canberra, particularly me because I am intimately associated with local government, and request that we closely watch the consideration that is being given to the next 5-year planning and the allocations which are being made for the development of our roads. Let me point out specifically that no-one with one iota of commonsense will question the necessity for increased allocations for our vastly developing city areas. The congestion and everything that goes with it are quite obvious. What the States do question and what we intend to oppose most vigorously, to the last ditch if necessary, is any attempt to interfere with the present allocation of 40 % of Commonwealth aid for the development of rural roads.
There has been a good deal of criticism to the effect that the States are getting far more than their share and that some local authorities are not using their money. This is utter rot. When I mention roads which are in my electorate I am not being parochial but am looking at the problem from the point of view of my own State. The comments I will make apply equally to the States which have great areas. There are two vital highways in my own electorate. One extends from Townsville to Mount Isa, and for about 200 or 300 miles it is little more than a bullock track. I am not exaggerating when I say that from Hughenden almost to Cloncurry it is in a sad condition indeed. Before 1957 there was not one foot of bitumen beyond Charters Towers. Perhaps that will forestall any interjections on this matter.
The road - I use that word for want of a better term - from Emerald through to Barcaldine is in desperate need of development. The sad fact is that the State Government is hard pressed to contribute to the local authorities funds to help them meet their ordinary commitments. Such roads are not pleasure roads; they are not even utility roads. When I say this I do not specifically refer to the roads I have mentioned. Those roads are vital enough, but there are many roads in similar condition throughout the length and breadth of Australia which are just beginning to reach the stage where they are anywhere near comparable to some of the main highways in the metropolitan and provincial areas. The States realise that these roads must be developed.
Recently the Queensland Local Government Association held its annual conference in Cairns. Cities, towns and shires - the three stages of local government - were all represented and it was unanimously decided to stand firm on the 40% allocation for the development of rural roads. This is an admission by the city areas, at least in Queensland, that they depend on the vital communications which bring the great wealth from remote areas into provincial and city areas. Here is a reasonable recognition of how the States and the Commonwealth have to work together. I repeat that the States realise that there must be tremendous development in city areas where congestion seems to have become almost insoluble, but not at the expense of the development of our rural roads. We must have at least the present allocation for rural roads and indeed a lot more.
Let me give one brief example of the additional expenditure in which local authorities are involved through the development of this nation. Recently the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation established a station on the other side of a town called Eidsvold. The local authority already had a line road through that area and it had met the costs involved. Suddenly there is to be no access over this area; so a realignment will be necessary. This may well cost $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000. That is not much if it is viewed from a national point of view, but it is a tremendous burden on a small local authority. This is just one example of the sort of thing that goes with development.
I turn to the subject of colour television. We should not panic about this. Some time ago the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) announced that colour television would probably be a going concern within 18 months of its introduction to this country. All we have had so far has been a mere announcement that the PAL system has been decided upon by the Minister’s advisers and himself. Immediately it was assumed that colour television was to be introduced into this country; I am one of those people who assumed this. The introduction of colour television into Australia is a lot nearer now that this announcement has been made. I voice my protest against this, and I hope that every honourable member who represents a rural area which is without television will stand firm on this matter, irrespective of his political allegiance, and will say decisively: Colour television must come; we do not want to be behind other countries. But it must not be at the expense of the provision of television for our rural areas.’
The introduction of colour television will prevent the introduction of television into our remote areas. It may well delay services already proposed. We should not become thrilled about the thought of sitting in a room and looking at a beautiful technicolour scene. We should not become excited about this. I went to the trouble of obtaining some fairly technical information on this matter, and this evidence clearly indicated to me that if conditions for reception are perfect you will get a good reception. However, if the conditions are normal you will get a fairly questionable reception. Hence all that glitters is not gold in regard to colour television. The leading country in the world and the one that pioneered and brought colour television into world focus is the United States of America. It is interesting to note that the number of colour television sets in the US has only recently come anywhere near the number of black and white sets. Therefore I do not think that there is any pressing or reasonable demand by city dwellers, who have three and four channels available to them now, to rush into colour television.
The people in the city areas are fairminded and they can readily, see that the remote areas of Australia from which this nation derives its enormous wealth should have television before colour television is introduced. I have often wondered what would happen if rural industries west of the Great Dividing Range and east of whatever corresponds with it in Western Australia closed down. How would our great cities survive and how vigorous and vital would they be? I conclude by saying this: Let us progress. Let us keep pace with what is happening all over the world. Let us have colour television, but not at the expense of the introduction of ordinary television into our remote areas. Neither should the introduction of colour television delay the facilities which have already been approved but not installed.
– I move to speak in this Grievance Day debate because of a question put to the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) by the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) in relation to the Woorabinda Aboriginal Settlement. In his reply the Minister said it appeared that the truth lay midway between the two statements mentioned but more towards the second - that is the statement of the journalist - than towards that of the visiting members. The Minister was referring to a group of Australian Labor Party members, including the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham), the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), myself, Senator Milliner and Mr Ted Harris, a’ Queensland member of Parliament, who visited the Aboriginal community at Woorabinda, south west of Rockhampton.
The first thing I wish to do is express my concern that the Minister should lean towards the view of a journalist when a number of members of this House have expressed an opinion. I know that in answering the question to which I have referred the Minister was motivated by Press reports. Let me trace the history of this matter and put it on record in Hansard so that fair minded people might judge the issues. The honourable member for Capri cornia sought to visit Woorabinda, which is the Aboriginal settlement closest to his electorate, and because he is interested in the well being of the Aboriginal people of this country. He invited a number of his Labor Party colleagues to accompany him. We travelled by car from Rockhampton and spent about half a day at Woorabinda - not a long time. Several of us in the group have been interested in Aboriginal matters for some years. We feel that we were able to make better use of the time we spent at the settlement than was a journalist who spent a slightly shorter period of time at the settlement. Accordingly a statement was made to the Press. This was published in the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin’ of 1st February this year. Other newspapers have published the things that they wanted to publish and have rather gilded the lily. I am not attacking working journalists because I believe that they are honest people but I do suggest that a good deal of the trouble in these matters is caused by people who draft headlines for newspaper articles. Every honourable member has been faced with this problem.
On Wednesday 5th February the Brisbane Telegraph’ published a story about Woorabinda under the headline: ‘No ,Hell»Hole. 387 Aborigines well-fed, generally content’. I defy anybody to find in any statement made by any of the members who visited Woorabinda the expression ‘hell-hole’. What happens in these matters is that somebody who wishes to sell newspapers places an emotional headline above an article such as this. In an editorial on 8th February the Courier-Mail’ referred to what it described as the ‘Federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs’ and stated:
Criticism of Woorabinda condition’s by Labor politicians this week was not substantiated, for the settlement appears to be efficiently and humanely run.
In other words, all that has happened has been that one newspaper has indulged in emotional articles and headlines. Another newspaper has claimed that the reports are incorrect and, virtually, that they bear no relation to statements made by responsible members of Parliament. In addition the Queensland Minister in charge of Aboriginal affairs has said:
After what I have seen I am sickened by the baseless criticism of some people about Aboriginal conditions in Queensland.
I do not want to go article by article through the Queensland newspapers in order to cover all of these things but I would like to get to the crux of the matter. We would like the Minister for Social Services and Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs competently to investigate the charges we haw: made. We would be happy to give him details about the condition of Woorabinda settlement, which is in some way typical of the condition of other Aboriginal settlements in Queensland.
I would like to refer the Minister to the 23rd Annual Report of the Council of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research for the year ended 30th June 1968. I refer particularly to a paper delivered by Dr D. G. Jose, a senior medical research fellow, on the medical situation in Aboriginal settlements in Queensland. The paper is fairly lengthy but Dr Jose raises some very serious matters. He deals with the marked retardation of growth after the age of 6 months, the high prevalence of rheumatic heart disease and the infant mortality rate, which is six times higher than the Queensland average.
I would like to refer the Minister to a paper given to me by the honourable member for Capricornia and published in the Medical Journal of Australia’ of 25th January this year. The paper deals with some aspects of infant mortality. The paper, written by Dr Kalokerinos, refers to some solutions to this problem. Any number of competent professionally qualified people have investigated these matters. The University of Queensland has published papers on the educational attainment of Aboriginals. These papers have been written by people like the late Sir Fred Schonell, Professor Keats, who is now at Newcastle, and others.
There are several aspects of the administration of Aboriginals in Queensland which I would like to attack. Firstly, there is insufficient respect for the Aboriginal communities. They obviously will be with us for a long time and they should be brought to the same standard as other communities of similar size in our country. Special consideration should be given to overcoming special deficiencies. I am opposed to the attitude of forced assimilation that exists in Queensland, whereby Aboriginals are virtually pushed off the settlements. As soon as they have a secondary education or decide to go out for any reason they are given very little or no encouragement ever to return. I am concerned at the complaints of Aboriginal people that once they leave a settlement they have great difficulty getting back to visit elderly parents or perhaps to visit their families at Christmas time. We recognise that most Aboriginals will choose to assimilate into our community. The only way in which this can be done properly is if they live in decent houses and enjoy proper standards of hygiene and diet. If they are given the education that they very badly need to enable them to make an easy transition to the outside Australian community, if they so desire, their assimilation will be all that easier. Unfortunately these things are not being done. We advocate at least 2 years of pre-school education for all Aboriginal children on settlements. This would remove the argument of the State Government that it is necessary to have segregated schools for the children of the white staff and Aboriginal children.
– That is not State policy.
– I am told by way of interjection that this is not the policy, but it is a fact that segregated schools exist on a number of Queensland settlements. You do not dodge the issue by saying it is not policy. Segregation exists and it is time something was done about it. I am pleased that the Minister has said that he will visit Woorabinda as soon as possible. I hope that hesends in the meantime a highly qualified officer of his Department to check the accuracy of the statements I have made.
I now raise another matter. As a Queenslander I seek a firm assurance that the Commonwealth will move to forestall any attempt by the Queensland Country PartyLiberal’ Government to permit drilling for oil on the Great Barrier Reef. As late as the end of last week the Queensland Government was saying that it would announce tha names of successful applicants this week. Now I see in the morning Press that the Country Party Minister for Mines, Mr Camm, claims that no announcement will be made for some time. At this late stage, after his Government has been prepared recklessly to send oil rigs onto the Reef he claims that the Government will now wait until reports are to hand of precautions and safety measures to be applied. Surely the Government was aware before now of the great risk involved in drilling on the Barrier Reef. The Premier of Queensland is a major shareholder in a consortium that has sought a glamour drilling lease on the Barrier Reef. For personal gain he wanted to take his company on to the Reef and risk this tremendous tourist attraction. The only thing that forestalled him was the action of the Queensland Leader of the Opposition, who last weekend exposed the way in which the Premier had deceived a Country Party Minister and a government department to transfer a lease and build up an oil share empire. But for this exposure the Premier would have extended this empire on to our Great Barrier Reef. We now want an assurance that the deferring of this scheme is permanent, not simply a guise to quieten unrest during the present election campaign. The Commonwealth, through the Minister for National Development, must approach the Premier and his Cabinet and tell them that no matter what they are prepared to do, the Commonwealth Government will not allow them to tamper with our tremendous asset - the Great Barrier Reef.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to speak in regard to justice in Australia. I wish to say at the outset that there is no justice in Australia unless a person has money, and very big money at that. A contributing factor to the cost of justice in the jurisdiction of New South Wales is the division of the legal profession into an upper stratum and a lower stratum. Because of this we find that the cost of litigation is outside the reach of 90% of the people of New South Wales. This is a situation which we as democrats must not allow to continue. I would say that never before in the history of Australia have so few extracted so much from so many for so little.
Do you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, that if you have attained matriculation standard you can become a barrister within 3 years. A Yugoslav settler here studied very hard. He took his 3-year law course within 18 months. Let us compare this with the other professions. Can a person become an engineer under 8 years study at university together with practical study? Can a person become a medical officer with 3 years study? Why does this situation arise? It comes about because the legal profession has a closed circuit. When people protest about the state of affairs they protest from Caesar to Caesar, because judges have been members of the legal profession. Having done well as barristers, they are promoted to a judgeship or to a position as a justice-
-Order! I remind the honourable member for Mitchell of a standing order of this House in regard to reflections upon the judiciary in any way whatsoever.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I am not reflecting on the judiciary except in regard to the cost of litigation. Many people who have limited income suffer a great injustice because they cannot afford the risk, as a result of the high fees that are being charged, of taking the injustice that they have suffered to a court for determination. The law being an ass, they would be donkeys in the present circumstances to do so.
Something must be done regarding this state of affairs. In New South Wales at least the first effort should be to break down this division between the two sections of the legal profession where we have members of the under stratum doing most of the work and then members of the upper stratum, when they come in, if it does not suit them to take a case on a particular day, handing that case over to some other barrister in that stratum to proceed with it.
In regard to petty offences, hundreds and hundreds of people in Australia allow small offences to be recorded as convictions against them because of the cost involved in appearing in defence of the charge in a court of petty sessions. To defend themselves against minor offences, these people must take a day off from work and engage a solicitor, involving an expenditure of $50. Because of the economic conditions in which these people are placed, rather than expend this money to clear their names, they let the case be heard ex parte and so the offence concerned is registered as a convinction against them. These convictions are felt years after. I have had instances where I have recommended people to become justices of the peace. These minor, petty offences have prevented them from so becoming. They maintain in many instances that they did not commit the offences. But because of the pettiness of the offences and because of the high cost involved in defending themselves they let these offences be registered as convictions against them. The time has arrived when we must-
-Order! It is now 12.45 p.m. and in accordance with standing order 106 the debate is interrupted and I put the question:
That grievances be noted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended front 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 5 March (vide page 440),on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– In speaking to the Customs Tariff Bill, and the Schedule to it, I would like to confine my remarks to the issue of manufacture generally which, of course, was of some concern last night when the Bill was before the House and when the shadow minister on the other side of the chamber, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) was speaking. However, I would like to turn my attention to an equally important provision in the customs tariff general procedure. It concerns a subject on which I have spoken on numerous occasions. It is the issue of motor manufacture and the situation in which we in Australia now find ourselves. I refer, of course, to the revision of 24th December concerning the A and SV plan in the production and manufacture of motor vehicles in Australia. This was a wise decision. It was well taken and I think it had the cooperation of the industry generally.
But, as I said last September, for some 2½ years there has been a great deal of concern amongst Australian manufacturers of the four-cylinder automobile which is so prevalent on the Australian market today. While I appreciate the Government’s intention in introducing the A and SV plan back in 1964, I think it is quite plain that the plan has not lived up to expectations, that it is not likely to live up to expectations and that unless something is done fairly shortly, by way of a major review or the adoption of a different approach, we will find that many of the Australian locally manufactured four cylinder motor vehicles will soon become imported and Australian locally assembled four cylinder motor vehicles.
While the revision of 24th December was some solution, it was not a cure to the general position in which the industry finds itself today. In South Australia - a State which certainly has recovered now but which has had some hard times over the last 3 or 4 years- automobile manufacture accounts for 10%. of the total work force including, pf course, those people who are employed in satellite industries. It is a most important field and one on which the previous Premier of South Australia but two, Sir Thomas Playford, worked hard and long. I would like to give some figures of some of the manufacturers, which show that cars are piling high - in some cases, ten high in showrooms and yards - because it is not possible to sell them. I ask myself: Why is this? There must be something wrong with our policy or the Japanese must be very good at making motor vehicles.
When I talk about Japan in this debate I do not criticise the Japanese for making motor vehicles in this way.I do not criticise, as such, the existing Government policy concerning motor vehicles, because the A plan or the 85% and 95% plan, which has been in operation since 1st February of this year, has worked well, and in fact maximum production is now being obtained. But where there is a definite fault and where the whole thing has gone wrong, even though there has been some temporary cure as a result of the decision of 24th December and the abolition of the SV plan as it was then known, is in the fact that the Japanese are exporting motor vehicles to Australia and competing against locally manufactured four-cylinder motor cars in an inequitable and highly profitable way, a way in which local manufacture finds it very difficult to compete.
Japanese cars are selling less in Australia than they are overseas. It is very difficult to compare the actual figures of sales of motor cars in Australia, but we know for a fact that the dumping allegations which were made in the middle of last year have still not definitely been proven one way or another. But on the general consensus of figures that I have taken out, we have been able to prove most definitely that the profit on a Toyota Crown, Corolla, Corona or Mazda sold in Australia is certainly less proportionally than is being obtained on sales in Japan. This matter involves the whole field of dumping. This is very hard to prove. Last year the Government took some action which was, as I mentioned earlier, a temporary respite to the actual position in which we now find ourselves. I am trying to localise and confine something which is very important to Australia. Next to the Postmaster-General’s Department, the motor industry is the second biggest employer of labour in this country. Unless something is done I can see that the position will deteriorate still further.
There is another aspect which we have to consider when we talk about motor cars and motor manufacture. Regardless of whether companies engaged in Australian manufacture were in fact Australian or foreign owned, these companies showed faith in Australia. They showed a degree of confidence when Australia was on her knees just prior to and after the last war. They invested a great deal of money in this country. They had the co-operation of the then government, which desperately needed a great deal of money. I think it was a compliment to the then Prime Minister, Mr Ben Chifley, who encouraged the manufacture of the first Holden motor car. It was a great credit to Mr Chifley, whom I do not think the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters), who is trying to interject, knew very well.
The important issue at stake is not so much the level of investment and the confidence that was shown in Australia by overseas companies but the fact that today, in the 1960s, a large giant, which has onethird of the small four-cylinder vehicle market and approximately 13.8% of the total market, has engaged in very highly profitable marketing operations in Australia at the expense not only of those manufacturers in this country who are making six-cylinder and eight-cylinder vehicles but those who have suffered under the SV plan - the major manufacturers, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors-Holden’s, BMC and the
Volkswagen (Australia) company, which used to manufacture Volkswagens in Australia. We now have the ridiculous situation in which the Volkswagen (Australia) company is making Japanese motor cars.
This is not a criticism of Government policy. I am trying to say that it is important that we have a look at the existing set-up as, in fact, I know the Department of Trade and Industry and the Tariff Board have been doing for some time. I think they recognise, as I do, that the decision of 24th December was not a long term equitable one. It will not be the solution. I propose therefore that the Government should give some consideration to another plan which I will shortly bring before the House. Before I continue any further, I point out that unless something is done - I would say within the next 18 months - the four-cylinder motor vehicle market in Australia will suffer and the manufacturers of four-cylinder motor vehicles, as we know them in Australia today, will cease within some 2 years or the next . 1 8 months. The vehicles now entered under the small volume programme on the completely knocked down or CKD basis - and this is where the Japanese have the Government at a disadvantage - and on the completely built up or CBU basis, have been built to test the market’s acceptance of the products for a period of years and to establish dealer organisations right throughout the country. Let us face it: Whenever an Australian manufacturing concern disfranchises one of its dealers who, perhaps, has been in the motor vehicle business for some 30 years, the first thing he does is to turn to Japan.
Today the Japanese have a ready-made general market in Australia before they even start. I think that all of us agree that the Japanese have had a nice easy trot in Australia - thank you very much. They should therefore become vehicle manufacturers. I refer now to a display of faith in this country - the same faith which BMC, the Rootes group, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors-Holden’s and the Volkswagen company, which lost millions on the deal in Australia, showed in years gone by. The Japanese should become vehicle manufacturers rather than we be the assemblers and importers of CBU products. Otherwise, they should not be permitted to compete on the Australian market at a yearly volume exceeding 2,500 units per year, providing that they have reached 45%, or higher, Australian content. This, of course, is open to speculation and it poses great problems for the Government.
The Japanese are exporting to Australia on a CBU and CKD basis and they are providing what? An investment of $1.5m which, I think, is the sum total of their assets in the Australian motor vehicle industry. This is only a rough figure. I have not been able to check it thoroughly. But it is only a nominal figure compared with the $500m that has been invested over many years by the companies already manufacturing in Australia. Let us compare the investment of one leading automobile manufacturer in South Australia who has an investment of approximately $120m in Australia and has approximately 13.2% of the total market, with the Japanese investment of approximately $1.5m and 13.8% of the total market. The Japanese already have 32.5% of the small motor car market. This manufacturer simply says to himself: ‘Right, because of the existing policy, because of the position in which we now find ourselves, something has to be done’. This position is unfortunately a direct result of the Government’s policy. It was a well-meaning and well-intentioned policy but I think it has gone wrong. The manufacturers cannot come forward and openly take the bat out on the Government in this particular field because they realise that co-operation is vital in all stages. But I think we have got to the stage where we should have a look at another figure. When I talk about a display of faith, this is very important: It is all very well to begin to sell in the country but when you have got to the stage where you are selling a lot of cars it is different. Total registrations in 1968 were 370,000. The registrations of Japanese motor cars were 51,000 and would have resulted in a turnover of some $78m. In the small four cylinder car sector total registrations were 126,000 and the registrations of Japanese cars were 41,000. This is incredible. Forty-one thousand cars out of 51,000 Japanese cars were four-cylinder vehicles. There were only 10,000 sixcylinder vehicles. The Japanese are not particularly concerned with the export of six-cylinder motor vehicles.
Their market, which has been proven, is proved and will continue to be proved - because, let us face it, their stuff is good - is in the small motor vehicle range. Because of the cost of production in Australia, the labour situation and the conditions in which we find ourselves at the moment and in which we will continue to find ourselves because of the peculiarities of two different countries manufacturing the same product, we have within our society a group of manufacturers who are desperately trying to compete against a country with known brilliance in the field of technology and with whose prices we cannot even compete because all the Japanese do is put two fenders on instead of one and call it a different model. The accusation has recently been made, unfortunately, by another motor vehicle maker that the Japanese can import American dies cheaper than the Americans can make them. That is an incredible statement to make and it cannot be proved, but the Japanese have ways and means of doing this sort of thing. The Japanese give a categorical no to any manufacturer of motor vehicles in the world who wants to set up marketing operations in Japan. The Japanese manufacturing tie-up with the major banks - which are so close to the government of Japan - simply restricts and lets no-one in. Imports, of course, are relatively negligible. In the United States business magazine ‘Fortune’ a couple of months ago there was a long article which indicated that even the Americans are concerned at the possibility of Japanese marketing and manufacturing.
So I come back to what I was saying about a display of faith. If the Japanese have such a huge market penetration in this country, either by CKD or CBU, and if they are so concerned with Australia then should we not, for our part, say to the Japanese: ‘You have proved your market, you have proved your product, and over a period of time you have proved your ability to sell. You have had a good trot all the way along the line. How about a bit of investment?’ The Government could help and the State of South Australia could help for a number of reasons. Is it not possible to set a ceiling when we are talking about establishing motor vehicle manufacture? It is not easy when Toyota sells something like 18,000 cars and Nissan sells 7,000. Is it not possible that a maximum ceiling could be set whereby the programme in hand at the moment could be carried through? When the foreign manufacturer - whether he be Japanese, German, French or Italian - reached a market of, say, 16,000 vehicles per annum or 20,000 vehicles per annum, could we not then as a government say: ‘You know that your opportunity and potential in Australia is good. You know that the goods that you ave here are selling. You know that you cannot miss. We now require you, if you want to exceed this particular ceiling limit, to establish manufacturing facilities in the country and to invest accordingly.’
This is a big problem. In any case, we cannot impose quantitative restrictions on Japan and, of course, we have a twotoone trading balance of payments in our favour. But I think that this is a fair approach. It is one which I think the Australian public would welcome. I know it is an approach which Australian secondary industry, satellites and motor car manufacturers would welcome simply because they are in the invidious position today where they have no alternative but to scrap their production of four-cylinder motor vehicles unless something ls done. This is a problem which has caused some concern and will cause concern. It is not possible for alt of us to sit here and ignore what I am saying because these are the facts. They concern employment-
– Perhaps it is the Government’s fault.
– Indirectly it is the Government’s fault, but I am not criticising overly the position that exists at the moment. All I am trying to do is to bring to the attention of the Parliament - and hopefully to the attention of the people - the fact that we could well consider the establishment of a maximum market penetration line whereby we are in effect saying to the Japanese, or the Italians, or the French or the Germans: ‘You have done this. You can see that your potential! is good, but to give the local manufacturer a air go and to make things even all the way round we want to establish a set of marketing circumstances whereby all companies - whether they be American, Italian, Japanese or French - operate in Australia under one set of conditions.’ This is the most important point and unless this position does come about, and unless something is done, I think we willi find, particularly in the State of South Australia, a degree of unemployment which not even the most pessimistic of us would expect. So I come still further down the line. The basis of the scheme which I have outlined - it is only a suggestion at this stage - is that it is possible for us to say this to Japan. It is possible for us to put this on the line. We are not going to lose any export orders as a result.
– You sound like Chris Herford to me.
– I am here; he is not. The basis of this proposition is that even though we would insist on local manufacture once a certain target ceiling is achieved we would not lose anything in the export field as a result The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) himself has proven on a number of occasions that things just do not work this way when we have what we have. While our relations with Japan are most cordial and ideal this is something which could well come about. I know the five major manufacturers in Australia - or the major four now that the British Motor Corporation is on the way down, too; it will be three unless something is done - would appreciate this. If anything did happen to their detriment they could at least say: ‘We lost our share of the market while the conditions were the same and fair to all concerned.’ They do not regard the existing policy as necessarily unfair. They do find themselves forced into a position where the Australian four cylinder motor vehicles on the road just cannot compete in quality or price with the equivalent type of vehicle which Japan exports to Australia. They have about $9 8m invested in the manufacture of four cylinder motor vehicles under the old SV plan and they are losing money on this particular item of production. Certainly I know that last year was a record year for most of the major operators, but I just want to see that everything is fair and something is done, and I think it is the Government’s responsibility. It is the Government’s obligation to look into this question and to say to the Japanese: ‘Right, you want to manufacture in Australia. You can come and manufacture in Australia. You have achieved a certain market penetration, a level of 16,000 to 20,000 vehicles.’ But this is it; they would have the opportunity. If they do not want to manufacture in Australia or display faith then they can keep their exports of CBU and CKD below the market penetration level that I have suggested. I want the Japanese manufacturer to be on the same plane as the Australian manufacturer and then there will be no charges of dumping. If such a scheme were implemented not even the Japanese could complain if prices rose, nor could the Australians complain if prices fell. I believe that the entry of Japanese cars onto the Australian market would be a good test of quality. Australians certainly appreciate and do not underestimate the quality of the Japanese product, but the Australian public would be in a better position to choose and to buy if all motor vehicles were manufactured under the same conditions.
Let us look at some of the advantages that South Australia has to offer if such a plan were put into operation. South Australia is the principal motor manufacturing State in Australia. It is the State that has had the longest and greatest experience in the automobile field. It has a natural potential for motor vehicle manufacture. It has ideal conditions about which the Japanese could not complain. There is an obvious opening in South Australia and we should go to the Japanese and point out the advantages of manufacturing in Australia. It must be the Government’s responsibility to take it from there. South Australia has limitless space for expansion. Already industries which aid motor vehicle manufacture are established. The Japanese could not complain about the massive steel company complex at Whyalla or about the guarantee of steel supplies.
