27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Social Services Mr HAMER presented the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Victoria respectfully showeth.
That due to the higher living cost, persons on Social Service Pensions are finding it extremelyifficult to live in even the most frugal way.
We therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to i0% of the Average Weekly Male Earnings for all States, as ascertained by the Commonwealth Statistician, plus supplementary assistance and allowances in accordance with A.C.T.U. policy and adopted as the policy of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners’ Federation, and by doing so give a reasonably moderate pension.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our Petition: so that our citizens receiving the Social Service Pensions may live their lives in dignity.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
Mr SCHOLES presented the following petition: to the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Victoria respectively showeth.
That due to the higher living cost, persons on Social Service Pensions are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way.
We therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30% of the Average Weekly Male Earnings for all States, as ascertained by the Commonwealth Statistician, plus supplementary assistance and allowances in accordance with A.C.T.U. policy and adopted as the policy of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners’ Federation, and by doing so give a reasonably moderate pension.
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our Petition: so that our citizens receiving the Social Service Pensions may live their lives in dignity.
And your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Mr DRURY presented the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled
The Humble Petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth - Whereas:
the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian Education system.
a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all.
200,000 students from Universities, Colleges of Advanced Education and other Tertiary Institutions, and their parents suffer severe penalty from inadequacies in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1968.
Australia cannot afford to hinder the education of these 200,000 Australians.
Your petitioners pray that your honourable House make legal provision for -
The allowance of personal education expenses as a deduction from income for tax purposes.
Removal of the present age limit in respect of the deduction for education expenses and the maintenance allowance for students.
Increase in the amount of deduction allowable for tertiary education expenses.
Exemption of non-bonded scholarships, for part-time students from income tax.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
Mr BROWN presented the following petition :
To the Honourable, the Speaker, and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.
The humble petition of residents of Victoria, respectively sheweth:
Australians, custodians of the world’s largest marsupial, the Red Kangaroo, have allowed it to be reduced so low numerically that even CSIRO research has had to be suspended in some areas and alternative means of research employed in others.
The Kangaroo is being exploited whilst facts on populations and numbers of kangaroos is unknown - any day the numbers can be reduced below that level needed for survival of droughts and natural mortality. At this date neither the number needed for survival nor the number of kangaroos left is known.
Pending the outcome of investigations by the Select Committee, it can be logically assumed that shooters, fearing restrictive legislation in the future, will intensify their efforts to obtain as many animals as possible while they can.
We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that you will:
Immediately ban the export of products made from kangaroos.
Strongly urge the State Governments to ban the shooting of kangaroos for commercial purposes, at least until the Select Committee has made its investigations and recommendations.
Add to the Constitution a clause giving power to the Commonwealth Government to act to safeguard any species of wildlife that is endangered through any cause.
And we your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
Mr FOX presented the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament Assembled:
The humble Petition of the Citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:
The Red Kangaroo and many other marsupials, through shooting for commercial purposes, have been reduced to a numerical level where their survival is in jeopardy.
None of the Australian States have sufficient wardens to detect and apprehend people breaking the laws in existence in each State, and in such a vast country only uniform laws and a complete cessation of commercialisation can ensure the survival of our national emblem.
lt is an indisputable fact that no natural resource can withstandhunting on such a concentrated scale, unless some provision is made for its future.
We, your Petitioners, therefore humbly pray that:
The export of all kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government make a serious appraisal of ils responsibility in the matter to ensure the survival of the kangaroo. And, your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Mr WHITTORN presented the following petition:
Tothe Honourable Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament Assembled. The humble petition of residents of the State of Victoria respectively sheweth:
That because of uncontrolled shooting for commercial purposes, the population of kangaroos, particularly the big red species is now so low that they may become extinct.
There are insufficient wardens in any State of the Commonwealth to detect or apprehend those who break the inadequate laws which exist.
As a tourist attraction, the kangaroo is a permanent source of revenue to this country.
It is an indisputable fact that no species can withstand hunting on such a scale, when there is no provision being made for its future.
We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray, that-
The export of kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government take the necessary steps to have all wildlife in Australia brought under its control.
Only a complete cessation of killing for commercial purposes can save surviving kangaroos. And your petitioners, therefore, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– Will the Prime Minister give the same consideration to age pensioners, undoubtedly in need, as Cabinet has seen fit to extend to two former Australian Governors-General in granting a pension of $7,500 to each GovernorGeneral and, upon their death, of S6.000 to the widows of those Governors-General? Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether these pensions are to be paid annually? Has the Government abolished the means test for former GovernorsGeneral? Will the Prime Minister take steps to implement the same principle for all pensioners where such means tests deny pensions to citizens otherwise entitled to them?
– I think the question, coming from the honourable member, is a little peculiar since, as far as I understand it, he has never evidenced that he would have any objection to taking his pension as a parliamentary member without a means test. If he cares to say he would, he might be placing himself in a different direction from those whom, by indirection, he is attacking. So I think it is a little peculiar that he should adopt this attitude in relation to other distinguished people, one an Australian and one an Englishman, who have served this country in its highest office and who, I believe, in that service had the respect of all members of this Parliament who served at the time when they were Governors-General.
What we have done in this case is to make an annual pension available to a former distinguished Australian GovernorGeneral whose circumstances suggested that that was appropriate, and we have done the same in the case of a former most distinguished soldier and Governor-General. These are both acts of grace payments and I think that the circumstances justify them.
I do not really believe that the honourable member should have questioned them in this way.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Is the Prime Minister aware that acts of lawlessness and industrial and political blackmail, such as yesterday’s Australian Council of Trade Unions strike, with which the Leader of the Opposition is certainly associated, or the statement of the Labor Premier of South Australia encouraging people to break laws they do not like, fill the ordinary public in Australia with acute anxiety and disquiet? Is his Government prepared to take more forthright action in this situation? Does the Prime Minister know that if the Government does so he will receive the solid backing of the quiet majority of the people in this country, many of whom are fearful that the very cornerstones of Australian life as they know it are beginning to crumble?
– I think that the ordinary public of Australia are indeed disturbed by such manifestations as the senseless disruption caused yesterday by Mr Hawke, apparently after some consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. I think they ate also disturbed by the growing spate of strikes which have occurred since Mr Hawke gained control of the ACTU and also at the growing pronouncements from this would-be dictator indicating that industrial action is a proper thing to lake if his political desires cannot be achieved through proper political methods. As to inciting people to break the law, I think there can be no excuse whatsoever for those in a community where the opportunity exists to change the law through the ballot box. I am convinced that, if we were to take action in a way which did not interfere with the free expression of opposition and the publication of opposition to government action, but which did prevent it being expressed with licence which interfered with the civil rights of the majority of this country, wc would have the backing of the vast majority of Australians who, again, are disturbed by the practice which has developed of invading public places and private properly in order either to interfere with the rights of citizens or to threaten and intimidate other citizens. 1 believe we would get that full backing and we propose to ask the Parliament to lake such action.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry a question. What is the Government’s attitude to the Tariff Board’s proposal that there should be a systematic review of the Australian tariff?
– The Tariff Board has certain authority of its own which enables it to take its own initiatives. 1 would think that perhaps on a matter so broadly based as that indicated by the words used by the honourable member the Tariff Board might request references from the Minister. I am sure that any request by the Tariff Board that references should be made over certain sections of industries would be acted upon by the Government through the Minister. But as a matter of fact there is a very large section of the tariff schedule - I forget the terminology which would describe it - which has already been referred by me to the Tariff Board, and this might be regarded as a commencement of a review of those items of tariff which have not been reviewed for some considerable time.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. The AttorneyGeneral will recall that on 19th August, this year, in answer to a question, he said that he had authorised investigations into a number of activities which might lead to situations in which he would consider it proper to prosecute offences against Commonwealth law. I ask: Have these investigation continued? If so, can the AttorneyGeneral advise the House whether any such prosecutions will be launched?
– The investigations have indeed continued. They have been quite extensive in their scope in that a number of persons have been interviewed. I have been informed that the results of these investigations will be made available for my consideration early next week. I shall give the documents which I expect to be submitted to me my immediate consideration with a view to deciding whether prosecutions should be launched.
– I wish to ask a question of the Prime Minister, in view of lnc fact that 80% of the pupils who enter private, non-Catholic, secondary schools continue through to complete their full period of secondary education but, in rather alarming contrast, 80% of the pupils who enrol at State secondary schools drop out before completing their full period of secondary education - that is, 4 out of 5 students who enrol in State secondary schools fail to complete their secondary education - what steps does the Government have in mind to overcome this rather grave loss of young people from the benefits of a full secondary education? Will the Government consider extending the payment of the allowance of $50 for each student, which is currently provided to private secondary schools, to State secondary schools in view of their clear need?
– 1 am not prepared to accept without question the statistics quoted by the honourable member.
– Your Minister quoted them last year in the House.
– I am not denying them. I am just not prepared to accept them being quoted without question at this time because I doubt whether they were in fact true. They may be. I just express that doubt because it did not seem to me to have been the situation when I was Minister for Education and Science. It may have been. The figures may relate to scholarship winners. However, that is by the way. All I wish to make clear at the start is that I am not, in answering this question, accepting the accuracy of the statistics quoted by the honourable member. Of course, what this Government has done in order to assist pupils to complete their secondary education is to bring in what I think people would call a highly successful secondary scholarship scheme, which is available by competition to pupils at all schools - not merely at private schools - and which enables the last 2 years of secondary schooling to be completed with the aid of that scholarship. In regard to the last part of the question asked by the honourable member, this Government and the State governments provide infinitely more than $50 a year towards the education of pupils in State schools. The $50 to which the honourable member referred is only a fraction of what is provided by the taxpayer through governments to pupils in State schools. Therefore, I think he was perhaps under a misapprehension when he asked his question.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has the Minister received the annual report of the Tariff Board? If so, when will it be tabled in the House?
– I have been keeping in touch on the question of when the annual report of the Tariff Board might be presented to me. 1 learned just as the bells were ringing for the assembly of the House that during lunch time the annual report of the Tariff Board was delivered to the Department of Trade and Industry. The procedure now will be to send the report to the Government Printer immediately. In my experience it has not been the practice of the Government to seek to do any more than present the report to the Parliament. Indeed, it is my understanding that the Tariff Board is reporting not only to the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Government but also to the Parliament. As soon as the Government Printer is able to print the Board’s report I will table it in the House. The law requires me to table the report within 15 sitting days of its receipt, but when I am in possession of the printed report I will table it as soon as practicable.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service able to give any information about the appointment of 2 vocational guidance officers of his Department at Port Augusta to assist in overcoming problems concerning the employment of Aboriginals in that area of South Australia? When will the appointments be finalised?
– T regret that J cannot give an answer related specifically to the position at Port Augusta. However, I can inform the House that authority to strengthen the staff of the Department has recently been given. The Department is now in the process of recruiting officers who will be assigned to the task of assisting to place Aboriginals in employment. I will make inquiries about the officers to go to Port Augusta and when they are expected to take up duties there and will inform the honourable gentleman accordingly.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question. In view of recent criticism regarding the advisability of Australia’s building a nuclear power station will the Minister outline the industrial benefits in addition to the generation of electricity which he sees accruing to the Australian people from the erection and operation of the proposed nuclear power station? Will he also say why Jervis Bay was selected as the site for our first nuclear power station?
– I have read several articles in the Press recently, principally in the ‘Australian’, dealing with this matter. While I am sure we welcome constructive articles about important public matters, in one or two respects the articles 1 read were, to use a colloquial expression, a little off the beam, r understand that Mr Moffitt was the author of the articles. [ would be happy to discuss these matters with him at any time or to arrange for him to discuss them with officers of the Atomic Energy Commission. The honourable member has asked how Jervis Bay came to be selected as the site for our first nuclear power station. This matter goes back a number of years. Some years ago the Government, reviewing power requirements for the future, decided that there would be a requirement to supplement the present means of power generation by nuclear power. A decision was made in 1968 to investigate the desirability of the Commonwealth’s constructing Australia’s first nuclear power station. It was decided to discuss the matter with the States. My predecessor, the honourable member for Farrer, visited all States early in 1969 and discussed the matter at length with representatives of the States with a view to seeing whether the States were interested in joining the Commonwealth in construction of a nuclear power station, the Commonwealth to take over the capital cost. The various States indicated that they would have some interest in the matter for the future but New South Wales was the only State to indicate at that time that it would be prepared immediately to enter into an agreement with the Commonwealth. Formal discussions were held and it was decided to construct the station in the Australian Capital Territory, either in the area around Canberra or at Jervis Bay. A number of sites were investigated and ultimately the decision was made to select the Jervis Bay site which was considered not only by the Atomic Energy Commission but by the Elec tricity Commission of New South Wales to be the best available. Since then there has been progress on an agreement with the New South Wales Government and tenders have been called for the station. I announced on Monday that we now have reduced the 9 tenders by eliminating 5 and that there are 4 tenders remaining on the short list for consideration.
– - I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Would the Minister give us details of the agreement?
– Mr Speaker, 1 am endeavouring to give some of the details. As I indicated to the House previously it would be impossible to give full details of all the tenders received because the weight of paper alone was 7 tons. The second point on this very important subject is the question of benefits that will flow to Australia from the erection of its first nuclear power station. Primarily, of course, it is designed to generate electricity which will be fed into the New South Wales grid. It is a coincidence that the 500 megawatts that it will be providing, we hope in about 5 years time, will equate in about 10 years time the total requirement of the Australian Capital Territory. But that is by the way. The other principal benefit to be gained is that it will provide a training ground for personnel not only from the Atomic Energy Commission but also from the Electricity Commission of New South Wales. I understand also that other States will be interested in training personnel at this first nuclear power station which is being provided by the Commonwealth with Commonwealth capital in conjunction with an agreement with the Government of New South Wales.
– Because of the increasing cost of petrol and the menacing problem of pollution I ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to a report that a device has been invented which reduces by more than half the carbon monoxide fumes from motor vehicles and which thus reduces the pollution of the atmosphere. Does the Prime Minister know that a University of New South Wales traffic engineering expert and the inventor of the unit, Mr Duncan McWade claim that the device cuts car r costs by almost a half? In view of these important claims will the Prime Minister have the invention examined by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or another Commonwealth organisation with the object of testing the efficiency of the unit? If it reaches the standards claimed by the inventor and the University professor will he take action to provide funds for its production?
– I read a report in a newspaper regarding the matter raised by the honourable member. I know that this is not the only claim made by an inventor about a device of this kind. In fact there is a claim for such an invention, which I have seen but not seen working, in Melbourne and 1 have asked for an investigation to be made into it. I believe that the CSIRO would be prepared to test the claims of inventors of machines of this kind, if it were possible to manufacture simple and cheap devices of this kind then they would contribute quite considerably to cutting down the pollution that comes from motor vehicle exhausts. If that could be done I do not believe there would be a need for the Commonwealth to provide funds for it to go into production. I believe that it would go into production in the ordinary way and be sold in the normal way to car manufacturers and other users of road transport. That, however, is not a matter which has yet arisen. The major part of what I think the honourable member asked was: Does the Government have an interest in seeing whether a device of this kind can he effective and can be used? We would be glad to have one of our instrumentalities help along those lines.
– I direct my question to the Attorney-General and in doing so make reference to the letter he wrote to me some days ago informing me that he would not be prosecuting Mrs Margaret Berman firstly because of her health and secondly because of the protection afforded her by the Victorian Evidence Act. Am I correct in assuming that certain sections of the Commonwealth’s Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act 1960-66 are not worth the paper they are written on and that the State Government can make the existence of this Parliament farcical? Will the Minister spell out to the
House the circumstances under which my fellow countrymen can have a free hand in eroding once hallowed privacy or alternatively will he tell the nation and the State Government that he is not going to tolerate a repetition of the Penridge case in north Queensland or the Berman case in Victoria unless it is a matter of national security?
– The honourable member for Griffith has referred to a letter which I wrote to him a week or so ago. My recollection of what is in the letter, if I may say so, does not exactly accord with the substance of it as he gave it to the House. I rather think that I said - and the honourable member will correct me if I am wrong - that although I had not made a final decision on the question my inclination was against authorising a prosecution in the case of Mrs Berman. I did refer in my tetter to certain considerations or factors concerning that case which quite frankly troubled me. One of those factors was that it had been reported to me that the lady concerned was suffering from the terminal stages of a fatal disease, and I would not be the first Attorney-General to manifest some disinclination to prosecute a person in that condition. There is another consideration which has to be weighed in deciding this question. It is this: Any prosecution for an alleged infringement of the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act would have to be instituted in the Supreme Court of the State in which the offence is alleged to have been committed or, at any rate, if not in the Supreme Court in a court of summary jurisdiction in that State. Under the law as it stands the position is that in such a prosecution the law to be applied relating to procedure and evidence is, by virtue of the provisions of section 79 of the Judiciary Act, the law applicable in the State. That means that in the State of Victoria, assuming I were to institute a prosecution against Mrs Berman, there is a statute which protects her in criminal proceedings against the use of any alleged admissions she may have made in the recently held abortion inquiry in Victoria. That statute would operate to preclude the use of evidence in a Commonwealth prosecution. All I say - and I hope the House will bear with me on this - is that the considerations to which I have adverted do, to my mind anyway, place substantial obstacles - I do not say they are
Irremovable but I am incined to think they may be - in the way of a prosecution. I know that the honourable member has a particular zeal for the proper enforcement of the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act which, as far as I am concerned - I say this without in any way wishing to be patronising - is quite commendable. He has referred to 2 cases which he has already taken up with me. He asked me in effect why I have not prosecuted in these cases. One of them was a case which arose before I came to office, and it was dealt with by my predecessor. I do not wish, and it would not be proper for me. to canvass my predecessor’s previously concluded judgment in that case, which was one in which he decided not to prosecute. As to the other case, I want to make it quite clear - because the honourable member has been concerned about it - that was one in which the only evidence possible as a ground of prosecution far breach of the Act was an alleged admission which was withdrawn by the person concerned almost as soon as or very soon after it had been made, lt would be a very adventurous undertaking to institute a prosecution far a serious criminal offence upon that evidence alone, and that was the position that had to be considered.
As 1 said, 1 appreciate the honourable members concern for the enforcement of this legislation. 1 have investigated the 2 cases to which the honourable member referred, the Queensland case and the Berman case which has arisen since I came to office. I have also investigated another case which arose in Sydney. I am as concerned as the honourable member is to see that this law is enforced but, on balance, I do not think I. will do much good in achieving that end by making declamatory statements of the kind the honourable member encourages me to make.
– I ask a question of the Treasurer on matters arising from the Premiers Conference, ls it a fact that the Commonwealth Grants Commission considered the South Australian case for further assistance on Monday. 3rd August, over 3 weeks ago, and reported to the Commonwealth Government a few days later? How much did the Commission recommend in lieu of the $3m suggested by the Treasury and apparently vetoed by the Prime Minister? When will the Government announce its decision concerning this matter? What are the precise terms of the $1 Om loan made available to the State of Victoria from the Advance to the Treasurer in the 1 969-70 financial year?
– First of all I should remove from the honourable member’s mind any idea that there was a recommendation of S3m by the Treasury. That statement has no foundation. The Treasury advises the Government and the Government makes the appropriate decisions. The Commonwealth Grants Commission has heard the South Australian case. Its full report will be available some time in the near future. As far as the intermediate action is concerned, I indicated in the House the other day that the Prime Minister would be making an appropriate statement, lt is normal for the Prime Minister to make these statements at the appropriate time after being in touch with and advising the Premier of the State concerned. The honourable member also referred to the loan to the State of Victoria. This will come up in the debate on the Budget papers in the normal way. I think it would be appropriate at that stage to give the honourable member the information he requires.
– 1 direct my question to the Prime Minister. I refer to the request of the New South Wales Government for special financial assistance from the Commonwealth on a SI for SI basis for the relief of drought in northern New South Wales. Can the Prime Minister indicate to the House when this application from New South Wales was received and what stage has been reached in its consideration by the Government? Further, in view of the seriousness of the drought position in northern New South Wales, will the Government deal with this as a matter of urgency?