The Japanese could not complain about supplies of natural gas which, of course, are reducing still further the cost of power in manufacturing and secondary industries. They could not complain about the big boost that natural gas will give to industry in South Australia. They could not complain about railway freight rates which, in South Australia, are the lowest in Australia. Housing is plentiful, is of excellent quality and is cheap. I refer honourable members to the excellent article which appeared in the ‘Australian’ this morning in the supplement on South Australia. This would be a further inducement to industry. Air pollution is virtually non-existent in South Australia and at Port Adelaide there is a highly industrialised area close to shipping where land can be had for $8,000 an acre - cheaper than elsewhere in Australia. The rising cost of industrial land in Melbourne and Sydney is an encouraging sign for South Australia. The State can support its claim of having the cheapest land in Australia. Hundreds and hundreds of acres are available at Elizabeth, which is 17 miles from Adelaide and which has the greatest automobile complex in Australia.
Why cannot we say to the Japanese, when they have achieved 51,000 units a year: There is your complex; there is your automobile manufacturing field’? Of course, they will say: ‘We are different companies’. They are not so different in Japan where they have a massive consortium of agents working one with another and with the banks right through to the government. If we are to have a maximum market penetration line would it not be possible for the Japanese, who are so individualistic in Australia yet so closely tied in Japan, to establish one marketing complex in South Australia - one manufacturing concern? ‘
– They are waiting for Chowilla.
– That is another debate. If the Japanese established one manufacturing concern in Australia it could be the cheapest motor manufacturing plant in the world. Well, Mr Speaker, there it is, and it is a fairly good point. I am not kidding myself.
– Of course you are.
– 1 am not. The facts are there for all to see. 1 am just trying to see that there is some fair play and some sense of justice, particularly as this Government is responsible for the implementation of the existing plan. We could well approach the Japanese and tell them of the opportunities that are available in Australia. They could be asked to show some confidence in Australia by investing here and by setting up a motor vehicle manufacturing complex, the net effect of which would be to increase employment opportunities, particularly in my home State where employment is vital at the moment. We have qualified personnel, trained in all aspects of motor vehicle manufacture. I can see nothing wrong with this scheme. I think it has a great deal of merit. The people are entitled to secure motor vehicles for a lower price, but every Australian manufacturer is worried that this year or next year prices will increase again. I point out that 2 months and 2 days after the Government finalised its account with Japan in respect of dumping, the Australian manufacturers increased the price of their product. This annoyed and irritated the Australian public no end.
The reason why the price of six-cylinder automobiles is increasing is that the manufacturers are losing money on four-cylinder automobiles. There are about 65,000 cars a year on which they are losing money. I think the scheme that I have outlined is valid. It has a great deal of merit if for no other reason than that the Australian manufacturers would be able to say: ‘We compete at last on the same basis’. About 30 years ago it would not have been possible to import motor vehicles for general sale. It was then the Prime Minister, Mr Chifley, who introduced the General MotorsHolden’s programme into Australia, but marketing conditions have changed because trends have changed and we are in the position today where the entire automobile sector of our economy has been upset by a foreign invasion. We are faced with rising costs, rising prices and industrial strife on certain occasions. The Australian Government must see its way clear to do something in this field. It would not have to be unfair. It would not have to say to the Japanese: Come to the party or else’. The companies could combine to turn out 8 to 10 units instead of 2 or 3 units under each one of different names. This could be done in a State like South Australia which has such obvious natural advantages and such peculiar engineering and secondary industry advantages for the automobile manufacturing industry.
There is much merit in the suggestion and it could well carry weight. If it does not do so then the people of Australia will be faced with rising costs and massive unemployment. Honourable members opposite need not laugh. I have been supplied with figures by economists from the three main motor manufacturing organisations in Australia and these indicate that unless there is a change in existing policy the manufacture of four-cylinder motor vehicles could cease within 18 months. It is cheaper to import today under the present scheme. Imports mean a loss of foreign exchange. Honourable members know that as well as I do. The whole situation could be remedied if the suggestion were put to the Japanese and they were sounded out. If they do not want to establish manufacturing facilities in Australia, what faith have they in this country?
– I regret, through no-one’s fault but my own, that I have not come into the House prepared to speak on the motor vehicle industry, but I must make one or two comments on the points raised by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Andrew Jones). In his time in Parliament he has re-written a number of things. Today he moves into a new field and re-writes elementary economics. Quite candidly, the problem of the motor vehicle industry, about which he is concerned, would not be improved but rather worsened by the proposition he put forward, namely, having Japanese manufacturers produce their cars wholly in an industrial complex within this country. The problem with the motor vehicle industry is that for some manufacturers throughput is not sufficiently high in relation to the capital investment in plant to allow them to reduce their price sufficiently to be competitive with overseas firms from which we are receiving imports of motor vehicles. If we have several manufacturers moving into this field within this community, the problem will be worsened. The total throughput will have to be spread over a larger number of producers and the throughput per producer will be reduced accordingly and the price increased accordingly.
I want to speak about some other aspects of the tariff proposals that are before the House now. Perhaps it is as well to commence by stipulating a few principles. I do not believe that this community could have achieved the economic development that it has in a system of free trade. On the other hand, I do not believe that this is justification for adopting the attitude that every tariff sought must be granted. This is an important principle. I am concerned about three or four issues in the proposals before us today in which I feel the Government has adopted the approach that an application for a tariff is ipso facto a justification for a tariff. It seems to me that we have a problem of economic planning in this community and tariffs are directly related to it. The Government does in fact plan the economy, but in a very loose, general sort of way. When it moves it moves only on a very broad front or in a couple of narrow, selected and disconnected areas.
On the broad front, it moves with monetary policies, and so we have booms and busts. We have a boom built up and then the head of the boom is pulled off with a sharp jerk by financial restrictions through monetary policy. The problem with this sort of policy is that it is not selective in the sectors of the economy. So we can have a situation in the economy in a time of boom in which there is over-investment in consumer durables but at the same time under-investment in the heavy producer goods. It is highly desirable that the heavy producer goods be built up and that the consumption of durable goods be reduced. But then the Government moves in broadly with a restrictive monetary policy and flattens the whole area of the economy, both the durable goods and the producer goods. Conversely at a time when the economy needs picking up, we could easily have a situation in which there is full employment of the factors in the consumer durable industries but under-employment of the factors in the producer goods industries. Stimulation in this sector of monetary policy may easily - I suspect it most often does - result in stimulation of the consumer goods sector, adding to inflation and doing nothing to pick up investment and to improve the utilisation of idle factors of production in the producer goods sector.
So the Government does plan the economy; but it does so in a roughshod way, an unselective way, and completely ignores the sectoral imbalances in the economy. On the other band we have the Government planning the economy in narrow selected areas. It does this with bounties and subsidies, often to inefficient primary industries. It does this with the allocation of funds on an ad hoc basis to some sort of national development project which is not justified on a cost-benefit analysis but is granted rather in response to some sort of regional pressure for the project. Finally, and this is the issue I want to discuss today, the Government grants tariffs in a disjointed manner to various industries. Within the economy the various sectors have an interrelationship and within each sector there is an interrelationship between the units. It is completely irresponsible for the Government to handle the economy of this country as though things exist, operate and influence only themselves within a situation of isolation. What we really need is some indicative planning for the economy so that targets are set, so that the input and output totals are set, so that industries know where they are going and so that the pressure groups know what sort of support they can expect in the future. With this sort of planning, those groups in the economy that are being propped up by tariffs, bounties, subsidies and so on will know that there is an obligation on them within a certain time to become self-supporting, unless there are exceptional reasons such as defence. The reasons must be exceptional and must be conceded only if they are in the interests of the community.
Accepting these principles, I am somewhat concerned at some of the propositions relating to tariffs that are before the House now. Let me take the first one, and that is mushrooms. The Government proposes to increase the general rate of tariff duty protection from between 18% and 22% to 33%. Why? What is the justification for this increase? No explanation is given in the report of the Tariff Board that convinces me that this increase of the tariff is justified in the national interest. Certainly the report of the Tariff Board does not contain any evidence that establishes that it is essential to the economic development of this country for the increase to be granted.
Why does the mushroom industry require this sort of protection against imports? To me it is highly questionable whether the imports have any adverse affect on the domestic production of mushrooms, because the mushrooms that are imported are a different type and satisfy a different taste selection from the mushrooms produced domestically. The way in which they are manufactured is also different. At page 1 1 of the report the Tariff Board said:
Due to differences in taste, appearance and culinary application, the demand for mushrooms in butter sauce is largely separate from the demand for champignons.
The Board also said at page 8:
Champignons in brine, which comprise the bulk of imported canned mushrooms, differ in taste, appearance and in a majority of culinary applications from the main local canned product, sliced mushrooms in butter sauce. Hence the market for each could be regarded as being essentially different and the two products only marginally competitive.
It bears stressing that the two products are only marginally competitive. Yet the Government seeks to justify a substantial increase in the rate of tariff for mushrooms. Just how important are mushrooms in the economy?
– If they are not important, why import them?
– There are 230 farms engaged in the production of mushrooms. Only seventy-four of these farms are employed full time in the production of this commodity. Only 300 full time employees are engaged in the industry. This is only a minute industry and it is an industry that is producing a luxury commodity. What justification can there be for propping up a minute industry that is not playing an essential role in the economy? What the Government is doing - this is fundamental and simple and even the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters) will understand it with a good deal of application - is to increase the cost of mushrooms to the Australian consumer and quite obviously, by using resources in the production of mushrooms in a fully employed economy, these resources are not available for production in some other area. This comes back to the point I was making earlier and that is the need for indicative planning and the use of our economic resources most efficiently. Clearly an efficient use of our tariffs will not be achieved by the granting of tariffs in this sort of situation. For the canners of mushrooms, the canning of this commodity is only an extremely small part of each company’s overall activities.
What are the problems that have arisen for the mushroom industry? It is clear from what I have said that it is highly doubtful whether the import of champignons poses any real problem to the industry because of the differences in the satisfactions met by imported champignons and domestic mushrooms in their various forms of manufacture. The problems seem to be in relation to excessive stock holdings by canners in 1966-67 as a result of over-production in 1965-66. Obviously, if there is overproduction in the industry we cannot expect to create a state where we will make another line of mushrooms so excessively expensive that they will be increasingly forced out of the consumers’ diet so that this over-production will be taken up. The fact is that the overproduction is a fault of bad planning by the producers, and it is unrealistic to expect that the industry should be protected or cosseted by an increase in tariffs.
The canners themselves have stressed, according to page 7 of the Tariff Board report, that they are quite uncertain about the effect of imports on local production. This stresses further the fact that overproduction apparently has been a large part of the problem of the industry that caused it to seek this increase in tariffs. The report also points out - and this is most important - that even without imports the rapid rate of growth in the production of mushrooms locally was unlikely to have continued. The whole approach in the granting of this tariff is quite unrealistic, and one wonders what the Government is aiming at when this minute industry can insist that it will get a substantial increase in tariffs which, I repeat, will represent a tax on the Australian consumers. Surely we can use our production resources in a much more effective way than by protecting some small industry to preserve its presence when there are so many important jobs to be done in this country.
It is mentioned in the report that there are some disadvantages in labour costs compared with, say, Taiwan, but we have these disadvantages in relation to the production of tea or the production of quite a number of other commodities by undeveloped countries. What is our purpose to be? Are we to move into every field and eventually squeeze the under-developed countries out of their markets for the things in which they have specialised in the past by highly protecting the production of these sorts of things which would otherwise be uneconomical? If we do, we are being quite immoral and also unrealistic in the economic sense. Another problem is that the scale of production of mushrooms in the Australian community is not large enough to allow the producers to obtain what are called in economics economies of scale. These apparently are available to the producers in the United States of America. Apparently they are not available to the producers in Australia. There seems to be some evidence in the report that only a few of the producers in Australia have gone to the trouble of becoming efficient in terms of developing their equipment according to the latest techniques and by making substantial capital investment.
Some people I know - 1 have heard them interject and heard some of their speeches; in fact, in some cases I have heard the same speeches on many occasions - would go to the extent of establishing hot houses on Heard Island to produce bananas and would protect them with tariffs so the bananas could be sold in Australia. This is unrealistic and scarcely needs more discussion.
The next matter I want to come to is the proposal by the Government to allow an effective rate of 50% on the production of hot water bags by Ansell Rubber Co. Pty Ltd. This organisation employs only twenty-six workers. The funds employed in the production of hot water bags represents only 10% of the total funds. When one goes through this report one has strong reservations about the validity of the sources of information which Ansell provided to the Tariff Board. Let us have a look at Ansell in comparison with its main British competitor. The report reads:
Costs of material* and labour account for about one-third of Ansell’* total costs to make and sell and its disadvantages against Haffenden-
That is its main British competitor - on the.se elements of cost are small. Raw rubber is an important raw material and this is available to the local industry, free of duty, at close to world prices.
In other words, the disadvantage is in relation to the overheads which the firm has to bear. The Tariff Board casts very serious doubts on the validity of the information which Ansell provided for it on the way in which it distributed its overheads between the various sections of production which it undertook. Page 7 of the report reads:
Ansell is an efficient and profitable producer of rubber goods generally and it is able to compete strongly in export markets with some of its products. There is no reason to doubt its technical efficiency in the production of bags. The Board cannot fully reconcile-
This is an important section - these facts with the company’s apparent price disadvantage on bags and particularly with the exceedingly high disability on overhead costs despite the contention that these costs have been appropriately allocated as between products.
Quite clearly, the implication is that the Tariff Board thinks or suspects that Ansell is loading a disproportionately large amount of its overhead costs onto the hot water bag production section. The result is that, if tariffs are sought and justified on the basis of this high overhead cost factor, the Australian community is to prop up the overhead cost of other sections of production undertaken by Ansell. There is not enough information available here for this House. I suggest that the Tariff Board ought to be empowered to make a much more searching investigation of this aspect, as it has put forward in its report. After all, it is public money which is involved. Admittedly, it is not internal revenue which is being distributed, but it is a form of internal revenue in that the consumer will have to pay more than he is obliged to pay for this hot water bag if in fact Ansell is disproportionately allocating overhead costs out of its total overhead costs to the production of hot water bags.
I think there are some reasons why the market for hot water bags is deteriorating. Not the least of these is the simple fact that more people are using electric blankets. This must have some influence on the demand for hot water bags. If we have a look at imports, we find that there was a rather sharp fall from 1965-66 to 1967-68. In round figures, the value of imports fell from $53,000 in 1965-66 to (28,000 in 1967-68, so there has been a substantial decline in the value of imports over this period. It would not seem rational to argue that imports are a major problem. It is not the build up of imports; it is the deterioration in demand for hot water bags. I mentioned a little earlier that the costs of labour and the supply of raw material do not place Ansell in any disadvantage in relation to its main competitor. Ansell’s market disadvantage in Australia is about 75% in the chain stores against Haffenden and Baden P. Morris Pty Ltd, the main British producer, and up to 40% in other stores.
We are making it just a little too easy if we grant a tariff without some further investigation of this matter. We have a public responsibility and we cannot grant tariffs easily and to every applicant in the community. I ask honourable members to cast their minds back to the prelude to the depression of the 1930s. If they do so, they will recall that many of the factors present then are present today. I refer to the situation of the wheat industry with a massive build up of production and a movement into marginal areas, and a free and easy granting of tariffs, which was criticised by the Brigden report, which criticism was never acted upon. Again we find ourselves in this situation today. Of course, the economy can happily float along, propping up by mineral exports, beef exports, the good cheques which are earned for wool, the heavy investment in land by foreign investors and the general inflow of foreign investment. But that is like the blowing up of a balloon. This is not a substantial structure upon which to build an economy. Our economy is highly vulnerable because in too many fields the protection seems to be excessively high, resulting, as I said before, in a sectoral imbalance in the economy. We have obligations here. It is a shame that we do not try more often to discharge these obligations by indulging in a much wider discussion of these matters and demanding much more information than we get from the Tariff Board.
The little information that I have been able to extract from the Board reports has not in any way been stated as a criticism or query. It is the sort of information that one must eke out from inferences that have been written into the report by the Tariff Board. Of course, I can well understand the reticence of the Tariff Board, especially with such a formidable Minister in charge of its affairs as the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), who has made it fairly evident that unless the Board brings out the sorts of recommendations he wants, he is not interested either in its recommendations or in the sort of evidence upon which it bases its findings. Indeed, in relation to hot water bags the Minister said that the Government did not accept the Board’s suggestion that the recommended duties be removed should the cost of the local industry be such that it could not continue the production of hot water bottles.
Yet the Tariff Board report establishes a rather convincing case that should this be the position it is not in the community interest that the tariff should continue. On page 7 of the Tariff Board report on hot water bags the Board said:
Ansell’s high price disadvantage on sales to chain stores, which form- a significant part of the Australian market, coupled with, its access to important materials at world prices raise serious doubts as to whether the manufacture of bags in Australia continues to be economic.
Later in its report the Board states:
Should Ansell’s overhead costs be such that bag production does -not prove worth while for the company, the Board suggests that the duties be removed as there would appear to be no opportunities for local economic production by other -manufacturers. ‘
The Minister for Trade and Industry completely rejects this proposition. On what evidence does he proceed when he interferes with the economy in the way he does so frequently arid what sort of economic planning are we getting from the Government? In the long term it is disjointed, unselective, distorting and damaging.
The Minister also referred to peanut oil. The Board has recommended a phasing out of assistance to this industry. The arguments that the Board advanced seem quite convincing. The Minister has advised that the Department of Trade and Industry will make an investigation of this field. We will no doubt hear more about this matter. But I hope that we get a full report on the sort qf information extracted by the inquiry.. I think we have reached the stage - we reached it a long time ago actually - when the Federal Government should consider allowing the main spokesman on the Opposition side of the House on tariff matters to read the confidential submissions that are made to the Tariff Board and the other data that is available to the Minister for Trade and Industry. If this is not done we will have a situation where most of the decisions on these important matters will continue to be made in secret and within a very tight circle. Even in that very tight circle one suspects that there are very few who understand the ramifications of tariffs on the economy.
The final subject to which I wish to refer is olive oil. Some of the points I made in relation to mushrooms apply equally to olive oil. At present the olive oil industry supplies about 3% of the local market. It is suggested that the supply could reach about 15% of the local market by about 1975. The Board has grave reservations about this and suggests that 10% of the market may be the most that the industry could expect to achieve. The Board says that the forecasts by the representatives of the industry in relation to its future production appear optimistic. On page 33 of the Tariff Board report on Vegetable Fats and Oils, the Board states: . . although certain technological improvements may be made in prospect, the Board can see no sound indications of future viability in the local industry. It seems likely that even after years of further developments it will still require a high level of assistance and will be able to supply only a minor share of the market.
Frankly, the matters that I have raised before the House in turn raise fundamental questions in relation to tariffs. It is about time that this Government - after all it is in the majority and makes the decisions - had some new thoughts on tariffs and their influence on the Australian community and on the performance of the economy.
- Mr Acting Speaker, once again the continuing differences that are revealed between members of the Opposition have reared their heads. We have seen the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) disagreeing with the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters) and dealing with him in a rather caustic manner. The honourable member for Oxley called for the Government to give the major spokesman for the Opposition access to confidential reports that the Tariff Board receives. But of course, the major spokesman for the Opposition disagrees with what the honourable member for Oxley says. Unless the honourable member who has just spoken has it in mind to displace the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) he probably will not see the information because the cleavage between the two is very evident today. The honourable member for Oxley has given a classical, text-book explanation of protection and free trade - a socialist view as well. What people with his attitude fail to do is to apply their knowledge realistically to Australian industry. The only essential points that he raised with which I would fully concur are the need for a review of the tariff system and his earlier remarks about the fragmentation of Australian industry. One would have to agree that a situation has developed which the Tariff Board, in its general review, is trying to eradicate. 1 would not necessarily agree with the attitude that has been adopted by the Board. But at least the aim of rationalisation of industry is to be commended. Whether the manner in which that aim is to be implemented is agreeable or not is open to question. But the fact that certain industries are receiving protection based on policies determined 30 years ago is perhaps a matter for regret and a matter that will have to be examined. One would have to agree on that point.
It was unusual for a member of a party that allegedly despises overseas investment, and for the past week has been castigating this Government for its appeal for overseas investment, to slate the Government’s action in protecting an Australian industry in the hot water bag field. If we read the Tariff Board report we see that the major competitor is a foreign company. If protection was not given to this local industry, of course the Australian market would be covered by the overseas supplier alone. This supplier is at present obtaining its major income in Australia from price cutting through chain stores. One would assume that if protection to the Australian industry were withdrawn the price cutting would cease and the overseas industry would have the ability to fix prices at whatever level it felt was warranted to make profits. This price would be fixed by the overseas company.
– That is quite right.
– I am grateful to the honourable member for Scullin for agreeing with me on this and disagreeing with the honourable member for Oxley. Honourable members can see the inconsistencies
In the Opposition’s approach and particularly the approach of an honourable member who, although he comes from a provincial area, slates the mushroom industry for being a small industry and therefore not worthy of protection. Is smallness to be the criterion for protection? Of course it is not. The overwhelming percentage of industry in Australia today is in the small to middle size. If the fact that an industry is small is the prerequisite for denying it protection, I am appalled by the remarks of the honourable member for Oxley.
I would like to discuss briefly a number of matters that flow from the Bill before the House. It does not cover the automotive industry. It covers matters that arise from proposals Nos 17 to 20, the details of which are set out in the second reading speech of the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon), and proposals . Nos 1 to 4 submitted this year. All of these are a result of ten Tariff Board reports and two reports by the Special Advisory Authority. I agree with the honourable member for Yarra when he stated last night that they are not of great national significance, but some of the principles which have been used are. I do not want to abuse the forms of the House to discuss protection in general today as did the honourable member for Oxley. I hope that such a discussion will occur on another day; indeed it should. We have waited for a long time to have a full discussion on the annual report of the Tariff Board and I presume that we will be given an opportunity to do so during this session. I do not think there can be any argument about the Government’s decision relating to olive oil and by-law assistance for vegetable or peanut oil, or about the mushroom industry. It is said that mushrooms are kept in the dark, and this is therefore a matter which members of the backbench should be familiar with.
I refer to the decision to grant assistance to Ansell Distributors (N.S.W.) Pty Ltd, manufacturers of hot water bags. Different interpretations have been placed on the Government’s action in not following what the Tariff Board recommended. It has been said that the Government rejected the Board’s principles as enunciated in its last two annual reports, in particular in the last annual report. It has been said also that the Government has deferred a decision. It appears to me that the Government’s rejection of the Board’s recommendation is not necessarily a rejection of the Board’s annual report. The Government has simply asked for another Tariff Board hearing and report. It seems to me that the Government is testing the Board’s principles and policy as enunciated in the last annual report to see whether they will work. This has certain dangers.
The Board’s report was widely discussed both in this Parliament, on the limited occasions that arose last year, and by the public, particularly by The Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia. Last week the Chairman of the Tariff Board, Mr Rattigan, and the office bearers of ACMA held a conference under the chairmanship of the Federal President of ACMA, Mr Campbell. A press release was issued following that discussion. It stated, amongst other things:
Mr Rattigan made it clear that the principles stated in the Board’s reports remain fundamental to its activities. However, he stressed that this approach does not involve:
adopting 50% effective rate as an arbitrary ceiling on tariff protection;
adopting an arbitrary arithmetical cut-off point; and
arbitrary application of an upper limit to tariff protection; the Board will base its recommendations on an assessment of all the relevant circumstances of each case.
It is good that some of the quibbling and squabbling has gone out of the discussion of the Board’s report. Perhaps less emotive discussions will be put forward and more logical approaches will be made by proponents on both sides in discussing the benefits or otherwise of the Board’s annual report and the principles it says it will follow in the future. Although the discussions between ACMA and the Tariff Board last week are very interesting they will mean something only if somebody will say whether the . Chairman’s words have amended in any way paragraphs 42 and 44 of last year’s annual report. Paragraph 42 deals with new industry and paragraph 44 deals with existing industry.
The Press release from which I have just quoted states that the principles remain fundamental to the Board’s approach. I asked a question in the House this morning about the Government’s attitude to these discussions and I was informed that the Government’s policy would be to assess matters as each report arose. It seems to me that the Government’s attitude to these discussions should be to adopt its own approach, because it is responsible for the tariff policy for the nation, and that negotiations between an employers’ organisation and the Board and subsequent determinations should not of themselves determine what this nation’s tariff policy should be. It is for the Government to state its policy on the matter. My concern in respect to the annual report is not allayed by the statement released by ACMA last week. In fact the Chairman of the Tariff Board had said precisely the sorts of things mentioned in the Press release as qualifications to his statement before ACMA had even discussed the matter with him. He had made that quite clear. I think that ACMA is being a trifle too ecstatic too early about the effect of its discussions on the Chairman of the Tariff Board.
The salient point about the fixation of 50% as the upper limit for tariff protection is not whether this is to be adopted arbitrarily. Surely the important point is why 50% was chosen as a ceiling. No reason for or justification of this figure has been given by the Tariff Board. Is it because it is 5 times 10 or because it is one-half of 100? One can only make a guess. My good friend and colleague the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) would possibly have fixed 40% as the upper limit, or even 30%, while the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters) would perhaps fix it at 60%. I suppose that if both honourable members were fixing a limit they would give their reasons for so doing. Up to date this has not been done by the Tariff Board, apart from the statement that we need a re-allocation of resources in Australia. I would welcome a re-allocation of resources if it were found to be workable, and if there could be pointed out areas in which we should be moving to assist and other areas that we should be abandoning. This has not been done. This is regrettable. I commend to honourable members a discussion of this matter by the economics editor at page 2 of today’s issue of the ‘Canberra Times’, which both proponents of and opponents to the
Tariff Board’s report could well assimilate as a constructive contribution to the points that I have raised.
Before completing my remarks I shall refer to a Tariff Board report which has not been alluded to in the debate so far, that is, one relating to stringed musical instruments.
– Yes, guitars. The only local manufacturer of any of the goods of a commercial scale which are under reference is Maton Pty Ltd, which is in my electorate. It is an efficient company, as the report indicates. As the Tariff Board’s report states in its conclusion, Maton Pty Ltd has been producing guitars since 1946. The company is the sole survivor of six companies known to have been manufacturing guitars when import licensing controls were removed in 1960. In 1961 the company applied for assistance, but its application was not granted. In its report of 8th November 1961 the Tariff Board declined to protect the local industry. But after hearing evidence from those who import from Japan and from the Maton company, the Board in 1968 concluded that Maton’s products are used by artists of international status. Indeed some of them are friends of mine. They speak highly of Maton guitars. The Board reported:
The evidence suggests that Maton is under capable and energetic management and that the company has made every effort to strengthen its position since 1961.
That is a statement with which 1 would concur. The Board therefore decided to recommend that moderate duties should apply and that the industry be reviewed in 5 years. It recommended that the company’s products be made dutiable at rates of 35% general’ and 25% preferential. I agree with the Board’s finding. I am most grateful that a small manufacturer, who has been able to compete successfully overseas, has been assisted in this way.
I said earlier that I did not want to discuss tariffs generally other than to refer to the tariff on hot water bags. It is a matter for regret that although the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) has slated the Government’s proposals and although he advances viewpoints which are unacceptable to his colleagues, he is not prepared, I imagine, to support his words with actions and to vote against the Bill. Honourable members will recall that the Opposition has indicated that, quite properly, it proposes to support the Bill. We will look with interest to see what action the honourable member takes when the question is put.
– I am a reluctant speaker. I have been induced to participate in this debate by remarks passed by other honourable members. At the beginning of this century and before, when the few struggling Australian manufacturers and their employees were endeavouring to secure the application of a policy of tariff protection for Australian secondary industries, the free traders were emphatic that protection would increase prices and reduce living standards. The free traders stated that by adding to the cost of everything needed by the primary producer protection would not only increase the cost of living in Australia but also would reduce, if not destroy, Australia’s opportunities to sell her products on overseas markets. In Australia today hardly anybody is left who admits that he is a free trader. There are those who state that they advocate freer trade. It has been alleged during this debate by the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) - he introduced the discussion of the idea of a 50% ceiling on tariffs - that it has been suggested that if in order to ensure the survival of any industry a protective tariff of 50% is necessary, such an industry is uneconomic and inefficient and does not deserve to survive. It appears that the Tariff Board in one of its reports gave some support to this contention. As the honourable member for Kooyong said, why has 50% been chosen? Why not 40% or some lower figure? Those who today oppose tariffs of 50% or more could tomorrow or would tomorrow with similar arguments and logic oppose a tariff of 45%. And so it would go on until ultimately they reached the position of the free trader and opposed all tariff protection.
My attitude, of course, is that if an industry is needed to provide the requirements of the Australian people in peace and war and to provide employment for an expanding population, no protection is too great. Quantitative restrictions or even embargoes should be applied to prevent the importation of goods that can and should be made in this country. We are told that such a policy would lead to the exploitation of the Australian consumer. Exploitation of the people can and should be prevented by legislation prohibiting restrictive trade practices within Australia. This could be done by taxing excess profits and by fixing prices. To prevent exploitation by Australian industries it is not desirable to bring about their destruction with floods of cheaper foreign imports, the price of which will be increased when Australian competition is destroyed. Here again I agree with the honourable member for Kooyong.
Referring to the effects of tariffs on costs, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) said: ‘We can have cheap motor cars by not having a motor vehicle industry. We can have cheap sugar by not having a sugar industry: We can have cheap mushrooms by riot having a mushroom growing industry. We can get cheap butter by not having a dairy industry. The same applies to chemicals, footwear, television and a multitude of other items. Of course we can get these products cheaper from somewhere in the world if we have no industry at all.’ I agree with those remarks. To reduce prices by destroying Australian industries is like curing a cold by cutting the patient’s throat.
How has the protection of our industries promoted the development of Australia and the welfare of its people? With the expansion of secondary, industries the population of Australia has increased with greater and greater rapidity. Only in secondary industries can an increasing population be employed. The numbers working and living on rural holdings are getting fewer and fewer. In 1963 there were 1,000,500 people residing permanently on rural holdings; in 1967 there were 987,000. All of Australia’s population increase since 1963, together with some of those 1 million people who were supported by rural industries in days gone by, has been employed in or supported by non-rural industries. The proportion of the population employed in rural industries will continue to decline. It is true that without our secondary industries, which owe their existence to protective tariffs, Australia would not have achieved the state of development necessary to enable us to employ even 50% of our present population.
Is our tariff policy continuing to be as successful in promoting the development of Australian industries as it was between 1900 and about 1960? The Deputy Prime Minister has said: ‘I know of no better way to judge a policy than by looking at its results’. He was right. The proof of the success of a protective policy is that it protects. Are the people of this country depending less and less on the production of other lands? Until recent years the value of our exports far exceeded the value of our imports. Between 1949-50 and 1963-64 the value of goods exported exceeded the value of imports by $2,276m. In the period 1964- 65 to 1967-68, the value of imported goods was $51 lm more than the value of exports. Already this year the excess of imports over exports has been about $200m. Generally the excess of imports over exports is increasing month by month. Is this the proof of a successful trading policy? Is this the proof of a successful protective policy?
I invite honourable members to go through any shopping centre in Australia. They will be struck by the immense quantities of textiles, made-up clothing, footwear and all kinds of overseas manufactured goods that are on sale. These include shoes from Haly, England, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia and China as well as manufactured clothing and all kinds of other goods from Japan and elsewhere. These could and in many cases should be made by Australians in Australian factories. In 1965-66, imports of footwear to Australia were valued at $4,812,000. In 1966-67, these imports were valued at $6,526,000 and, in 1967-68, they were valued at $8,775,000. Imports of clothing, etc., were valued at $19m in 1965- 66, at $21m in 1966-67 and at $25m in 1967-68. This financial year, imports are increasing. Australia imports workers and imports shoes, clothing, furniture and all sorts of things which are needed by these workers, and which they used to manufacture before coming to Australia. The quantities of manufactured goods of many varieties being produced in Australia have decreased per head of population and, in the case of footwear and some other goods, the quantities of goods manufactured in Australia is less today than in the past in spite of an increase in population that should increase demand. There are not only fewer in proportion to the population but also fewer in reality employed in boot factories and some other factories than was the case a few years ago. The Australian manufacturing recession in many industries must be reversed. It will not be reversed by fixing a maximum tariff rate.
I wish to quote three statements by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry. The first is:
In other countries, a whole range of devices such as quantitative restrictions, variable levies and currency controls are used to supplement the protection provided by tariffs. The European Common Market countri ‘ use such devices ruthlessly to prevent importation if they want to. The United States of America uses a variety of devices to back up its tariff policy. The Japanese use such devices. Even Britain uses them sometimes against our own products.
My second quotation from the Deputy Prime Minister is:
The point is that practically every other country uses some other form of trade controls to back up its tariff. We are the only country that relies almost entirely on tariffs for protection of ita industries.
The third statement by the Deputy Prime Minister reads:
We will never have stable Australian industries in these circumstances unless we show a willingness to protect our industries against such incidents as these which have occurred in such important fields as textiles, engineering products and chemical products, and in many others.
Those are the words of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry.
The proposal to limit the amount of tariff protection to certain industries will not solve the problems of Australia. It will add to them. This country must take measures to counter the effects of the devices whereby other countries undermine the effectiveness of Australian tariffs. We must adopt measures of our own to keep goods out of Australia that can well be made here. Mr Sato, the Prime Minister of Japan, recently came to Australia and commenced negotiations for a double taxation agreement. The object, which was made clear by Mr Sato, was to increase the flow of manufactured goods to Australia. A leading Japanese businessman has stated that Australia should concentrate on primary production and leave manufacturing to Japan and other nations that can do it more cheaply, with a labour cost of about one-third of the labour cost in Australia. Japan is using all types of devices to sell her goods in Australia. She, of course, is not the only country doing this. A double taxation agreement that will reduce the effectiveness of Australian protection of Australian industries and that will increase Japanese exports to Australia should not be granted to Japan.
Honourable members will remember that some years ago - in 1959, 1 think - a convention was held in Canberra. It was sponsored by the Australian Government for the purpose of devising means of increasing Australian exports. Honourable members will remember the reasons for the establishment of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation. Australia has multiplied its trade representatives in many lands at immense expense, all, of course, to assist the tariff proposition that protects industry in this country. These were some of the enedavours to increase the export of goods from and/ or to promote the establishment in Australia of import replacement industries. These have not been very successful.
If Australia was paying in full for its imports and services of other countries with the exports and services supplied overseas there would be no trading problem. It is the ever-increasing indebtedness to other lands due to unfavourable balances of payments that constitutes a menace to the future welfare of the people of Australia, that necessitates high tariffs, that necessitates quantitive restrictions and that necessitates embargoes to protect Australian industry. Australia built tariff walls to protect its industries. One result of this action was that overseas firms opened in Australia to sell their goods on the Australian market. The controlling bodies of overseas firms operating in Australia prevented them exporting goods. They negotiated agreements with other firms limiting their export operations. That, of course, reduces the benefits of our tariffs. The devaluation of the currency of the United Kingdom and other countries has reduced the protective value of tariffs operating on goods being imported from those countries that have devalued. The object of devaluation by the United Kingdom was to enable goods to be sold cheaper abroad than they were being sold prior to devaluation. In other words, devaluation occurred to circumvent the protective tariffs of other countries of the world.
Fixing a ceiling on tariff protection to any Australian industry will not solve the problems that confront Australia to a big extent due to the devious trading procedures of countries which have planned economies, almost slave labour conditions, large populations and highly industrialised economies, or which have manipulated their currencies in order to sell their goods more cheaply overseas. If this country is to support an increasing population with improved standards of living, high tariffs in many cases are essential until new and more effective methods of protecting and expanding our secondary industries can be put into operation.
– I must say that this has been a very interesting debate. The list of speakers on the notice board yesterday indicated that there would be only one speaker from the Opposition side, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), who is the official Opposition spokesman on tariff matters. But as the debate has progressed two other Opposition speakers have taken part in it - the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) and the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters). It seems to me that there is another obvious split in the Opposition. We have the well known cleavage of the right versus the left. Today we have seen another cleavage of the free traders versus the protectionists. I think it would be true to say that so far as one could follow what the honourable member for Oxley had to say, he would represent the free traders, whilst the honourable member for Scullin would represent the protectionists and the honourable member for Yarra is the one on the fence having a bob each way.
I should like to draw attention to the remarks of the honourable member for Yarra whom I understand to be the official spokesman on this matter for the Labor Party. I refer to his remarks in the debate on the Tariff Board report in the dying stages of the last sessional period. He asked: What is the purpose of the 50% and over clause in the Tariff Board’s report? Is it a search and destroy mission?’ Honourable members will remember this. He was very critical of the Tariff Board. The honourable member for Yarra also said:
Where does the disquiet come from? The Tariff Board is like a ship at sea without a compass.
All through ‘ his- speech the honourable member was most critical of clauses 44 and 45 of the Tariff Board’s report. Yet last night in the House he seemed to have done almost a somersault. At the beginning of his speech, when referring again to clauses 44 and 45 of the report and, in particular, to the proposal relating to hot water bags, he said: the proposals collectively are not of much substance.
Only a couple of months ago he accused the Tariff Board of conducting a search and destroy mission. A little later in his speech last night, as reported at page 440 of Hansard, he said:
The only other matter to which 1 want to refer at this stage is the other report with which the Government is disagreeing, namely, the Tariff Board’s report of 10th October 1968 on hot water bags. This can hardly be called an industry because hot water bags are produced in Australia by only one producer . . .
Then he went on to make the point that most of the people who used hot water bags are poor people and most of them are old. He uses his argument, I take it, as justification for phasing out that part of the industry. 1 am not opposed to phasing it out now, but I am very doubtful whether this is the correct basis on which to do it.
I should like to make two comments on what the free trader member of the Opposition, the honourable member for Oxley, had to say. He referred to mushroom production. He used, as near as I could make a note of it at the time, phrases such as ‘indicative planning’, ‘input and output totals’, and other mysterious economic phrases. What he was saying was that the producers of mushrooms had better get out of the industry and take advantage of the unemployment benefit. This is similar to what Harold Wilson is doing in England. He has said that we should destroy the mushroom industry. The only other point that concerns me in what he had to say was his suggestion that the spokesman on tariff matters for the Opposition should have free access to all the confidential information which is supplied to the Tariff Board. This must surely reflect an unsatisfactory attitude. If one is sufficiently interested it is possible to secure transcripts of evidence taken by the Tariff Board, and I have done this. But surely no honourable member would suggest that a company should be forced to reveal its private records to any person, whether a member of the Opposition or of the Government parties.
I want to say something at length on the two contentious clauses of the Tariff Board’s report and, in particular, the way in which its new policy of recommending against protection in excess of 50% will affect the very substantial section of industry currently enjoying this degree of protection. I cannot believe that it is the Board’s intention to set about the rapid destruction of large chunks of Australian industry, nor could any government afford to approve such a policy and expect the support of the people of Australia as well as of the countries interested in investing in Australia. My immediate reaction on learning of these clauses last year was to feel alarmed at the possible effect which such an announcement might have on the financial problems facing this country through our potentially unfavourable balance of payments position. At the time I wondered what overseas investor in his right mind would consider seriously setting up shop or expanding his business in Australia with the threat of these clauses hanging over his head. We are continuing to incur an increasingly large yearly trade deficit. Last year our imports exceeded our exports by over $200m, to which must be added transport and other charges in overseas currency, which brought our total deficit last year to more than $ 1,000m. It was interesting to read only yesterday the report that our current situation is very much more satisfactory. We have an export surplus of $27m, at least for February. This could evaporate overnight.
I put to the House the thought that it has been only the direct investment of overseas capital, as suggested by the honourable member for Scullin, together with portfolio investment in stock exchange securities which has bridged this gap between exports and imports, lt seems to me that interfering unduly with protection, if that is what the Tariff Board suggests we should do, may seriously damage direct investment in Australia. Portfolio type investment can disappear very rapidly. To improve our balance of payments position perhaps we could consider deliberate moves to encourage the establishment of industries which presently make such a big hole in our national imports bill. The combined imports of transport equipment, machinery, textiles and chemicals account for almost half of Australia’s imports. Perhaps an overseas investor considering establishing himself in these industries would be discouraged because he would be operating in areas where those portions of industry currently operating in Australia are in danger of having the tariff removed because they are very close to the critical cut-off point of 50%. On first thoughts this would seem possible, but I think it is more likely thai the only ones likely to be discouraged would be of little consequence in their own countries. Probably they would not be able to succeed in ours and would only bc lame duck industries dependent upon excessively high protection.
In the particular case before the House, the Board recommended the maintenance of substantial rates of protection but further recommended that these be removed if the company’s overhead costs become such that production is not worthwhile. In this report - and this would be the only portion where I could ever agree with the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) - there does appear to be a clearcut case of a portion of an industry - not an industry, as he said - either being grossly uneconomic or making very serious errors in its accounting procedures. This company is the sole producer of hot water bags in Australia and its general profit position on other lines has been very good. It has been so good that it has been able to export some of its other products such as rubber gloves, and yet on this particular product it is unable to compete with its British competitor and recently, 1 understand, there was a Czechoslovakian competitor. Even the raw materials such as rubber are available on the same markets as are used by the British manufacturer and they reach this Australian industry without any duty, so this would be a situation where there is almost perfect competition and there is no suggestion of dumping whatsoever.
It does seem unfair to submit this industry to another round of examinations which will probably produce the identical recommendations anyway. I want to know what would happen then. I think that the Tariff Board’s investigations in this case appear to demonstrate that this portion of this particular industry is so inefficient that it should not expect to be given the amount of protection which it is seeking. Not only is the accuracy of the costing process for the particular product in doubt but it is also supplying a diminishing market. Apparently it has been able to sell at a profit - on the company’s figures which are mentioned in the report - and a tariff in excess of 75% must apply. I thought that the Board put up a very good case for phasing out this portion of this industry, but less so on the question of duty and more so on the question of efficiency. In my view this company had an efficiency examination without charge. However, I would need to be convinced that the Board can itself supply clear evidence to justify a full implementation of its policy, and it is not just an academic exercise of the type indulged in by the honourable member for mushrooms to say that all the resources both in materials and labour will, upon diversion from high cost to low cost industry, be absorbed. This was the doctrinaire philosophy put forward by the honourable member for Oxley.
We need actual physical evidence that investigations by the Tariff Board confirm that this transfer is a practical possibility and for this I believe the Board obviously needs more trained staff as well’ as more members. I would not like to see the Board practise the principles of Parkinson’s Law, but from the quality and quantity of the material it produces it has demonstrated, to me at any rate, that the Commonwealth has received very good value for its money and there appears to be an urgent need for additional staff as well as members. I regret that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), while claiming not to be denigrating the members of the Board, then proceeded to do just that. In spite of what he said, this ‘advisory group’ - to use his expression - has played a significant part in the structure of the Australian economy over very many years, and if the taste of its advice is sometimes disagreeable then surely there is no need to reflect upon the capabilities of its individual members. I hope that the Government will take steps to prevent any further fragmentation of the Board and never substitute the quality of its members with the sometimes unrealistic and ultra-academic approach which could be produced by appointing, to use the Minister’s expression, “people with established reputations as economists’.
I wonder what decision the Minister for Trade and Industry would have made - and this means the Government in this case - if the Tariff Board today had been composed of such people and had come up with the same recommendation. Both sides of the House will agree that there have been no influences in Australia’s history more responsible for our expansion and our prosperity than tariff barriers. Pioneer companies such as General Motors, Ford, Goodyear and Julius Kayser may never have invested such substantial1 amounts in production in Australia unless forced to do so by heavily discriminating tariff barriers. In 1935 the then Tariff Board stated that the existing duties on sets of motor panels represented ad valorem equivalents of from about 200% to about 600%. The Board made the comment that they were prohibitive. Of course at that time they were prohibitive and they would be now, but they were apparently sufficiently prohibitive and therefore sufficient inducement to attract what are now prosperous and efficient manufacturing facilities within Australia, and I think none of us should feel ashamed about that.
In the latest report of General MotorsHolden’s Ltd released last week, it is shown that 80,000 Australian wage earners and their families depend on Holden alone for a living. I thought the quotation of the general manager of a recently established chemical company in Australia, which was reported by Dr D. T. Brash in his excellent work ‘American Investment in Australian Industry’ - which I would recommend to members to read - makes this point very well. He said:
Personally, I don’t think any United States chemical company would establish operations in Australia if it could continue to supply the Australian market from the United States. But import controls and tariffs, and particularly the fear that a competitor will establish himself before you in the Australian market and then secure heavy tariff protection, compel United States companies to invest here.
What we could have added to this statement is the comment that once a pioneer company does become established in Australia, becomes efficient and not overmuch in need of protection and is therefore in a position to do something about exporting, the sort of protection it needs is not so much protection against overseas competitors - and 1 am sure that my friend and colleague, the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) will agree with me here - but protection against the hordes of infant companies seeking, to establish in Australia in that field and gain a share of the domestic market under the shield of a stiflingly high tariff. By this I would not wish to be interpreted as one recommending a monopoly system in Australia. In most industries there is room .surely for more than one giant. Each must be efficient to achieve its eminence and the Board accurately assesses this position in paragraph 42 of the report. It reads:
The Board’s attitude to new ventures requiring effective protection of from 25% to 50% would be influenced by its assessment of their future prospects and the. likely effects on other industries. On the other hand, it would be unlikely to recommend effective ‘protection of move than 50% on other than a short-term basis for any new venture, including an extension of existing production.
That rather confirms what I say. While we are on the question of efficiency, I think it is relevant also to quote from another Board report of 1955 which states:
The Board does not interpret its requirement of efficiency in the sense that every industry seeking protection should have the high standard set by International Harvester Company of Australia Pty Ltd. There are a few industries in Australia that would qualify for protection or assistance under, such an interpretation. And while it is comforting to know that there is in Australia an engineering industry capable of producing an intricate piece of machinery without protection or assistance - an industry setting a standard for other industries - the Board takes the sensible view that an industry or a unit of an industry is not necessarily inefficient because it fails to reach that high standard.
The only point which concerns me in these not so contentious efficiency clauses currently under debate is the way in which the Board arrives at this cut-off figure of 50%. The honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) mentioned this. It certainly seems a high figure, but in some circumstances it could be quite low. One can hardly disagree with the proviso that’ the clauses will apply when an industry is clearly uneconomic, but instead of the consequent recommendation of withdrawal of all protection why not have a phasing out period of reducing rates?
– One is inclined to ask why the Board should be asked to make a judgment that it is uneconomic.
– My time is running out and I cannot afford to deal with too many interjections. No-one wants to say to any section of industry: ‘We are serving notice that you must close down immediately. Scrap all your plant, sell your property and dismiss your staff’. It would seem more realistic to give the industry due notice of a projected diminution of its tariff and time either to put its house in order or get out. Finally, I should like briefly to refer to the remarks of my colleague, the honourable member for Corangamite, who in a debate last November expressed concern about the cost problem of our export industries, particularly the unprotected primary industries. I make the point that any division of consideration between primary, secondary or tertiary industries may cause the debate to bog down on sectional interests - primary versus secondary, and so on - and this would be disastrous. Even the wool industry - I am a very minor wool grower - is protected, as the Minister for Trade and Industry pointed out in the same debate. He said:
It was found that the net direct additional cost of the tariff and subsidies on items used by wool growers amounted to approximately 0.85c per lb of wool produced. But this additional cost is almost completely offset by the assistance which the Government gives the wool industry for promotion and research, which amounts to 0.75c per lb of wool produced.
But he did not say where he obtained the figures. However, it would indicate that in the wool industry there is some protection. I would be the last to knock the wool industry because I realise that it is not untrue to say that for years we have been comfortable and affluent on the sheep’s back. In addition, the degree of protection for products such as butter and sugar is infinite because no-one is allowed to import these products into Australia.
I commend the Board for the way it handles a difficult job. The publicity given to its investigation of hot water bags probably will achieve the result it has recommended, even though the Government has not accepted its recommendation. But I would not expect the results of some of the work it proposes for the future to be so simple to present and I would hope for some modification of the phasing out clauses which will make its individual recommendations more acceptable to the Government and in line with Government policy. I should like to comment briefly on the matter mentioned by the honourable member for Kooyong about the Associated Chamber of Manufactures. I had similar notations. I do not believe that the Chamber speaks for all industry. If what the Chairman of the Tariff Board has been able to tell the Chamber has been so effective as to remove the Chamber’s worries, I suggest that that should be incorporated in the next report so that it can be used to remove the worry from our mind and from the minds of our overseas investors.
My final point is one of speculation. I wonder, the Board wonders and the Australian people wonder just where the Opposition stands on the question of tariffs. The Opposition’s official spokesman on tariffs, the honourable member for Yarra, who is very good on this subject, referred critically to the search and destroy mission of the Tariff Board, yet last week, in a speech somewhere in New South Wales, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), spoke of the Board bringing reason into tariff policy. I cannot help wondering whether this is not another case of the Leader of the Opposition making his own policy for the politics of the moment. On the face of it, it is an appeal to the rural voter, but in reality he is pursuing a double game - that is one of his expressions - his real motive being to discredit his rival in any future leadership struggle. So far as I am concerned, he only discredits himself. I support the Bill.
– My speech will not be very long, but there are one or two subjects with which I want to deal. First, I realise the great difficulties that confront the Tariff Board and the Government, because Australia is different from most other countries. We need to build up our population and effectively use the tariff in this regard, but Australia is a primary producing country which needs to export much of its primary produce, and tariffs increase costs. Recently I asked the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) whether he would have investigations made with a view to reducing tariffs or, as an alternative which I thought would be best, give stronger price support to primary industry. This suggestion does not please many city dwellers. Any time an honourable member speaks on behalf of primary industries - as I do, being the representative of a great primary producing electorate - he is accused of being parochial. Strangely, though, when city members speak of the needs of the cities it is claimed that they are not being parochial. This rather amazes me because, after all, both city and country form part of Australia and we want to do the best we can for both sectors.
There is not the slightest doubt that it is rising costs rather than low prices for primary products that are causing financial embarrassment and anxiety in primary producing circles. We need to decrease’ the gap between the economics of secondary industries and primary industries. I am fully aware that if we are able to build up our population this will help primary industry for the simple reason that the home market is the best market.
Although it may seem like tedious repetition, I have said often, that if the primary producer could buy everything he wanted in Australia and could sell all his produce here he would be economically happy. Secondary industry buys chiefly in Australia and sells here. That is a market. However if an industry has to .buy in Australia and sell most of its produce in other countries, which is what many primary industries including the wheat and wool industries have to do, it is only half a market. If a man produced $4,000 worth of goods in Australia and sent those goods overseas to a certain country which shall be unnamed, because I do not know where it would be, and if he went over with those goods - which he could not do - and with the $4,000 he got for his produce he purchased $4,000 worth of goods for his farm and brought them back - forgetting about the freight - when he got the goods here he would be up against tariff protection and in many cases those goods would cost him not $4,000 but probably $6,000 landed in Australia. I have referred to this matter often and I do not want to deal with it again. However, I notice that people who speak about the metropolitan areas go over the same old story time after time. Generally speaking, once two or three honourable members have spoken on a subject, the rest of the debate is very much the same. Now and again, although not very often, we get a bright spot, and I am not suggesting that this is a bright spot now.
I want to deal for the moment with the olive industry. More than half the olive oil produced in Australia comes from the Mallee electorate, where we have a fine grove called Oliveholme near Robinvale. It consists of 362 acres of olive trees and it is irrigated. The report of the Tariff Board states:
Non-irrigated plantings were said to have been reduced -by over 3,000 acres in the past 6 yean due to the lack of capital. i have always said that defence is our first priority and water conservation our second priority. I have followed that statement by saying that we can increase production . of the crops that we need .and produce crops that have a ready sale on overseas markets only by extending the areas under irrigation. These crops are not dry land crops, and olives are in this category. The olives grown in Australia make up a very small part of our total consumption. Therefore we could with advantage increase the areas growing olives by hundreds of acres and have a ready sale for the increased production. The demand for olives is increasing constantly, because the people who come here from overseas use olive oil more extensively than native bora Australians do.
Oliveholme is under the charge of a very expert man, Mr Henry. The beautiful trees growing the olives are in perfect order and the property looks like a real paradise. The owners want to extend it and make olive growing a big industry. But this cannot be done because the tariff protection at present does not. give them enough confidence to put large areas of land into the production of olives. After the trees have been planted, it would be many years before they became productive. Some protection has been given and the Tariff Board has said that it will investigate the position further. In my view, this is a matter that can be looked at very carefully and consideration should be given to providing more protection for the olive oil industry. Secondary industries receive a very high level of protection for a large range of goods. I cannot see why this primary industry should not receive the protection that would encourage it to increase the production of olive oil, for which we have a ready market in this country. This matter has been raised on a number of occasions, but we have always been given some reason why the protection cannot be increased. One argument that is used is that if the protection is raised above the present level olive oil in Australia will be too dear. But what does this mean? It means that olive oil would be dearer in the period between the undertaking of additional plantings that would result from the confidence stimulated by the better protection and the increased production of olive oil from the additional plantings. However, unless the protection is improved we will never be able to extend the olive oil industry so that it reaches the level at which it will supply Australia’s requirements. The demand for olive oil is increasing and will continue to increase.
I would like the Tariff Board and the Government to look at this industry very carefully. I know that certain measures were devised to give it even the protection that it is receiving now, but I hope by some means the Government will encourage the industry to extend gradually, even if it does not reach the full extent of the plantings that would be desirable. I have heard the suggestion that the industry be helped by a bounty or some such means. I would like some assistance to be given so that we will have in Australia the sort of olive oil industry that will benefit our economy.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
– I move:
The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments of the Customs Tariff 1966-1968. These amendments will operate from tomorrow morning and arise from a report by the Special Advisory Authority on sorbitol and mannitol. The Authority found that the Australian industry producing sorbitol is suffering serious injury as result of imports and has recommended urgent action to protect the manufacture of sorbitol. A temporary additional duty of 30% ad valorem will apply to sorbitol solutions plus a further temporary duty equal to the amount, if any, by which the f.o.b. price of the goods is less than $230 per ton. Sorbitol in powder or crystalline form is not manufactured in Australia and will be admitted under Customs by-law. In respect of the co-product mannitol the Authority found that a case had not been established to justify emergency protection being given to this product. I commend the proposals to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Luchetti) adjourned.