– From memory, the application from the Premier of New South Wales was received by the Commonwealth Government about a fortnight ago. give or take a couple of days. I do not have in mind the exact time it arrived.
It has already been considered by the Cab- inet, which has reached a decision onit. I donot think that I should now announce what that is in advance of the Premier of New South Wales receiving notification from us, but I believe that when it is announced the honourable member, and any fair minded person, would be inclined to agree that we had dealt with this plea and this urgent situation not only with urgency but with some generosity.
– Does the Minister for National Development support the Victor- ian Premier’s persistent attitude that Bass Strait natural gas shall not be sold to New South Wales consumers at prices below those in Victoria? Is he aware of recent action by the New South Wales Minister for Mines to obtain alternative supplies at lower prices from newly discovered sources in South Australia? Does he support the Victorian Premier’s claim that Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd works in New South Wales will not accept supplies from sources outside Bass Strait at a lower price than BHP now imposes in Victoria? Will he speed consideration of the legislation to confirm the Commonwealth’s undoubted rights to the Bass Strait area so that it can exercise its undoubted power to fix the well head price of natural gas?
– Most of the matters to which the honourable member has referred are directly the sovereign rights of the States concerned. Therefore I am afraid that I would not be able to intervene, as suggested, in what might be a minor dispute between 2 States. The honourable member raised the question of sovereignty in respect of petroleum. As he knows, under the petroleum legislation there is an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States which does not define clearly the sovereign power in relation to these matters. It indicates that when a point arises on which there is a dispute the terms of the agreement will apply. I am sure that they do apply in this particular case. However if his question relates to sovereignty in other matters I can only refer him to an item which is on the notice paper at present dealing with sovereignty in another field. However, the main matter he raised is covered at present by existing legislation.
– I am sure that the Minister for Customs and Excise is aware of the representations that I, together with others, have made over a period suggesting that superphosphate bounty payments should be made to distributors holding stocks at the time of the announcement of the increase in the bounty. Can the Minister tell me whether any decision has been made on this matter?
– The honourable member for La Trobe, together with other honourable members, has been quite persistent in his representations about this suggestion. I am pleased to say that the Government has reconsidered the position and has resolved that the Phosphate Fertiliser Bounty Act should be amended to apply the increased bounty to unsold stocks in the hands of resellers at the date of the increase. This means that legislation will be introduced making retrospective payment of the increase in respect of those stocks held at midnight on 12th August 1969.
– I ask the Treasurer whether his attention has been drawn to an article in the ‘Australian’ of 7th August which reads:
The New South Wales Government will appoint its own insurance commission if the Commonwealth fails to act promptly to strengthen controls in the trade.
Does the Minister recall my raising in the House last March the, questionable activities of the Motor Marine and General Insurance Co. Ltd when I was advised that his Department would investigate the matter? Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the doubtful insurance stability of Cambridge Insurance, its subsidiary Norfolk, East Australian, Bonus Benefits, Mid Pacific and other unstable companies which, because of the failure of this Government to act, are fleecing thousands of innocent people? Finally, will he give an assurance that he will take steps in the present parliamentary session to amend the Commonwealth Insurance Act to empower the Commonwealth Insurance Commissioner to control non-life insurance as he does life insurance?
– Firstly, I have not seen the article to which the honourable member has referred and I am not fully acquainted with his personal activities in this direction. The position with general insurance is very different from that of life assurance in respect of which we have passed a specific Act. I might say that there has been no failure of a life company since Commonwealth supervision began in 1945. The general insurance field, as I have said, is very different indeed. There are about 450 companies operating in the other than life insurance field. In some States there are close supervisory powers, particularly in Queensland which has been the pioneer in this field. A good many States operate in this sphere through their own institutions. They have separate companies and a varying degree of provisions and devices operated mainly through their Companies Acts. The Commonwealth has received representations directly and on behalf of the Premiers of 2 States. Cabinet has considered them and other representations which have been made by representatives of insurance groups and other parties who are interested and competent. Replies to the State Premiers are being prepared and it would be inappropriate to anticipate them until the Premiers concerned have had a chance to read them.
Work in this field has been proceeding for some time in my Department and a number of these issues are now being considered as a matter of urgency. Of course the Government is very concerned at the lack of confidence which has spread in regard to a good many insurance companies. This lack of confidence in itself tends to bring about its own damage. For instance, there have been rather precipitate suggestions that immediately the Commonwealth should increase the deposit payable but a sudden increase in deposits for existing companies could do nothing but complicate and make their financial position more difficult. This whole field is under very thorough consideration and at the appropriate time - I imagine in a very short time hence - the Prime Minister will be making an announcement on behalf of the Government on this subject.
– I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, 1 do. During question time 1 quoted some statistics and the Prime Minister cast doubt on them. 1 refer the House to page 2144 of Hansard of 26th September 1969 and page 243 of Hansard of 13th August 1969.
-Order! The honourable member is not making a personal explanation, it is a matter of whether he was personally misrepresented and he may not debate the subject.
– 1 was personally misrepresented in that the accuracy of my statement was seriously questioned. I put to you, Mr Speaker, that reference to page 2144 of Hansard will show that my statement was completely correct, and that reference to page 243 will show that the Prime Minister’s-
-Order! It is not the usual practice in this House, nor has it been, for an honourable member to quote something unless it is in relation to his own personal explanation.
– Then I seek leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted?
– How long will it take?
– Not more than 5 minutes.
– Very well.
– Leave is granted.
– I thank the Prime Minister for his generosity. In this case 1 will quote from page 2144 of Hansard of 26th September 1969. In reply to a question which was asked in this House on that occasion, the then Minister for Education and Science, Mr Malcolm Fraser, pointed out that enrolments in final year of Austraiian secondary schools in 1968 compared with enrolments in the year of entry to the secondary course - 1963 or 1964 depending on the length of the course - revealed that final year enrolments as a proportion of first year enrolments were 20.4% for Government schools and 27.5% for Roman Catholic schools, and for ‘other’ schools - that is, non-Catholic independent schools - the figure was 76.3%. Quite clearly, in the secondary schooling system, there is a drop-out rate of 80% amongst first year enrolled pupils at State schools whereas 80% of those enrolled as first year pupils at private secondary schools continue the full period of education.
My point to the Prime Minister was that the fact that the drop-out rate at State secondary schools was 4 times as high as the drop-out rate at private non-Catholic secondary schools indicated a grave and alarming state of affairs. I inferred from my question that a need existed for much greater aid for State secondary schools to make those schools more attractive and so encourage children to stay on for the full period of the secondary school course. Specially oriented educational training for young people according to their needs should be provided at those schools. Many of these people come from areas of social and economic deprivation and have a need for a system of education that discriminates in their favour by providing special loadings for these children by way of specialised equipment and training.
The other point that I wish to refer to is this: At page 243 of Hansard of 13th August 1969, the then Minister for Education and Science is shown as saying in reply to a question that between 1965 and 1969 a dramatic drop occurred in the proportion of Commonwealth secondary scholarships awarded to applications received. The proportion awarded, based on applications received, was 19.6% in 1965. That is not a high rate; it is not a flattering rate, lt certainly is not a generous contribution to the needs of children at secondary schools. But 19.6% of applications were rewarded with Commonwealth secondary scholarships in 1965. In 1969, the proportion dropped to 12.4%. I do not have the figures before me, but my recollection is clear that I stated in this House in the last session of the last Parliament that the proportion of children attending non-Catholic private secondary schools who receive Commonwealth scholarships is significantly higher than the number of children attending State secondary schools who receive this form of scholarship. An area of critical need is present in our secondary school educational system. This is apparent especially in State secondary schools, These figures that I have quoted indicate this fact. Quite a lot of further evidence is available. A clear area of critical need is to be found also in certain of the Catholic secondary schools.
– I gave the honourable member leave to make a statement on the area of alleged misrepresentation.
– All right. My final point is that such a critical area of need does not seem to exist in the non-Catholic private secondary school area. That was the basis of my question.
– by leave - Mr Speaker, the first point that I wish to make is that I do not think the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Heyden) is at all justified in saying I questioned or cast doubts upon his accuracy. What 1 stated was that I did not deny the figures that he quoted but that I was not prepared to accept them without more evidence and more proof. I am still not clear just what figures he is quoting but it seems to me from what he has recently said that he is saying that of those who enrolled in secondary school in 1963 a certain percentage were still at school in 1 968.
– In the final year of education.
– Yes. Of those enrolled in 1963, 20%-odd were still in the final year in 1968. I do not know that that does in fact fully substantiate what he is suggesting because I believe - this we would need to check - that the proportion staying at school longer has been growing from year to year and I would expect that we would find that of those enrolled in 1964 a higher proportion was at school in 1969, and so on. He is just taking this one particular case. For the rest, 2 things are obvious. One is that the secondary scholarship scheme has been of great assistance to a number of secondary school students, enabling them to finish their secondary school education. The other is that as the number of applicants increases, as it does after a new scheme is introduced, so the proportion of awards to applicants naturally reduces, but that does not mean that the number of scholarships that are being provided has become less. Finally I have only this to say: In awarding scholarships to those who have won them we have taken the view, which I think is the correct one, that scholarships ought to be awarded to chose who have proved to be scholars by public competitive examination rather than by other means.
– Mr Speaker, with your indulgence and with the compassion of the Prime Minister I merely want to point out-
– Order! The honourable member must seek the leave of the House if he wishes to make a personal explanation.
– No. We have had 2 statements already.
– -What does the honourable member seek?
– I want to make a statement.
– No, save it for the adjournment debate.
– Leave is not granted.
-I present the following paper:
Audit Act - Finance - Report of the AuditorGeneral for year .1969-70, accompanied by the Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Construction of National Standards Laboratories, Bradfield Park, New South Wales Mr CHIPP (Hotham - Minister for Customs and Excise)  - I move;
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Work* Committee Act 1969, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to Parliament: Construction of National Standards Laboratories at Bradfield Park, New South Wales.
The proposal includes the construction of laboratories, lecture theatre, administration buildings, amenities buildings, workshops and plant buildings for the Divisions of Applied Physics and Physics, which comprise the National Standards group. The estimated cost is $ 13.5m. The Government notes the Committee’s observations concerning security measures and assures the
House that this aspect will be fully considered as plans are further developed. Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution detailed .planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Construction of Freight Aprons, Taxiways, Runway Extension and Engineering Services at Melbourne Airport
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, it is expedient to cany out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to Parliament: Construction of freight aprons, taxiways, runway extension and engineering services at Melbourne Airport.
The work includes the construction of freight aprons and associated taxiways, taxiway development, fillet widening for Boeing 747 operations, the extension of the north-south runway to 12.000 feet, additional roads and car parks and extensions of the electrical water supply. The estimated cost is $17.3m. The Committee has reported favourably on the proposal. Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution detailed planning can proceed m accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– 1 wish to oppose the Committee’s recommendation for the extension of the freight aprons, taxiways, runway extensions and engineering services at Melbourne Airport situated at Tullamarine. The reason for my opposition is that the people who reside around this airport have expressed to the Committee their opposition particularly to the extension of the north-south runway to the south. The proposal is to extend the north-south runway by 3,500 feet- 2,500 feet to the south and 1,000 feet to the north. The estimated cost of the extension is S5.2m.
It should be clearly understood by those people who do not know the area that there is a small settlement to the south of the existing north-south runway. I refer to the township of Keilor, which has been in existence for in excess of 100 years. The proposal to extend the runway closer to Keilor will, of necessity, create a noise hazard which will affect the people who live in the township. It must be borne in mind that these people are not newcomers to the area; some of them have lived there all of their lives. The Keilor City Council did put forward to the Public Works Committee for its consideration a proposal which was the exact opposite to the Committee’s recommendation. The Keilor City Council’s proposal was that the airport be extended entirely to the north. There is no habitation of any magnitude to the north of the airport in line with the runway. The Public Works Committee considered this proposal and determined that the cost of extending the runway 3,500 feet to the north would be $9.7m and the cost of a compromise or alternative proposal to extend it 1,500 feet to the south and 2,000 feet to the north would be $7.3m.
I do not think that this is really a question of how much money is involved, although that must be a consideration. The prime consideration should be the effect of such development on the people who live near the airport at present and the people who will live near it in the future. On this aspect, I have already pointed out that the township of Keilor has been in existence for a long time. It has inhabitants who lived there prior to 1958, which is when an airport at Tullamarine was first mooted. There is no residential development as yet to the north. Therefore consideration must be given to the people of Keilor. The Commonwealth Government, as the owner of the airport, is in no different position from any other citizen in the community in that it has an obligation, as has every citizen, to be a good neighbour and not to cause a nuisance. It has been argued by the Keilor City Council, and I agree with it, that to do as the Public Works Committee has recommended and extend the runway to the south will create a nuisance for the people who reside in the area.
Tt must also be borne in mind that there is a large area of vacant land around the airport at present. The Committee took cognisance of this fact. In this regard I refer to page 19 of the report of the Public Works Committee on extensions to Melbourne Airport, and in particular to paragraph 69, which states:
We believe it should have the added effect-
That is, extension of the runway to the south - of preventing further encroachment by urban development onto land outside the airport which originally was zoned to act as a sound butler between the airport and urban areas.
On that very point I would like to say that there is land abutting the southern boundary of the airport which was in fact rural land in 1966. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works opposed and refused an application to rezone the land as residential land. The owner of the land appealed against the refusal to the Minister for Local Government, as is possible in Victoria, who agreed that the land should be rezoned as residential land. The land has not been subdivided so far, but if it were to be developed for residential purposes that would mean that the extension of the runway would create a greater hazard. The Public Works Committee has recognised the fact that a problem does exist insofar as the urban development of the land skirting the airport is concerned. Therefore I would have thought that the Committee would have made a recommendation to the Commonwealth Government, and I am disappointed that it has not, that the Commonwealth Government take the initiative, together with the State Government, and ensure that the vacant land which surrounds the Melbourne Airport at Tullamarine remains vacant or is put only to a use which is compatible with the airport. I am of the opinion, and a large number of people in my electorate are of the same opinion, that residential development next door to an airport is not a compatible use. It is most important to have liaison between the 3 levels of government - Commonwealth. State and local - which are responsible for the usage of land around airports. Tullamarine should not fall into the category later on of, for example, Sydney where development has been permitted around the airports. The same thing has happened at Essendon Airport in that development has been permitted up to the perimeter of the airport. This is a problem which could be avoided at Tullamarine if action is taken at this point of time by responsible people to ensure that the vacant land is used for a purpose which is compatible with an international airport.
The Public Works Committee also made a rather brief reference in its report to the question of the curfew imposed on flying hours. This is another subject which is of great interest to my electorate. It is probable that when all the facts are known about jet aircraft - very little information is available at the moment - this is a subject which will also be of interest to people who reside in areas other than immediately adjacent to airports. The Public Works Committee gave some consideration to the question of 24-hour flying. With the greatest of respect to the Committee I would like to say, that although 1 know it did investigate this question very carefully, I am unable to agree with its reason for saying that Melbourne Airport ought to be used on a 24-hour basis. Paragraph 71 of the Committee’s report states that, having regard to the magnitude of the Commonwealth’s investment, currently rising to $85m, and the care taken by the Commonwealth during planning to ensure the maximum possible compatibility of airport operations with the interests of the community, the Committee supports the proposal to use Melbourne airport on a 24-hour basis. The physical health of the people who are affected cannot be measured in terms of millions of dollars. No survey has been carried out to determine the sociological effect of aircraft noise on people, especially its effect on people in the early hours of the morning. To say that Melbourne Airport has to be used on the basis of 24 hours a day because of the large capital investment in it is to imply that we should base all of our operations only on the amount of money which has been expended and not be conscious of the comfort of individuals in the community.
When he opened the airport on 1st July of this year the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said that 24-hour usage of the airport was contingent upon proper zoning in the environs of the airport; which brings me back to the very first point I made that, insofar as the Melbourne Airport is concerned it is at this point of time not in an ideal position at Tullamarine but it is in a relatively good position if the vacant land around it is put to good use. However, if the situation is not corrected now the vacant land will be sold and sub-divided. There is the risk that unscrupulous dealers in land will encourage people to live there. Further residential development will create additional problems for the Commonwealth because there will be a constant cry from the people living in the area for relief or compensation.
The situation that might develop can be foreseen. There is still time to rezone the land around the airport so that it may be put to proper use. I am disappointed that the Committee should have seen fit to recommend bringing the north-south runway 2,500 feet closer to the people who live in the area. I have no doubt that to extend the runway in this manner will create a nuisance affecting residents. As owner of the airport the Commonwealth has an obligation to ensure that it creates as little nuisance or noise as possible for its immediate neighbours.
– I join the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) expressing some opposition to the Committee’s recommendations. I concede that the Public Works Committee has a responsibility to examine all aspects of a proposal submitted to it and to determine the most economical means of constructing an undertaking, whether it be an airport runway, a mail exchange or anything else. No doubt the Committee has examined this proposal from the point of view of economy and on the evidence presented to it has reached its conclusions regarding extension of the runway. But 1 do not believe that the Committee has paid sufficient attention to the problem of noise which will be created by the proposed extension.
I am a member of the House of Representative Select Committee on Aircraft Noise. My colleagues and I on that Committee have sat for hundreds of hours taking evidence about the problem of aircraft noise. We have received numerous submissions from the Keilor City Council drawing our attention to the noise created by operations at Melbourne Airport as they affect people living in the Council’s area. In view of the recommendation of the Public Works Committee that the northsouth runway be extended by 2,500 feet at the southern end and by 1,000 feet at the northern end the people of Keilor are justified in fearing a great increase in the noise level over residential development. When the extended runway is in operation, aircraft will at the point of take-off be much closer to residential development than is the case at present. This is obvious because pilots will have a greater length of runway and will be much lower than they are now when they pass over the houses. As everybody knows, the closer to the ground an aircraft is, the higher the level of noise to which people on the ground are subjected.
– The aircraft will be higher when they pass over the development.
– No. If the runway is extended by 2,500 feet to the south, aircraft will be 2,500 feet closer to the houses when they lake off. The jumbo jets will need 12,000 feet of runway. For what other reason is the runway being extended than a need for aircraft to have this additional length of runway?
– Perhaps it is being extended so that the aircraft may simply fly over it.
– Perhaps - just to provide work; just to spend money on bitumen and other materials, lt is obvious that if the runway is extended aircraft will use the extended length. Surely it is not proposed to extend the runway simply to deny cattle the use of grazing land. If the runway is extended by 2,500 feet to the south, aircraft taking off in a southerly direction and using the extended runway will be at a lower point when they pass over residential development.
In the recent recess the Aircraft Noise Committee inspected Tullamarine. We inspected the northern side of the airport and we were shown how the runway would be extended and how the present road would have to be diverted. We were not required to make any decisions at that stage. However, I reached the conclusion that if this Parliament is really concerned about the problem of aircraft noise, the time to act is now. I concede that if the runway is extended only in a northerly direction the cost of the extension will be increased by $4.5m but if the runway is extended by 2,500 feet at the southern end the ultimate cost to the people of Keilor and the Department of Civil Aviation could be far greater. Let us spend the extra money and extend the runway in a northerly direction. The added cost will be offset by benefits to the thousands of people who live in Keilor. The time to act is now, not at some stage in the future. Let us not get into the position in which we find ourselves in Sydney, where we are spending millions of dollars to extend the runway into Botany Bay. What is the purpose of this? All we are doing in Sydney is providing landing facilities for bigger and bigger aircraft, which will increase the noise problem for the people living adjacent to Mascot. The Government should be seeking an alternative site for Sydney’s airport. 1 cannot see any solution to the noise problem as it affects Sydney people who live under the approach paths to Mascot. A noise problem also exists at Brisbane and at West Beach in Adelaide. If you lift curfews you increase the problem. In Melbourne the Commonwealth has an opportunity to deal with the problem if it handles the matter in the right way. In my opinion the right way to handle the matter at Tullamarine is to extend the north-south runway at the northern end, where at present there is very limited development. Flight paths could be planned to create the minimum nuisance. The Aircraft Noise Committee has already recommended to the Parliament that local government and State authorities, as well as the Department of Civil Aviation, should plan flight paths into and out of airports so as to minimise the problem of noise. Here at Tullamarine we have an opportunity to do this. All that you will do if you accept the Public Works Committee’s recommendations is extend the runway closer to Keilor. By so doing you will increase the noise level affecting the unfortunate people who live under the flight path. As an amendment to the motion I move:
The honourable member for Bourke will second the amendment.
MrSPEA KER - Order! Under the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act the only alternative course open is to refer the report back to the Public Works Committee. Therefore the proposed amendment is out of order.
– If that is the only course open to me I accept it. I regret having to take this action, but 1 move:
That the report be referred back to the Public Works Committee.
The motion will be seconded either by the honourable member for Hughes or the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen). 1 regret that I have had to move that this reference go back to the Public Works Committee. I realise that it has made certain recommendations after conducting extensive hearings into this project. However I disagree with the proposal to extend the north-south runway by 2,500 feet towards the south and 1,000 feet towards the north. I believe the Committee should give serious consideration to making the extension only to the northern end and making it to a distance of 3,500 feet. As the entire project may go back to the Committee 1 ask that the aircraft noise problem be considered by it because 1 know full well the relief that could be given to the people of Keilor. 1 want to refer now to airport curfews. There is a lot of agitation in Victoria for the lifting of the curfew. I do not want to enter into controversy over the advantages of lifting the curfew at Melbourne or the disadvantages that would affect Adelaide, Sydney and Other airports. All I am concerned with is the disadvantage to the people who live in Melbourne itself. If the curfew at Melbourne is lifted then the practice will spread like a bushfire. The next thing that would happen would be that there would be great agitation in Sydney to lift the curfew at Kingsford-Smith airport. The same could be said about Brisbane and Adelaide. People who are not affected by aircraft noise have no consideration for those who have to put up with it. Airports in Australia today have grown up like Topsy. They have not been planned. Even the attempt to plan Tullamarine airport failed because the Department of Civil Aviation and, in particular, the Minister for Local Government in Victoria, did not have a real appreciation of the aircraft noise problem. This problem only commenced to sink in over recent years in Australia. The Victorian Government did not appreciate the real problems of aircraft noise. If it had I am certain that its Minister for Local Government would not have permitted rezoning of land for residential development under the flight path of the north-south runway at Tullamarine.
– It knew all about it.
– It should have known all about it but at the same time it may not appreciate the real problem. I will give it the benefit of the doubt. At the same time there is no reason in the world why, this Parliament having appointed the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, we should just accept the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. Honourable members could then go out of this House and say that the Public Works Committee recommended this project and Parliament did not see fit to include this matter in its terms of reference. If one peruses the reference for this project, which appears at the commencement of the Committee’s report, one finds no request for it to make a recommendation on the lifting of the curfew in Melbourne. This is a matter which the Committee encountered during its hearing.
I believe that matters associated with aircraft noise should be referred to the Aircraft Noise Committee and that it should make the recommendations. The Public Works Committee took only a limited amount of evidence, yet made an important decision recommending the lifting of the curfew at one of the two largest airports in Australia. 1 think this was wrong in principle and that the Public Works Committee acted beyond its responsibility. This Parliament must be aware of the need to do something about aircraft noise. It is for that reason, especially as I have moved that this matter be referred back to the Public Works Committee, that I ask that the Committee reconsider its recommendation that the runway be extended by 2,500 feet to the south and 1,000 feet to the north. I ask the Committee to recommend that the runway be extended by 3,500 feet to the north and I ask that the matter of lifting the curfew at Melbourne be referred to the Aircraft Noise Committee for further consideration.
– I second the motion moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). As was mentioned I also am a member of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise. One of the advantages of being a member of a committee is that you can look at some of the problems facing other people. I represent the area in which Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport is located. I do not wish to criticise the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. I think it had to make this decision because of the set of circumstances which it faced. However the plain fact is that insufficient land was acquired for Tullamarine airport and there was bad planning. One can appreciate the views of the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) and one must agree with him because he has some experience of the aircraft noise problem through living in the Sydney area.
I and other members of the Aircraft Noise Committee recently visited Keilor and we heard the representations of the 70,000 people living there. They said that something should be done about the aircraft noise problem. At the moment they do not have aircraft flying over them but they are fearful of what is to come. It is said that only 15% of aircraft will use one runway and 6% the other but those figures represent 2 1 % of all aircraft which probably will represent 30,000 flights a year or 100 a week. They will include flights by the Boeing 747 aircraft and irrespective of what honourable members may hear or read that aircraft will be the noisiest of aircraft. The noise from it will be double the noise that comes from a Boeing 707.
The honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) is entitled to protect the people living in the Tullamarine area. He has put up a good case. The disappointing thing is that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) already has announced that irrespective of what the Aircraft Noise Committee may say or recommend there will be no curfew at Tullamarine. He made that announcement at the opening of Tullamarine airport. It is significant that so far as we are aware the only people who were agitating for a curfew not to be imposed at Tullamarine were from the Ansett Airlines organisation, the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures and the Victorian Chamber of Commerce. I do not think anybody bothered to listen to the people of Keilor. Yet after all they live in the area. Possibly now it is difficult to extend the north-south runway at Tullamarine to the north because an expressway would have to be moved but does this not illustrate that there was bad planning? There are real estate signs on land to the south of the southern extension of Tullamarine airport principally referring to Tullamarine Estates. Members of the Committee were Amazed that that subdivision was allowed.
This is no indictment of the Department of Civil Aviation but it is an indictment of the local authority in that area.
If the curfew is not operative at Tullamarine to which cities will these aircraft fly? Will they fly to Sydney? There is a curfew at Sydney for very good reason. Thousands of people live in homes surrounding Sydney airport, lt is all right to make a decision in isolation about lifting a curfew and there may be no problem about not having a curfew at Tullamarine. But surely I am entitled to know the destinations to which aircraft operating out of Tullamarine will fly. If they are flown to Sydney then the curfew will be broken. If they are flown to Brisbane then the curfew there will be broken. If they are to go to Adelaide then the curfew there will be broken. What was the real reason for the decision, not of the Public Works Committee - J am not blaming it - but of the Prime Minister, that there would be no curfew at Tullamarine? Is this a back door way of relaxing the curfew in Sydney? 1 have been trying to ask the Prime Minister a question on this matter. When I get the call 1 will ask him what is to be the future at Sydney airport.
From experience at Sydney 1 can only agree in all honesty and fairness with the people of Keilor that while they have not yet suffered from aircraft noise they will do so because of the number of flights that will take place from Tullamarine. The only way to ameliorate the problem - it would not remove it - would be to extend the north-south runway at Tullamarine to the north. That might not be easy because an expressway would have to be moved. However a curfew would give the people living there some of the protection to which they are entitled. The people I represent in the Sydney area are entitled to know that no decision will be made which will in any way weaken the curfew in Sydney. That is why I seconded the motion moved by the honourable member for Newcastle. At least the Aircraft Noise Committee should look into this matter. I doubt very much whether that Committee could sway the Prime Minister and whether it could overcome the Ansett interests. The rights of the people of Keilor will be ignored if there is no curfew and the Government will be acting only in the interests of the profits of the airline operators. Nobody has looked into the damage that will be caused to the people of Keilor, the financial loss they will suffer and the lack of enjoyment of normal amenities that they will incur.
In the future all airports should be planned in the manner recommended by the Public Works Committee. There should be a sufficient area of land allocated so that no more mistakes will be made. Tullamarine will be another great capital blunder because the Department of Civil Aviation could have acquired 10,000 acres instead of 5,000 acres. The Department did this because of some meanness of expenditure from the public purse. If the Department acquired this additional land it would not have lost value. It could well have used this land for other purposes. As I have said, the Committee is faced virtually with a fait accompli. The runways have to be extended because of the type of planes that will use the airport. However, no-one has ever listened to the rights of the people of Keilor. For this reason we are entitled to make this last minute plea: Why should they not get some consideration? What is the noise level? Will the noise level be 108 decibels? Will it be such that the properties of the people of Keilor might lose value? I support the amendment.
– I have always been most impressed over the years to hear New South Welshmen wilh their broad outlook discussing the question of Tullamarine. To take just one statement that has been made, the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) said that the people of Keilor were never consulted about the proposed extension of the runway at Tullamarine. I am advised that there were meetings held at the Council Chambers and in Canberra at which all expenses were met, at which people were asked to be in attendance and at which the Council made representations. Therefore, to say that these people had not been consulted seems to be rather far from the truth.
– I rise to a point of order. To say that it is far from the truth means that what I have said is not right.
– That is right. Mr SPEAKER-Order! Mr Lionel Bowen - Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! The honourable member must wait to make his personal explanation until after the honourable member for La Trobe has spoken.
– I do not wish to argue with my colleague from the other side.
– You said it was not true, though.
– If I may argue as to the point I made, a meeting was held in the Town Hall with Council representatives who I presume represented the people, although it may have been a Labor council. The honourable member said that the people were not consulted. One or the other of us has to be telling the truth. Perhaps what I say is untrue. However, what I have said so far is supported by the Chairman of the Public Works Committee. Therefore, let us leave that point.
What concerns me is that each time the question of Tullamarine comes up whether it be in discussions about the Aircraft Noise Committee or the Public Works Committee - we find the gentlemen from New South Wales taking the broadest outlook in respect of airport policy throughout Australia, but on each occasion what they say seems to be to the detriment of Victoria.
– What about the honourable member for Burke.
– The honourable member for Burke actually does not count much with me. However, in Victoria we have the most modern airport in Australia. It is a magnificent airport. Tullamarine Airport was built after consultation with the State Government and the local authorities. It was built to give Victoria an international airport. However, it appears to me that from the time this project got off the ground certain people have gone out of their way to impede progress. They have set about to impede the use of this airport. This action appears to me to be wrapped up with what is happening in New South Wales.
I am sympathetic with the situation at Mascot. I am sympathetic with the members who represent electorates adjoining Mascot. I think they have done a considerable amount to bring about improvements at Mascot. I presume that they are considering the alternatives to the predicament they are in at the moment. However, I do not think it is a good thing to find in the national Parliament people who are endeavouring to impede the use of Tullamarine Airport. The Public Works Committee said in its report, 1 think quite correctly, that it thought the curfew should not apply to Tullamarine. Indeed, why should it apply? Honourable members on the other side of the House have put forward certain arguments. If a situation develops at Tullamarine that is to the detriment of the people in the adjoining areas let it be considered. However, that is not the situation at present.
My distinguished friend from Kingsford-Smith sits down and says: ‘If they do not land at Tullamarine they will have to go on and land somewhere else. Therefore they have to come to Sydney and wake us up’. 1 cannot see this point at all. The point is that if aircraft terminate at Tullamarine after 1 1 o’clock or within the period of 24 hours beyond the curfew at Kingsford-Smith Airport they do not fly on. The point under discussion is that aircraft can fly into Tullamarine without curfew restrictions. I find the argument advanced by the honourable member most incredible. I compliment the Public Works Committee on the report it has made. 1 would like to make one further suggestion in respect of the Aircraft Noise Committee. T think it is time that this Committee whipped in its report, it has gone on for so long that I would not know what members of the Committee are talking about now because, quite frankly–
– Why don’t you read it?
– Because it is almost unreadable. lt is ridiculous. I think that the majority of that viewpoint was put in it by the honourable member. 1 agreed with the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) in the hist session that there should be an inquiry at some stage as to where aerodromes are to be placed. This is the problem. I do not for one moment believe that we will be able to put double windows in houses adjoining airports or buy people earplugs or create a vacuum for them to live in. The only thing we can do is to put airports where there are no people and construct highways into the cities.
I think the rezone of the Aircraft Noise Committee is out of ali proportion. It is a vehicle for someone to have a ball. It is time the Committee was terminated. Furthermore, I would like to say with respect to adjoining land at Tullamarine that I think the decision made by the Victorian Government to rezone the land was wrong. This is not to be blamed on the Commonwealth Government or the Department of Works. It is something that should be very much more closely looked at. Knowing something about the background of land ownership and holdings and some of the suggestions as to how companies have moved from one holding to another, I only hope that the Commonwealth Government is never forced into the predicament of having to pay the amount of money that it may well be blackmailed into paying in order to buy back what should have been a buffer zone against aircraft noise in this area. I compliment the Public Works Committee on its report. I depreciate anything that New South Welshmen may have to say about aircraft noise in Victoria. I think they are making a big enough mess of New South Wales. Let them slay out of Victoria.
Mr LIONEL BOWEN (KingsfordSmith) - I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I claim to have been misrepresented by the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) who just slated that when I said the city of Keilor had no opportunity to make representations I was not telling the truth. The position is that the Mayor of Keilor and his aldermen appeared before the Committee as recently as July last following an announcement by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). They said in answer to a question that they had had no opportunity to make representations to the Prime Minister about this matter. For the edification of the honourable member for La Trobe they are not members of the Australian Labor Party - they are members of the Liberal Party. I have no intention of interfering with any affairs in Victoria. However, to set the record straight, this is a statement by the present Mayor of Keilor.
– I think that in a debate of this type it is too easy to get parochial and I suppose I am going to be as guilty as anyone else because Tullamarine Airport is just to the north of my electorate. However, I will try to deal with airports in general and not just Tullamarine, ifI can. The first point I want to make is that we are all emphasising the needs of a modern technological society. I think that is certainly important. Some of my colleagues might disagree with me on this, but I fear, for what it is worth, that progress demands - I am not sure whether I want progress but still, it is coming whether I like it or not - that modern technological societies are going to need international airports. What is more, they are going to need international airports that function 24 hours a day, much as I personally might deplore that. So, whilst emotionally I can agree with the sentiment that aircraft should not be flying after 11 o’clock. I fear that I must accept that they will. However, I think there are other needs for modern technological society related to the individuals in that society.
I am sure that if a referendum were held and the people of Victoria were asked whether they wanted an international airport and whether they wanted it at Tullamarine there would be an overwhelming vote in favour of both, because most people do not live near the airport and they would not know what the sound of aircraft taking off and landing was like. The honourable member for Latrobe (Mr Jess) is in this category. The fact still remains that while we recognise the needs of the vast majority, the minority who live around the airport also have rights. They have a right to comfortable living and to freedom from irritation and nuisance, just as everybody else has. It is not necessarily their fault that they live near an airport which disturbs them.I have a rather tolerant view on this subject. Some people claimt hat, because an airport is being developed, anybody who has been idiotic enough to buy land near the airport after it has been built should suffer the consequences.I may be a bit soft, but I do not think that attitude is right. I certainly do not think that people who were living in the vicinity before the airport was even planned should now have to suffer.It is not their fault that that was considered the optimum site as far as the whole community was concerned. For that reason everything should be done to mini mise their discomfort or, alternatively, to help them move away from the area at community expense. This is a social responsibility which rests on the whole community.
People may have moved to this area around the airport when they were young and were starting their families because they felt they could buy land cheaply near the airport. They may have felt confident that they could put up with the noise. The people who have bought land around Tullamarine even since the commencement of the planning and the building may find, when it starts to function, that their tolerance to the noise is not as high as they thought it was. Maybe a young couple with no children can put up with the noise, but when they become established and begin to have a family they may find that the problem has completely changed for them. That is no crime.I do not believe that they should be victimised.
In essence what I am trying to suggest is thatI accept the inevitability of 24-hour flying at international airports but, equally importantly, the community should ensure that people who will suffer because of the noise from the aircraft should be moved at community expense. It should not be at their own expense because it is not their fault. The reality is, I imagine, that most of the people living around the airport will not choose to move even if given the opportunity. They may well grizzle and complain a bit but, if given the opportunity to move at no loss to themselves - at no profit either, in financial terms - there will be a sociological disturbance. They would have to leave their friends and the place where they have grown up, with its relationship to their work. Moving will still be an inconvenience and many of them will choose to stay. They may accept some assistance from the Commonwealth - I hope it will be offered - to help insulate their homes against noise and they may be satisfied to put up with it. After all, I have not noticed large tracts of land becoming vacant around Essendon. In fact I am told that one of the most expensive areasto buy land is around Essendon. The sort of area where the Liberal vote is highest, where land is eagerly sought after, is right under the flight path of the east-west runway approach. Thank goodness people differ from one another. Some will not like it; many will not mind it. My point simply is that those who do not like it should not be victimised. I do not believe that any individual should stand in the way of society’s development. So I do not believe that these people have the right to forbid the development of the airport or its 24-hour functioning. But to ensure the minimum of disturbance to people this report should be referred back to the Committee for it to consider once again the prospect of extending the runway to the north rather than to the south, to take it away from the people. After all, surely, people are as important as machines. The proposal might cost a bit more, but in terms of overall happiness surely the final cost will be less. i agree with the comment made by the honourable member for La Trobe when he said just now that it was a tragedy that the State Government did not accept its full responsibilities and did a socially irresponsible thing in changing the zoning of the land around the airport to allow development. Initially it was a rural zone. The Department of Civil Aviation which selected the site was very careful initially. lt saw that there was plenty of room. The land sharks and other people who felt they could make something out of it put pressure on the Government and obtained a rezoning of the land. This was wrong. Whilst on the one hand I do not believe that any individual should stand in the way of society’s progress, on the other hand and equally strongly I do not believe that any individual should be victimised in the name of progress.
– As one who was a member of the Joint Committee on Public Works when the reference concerning Tullamarine was made to that committee, and as one who was a member of the Joint Committee on Aircraft Noise, I think that I should have something to say in this debate. A number of points need to be cleared up. The first concerns the question of rural land. Rural land in the case of Tullamarine airport refers to the land adjacent to Sharp’s Road. Mention was made of the decision of the Minister for Local Government in Victoria. He is on the opposite side of the fence to me, but I think in cases like this an attitude of fair play should be displayed in the debate. I agree with the amendment moved by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) that, if the runway is to be extended, it should be extended to the north. But, as the honourable member for Latrobe (Mr Jess) knows as well as I do, the sewer in the Sharp’s Road area was there for years before the aerodrome was even contemplated. That area consisted of rural land. Let nobody deny that this was an area of what was called rural land ready for subdivision. Subdivisional plans for that area had been placed before the Board of Works, of which I was a commissioner. The area changed hands three or four times. Had Mr Korman, the subdivider, gone in there and had things not gone bust on him - to use my vernacular - probably Tullamarine airport would be there. The sewer was put in to service a large subdivisional area which that subdivider was going to establish. The sewer was connected to Pascoe Vale Road Creek to service that area and the big Housing Commission area further north. Here was an area of rural land wedged in between industrial land and residential land. It was a little pocket. If the honourable member for Latrobe or any other member of this House had been in the position of the Minister for Local Government, with the knowledge that the Keilor City Council did not object to the subdivision, what would he have done? This is what has not been mentioned: The Keilor City Council did not object to that subdivision. And why? Has any honourable member asked himself why? Because the Council was told, as the Public Works Committee was told, by officers of the Department of Civil Aviation that they had taken care to get enough land to provide for all the problems associated with the airport in the foreseeable future. If the honourable member for Newcastle were in the chamber he would confirm what I have said. The mayor of the City of Keilor told the Aircraft Noise Committee that his council did not object to the subdivision. It will be wrong if the runway is extended by 1,000 feet towards Sharp’s Road and that area is allowed to continue as a subdivision. It would be better to extend the runway in the other direction.