Mr NIXON (Gippsland - Minister for the
Interior) - Pursuant to statute I present a report by the Special Advisory Authority on the following subject:
Sorbitol and mannitol.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– For some 4 years now I have entered into debates of this nature. I can say quite honestly that I have not been as happy in the past about the administration of tariffs and the policy adopted by the Government as I am now. There have been occasions - they have been highlighted extremely well by my colleague, the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), who is now the Minister for the Navy - when it was necessary for some honourable members to probe these matters and sometimes to attack the Government for its approach to the application of tariffs. Perhaps it follows quite logically for me to point out how much I have admired the Tariff Board for the constructive way in which it has come to grips with various problems. I do not believe - and I certainly hope that I am right - that in any way its ideas have been overruled. I do, however, congratulate those concerned if, as I gather, the Tariff Board is to be given greater facilities with which to do its job.
When I first entered this House about 5 years ago, a debate on tariffs was a great rarity. I can remember, and no doubt those who were here before me will remember even more clearly, the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), who is now the Minister for the Navy, fighting an issue clause by clause, at that stage to the complete boredom of the House in general. We used to look at these matters and say: What on earth is he trying to say about that?’ or: ‘Why is he wasting the time of the House in this way?’ I think it is significant of the change in thinking that honourable members from both sides of the House and from all parties have become involved in tariff debates. This has been a tremendously important breakthrough in the Parliament.
I do not necessarily mean this comment to be personal or indeed political, but many years ago, to the blank amazement of this House, the spokesman for the Australian Labor Party on tariff matters, the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) suddenly became critical of tariff policy. This was again one of the best things that happened to these tariff debates, because he brought to bear in this chamber a lot of constructive criticism. I believe that his performance in this respect, possessing as he unquestionably does a capable mind, was to the very great benefit of the Parliament and the nation. Whether he will continue to do so, in view of his attitude last night, is another thing again. In passing, might I point out that no doubt other people would join me in regretting the circumstances in which the honourable member had suddenly to fly from Melbourne and spontaneously take over the Opposition’s role in the tariff debate. I will get back to his thoughts later.
I would like to start by pointing out that another aspect of this debate is that every member seems to have a completely individualistic point of view on the subject. I have no doubt whatever that one or two of the speeches made already will attract opposite points of view. There have been expressions of opposite points of view in the debates over the years, and I think rightly so. I wonder what the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters), who preaches a doctrine of protection for everyone and everything and thinks in terms of maximum growth by that means, would say if he could ‘box on’ with the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). I do not object to a difference of opinion on the Opposition side; frankly I do not believe that we speak with one voice from this side of the Parliament either. We had the very comical situation in which the honourable member for Wakefield, speaking from one point of view, would say: ‘Let us stop the vicious circle of automatically increasing tariff protection to inefficient industries to help keep them out of their economic difficulties’. In essence, I suppose this is what he has been saying all these years. He has also been preaching the doctrine of the stupidity of protecting industries that might employ a small number of people when the articles they produce could be introduced into this country at less cost.
There is some sense in what the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) said a little while ago. He said that primary producers and, indeed, consumers can be tremendously hit if protection is too great. That is unquestionable.
I wonder how many honourable members have bothered over the last few days to open the fortieth annual report of Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd that was circulated to all members only a day or two ago. Here again we will find a tremendous difference of opinion within this House. I understand that the profit made by this company for the (last year’s trading was at a level that normally would attract the attention of the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) and a good many other honourable members - I shall not name them - on the other side of the House. I should imagine that if they had read the report they would have criticised Government policy, bearing in mind the tremendous debate that occurred in years gone by on basic chemical industries and protection. The support value concept was given effect to allow these industries not only to exist but to grow. From my point of view, although it may have helped the sort of case I was making in those days to criticise the attitude of the Government to the basic chemical industries, I believe frankly that this nation needed those industries. At this point of time let us have a look at what has occurred. I will return to the effect on consumers and others later on. In showing what has occurred I would like to read briefly from the annual report of ICI. The section of the report on tariffs reads:
Following the Tariff Board report of 1966 on its enquiry into the chemical industry, the Government introduced support values as a means of overcoming disruptive pricing of imports. This disruptive pricing is characteristic of large scale capital intensive industry, which is subject to periodical massive over-investment.
This in itself is quite a statement, and one can take one view or another on it. The report continues:
The support values were successful in providing for the Australian chemical industry greater stability of prices, and an opportunity for operation at a higher and steadier level of production. However in August 1968 the Government decided, following a review by the Tariff Board, to eliminate some support values and to reduce others. The effect of these changes has yet to be felt but can only be viewed with concern by the industry.
From my own point of view, I would prefer to ignore the significance of that last remark. As far as one can tell, the facts would belie undue concern at this point of time. I cannot see a reference to it in the report, but from memory the company’s profit doubled between last year and this year. I am sure that the Australian Labor Party would not agree that Government action should prop up a manufacturing giant like ICI to the degree that it has. The Government has supported it at very great cost to consumers and to those whose industries are based on export components. I do not object one bit because I happen to believe that this industry is essential to the modern Australia. But let us have a look at the other side of the question. I think that this is a classic matter in tariff debates. So frequently members of Parliament in this chamber ignore the fact that industries that are growth industries or basic industries must have a profit motive and must have a profit margin on which to increase their growth in order to contribute properly to the economic wellbeing of this country. The next paragraph of the report reads:
The value of ICIANZ exports continued to grow, with total sales at $6.3m compared with $5. 3m in the previous year.
It then runs through a long list of such things as promotional1 activities and export sales to various countries. Who in this House would deny that that industry, if it is propped up at a very high level by Government policy - that is, by tariff - is not donating something to the Australian scene? I do not mind protection being given to these industries if they are competing on export markets and earning us export revenue. What I do object to is the feather bedding that has gone on in the past of between 60% and 70% of all the manufacturing companies in Australia. That has cost the economy of this country and its export industry dearly. One hears so frequently in this House support for this practice by those who wish to be one-sided and who support schemes for some primary industries which belong to the past. The past has gone. I hope it has gone for the industries that I have been concerned with and which have been given too much propping up in the past. I will not differentiate between them, whether they be primary industries or secondary industries.
As I pointed out at the beginning of this debate, I have never been happier since I have been a member of this House with the attitude of the Board than I am today. It must be selective and must base its actions and decisions on protection on proper values. I believe that this is what it is determined to do. Before I get on to such important subjects as mushrooms and hot water bags, I would like to have a look at the remarks made by the honourable member for Yarra last night. I think that they were of very great consequence. I hope I do not read into his remarks more than he meant. What he said, in effect, in discussing mushrooms and whether they should have been protected or not, was - and he looked at those honourable members who represent primary electorates in particular when he said it - that if on a square foot of soil we can grow X lb of mushrooms per annum-
– The figure was 10 lb.
– I thank the honourable member. If we can grow 10 lb of mushrooms per annum on a square foot of soil and if American figures show that with all their competence the Americans cannot exceed a production rate of 10 lb per annum, this must be a measure of the efficiency of the Australian industry. The honourable member for Yarra reminded us, I think rather pointedly, and not looking perhaps at this side of the House hut at the other side, that before people criticise secondary industries - and manufacturers should bear this in mind - they should bear in mind that compared to Taiwan we are not efficient in the production of mushrooms, but considering the production of mushrooms on a square foot basis our industry is as efficient as the industry in America. The honourable member asked primary industries in particular to make this kind of assessment and to consider it a matter of some importance when deciding whether secondary industries in this country are efficient or not. Of course, this kind of thinking opens up an enormous field. The honourable member for Yarra quite properly, and within the limit of his prognosis - it is very limited at that - sought to apply this to one sector of Australian industry. 1 submit with a great deal of sincerity that if this type of measure is to be adopted where does it end? To quote from the opposite end of the scale, in many people’s minds the dairy industry of Australia could well be said to be the second most efficient dairy industry in the world. It is clearly more efficient than the dairy industries of Denmark or America. It is clearly more efficient than the dairy industries of France and Canada. Only one country is more efficient if we accept the basis of comparison suggested by the honourable member. That country is New Zealand.
I have quoted from the end of one extreme; I have cited the industry that everyone is prepared to shoot at. Let us get back along the spectrum a bit and take small industries. Let us consider the canned fruit industry. It was completely efficient and competitive, without any help, without any subsidies and without any propping up by quantitive restrictions on imports. This industry was not propped up by any measure of tariff protection at all. This was the situation until the governmental axe came along in the form of the Kennedy Round of negotiations. Overnight its competitive advantages in the markets of Canada and America were halved. On top of that the poor devils in the industry were affected by devaluation, and, in fact, at that time they had a record increase per annum in costs applicable to the industry. The canned fruit industry is struggling. But let us not pretend for one minute that this industry is a relic of the past and that it does not have a place in modern Australia. People have gone out and invested great hunks of money in this industry. What social justice is there in Australia today when a man can invest $32,000 in some areas and get back the age pension? What manner of society is this becoming when this is considered social justice on the one hand and, on the other hand, a 20-year old girl leaving university with a diploma receives $3,400 per annum? This is a rather quaint comparison. Honourable members will have other examples which they might like to chuck in for good measure. The point I wish to make is that as this country is developing and progressing with selective tariff policies, by monetary means, by channelling proper investment and finance into areas that are profitable, by normal economic laws which require that people will in fact leave industries that are not economic and re-invest in industries that are, there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that on the simple basis of social equity industries that have received no cushioning in the past must be cared for in the future. This is a matter of balance and judgment; it is a matter about which every member of Parliament should get up and debate.
I used more time than I intended to on this aspect. To complete my remarks 1 would like to refer to the highly important matter of mushrooms. I do this because I, probably as we all do, remember clearly my maiden speech, if no other. In my maiden speech, which I made about 5> years ago, I developed the principle that this country, existing regionally in the area of Asia, must quite patently do something other than make gifts of food, as the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), I think suggested at question time today we should do. What an appalling thought this is. We must aid developing countries in order to get their businesses and industries ticking. But nothing is more degrading and worse for their morale than free gifts that discourage their own capacity to produce. But that is another matter again. During my maiden speech I suggested that this country should bend its tariff policy to allow developing nations some opportunity, some tariff advantage, to sell on the markets of this nation. I believed this was important because I feel that only in this way can they develop their own hard currency and their capacity to purchase primary produce and other commodities from Australia.
What do we find now? We find that a year or two after Australia did in fact develop exactly the type of scheme I suggested, to allow simple manufactured goods into this country at a special favoured tariff rate. We now have the incredible situation where we have decided to clamp down on the importation of mushrooms from Taiwan. What is the position in Taiwan? It is clearly the most effective and most efficient country in South East Asia in the field of primary production. But what form of cock-eyed judgement is it for the Government on the one hand to encourage these countries to help themselves, and give them a tariff advantage with which to do so, and on the. other to clamp down on the importation of mushrooms. The honourable member for Yarra said last night that mushrooms do not even warrant a line on the statistical returns of Australian production. It is. as important as that. It is so important that the Government feels that this incipient industry - that is all it could be - must receive protection. To me that is one of the most ridiculous arguments I have ever heard emanating from any Parliament. On the one hand you try and help them, and on the other hand you say that you do not help them. What sort of farce is this?
Let us apply that principle to the cotton industry. It will be remembered that there was a minor storm years ago when it became apparent that Australia was to have a cotton industry. People with a lot of fact and sense on their side were saying: ‘Why should we grow the product of our neighbours? How will this help them? How will it help us to live in this part of the world?’ But no notice was taken of that point and today in the Namoi Valley, to the very great credit of the settlers there who have done a fantastically efficient job, we have a thriving cotton industry which is of such proportions that we very nearly are meeting our own Australian requirements of cotton from that area. I suppose one could say that this is valid. The cotton industry is not protected in the normal sense of the world even though it is a pioneer industry.
We have a sliding scale of protection. As production soars the help is cut off - sensible thinking if the decision to allow the cotton industry to establish in the first place was right. Is that what we are doing with mushrooms too? Every time an Asian country - our neighbours, the people with whom we are trying to build up friendship - develops an export industry, which is a very difficult job to an emerging nation, do we in our affluent, somewhat arrogant, way cut off all possibility of that nation exporting its goods to Australia? To my mind this is one of the most ridiculous situations that I can remember in the Federal Parliament. I object to it and I hope that other members of. Parliament will see the stupidity of that line of reasoning. I would have liked .to. continue longer but time precludes that, sp I will conclude my remarks on that point.
– There has been a lot of talk in this debate about the mushroom industry and about whether mushrooms should be grown in Australia. As I listened to, the debate I could not help thinking that the gauge of whether the mushroom industry is important to Australia and whether mushrooms should be grown in Australia depends on whether one is himself growing mushrooms. That underlines the impression I have had since I came into this House - that very often people are inclined to be interested in an industry only if they are participating in it themselves. The Tariff Board has decided whether we should grow mushrooms. However, that is a minor point.
One remark made by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) underlines the difficulty one encounters: in tariff debates in arriving at a practical, realistic answer to the whole question of tariffs. The honourable member pointed out that the Australian dairying industry was the second most efficient dairying industry, I think he said, in the world. I gather he was basing that statement on the price at which we retail butter.
– I was basing it on the cost of production.
– Well,’ the cost of production has a relation to the price at which we retail butter. We say that industries which are economic and efficient deserve to be protected and must be protected. The dairying industry, as far as butter in particular is concerned, is completely protected even though it is an extremely efficient industry by world standards.
– On a cost of production basis.
– Yes. Having been a grocer for many years I can assure you that it is not the grocer who gets the profit out of the sale of butter. In fact more often than not he is a loss leader particularly if he is employed by chain stores. We would all agree, I am sure, that the comments made in this debate illustrate the tremendous room there is for difference in the method of arriving at tariff protection generally and the degree of tariff protection accorded to an industry.
I should like to comment on the report which deals with woven shirts of cotton and man-made fibres. It is one of twelve or more reports that this Bill encompasses. The manufacture of those shirts is part of the Australian textile industry, with which 1 have been long associated and which, whenever I speak to anyone engaged in it, appears to become more complex as time goes on. Despite the fact that the industry is of great value to Australia, it has come under a great deal of criticism for its activities and inefficiency, or apparent inefficiency. Nevertheless, it is proving every year to be a more important part of Australia’s secondary industry complex. Over the years lt has been said that the Tariff Board has helped the textile industry too much and that certain aspects of assistance should have been phased out. I do not support that view. It must be remembered that our greatest product and our greatest export earner has been for many years, and will be for many years, wool. A bale of wool or a fleece of wool is absolutely useless unless it is treated, processed and used by manufacturing industry. Like wool, the cotton industry is becoming of vital importance to Australia. At all costs we must encourage and foster the various aspects of the textile industry.
The report on woven shirts that is before us was submitted by the Special Advisory Authority on, I think, 13th September last year. As it is a report of the Special
Advisory Authority it has to go to the full Tariff Board. I understand that it is going to the full Tariff Board next month. I do not doubt that the industry will go to the full Tariff Board in a pretty confused state of mind as to how the Tariff Board will view its application. That state of mind k the result of the Tariff Board’s annual report, particularly paragraph 44 which I will not bother to read but which virtually said that any industry which needed 50% or more protection would not receive it from the Tariff Board because that would allow it to compete for resources which were needed urgently in other lower cost industries. That is a pretty vague sort of statement.
The Chairman of the Tariff Board has been delivering addresses around the countryside. He had a meeting last week with the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia from which a Press statement was issued. To me it appeared that the Tariff Board had said: ‘We did not really mean what we said in paragraph 44 of our annual report. We did not mean that there would be an arbitrary cut-off at 50% . What we meant was that we would look at each industry on its merits’. Well, it did not appeal to me in that sense. It appeared to me that in the annual report the Board was making a definite statement of its intention not to give economic protection to an industry that needed more than 50%. This vitally affects the shirt industry because of the protection it has for cotton shirts. Although the protection recommended by the Special Advisory Authority for this industry is on a sliding scale it means that on the more expensive and medium priced shirts the duty will be over 50%. I hope that the Board will support the principles expressed by its Chairman in his statement to ACMA that the Board’s approach does not Involve adopting a 50% effective rate as an arbitrary ceiling on tariff protection. I cannot see how one can be purely arithmetical about tariff protection. As other speakers have already said, why select 50%? Why not 30%? Is it because 50% is a nice half-way figure between 0% and 100%? Why not 55%? What is a fair figure? The object of the existence of the Tariff Board is to give both Australian industries and overseas industries a chance to present their case. A foreign industry can go to the Tariff Board, listen to an
Australian industry present its case - sometimes giving confidential or semiconfidential information - and then present its Own case. This is not possible in any other country. Furthermore, a transcript of the day’s evidence can be purchased for 50c 10 minutes after the sitting for the day has concluded. Thus a foreign industry can have all night to study every word which has been put to the Board by the Australian concern.
Critics of the method of arriving at Australia’s tariff do not have much ground on which to base their criticisms when one compares our system with that operating in other countries. It is my opinion that an arithmetical tariff formula alone cannot be adequate to develop Australia’s population, its defence potential, its economy and its productive skills. Each industry has to be looked at on its merits and on its importance to the country, now and in the future. The old standard criterion was that an industry should be ‘economic and efficient’. I defy anyone to define ‘economic and efficient’ in this context. I suggest - and I have made this suggestion before - that instead of using only the words economic and efficient’ the words ‘and essential’ should be added. We should produce everything we possibly can in Australia. People often say we could import things a lot cheaper if a particular industry did not exist in Australia. But if we did not manufacture certain articles in Australia we would be at the mercy of the world. Other countries could charge us whatever they wished. If Australia did not have a superphosphate industry, a chemical industry, a textile industry or a motor car industry we would be at the mercy of industries in other countries which could send their products into Australia. So the existence of industries in Australia is actually competition for overseas imports.
The history of the world shows that any nation that has built up a strong economy, a large population, a strong defence potential, great technical skills and know-how, has done so by protecting its industries. We often hear of criticism by primary producers and leaders of primary producer organisations of protection for secondary industry, as it is commonly called. While offering this criticism, the primary producers, many of whom are very heavily protected, are not putting their case to the Austarlian Government for assistance for their own industries which, broadly speaking, are not in a tremendously prosperous state. They will not get the public support which the Australian Government must have behind it before introducing any major beneficial legislation. The primary producers will not get public support by advocating either the removal of the tariff system or a big reduction of tariffs. Too many people in Australia realise that their jobs depend on tariff protection. A lot of people in Japan, in the USA and in the European Common Market also realise this.
Australia’s tariff barriers are very moderate compared with those of Japan, the US and the Common Market. I think that Australia has a balanced tariff system. There will always be critics of the Tariff Board. There will always be critics of the Board’s findings and recommendations. There will always be critics of the Government for accepting - as it has done in about 90% or 95% of cases - recommendations of the Tariff Board, or rejecting recommendations. It seems to me to be a matter of striking a balance. In my opinion anyone who says that we ought to have free trade or that we ought not to have such high tariff barriers is living in an unrealistic world. What he is saying is that Australia is different from practically every other nation; that Australia has some magic quality which means that our primary or secondary industries can develop without tariff protection. Australia is one of the few countries that uses ad valorem duties to protect its industries, mainly in the secondary field. As the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) said, our dairying and sugar industries are completely protected from imports. We have to be realistic. We have to realise that every other nation has protected its industries over the years, and that we should do the same.
Finally, as we are dealing with a reference on man-made fibres, I wish to allude very briefly to an industry in my home city, Wangaratta. T mention this industry to support my argument that we should not be too quick to condemn an industry which is going through a rough period and needs considerable tariff protection. 1 refer to Bruck Mills (Australia)
Ltd. I remember that 8 or 9 years ago in this Parliament some members of the Liberal Party in this House wanted to close Bruck Mills down and engage its employees on the banks of the Ovens River near where that river joins the King River emptying the Ovens River with buckets into the King River, paying them the good wage of £30 a week. These honourable members said that this would be more economical, because this firm was having trouble competing with overseas imports. Fortunately, the Tariff Board and the Government did not support their views. Now, 8 or 9 years later, this company is making a magnificent contribution to the Australian textile industry generally. It is exporting to New Zealand. Japan and many other countries.
Apart from producing high quality fabrics Bruck Mills is constantly engaged in experimentation. These experiments have led to some of the company’s fabrics being used by the Department of Defence. I have before me a document of about three pages listing (he various commodities that Bruck Mills is now supplying to our defence forces and to municipal and State authorities in Australia. I will not read the whole list to the House, but I will give six uses that the Army is making of the firm’s products. I notice that the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) is in the chamber at the moment. The Army is using 70-denier coated nylon for individual shelters, inflatable mattress covers, Army raincoats, camouflaged battle smocks, tent inners for insulation and camouflaged bush hats. That is six different articles out of the list of about 100. Yet some honourable members wanted to close down this firm 8 or 9 years ago.
Bruck Mills’ latest development is called the Nomex fabric. I hold up two pieces of it in my hand. Whilst it is still in the experimental stage at the moment, this fabric is already being used by racing car drivers because of its non-combustible and chemical resistant properties. It will actually withstand heat of between 700 degrees and 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit according to its end use, and is self -extinguishing when removed from direct flame. Bruck Mills see a future in this for resisting attacks by flame throwers during a war or even radiation.
I give this short example to show that although it may not appear worth while at the time to grant protection to an industry, in 7 or 8 years time that protection may prove a wonderful investment for Australia. So, I hope that when the reference of woven shirts containing part man-made fibre comes before the full Tariff Board next month the Board will take into consideration the importance of this industry to Australia, the importance of the employment it provides and also the importance of the decentralised nature of the industries that are connected with woven shirt fabrics. I could elaborate further on this aspect, but I do not have the time in which to do so. In my opinion it is important to bring both sides of the story - a balanced view - to a tariff debate. I think that I have done so on this occasion.
– Some people may think that a tariff debate is dull, but having been compelled to listen to this one from the beginning to what I hope is now the end, I have found it full of fascination. To begin with, there is always a great variety of topics. Only a few of the matters referred to in the schedules to the Bill have come up for debate today. Motor vehicles were referred to. No reference is made to them in the schedules to the Bill. Never mind; it is a wide-ranging debate. A lot has been said about mushrooms masquerading under the name of champignons - a hot-house industry. Besides that there have been references to vegetable oil’s and olives, the matter raised by the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), the featherbedding of the hot water bottle industry and something about stringed musical instruments, to wit, guitars, the matter raised by the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock). There have been some glancing references to chemicals. Just now we heard about woven shirts and parts thereof, including, I presume, the tails as well as the collars and cuffs. Finally, we had a reference to camouflaged bush hats, more commonly called giggle hats.
The debate has been on a bewildering variety of subjects. I have listened to what has been said about them all1 with considerable interest. But scarcely less interesting has been the approach, attitude and, indeed, the number of honourable members who have taken part in this debate and the strange alignments of honourable members. The honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters) and the honourable member for Kooyong have established an axis. The honourable member for Scullin, trumpeting his old fustian, was accompanied by the troubadour from Kooyong on his guitar. These are strange bedfellows, and I am not referring here to hot water bottles. I find myself in some agreement with some parts of what the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) has said. This is for the first time in my political life, and I guess in his. The honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) has found favour in the sight of the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). Honourable members might think that they represent different types of electorates, but, never mind, they were in stout agreement. They are protectionists to the backbone. It is nice to hear this from an honourable member representing a country electorate, as does the honourable member for Angas.
Some little time ago the honourable member for Yarra was flirting with the idea of being a little objective about tariff matters. Indeed, his academic integrity overcame his sense of political expediency for the moment, but he has reverted to political expediency. The honourable member for Oxley is a young man and 1 applaud the integrity that he showed, but I fear that time will catch up with his youth and perhaps his integrity. I hope that is not so, but I feel that it will be so. Then we had the honourable member for Mallee with his usual direct, national approach to matters. He felt that on the whole protection was not a good thing because it increased the costs of primary industries. But, on the other hand, when it comes to olives grown in his electorate, tariff protection is highly desirable no matter what the cost. The honourable member for Indi (Mr Holten) represents a country electorate but he is a stout protectionist. It is good to see these alignments which are so different from what one might have expected. One honourable member who did not take part in the debate but whose spectre I clearly discerned is the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly). But he, of course, has been promoted to the quarter deck and therefore his severe logic was not brought to bear in the course of this debate. 1 think the House suffers from this loss.
Let me say a word about my approach to this problem. I propose to deal with it as incisively as I can and to make my position as clear as words can do. Firstly I make it quite clear that I believe in the settled policy of this country, supported by both sides of the House. That policy is protection of Australian secondary industry. There is nobody here who does not believe that this has been the .prime reason for our national development. I should here say a word about my own background because, as I proceed, some may doubt my bona fides in this matter. Actually my first Australian ancestor .was, you might say, the father of Australian secondary industry. He brought to Australia the first steam engine in 1815 or. thereabouts. My father was one of the early chemicals manufacturers. I remember that he would always buy us Hangman shoes, made in Australia, and clothe us in cloths woven in Australian mills. So I hope that my credentials will pass. But having said that I want to dissociate myself from some of the fustian and rodomontade that we got from the honourable member for Scullin, representing the traditional view of the Labor Party as distinct from the view of the honourable member for Oxley. When we have Australian decorations as recommended by the Young Liberals the honourable member for Scullin should qualify for the Order of the Bowyang first class. I say no more about this matter. Time has gone on, and although one may remain, as I do, a staunch protectionist, there are some qualifications to this position about which I should like to say something.
First of all let me deal with one of the matters before us under the terms of the Bill. I will deal with the matter of hot water bags - perhaps not an important matter in itself but a sufficient peg on which one should hang very important principles. Here light is shed, if hot water bags can be said to shed light, on some of the underlying principles with which we should be concerned. So let us deal with this matter in a little detail or at least in enough to illustrate my point. The Tariff Board made a recommendation in respect of hot water bags. The Government accepted part of the recommendation but rejected another part.
Ansell is the sole Australian manufacturer of this item. The company has been pressed of late by competition from an English firm by the name of Haffenden. In its report the Tariff Board states:
Ansell employs 26 persons in the production and marketing of bags whereas two years previously it employed 44 persons.
The company’s accounts showed that funds employed in the production of bags form only about 10 per cent of total funds and that, while profits on the goods under reference have been small, profits on total operations have been satisfactory.
So that is the state of the hot water bag industry in Australia. The report continues:
Ansell stated that the Australian demand for bags had declined in recent years . . . Demand can be influenced by the severeness of the winter.
It is perhaps rather sad that the winters have not been more severe, for Ansell’s sake. What is going on in Australian beds I do not know, but I suggest that there may be other causes for the decline in the demand for hot water bags. One may be the popularity of electric blankets. It looks as though there is a decline in demand. But hot water bags are used, particularly by old people whose circulation is not the best and by pensioners. So the cost may be of some consequence to tens of thousands of people in the community and their cost would be about one-third higher if we continue to protect Ansell. In its report the Tariff Board continues:
Costs of materials and labour account for about one-third of Ansell’s total cost to make and sell and its disadvantages against Haffenden on these elements of cost are small. Raw rubber is an important raw material and this is available to the local industry, free of duty, at close to world prices.