I point out to honourable members who refer to Mascot and its relation to Tullamarine that there is no relation. When the Public Works Committee was considering
Mascot, if I had not been persuaded I would have been the odd man out because J would not have spent another farthing at Mascot. I would have sought land further out from Sydney for a second airport. At Mascot we are trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Do not try to place Tullamarine in the same category as an airport in any other capital city. I was a member of the Aircraft Noise Committee and I am sure that other members of that Committee will agree that very few capital cities have any town plan relating to air terminals. In Hobart there is ample room. Close to the airport there is a pine forest on a private area. Unfortunately the pines were infected by the sirex grub and the forest had become defunct, but that could become a lovely area for beach sites and most probably will be used for such a purpose if the Commonwealth Government does not acquire the land. In Launceston the warden of the council said that land was being opened for subdivisional purposes right on the boundary of the Launceston Airport. That area will be developed, but if we are looking to the future such development should be stopped. A similar situation applies at West Beach near the Adelaide Airport. T believe it would be found that the Adelaide City Council has not dreamed of introducing a master plan for the City of Adelaide. In fact, many city councils are just getting round to framing by-laws. This is the pattern throughout Australia. lt is difficult to stand here and comment on the situation at Tullamarine. We must consider the circumstances that faced the Victorian Minister for Local Government when he had to make his decision. The Keilor City Council did not object to the subdivision. Sewerage and other amenities had been provided to enable people to build homes there. Had I been in his position I probably would have made the same decision. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works indicated that this area was an area that was developing. If honourable members are criticising the Minister for Local Government for his decision why do they not condemn former Ministers for Local Government for permitting areas around the Essendon Airport to be developed? If we consider the realities of the situation I believe there has been lack of planning. I do not know whether when the decision was made to develop Tullamarine as an international airport the larger jet planes had been forecast. The honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths) and I walked around Tullamarine and I subsequently asked: ‘Are you positive that you have taken up enough area for buffer zones to take care of the needs of the people when this aerodrome is finally built?’
– Sharps Road was supposed to be closed.
– That is right. We were told that there was enough land to cater for all problems in the foreseeable future. I have made these comments to let honourable members know that there is more in this than meets the eye. People want to look at all the facts before they condemn one man who is not here to defend himself.
– I am pleased that this matter has come before the Parliament. I understand that an amendment has been moved to refer it back to the Public Works Committee. I think it would be a good thing if the amendment were defeated, since the Public Works Committee has applied itself assiduously to this matter. The Parliament should accept the responsibility of determining this controversial question. The Public Works Committee is an agent of the Parliament. It cannot be gainsaid that its task was undertaken in a most painstaking way and it is appropriate that its report should command the attention and time of the Parliament, since this is a matter which could affect a large number of people in one of the largest cities in Australia, lt is not a question of affecting them for a short time but of affecting them in perpetuity, if it does affect them at all. In addition we are dealing with a proposal that was referred to the Public Works Committee and which, together with other expenditure that has taken place at Tullamarine, aggregates some $85m of Commonwealth money. So it is not good enough for one to rubbish the idea, as did the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) and try to disparage the criticism that has been levelled in this matter by categorising it as having come from gentlemen from New South Wales. The fact is that there are some gentlemen from New South Wales who are concerned about these things. I suppose that this could well result from the fact that in New South Wales there has been an experience with the unsatisfactory location of airports, and Mascot Airport is the principal case in point. 1 am no exception to that general rule since I live on the perimeter of Sydney near the southern part of Mascot.
My sensitivity to this matter has been alerted by the fact that not long ago there was a proposal to extend the international airport facilities from Mascot into my electorate on the southern part of Botany Bay at Towra Point. When my own local government authority became sufficiently concerned about this proposal to let the people know precisely what the effects were the community of about 150,000 rose in their wrath and with such a voluminous roar that the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie), who also represents part of this area, was caused to change his attitude, which harboured the idea of an airport in that particular place. He reversed his attitude. As the local government conducted its campaign in opposition to the proposal with simulated aircraft, the relatively indifferent community, as it was initially, rose up and declared: ‘We are not going to have this and the ballot box will be our redress unless we are listened to by our representatives’. What was the sequel? As the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was leaving to go overseas he announced, in company with a number of Liberal candidates from St George, Barton and Cook, that this proposal would be abandoned. 1 did not want this proposal for my electorate. I make no apologies for saying this, and I do not want such a proposal to be imposed in an unreasonable way in any other electorate. It is true that, as the honourable member for La Trobe has said, it is proper to consult people in the neighbouring communities. The Public Works Committee went to great trouble to hear the voice of the people from the city of Keilor, which is the closest neighbouring city. I understand that it is a city of some 70,000 people. The Public Works Committee listened intently. There did not seem to be any deviants from the substantial point of view that permeated out of that community through their spokesmen on the local government authority that the people of Keilor to a man did not want the curfew lifted and they certainly did not want this runway extended close to their community.
Members of the Committee travelled round in a bus and saw signs that were put up for our benefit by the Keilor City Council indicating the noise level that would occur in given circumstances. Not everybody has had the opportunity to appreciate what these signs really mean. It is hard to assimilate the purport of these signs as one travels round in such a cursory and superficial way, but in the end it comes down to the fact that people will be affected in hospital, that children will be distracted from their efforts to gain an education, that families will be unable to watch television without interruption, that radio reception will be interfered with, that telephone conversations will be impaired, that shiftworkers will be unable to sleep and that other factors of this type will be involved. I regard it with the utmost seriousness.
I believe that this is primarily what governments are for - to act on behalf of the people. It is not good enough to have executive action. It is not good enough to have a superficial rubber stamping of executive decisions and to have the community following in the wake of people who want to call the tune about these things. I know areas in Sydney which have the highest rate of suicide in New South Wales. Some social workers, psychiatrists and others attribute that to this kind of nuisance and complaint. So we, the gentlemen from New South Wales - that is the disparaging term Which was used about us - do not have to make any apology for the concern we are manifesting for the people of Keilor and neighbouring communities. I for one will not accept the terra that was used.
Not too long ago the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) in the face of a lot of opposition from local government decided to set up a new committee comprising representatives of local government who would have their ears to the ground in the matter of aircraft noise. But what happened? When the voice of local government, the arm of government closest to the people, speaks out in an emphatic way as it did in Keilor, we are inclined to minimise the importance of what is said. How can you contend, on the one hand, that a committee should be set up to give local government authorities the opportunity to be vocal about these matters and then, on the other hand, set it aside in such an out of hand way?
I turn to the Prime Minister. Mention has been made by previous speakers of his strong convictions that the curfew should be lifted and that the matters to which 1 and other honourable members have referred are of little consequence. I take a very dim view of the fact that the Prime Minister has been so unequivocal, so unambiguous, in his emphatic attitude to this matter. Before the Committee charged with the job of considering this matter on behalf of the Parliament had concluded its recommendations and before the Parliament had had an opportunity to consider them, the Prime Minister moved in and made his announcement that there was to be no curfew. If there is such a term as sub judice’ and if it has any bona fides, I would say that the matter should have been regarded as sub judice and the Prime Minister’s action the height of indiscretion. It would be a good thing for this Parliament to operate in a democratic way through the Committee and for a diminution to take place in the personal rule which is starting to prevail in the Parliament. We have seen it in other countries. The Prime Minister would do well to think of the fate of Sukarno, for example, and others who were so heavy handed in this regard. 1 will not refer in any detail to the proposals which went before the Committee. Suffice to say that T am not seeking to exonerate my own point of view although I happen to be one man out on the Committee. Weighing up all aspects of the matter I took the view that the further it was practicable, to shift the north south runway from Keilor the better it would be. I hold the view that the amount of money involved is not of great consequence considering that $85m has already been expended. I understand that the cost differential is the amount between $5.2m, the cost of the proposal being recommended by the Committee, and $7. 3m which is the cost of the alternative scheme. The alternative scheme involves relocating the runway to such an extent that it would inconvenience the people of Keilor to a lesser degree. I know the importance of the runway as do all honourable members; I know the importance of getting value for money and I know that Boeing 747s will land there, that they have twice the payload capacity of Boeing 707s and that they will fly in single stages from Tullamarine to Hong Kong. Manila, Honolulu and other ports. But like several honourable members who preceded me in the debate, I feel that the lifting of the curfew represents obtuseness of a kind which could manifest itself in most undesirable ways in other capital and large provincial cities in Australia.
It is not a matter of being cheesed off because Sydney will be second best or anything like that. I know the adverse effects which already have accrued, and if those aircraft are to leave Tullamarine and land in Sydney at an undesirable time the situation will be aggravated. I say authoritatively that the lifting of the curfew represents an obtuseness. I was very impressed to see the assiduous manner in which the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise undertook its work. Members of the Committee sought advice and information from authorities in many parts of the world. I happen to have with me a statement of one point of view. It is contained in a letter from the Manager Operations Services of Qantas Airways Ltd to the Secretary of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise. The letter states:
I am attaching a list of night operating restrictions which arc applied at certain international airports for the purpose of noise alleviation, as you requested on the telephone the other day.
The information listed is the latest we have from IATA -
That is the International Air Transport Association - and does not cover every international airport in the world by any means. However, it is representative of the kind of restrictions which are applied in various parts of the world.
Apparently we are happy enough to say to Tullamarine that we are prepared to lift the curfew in all respects, not merely as to planes operating for 24 hours a day. We do not seem to care what kind of noise they will make on the ground. . We do not seem to think that other kinds of curfews can be imposed. I do not know whether honourable members listening to me are interested to see this information in detail. If they are, I should like to see it incorporated in Hansard. In any event, it lists some 24 major international airports where there are a variety of limitations if not total curfews. We are prepared to say that there will be no curfew of any kind for Tullamarine but in these international airports to which I have referred, some of the largest in the world, there are curfews in respect of night flying, take-off at certain times of the day, ground running at certain times of the day, reverse thrust and so on. Looking at the list cursorily one can see that there are 60 or 70 different kinds of curfews relating to the noise menace and possibly to the pollution menace. It seems to me that the wide sweeping recommendations about lifting the curfew can stand some further examination. I am sure that our Committee is not likely to reverse its decision if the matter is referred back to it for consideration. I certainly am not here to disparage its work because I know that the members concerned were worried and sincerely considered the point put to them. I know, too, that the decision at which they arrived was arrived at on balance. The decision I took was not taken without very serious contemplation. If the Parliament requires or aspires to an alternative decision to that recommended by the Public Works Committee honourable members will have to accept a bit of responsibility and learn a bit more about aircraft noise, the views of the people of Keilor and matters of that kind.
I believe that the debate has been worthwhile. I sincerely hope that we are not hoist with our own petard, that we are just not so anxious to get value for the $85m we have spent at Tullamarine that we will generate a concurrent or a subsequent number of problems in other parts of Australia. I have little doubt that the real reason for lifting the curfew at this time was out of consideration for one substantial private operator in Australia, and if the generation of the problem results in many thousands of householders in various parts of Australia being adversely affected for decades and generations to come, it will be a reflection not only on the Government but indeed on every member of this Parliament.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, first, I wish to thank my colleague, the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson), for the fair way in which he put his case. He is a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Public Works. You will notice, Mr Deputy Speaker, that in the report under consideration the honourable member for Hughes recorded his opposition to the 2 things that we are debating. I, Mr James, Senator Branson and Senator Prowse voted the other way. During Committee meetings, the honourable member for Hughes puts his point of view forward with great fairness and fearlessness. He has done so again today in this debate. I wish to pay a tribute also to the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) who gave evidence to the Public Works Committee and, I think, did so with considerable responsibility.
However, I must take the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Mclvor) to task on one point, lt is true that the Department of Civil Aviation agreed that 5,500 acres would be sufficient, but only as an internal buffer zone. This area was regarded only as an area sufficient to safeguard the aerodrome itself from noise from within. The Department of Civil Aviation certainly had never intended, and never did advise the Keilor City Council, that the Council should agree to the rezoning of the surrounding rural land. 1 repeat that in my opinion - and the Committee has looked at the evidence very carefully - the advice of DCA was never that the rural land around Tullamarine Airport should be rezoned for residential purposes.
I took a poor view of the statement by the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) that we did not consult the officials of the Keilor City Council. We paid for them to come up to Canberra to give evidence. They were good enough to invite us to their Council area. In fact, we had a meeting in their Council chambers. They took us to lunch. They took us all over the area. To pretend that we did not look at the point of view of Keilor Council is quite wrong. To pretend that we did not examine the matter in very great detail is to disagree with what the honourable member for Hughes has said. He said that we did examine the reference very carefully, lt is true that we did not arrive at a consensus. But it is not true to say that the point of view of Keilor Council was not listened to wilh great attention and respect.
The proposal is for the north-south runway at Tullamarine to be enlarged by 3,500 feet. The argument is mainly as to whether the lengthening of the north-south runway should take place at the southern end or at the northern end of that runway. The majority of the Committee finally recommended that the north-south runway should be extended by 2,500 feet at the southern end and by 1,000 feet at the northern end. lt is important to realise that, in all the planning and all the public statements of the Department of Civil Aviation, it has always been clear that DCA’s long-term anticipation was that the runway eventually should be extended 2,500 feet to the south. DCA always expected that the runway would need to be extended as the new generation of aircraft was introduced.
I would think that it is of great benefit to establish once and for all the final location of the runway so that no argument will arise about it and so that people living in the area will always know where, in the south, the runway will end. The introduction of the next generation of aircraft is inevitable, I suppose. No-one knows when the next generation of aircraft will be introduced, but it will come in one day. Even if we were to agree to the suggestion that most of the runway extension should take place at the northern end of the runway, it is almost certain that when the next generation of aircraft was introduced, extra runway length would be required and that would mean that the runway would need to be extended to the south. Then we would find that the kind of encroachment that there has been in the past had occurred again. We would find that the land adjoining the airport had been rezoned and taken up for different uses. We would find housing development closer to the inevitable southern end of the runway.
This is one of the main reasons which led to the majority of the Committee agreeing that the proper time to make a decision on where the runway should be finally located was now, before encroachment took place. We were motivated also by the fact that to put a lesser part of the extension at the southern end of the runway would increase the cost by approximately S2m. If we were to do as the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) suggested, the additional cost would be at least $4.5m. ft is worth remembering also - this is something which we should think about - that, as far as DCA can judge it, the expected usage of the north-south runway is of this order: 79% of all commercial air movements will be on the east-west runway. Those aircraft will not fly over the southern area of the airport at all. Of commercial air movements that do not use the east-west runway, 15% of the total runway usage for commercial purposes is expected to be from south to north. Only 6% of commercial movements will fly out over the southern area which is in question. After giving the matter a great deal of examination, the majority of the Committee came forward with the conclusion that it was proper to recommend the extension in the way we did.
On the subject of the curfew, on which the honourable member for Hughes again disagreed with the majority of the Committee, I wish to make 3 points only. Firstly, it is not correct to say, as far as the advice that we obtained from the Department of Civil Aviation is concerned, that the Boeing 747 aircraft will not be a noisier generation of aircraft than the Boeing 707. lt is expected that the 747’s will be rather quieter. Secondly, there is no curfew and there never has been a curfew at Melbourne Airport or Tullamarine Airport. So, it is not correct to say that we recommended that the curfew be lifted. We recommended that a curfew be not imposed. Thirdly, it is not correct to say that, because we recommended 24-hour usage of Tullamarine, we recommendeded unrestricted usage.
The Department of Civil Aviation has been quite clear in its advice to us that, although it would want the ability to plan during each 24 hours and to land some aircraft during each 24 hours, it will take very good care that this 24-hour usage is not unrestricted or unrestrained. This matter will be thought out carefully and DCA will have full cognisance of the areas over which aircraft will fly. However, with these facts in mind, we realised that it was indeed our responsibility as the Public
Works Committee to have some awareness of the way public works are used. Our opinion was that, with an expenditure of $85m on Tullamarine airfield, it was proper for us to recommend that a curfew be not imposed. In conclusion, I hope that the House will not recommend that this reference should be returned to the Committee. The reference could not have received more careful attention. I am glad to hear the honourable member for Hughes agree with this remark. I am certain that the answer would come out the same.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)I call the Minister for National Development.
Mr McIVOR (Gellibrand)- Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member for Gellibrand claim to have been’ misrepresented?
– Yes, I claim to have been misrepresented. In his opening remarks, the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) said that I had said that the Department of Civil Aviation had approved of this land being subdivided. I never said that at any time, and never will I say it. I will repeat what I did say and, as I said before, I have the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths) to confirm what I said. We were told that the Department of Civil Aviation had obtained enough land area to take care of its buffer zone requirements. After all, buffer zones are what we are talking about. I know that I am departing a little from the subject matter of my personal explanation, Mr Deputy Speaker, but, on the subject of buffer zones, an area of 10 miles around the perimeter of an aerodrome should be taken for this purpose. We were told that no trouble would arise about buffer zones and that enough land had been acquired to take care of the problem of buffer zones. Any development that took place outside the perimeter of that aerodrome should not have any trouble from the aerodrome itself. That was the reason why the Keilor City Council allowed the subdivision. That was the reason advanced to the Minister. The honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) can tell the House what I said before. The rural area-
-Order! The honourable member for Gellibrand has made his personal explanation and is now debating the matter. I call the Minister for National Development.
– On a point of order. The Minister will close the debate. I wish to speak.
– When the Minister is called he does not automatically close the debate.
– In that case he does not know what he is talking about because he just told me that he will close the debate.
– I will.
– He said he will close the debate. If he intends to close it I will move that the honourable member for Grayndler be now heard.
-I called the Minister for National Development. The honourable member for Gellibrand obtained the leave of the House to make a personal explanation as he had been misrepresented. The position now is that I have called the Minister for National Development.
– I rise to take a further point of order. The Minister has telegraphed his punches. He has said that he will make his speech and then move that the question be put. Tn those circumstances there are 2 courses of action available to me. I can move that I be now heard or I can move that the Minister be not further heard. I will be forced to do this if the Minister carries out his intention.
– The Chair cannot anticipate what a Minister or a member of the House will do.
– I can anticipate so I will move that the Minister be not further heard.
-The Minister for National Development has not yet commenced his speech. I call the Minister for National Development.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I merely indicate-
– I move:
That the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) be not further heard.
I do so as a protest against his conduct in this debate.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I have not been trying to make a speech, Mr Deputy Speaker. I merely wanted to indicate to the Opposition that its amendment is not acceptable to the Government. I move:
That the question be now put.
Question put - The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Charles Jones’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority .. .. 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Mr Chipp’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to Parliament: Construction of mail exchange building, Adelaide.
The proposal involves construction of a steel framed building of 5 levels plus basement area and roof top plant room, to contain mail handling facilities and associated services. A post office and Customs Office will also be provided. Staff amenities include a cafeteria, recreation areas and training section. The estimated cost is $5.5m. The Committee has reported favourably on the proposal. Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
– This proposed new mail exchange, like the one it will replace, is in my electorate. I support the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Works but I have a couple of qualifications which I think should be aired in this House. Firstly, let us look at the benefits deriving from the Committee’s report and from the Government’s move today. The existing mail exchange is in the central part of the City of Adelaide and there is intolerable congestion at this place. When we look at the Committee’s report we find that, if further developments are to lake place on the present site rather than to move elsewhere within the city to the site recommended by the Committee, there would be a cost to the community of $12m over the next 20 years. Therefore no doubt it is wise that the mail exchange should be moved and I am pleased that it is to be moved to a site within the city area. There is no doubt that it is mainly the business community which uses these facilities. The business community needs to be able to deliver bulk postage to a mail exchange such as this and there would be tremendous opposition if the mail exchange was moved outside the city area. It would seem that a suitable site has been chosen. I know that the Committee has done sterling work in examining every avenue.
The qualifications I mentioned in my opening remarks must also be aired also in this House. I refer first to the parking facilities for those who will work in this mail exchange. Representations were made to the Committee by a number of representatives of workers in the present exchange and of those who will be working in the new exchange. I refer to such people as the Secretary-Treasurer of the South Australian Branch of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association, the Secretary-Treasurer of the South Australian Branch of the Postal Overseers Union, a couple of mail officers from the Adelaide mail exchange, and also, extremely importantly, the City Engineer and Planner of the City of Adelaide. All of them pointed out the inadequacy of the parking arrangements proposed for this building.
My attitude to parking arrangements in city areas is that we ought to have more adequate public transport rather than build up the social costs of our cities by providing 3, 4 and 5 tiered parking buildings. These parking stations attract more traffic to cities. They create traffic jams and bottlenecks on the inlets and outlets of our great cities. At the moment, until there is more Commonwealth support for public transport arrangements, there is no alternative for people doing shift work, such as officers in a mail exchange, but for them to use their own vehicles. 1 know from my knowledge of the area where this mail exchange is to be located that most of the streets have parking meters. There are difficulties facing workers in the exchange who wish to park anywhere nearby. At the new site they will have less public transport facilities than there are available now at the present exchange at Grenfell Street. I must record my disappointment that the Commonwealth has not done more in this case to see that adequate parking arrangements are provided for those who will be working at this mail exchange.
In many ways a development such as this new exchange is a drawback for a city. This parcel of land will not be rated and the rest of the community will have to subsidise the facilities being provided. The Commonwealth, through the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, will not be paying rates. In addition, parking facilities will not be provided. Streets will be cluttered by those employees fortunate to find somewhere to park their cars and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, or the Public Works Department, will not provide for them.
There are a couple of other matters I want to mention about the form of this building. I refer first to the noise situation within the building. 1 do not consider that the report of the Public Works Committee fully covers this matter. The second matter relates to representations from the City Planner, Mr Bubb supported by the Lord Mayor and the Town Clerk of the City of Adelaide, about open spaces around the building. I hope these developments will be forthcoming. I notice that there are plans to buy up more land around this proposed mail exchange. 1 do not consider the present proposition an ideal one but 1 do not oppose it because it certainly is preferable to the location of the mail exchange at present. 1 hope the 3 matters I mentioned - parking, noise within the building and open spaces around the building - will be taken into consideration when there are future developments at this site.
– 1 am glad that the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) has expressed his concern about these several matters affecting the Adelaide mail exchange. I believe that the Commonwealth Government is deficient in being unwilling to make adequate parking arrangements available. There was no formal dissension by any member of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Works, including myself, about the inadequacy of parking arrangements. Nevertheless I was one who took the opportunity to express my concern at the Committee meeting. I rose in this debate to indicate that 1 am not likely to be inclined in the future to be as amenable about parking arrangements for future projects which come before the Committee.
It is a matter of grave concern to me that the wishes of the local government authority - in this case the Council of the City of Adelaide - have been disregarded. This is a $5.5m project. When a private developer takes such an application before a local government authority it is normal for a parking requirement to be imposed. If it is considered that it is a bad thing to channel traffic in a city then often a contribution is required towards the provision of parking facilities in another area.
The Committee had before it some evidence suggesting that until the undeveloped property is completed there will be 72 or more spaces available for parking. These are to be shared by the staff of not only the exchange building - the subject of this report - but other post offices and establishments of the Postmaster-General’s Department in the area. The parking spaces available for employees in this building will be reduced by the number used by staff in other establishments; yet this building is to accommodate 1,400 people. Clearly the parking provisions are quite inadequate. It is significant that a submission was made by the City of Adelaide to the effect that a 3-storey parking facility was considered necessary for this Commonwealth development. That is a very substantial requirement. A very strong call is made by the local government authority in this case. Instead of getting a 3-storey facility to accommodate the cars for the 1,400 employees we are going to utilise some land, the bulk of which in the long run will be developed for other Postal Department purposes. 1 do not think this is good enough at all. I believe that the Public Works Committee did the right thing in expressing concern in its report.
The Committee particularly noted the fact that an interdepartmental committee was concerning itself with parking so far as projects of this kind are concerned. The Committee also took the opportunity to invite representatives of the Public Works Department who are specialists on parking to appear before it. The report that these officers gave - I have a copy of it before me at the moment - clearly indicates that there is an unwillingness in terms of current Government policy to meet the parking requirements considered necessary by local government authorities. 1 do not intend to lake the time of the House in going through this report. I think honourable members might prefer to take my word for what I am saying rather than have me read from this fairly tedious document. The effect of the report is that the Public Works Department has a certain criterion for parking in respect of Commonwealth establishments. To me it is as plain as a pikestaff that the criterion is insufficient and certainly does not comply with local government requirements. In my view we are getting at local government from many directions. We do not pay rates; we often make ex-gratia payments. We arc not making the same kind of contributions to things like parking and beautification, as the honourable member for Adelaide mentioned, as would comparable developers.
For my part, I am not prepared to sit on a Public Works Committee, which is the agent of this Parliament on matters concerning public works, and be silent about matters upon which I have a very sincere conviction. I am serving notice now on whoever might care to take note of it - particularly those people who put projects before the Public Works Committee - that I am not prepared to be silent on any of these matters in the future if they do not in my view measure up to a requirement which will contribute to the beautification and livability of cities in terms of the policy which I, my Leader and my party consistently espouse.
– I would like to make one very short but powerful point. Honourable members should not assume that we have unlimited resources. If we are to spend money on building car parks or in beautification of buildings, which everyone wants to see, we will spend less money on building other facilities. We would all like to have everything the best in the most perfect of worlds, but we must realise that if we persist in wanting facilities such as car parks we are going to have fewer public works. That is the only point I want to make.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That until the end of the year, at eleven o’clock p.m. on each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and at four o’clock p.m. on Friday tha Speaker shall propose the question - That the House do now adjourn - which question shall be open to debate; if the House be in committee at that hour, the Chairman shall report progress and upon such report being made the Speaker shall forthwith propose the question - That the House do now adjourn - which question shall be open to debate.
if a division be in progress at the time of interruption such division shall be completed and the result announced.
if, on the question - That the House do now adjourn - being proposed, a Minister requires the question to be put forthwith without debate, the Speaker shall forthwith put the question.
nothing in this order shall operate to prevent a motion for the adjournment of the House being moved by a Minister at an earlier hour,
any business under discussion and not disposed of at the time of the adjournment shall be set down on the Notice Paper for the next sitting, and
if the question - That the House do now adjourn - is negatived, the House shall resume the proceedings at the point at which they had been interrupted.
I ask leave of the House to amend my motion by (a) inserting after ‘That’ where first occurring the words ‘unless the House otherwise orders’ and (b) by adding the following further proviso: ‘Provided further that, if at 12 o’clock midnight, the question before the House is - That the House do now adjourn - the Speaker shall forthwith adjourn the House until the time of its next meeting’. Mr Deputy Speaker, the motion, other than the proviso which I have now moved, is the same as that adopted on 16th April last for the remainder of the autumn sittings. If my motion is accepted by the House it will apply until the end of this year. I have inserted the first amendment, ‘unless the House otherwise orders’, because when the times for the changed days of sittings are determined - and those changed days will operate after 12th October if my recollection is right - we will have to make an appropriate motion to discharge this order. If the amendment is adopted the motion will include the words ‘unless otherwise ordered’, and therefore, we will proceed as we did in the last session.
Let me quickly recapitulate what is involved. At 11 o’clock the Speaker will propose the question ‘That the House do now adjourn*. A Minister has the right to request ‘That the question be put forthwith’. If the request is made the question has to be put forthwith. The Government therefore retains the power to go on with Government business after 11 p.m. If the Government goes on with Government business after 11 p.m. the adjournment of the House will be by motion from the Minister at the table That the House do now adjourn’. If the motion is not negatived at 11 o’clock then the question ‘That the House do now adjourn’ is open for debate. The new proviso will mean that when midnight comes the Speaker will immediately put the question and adjourn the House until the time for the next day of sitting. When the motion for changed sitting times was brought in last session the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) stated - 1 do not think he actually moved a motion - that he would prefer the question to be put at 10.30 p.m. 1 adhered to 1 1 p.m. and my motion on this occasion is for 11 p.m.
I have had an opportunity to discuss this matter with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and he has indicated to me that he accepts the 12 midnight shutdown but that he would have preferred a 10.30 p.m. end for Government business. I insisted that Government business should continue until 1.1 p.m. in order to allow more matters to be processed. However, I do not think that we are really very far apart on this issue. I will leave my remarks at this point, Mr Deputy Speaker. However, I indicate to you that after the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has spoken 1 shall ask for leave to speak again if he has raised questions which I want to .answer.
– -Speaking to the motion, may I say firstly that what the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) had to say about this matter I think conforms to the proposition I put to him. This is particularly the case in relation to the conclusion of the business of the House at midnight. I informed the Leader of the House that I intended to move an amendment to item No. 4 on the notice paper which relates to the sitting hours of the House. I advised him that my amendment would be to the effect that the automatic adjournment of the House should take place at 10.30 p.m. and that the Speaker would leave the Chair at 12 midnight. The Opposition believes that this is a very sensible arrangement. If the House were to adjourn at 10.30 p.m. it would mean there would be H hours in which members of the Parliament could speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House. Normally the Leader of the House agrees to an adjournment debate on Wednesday night and Thursday night of each week which means, if my amendment is agreed to, that there will be 3 hours for an adjournment debate. Therefore, I indicate to the Leader of the House that I intend to move by way of amendment that there should be an automatic adjournment at 10.30 p.m. and that, as i have already said, the Speaker should leave the chair at midnight. The Opposition believes that it is a sensible proposition to bring the adjournment debate to an end no later than midnight. The Minister for Labour and National Service, in his capacity as Leader of the House, has accepted the proposition, because it is embodied in the amendment that we now have before us, but he still adheres to what he has contended on previous occasions, that the adjournment should be moved at 11 p.m. and not 10.30 p.m. as I had originally requested, lt is also quite true, as the Minister has pointed out, that when he moved a similar motion during the last session of the Parliament 1 moved an amendment. At that time I moved that the automatic adjournment motion should be moved at 10.30 p.m. and not 1 1 p.m.
The Minister is prepared to accept the proposition that the Speaker should leave the chair at midnight, which would mean the end of the adjournment debate. The recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee is that the motion for the adjournment of the House should be put to the Parliament at 10.30 p.m. If that recommendation is accepted the requirements of the Opposition will be met. Indeed I had proposed to move an amendment along those lines to the Minister’s resolution that the automatic adjournment should be moved at 11 o’clock. In view of the fact that this proposition is still to be considered by the Parliament and honourable members will have the opportunity to make a decision as to whether the automatic adjournment should take place at 10 p.m., 10.30 p.m. or 11 p.m., if the Leader of the House decides to move an amendment to the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee, the Opposition at this stage is prepared to accept the amended motion of the Minister, that the adjournment should be moved at 11 p.m. and that the Speaker should leave the chair at midnight.
When this new procedure is adopted it will mean that in normal circumstances there will be provision for 1 hour of adjournment debate. In these circumstances I want to indicate to the Parliament and to the Leader of the House that the Opposition does not oppose the amendment in view of the fact that the recommendations of the Standing Orders Committee have yet to be debated and a determination will then be made one way or another.
– I simply want to place on record that I think honourable members are treating themselves with scant respect when they regard midnight as a sensible hour at which to knock off. While I agree with the general comments of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) I think we ought to be turning our minds to the idea that we should finish the official business of the House - or the running parliamentary business, I suppose one could call it - at 10 p.m. and fit in the adjournment after that. I do not see how anybody can regard it as reasonable to start a day here at 9 o’clock in the morning and go through until midnight, doing that 2, 3 or 4 days a week, then on to the next week and back to the roundabout at home. Surely to goodness people such as ourselves can start to look at this question of the time we knock off at night with a reasonable attitude. When the appropriate Standing Orders Committee’s recommendations come before the House I am going to try to have adopted a knock-off time of 10 o’clock. Then after we have a reasonable adjournment debate the rest of the day will be our own.
– Perhaps it has missed the attention of the House that in this motion we have won a victory for a very remarkable principle, and that is that the House will not sit past midnight.
– That is not so.
– Yes, it is. We have won this principle. It is about time that some sanity was brought to the management of this Parliament in the form of the bringing down of this amendment, j am looking forward to the day when, by a resolution to change the Standing Orders, Parliament will rise before midnight. This must be the crankiest, maddest and most stupid Parliament in the world when it comes to sitting hours. I have just come back from a world trip when I attended a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference in London. I visited 11 countries and inquired about the Parliaments in most of them. Some Parliaments do not sit at all in the evenings. They use that time for their committee work. This is a very good suggestion. But here we are slogging it out night after night around midnight. Honourable members have to be back here again early in the mornings to work in their offices. The attendants, the officers and the secretaries have to be back early, too. This puts a tremendous strain on people’s mental and physical energies and capacities. If we cannot do our work in daylight we should take a look at our procedures. All we would have to do would be to sit in Parliament for a little longer, for a few weeks more at the end of the sessional periods. The public are always screaming that we do not sit long enough. They do not understand that we sit in the evening of every day on which we sit. That has been happening since the Parliament started. This is the first time in the 69 years’ history of this Parliament that there has been a resolution before the House limiting the sitting of the House to midnight. That is late enough anyway.
I agree with the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) that we would have a far more efficient Parliament, with honourable members on both sides feeling fresher, if we knocked off entirely at 10.30 p.m., which is a sensible time. Most meetings of other organisations finish at about 10 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.
– The honourable member will be able to vote on this shortly. He will be able to determine his attitude to the Standing Orders Committee’s recommendations.
– When the Standing Orders Committee’s recommendations are adopted, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) said, we will be making a very historic decision. In spite of what the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) thinks, he is going to be greatly outvoted on the recommendation to adjourn the House at 10.30 p.m. with provision for the adjournment debate after that. The adjournment might take half an hour or an hour. In this way Parliament will be adjourned before midnight on a lot more nights than it has been in the 69 years of its history. It is up to every member to take part in a revolution, to vote some sanity and sense into our Standing Orders when the Standing Orders
Committee’s recommendations come before Parliament. I do not want the Leader of the House to postpone indefinitely the presentation of the Standing Orders Committee’s recommendations. I hope that he will have the heart - I think he has a heart somewhere in that body - to bring them before the Parliament as soon as possible. Let us get that matter out of the way, so that we will know where we are as far as evening sittings are concerned.
This matter is a very important one; it concerns the health, efficiency and wellbeing of members of this Parliament. It also has a very important bearing on the standard of legislation that is passed here and on the interest that honourable members take in it. Nobody can go on week after week sitting until after midnight each night and expecting to feel 100%. lt is just ridiculous. Members of Parliament spend more late hours than any other body of people in Australia, because not only do we have late nights here, we also have late nights at home in our electorates at a whole range of functions which we attend until 1 o’clock or 1.30 in the morning as part of our ordinary duties. This is what happens and I think we should be sensible enough, when the opportunity arises, to make a 10.30 p.m. cut-out. The Leader of the House has proposed a temporary measure in suggesting an 11 p.m. cut-out with no sitting beyond midnight. It is a poor substitute for what we want and will seek later when we are debating the Standing Orders Committee report. As we will all have a free vote on that issue, let us all vole for earlier nights so that we can be more effective members of the Parliament.
– As is fairly well known in this House, for many years I have been an advocate of earlier risings at night. I agree with some honourable members who have said that we cannot legislate sensibly or effectively at, say 3 o’clock in the morning, but I think that the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) is far too optimistic when he suggests that because of this motion the House will cease sitting at midnight. It will do nothing of the sort. In certain circumstances it will cease at midnight but in other circumstances it could still continue sitting if necessary until, say, 6 o’clock in the morning. This is how it could work out, so he should not be too pleased about it and claim that we have won a great victory. I do not feel like a victor although for years 1 have advocated earlier nights. I feel I am back where I started many years ago. I believe in reasonable sitting times and I would support early risings, but there must be some reason for it. I would rather sit at 9 o’clock in the morning instead of 10.30 if the House rose 1+ hours earlier at night. lt is interesting to refer to the hours worked by other people in the community. Banks commence operations at 10 a.m. At one time if a man were late for work he was asked whether he was working banking hours. We commence our work in the morning approximately at bank hours but the banks close a long time before the House rises, and so do all the stores and factories. The Factories Act would not permit factory workers, shop assistants or people in other occupations to work the hours that we do. lt is a fallacy that members sit for a certain period and when the House adjourns - it is not really a recess; I am told that the proper term is adjourns - say at the end of November until about February they are on holidays. I meet people in the Mallee who say to me: ‘Oh, well, you are on holidays now’. This is the greatest fallacy that has ever been circulated throughout Australia. Honourable members are working all the time if they are doing their job. Those honourable members who have to travel long distances cover hundreds or even thousands of miles during the adjournment. We do not come here for a short period, put up with late sittings and certain inconveniences in performing all the duties that must go into our work in this House, then return home during the adjournment and lie down on our beds enjoying what has been called a holiday.
I would support a proposal to sit at 9 a.m. and rise H hours earlier at night. No-one would be inconvenienced except perhaps the Cabinet, which has to meet often. Honourable members would not be inconvenienced through meeting a little earlier than we do now. I know that some people may say: ‘You come from the country, and country people get up early’. Some honourable members here would agree with that. I do not want to delay the House, but I cannot see the victory that was referred to by the honourable member for Wilmot until we get to a civilised state when we rise in this House at a reasonable time and do not sit unearthly hours as we have been doing for so many years.
– Like the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) I am a little apprehensive about whether there has really been a great victory for the ordinary members of the Parliament. It seems to me that this might be a victory for the Executive. There appears to be a distinct discrimination here between whether it is Government business taking place at midnight or whether it is business that members wish to raise on the adjournment debate. I suppose that if honourable members want to get away at midnight we should consider some of the senior citizens of the Parliament, although personally I do not mind to what time we continue sitting.
– Many young members are the first to knock-up.
– That may be so. I am concerned that if we continue until midnight and we are dealing with Government business then we will be in the position where the Government can continue the sittings if it so desires. However, if we are discussing anything on the adjournment debate - something that might not be very important in the eyes of the Executive but which might loom large in the eyes of an individual member - the way this motion is worded suggests that the speech of a private backbencher will bc concluded automatically at midnight. I should like the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) to explain why his amendment is worded in such a curious fashion.It says thatthe Speaker shall forthwith adjourn the House until the time of its next meeting’. Does this mean that the motion to adjourn the House will not be put? Does this mean that we are automatically bound to support the motion for the adjournment of the House at midnight? Does this mean that we all have to accept the adjournment and go home without a motion being put? I should like the Leader of the House to explain why the motion says that the Speaker shall forthwith adjourn the House.
Will we be departing from the standard practice under which the Speaker puts the question?
– I rise to seek clarification following what the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) said. Will this motion, if carried, deny any debate at all on the motion to adjourn the House, when members are normally afforded an opportunity to speak on various matters?
– You ought to listen. You obviously have not understood.
– I am seeking clarification. I apologise ifI appear to be somewhat distrustful of members on the Government side. ( am seeking clarification, which is my right. On many occasions in the past there have been disputes over the actions of Government Whips. I certainly include the honourable member for Angas in this. He has not been as honest in his explanations as perhaps he could have been in the past, and this is the very reason I seek clarification.
– Mr Deputy Speaker.I ask the honourable member to withdraw that remark.
– Order!I ask the honourable member for Sturt to withdraw the remark to which objection has been taken.
-I am quite nonplussed.
-I suggest that it will be better if you withdraw the remark.
– I did not refer to the honourable member for Angas other than to reply to some of the out of order interjections he made.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– The motion before the House, omitting detail that does not matter for this purpose and in order to clarify what is proposed, is this:
That … at eleven o’clock p.m. on each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday … the Speaker shall propose the question - That the House do now adjourn - which question shall be open to debate . . .
This seems to be an exceedingly complex and clumsy way of indicating what is proposed to be done. Put in simpler terms it means, I think, that at 11 o’clock the proceedings are interrupted. Then the Minister may simply say to the Speaker: ‘1 require the question to be put forthwith’ and then without debate the question has to be put and the House decides whether it will adjourn. On the other hand, there may be a debate on whether we should adjourn. The Opposition may object. In that case a vote will follow at some time and the House will decide whether it will adjourn. This is a highly complex procedure.
There is only one simple point that 1 want to put. All sides of the House, and almost all members of the House, are of the opinion that normally 1 1 o’clock is late enough to finish the proceedings, not because we are weaklings, not because we have some party political advantage to seek but simply because if members leave the House later than 11 o’clock it is impossible for them to get enough sleep to enable them with clear minds to attend to their business the next day. That is the simple position. It does not matter whether a member happens to be an aged fellow like myself or a young fellow like some I see before me. No man, young or old, can go to bed as late as we go to bed and come back with a mind clear and able to cope with the business of the House the next day. You will see, Mr Speaker, that the motion leaves the adjournment at 11 o’clock in the hands of the Leader of the House who may or may not confer with the spokesman for the Opposition. We have seen time and again a failure to reach agreement between the Leader of the House and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, wrangles ensue, time is wasted, nothing is gained.