Then the Tariff Board questioned the evidence about overhead costs in this sector of the industry. In the end the Board recommended that the goods under reference be made dutiable at rates of 45% general and 35% preferential, adding this rider:
Should Ansell’s overhead costs be such that bag production does not prove worthwhile for the company, the Board suggests that the duties be removed. . . .
What does the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) say about this matter? I have said that the Board’s recommendations in respect of duties were adopted but the Minister and the Government disagreed with the rider that further protection should not be extended to the industry. In introducing this Bill the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon), referring to the Tariff Board, said:
It considered that the recommended duties were the maximum warranted for production of this type and would provide effective protection, on the processes involved, of not more than 50% against the main overseas source. The Government has not accepted the Board’s suggestion that the recommended duties be removed should the costs of the local industry be such that it could not continue hot water bag production.
So we are thrown back on all the ambiguities of the past. The Government has not clarified its policy with regard to tariffs.
I should now like to read in full an editorial published in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 7th February 1969 under the headline ‘Tariff no-man’s land’. The editorial reads:
The Tariff debate, to borrow a phrase from Yeats, appears to be ‘turning and turning in the widening gyre’.
The whole situation has about it an unreal circular quality ensuring that any forward move is turned back upon itself.
Federal Cabinet is chiefly to blame for this.
Despite several statements by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade and Industry neither the position of the board itself nor the Government’s stance in relation to the board has been clarified.
The board’s annual report for 1966-67 was the first spelling out by the board of its new approach. In it the board declared its intention to publish the controversial classification of industry by protection levels.
Mr McEwen’s statement on the report and a subsequent reply to a question in the House made it clear the board was within its proper role, but also implied that Mr McEwen did not like what he was doing.
Manufacturing groups responded quickly with demands on the Government to stop the Tariff Board proceeding, something which it could not do, and a year of confused and ill-directed debate followed.
When the board presented its last annual report, which contained the industry classification, Mr McEwen was absent from the country and the Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, made a brave sally into the debate.
While giving the board the go ahead for its policies Mr Gorton’s statement was nevertheless worded in such a fashion as to leave again the element of doubt that had plagued the debate of the preceding year.
When the claims and counter-claims as to just what Mr Gorton had meant had finally settled it was clear the board at least was interpreting his statement as a green light and an uneasy calm prevailed briefly.
This was shattered by the Minister for Trade when he entered into a parliamentary tariff debate to reopen the whole issue.
As in the previous year there was no specific denial of the board’s policies, but instead a series of less direct attacks couched in terms of ‘might’ and ‘if and ‘would be’.
Thus Mr McEwen commented that the board’s proposals ‘might be regarded as a departure from the traditional method (of tariff making)’, although he was not saying so directly.
Mr McE wen’s speech was followed two months later by the rejection of the first report in which the board specifically adopted its new approach-
That is the report I have just read about hot water bags - again without any indication of the Government’s general policy on the approach.
As a result of these two years of officially sponsored confusion a deplorable situation of uncertainty now exists for both proponents and opponents of the board’s new policy.
The board, as its chairman, Mr Rattigan, made plain on Wednesday, is going ahead as fast as possible with its policy, devoting considerable time and resources to it and presenting reports with it as a basis.
This has understandably angered opponents of the board’s scheme, while proponents are equally angered by the Government’s failure to declare firm support for the board.
If the Government is against the board’s proposals then it should say so and the board can stop wasting what time and resources it has on an exercise doomed to frustration.
If the Government is for the proposals, then it should give it substantive support in the form of the additional resources which must be needed to carry them out.
A situation where the Government’s policy towards one of its most important economic instrumentalities backs and fills report by report must be intolerable to industry, understandable though wavering fence-sitting may be in an election year.
I would adopt every word of that editorial as representing my own view of the situation. The time has come when there should be a clear enunciation of the Government’s policy about these matters. Much has been said about the two Tariff Board reports for the years 1966-67 and 1967-68. I do not have time to go through them all in any detail but they certainly repay the closest study by all who are interested in this tremendously important matter - and this does go beyond cotton shirts and parts thereof. The Board reviews the unsatisfactory state of principle involved in present tariff decisions. It goes back to the Ottawa agreement and the criteria that were laid down at that time for Australian industry. It goes back to the war period when, of course, there were few imports into Australia; to the postwar period of shortages when we had import restrictions; and it goes back to the report of the Committee of Economic Inquiry, commonly known as the Vernon Committee. I would like to quote from chapter 14 of the report of that Committee, commencing at paragraph 120. The Committee said:
We have no doubt that the Tariff has played an important part in Australia’s economic growth . . .
Nobody denies this, least of all myself. The report continues:
The achievement of Australia’s national economic objectives has required some special support for industrial expansion. The method chosen - use of a tariff - is widely accepted and we are not disposed to challenge this view. Nevertheless, some points need to be emphasised. Central to them is the concept of ‘economic and efficient*.
The honourable member for Indi would add the word ‘essential’. One could also add the word ‘desirable’, or anything else we like. The words ‘economic’ and efficient’ have had some definition in the decisions of the Tariff Board in the past, though the concepts need further refinement. The report continues:
We have been impressed by the varied questions which the Board seeks to answer in reaching its judgments. In the absence of a central concept, these could appear unco-ordinated and unrelated. We have suggested that the Board should further develop its concept of ‘economic and efficient’ and relate its examination of applications for protection more directly to this.
The Committee went on to state:
We strongly urged, however, that the Board give its reasons for recommending protection higher than the general-cost-disability level or what we referred to as the going rate.
I think this was 30%; therefore the 50% proposed by the Tariff Board is pretty liberal. The Committee stated:
We strongly suggested that references to the Board should be more frequently in terms which enable it to examine entire industries. We believe that a more rational tariff structure can be evolved in this way because it affords the Board and the industry an opportunity to devise a system more conducive to economic and efficient growth.
The Committee went on to state:
Of cardinal importance is a greater use of the Board’s authority to review its own work both in particular cases and generally. To this end, it must be supported with adequate qualified staff.
This’ is what the Board is trying to do but it has riot been given the adequate qualified staff. What is the Government doing? It should let us know. The Vernon Committee continued:
We see no .possible objection to, or difficulty arising from, a statement by the Government of national objectives, an affirmation of the Tariff as an instrument appropriate to them and a clear acceptance of the Board as an independent adviser in these matters.
Further on the Committee stated:
The Board is required to advise. Neither the Government nor the Parliament is obliged to accept that advice. However, when for special reasons the Government decides to assist an industry! it would be wise to seek the Board’s advice on the best means of giving it.
The Committee concluded on this note and I would draw the attention of honourable members particularly to this final paragraph in that chapter which states:
The Board carries great responsibilities for Australia’s economic growth. Respect for its work is vital. Confidence in the Board can be built by the quality of its work and the regular acceptance of its advice by the Government of the day. We believe that a basic essential is to ensure the highest calibre in its membership and staff. This is, to a large extent, the responsibility of the Government. At the same time, the Board will ensure the greatest general acceptance of its work as objective and of its recommendations as economically sound to the extent that it reports fully both on the principles it uses and its interpretation of the evidence placed before it.
This then, so far as the Vernon Committee was concerned, was an attempt to influence the Government to rational tariff making. What has happened since? The Minister for Trade and Industry came into the House at the end of the last session. He denigrated members of the Board. He made it clear that they were merely minions whose advice would be rejected out of hand at the drop of a hat. I relate that remark to the last paragraph of the Vernon Committee’s report which I have just read. This is not the way to establish confidence in the Board. What is happening now is not the way to establish sound principles or some coherence in principles in tariff making.
We have been going along in the good Australian fashion of ad hoc-ery ad infinitum. We have had individual applications from industry in respect of individual items. The reports naturally have been disjointed and unrelated and principle has flown out of the window. Well, we are a provincial society, a small number of people thinking in terms of unrelated items a, b, c and d, but we are in the process, God help us, of becoming a nation when we have to think in terms of principle and not in terms of a, b, c and d. 1 entirely and utterly agree with the approach of the Tariff Board in trying to bring this about. I deplore this ad hoc-ery ad infinitum which has been the policy - if one can call that sort of thing a policy - of the Minister for Trade and Industry. If one can call it a policy then it amounts to this: On the one hand let us hand out to primary industry any advantages it seeks - as in the case of the inefficient dairying industry! On the other hand, let us give protection to secondary industry, whatever it asks, and then everything is equal! Out of this pocket we have handed to the left and out of that pocket we have handed to the right; everybody is happy because everybody has something. The only trouble is that costs go up and up and, when this happens - and I would like to remind the honourable gentlemen sitting in the corner of this - it hits above all others about the only industry left that does not have a handout. I refer to the wool industry. The honourable gentlemen in the corner are surprised that the wool industry is not very happy about this tariff making process inaugurated by the Minister for Trade and Industry. Why?
But now there has been a change of front. I cannot interpret this. I do not know what lies behind it. Reference has been made to it earlier in this debate. Apparently the Associated Chambers of Manufactures has now agreed with what the Tariff Board is doing. Why the Chambers of Manufactures is doing this I do not know. It could be related to some political jiggery-pokery. I do not understand these things. I know that this is part of political life. It is one of those things we have to live with but whenever we can get away from political jiggery-pokery and consider the interests of the nation and justice in an objective way then for God’s sake let us do it. If there are some honourable members in this House who are not tied to the chariot wheels of some vested interest then they have a special duty to speak as I speak tonight.
Well, this is where we are today. I do not have time to go through the reports of the Tariff Board. I have read a certain amount relating to the history of the situation, which has led to a chaotic condition, and some recommendations made by the Vernon Committee of Economic Inquiry but I do not have time to go into detail into the proposals that the Tariff Board has made to bring some order out of the chaos. I support the Tariff Board - let that be quite clear - because to continue as we are is quite intolerable so far as I am concerned. I am, of course, only a voice in the wilderness, a backbencher, a member of the mushroom club, but let that pass. I think the time has come when on this great issue - and it is a great issue - members should stand up and be counted. If necessary, they should sit down and be counted in a vote of this House. This is precisely what I shall do when I have the opportunity. I believe that some realism and some principle should be introduced into our tariff making.
Mr Deputy Speaker, this is all that I have to say. I would like to have elaborated further on this matter. I have passages marked in the two reports from the Tariff Board, and I have other quotations, but I have not time to read them. Anybody who chooses to go through the early Tariff Board report and see the history of events which resulted in our falling into incoherence in our tariff making, and who wishes to see, with no bias, what the Tariff Board has proposed - not reading into those proposals all sorts of things that the manufacturers choose to read into them - will be greatly enlightened. In the second of these reports, the Tariff Board has classified industries. Is there anything wrong in saying that an industry with tariff protection of over 50% needs very careful scrutiny and needs to be put under the microscope in a way that an industry which can manage on 30% protection, shall we say, does not? Is there anything the matter with classifying industries in this way and saying that we will scrutinise industries with more or with less care according to which category they fall into? What is the great fuss from the Australian Chamber of Manufactures, this group of lobbyists? What is the great objection to this proposal? I can see absolutely none.
In its report for 1966-67 the Board made it quite clear that its proposal is not rigid. Paragraph 65 reads:
The existence of high duties does not in itself necessarily mean that an industry is uneconomic.
There it is, flat from the Tariff Board. The manufacturers talk about an arithmetical cut-off point, but here are the very words: does not necessarily mean that on industry is uneconomic’. Paragraph 69 is more to the point. It reads in part: the Board recognises the possibility that the Government may consider a particular high cost industry to have non-economic benefits (for example, for social or defence reasons) which justify its support. It also recognises that this may require modification of the approach outlined above. In such cases the Government would presumably give the Board a specific direction on the matter.
Where is all this rigidity? Who is it who objects to closer scrutiny of industries that require specially high protection? Where is the man who objects to this? This is the objection that comes bom the Chamber of Manufactures. But nobody here is prepared to say it in so many words. We just yammer about the need for protection but do not get down to details. We listen to political gobbledegook. We all agree with protection as a principle. But this is not in issue. It is the red herring in this debate. What we are concerned with is how we shape with greater refinement the tariff structure with advantage not to the manufacturers of Australia, not to primary producers in Australia but to the nation. More people should be prepared to stand in this place and speak in the national interest. They should be prepared to keep away from the wretched, miserable politicking that distinguishes this subject as it does so many others in this House.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I have listened with much pleasure to what the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) has had to say. But a good deal of what he has said is contrary to the brilliant expositions that we have have heard from him from time to time to the effect that this House shall be paramount and shall decide what is the policy of the nation. As far as I am concerned, the Tariff Board should be an aid to and not a substitution for the Government. This Parliament is the place where decisions will be made. I do not mind any organisation placing its ideas before me; nor do I oppose the Tariff Board making its recommendations. But to say that we should follow the Tariff Board as a matter of course is just so much contrary to what the honourable member has said over the years about the authority and role of Parliament. I think honourable members will remember when, with great vehemence, the honourable member for Bradfield has stated that this is the place where matters will be considered and decisions made. From my understanding of his statement tonight, the honourable member suggests that whatever the Tariff Board recommends we should blindly accept.
In regard to mushrooms, the industry is, as the name suggests, a mushroom industry. Some 5 years ago mushrooms were grown out in the open, subject to the elements. At that time, 5 years or 6 years ago, there were no imports of mushrooms in any large amount. But 6 years or 7 years ago mushroom growers did commence to grow mushrooms scientifically. I want to tell honourable members that some of these people have up to $200,000 invested in their mushroom farms. They have huge airconditioned sheds covering acres of land. They have studied the requirements of the industry and have called in chemists to assist them in the growing of mushrooms in an efficient manner. Because they entered this industry some years ago, are they to be forced to the wall now because they are small? Are we to look after the big people only? Certainly not!
I may tell honourable members that the mushroom growers have adopted a very reasonable attitude in regard to the tariff that they sought to protect their industry. I was responsible for a delegation meeting with the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen). Although I did not accompany that delegation, I well remember what its members told me on their arrival back in Sydney. The Minister for Trade and Industry had said that Taiwan was a friendly but lowly nation, and that mushrooms were one of its main exports. On the understanding that Taiwan would not overstep the mark in the amount of mushrooms that it sent to Australia, the Australian mushroom industry was asked to try to carry on and not ask for a tariff that would prevent mushrooms coming from Taiwan. This was a very reasonable attitude.
We must remember that Taiwan had captured the mushroom market in West Germany and had made big inroads into the mushroom industry in the United States of America. It would appear that had Taiwan been allowed to continue it would have put mushroom growers in Australia out of business because of the low cost structure in the mushroom industry in Taiwan. I welcome the tariff that is to be imposed on the importation of mushrooms because, although there are only a few people interested in the industry here, it is nonetheless, important that we should potect them. I challenge those people who criticise the protection of our industries to say where the steel industry, for example, would have been today had there not been some form of protection. Let us be fair about this problem.
I make no apologies for what I am going to say now. I have been briefed by the Australian Knitting Industries Council, and I am pleased to put that body’s point of view before the House because it represents a most efficient industry. The knitting industry employs a great number of female operators and I feel that it should be protected from low-cost countries which dump material and, in some cases, finished garments, in Australia.
The Australian Knitting Industries Council represents employers who, in 600 plants throughout the country, many of them in decentralised areas, employ 26,000 people, including 20,000 females. Their annual wage bill is $50m and they have an annual output worth over $200m. The knitted outer wear manufacturers have been the first major section of the Australian apparel industry to face the full impact of low cost Asian import competition. The problem is not a passing one. It will progressively affect every section of apparel manufacturers. As recently as mid-August last year, the manufacturers of woven shirts appeared before Sir Frank Meere to seek emergency protection from the low cost Asian source. In the field of men’s trousers and shorts, imports have increased by 177.95% in the past 3 years, rising from 143,551 pairs in 1965-66 to 398,986 pairs in 1967-68. In women’s and children’s clothing also, imports are beginning to grow rapidly, again from low cost Asian countries.
In December 1967, quantitative restrictions were imposed on the advice of the Special Advisory Authority to limit imports of knitted outer wear to the value imported in 1966-67 - about 15% of the market - pending a full scale review by the Tariff Board. Had quantitative restrictions not been introduced, it is reliably estimated that imports would have reached 40% to 50% of the market in the year 1967-68. I have a table which indicates that, despite the introduction of quantitative restrictions, imports have grown. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate that table in Hansard.
It is especially important for the Government to be informed of these facts because inevitably more and more attention will need to be given by the Parliament in future to policies aimed at preserving the employment, not only of the 26,000 persons employed in the knitting industry, but the 155,000 persons employed in Australia’s great textile-clothing industry complex. These people enjoy the benefits of Australia’s high standard of living and high wage structure. In many instances their jobs are being placed in jeopardy by imports from countries the wage standards and working conditions of -which are considerably less than those in Australia. In 1967 the International Federation of Cotton and Allied Textile Industries prepared a comparison of average hourly -wages in the textile industry. I ask permission to incorporate it in Hansard. The table of rates runs from $1.05 in Australia to 22c in Hong Kong.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hallertt)Is permisison granted?
– What does it purport to disclose?
– It shows the hourly wage rate throughout the world, which ranges from $1.05 in Australia to almost $2 in the United States and down to 22c in Hong Kong.
– Where did you get those figures from?
– I got them from the Australian Knitting Industries Council. Some of them came originally from the International Labour Office.
– We have no objection.
– Permission is granted.
– I incorporate the following table:
In Japan the monthly male rate is $US168.15 while the monthly female rate is$US57.04. Thus the female rate represents 34% of the male rate compared with Australian awards which prescribe 75%. Until 1963-64 imports had averaged 2½% to 3% of the market. More than two-thirds had emanated from medium to high wage countries such as the United Kingdom and Europe. In 1967-68 more than 80% of all knitted outwear imports came from low wage Asian countries. While present tariffs have been adequate in respect of imports from traditional medium to high wage countries - for which they were designed - they have been completely ineffective against low wage Asian competition. This was recognised by the Special Advisory Authority who found that only quantitative restrictions could secure the market for local industry and employment.
The Tariff Board will examine the knitted outerwear industry in a climate, as yet unchallenged by the Government, which favours the containment, which may lead to the phasing out, of industries requiring high levels of tariff protection. Unless the Government makes a clear policy statement in support of economic and efficient manufacturing industry, knitted outerwear manufacturers will have the unenviable task of arguing their case for the continuation of essential emergency protection given by Sir Frank Meere before a Tariff Board which appears unsympathetic to its existence let alone its development. This is an industry which, because of its size and ramifications, is clearly important in the political as well as the economic sense. I consider that all sections of the community agree to a policy supporting the growth and development of economic and efficient industries such as the Australian knitting industry which are facing severe import competition from low cost Asian sources. I support the statement made by Sir Robert Menzies, the then Prime Minister, in September 1965 when, in speaking on the report of the Committee of Economic Inquiry he said:
We unhesitatingly reject this idea for an advisory council of economic growth which would publicly advise the Government on matters of political policy and as such would exercise a coersive influence on Governments.
Is there not a parallel between what was proposed by the Vernon Committee in 1965 and what the Tariff Board has done, according to its annual report for 1967-68, in its classification of industries? I unhesitatingly state that it should be Government policy to use quantitative restrictions, as permitted by the Tariff Act, to protect efficient and economic Australian industries when the tariff alone will not give the necessary protection. I support the establishment of industries in decentralised areas and recognise the significance of the textile industry in providing employment for married females in many areas where there are no alternative employment opportunities. I believe that labour intensive industries, such as the textile industry, which employ large numbers of married women are deserving of adequate protection and should be contained because they suffer the disadvantage of operating in a high wage country. Labour intensive industries are helping to absorb the increasing immigration intake, especially the growing number from European countries. This cannot be overstressed. It is most necessary to have a stable and profitable home market to enable local manufacturers to foster exports.
This matter is above sectional interests and the question of country versus city. We should view this Tariff Board report as Australians and endeavour to arrive at decisions which will benefit Australia as a nation and not one section of it. I trust that we will not be overwhelmed by the statements that have been made this afternoon. This is the place where tariff decisions should be made. As I said previously, the Tariff Board should not assume the role of government. We should use the Tariff Board’s recommendations as an aid to and not a substitution for government.
– in reply - First of all I want to comment on the speech by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), who led for the Opposition. I want to give him some information which he sought during the course of his address. He said that the Government had not explained the reasons for its actions in respect of either olive oil or peanut oil. He specifically mentioned those two items. I draw his attention to the fact that when introducing the Bill I spelt out the reasons why the Government had taken this action. I will repeat what I said. In respect of olive oil, I said:
As Australian olive groves contain a relatively high proportion of trees which have not yet reached bearing age, the Government was concerned that it could well be premature to decide, at this stage, that olive oil production is not worthy of assistance.
In respect of peanut oil, I said:
The Government decided that it would require information on the peanut industry not provided by the Board’s report ….
That is the reason for the action which the Government took on those two reports.
I must comment on the speech by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) because not very often have we heard such an emotional speech on tariffs. I am getting used to listening to emotional speeches by the honourable member for Bradfield. I rather deplore the attitude that he has adopted. He said he believes that protection is the core of national development. Apparently he recognises that in the life of this Government Australia has developed at a faster and greater pace than has most nations.
The honourable member for Bradfield proceeded to attack personally the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), for the decisions which have been taken on the Tariff Board’s report. It always seems strange to me that when people disagree with the Tariff Board’s report they attack the Minister for Trade and Industry, but when they agree with the report they give the Tariff Board a pat on the back. These people do not understand that Tariff Board reports are submitted to the Government and that they are either accepted or rejected by the Government as a whole - by Cabinet itself. The Minister for Trade and Industry is one member in this Parliament who is prepared to stand and be counted in respect of any Tariff Board report which the Government recommends should not be accepted. He has done this with about 30 out of 400 or 500 reports that have been submitted by the Board to the Government. The honourable member for Bradfield should use a better sense of proportion in his approach to tariffs. If time had permitted I would have replied at greater length.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In a rather cynical address, the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) said that the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters) and I were in agreement on matters of protection. This is only so in the sense that the honourable member for Scullin agreed with the viewpoints that I had put forward. The honourable member for Scullin goes further in his belief about protection than I would. Therefore, I dissociate myself from the remarks made by the honourable member for Bradfield, and wish to correct them in Hansard.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Nixon) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.2 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 26 February (vide page 161), on motion by Dr Forbes:
That the House take note of the following paper: Home Care Programme for the Aged - Ministerial Statement, 26 February 1969. (Quorum formed]
– Last week the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) announced in the form of a speech in the House what he called details of the Commonwealth’s offer to State governments directed to the development of a comprehensive programme for the care of the aged, particularly the frail aged, in their own homes. It is that statement that we are debating this evening. The Minister immediately related the programme that he put forward to a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) some months ago and he quoted the Prime Minister as saying:
The scheme put forward by the Minister is supposed to be the offer by the Commonwealth Government to make good this proposition stated by the Prime Minister. There are a number of things that I would like to say about that. First, such a scheme has been long delayed. Australian prosperity in every aspect has been boasted about by the Government for 14 or 15 years, or longer. We have been told that this is perhaps the most prosperous country in the world. But the Government is recognising only now that there are many old people who have been very seriously neglected for years.
This scheme, which I shall show in a few minutes is very limited indeed, is very long delayed. The public must not mistake the scheme as a new intention. Probably it has been in the hands of the Department of Health for quite a number of years, in one way or another. It is not the result of any new or changed attitude by the present Government. The Government is made up of men predominantly who have been in other governments for 10 or 15 years and who have left a state of shocking neglect in the particular field that at last they are turning to. No-one can be satisfied that the distribution of the national income in recent years has been fair and equitable. There have been glaring cases of poverty, neglect and inequality in Australia for years. It says very little for the Government during that time and very little for the public of Australia also that they have not been prepared to support a more forthright scheme of redistribution of national income to meet these needs. I do not intend simply to remain in this Parliament listening to a Prime Minister who comes forward, after being a supporter of the Government in Parliament for about 16 years, and says:
It is quite late for the Prime Minister to discover this and it is quite late for the Government to produce the scheme that was described the other night by the Minister.
What is this scheme? First of all, we were told that a general agreement had been reached on the desirable components of a home care programme for each State. What are the components? What aged persons will benefit from the scheme? How frail must they be? It is obvious that care of this sort in the home is needed for people of all ages.
I shall say something a little later about what has been discovered in Victoria on this subject. The Government has told us nothing about the agreement that has been reached with the States. What are we supporting or what are we opposing? I do not know, and neither does any other honourable member in this place. Later we will hear from the other side of the House fulsome praises coming from Government supporters for a scheme, but the only thing that they know about the scheme is the general description, which could mean any thing or nothing, and the amount that the Commonwealth is prepared to offer. They know nothing more than that.
In recent times we have been hearing from Ministers that there are certain things about which we should know nothing, certain things that are confidential and certain things that the Parliament has no right to know anything about. An example is what goes on in the Commonwealth Literary Fund. I could mention a dozen other examples. But surely this agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the State governments about the services to be rendered to aged persons in their own homes is not one of those areas about which we should know nothing. If this Parliament were doing its job, this kind of thing would not happen. If we, as a body of members of Parliament, were prepared to say to the Government that we want more details, that we do not want only a handout from the Department through the Minister about what the Government proposes to do, but we want to know from the Government what it proposes to do, this situation would not arise. But we are not a Parliament like that. We have been accepting the bureaucratic method of government of which this is an example. Speaking for the Opposition, I say that we want to know something about what has been agreed between the States and what is going to be done, lt seems to me that it is quite possible that this scheme will represent yet another example of the principle of discrimination in the health service. Some people will get benefits, others in perhaps exactly the same position or a very similar position will not get benefits. It will be at the discretion of some official. This is the second point I want to attack in this scheme. The honourable member for Banks (Mr Costa) this morning gave details of how the Government’s other scheme - the $3 a patient to nursing homes - is not to benefit the patients in any direct way but in an indirect way and how this extra $3 is going to one patient in a hospital and not to another patient in the next bed who is in exactly the same situation.
– That is not the same.
– The honourable member does not know what he is talking about if he says that, because we have had evidence from all over Australia about it. Where was the honourable member this morning when the honourable member for Banks was explaining this? The honourable member for Banks listed the disabilities from which the people were suffering and indicated that these disabilities were exactly the same-
– That is not right.
– Order! The honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) will remain silent.
– I do not suppose the honourable member for McMillan was even in the House at the time. I suppose the honourable member is not an honourable member with whom people in his electorate get in touch and give information to, because if he behaves in his own electorate the way he behaves in this place that would be useless and a waste of time. So I suppose he does not hear of these cases as I do. The honourable member for Banks mentioned thirteen cases this morning - and his remarks will be in today’s issue of Hansard - where the system of discrimination gave benefits to some patients but not to others who are in the same position. The dozen or more that I know of are in a similar position. They need intensive nursing care. Some of them are getting it; some are not getting it.