Standing Orders are a splendid thing. We could not get along without them. But the spirit in which the Standing Orders are used is at least of equal importance. In the House of Commons which has more than 600 members, unless some rationality was introduced into discussions between the spokesmen for the two parties behind the Speaker’s chair or elsewhere it would be absolutely impossible to conduct business. We in this bush Parliament of ours have developed a tradition that is wholly bad - a tradition of wringling in the party spirit, wasting time, not getting on with the business of the nation, paying no concern to the very purpose for which we are sent here. Wc have fallen into this bad practice, this bad habit, this bad tradition. I believe that until some rationality is introduced into the arrangements made between the spokesmen for both sides, we shall continue to flounder as we have done in the past without advantage to ourselves and, what is far worse, without advantage to those whom we come here to represent. So I say that as a normal thing and without any doubt whatever this House should adjourn at 1 1 o’clock.
There are those who think that I am a vague kind of person, that 1 do not come up with specific proposals, tha* I do not move amendments which will command the support of the House, that I do not run around trying to gain support for some specific and practical proposal. Let me say that 1 propose now to be entirely practical. I propose to inform my Whip that at 11 o’clock, unless good reason is given why we should continue, I shall go home.
– With some reluctance I rise to further delay this debate but I must protest at the inadequate step that has been taken in relation to sit’ ing times. This is the second occasion, I think in this session on which we have had a debate on sitting times. All that this proposal will do is prevent a private member from speaking at a reasonable hour on a matter which is important to him and to his electorate. It will leave the way open, as I see it. to all-night sittings at the will of the Leader of the House. I cannot agree that that is a good situation.
If the Government cannot bring before us finally the recommendations of the Standing Orders Committee so that they can be discussed and resolved once and for all. at least we should attempt to end the sittings of this Ho> se at a reasonable hour of the night, irrespective of what the
Leader of the House may say about the pressure of business, because so long as we are prepared to tolerate that situation it will continue to arise. No doubt a decision on the recommendations of the Standing Orders Committee will be delayed indefinitely. 1 only hope that the Leader of the House will give us some indication tonight of when this matter will be resolved finally. If private enterprise was running this administration on a cost plus basis for output for effort expended, particularly in relation to sitting hours, wc would all have been sacked long ago for not making up our minds and coming up with a decent decision. I would not even disagree with that. lt is ludicrous to sit beyond midnight with Government business taking precedence over everything else because in many instances the older and infirm members have gone home and those who are left are tired and, let us face it, do not pay much attention to what is going on. If honourable members take part in the adjournment debate the House begins to clear. That happens with all debates late at night. 1 take it that the Government is supposed to be running the country. What about the people whom we keep working here at night? What about showing some common sense towards them? We have people sitting in the passageway, why I do not know, on some occasions until 1 o’clock and 2 o’clock in the morning. I think the area is called Siberia. What about the car drivers whom we keep waiting outside in cold and miserable circumstances? Are they not entitled to some home life? It is unfortunate that we cannot finally resolve that the sittings will end at, say, 10.30 p.m. I believe we will have an opportunity later to debate that matter.
The decision that is made on this question will operate for the remainder of this year. I am concerned whether we will be faced with this situation again at the beginning of next year without having had the opportunity to debate it. I understood from the recent discussion in ‘ which we agreed in principle to altered sitting hours that this matter was soon to be resolved. Unfortunately, the Leader of the House has come forward not only with the motion which appears on the notice paper but also with a further amendment to that motion.
– Lance, explain it to him, for goodness sake.
-Order! The honourable member for Swan will continue.
– Perhaps this can be explained to me later with an assurance that we finally will resolve the matter without amendments to motions and amendments to amendments. I hope that it will be explained to me that the report of the Standing Orders Committee finally will be discussed in this House and we will resolve at last what we are going to do. I hope that we will not be held up to the situation of constant debates on matters which should have been resolved in the first instance.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1970-71 Second Reading (Budget Debate)
Debate resumed from 25 August (vide page 491), on motion by Mr Bury:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr Whitlam had moved by way of amendment:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: ‘This House condemns this deceptive and negative Budget because it fails to meet the real needs of the Australian people, especially with respect to (a) standards of social service and war pensioners, (b) assistance to school, hospital and urban authorities and (c) restructuring of stricken primary industries and because it introduces and increases taxes and charges of a regressive and inequitable nature’.
- Mr Speaker, in rising to discuss the provisions crf the Budget, I wish first to draw attention to what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said yesterday in his Budget speech. He stated, speaking on behalf of the Australian Labor Party:
Our purpose is to destroy this Budget and to destroy the Government which has sponsored it.
Perhaps he might have been a little more honest if he had added: . . by the continued and increasing planned use of strikes, by the promotion of industrial unrest and by the use of violence as was used by builders labourers, and by the defiance of law and order - all this under the direction of Mr Hawke and his left wing supporters.
The truth is that the pensioner, the wage earner and the farmer have no greater enemy than Mr Hawke or the Leader of the Opposition. I have a number of friends on the Opposition side. I do not associate them with this sort of action. I am afraid that they are being led unwittingly along the road to increasing costs and to the reduction of the purchasing power of the money of pensioners, wage earners and primary producers. Of course, this had to be a deflationary Budget to try to counter the activities of Mr Hawke and of the Leader of the Opposition and those who support him. Something had to be done to make it more difficult for them to keep increasing the costs of those sections of the community who cannot afford to meet those increased costs.
It would be impossible to bring down a Budget that would please everybody, but it is much more difficult to produce an equitable national Budget when confronted with the present economic conditions. We have on one hand over-employment and a booming economy in the industrial, commercial and mining fields, while depressed and deteriorating economic conditions exist in the rural industries field. The inflow of vast sums of overseas money has created an excessive demand for labour and materials and has played right into the hands of the left wing militant unions led by Mr Hawke of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in collaboration with the Leader of the Opposition and some of his supporters who see, in the depressed state of rural industries, a chance to win country seats by the age-old left wing philosophy that socialism and communism thrive on depression, unemployment and loss, and frustration of the people. The rural industries are suffering most of all from rising costs-
– I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Being a comparatively new member in the chamber, I question whether the Standing Orders have been altered and whether it is permissible for an honourable member to read his speech completely as the honourable member for Hume is doing.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The point of order is without substance.
– I realise that they cannot take it, Mr Deputy Speaker. Rural industries are suffering most of all from rising costs which, together with falling world prices, have combined to make many rural enterprises unprofitable. Rising costs affect most severely the pensioner, the superannuitant, the lower income group, the primary producer and, increasingly, those secondary industries which have built up a substantial export potential. Certainly, I would have preferred to see the basic pension raised by at least $1 per week and far smaller reductions of income tax for !he middle income group and higher income group who were so vocal for some reduction in income tax. However, no increase would have been of any real or lasting benefit to the pensioner, to the lower income group or to the large family unless the Government was prepared to take strong measures to control the strike-happy, power-drunk Mr Hawke and the militant left wing union leadership who are the real enemies of the pensioner, the superannuitant, the lower income group and particularly the primary producer.
Any person in the middle and lower income groups will tell honourable members that every recent wage rise has left him worse off. That was quite easily shown with the last across-‘ he-board rise of 3% in wages of which the Government took about one third in increased taxes. But the cost of goods that the wage earner must buy rose by 15%, 20% or even 30%. Nothing could more quickly force up cost to industry and particularly to the farmer, nor reduce more effectively the purchasing power of the pensioner, than the introduction of the 35 hour week. Yet, we see support of the introduction of the 35 hour week by those who claim to be concerned at the plight of primary producers and of farmers.
For instance, does the very vocal honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) support the introduction of the 35 hour week? I have asked him this question often enough, but he has never been prepared to answer it. Does he support the continual increase in wages without at least an equal rise in productivity? Of course he supports it, just as the Leader of the New South Wales State Opposition, who has tried very hard to apologise for what he said and for what the New South Wales State Executive of the Australian Labor Party has said, supports the 35 hour week. The honourable member for Riverina, the Leader of the Opposition, and the New South Wales Leader of the State Opposition all support the 35 hour week and support the rolling strikes and everything else that Mr Hawke dictates to his subordinates, to the Leader of the Opposition and to left wing Labor Party members. None dares defy the dictates of the party or, for that matter, Mr Hawke who is the real master, because if they did their heads would roll as did the heads of the former member for Batman, Mr Benson, and of Mt Galbally and Mr Harradine.
I believe that the time has come when this Federal Government must take stronger action, in the interests of the whole nation, against lawbreakers. Unless the Government takes urgent and strong action to control those who are wrecking the economy this country will face a disastrous recession. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said today that he would take strong action. I was very pleased to hear him say that here today in answer to a question. A serious recession is occurring already in many of our country towns. That situation applies not only to those towns in the drought areas where things are even worse
Economic measures alone are not enough. A national government must be prepared to govern, to uphold the law and to deal with lawbreakers, whoever they may be. The great malady that affects far too many Australians is apathy. We, the people, have been apathetic about the active disruptive element in our midst. Alan Reid, perhaps the most experienced and most balanced of all of our political correspondents, drew attention to this gravest of all threats to our freedom in an excellent article in the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ of 16th August last, when he gave the irrefutable facts concerning a direction to the building workers’ union to step up the destruction of private property. Alan Reid’s report, and the leading article in the same newspaper, drew attention to the fact that decent trade unionists were being misled and duped by Communist leaders in an attempt to turn unionists into destructive political propagandists, and to incite them to commit offences against the law. in my electorate in speeches on radio and television I repeatedly have drawn attention to the drift in this young democratic country towards an immensely serious position - in fact, I believe, a disastrous crisis. I have drawn attention to the danger of destroying our civilisation and of returning to the law of the jungle. This is the direct result of our natural apathy. I quote again the slogan of the Returned Services League:
The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. This is a slogan that might well be displayed in every public place in this country. This, 1 say, is no mere catch-cry but the deeply felt warning that comes from the hearts of those who gave or were prepared to give all for freedom.
In this so-called modern society, so many are demanding their rights. They demand their right to do as they please, never mind whom it hurts, inconveniences or destroys. They demand the right to break laws that an individual or a minority does not happen to approve of or to like. They demand the right to accept all the privileges and benefits of living in a free democracy without contributing anything at all to that freedom. They demand the right to cringe like cowards behind others who are prepared to stand fast and to protect them as well as the young and the old and the wives and mothers of this young nation, and who protect this cherished freedom which we all enjoy and which was won with blood, sweat and tears. We should forever be reminded of this fact. Too often discipline has become a dirty word and law, order and authority are despised, lt has been the breaking down of law and order, the loss of respect for leaders, for parents and for democratic institutions and the growth of the permissive society, of so-called sexual freedom, that have been the downfall of every great nation and every great empire in history.
Quite recently we saw in this House a return to the law of the jungle. In this very Parliament, which is the premier law making authority in the land, we witnessed not only blatant defiance of constitutional law and order and elected authority by one misguided individual, but we saw the leader of a once great democratic Party stand up and incite his Party to anarchy. We have seen members of this Parliament calling upon our troops to mutiny in the face of the enemy and on our people to break the law in our streets. We have seen violence by a rabble of builders labourers, incited by their Communist leaders to wreck private property. I refer honourable members again to the article written by Alan
Reid. We have seen those same leaders encouraging the builders labourers to destroy property at every opporunity they get. There is evidence of intimidation of decent law abiding citizens by threats of violence and strong arm tactics-
– I take a point of order. The honourable member is very wide of the subject now before the House.
– Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The honourable member has been in this place long enough to know the basis of a Budget debate. There is no substance in the point of order.
– These remarks do concern the Budget. As I said, we have seen intimidation of decent law abiding citizens by threats of violence. Strong arm tactics are engaged in almost every day by a small left wing militant group, encouraged, aided and abetted by Communist and left wing leaders. This has taken place because the ordinary, average law abiding citizen has been apathetic. The ordinary citizen has not seen what has happened before his very eyes. Too often the authorities have been weak-kneed and bluffed by this ruthless, militant, left wing authority. We are told that the police, whose duty it is to uphold the law and whose responsibility it is to protect the citizen and his property, must not use violence, or any force against law breakers to stop them from interfering with the privileges of private citizens or from injuring people or destroying their property. The Opposition seizes every opportunity to attack the police when they carry out their duties. We are often told by the Press that the mob is free to inconvenience the ordinary citizen, to interfere with his freedom and to destroy his property but the police must never use any vigour or resistance in maintaining law and order.
The recent Vietnam Moratorium Campaign was an illegal operation and a defiance of democratically enacted laws. However, the police were told that they must stand by and look the other way when the law was flagrantly, deliberately and provocatively broken by men led by the Leader of the Opposition and some of his cohorts. The time has come when the elected Government must take a firm stand against these law breakers. The time has come when the average decent citizen must demand action. We are the people who represent the citizens of this country and it is up to us to ensure that the Government takes strong action. We will have 95% of the people with us if such action is taken by the Government. We have not maintained eternal vigilance. We have come perilously close to losing our freedom in this country. The tragedy to which we must awake is that our freedom is being stolen from us by the militant few - the arrogant, violent minority. The great majority of Australians are decent, law abiding citizens. The Federal Government should have the courage to introduce legislation to compel all trade union elections to be conducted by a compulsory secret ballot under the supervision of the Commonwealth Electoral Office. It should be mandatory for all those called upon to engage in strike action to be allowed to vote in a secret ballot before being forced to go on strike. I am convinced that this action alone would eliminate 90% of the industrial unrest and the frivolous and political strikes.
The strike called by Mr Hawke and the Leader of the Opposition against the Budget would have received very little support if the decision to strike had been made by the rank and file members of the unions. A compulsory secret ballot in all union elections would eliminate almost completely the extreme left wing and the Communist dictatorship which have seized power. I am a strong believer in trade unions and the need for responsible leadership. No-one will ever convince me that many employers would not exploit the employee if he were not protected by a strong union. I repeat that I am in support of strong unions representative of the rank and file members. But today, because of apathy and disgust with the present leadership of these unions, less than 51% of eligible workers belong to a trade union. I think that this is a tragic situation. Any truthful union member will agree that fewer than 10% of financial members ever attend meetings or participate in the election of union leaders. The result of this apathy is that some 5% of the workers take control. Too often these are the militant, aggressive, violent, left wing, Communist dominated members. Fewer than 5% of the workers take the bread from the children’s mouths, cause industrial unrest, promote violence in our streets and seek to destroy our democratic way of life.
While 1 believe that the Government has done its best to bring down a Budget that overall is in the interests of the nation and that less emphasis should have been given to lower taxation and more emphasis placed on assistance to the pensioner and the man with a large family, I maintain that economic measures are not enough. The restoration of law and order is even more important. Unless law and order are restored economic measures will be completely futile. Unless irresponsible, power drunk, strike happy disruptionists are controlled and unless the control of unions is restored to the hands of the decent rank and file members then the purchasing power of the pensioner, the superannuitant, the lower wage earner and the man with a large family, together with the exporter of primary products and manufactured goods, will continue to deteriorate at an ever increasing rate. The ultimate result will be a major recession or depression which no decent Australian wants but which suits the militant left winger and the Communist. They know that their only chance of seizing power is by creating a pervading feeling of desperation through violence, hunger and misery. I appeal to the Government to take firm action, f am convinced that the Government will have the support of the vast majority of decent Australian people if it does so.
There has been emanating from the city Press and from others who have been carried away by the present mineral boom a growing chorus decrying and denigrating the importance of the primary industries and suggesting that primary industries are becoming relatively unimportant in the present and future economic prosperity of this nation. Despite the depressed prices of rural exports, they still earn more than S2,000m and this is considerably more than half of the total of Australia’s export earnings. In actual residual or effective export earnings the rural industries are far more important in that almost 100% of the rural exports are produced in Australia by Australians whereas a very large proportion of our export earnings from both minerals and manufactured goods is paid out in dividends and the repayments of capital to overseas interests. There is the additional cost of raw materials for industry. The wheat industry is quickly overcoming the problems created by a record crop, which occurred in the same year as every other wheat producing country had a record crop. One has only to study the facts to realise how childishly foolish are the statements made by the Opposition shadow minister for primary industry and particularly by the minishadow minister. They of course have always bitterly opposed the decisions of the elected leaders of rural industries - not only the experienced leaders of the wheat industry but the leaders of practically every other rural industry. The wheat industry will recover; it is quickly recovering now with the aid of mother nature.
Wool is the key to the problems of practically all our rural industries. Wool is still our grestest single export earner, and the restoration of the industry to profitable levels is of vital interest to every Australian. Wool, unlike wheat, has no world surplus but annual production is going into regular consumption. Why is it then that so many Australians go to such lengths to try to create the impression that wool is finished, that wool can be done without, that other textiles are better or have more desirable characteristics? Wool is by far the best and most desirable fabric known to man. lt is most appealing for its wearing qualities, appearance and health reasons and it far outperforms any man-made fabric. I believe that for too long the Australian wool grower has been content to leave the selling of his product to others who are making more out of wool today than the wool grower is. Wool is still & free commodity. It is one of the few free commodities that we have and it is extensively used by currency dealers as a means of avoiding losses and in reaping large profits in fluctuating markets. A great deal of the resistance to any attempt to control the price or marketing of wool comes from this area. It would be interesting indeed to know how many Australians who have never grown wool are making large sums out of dealing in wool and wool futures and forwarding selling. The trading banks stand to lose very large sums indeed in currency conversion if direct sales are made from the producer to the manufacturer, just as they did when the Australian
Wheat Board eliminated a large source of similar revenue. Hence we have the reason for much of their resistance.
The extremely heavy and largely unnecessary costs and profits involved in the handling and processing of wool are such that if the wool were to be given to the manufacturers one would not buy a woollen suit or a woollen article any cheaper. Everybody is making an excellent profit out of wool except the wool growers. The time has come when wool growers can no longer afford virtually to give away their wool. The time has come for them to reap some reward for producing the best textile fibre in the world. The wool grower has made tremendous progress in improving his product. He is growing more and better wool per sheep and per acre. The grower has vastly improved pastures and husbandry. He uses better drenches, inoculates his sheep, classes his flock, buys expensive rams and employs expert wool classers. The care and preparation of the wool in a grower’s shed is a near perfect operation. Having done all of this the grower rolls his wool out of his shed on to a landing and virtually says: ‘You can do what you like with it’.
What happens is that he is fleeced because he has to pay exorbitant road and rail freights. His wool is handled at least 20 times from the rail head to the factory or ship. Dealers, wool scourers, processors, manufacturers and wholesalers all take their cut. The retailers take from 33i% to 60%. The result is the wool is far dearer to the consumer than it should be. Obviously the time has come when the producer must take control of his product ot go out of business. I believe that there is a great future for wool. There is room for tremendous savings in the handling and manufacture of wool. For example, elimination of the many parasites would make it possible for manufacturers to pay for th raw article and sell it for less.
– ls the honourable member referring to the Country Party?
– That interjection reflects the limit of the intelligence of the interjector. It shows how much he knows abou? wool. The standard of living of many millions of people throughout th: world i« rising. A really first class article will always sell at a reasonable price. It is worth noting in passing that the people of Japan are actually wearing 83% of the Australian wool which is bought by Japan whereas a few years ago Japan re-exported most of it after processing. There are millions of people who prefer wool and will buy wool as their standard of living rises.
We, the wool growers, have to set our house in order and reorganise our industry. To do this we need the right economic climate, which only governments can provide. We need long term loans to reconstruct our industry. By long term I mean loans of from 20 to 30 years at reasonable interest rates. This will enable us to develop our properties and purchase additional land to build economic units. Economic stability and reduction of industrial unrest, which can be brought about only by strong government action, is absolutely necessary. The future of wool is still the future of the nation. The Government ignores the position of the wool industry at its peril. The loss of its wool seats will bring about the defeat of the Government. The Socialists are doing their utmost to cash in, as always, on the problems of the rural industries. They are doing so not because they care for or are really interested in the position of country people but because it appears to them to be a way to gain power. Mr Whitlam, in the 65 minutes he spoke during his contribution to the Budget debate, devoted less than 30 seconds to rural industries.
– I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The honourable member for Hume should give the Leader of the Opposition his proper title.
– The honourable member for Franklin is correct, but I would point out to him that occasionally such things are inadvertently said by honourable members and unless they are said repeatedly it has been the practice on both sides of the House to allow them to pass without attention being drawn to them on the first occasion. 1 thank the honourable member for pointing out a breach of the Standing Orders.
– I rise on a point of order, lt was deliberate because the honourable member read it.
– There is no point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– How long has it been the practice?
-The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I return to what 1 was saying, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition, who is a great friend of Mr Hawke, spent a bare 30 seconds, in a speech which lasted 65 minutes, dealing with the rural industries. Thirty seconds was all he saw fit to devote to the great problems facing the rural industries of Australia. The Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Riverina support the elimination of country seats. If the seat of the honourable member for Riverina were to be abolished it would not be any loss to the Parliament.
If the Socialists gain power what would happen to our rural industries? We would have a Socialist state. Those of us on the land - all of us - would be reduced to a race of peasant collective farmers. We would see the end of democratic freedom and the rise of Socialist dictatorships. An example of this is the power drunk dictatorship of Mr Hawke and his associates. 1 refer to the Leader of the Opposition and the left wing members - I am careful about saying the left wing members - of the Opposition. The people are demanding that the Government take firm action against the law breakers, no matter who they are. No matter who it is - be it the Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) or any other member of this Parliament, the leader of a union or a parson - if he breaks the laws of this country we must take firm action against him. I support the Budget. While ! do not agree with it in detail, t is on the whole a serious attempt to try to do something about the destructive powers which are increasing costs in this country and reducing the purchasing power of pensioners, superannuitants, primary producers and the low wage earners. I conclude on this note: The greatest enemy we have in our country is those people who are forcing up costs and reducing purchasing power. Again I name Mr Hawke and the Leader of the Opposition.
– 1 listened with some interest to the remarks of the honourable member for Hume (Mr
Pettitt). I was particularly interested in the fact that, as far as I could gather, he made no reference at all to the wheat industry. If I am correct in this assumption, I draw the attention of the House to the fact that in his Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr Bury) also did not make any reference to the wheat industry. It seems to me to be idle for the honourable member for Hume to talk about the great value of rural industries to this country - honourable members on this side of the House agree that they are of great values - if he does not make any mention whatsoever of the wheat industry. I rise to support the amendment which was moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the following terms: this House condemns this deceptive and negative Budget because it fails to meet the real needs of the Australian people, especially with respect to
The Budget which was introduced by the Treasurer only last week caused more dismay and consternation and has drawn more hostility from the masses of the people than any other Budget which has been introduced. The general public is not yet aware of the full adverse effects of this Budget. When the people realise what the Budget means their hostility will further increase.
There is good reason for dismay and consternation over the Budget, particularly in the case of the family man and those persons on fixed and low incomes. But these are not the only people complaining about the Budget and criticising it. Almost everybody appears shocked by some of the things which the Government has done or failed ro do in this Budget. For instance, never have recipients of social services been treated with such contempt and such callous disregard for their welfare as they have in this Budget. I cannot recall when a family man and those struggling to make ends meet were subjected to the type of confidence trick perpetrated by the Government in this Budget. Certainly, on other occasions pensioners have received an increase of only 50c a week. In fact, the Government’s policy in this regard would seem to be to increase pensions annually by an average of 50c. Certainly, on other occasions other social service beneficiaries have been completely ignored. But on this occasion not only have these people been treated harshly in the matter of increases in pensions and other benefits but also have they been subjected to increased costs.
The Budget has been referred to as a give and take Budget, but the amount which the Government is giving will prove to be insignificant compared with the amount it will take when the full effects of increases in the cost of living are felt. The people of Australia should be allowed to express a positive opinion about this Budget. The only way in which they can do this is through the ballot box. if the Prime Minister and those who support him have the courage of their convictions they should be prepared to face the people. They should be prepared to accept the challenge of my Party to hold an early election. Prior to the last election the Prime Minister told the people that if the Government was returned it would, over a period of 3 years, reduce income tax on the lower and middle income groups by about $200m. That was the beginning of the great confidence trick to which I have referred because people in the lower and middle income groups quite naturally understood the Prime Minister to mean that they would be better off and would benefit by the amount by which taxes were reduced. They failed to realise that the Prime Minister and his Liberal and Country Party colleagues had very different ideas. They failed to realise that the Government had no intention of creating a situation in which the Treasury would suffer a reduction in taxation revenue. Too late the people now realise that the Government’s intention was substantially to increase revenue by the back door method - a method which this Government has used so consistently for so long.
While the Prime Minister and his colleagues made great play during the election campaign of their intention to reduce income tax they were very careful not to mention their intention to make up for those reductions by substantially increasing indirect taxation. They carefully avoided making it known that the few cents or dollars which people on small incomes would save in income tax would be more than offset by increased charges for services, increased excise duties and increased sales tax. Since the Government was well aware that if returned to office it would impose these higher indirect taxes, I say emphatically that the people were the victims of a confidence trick and that Government supporters were less than honest with the people in deliberately creating the impression that because of certain reductions in income tax the people would bc better off. In fact many people will be worse off as a result of this Budget. The ones most adversely affected will be those least able to pay - the family man, people on fixed or low incomes and pensioners. So let the Government go to the people now. Let the people decide whether the Government was strictly honest during the last election campaign. Let the people decide whether the reductions in their income tax will compensate them for losses sustained due to increased charges imposed in this Budget. Let the people decide whether the pensioners have been shabbily treated. The only way properly to determine the issue is for the Government to go to the people.
Government supporters seek to obtain credit from the fact that the promised income tax reductions have been granted in the first year rather than being spread over 3 years. But the Government’s action in this regard does not bear examination for the simple reason that if the reduction this year had amounted to only 34% instead of 10%, or if there had been no reduction, the Treasury would have suffered because the Government would not have had the courage in those circumstances to impose the extra indirect taxes. For example, it would not have had the courage to increase charges for letters and telegrams. Of course, it could not possibly have given pensioners less than 50c. It is obvious that by granting the full income tax reductions in 1 year and imposing other charges the real beneficiary over the 3 year period will be the Treasury. If the Treasury required additional revenue in order to meet election promises, this fact must have been known to the Government when those promises were made. If so, why were the people not told? Why were they kept in the dark? Those are the questions I pose, because if the people had been aware of the real situation they might well have preferred not to see income tax reduced and not have the other charges imposed.
Let us briefly examine the income tax proposals. Let us look at the great financial benefits which, according to Government supporters, will flow to people on small incomes. Let us measure the relief from income tax against the burden of increased indirect taxes so that we may ascertain who actually benefits - the taxpayer or the Treasury. Let us briefly examine other increased charges, such as those for telephone installations and rentals, and postal and telegram charges. We must not forget, as the Prime Minister would wish, that these increases will not be felt by the man in the street only when he uses the services or purchases an item subject to increased charges. There will be a general increase in the cost of living because manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers will ensure that they recover their increased costs by the simple process of increasing the prices of the articles they make or sell.
Because I am very concerned about the effect of increased prices on the less fortunate in the community and on the rural sector, last week I asked the Prime Minister what action he intended to take to protect these people against unnecessary increases. He replied that the people to whom 1 referred would not suffer from increased prices unless they were heavy smokers, drank wine, or brought motor cars, furs or jewellery. Did you ever hear such rot? Such a reply by the Prime Minister is a clear indication of the Government’s attitude. It is not concerned if prices rise. It is not concerned whether increased prices are justified. It is not concerned about the people who will be seriously affected by increased prices. The Prime Minister knows full well that increased taxes on petrol and diesel fuel, for instance, will lead to an increase in haulage and transport charges. This in turn will bring about an increase in the price of goods and foodstuffs wherever they are carried, whether over short distances or long distances. This, of course, will include practically everything. The people who will suffer most are those in poor circumstances, those in remote and far flung areas and those engaged in the rural industries. Yet the Prime Minister and Government supporters remain completely undisturbed over this situation. [f, on the other hand, the Prime Minister is genuine in his belief, if his examination of the effects of higher excise and sales tax and other charges, has shown that there should be no increase in the general cost of living or the cost of production, then why does he not make it quite clear? Why does he not make it quite clear to me that he will take action against anyone who does increase prices? Why does he not make it quite clear that any increase in prices will have to be justified before a commission or some other body? Surely that is not much to ask for in these circumstances. Of course the Prime Minister will not do that. The people who wish to increase their prices know that he will not do it and so they will go blithely ahead. The people who, according to the Prime Minister, will have no need to fear increases in prices will just have to suffer the consequences.
There is another ridiculous situation which must be kept in mind regarding the reduction in income tax and that is that the reduction is on the taxable income. Nothing has been done to increase dependants’ allowances and so on. Therefore a taxpayer with, for example, 3 dependants or even 10 dependants will receive no more tax relief than will a taxpayer with no dependants if they both have the same taxable income. Therefore it must also come about that the greater the number of dependants the harder the taxpayer will be hit by these additional charges that the Government has imposed by increasing indirect taxation.
The fact is that a taxpayer, irrespective of the number of dependants, who has a taxable income of $40 per week will pay 45c less per week or $23.40 less per year than he does now. But let us look at how that $23.40 will be depleted by increases in indirect tax and the other charges imposed in this Budget. If the taxpayer has a telephone he will pay an extra $7 a year for its rental. Perhaps Government supporters can see no reason why a man in those circumstances should have a telephone. If that taxpayer smokes at the rate of 5 packets of cigarettes a week, which is pretty light, he will pay, at the estimated increase of 3c per packet, up to an extra $7.80 per year for cigarettes simply because the Government has increased the excise on tobacco. If he is married and his wife smokes also he wilt be up for a further $7.80. If he has a motor car and uses 3 gallons of petrol a week, which again is fairly light, at the reported increase of 3c per gallon he will pay out an additional $4.68 per year.
That taxpayer, without facing up to any other increases, will find himself paying out an additional $27.28 per year, or approximately $4 more than his reduction in income tax will amount to. But he still has to meet all the other additional charges imposed on such things as stamps and telegrams, the increased cost of shaving gear such as razor blades and shaving cream for himself, and increases in the price of beauty preparations for his wife - even baby powder if his wife happens to have a baby. If he is in the unfortunate position of requiring a new motor car or a television or radio set then he can say goodbye to every part of the tax reduction he will receive over a period of 10 years or so simply because this Government has increased sales tax on those items by 2i%.
So we find on examination of the Budget provisions that if a taxpayer expects to finish up all square he must have, at the very least, a clear income of at least $80 per week after all taxation. If he happens to have 2 or 3 dependants he will require a clear income of at least $1.00 per week if he expects to have a chance of offsetting these increased charges by the use of his tax deduction. People with large families and low incomes who now do not pay any income tax cannot gain any relief from that quarter and they will be obliged to face up to these increased charges, to the additional sales tax and excise. This is the way in which this Government shows its attitude to those on low incomes and those in poor financial circumstances. It is an absolute disgrace and Government supporters should be ashamed to be associated with it.
There is another side to this matter because, after all. the Prime Minister did promise a reduction for those people in what he was pleased to describe at the middle income group. I will cite a few reductions he granted in this field: $500 per year for the taxpayer whose taxable income is $16,000; $418 per year for the person with a taxable income of $20,000 $244 per year for the taxpayer whose taxable income is $25,000; and $70 per year for those with a taxable income of $30,000. This means that a taxpayer with a taxable income of $307 per week will receive relief at the rate of $9.65 per week. A person whose taxable income is $384 per week has been granted relief at the rate of $8 per week. A taxpayer with a taxable income of $480 per week will receive relief of $4.70 per week. A person with a taxable income per week of $575 is to receive relief at the rate of $1.34 per week.
Those weekly amounts of relief do not compare very well with the relief given to people who really require it. For instance, a man with a taxable income of $1,600 rather than $16,000 will receive a reduction of only $13.94 per year. His weekly all clear income will be increased by the princely amount of 27c compared with $9.65 for the man receiving $16,000. A man with a taxable income of $2,000 rather than $20,000 will receive a reduction of $21.73, or relief at the rate of 41c per week; while the man with a taxable income of $2,500 rather than $25,000 will get a reduction of approximately 62c per week or something like half the amount that the man on $30,000 will receive.
The figures I have mentioned prove just how unfair are the whole provisions of this Budget. They show how unfair is the tax structure. They show how people who require relief - in some cases desperately so - will not only be denied it but, to make things even worse, they will be obliged to things even worse, will be obliged to meet charges never previously imposed on them.
There is another section of the community which has been treated in a shabby and disgraceful manner. I refer to the recipients of social service payments, particularly the pensioners to whom I shall refer in a moment. Throughout the whole field of social services, no matter whether it is pensioners, child endowment, child allowance, guardians allowance, wife’s allowance, maternity allowance, unemployment payments and so on. the recipients have received a rough deal over the years at the hands of this Government. But on this occasion in particular the Government has shown complete disregard and complete contempt for their welfare.
No matter which area of social service recipients one refers to, they are facing the problems of a higher cost of living, and the increased charges imposed by this Budget will eat still further into the meagre allowances that the Government provides.
Yet despite this obvious situation and the difficulties facing these people the Government has given exactly nothing, in most cases, to offset those additional costs. Therefore every person and every family in receipt of social services today will be worse off. They have suffered the increases in the cost of living which have occurred since the last increase in allowances and now they must suffer the future effects of this Budget.
I want to refer again to the pensioners. The Government’s treatment of these worthy citizens is absolutely disgraceful It has given them a miserable 50c per week but, as I pointed out when referring to sales tax and other charges, a large part of that 50c will be recovered by the Treasury and little will be left to the pensioner to meet these other increased charges. Pensioners will find themselves worse off as a result of this Budget. The Treasurer, during the presentation of the Budget, appeared to expect commendation and applause when he announced the 50c increase. He pointed out that as a result of that increase a single pensioner will receive $15.50 per week and a pensioner couple will receive S27.50. He seemed to think that the Government had adopted a very generous attitude and that the amounts he quoted were more than sufficient. What the Treasurer received from honourable members on this side of the House in response to his announcement were jeers, and cries of ‘shame’ and ‘disgraceful’. Thi. was only natural because no-one would seriously and sincerely believe or accept that a pensioner or a pensioner couple could possibly live in a decent and adequate manner on the amounts I have mentioned. It would do no harm to again draw attention to the fact that the Government has given certain people in the community tax relief of $500 a year when they already have an income of $16,000. Yet at the same time it is prepared to give the pensioners only an extra $26 a year. This is what the Government calls a fair go.
No harm will be done either by placing on record that in this morning’s Press it was reported that the Government has offered to two former Governors-General pensions of $7,500 a year. I do not object to their having a pension. However, I am taking exception to the reason that is given. It is that the gentlemen concerned were not able to live in the good circumstances required for former Governors-General. The decision to increase the pensions was made by Cabinet and one of the former Governors-General is reported as saying that he is delighted by the consideration shown by Prime Minister Gorton and Government supporters. What a different consideration this is from that shown to the pensioners. The poverty stricken circumstances of thousands of pensioners drew consideration at the rate of $26 per year. But these other people received $7,500. I bet they are singing that old ode: ‘Oh to be a former Governor-General when Gorton’s in the chair’. As I hope to have an opportunity to express my feelings still further about the plight of the pensioners when the Social Service Bill is introduced and during the Committee stages of the Appropriation Bill I will leave this subject for the moment and move on to another aspect that the Budget did not cover.
As honourable members are aware, not one word was said during the Budget Speech about the gold mining industry. It was completely ignored. But, of course, we did read that the Treasurer had made a Press statement on 23rd June and said it was the intention of the Government to extend the Gold Mining Industry Assistance Act for a further period of 3 years without amendment. The Treasurer also said that his Government had decided there was no reason to increase the subsidy and that in his opinion the extension of the Act in its existing form would allow gold mining activities to phase out gradually. We know that a Bill has been introduced to carry out what the Treasurer said would be done. I do not wish at this stage to say much because I know that the Prime Minister has been asked or will soon be asked to receive a deputation from Western Australia consisting of the Premier of the State or the Minister for Mines, the Leader of the Opposition of Western Australia and the President of the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia to place before the Prime Minister a case for an increase in subsidy. So all I say now is that the request for the deputation illustrates the importance which Western Australia puts on an increase in subsidy. I hope that the Treasurer and the Prime Minister will leave the way clear to amend the Act accordingly, subsequent to the case being presented and considered.
I want to return briefly to the subject of taxation in order to draw attention to the fact that the Government has once again, as it has for so many years, refused to make any alteration in zone allowances or in zone boundaries despite the fact, which must be obvious to everyone, that under existing allowances and boundaries a number of taxpayers and their families in remote and far flung areas are being treated in a most unfair manner. The Government has again refused to correct the several anomalies of the zone provisions, lt has refused to do anything about the glaring anomaly whereby one taxpayer can receive the maximum concession after a bare 6 months in a zoned area while another taxpayer living in the same town or even in the same camp for a continuous period of almost 12 months does not receive any concession at all. The Government refuses to extend the concessions to those people employed on oil rigs situated in the open sea just off the north coast of Western Australia even though the people employed nearby on the mainland or on a nearby island enjoy the full privilege. People in the zoned areas are sick and tired of hearing the Treasurer say that nothing can be done until there is a general review of the whole situation. They have come to realise that there will never be another review while this Government remains in office.
This Budget provides no increase in tax deductions for the spouse or other dependants of a taxpayer. The Budget contains nothing to increase the deduction related to education expenses even though those expenses have increased considerably. No provision is made to allow anything for expenses of travel where a taxpayer and his dependants are obliged to seek medical or hospital attention. These are some of the areas of taxation where the Government could assist the low income earner, the family man and those people resident in country or remote areas. No heed is taken of the need of these people for assistance in the form of taxation relief. This Government denies the obvious needs of the less fortunate and those battling for an existence, people who seek only the right to live decently and to ensure their children good health and a decent education.
Just a short time ago the Minister for Education in Western Australia was reported as saying that his Government - also a Liberal government - could not afford to set up and staff a senior high school in the far north of the State. The parents and citizens in the area have expressed their intention to seek finance from outside Australia. If this is correct, and 1 believe it is, it is surely a shameful situation and must be an indictment of this Government and of the Government of Western Australia, a State which its governments are always saying is rapidly on the move and returning great wealth from iron ore and other mining activities. Yet, this State Government is not able to afford children the opportunity of a decent education. In addition the State Government refuses parents a reasonable tax deduction for the expenses they incur in sending their children to the metropolitan area or to some other place to receive education. 1 notice that my time has almost expired. I should like to refer again to the situation in relation to rural industry. As I said earlier, the Treasurer made no mention in his Budget Speech of the wheat industry. However, I suppose in this regard he was being quite consistent because we all know that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) and several Government back benchers are on record as saying that it is not the concern or the responsibility of a government to solve the problems and determine what is best for rural industry. If the attitude that the Government takes is that it is not interested in rural industry and the people who are engaged in that industry, I ask: Why does not the Government take some heed of the people who are dependent, even if not directly, on rural industry? I refer to those people who are in country centres and country towns. It is obvious that under the existing situation the great cry of the Government of ‘get big or get out’ will only be a temporary thing. While this scheme might solve a problem in one area it will create many problems in others. If the Government continues with its policy the country towns will lose their populations or have them seriously depleted. As a result, thousands of people will be affected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I think it is a matter for the very greatest regret that the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) should speak in the way he did about former Governors-General of this country. I am thinking in particular of Field-Marshal Lord Slim, a soldier with one of the greatest war records of anyone. The other former Governor-General is Sir William McKell who I must say came from the same sort of political background as does the honourable member for Kalgoorlie. I think it is in very poor taste for anyone in this House to criticise any GovernorGeneral, whatever his background, for the receipt of a pension. I should say that the honourable member does not speak for the million pensioners in this country. He speaks for the bums in this country. The whole of the honourable member’s speech was, in my view, a regurgitation of the tired old Socialist philosophies. It was an expression of the class consciousness that we listened to last night in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam).
– I raise a point of order, ls the honourable member in order in calling the pensioners in my area bums?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER <Mr Lucock)Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– 1 was not calling the pensioners in the honourable gentleman’s area bums. I was calling people who talk like the honourable member bums.
-Order! I suggest to honourable members on both sides that they return to the subject of the debate.
– I suggest that the honourable member for Kalgoorlie should travel around the world a bit. If he can show me another country that is better to live in than this counry. no matter what one’s level of income, [ will go and live there. This is the best country in the world. I would like to return to the Socialist philosophies expressed by the Leader of the Opposition last night and to make the point that he spoke for 65 minutes.