The second thing I am talking about is that written into the Government’s health scheme is the principle of discrimination - discrimination between patients, discrimination between sick people, discrimination between aged people who, for all practical purposes, are in exactly the same position. I believe this scheme can be of the same sort. The Minister has given us no information about what the scheme is going to be, no information about how the agreement has been reached or what is in the agreement, so we are not in a position to judge exactly. But I would be sure that this principle of discrimination is going to appear in this scheme as it appears in the other. Why is this? Is it to save money? Is it just to put on a front that the Government is doing something - just so that the Prime Minister can go out and talk about it and say: ‘Look at the wonderful things we are doing?’ Does the Government discriminate in this scheme in order to save money and so give itself the opportunity to sell something at election time which is not comprehensive or general?
There is another point that I think is worth looking at, though it is not a matter of fundamental importance like that one. The Minister spoke of the Government recognising the respective constitutional responsibilities as between the Commonwealth and the States in this field of health. Now, where do the constitutional responsibilities lie? What are the States constitutional responsibilities in health anyway? Where are they? The Minister does not give us any information of this sort. I favour a division of responsibility on a State basis, on a regional basis and on a local basis to get what is done and the making of decisions as close as possible to the person about whom the decisions are made. I am not a centralist, but I think that unless the Commonwealth Government has overall responsibility in a number of fields for the allocation of funds, so that all places in Australia are equally and uniformly treated, then we are going to have big differences between one place and another. This is the old constitutional gimmick that comes up all the time. We had it from the former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Sir Robert Menzies, for years and years about education. On every occasion when we were debating education in the Budget session he came up with the statement that the Commonwealth could not do something or other about education. In fact, the Commonwealth can do anything it wants by making grants under section 96 of the Constitution.
But where are the States constitutional responsibilties in health? The honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes), who is a constitutional expert - as he is an expert in almost every other field - might be able to give us some information about this. Where are these things? I think the constitutional aspect is just an excuse to avoid some responsibility. The Minister told us that proposals have been put forward by the States. What proposals have been put forward by the States? Are we not entitled to know?’ Do not members of this House want to know, before they approve of a scheme of this kind? Are we going to get any of this information? The Minister spoke about essential ingredients for a comprehensive and effective programme for the care of the aged, including the sick aged, in their own homes or, where necessary, in nursing: homes. Now, what are the ingredients? What sort of nursing homes and what sort of aged people are going to come within the scope of this scheme? The Minister sees it necessary to use the words ‘including the sick aged’ as though there were some special need to mention them. One would have thought the sick aged would automatically have come into the scheme. When will we hear these details? Has the scheme been Anally adopted? Are we to hear anything more about it? Is this House simply going 4o wait until it gives some sort of financial authority later on for the Government to proceed in this way?
I have not much more time, and I want to look at a number of these things in detail. The first part of the scheme is limited to a benefit of $1,250,000 for a year of Commonwealth expenditure on a matching $1 for $1 basis. The first point I want to make about this is that this amount is limited by the ability of the States to meet their part of it. When the Government here adopts this $1 for $1 matching basis it compels the State governments to set the pace from their limited resources. It is all right for this Government to do that, to compel the State governments, which are in need of resources and are limited in their :resources, because of that limitation to set a pace that is relatively easy for the Commonwealth Government to meet. Sir Henry Bolte in Victoria says that he wants $17m in increased grants, merely to mainlain things as they are I should imagine. This is the limit. There should not be any great difficulty for the State governments to meet their share of these small amounts of money.
The second proposal is for $5m over the next 5 years for the capital cost of State nursing homes for the care of the frail aged with limited means. I should think this is the most shockingly neglected field in Australia. The State nursing homes - and if my experience of them in two or three States is an indication of what the others are like - are a phenomenal disgrace at the present time. Not only is there a waiting list of 9 months to a year for men and of longer than that for women, -but once they get in they find that these are places like the 19th century work.houses, almost without exception and this has been going on through all these years of prosperity while the Prime Minister has been a supporter of this Government, or a member of it, for 16 years. And now this $5m is going to come forward over 5 years, $lm a year for all the States of Australia. What a fantastically miserable offer this is. It will not allow any room for imagination. If the States can do anything they will be forced to operate on the miserable standard on which these State nursing homes have been for half a century. I do not know one of them in Victoria that is not half a century old already. I do not know of one that is any better than a sort of cattle pen in which old people sit around miserably until they die. What is $5m for all the States over a period of 5 years as an attempt to rectify that situation? Honourable members opposite say that this is the most prosperous nation in the world; a nation rolling in prosperity. Yet they expect us to express some kind of appreciation for this miserable handout.
The next proposal is $500,000 a year on a $1 for $1 matching basis for the development of housekeeper and home help services. Again it is half a million dollars for alt the States for this purpose. Something has been done in this field in some places already. But, in every State, wherever we expect more the governments give the same reply - ‘We have not the money’. This offer is on a matching basis. So the same sort of reply will come again - ‘We have not the money’.
The fourth proposal is a $500,000 a year grant for the development of senior citizen centres. The Commonwealth will pay onethird, the States one-third and the local government authorities one-third. The Commonwealth will provide $500,000 a year for this purpose. It is expected that another $500,000 will come from the States and another $500,000 from the municipalities. So we will have $1,500,000 a year. That may go somewhere. In this field that amount may make some significant differences. Already there are quite a number of senior citizen centres in this country. Then the Government proposes to meet half the salary of welfare officers, who will be qualified social workers. This is a good move. But again I believe that the shortage of money will be a seriously inhibiting factor.
Lastly, $250,000 a year is to be provided on a $1 for $1 basis for physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, chiropody and social welfare services in the persons’ own homes. I do not intend to criticise that proposal. It could go quite a long way.
But, taking this scheme as a whole, it has been long delayed; it is hopelessly inadequate; and it will not make a significant difference in those places where a significant need has been present for so long and where so much has to be done. It is not enough. It is not good enough for a country that boasts of its prosperity. [Extension of time granted.] The point which I wanted to stress and which I did not have time to stress is that, however inadequate these schemes are in many respects, they are particularly inadequate in one respect. The whole scheme is geared to what the Minister has called ‘the aged, particularly the frail aged’. Although a great deal is needed for the aged and for the frail aged - much more than is provided in these proposals, in my opinion - these proposals go no way at all towards meeting the needs of those who are not aged.
Recently in Victoria the Australian Association of Social Workers made a survey of patients, mainly in acute hospitals. It found that about 30% of patients who permanently need assistance in hospital or at home are under 60 years of age. This 30% of patients, some of whom are too young to receive a pension of any kind, are people who need assistance in the various categories that this scheme is directed to give, but this scheme will not touch them at all. The survey that I mentioned pointed out that virtually no facilities exist for patients on reduced incomes in the under 60 years group, the border line surviving patients and very heavy nursing cases. Nothing is to be done to improve the State facilities for these people. They need assistance very badly, probably more than any other single group of people. But under this scheme nothing will be done to assist the States in that way. None of the provisions of this scheme will be made available to these people, because they are not aged.
I do not intend to take any more of the time of the House than I believe I am entitled to take on a subject as important as this one. Let me say just a few words in conclusion. This scheme has come forward after long delay and after there has been adequate time for the Government and its advisers to prepare and bring forward a scheme. This is part of the field of general dissastisfaction with the Government’s health service. This general dissatisfaction is recognised all over the country. It has led to the Government forming the Nimmo Committee which, in an important sense, is a kind of private committee whose work is not known to the public and to which the public has very limited opportunities to put submissions.
– That is not true.
– The public has limited opportunities to put submissions.
– What does ‘limited’ mean?
– It means that the Committee has to approve; that no-one has a right to put submissions to the Committee; that a person has to seek the permission of the Committee to appear before it.
– Has anybody been refused permission?
– Yes, I believe that people have been refused permission.
– That is completely untrue. The Committee advertised for submissions and nobody was refused.
– Does the Minister say that nobody has been refused?
– Has everybody who wanted to make a submission in fact done so?
– Yes, or has been given the opportunity to do so.
– Where is the honourable member going now?
-Order! I suggest that the private conversation cease and that the honourable member direct his remarks through the Chair.
– Do honourable members opposite suggest for a moment that this matter should not be explored and that the question should not be raised? From what I have heard, it appears that people have approached the Committee and have not had an opportunity to put submissions.
– Has the honourable member their names?
– Yes, I can give names.
– Let us have the details.
– Apart altogether from that, do honourable members opposite-
– Order! I suggest that the honourable member discontinue his encounter with honourable members on the opposite side and address the Chair.
Hi J. F. CAIRNS- Mr Speaker, the value of an exchange of this kind is that it reveals that there are on the other side of the House honourable members who appear to think that these matters should not be explored; that we should not raise these questions; and that we should not even investigate whether there has been some difficulty or whether there is a possibility that people have not been able to get through to this Committee. At any rate, the point I am making is that the appointment of this Committee and the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs is part of the evidence of great dissatisfaction with the health service as it stands. At this point, before the expiration of my time, I take the opportunity to sum up some of the reasons for this dissatisfaction. The first ‘s the one I have mentioned already, namely, discrimination between people similarly situated. Nothing that these proposals put forward will alter that. They will make it worse. They will be another example of that kind of discrimination.
Another difficulty that has to be looked at - and I want to emphasise this from the point of view of the Opposition - is the cost of hospital and medical insurance. It is clear that these have not been worked out on any sort of actuarial basis. We do not know whether they are what they should be or whether they should be something significantly different. It is quite impossible to work out a charge for each and every individual who is insured, but it is possible to work out charges for classes or groups of individuals, and we cannot remain satisfied at this stage that the charges that are made for voluntary insurance under this scheme are anything like they should be. The scheme must sooner or later reach the stage where all hospital, medical, dental and ancillary needs for each person are met and where everyone is, either by compulsion or otherwise, in the scheme so that they are not left out at significant and critical points, because in many places gaps exist.
The efficiency of the organisations has to be looked at much more closely and much more empirically. It is obvious that the reserves that they have built up, and which are now reaching fantastic sums, are not needed. It is clear that they are not needed by the Government’s guaranteeing of approved bodies to meet any emergency or special need of those bodies. It is unnecessary for their charges to include amounts that accumulate reserves that are not used, and that there is no particular reason to believe are going to be used. At the moment those reserves are running at well over S80m. Another point that has to be attended to is the cost of pharmaceutical drugs. One has only to look at the figures in the report of the Director-General of Health each year - and they are up over $100m now - to realise the fantastic charge that this is upon the Australian community. There are monopolistic practices in this field and drug producers are exploiting the Australian people. The Opposition believes that the only way to compete effectively against monopolies of this sort is to have Commonwealth production of pharmaceutical drugs, and this must come sooner or later.
Lastly, of course, we need development of the public hospital system. It seems to me that the time must come before long when this Government takes over the public hospitals in Australia and develops them on a national basis. This scheme is inadequate, it is long overdue, it is discriminatory and it will not meet the requirements of the people, even of those people who are included in it. It will continue to leave out thousands of people who should not be excluded from a scheme of this kind.
– Since the national welfare scheme started at the time of Federation many beneficial changes have been made to it. Much progress has been made. But few changes are so important or far-reaching as the proposals suggested in the statement of the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes). I find it completely strange that the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) should attack the proposals as he has done. It was inaccurate of him to say that the scheme is long delayed. The word ‘geriatric’ and the term ‘domiciliary care’ first appeared in the literature of the Australian Labor Party in its 1967 platform. It was not mentioned in its policies of 1966. Similarly it was strange for the honourable member to say that the scheme was long delayed, for the first government committee to look into the position tabled its report in 1965 in New South Wales. The first research work carried out in the field of domiciliary or home care was started in 1955 or 1956 in the Newcastle district and the fruits of that research were not published until after the turn of this decade. I find it strange for the honourable member to say that this was long delayed. I find it strange for him to say, before it is put into operation, that it will bc discriminatory. 1 think he fails to understand that this is a proposal by the Commonwealth Government to assist the States which will be carrying out the programme.
I find it strange for the honourable member to attack the State nursing homes, saying that they are monstrous and just places where a few people stand around in miserable groups waiting to die. He has not read the proposals. Their whole purpose is to keep people in their own homes, providing them with services of rehabilitation, physiotherapy and home care so that they will not have to go to institutions unless it is absolutely necessary on medical evidence. The proposals cover the point that he made about trying to improve State nursing homes. As 1 said, there have been few changes that have been so important or farreaching as these measures will be when they come in through legislation. This is the first time that we will see three levels of government and the community in the one programme for the benefit of the individual. It is, I believe, the first time that a complete programme through the structure of government has been designed to assist the individual where he needs the assistance - in his home where his friends and relatives are and where he can be helped by them, lt will make available paramedical assistance and welfare services to people where they have not had them before. Research has shown not only that these are needed but also that we are getting people to do the work.
The financial aspects of these proposals are going to be at three or four levels. The first is that there will be Slim for home care, and this will bc matched by the States on a SI for $1 basis. An additional Sim a year will bc provided on a matching basis over a 5-year period and this can be accumulated to build nursing homes within the States. These funds will be divided on a population basis so that the States with the larger populations will get a higher proportion. Of the Slim that will be provided by the Commonwealth for home care, Sim will go to homekeeper and housekeeper services; Sim will go to the building of senior citizen centres and the appointment of welfare officers in various districts - and this will be financed one third by the Commonwealth, one third by the States and one third by local government or community charitable organisations; and an additional Sim, to be matched by the States, will be provided for physiotherapy, speech therapy, vocational therapy, chiropody and similar services. Finally, as I mentioned earlier, Sim will be provided for nursing homes, particularly for the poor aged.
I believe that these measures and the finance (hat has been announced should bc guidelines only. I should like the Minister for Health or the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) to indicate whether, if the States require additional funds once the programme develops, the amounts mentioned are to be the upper limits or simply guidelines. If further funds are required, will they he made available? ls that the position?
– I think that sympathetic consideration would bc given to any request.
-Order! I suggest to the honourable member for Robertson that he confine his remarks to the Chair.
– Let us examine what these measures will mean.
Within the States they will mean an immediate expansion, once they come into effect, of housekeeper services. They will mean the building of a larger number of senior citizen centres. On the figures available I calculate that over a 5-year period about 30 senior citizen centres will be built in New South Wales, and a total of about 75 centres throughout Australia. They will mean the appointment of about 40 or 50 welfare officers in New South Wales and about 125 or 130 throughout Australia; an increase in paramedical services and, in New South Wales over, a 5-year period, an increase of about 500 beds in nursing homes, and a total of about 1,250 beds throughout the Commonwealth. This is real progress.
These measures cannot be taken separately from the widening 3 years ago of the pensioner medical service, the payment of subsidies to nursing homes and for additional intensive care granted last year, and the subsidy for district nurses amounting to just less than $lm. It cannot be separated from the widening through health insurance organisations of protection and cover for chronic illnesses, or from the easing of the means test. But this does not mean the scheme is completely perfect, as the Minister has said. I believe that when the details are worked out increased financial support will be needed in the paramedical field, providing there are sufficient numbers of trained people within the country.
I believe it is necessary to examine once again the question of giving direct Commonwealth assistance to geriatric units in hospitals so that the paramedical section of the scheme can be tied more to them than to senior citizen centres. I believe we need in one of our universities a department of geriatrics or gerontology. An examination should be made of the subsidies paid to the States to assist in the transport of patients from their homes to paramedical centres. What does this mean to the individual? In the future assistance will be given to slow the rate of degeneration and to allow people to stay in their homes. Surveys have shown that about 84% of elderly people want to stay in their homes near to their friends and neighbours. Surveys have also shown that when somebody is moved from his home to a distance involving travelling for longer than 15 minutes by public transport, visits of bis friends and relatives drop away to visits on Christmas Day and his birthday in the first year, and then drop off even further from there. Patients requiring acute nursing treatment will spend less time in hospital. Rehabilitation facilities will be available to return them to their homes where they may look after themselves.
The work of the domicilary care section of the Royal Newcastle Hospital has shown that about 66% of patients requiring acute nursing return to their homes and not to nursing homes, as happens in other areas of Australia. I remind honourable members of two speeches I have made in this chamber outlining in detail the programme of the Royal Newcastle Hospital, one on 13th July 1967 and the other on 27th September 1967. People will be able to live longer and fuller lives. This programme will help the individual. For the States it means that assistance will be given to free hospital beds in acute nursing sections. It will mean a saving for both Commonwealth End State governments if that result is achieved. The lowest cost of a hospital bed in New South Wales is $16 a day. The Commonwealth pays a subsidy of $5 a day for pensioner patients in nursing homes. On top of the subsidy of $2 a day an additional subsidy of $3 a day is paid where intensive care is needed.
I have said before that to fulfil this scheme it will be necessary for the Commonwealth to examine with the States the need for assistance to build geriatric units within hospitals. I refer also to the question of transporting people from their homes to paramedical centres, additional needs in terms of paramedical assistance and services and teaching and training in universities of the specialists needed in this field. I believe that great credit should be given to the welfare committee of Cabinet which was set up 12 months ago as one of the first administrative acts of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). Credit is also due to the officers of the Federal Departments of Health, Social Services. Repatriation and Housing, and to their opposite numbers in the States who discussed the details and put proposals to the Commonwealth.
In particular, within New South Wales I believe mention should be made of Dr Sachs, who brought down in 1965 his report on the care of the aged. Great credit is due to the members of hospital boards who have done a lot of work in this field. I refer particularly to people like Mr R. Z. de Ferranti, a former Chairman of the Hornsby Hospital Board and Mr R. M. Vaughan, Chairman of the Gosford Hospital Board. With their boards these gentlemen have devoted many hours to the study of old people. I pay a tribute to the men who have conducted research in this field, both here and overseas. I have in mind particularly Dr R. M. Gibson, Medical Superintendent of Royal Newcastle Hospital, instigator of the domicilary care scheme who undoubtedly could be said to have led research in this field in Australia. Through his work he has had a profound effect upon these measures and upon legislation which will be introduced in the future. Great credit is due to him.
I repeat that this is the first time that three levels of government in the community have been or will be closely tied in to the one programme. This is the first time that the whole structure of government is aimed at giving assistance to the individual where he needs it - in his home where he is with his friends and relatives. If this scheme can be made to work it will have far reaching effects on the whole welfare programme of Australia. I believe that there is a tremendous responsibility on State and Federal members and Ministers and officials to ensure that the scheme comes into operation and works effectively, not only for the immediate benefits that are outlined in the proposals but also because, if this structure can bc shown to work, we will have an administrative structure which could alter in time the whole philosophy of our national welfare programme.
Within the structure, in simple terms, the Commonwealth could give a general minimum pension, the States could give assistance and further supplementary assistance could be given at the local level. Undoubtedly financial strengthening would bc necessary together with discussion at the Federal level as clearly it would need to be underwritten by the Commonwealth. The aim is to help an individual, where he needs help, to break down some of the problems and anomalies we face today. 1 refer, for example, to such things as the high cost of living in Darwin, the extra cost of keeping warm in Hobart because of the colder climate there, and to high rent problems, even though supplementary assistance is granted to single pensioners. This sort of anomaly cannot be cured by payment of a general rate of pension to categories of people rather than to individuals.
In time, providing the scheme works with the new structure, and with understanding, it will bring together the three levels of administration of the country. Canada has established a scheme in this regard which works. I refer to the Canada pension plan, the Canada assistance plan, and municipal assistance through organisations such as the Montreal diet dispensary. Family budget bureaus could be set up where the exact needs of an individual at a local level could be examined. This, of course, is 5, 10 or even 15 years away, but it can be achieved if a scheme such as we are discussing tonight can be shown to work. The Prime Minister said 12 months ago that the policy of this Government is to help the needy without destroying the incentive to save. The alterations to our national welfare programme that we are talking about tonight go a long way towards achieving that philosophy. As I said, the scheme is far reaching. It has great potential, lt fulfils (he need and it is not only good business from the Government’s point of view, but far more importantly it is designed to help the individual where he needs it and when he needs it.
Mr SCHOLES (Corio) [8.5 lj- I am sure that every honourable member welcomes the proposals contained in the statement of the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes). I do not think that anyone would deny that there is a need for the types of treatment for the age that he mentioned. However, I draw attention specifically to two factors. Sums of money are mentioned in the scheme and at least in one part of it an indication is given of the way in which the sums of money are to be allocated to the States. The amount provided for paramedical services will be on a $1 for $1 basis allocated broadly in proportion to the State populations. The amount provided in this part of the scheme is $250,000. I think we can safely take it that, whilst there may be some minor increases, we cannot expect any major increases in these sums, at least at this time. If the Minister had meant, as I think the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell) suggested, that these sums did not mean anything but that greater sums would be made available, I am quite sure that the amounts : would not have been put in the statement. I take it that they are mentioned for some purpose.
Paramedical services are said to include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, chiropody and the associated social work. AU these services are very necessary for aged people. The statement of the Minister will be welcomed by every person who has anything to do with the aged or any feeling for their needs. But what I am worried about is that, although the intention is to provide the services that are mentioned, the sums of money offered will not cover the cost of them. I have no doubt that in this instance the States will be quite capable of meeting their share of the money allocated.
The Minister said that the amount would be allocated broadly in proportion to State populations. I do not know exactly what broadly* means, but it would seem that Tasmania would have $10,000 to cover physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, chiropody and the associated social work. On a broad population basis, there would be close to 80,000 people over the age of 60 in that State. Western Australia would have $17,000, South Australia $23,000, Queensland $40,000, Victoria $69,000 and New South Wales $93,000. Even if we double these amounts, we still will not. have enough money even to start to provide the types of services that are mentioned in the Minister’s statement. I hope that the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), who will speak in this debate, will be able to say that the Government will extend the scheme to a far greater extent than is suggested by the figures contained in the statement of the Minister for Health. If the $250,000 is the total amount that will be provided, the scheme is like taking a diabetic child down the street and leaving him in front of a shop full of cakes while his mother goes in to buy some. It is offering something that will not be provided.
Aged people have a great many geriatric needs. Some of them are being met already by some fairly effective and well-designed schemes throughout the Commonwealth. The Government has shown some flexibility in the provision of money for nursing homes under the Aged Persons Homes Act. I have spoken in this House on several occasions about the need for a regional arrangement so that central geriatric homes, such as Grace McKellar House which is in my electorate, can provide the nursing home beds that are needed. Other recipients of grants under the Aged Persons Homes Act are not likely to provide these beds, although they have some entitlement to funds. Thanks to advice from the Minister for Health, advice from the DirectorGeneral of Social Services and some good work by the committee of Grace McKellar House, the scheme in Geelong has, I understand from a Press report I saw about a fortnight ago and discussions I have had with the Manager of Grace McKellar House, come to fruition and sums of money are to be allocated. I am rather disappointed that the Department did not see fit to tell me about it but told a senator. However, he is on my side of the fence and he had made extensive representations.
– Perhaps he was told because he is on your side.
– He is on my side, but this does not matter. The money has been made available and thirty more beds will be provided for sick people in Geelong. That is all that is of importance as far as 1 am concerned. However, it does not meet the situation. I do not know the exact amount, but it represents an investment of about $240,000 for thirty infirmary beds. In Geelong Grace McKellar House has a requirement for another 150 beds for urgent patients. These are patients who have heed of intensive care and for whom accommodation is not available. Tt also has a waiting list of 700 for admission to its aged persons portion. These people are not necessarily sick. This is a substantial number. If we use the broad population basis for the paramedical services that were mentioned by the Minister for Health and relate it to the population of Geelong, which is slightly more than 100,000, the funds allocated would be about $2,500.
According to the last Commonwealth census - perhaps this has changed marginally - there are in the cities of Geelong and Geelong West, which have a population of 30,000 people, 1,400 people over 75 years of age. The amount allocated on the basis of population, including the State’s contribution, represents about $1.50 for each person over the age of 75 years in those two cities. Nothing is left for those over 60 years of age in those two cities, and these would form a substantially greater number. It leaves nothing for the proportion of the other 70,000 people who also are over 60 years of age.
Whilst the intention behind the scheme is welcomed, the scheme itself has the weakness of being very broadly based. Not sufficient money has been provided in any one section of it to carry the intention through to any great depth -in the community. Money is to be made available for elderly citizens clubs. This is one of the best investments that this or any other parliament could make. These clubs provide elderly citizens with a. place where they can meet, where they can entertain one another and where they can do things for themselves. If the moneys involved were distributed under the same type of formula as is used for paramedical services, with all contributions in, they would represent the construction of approximately 2 elderly citizens clubs in Tasmania, about 3) in Western Australia and about 18 in New South Wales. This is a new contribution, lt is something that should be made welcome, but it will not do a great deal. It will not provide services to the people who expect these services. I hope that the Minister will indicate that more money will be made available under the scheme and that greatly increased funds will be made available especially for the paramedical field.
Grace McKellar House in Geelong operates what it calls a day hospital, lt caters for a considerable number of patients who cannot be admitted to the home. It provides them with the type of services which are included in the paramedical scheme. A fee is charged because the home is not otherwise able to meet the cost of providing such services. Pensioners have to pay 70c a visit. In the past I have asked - and I hope the Minister will consider the proposition at some time in the future - that these services be included under the pensioner medical scheme. The services provided include physiotherapy and such treatment, which helps immobile pensioners to become mobile. The scheme is one of the most efficient and most effective and, I suggest, least costly schemes of its kind that can be operated. It does great work. But, like everything else, it costs money. Because there has to be a charge the pensioners are not able to have treatment as regularly as they would like.
Another important factor in the scheme is that the grants are made to the States on a $1 for $1 basis. It is proper - although I am not sure that the matter is a State responsibility - that, if a State has responsibilities, it should be asked to accept them, but it is not in the interests of the people who will receive the benefits under the scheme that they should have to rely upon the budgetary proposals of a State government and its sets of priorities to determine whether or not they will receive the lewis of treatment which they require. 1 have no doubt that the States will accept these sums of money, but if the sums are expended to the levels which I think would be required to provide the services indicated in the Minister’s statement - and a fairly substantial proportion of elderly people need the services - it is doubtful whether the States will be in a financial position to meet the cost on a $1 for $1 basis. It is difficult for the Commonwealth to increase its budget, but the Commonwealth has control of vast sources of finance, lt is far more difficult for the States to increase their budgets. They have many commitments, no excess funds on which they can draw and practically no levels of taxation which they can increase. Any additional funds which the States raise have to be raised from a very limited field of taxation. When the sums of money reach the proportions which are needed, and which will continue to be needed for a long time to come, to provide the services at desirable levels - levels at which I am sure the Minister would desire to see services provided - I have grave doubts as to whether the States will be able to accept their share of the cost. I am also doubtful as to whether local government will be able to accept its share of the cost of these services if they are provided in anything like desirable quantities. The financial position of local government is worse than the financial position of the States, and we hear plenty about the States.
– Local government could increase taxation.
– J do not think local government is in a position to increase taxation greatly because 1 believe rate collections have reached such a level of saturation that if the rates are increased the ratepayers will not be able to pay. What will happen then? A large number of people in the community have difficulty meeting rates at the present level. I suggest that the Government examine all avenues by which the scheme can be implemented, including the provision of paramedical and other services. It should be seeking to develop, where establishments of some standing in the community exist, geriatric services based on geriatric homes which have been constructed already. Most provincial centres have a central aged persons home of some description which provides services to patients. I refer to the Queen Elizabeth Benevolent Home in Ballarat, Grace McKellar House in Geelong and similar homes in Bendigo and, I have no doubt, most of the major towns in New South Wales and other States, which provide central services in the field of geriatrics. 1 think that schemes based on such homes rather than on senior citizens clubs - the activities of the clubs in Victoria deal more wilh the social side than with the medical side - would be a great benefit. Some degree of flexibility in this field would be of great assistance in caring for the people who need care. Grace McKellar House would be the best qualified institution in the Geelong area to deal with the problems of the aged.
Most of those on the waiting l’ist for admission have problems. The home keeps records of those seeking admission because it has to classify them. It has only 200 beds and some 700 people on the waiting list. While public hospitals are the best places for the provision of medical services, geriatric services are not necessarily the province of a general hospital, although in some cases the two services are combined. They are more the province of specialised geriatric administrations which exist in some places. Where they do exist they should be encouraged.
– Tonight the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), as the first spokesman for the Opposition, of course was full of criticism. One would have thought that he was using this debate, in an election year, for one of his main attacks upon the Government. As far as I could gather, he did not seem to find anything satisfactory in this very challenging speech of the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes). I wonder whether the honourable member for Yarra has any personal contact with the State geriatric services linked with the State Department of Health in his own State of Victoria. Surely he must be a centralist - and I would challenge him as such - because he spoke as if the Commonwealth Government should ride roughshod over the geriatric services of the public health departments of all the States. He must be a centralist and not a federalist. I am glad to say that I am a federalist. This Government takes recognition of the part that each State Government must play. Did the honourable member expect the Government to take over completely or does he have no knowledge of all of the constitutional difficulties? He said that he wanted details. I wonder whether he has asked his own State authorities what proposals they offered to the Commonwealth Government. As I shall indicate, the State governments will work out this plan in detail.
The same honourable member talked about discrimination and moving away from home care, which is the subject before us. He talked about defects in the subsidy for nursing home patients. I wonder whether we are entitled to remind him that the medical certificate presented to the Commonwealth Department of Health dictates whether or not the subsidy is payable; it certainly is not discrimination by any of the nursing home proprietors or administrators. I wonder whether the honourable member for Yarra, therefore, is criticising their fair play. Is he accusing public servants in the Commonwealth Department of Health of unfair discrimination? I hope that he is not. I suggest that the public and the public servants might take notice of his inference.
Fortunately he was followed, on his side, by his colleague, the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). I thought that this honourable member was much more reasonable in his approach. I am big enough to suggest that tonight we have been listening to a man who is perhaps one of the rare Labor members who are prepared to take off their coats in their electorates and to get down to the care of the aged in some practical way. He certainly revealed a little knowledge of what was going on in his own area, and he saw some value in the statement presented by the Minister. Apparently the honourable member for Yarra expected this statement to detail at this stage the complete plan or programme for the welfare of the aged that was promised by the Government; yet in the very opening of the statement we were told by the Minister that the home care programme will comprise a most important part - only a part - of the comprehensive health and social welfare scheme that the Commonwealth is developing to assist the needy in our community. I am afraid that on this occasion the honourable member Yarra has not studied the document and has not revealed to the House that he has a very strong grip on the situation of the needy.
Some definition of the terms used in the statement will help us better to understand it. What do we really mean by independent living? From my experience, I look upon independent living as being that type of living found by elderly people in their old family home, which they invariably do not want to leave until a certain stage is reached, or in an aged persons home complex, if they are one of the fortunate ones, or in a unit in a retirement village. I want to underline that there comes a stage after independent living when fraility becomes the first problem in the thinking of elderly people. This frailty will soon influence them to leave independent living, because their frailty and their needs become the dominant factor. It is then that we would hope they would find a continuing care facility of one kind or another.
I like this term ‘continuing care facility’. I found it in America, and it is a term that I am prepared to use, because our elderly friends do not like to be called aged and, likewise, they do not like to be called frail.
But a continuing care facility is a home for the frail. According to my own definition, it represents the second category of care, because it provides assisted independence. Within a home like this they still have the privacy of their own room, but they have nearby the administrative care and the supervision of a qualified matron and staff. Meals are supplied to them, but they are in a home, a continuing care facility.
The programme of home care, as we have had it presented to us, was initiated by the Commonwealth, and we are proud in an election year to draw attention to this. We would challenge the Opposition to do what it likes in this and other debates to try to tear it apart. It is constructive; it is farsighted; it is reasonably generous; but it is only a start. I want to point out, if I may, how I believe it will expand. The States proferred the proposals for the use of the funds and we studied their ideas. We showed an interest in what they were doing in their own respective areas. The States will administer the funds. We are to be the promoters of the StateCommonwealth combination or partnership. I do point out that the lack of uniformity in established services in the States could present some problems. We cannot expect complete uniformity in a partnership arrangement of this kind, but at least the initiative in the application of the funds within a broad expression of policy which we ask the States to offer us should enable the plan to get established. I am a believer, as I believe the Minister and the members of the Government are believers, in getting things started. I believe that great things can grow from a small seed that is shown, and it is in this spirit that the home care programme is being offered to the States by the Commonwealth.
From the constitutional point of view the Commonwealth is proceeding, I would suggest, in this manner, confident that the all-State agreement will avoid any legal challenge. How important it was to have an all-State agreement. It was important that we could proceed with a plan like this without one State saying that it was not prepared to participate. It was a great achievement. As we have achieved success in the area of housing and in the area of expansion of roads, we have achieved it here in our negotiations with the State governments. This was necessary to avoid any legal challenge. Surely the honourable member for Yarra and other members of the Opposition know that in this area of operation this is the only approach that can meet with any sort of success.
The $ 1.25m allocated to home care will be spread over three areas or categories of assistance. First, there is the housekeeping or home help plan. This absorbs the existing housekeeper plan, the details of which can be found in the last annual report of the Department of Health. This will mean that a widened definition of the form that the assistance will take will be awaited by all of us with a great deal of interest. I would ask: Will regular cleaning as assistance to the elderly people who need it be approved? Will a housekeeper be provided only for periods of emergency, or will it be a continuing housekeeping service to people beyond a certain age. These are the details that the States, with the Commonwealth taking an interest, will need to work out. Five hundred thousand dollars will be available for this assistance. This represents a vast increase on the previous housekeeper service.
There are elements in this plan which will be recognised as an incentive. As a matter of fact, the incentive element in the whole of this scheme is’ to be praised rather than ridiculed, because we have ample evidence in other things that this Government has been aware over the years that an incentive has been that stimulus that people were waiting for. I refer to the churches, the charitable organisations and the benevolent funds which will forever be grateful. I would expect that the honourable member for Griffiths (Mr Donald Cameron) knows that hundreds of thousands of dollars supplied by the Commonwealth under an incentive scheme have been spent in his electorate to build homes for the aged. The second category of the aged care homes programme falls under the heading of senior citizens centres. Honourable members on this side of the House, conscious of the value, and the problem, of financial support for these social and service meeting points within our various communities, have been pressing for some considerable time for a plan. Now we have it, and we are grateful for it. We believe that it is a good start. The Minister’s statement applauds any effort made by such a centre in the community that helps with meals, laundry, chiropody care or domiciliary services.
Another $500,000 per annum in capital grants is to be allocated throughout the nation to these senior citizen centres on the basis of one-third from the Commonwealth, one-third from the State and onethird to be raised locally. This is that partnership that was applauded by the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell) when be said that we have the Commonwealth, the States and local government authorities or the community all engaged in a very helpful partnership. The balance of this $500 is very sensibly to be devoted to paying half the cost of a qualified welfare officer. What is the good of having a social centre in a community if it is dependent upon voluntary workers who just cannot bring sufficient training and talent to the task and who certainly cannot give sufficient time to go into these homes, with home care, to follow up the people who come for a meal at the social centre and meet them within their own homes. This contribution on a $1 for $1 basis to make possible the full time employment of a welfare officer is a very fine piece of thinking. The statement provides sensibly a wide latitude for the supervision of a welfare officer, and it does not prescribe the full range of services for every senior citizen centre. It seems to me, therefore, to be a genuine attempt to provide operating income for non-profit organisations wishing to ease the strain, the loneliness and the insecurity of the elderly.
But there is also a section of the finance set aside for paramedical services to the aged in their own homes. This envisages occupation therapy, speech therapy, chiropody and associated social work services. An amount of $1,250,000 will be available on a $1 for $1 basis in this range of activity. I cannot stress sufficiently the value of encouraging the voluntary agency or organisation. The confidence shown by the Commonwealth Government in charitable bodies - the churches and the benevolent societies - under the homes for the aged scheme provided the stimulus and intensive effort that I mentioned a moment ago. This has brought far reaching results. So I contend in this debate that this scheme, correctly administered, will do likewise.
Retirement village development - and 1 have had some little personal experience of this over 8 years - has not been without its difficulties for our organisations all around Australia have found it necessary to go beyond their first vision of building home units of modern standard at low rental for elderly folk. They found that if the community was of any size they simply had to build a social centre in which the elderly people could meet. Some of us found that in addition they also need a library and a medical clinic where local doctors can come and the elderly people can so avoid the expense of taxis or the inconvenience of climbing on to buses to go to a nearby surgery. Let surgery be brought into the retirement village. Some of us have done this and we are proud of the results. What about a therapy centre or a chiropody service in the retirement village? Some of us have found that we have had to graft on to some of these schemes a welfare supervision service. I speak with knowledge of one centre where we asked the old folk to contribute 25c a fortnight to pay the salary of a qualified nursing sister who visits them all in their units and flats. This person can come when an emergency occurs. If an elderly person falls over outside on the road or has an attack, the welfare officer in the village is there first and becomes the liaison officer between the elderly person, the hospital, the doctor and the family. An honourable member opposite says that one needs a lot of money to go into one of these villages. He does not know how some of the organisations administer these facilities at very low cost. I wonder whether I could go into his area and find modern units available for $3.50 a week for a bed sitting room? I wonder whether there is accommodation where two people pay only $4.75 a week and in addition find security for the rest of their lives. This is done not only in provincial towns but in some of our larger centres. We have 400 people in one village if that is of any interest to the honourable member.
So far I have covered only the proposals for home care absorbing the figure of $1.25m per annum. I turn now to the offer of $lm per annum for 5 years to help State governments provide more State nursing home beds with an emphasis on those who are virtually indigent and are most needy. Organisations find that they cannot always help and where the States must step in and provide assistance this is attractive and practical help. Of course, I know that this will represent only a relatively small amount because of the population formula for my own State. I can well imagine the Public Health Department of Western Australia saying that it would like to spend more. I understand that Tasmania probably will be the first State to make an application under this section. I understand that it probably will ask for a 3-year share of the funds and will probably get it. Here is an indication that just as the Government found it necessary to make grants in excess of the vote within a year for aged persons homes because organisation started to get moving on it, so this amount is not going to be fixed.
The Government will find, if the claims come in, that more money will need to be granted. The Commonwealth Government by the recent introduction of a subsidy for intensive care and nursing homes has helped to lift a great burden from the State governments. I have already said that the arbiter of whether a case warrants intensive care - and I will take any criticism that comes from honourable members opposite - is the medical man. The local doctor must sign the certificate that intensive care is required. A check on him is made by the medical officers of the Commonwealth Health Department. I believe that the intensive care subsidy, as the Minister for Health announced in this House only a week or so ago,, has been approved on a very fair and widespread level. Literally thousands of subsidies have been approved. I think that perhaps more than 9,000 cases have been approved to. date. 1 come now to a programme which is my own analysis of what I think are the stages of care for elderly folk. 1 speak again of independent living, cither in one’s own home, in one’s own locality with garden and workshop, with home help if necessary and meals on wheels being supplied. 1 envisage people living in modern lovely retirement villages where new friends and activities may be achieved. Secondly I talk of assisted independence in one of the continuing care facilities. This is the stage when health begins to break and disabilities appear. I would hope that people in such an organisation would be provided with a private room, good meals and high class supervision under a trained officer. Finally, when hospitalisation is required, in most of our communities today State governments have first class hospitals into which these elderly people can be brought. The Commonwealth Government’s scheme for care provides that in these institutions the expenses of these elderly people are met. A few years ago such a concept of care was but a dream. Today, because of this Government and its plan, reinforced now by this home care programme, this sort of concept of care for elderly people is becoming truly a reality. I am pleased indeed to endorse such a programme and to point out that it is but a start. I express the hope that we will have the continued co-operation of every State government.
– The rather niggardly nature of the offer by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has been stressed by the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) and the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). This Government has a golden opportunity to set up a national system of health care. This it shirks, throwing the onus on the States and local authorities. The Minister for Health (Dr Forbes), in his statement on this matter, said:
The Government wants to see perhaps most importantly of all, the voluntary agencies and groups bring their enthusiasm and experience into the programme.
What an abject abdication for the man who pays the piper. He calls the tune only as he is guided by some suggestions from the States - suggestions which, as the honourable member for Yarra has told us, have not been presented to this House. In this age when we have the benefit of expert advice in health planning, this is unpardonably off-hand. Unfortunately we have come to expect this from this ad hoc government which moves when it is pushed just far enough to take the sting out of uncomfortable prodding by the discontented. Then it settles comfortably down again to rest.
This pattern of movement is not that of a puppy having its tummy tickled, it is the pattern of a sleepy and ageing pooch with cataracts. At no time has there been an attempt at quality control, which is being rapidly extended in the United States of America in the form of continuing hospital accreditation. At no time has there been an attempt to survey, on a comprehensive national scale, the areas of greatest need. The squeaky door gets the oil, but some little doors in dark corners are almost rusted solid. They are immobile or are falling off their hinges. They are past the stage where oil will be of any use.
On the other hand we have a lack of co-ordination of services in the large cities sometimes to the extent that costly specialised equipment may be duplicated in the same city and used. for less than half of the daylight hours. This is wasteful lack of co-ordination. The Minister’s statement pays lip service to a regional organisation. To do justice to this concept, however, needs conscious central planning. This has been done successfully overseas and it has been done by certain public health authorities in Australia such as the New South Wales Mental Hygiene Authority.
Tn my opinion the ideal is a hierarchical or satellite system with a large teaching centre, large district centres surrounding it but attached to it and exchanging services with it, smaller community centres at the next level and isolated outposts in the less populated areas of the country. This cannot be achieved by the donkey and carrot method of $1 for $1 subsidy or $1 for $1 for $1 subsidy such as the present scheme has produced. I realise that monetary motivation, which has been described so earnestly by the honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver) in this debate as an incentive scheme, is the prime mover in the political philosophy of the members of our ruling parties. But they are fairly humane men.
They should forget their political philosophy occasionally and listen to their hearts and heads when looking at human needs and when looking for motivations, even if the depth of those needs is beyond their personal experience and comprehension. They should look at the poverty of the States and the local authorities and compare it with the affluence of the Commonwealth which, I repeat, is restricting itself to this niggardly Si for $1 plan. They should listen to a professor of social and preventive medicine because any medical school with the foresight and humanity to set up such a chair goes far beyond the concept of health care that we see in most health authorities. Douglas Gordon, Professor of Social and Preventive Medicine in Queensland, is reported as saying that $im could disclose the best areas of spending and how much is needed. It would seem that the honourable member for Swan does not approve of that. He wants us to roll our sleeves up and visit geriatric centres in our electorates - all very commendable - but he does not want us to take the broader view of world wide experience. He does not believe that the constitutional difficulties in guiding the States can be overcome. He does not believe that it is within the competence of this Government to guide the States, but the Constitution allows this Parliament to legislate on health at will as long as there is no civilian conscription.
The Minister’s statement contains an organisational proposal. It is for a welfare centre with a qualified or experienced social worker in charge. That is sensible, but how can it be carried out without a supply of social workers? How can they be supplied without advance planning on a national scale? The figures mentioned by the honourable member for Corio suggest that the paramedical care contribution of the Commonwealth can provide one chiropodist’s attention per year for one foot of each person over 60 years of age. That is all paramedical care, not just chiropody. It is occupational therapy, speech therapy - the lot. We need forward looking policies and not the stopgaps which have been described by the honourable member for Swan as a start. The start is, as usual, too little, too late, too ill-directed, too ill-planned.
The honourable member for Robertson rightly stressed care in the patient’s own home rather than in an institution. The honourable member for Swan rightly stressed the need for a social service centre for a retirement village. That is a step forward from the barracks type of homes mentioned by the honourable member for Yarra. I think most aged people would prefer to remain in their familiar neighbourhood. For most of their years of retirement they could be helped to care for themselves more happily, healthily and cheaply in a longer and more useful retirement in their chosen place of living. To the extent that the scheme helps home care it acknowledges this principle. To the extent that it makes it impossible for the States and the local authorities, as well as the voluntary organisations, to catch up with the increasing need it ignores this principle.
I think that insistence on a social worker and welfare centre will create unnecessary hardship for meals on wheels and similar organisations while there is such a huge shortage of social workers. These organisations, while they are makeshifts and do not have proper co-ordination by social workers, nevertheless are saving the Commonwealth far more than it would cost to give them an adequate subsidy, even if the only savings they achieved were keeping people out of hospitals and institutions.
I appeal to the Minister to do far belter next time, to do his homework more thoroughly, to plan ahead for the training of people who will be needed to implement this concept, to look more at the areas of need and, above all, to talk to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and show him that the amount proposed to be expended is niggardly.
– It is always interesting to look across this narrow table and observe the differences in the ranks of Tuscany. They can scarce forbear to cheer but really feel they have to do something else. Honourable members -opposite know that this is a good Bill. They are endeavouring to be a little captious about it, but even if they are being captious they must, lo some extent, cheer and praise. There are interesting contrasts. The honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) was looking at this - logically perhaps from his point of view as an extreme Socialist - from the point of view of centralisation, and yet I felt that here was a man who knew something about the problem, and one does not dismiss his views because one disagrees with his extreme ideology. 1 felt that he had something interesting and valuable to say. I felt also that the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) was approaching this, as I think members on this side of the House have approached it, in a constructive way. He had some criticisms to make; well and good - that is.. , why this statement is before us. He advanced some constructive suggestions for improvement and expansion.
However, I felt that there was an extreme contrast between the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), who led for the Opposition, and the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Bridges-Maxwell), who spoke first from the Government side. The honourable member for Yarra quite perceptibly was out of his depth, had not done his homework and was here merely to try to denigrate and write down without any real care for the aged. One could see that he was endeavouring to make political capital. On the other hand the honourable member for Robertson and the honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver), who followed him on our side, have had tremendous personal involvement in this problem and were speaking not only with knowledge but also with feeling. Both of them made constructive suggestions for the expansion and improvement of this scheme. 1 do not think that the Government should resent constructive criticism from whatever quarter of this House it comes because this is an excellent scheme, although it is only a prototype scheme.
At what stage should this scheme be brought before the House? Here I want to say something about the approach of the honourable member for Yarra. He complained that honourable members were not given details. The honourable member said that this is a scheme which has been brought before the House by typical bureaucracy without any kind of detail in it. The truth of the matter is that this scheme is brought before the House in its present stage so that honourable members will have an opportunity of saying something about it. and of improving it by constructive formulation before it is set and settled. Although the States have agreed to the scheme in principle, formal agreement has not yet been made. It is proper and right that at this stage of. a matter which concerns the best way in which to apply our resources for the benefit of the Australian people before things are finalised, set and signed on the dotted line they should come before this House so as to be discussed.
It was hard to understand what the honourable member for Yarra was getting at.
At one stage he said that everything was cut and dried and that this House was merely a rubber stamp, but then he complained because the House was not a rubber stamp and because the Government has placed this matter before the House so that it can hear the views of honourable members. We will not reject as unworthy any constructive idea from whichever side of the House it may come. This is only part of an overall scheme to give a better life and more happiness to our ageing people. The scheme deals firstly with what is known as ‘domiciliary care” - a plan to keep ageing people in their own homes if they want to stay there. We should not dictate to our aged people and say that they must move into an aged persons home, or that they must stay in their own home. These people should have the facilities available to them so that they can choose. There arc many people who will benefit by going into an aged persons home, and they will prefer to do this. This is good and proper. It is their choice. However, there are other people - and I suspect they are a considerable majority - who will prefer to live out their lives in the home that they have known in their younger days, where they ure among familiar surroundings and their friends are near at hand. To many people old associations are worth something. Perhaps . under these circumstances they do not have the full comforts of a modern aged persons home, but it is their choice - or it should be their choice. We should have available these facilities for our aged persons so that they can make the choice themselves.
The opposite side of the coin is the idea of keeping aged persons in their own homes, if they want to stay there. This can be done in many ways, lt can be done partly by these improved housekeeper services and also by the parallel home nursing services which the Government has for a tong time subsidised. These are wonderful services which are run largely with the help of voluntary bodies. Because these are voluntary bodies, acting on a decentralised and personalised basis they are capable of giving a service which no bureaucracy, however good or efficient, could ever provide. What the Government is trying to do is to give to our aged people the maximum happiness and
Comfort for the minimum expenditure. That is to say, to get the value for the money we spend - not value for us, hot for these aged people. It is their advantage and their comfort which have to be kept in mind. It is to their advantage to get the maximum value for every dollar that is spent.
Provision is made in the scheme for the establishment of community centres. I was interested to hear the honourable member for Swan speaking of his experience and the necessity for a community centre where people could come together for social company, where there would be a club, library facilities, and a welfare officer operating on a regional or district basis so that there would be personal service and contact. One could centralise, as it were, on a decentralised system, if that is not a contradiction in terms. This means establishing not one big centre but a lot of small centres where the services can be brought together.
I was surprised to hear the honourable member for Capricornia - 1 think it was - say that the Meal’s on Wheels se; vice would not help the aged people. Indeed this service will undoubtedly assist these people. The Meals on Wheels service is one of the very best in the community because it mobilises forces in a community for the benefit of our aged people. Ladies go out and give their services once or twice a month on a voluntary basis, at times using their own transport and this mobilisation is without cost to the Government or to the community. Meals on Wheels is a grant service and should be developed. This overall scheme will assist development because one of the things on which this money can be spent will’ be the utensils, the hot boxes and things like that which will enable the Meals on Wheels service to be expanded. There is no reason why the kitchens of the community centres should not be used to provide the basic facilities from which Meals on Wheels services can operate. I am surprised that the honourable member for. Capricornia did not appreciate that this scheme will enable this wonderful service to be yet further extended, but perhaps it was not made as clear as it could have been.
I will not speak of the paramedical services. Honourable members opposite have rightly said that these services will be to the advantage of the people whom we want to help in their own homes. This is just one phase of the Government’s overall scheme. In relation to the nursing beds, the Government realises that Slate nursing homes are not always as good as they should be. 1 believe it is true, as honourable members on the other side have said, that there are waiting lists to get into these homes. This scheme is a means of improving them. The honourable member for Yarra spoke about discrimination. I do not know whether the honourable member realises that one of the conditions of this scheme is that the nursing beds which the Government will subsidise for the States should be used for those people who are most in need. This is discrimination, but it is discrimination in a’ right and proper way. This is a flexible scheme. It is meant to be adapted to the differing conditions in different States.
In the course of this debate this evening honourable members spoke about the constitutional position of the Commonwealth and the States. The constitutional position in respect of the care and health of our aged citizens is that concurrent powers reside in the States and the Commonwealth. The powers contained in section 51 of the Constitution are concurrent. A citizen of the Commonwealth is also a citizen of New South Wales, Victoria or which ever State he lives in. He is also a citizen of the municipality in which he lives. All these authorities have their own responsibilities. In a way, the Government wants to deal with the home care programme for the aged in a decentralised way, so in some respects it is better to deal through the States and to use the machinery of the States. Local government is an organ of the State and is set up under State laws, so that it is not a bad thing to be dealing through the States. If one is adopting that approach then it is not a bad thing to have this concept of matching funds and of sharing the responsibility. In this way the Government, in conjunction with the States, assists people who are citizens of Australia, of New South Wales or Victoria, and of Sydney, Melbourne, Goulburn or Geelong, as the case may be, and does so in a way which is right and proper. It does not take the responsibility entirely away from the State authorities hut follows the concept of matching funds, which is not a bad concept.
Some honourable members have criticised the amount the Government is to provide under the home care programme for the aged and have said that it is niggardly. It is not niggardly; it is tailored to the amount required in the opening phase of the scheme. I cannot commit - and I do not propose to commit - the Treasury to anything definite in the way. of future expenditure on this scheme; but I will say that on an analogy with the aged persons homes scheme, which was mentioned by the honourable member for Swan or the honourable member for Robertson, there will not be any shortage of funds. If there can be fruitful expansion on these lines - these are the lines which will be fruitful - the Commonwealth Government will be up with the requirements. This can be taken as being certain. But one does not want to state a definite figure at this stage.
The figure mentioned by the Minister for Health in his statement is the most that could be required at the opening of the scheme. It is possible that more will be needed as the scheme gathers momentum. If so, well and good. That will indicate the success of the scheme. One does not want to prejudice the scheme at the outset by trying to put in immense amounts of money, but as the scheme succeeds - and it will succeed - it will provide a very large amount of comfort and happiness for the expenditure of a comparatively small amount of money. That, after all, is one test of good government, good administration and good planning. But if more money is needed for this excellent scheme as it expands, 1 have no doubt that it will be found.
– Having just listened with interest to the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), I feel that he was more concerned with attacking the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) than with contributing to the debate. There is no doubt in my mind that that was the main theme of his speech. Honourable members are no doubt aware that the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) has said that the Commonwealth Government is to make a grant of $1.25m on Si for $1 basis with the States to assist aged persons in our com munity. I do not think that there is anybody in the Parliament who is opposed to money being spent in such an important area. But at no stage during the debate this evening or in the statement of the Minister for Health have I heard any figures quoted as to exactly how many people require home treatment and how many require hospital treatment or constant medical care. Neither the Minister for Health nor any other honourable member opposite has given any figures as to the number of people who require this treatment and service at the present time. It is very hard to obtain figures on this aspect. The only figures I could obtain were given by a social worker in Victoria who maintained that in that State alone 13,000 people were requiring such treatment. New South Wales has a larger population than Victoria. It would be very hard for me even to guess the number of people in New South Wales who require such treatment. But I do know that there are many such people in the electorate which I represent who call on the services provided by Meals on Wheels and other charitable organisations that go through the electorate and assist the bedridden, and there are many who call on the home nursing service for treatment daily. I cannot say exactly how many of such people are in my electorate. I think that we should be provided with some figures on this so that we can try to work out exactly how many people will benefit from this scheme.
I know that grants are to be made on a $1 for $1 basis, but I doubt whether it will assist some of the States. I refer to New South Wales and Victoria, who have been doing the Oliver Twist act for many months but whose appeals to the Commonwealth Government for more finance are falling on deaf ears. I feel that there will be some people in the community who will not benefit from this scheme. We know that the New South Wales Government is crying out for more finance for education and that the school children in that State are suffering as a result of the Commonwealth Government’s failure to provide adequate assistance to New South Wales in this direction.
The Minister for Social Services said that this scheme would do something towards providing a decent home for some of the aged in our community. I would like to remind the Minister that it was his Government which took away the special grants which were being made to the State housing commissions so that they could build homes for the aged. If this grant had not been taken away from the States, I think in 1954, we would not have long lists of people waiting for housing commission homes, especially in New South Wales. I know that there are about 6,000 people in New South Wales who are waiting for somewhere decent to live.
Whilst I appreciate the Minister’s statement that there are many people who do not want to pull up stakes and leave the area in which they live, I know that there are many more who are prepared to do so. The Minister’s statement was a bit misleading. I have been told by many people who are waiting for somewhere decent to live that they would be prepared to go anywhere as long as they could get a decent home to live in. Whilst the $1.25m that the Government is to provide will assist many people, I do not think it can be denied that many will not be assisted. The important thing is how many will be assisted. We know that many people in the community are unable to obtain the care that can be given in a nursing home because their children or other relatives cannot afford the cost of providing it. These homes fall into three or four categories. Firstly, there are those conducted by religious orders. Unfortunately, in many cases a person cannot obtain accommodation in one of these homes without first paying $2,000 or $3,000. Many people in the community cannot afford to pay such amounts of money to obtain nursing home care. The public hospitals provide some accommodation but in the majority of instances only for acute cases. Doctors to whom I have spoken have told me many times that one of the hardest things to do in New South Wales is obtain a hospital bed for an aged person. These people cannot be accommodated in public hospitals because of the shortage of beds. I am aware that the money which the Government now proposes to make available to the States will enable them to provide more bed accommodation but it still will not be sufficient to provide accommodation for the large number of people seeking it.
Private nursing homes fall into many categories. Press reports of the treatment meted out to patients who can afford accommodation only in some of the less costly institutions make one feel ashamed to be an Australian. It is shameful of the Government to allow these alleged practices to continue in a country of, as the Government claims, full and plenty. Many nursing homes are operated for profit and the proprietors are out to make as much money as they can. Naturally somebody must suffer. It is the poor old patient who suffers. He does not get the treatment that he should be getting. It is almost impossible to get somebody into a nursing home in New South Wales for less than $40 a week. A private room would cost $50 or $60 a week. We know that Government subsidies and the age pension meet part of these charges, but the remainder has to be found by the relatives of the unfortunate people who need the nursing home care. The people who need this care but cannot pay for it are the ones who are suffering. In many cases their parents or children also suffer by having to meet the costs of nursing home care. Many inmates of these homes do not get any treatment at all. The Government provides $22m a year to hospitals looking after these patients, but two-thirds of that sum goes to private businesses. Private combines operating nursing homes are making large profits out of government grants. If most of the money now going to private hospitals was given to the States for the specific purpose of building homes for the aged or hospitals, more beds might be made available and larger numbers in the community could be catered for.
The inner city areas, of which my electorate is part, do not contain any aged persons’ homes. One or two of these homes were operating at one time in the inner Sydney area but the high cost of land made it impossible for them to expand. Some moved out into the western suburbs or even further afield. In the inner city area no home of this kind is functioning. It is all very well for the honourable member for Swan (Mr Cleaver) to tell us what has been done in his electorate in Western Australia. I think the honourable member has to consider the difference between the population of Western Australia and that of New South Wales. He also has to realise that you cannot have these homes in every area. They cannot be built in areas where the cost of land is high. There probably are many areas in the Sydney north shore area which do not have charitable homes but do have private nursing homes. The operators of them would be making profits.
Charitable nursing homes are not operating in the areas 1 represent although there are many people there who do need such services and special treatment. Some of them are fortunate in that religious organisations visit the area, as well as the meals on wheels.’ service. The meals on wheels service has done a wonderful job in that area. Many of the unfortunate people there would not get a decent meal if it were not for the wonderful people who make themselves and their cars available 5 days a week in order to provide a good hot meal. Fortunately, when there was a Labor controlled council in Sydney, sixteen of these welfare centres were established in the inner city areas. They are still operating. Because of the work of that Labor council many people can go along to these places, get a decent meal and meet people of their own ages. They can also go out to various types of functions. There is also a welfare officer in attendance at all these welfare centres who looks after the needs of the people and visits them in their homes when they are sick. I know such officers are doing a wonderful job for these unfortunate people.
The Government at long last has realised that these people should get some compensation. As a result of the speech of the Minister for Health we know that the local government authorities are to benefit. But again, of course, the Government has decided that they should find $1 for every Si that it provides. The Commonwealth will provide only a third of the cost of these services. The final third is to come from the Stales. J do not know whether there will be many of these welfare centres built in New South Wales in the future, because many of the local government bodies in that State are at present crying out for more finance. They cannot provide services to the people in their communities. They have had to increase their rates and therefore I cannot see them finding the necessary finance to build welfare centres..
Even though the Government may be providing some of the money, local government bodies will not have sufficient funds to carry on with this work.
I would like to refer briefly to what I think is one of the best organisations operating at present in New South Wales. I refer to a scheme, operating from the Royal Newcastle Hospital, which was developed by Dr Richard M. Gibson in his honorary capacity as visiting consultant, geriatrics. A domiciliary service has been provided as a result of his leadership. He has utilised all the welfare services within that area. He has backed them with the medical and social facilities of a large general hospital and has welded ‘ them into a large and efficient home service organisation. About 1,100 patients are receiving treatment as a result of his wonderful work. Every week they are visited by doctors, nurses and matrons. These people are cared for and a check is kept on their health. If it had not been for the activities of these welfare services many of these’ people would have been in need of beds in public hospitals. This service has been going on in that area for quite a few years now. It is marvellous to see the wonderful, work that Dr Gibson has done. I think it warrants mentioned in this Parliament. It is a pity that there are not more people in the community who take such an active interest in assisting in’ welfare work for aged persons. 1 know that there are many social workers who do a good deal in this field. I also know that many members of our community adopt the good old Australian attitude. They do not care. They say: Tm all right’. They do nothing to assist these people. I feel that . the Minister ought to have a closer look at the system that is operating at the Royal Newcastle Hospital and see whether this cannot be implemented in many other areas of Australia. I have mentioned that system because 1 feel that as a result of this work many people, while not on the road to full recovery - r do not think 1 can say that - are at least a great deal more contented than they were probably a year ago. This is because of the work that Dr Gibson has been doing. 1 shall not delay the Parliament any further because I know that there are other honourable members who wish to speak in this debate. I feel that whilst the money is being granted by the Commonwealth on this occasion - and we know that some people will benefit as a result of these grants - it is our responsibility in the national Parliament to look after the welfare of the people. We ought to see that they have decent homes in which to live. They ought to have decent beds in hospitals if they require hospitalisation. We ought to see that they have same decent standard of living at least in their years of retirement.
– Speakers opposite in this debate have failed to recognise the potential for good in developing a comprehensive home care programme. They have failed to give credit to the Government for taking new initiatives for the development of the nation’s health programme. In the 1968 Budget Speech when announcing that the Commonwealth Government was prepared to go beyond established fields of welfare assistance to areas where facilities are not at present available or are not adequate, the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said:
We arc convinced thai there is a need to develop home care and related services, particularly but not exclusively for aged persons. Wc have therefore invited the States to discuss this matter wilh us, at the official level initially, with the aim of working out a comprehensive and co-ordinated programme of home care, in which the Commonwealth will participate financially . . .
The subject matter of the present debate is a statement to this House by the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) announcing details of the programme of home care mutually agreed by the Commonwealth and the Slates. In this statement, the Minister drew attention to the respective constitutional responsibilities that exist between the Commonwealth and the States. He said that this difference had not been permitted to inhibit the development of a mutually agreed programme. But did all the States understand tully the nature and the role of a home care programme? Did their concern for financial assistance for particular projects close their minds to the importance of a comprehensive health scheme and to a complete and co-ordinated programme of home care?
The Budget announcement inspired the belief that we were about to see a new dimension introduced into the health services of the nation. This belief was strengthened further when the Minister for
Health, in a speech delivered in Sydney on 17th November of last year and in describing the types of home care he believed should be stimulated, said:
Perhaps I could go on from here and just sketch out how J see all of these elements fitting together. The team of people I see as involved in such an overall plan starts at the municipal level and includes general medical practitioners, social workers, public health and district nurses, meals on wheels volunteers and emergency housekeepers. There would be a recording and information service where the elderly, the infirm and the mentally and physically handicapped could be registered. There would be a close liaison and interplay with authorities in charge of special housing units, aged persons homes, nursing homes and, of course, with the public hospitals. It would be at thi* point that the enormous voluntary potential of the community would be marshalled.
He went on to say:
The regional public hospital could be a core for the whole web of services. People would bo directed to it for specialised care and assessment. At the hospital you would have specialists - including I hope specialists in geriatrics - to treat and assess patients and to take a very active part in planning, in counselling and in advising the local general practitioners and all of the people involved in the ancillary services.
This vision of a home care plan forming an integral part of a health programme has, temporarily at least, been blurred and dulled duc to the apparent lack of acceptance by the States, or some of them, of the value of a home care plan.
I was pleased to hear from the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) (hat the agreement with the Stales is not yet finalised. 1 therefore accept the Minister’s invitation to put forward constructive suggestions as to the way in which the agreement should bc formulated. The new dimension, the new vision, may yet find a basis in the important and far-reaching proposals referred to in the Minister’s statement.
For many years the place where people were taken care of was in the home. At that time, the hospital was a place to which to go to die. Due to great technical advances in medicine and diagnostic and therapeutic facilities, the patient moved from the home to the hospital. The hospital became a symbol of care. In recent years, a considerable change has taken place in the role of a general hospital and in the treatment of the chronically sick. General hospitals have come more and more to specialise in the care of the acutely sick. The chronically sick now seek care in nursing homes which themselves specialise in the care of such patients.
The factors which have given impetus to the separation of care of the acutely sick from the care of the chronically sick have brought to the notice of those concerned for the development of adequate health services the role of a home care programme. These factors include a shift from acute to chronic illness as a major health problem, sharply rising capital and maintenance costs of hospitals equipped to provide complex services and facilities for the treatment of the acutely sick; and rising aspirations as to minimum standard of health services which demand greater utilisation of hospital beds and for comprehensive high quality services. Most patients, including many who are chronically sick, want to return home from hospital or nursing home as soon as they can. An adequate comprehensive and coordinated home care programme can help them to do this. It can prevent hospitalisation; it can psychologically benefit the patient arising from the therapeutic value of living in a familiar environment helped by a maintenance of family relationships, and it can enable rehabilitation to be carried out in the setting to which the patient needs rehabilitation.
Advocacy for a co-ordinated home care programme is based upon the assumption that the home is an appropriate place to provide selected patients with care, that the family is an important resource in that care, and that the patient is an active figure in the situation and not a passive recipient. It is a phase of patient care in its own right and is not a substitute for hospitalisation. If State governments have not as yet been convinced that home care is a phase in patient care, they might be convinced if they were to examine the cost of caring for patients who need home care, but who are in hospitals, and compare that with the cost of providing home care. The rising costs of hospital care should prompt all responsible for providing such care to seek alternatives which would reduce those costs while maintaining the highest quality of care. Is it good economics any more than it is good patient care to have a hospital bed occupied by a patient whose need for the sophisticated services available in the hospital has been eliminated? The highest quality of care and more appropriate care may be provided more economically in less expensive institutions or at home. If better and cheaper patient care is to be provided in the patient’s home, the use of home care must be promoted by providing for its payment. If home care is to become an important alternative to hospital care, and if home care is to replace hospital care because it provides better patient care, it must have the support of governments and benefits organisations.
At present the nation’s health scheme concentrates on financing in-hospital care. I urge the Government, when reviewing the national health scheme, to ensure that any amendment to the scheme recognises the importance of home care. Greater fund and Commonwealth benefits should be available to those patients for whom home care is appropriate but who stay in hospital because of the inadequacy of home care benefits. The availability of benefits should be examined to ensure that they provide incentive and encouragement to rehabilitation and not the reverse. Present financing methods do not adequately support home care services and do not give sufficient encouragement to rehabilitation. The families of the chronically sick are often willing and able to provide them with adequate care. Rehabilitation training often makes it possible for such patients to return to the security of the home and family. But no financial assistance is now given to those who, motivated by family love, are so placed that they are willing and able to provide adequate care for such relatives. As the Government strives to provide nursing home benefits sufficient with the pension to provide an adequate standard of care and accommodation, it should not forget that many such patients would receive care of a similar or better quality at a lower cost, as part of a comprehensive home care programme, if some financial assistance were provided to those families able to provide such persons with care.
In his statement the Minister said that the home care programme will comprise an important part of the comprehensive health and social welfare scheme being developed in our community to assist the needy. In the context of the home care scheme I hope that the needy include all patients for whom such care is appropriate. Anyone who ls sick should be counted amongst those who might need home care services. Though it is a factor to be taken into account in providing an adequate home care scheme, ability to pay should not be the criterion used to determine need for home care services. What is important is the need of the patient at any particular stage of his illness for home care treatment. A home care programme should be available to all persons regardless of economic status. It should also be available to all age groups. In the Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) stated that the home care programme, though designed with particular reference to the needs of the aged, would not be exclusive to them. The programme announced by the Minister as having been agreed to by the States is almost exclusive to the aged in its coverage.
In a speech in Sydney the Minister spoke of the possibility of the regional public hospital being the core for the whole web of services to be established if a home care programme is to be comprehensive. A home care service is a health service. Regional co-ordinating centres are fundamental to the successful operation of a home care programme. Co-ordinating centres based upon regional hospitals would be well placed to marshal together medical and paramedical services and the many ancillary services whether provided by governments - Commonwealth, State or local - or by the tremendous contribution of voluntary organisations.
In working out the details of its home care scheme I hope that the Government will recognise the distinction between a home care service and a programme designed to help senior citizens obtain the greatest benefit, satisfaction and happiness from the years of retirement. A programme to help senior citizens in this way will no doubt relieve pressures on the health services. Happy people are healthier people than unhappy ones. The important proposed development of senior citizens centres will result in the increasing number of retirees enjoying a fuller life in their well deserved retirement years. It will reduce the incidence of debilitating loneliness. Further measures yet are needed to fill the occupation gap created on retirement by compulsory withdrawal from the work force.
The proposal to provide grants towards the capital expenditure on senior citizens centres and towards the cost of welfare officers to work in these centres is an appropriate measure to aid the resolution of this problem. I believe that the welfare officers attached to senior citizens centres should concern themselves not merely with the current retirees but also with programmes designed to prepare employees for retirement. These centres will properly concentrate upon the co-ordination of services to meet the particular needs of the aged. One of those needs is a home care service for the sick aged. But a home care service is also a community need. It is also primarily a health service. For both these reasons it should not be based upon senior citizens centres but upon regional hospitals. There is a need for a home care programme as an integral part of patient care, not only for the sick aged but also for the victims of road accidents, industrial and other accidents, and for all other invalids. The planning of a home health service will require imagination and innovation. The Minister demonstrated in his speech in Sydney that he had the necessary imagination and that he was prepared to innovate to achieve an adequate home care programme. I urge him to continue his efforts to convince the State governments of the need for imagination and innovation, for only when home care is readily available to all who need it, regardless of age, type of illness and place of residence, can the task be considered as complete.
Debate (on motion by Mr Daly) adjourned.
– I have received the following message from the Senate:
The Senate having considered message Mo. 160 from the House of Representatives has agreed to the following resolution in connection therewith: “That the Senate concurs in the resolution transmitted to the Senate by Message No. 160 of the House of Representatives, namely, that the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate be added to the membership of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House when the Committee is considering the matter of the site for the new building, subject to the following modifications:
After ‘Leader of the Opposition in the Senate’ insert ‘and the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party’;
Leave out all words after ‘Parliament House’.
The Senate requests the concurrence of the House of Representatives in the Senate’s modification of the resolution transmitted to the Senate by the House.
Ordered that the message be taken into consideration forthwith.
– On 25th February the House. agreed to a motion that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) be added to the membership of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House when the Committee is considering the matter of the site for the new building. The resolution was sent to the Senate for its concurrence. By the message just reported the Senate seeks to modify the resolution of the House by adding the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party to the Committee and by appointing the three additional senators to the Committee as full time members able to participate in all future work of the Committee. The Government has considered the position and agreed to the change. 1 move:
That the modifications of the Senate be agreed to.
Mr DALY (Grayndler) [1.0.3 lj- I intend to move that the debate be now adjourned.
– It has been agreed to. The discussion should proceed forthwith.
– Others may know of the situation, but as a member of the Parliamentary Labor Party Executive I do not recollect the matter being submitted to us for approval and my only knowledge of it is what I have heard just now. I do not believe it is unreasonable to ask for an adjournment, even if only for a short time, in those circumstances in order that we may discuss it. I think it is unreasonable to force the proposal through the House without any notice of it. I suggest to the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) that we might defer it.
– It was agreed to in the Senate.
– The fact that it was agreed to in the Senate, I say with respect, would not mean anything ‘by reason of the fact that the Government, with the Australian Democratic Labor Party, would have a majority and our Party might well have agreed to it there, for all I know. I know no more than what the Minister has just read out, and in deference to the Opposition the matter should be adjourned.
– This proposal does give to the newly appointed members the chance to sit on the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House at its next meeting and unless this matter goes through this evening they will not get that chance. This is why it was approved in the Senate today and we were hoping that it could be approved by the House this evening.
Mr DALY (Grayndler)- by leave- I would like to ask the Leader of the House (Mr Erwin) whether he could indicate what attitude the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) took on this matter.
Mr ERWIN (Ballaarat- Minister for Air) - by leave - The proposal does include the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) and also the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair). 1 think this indicates the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
– At the meeting of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House held in the last day or so there was no mention of this that I am aware of and I am rather in the same position as the spokesman on behalf of the Opposition; I know nothing of it. You, Mr Speaker, will be aware and will acknowledge that in the first place this was a balanced Committee representing interests in both Houses. I do not quite know what has happened or what has transpired to make the position any different as between the committee that sat and represented the Parliament on this matter in the past and the committee that at this point of time is expected to represent the Parliament in the future. I believe that some explanation is warranted. 1 do not know whether at this point of time the Senate feels that it is under-represented. I do not know why it should feel that way, if it does. But the House should be offered some explanation. If the Leader of the House (Mr Erwin) wants this motion agreed to at this point of time, perhaps he could offer some explanation. The difficulty appears to be that the senators have gone home and nobody knows what the answer is.
– We do.
– If that is the case, I suggest that the Leader of the House stand up and tell us the answer, because I am not happy with the explanation given so far.
Mr ERWIN (Ballaarat- Minister for Air) - by leave - The Senate has agreed to these modifications-
– Without opposition?
– In that case there is no opposition here.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Erwin) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I rise in the adjournment debate tonight to defend the forthright and honest section of the Australian clergy whom the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) criticised so unjustifiably in this Parliament in the debate on defence on Tuesday last. A short time ago I informed the Leader of the House (Mr Erwin) that I would be saying something in answer to the charges made by the honourable member for Evans against the Australian clergy, but so far the honourable member has not appeared in the chamber to hear me. The honourable member for Evans, whose rise in public life, I suppose, was contributed to by his ability to preach the gospel as a Presbyterian preacher in New South Wales for some years, said, among other things, as recorded at page 366 of Hansard, that the churches close their eyes to the truth about the nature, methods and goal of Communism. I am afraid that he is closing his eyes to the truth as a true Christian. I intend to quote from the Holy Bible some sections that he held most dear to his heart during the years that he was a preacher.
Apparently his criticism of church leaders in Australia was not taken too lightly by those reverend gentlemen of forthrightness and honesty, because today’s ‘Australian’ newspaper states, under the heading Church Leaders Deny being Soft on Communism’:
Leading Australian churchmen yesterday disagreed violently with Dr Malcolm Mackay M.HR who said in Federal Parliament on Tuesday that many Australian churchmen had gone soft on Communism.
Dr Mackay reads like a bull in a china shop’, said a Roman Catholic priest in Adelaide: the Anglican Coadjutor Bishop of Melbourne, Dr F. K. Arnott. said his reaction to Dr Mackay ‘s allegations would be unprintable. 1 agree with him. The newspaper article continues:
The Reverend E. Arblaster, director of interchurch aid for the Australian Council of Churches, accused Dr Mackay, a Presbyterian minister, of aggravating the plight of suppressed Christians in countries such as China.
The article goes on to make a devastating reply to this man of God, the honourable member for Evans.
– Order! . I remind the honourable member that any words that he ‘may utter which reflect on another honourable member, his conduct or his character, will be completely out of order.
– I. suggest that in the opinion of many true Australians the honourable member for Evans is one of the greatest reactionaries that this Parliament has ever had. Many of these Australians also hold the view that he is the temporary member for Evans. They hold the view that this God fearing man failed miserably in his endeavours in this Parliament last Tuesday during the debate on the Prime Minister’s defence statement to put fear into the Australian clergy who are speaking out against conscription and our immoral involvement in Vietnam. Let us look at the reaction of some of these men and at what they have said. I ask that the Press article be incorporated in Hansard.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– The honourable member for Evans has now taken the title of Australia’s Senator Joe McCarthy.
-Order! As I said before, the honourable member may not reflect upon or impugn the conduct or character of another honourable member, nor may he quote from an article or newspaper anything that may reflect on an honourable member.
– In the opinion of many people in this Parliament and outside it the attack by the honourable member for Evans was consistent with the attacks on thousands of decent, honourable public servants in America by the Late Senator Joseph McCarthy who died despised and friendless, a drunken derelict whose conscience finally caught up with him. He smeared thousands of decent public servants in the United States. Whilst I do not wish the same end to befall the honourable member for Evans I warn him that he is on the same path as was the late Senator Joseph McCarthy.
The honourable member for Evans, a man of learning, should know that he has withheld the truth. To the politically uninitiated, his speech in Hansard is rather clever, but a first year political science student would realise the insincerity of his remarks. A man who has preached the Gospel as extensively as has the honourable member for Evans should be reminded that the Good Book, from which I take much comfort, teaches economic philosophy. It was a philosophy that was adopted at the beginning of the Christian church by the apostles who were urging people to join the church. Principles and conditions of membership were laid down for the early Christians. The words of Jesus were used to influence people to join the church. I believe that his fellow clergymen in Australia, whom the honourable member for Evans criticised, have commended some of the good aspects of Communism and suggested their implementation in our society. There are many hungry nations in the world and the Bible tells us that some of the riches of the privileged should be shared with the poor. In Luke, chapter XVIII, verse 22, we read: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor.
In verse 25 we read:
Foi it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.
The honourable member for Evans should be reminded of this. In Acts, chapter II, verse 44, we read:
And all that believed were together, and had all things common.
The honourable member for Evans does not advocate that. He believes in the survival of the fittest, and that the weakest should go to the wall. He entered this Parliament virtually with the bottom out of his pants. Now he is alleged to be a director of half a dozen companies, including one of the most wealthy oil companies in this country. In Acts chapter 2 verse 45 it is stated:
And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
Has the honourable member for Evans forgotten that, although he used to preach it in the Christian churches? Communists do not always live up to that ideal, but such principles attract peasants to the good aspects of Communism, and thus the seeds of the revolution that is going on throughout the world are sown. We can find bombs to drop on common people, and rifles to put in their hands, but we are unable to find the money for free education in our schools, or for food for the needy.
The honourable member for Evans has avoided the chamber tonight. Probably he did not want to come here, or perhaps he had another obligation. His attack on the Australian clergy was unjustified and I refer him to the teaching of St Mark as set out in chapter 8 verse 36, where it is stated:
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
I challenge the honourable member for Evans. The part he has played in this Parliament is referred to in the passage I have quoted from St Mark. I hope he will restrain himself in future and will apologise personally to the clergy of Australia whom he so unjustifiably and wickedly attacked in this Parliament last Tuesday.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.47 p.m. until Tuesday, 18 March at 2.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Figures for overseas countries have been based on data published in the UNESCO Yearbook and the United Nations Yearbook of National Accounts Statistics. Reasonably comparable figures are not available for all the years or countries mentioned in the question. The figures below show the data which are available. Different currencies have been converted to United States dollars at the par values for the years concerned. Figures of ‘all public funds spent’ used in preparing the reply consist of the following items from the United Nations Yearbook of National Accounts Statistics:
Gross capital formation,
Interest on public debt.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
What arrangements have been made for Commonwealth and State Ministers and/or officials to meet pursuant to the letters which the Premier of New South Wales and he exchanged after the conference of the Premiers in Sydney on 4th October?
– In answer to the honourable member’s question I append the texts of the Premier’s letter of 19th December and my reply of 27th December:
Mr Askin’s Letter (dated 19 December)
Dear Mr Gorton,
The State Premiers met yesterday in Adelaide to consider further the matters which they discussed in Sydney in October last and which have since been the subject of correspondence between us.
With regard to the impact of recent wage changes on State finances, you did suggest that our Treasury officers should meet to establish the facts. In point of fact our respective Under Treasurers have met, and it seems to us that the information they have collated and which forms the basis of the statement which I am submitting with this letter, is quite straightforward and that there is no real necessity for Treasury discussions.
The submission attached is on behalf of all the Premiers and shows that the impact of the National Wage Case on State finances for the present financial year will total $23 million. After allowing for the assessed effect of these increases on the tax reimbursement grant for this year, the net burden which the States must meet is roundly $14 million. As against this we have also been given figures to show that after meeting its own costs and allowing for the increase in the tax reimbursement grant under present formula arrangements, Commonwealth revenue will show a substantial net gain this year as a result of this wage decision.
The attached statement also shows the costs in which the States have been involved in respect of their recurrent expenditure because of other award changes since the June Conference, and with the national wage case costs the figures aggregate $48 million for this year alone.
At the unanimous request of all Premiers and with a sense of great urgency, I now ask that you meet us to discuss the information which I am now submitting and to consider how our problems can be met.
While naturally we should prefer these discussions to be with you personally, if it should be that your commitments preclude you from doing this we would be prepared to talk with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Treasurer.
What 1 have said does not cover the major issue of Commonwealth-State financial relationships’ generally. We also desire to discuss this problem with you as soon as it can be arranged.
Premier and Treasurer
Prime Minister’s Letter (dated 27 December)
Dear Mr Askin, “I am writing to acknowledge the receipt on 23 December of your letter of 19 December. I . note that you have attached to it information collated by the Under Treasurers of each State and that it seems to you that there should be no real necessity for discussions’ between our Treasury officials and those of the individual States. I have referred the information you supplied to my colleague, the Treasurer, as clearly we must have it examined by our own Treasury officers. I assume that if they are unable to agree with your figures you would not, speaking for New South Wales, object to their communicating and discussing with your Treasury officers any queries they may have?
It is my intention to propose a Premiers’ conference in the New Year to discuss the financial arrangements, as from 1 July 1.969, concerning roads. This could also provide the opportunity you request for you and your colleagues to discuss with us the problems, and the submitted information, mentioned in paragraph 5 of your letter. Having regard to my commitments arising from the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, I suggest that we meet in Canberra on Thursday, 13 March, continuing as necessary on Friday, 14 March. Our new Parliamentary sittings are to begin on 25 February and the dates I mention will be the first recess in those sittings.
er asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Public Service (Question No. 119J)
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 March 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1969/19690306_reps_26_hor62/>.