– It was heavy going.
– It was heavy going, I must agree. What was important was not what he said but what he did not say. Let us look at some of the things he did not mention. I should like to pay a tribute to the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) who followed the Leader of the Opposition in the debate. In my view, the honourable member’s rebuttal was the best speech on matters of economic policy that I have heard since I have been in this Parliament. I thought he dealt with the Leader of the Opposition extremely well. I should also like to pay a tribute to the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) who preceded me in the debate and who dealt in some depth with the upheavals in the industrial situation in Australia today. I shall run. out of time if I deal at too great length with what the Leader of the Opposition said. I am concerned with what he did not say, and in particular with what he did not say about defence and external affairs. It seems to me that these matters of the defence of this country and our relationship with other countries are at least important, if not pre-eminent.
In the whole of his 65 minutes the Leader of the Opposition dealt with defence for 1 minute and dealt with external aid not at all. He did not say a single word about it. I am sure that some of my very capable colleagues who will follow me in this debate will explain many other deficiencies in the Leader of the Opposition’s speech, but I am concerned with the questions of defence and external affairs. I refer honourable members to pages 5 and 12 of the Budget Speech where they will see that Australia will spend about S2,000m on defence and external aid, which are things that T consider important but which the Leader of the Opposition does not consider important enough to give moto than 1 minute of his time.
– I made it 48 seconds.
– I timed it carefully. If there is an area of dispute here 1 am sure we can settle it later.
– Why not take it to arbitration?
– I am sure that the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) is a great supporter of arbitration. I wish that honourable members opposite would support arbitration. I want to talk about defence and external affairs because 1 consider these matters to be important.
– Get on with it. Five minutes have gone already.
– I cannot but notice that the honourable member is wearing one of those Moratorium badges.
– I am proud of it, too.
– 1 am interested to hear that the Opposition Whip, the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) is proud to wear a Moratorium badge. I suppose now he will say that the Moratorium movement is respectable because it is going to be controlled by the Australian Labor Party, and that is his reason for his wearing a Moratorium badge. I would like to tell the House what happened in Adelaide in this connection last month. A Moratorium meeting was held and the ALP claimed to have taken over the movement and made it respectable. A list of names was issued to the Press. One of the names included was that of the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun), who is not in the chamber tonight. Eight names were issued to the Press, but I happen to know that 10 people were selected to run the Moratorium Campaign in South Australia. lt is worth mentioning, if it is not going to disturb the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) too much because I am sure that he knows these gentlemen, that the two people whose names were not published in the Adelaide newspaper were both ticket holding Communists.
– Who were they?
– Is the honourable member interested to know the names of the ticket holding Communists? I will be happy to supply them. They were Mr Hal Alexander, who is on the national executive of the Communist Party, and Mrs Beryl Miller, who is a card carrying Communist. Either the Labor Party in South Australia was deceitful in not releasing all the names to the Press or the Press was deceitful in not publishing them.
The Government has been criticised for an alleged lack of defence planning. This is the point I was anxious to spend some time talking about tonight. It is important for the Australian people to recognise the difficulty and Janger in attempting to make projections very far into the future. We can make fairly accurate short term plans, but in these times of rapid technological advances the attitudes and achievements of our friends and enemies can themselves change. Part of our defence planning has to include efforts to reach mutual understanding with like-minded neighbours. I believe that our past diplomatic patience and reliability in times of severe trouble have succeeded in establishing Australia’s creditability with the nations of south east and south west Asia. Who could have guessed, when Australia was ordering the Fill, aircraft and was taking a look over her shoulder at the possibility of confrontation with Indonesia under Sukarno, that we would be on the most friendly terms with an anti-communist Indonesia and a pro-Australian Indonesia about the time of delivery - if we can assume that delivery would have been this year. At the moment it is impossible to guess what the government will be like in Peking in 10 years time. By then mainland China could well have a nuclear capacity to destroy the world. I am quite sure that by then she will have the capacity to destroy all of south east Asia. The possibility, remote as it seems now, is that the Chinese people may reject the tyranny of life under Mao Tse Tung or whoever comes after him. All we can do in the meantime is to try to move closer to other countries who, with us. live with the menace of Communist Chinese aggression. I put it to the House and to the Commonwealth that Australia must have the trust and co-operation of friendly neighbours. We cannot have worthwhile defence without worthwhile diplomacy.
– What is the Labor Party’s view on this?
– 1 intend to deal with that in a moment. It is what they call a crash defence policy and what the Prime Minister (Mr Garton) has described rather more accurately as a crash non-defence policy. We cannot hope to exercise by ourselves a proper surveillance over our tremendous coastline and adjacent oceans. Even if the United States of America continues with the Nixon doctrine of helping those who help themselves, I believe that we must expand and continue to modernise our existing 3 Services in co-operation with our smaller allies. I strongly support Australia’s involvement first of all in Korea, then in Malaysia and now in Vietnam. Our contribution, if not enormous, is significant because it demonstrates a willingness to join in resisting a common enemy when one of our friends is in trouble. This spirit of comradeship was supposed to have been typically Australian. It seems to be fashionable to ‘knock’ that spirit these days. I believe it still exists.
– And the Labor Party leads the knocking.
– I accept and go along with the interjection. This is perfectly true.
– What are you doing for defence industries? Nothing!
– I do not care what anyone says, even the young man who is screaming at the moment and who is probably eligible for national service, if the Government introduced universal national service, say at 18 or at whatever age the honourable member is who interjects, for I year and provided for service in the Navy and the Air Force as well as the Army we could finance it as a nation, and we would be a stronger and better nation for it. This is my personal view. It is a matter of very great regret that we have not supported the Cambodians more actively and more positively. In my view if it was proper and moral for us to go into Vietnam it is very much more proper and more moral for us to go into Cambodia, and I mean with troops as well as money. Some honourable member interjected and asked why 1 did not go into Cambodia or Vietnam. I have been in both places.
– What about Africa?
– I intend to say something about Africa in a moment. I want to say how improper T thought it was and, in fact, humiliating to hear the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition when he returned from his latest world tour, first class. He advocates not only an isolationist policy, which 1 recognise is the policy of his Party for Australia, and the abandonment of our allies, but he advocates that Australia should become what amounts to the munitions factory of South East Asia. According to the Leader of the Opposition Australia has to get things into perspective. If he were running things he would supply, according to himself, Malaysia, India and Singapore with arms but not the troops to use them. Presumably Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and the other friendly nations in the region have been dominoed already - and I say that in every sense of the word. The best they can hope for is pious words. We all remember the so-called crash defence policy outlined by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) when he spoke to the Fabian Society in Melbourne last year. Of course, that is a society of great Australian patriots: forward looking and dedicated to serve! Labor and the Fabians still persist in the advocacy of this doctrinaire Socialist policy. They believe in such things as a fixed percentage of the gross national product being spent on defence and aid. Honourable members opposite do not seem to have any regard for the requirements of our neighbours or the need for their good will, lt is frightening to consider the damage that statements of the Leader of the Opposition must be doing to Australia’s reputation in the countries mentioned and other countries in the area. The difference between the Opposition and the Government is that wc have no difficulty in recognising the enemy.
– Except that you sell wheat to Red China.
– Order! The honourable member for Blaxland will cease interjecting.
– You do not recognise the enemy then.
-Order! the honourable member will cease interjecting.
– I am glad, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you have identified the electorate of the honourable member who interjects. I have not seen him in the House before. We recognise aggressive international Communism as the real threat to world peace and we believe the Communists when they tell us that they believe in world domination. The Labor Party, and the honourable member for Blaxland, hope that the danger may go away. Perhaps if we turn our backs on the menace it will even disappear. Honourable members on this side of the House believe - I do anyway - that we must resist forthrightly and without equivocation, and so far as we possibly can we should help others in the same position.
The other point I wish to make is that the Australian people must recognise the right of all nations to put their own selfinterest first. We should not take for granted that our great partners in the ANZUS treaty will automatically rush to our aid whenever we are in trouble. The British have demonstrated their belief in the doctrine of national self-interest and we would be worse than foolish to expect that the interests of America and Australia’s self-interest will always coincide. I would have no doubt that in the unthinkable event of the Labor Party forming a federal government - and my flesh crawls at the thought - with its present isolationist policies, Australia would immediately forfeit the support of our American allies. It would not be in America’s self-interest to defend a country which, although capable of making a worthwhile contribution to its own defence, was too selfish, too cowardly or too disinterested to undertake such obligations. For these reasons I urge the Government to examine in Australia’s self-interest the possibility of negotiating mutual defence arrangements with those of our neighbours who have not yet succumbed to the onslaught of Communism. In particular we should be negotiating with those friendly non-Communist nations who share with us the periphery of the Indian Ocean - South Africa placed strategically at the entrance and Indonesia between us and Asia. Because of the limitation of time I shall not say any more about Indonesia. However I shall refer to South Africa because it is of great importance to us to consider our position in relation to South Africa. The Leader of the Opposition calls it Southern Africa, and continues to so call it in his unwarranted attacks on the other friendly countries which share with us a frontage to the Indian Ocean, lt appals me that the leader of the alternative government in this country continues to demean his position and his Party by attacking the South African governments on the basis of their domestic policies.
– Is he the only one?
– Not at all. He is not the only one, and more the pity. Simply to have visited South Africa or Rhodesia is sufficient to be labelled racist. By the same pro -ess I suppose that any of us could label the Leader of the Opposition as a Communist simply because he has been to
Russia. This would be ridiculous, as we all know. Racial discrimination is no more evident in those countries than in most others.
– What about Sharpeville?
– Critics should go there, and especially the honourable member for Sydney, and try to understand their problems instead of standing back criticising them in smug self-satisfaction and ignorance, unwarranted when we consider the history of our Australian Aboriginals. Racial tension is not confined solely to the problems of black people and white people.
– Tell us about Sharpeville.
– I wish the honourable member for Sydney would listen and learn. I doubt whether there is a country in the world - black, white or Asian - where racial discrimisation is non-existent. As often as not it is black against black or black against Asian or vice versa. We have only to consider the hatred which exists between many of the African nations - the sufferings of the Arabs in Tanzania; the Ibos in Nigeria; the position of 50,000 Indians in Kenya, all of them with British passports - so do not talk to me about British colonialism - the untouchables in India; and the Muslims in the Sudan, to name a few examples. Mr Jacob Malik, a name not unknown to honourable members opposite, brands these racist Fascist regimes as a threat to world peace. This is well received in the United Nations General Assembly where he also brands Australia in similar terms for its alleged actions in Papua and New Guinea. What about the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Chinese conquest - not invasion - of Tibet, the actions of North Vietnam in Cambodia in relation to which we have just had a delegation? These are only a few of the recent so-called acts of liberation which seem to have passed from public debate as a result of effective Communist propaganda.
South Africa has invaded no-one. She has no territorial aims. On the contrary, South Africa is following a domestic policy of divestment of territory. South Africa should be given some credit for the social improvements she is trying so hard to achieve. Those who manipulate public opinion against South Africa render a great disservice to what is left of the free world.
But whatever South Africa’s domestic policies are. I claim that it is in Australia’s self interest to foster closer relations with her. There is clear evidence of both Soviet and Chinese Communist penetration in Africa, the Middle East, the Suez Canal zone as well as strategic Indian Ocean points such as Socotra, Mauritius and Zanzibar. The Cape route is vital not only to Western Europe but also to all countries east of Suez, and few countries are further east of Suez than we are.
Those Australians who actively campaign against the non-Communist countries of southern Africa are making a positive contribution towards the Communist goal of world domination. The Communist world does not give a damn for the suffering of humans, whatever the colour of their skin. The Communists are shrewd enough to recognise the appeal of racial discrimination as an emotional catch-cry. lt is only the Communist world which can profit by the destruction of a strongly anti-Communist southern Africa. That is the reason for the establishment of the anti-apartheid movement which in reality is an anti-South Africa movement. The anti-apartheid organisation is purely a Communist front.
– What do you do for an encore?
– I will be happy to take an encore because I might run out of time. As I was saying, the anti-apartheid organisation is purely a Communist front formed in London on the initiative of a group of activists who operate in the same way as do Communist manipulated peace fronts in Australia. There are at least 9 British or African card carrying Communists on the committee of this organisation which has direct links with such revolutionary and violent organisations as the Pan African organisation and the African National Congress. Both of those groups are banned in South Africa because of proven acts of terrorism and murder. Both have links with the Defence and Aid Fund which is the international agency strongly supported by the Leader of the Opposition. I can only assume that he has no knowledge of the Communist organisers who manipulate these movements.
– His ignorance is not limited to that field.
– His ignorance is vast but in this field it is tremendous. How else could he, the Leader of the Opposition, lend his support and patronage to a fund set up to defend terrorists and guerillas when they are captured? They are not men charged with crimes based on the colour of their skin.
– You are talking rubbish.
– I hope that the Christian gentleman who has just interjected will let that sink in.
– You are talking rubbish.
– I am speaking the unvarnished truth and I live for the day when people with minds as narrow as that of the honourable member will go to that country to find out the truth for themselves.
– He is a sponge but far too wet.
– The Minister said that the honourable gentleman is a sponge but far too wet.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! 1 suggest that the Minister for the Navy cease assisting the honourable member for Boothby.
– .1 was saying that these men are not charged with crimes based on the colour of their skin. Some of them are white. They are not victims of racial discrimination. They are violent men intent on seizing power by acts of terrorism on their own countrymen. I should like to see our Government encourage the British in their negotiations with South Africa on the Simonstown Agreement. The ridiculous arms embargo placed on South Africa by the British Socialist Government is a serious breach of that Agreement and of direct concern to Australia and other countries dependent on the Cape route for trade and communications. It is ludicrous to assert that such arms may be used against the Bantu people. Tt is obvious that no-one on the other side has been there so I will say that the Bantu people are the black African people. South Africa produces most of her own weapons anyway and it is difficult to imagine maritime weapons being used on land. I suppose Mr Harold Wilson wanted us to picture a situation in which submarines would be travelling up the Zambesi River.
– You sound like Alf Garnett.
– You look like Alf Garnett with long sideburns, and sawn off at the knees I might add. I do not think anyone in Britain knows more about British politics than does Alf Garnett. I think he made a very good contribution to the recent election campaign. I also enjoyed his programme on television although I could not get used to the language. Before that interruption I was referring to Mr Harold Wilson and his misunderstanding of the use of armaments and the difference between maritime and land armaments. 1 cannot think of a situation in which one could drop a torpedo on Lesotho alongside Johannesburg. When it is all boiled down, that is really what he was saying. 1 suspect that the reported statements of some of the leaders of African countries are largely for home consumption. There is much more communication and cooperation between black and white African countries than the world ever hears about. Each African leader must act according to the doctrine of national self interest, which is what I believe we should do. In my view many of the African countries, both within the Commonwealth and without, have problems which are similar to our own and to those of South Africa. We have the mutual problem of a common enemy operating sometimes with open aggression, sometimes by subversion and political blackmail. None of us profits by attacking the genuinely peaceful countries of southern Africa. If all of this makes me a racist, I am afraid you will have to class me as a racist.
What I admire about these countries is the way in which they have moved by legislative action to control the subversive activities of Communists, people like Wilfred Burchett. It is to our eternal shame as a country that a person like Wilfred Burchett could move around the world and work on battlefields in Korea and in Vietnam in opposition to Australian troops and come back to this country and be feted as if he were a hero. I respect and admire the southern African countries for their legislative action to control such subversive activities. Those countries are under direct threat. In Rhodesia every day of the week they are subject to incursions from over the Zambesi. The guerillas, most of them not even Rhodesian Africans, are trained in places like Cuba, Zambia, Peking - all the Communist countries - and the weapons that they are using-
– The Eric Butler line.
– I. have been to this country and seen with my own eyes, so I am not saying something that other people have told me. The guerillas are trained in Communist countries.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Earlier tonight we heard a speech by the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) which I think was a disgrace to this Parliament, a disgrace to himself and a disgrace to the electorate he represents. Never has this Parliament been subjected to so many deliberate misrepresentations, half truths and untruths than we heard in the first 15 minutes of his speech. During that period, in fact during his entire speech, he ignored almost completely the problems of the industry he purports to represent in this place and sought to distort facts relating to unrest and law and order in this country. I suggest that that was done for one reason only, that is, to try to promote unrest for political gain. I accuse all Government supporters of that because it obviously is true. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) may well laugh. During the last session we heard for 2 days Government members one after the other trying to incite violence during the Moratorium Campaign. In some parts of the country, farmers were misled into thinking that the tears from their members when they failed were caused by early autumn rain when in fact they were crying over their failure to incite violence. I think that this sort of humbug is a disgrace to this Parliament and a disgrace to the Government which is using it as a political gimmick.
We heard the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) state today that he will be introducing strong legislation in this respect. They were good, noble, fighting words. In 1961, in this place amendments to the Crimes Act were guillotined through the Parliament because they were a matter of major national urgency! The whole structure of our society depended on the passage of those amendments that night! Not 1 person has ever been charged by the Government under any of those amendments. Those amendments were a whole lot of windowdressing and hogwash designed to create hysteria.
– There has been no subversion for 20 years.
-In 1967, a Bill was passed through this Parliament–
– If there had been, the culprits should have been arrested.
– if the honourable member for Sydney will wait, he may make his own speech later.
– Order! The honourable member for Corio is entitled to make his speech without interruption.
– In 1967, the Defence Forces Protection Bill was passed through this Parliament in a great hullabaloo. I did not and I do not object to the terms of that Bill. The provisions of that Bill have been flouted. The Government has not charged one person under the terms of that Bill. So much for its responsibility and so much for its reaction and its use of legislation which it has said is absolutely necessary.I would suggest that this campaign on law and order at the present time, especially by members of the Australian Country Party - and I must apologise to you. Sir, as a member of that Party - has no other purpose than to hide their own inadequacies and their own failure to protect the industries that they claim to represent.
The honourable member for Hume talks about the people extracting huge profits from rural industries and who have nothing to do with those industries. 1 remember many years ago in this place the former member for Lalor, Mr Pollard, raising similar matters relating to the wool industry. Because the profits were good and because those members supposedly representing wool growers in this place could not see past the ends of their noses, they laughed and guffawed. Now, the people in their electorates are paying the price of their ignorance. Recently, a delegation from the Philippines was here trying to buy Australian wheat. I would have thought that any Country Party member, and, most likely, any Government member would have wanted under almost any terms to sell Australian wheat within the terms of the agreements to which we are a party. But the Philippines delegates could not buy Australian wheat because we were not prepared to extend the terms to accommodate them.
I wish to deal with other matters in the Budget andI wish to deal with the Budget.
– You would do better to get off that subject because you do not know anything about it.
– Well, I at least say what I think, not what I think will gain votes, which I believe is a more honest attitude than that adopted by some people here. The honourable member for Boothby, who spoke before me, used terms to which we have become accustomed in this Parliament. I notice that he made no mention of people who had been tried for and found innocent of subversion and who are currently being tortured prior to retrial. I notice that he did not make any mention of that matter. 1 do not think that it is a very Christian principle to torture people at any time. ButI know that cases of national servicemen being tortured in our own military prisons have been raised. Another case concerning the torture of a captive in Vietnam was raised. The Prime Minister himself rose in this Parliament and condoned that torture. I do not suppose that we could expect much better from the honourable member for Boothby.
The Government is concerned, and justifiably concerned, with the unrest in our community. But 1 wish to suggest that it may be a good idea if, instead of running around yelling and screaming, someone had a real and an honest look at the causes of unrest in our society.
– Mr Whitlam and Mr Hawke.
– If you cannot think, why do you not just keep quiet and then your mouth will not fall open all the time. The situation is that there are causes for unrest. There is always cause for unrest. When the economic mismanagement of the Sukarno Government in Indonesia reached its peak, the unrest grew to such an extent that the Government was thrown out of office forcibly because there was no other way in which to remove it. If the Country Party had its way, it would have such electoral redistribution in this country that we also would need to use force to throw it out of office because every time the number of electors in country areas depreciated as a result of the ineffectiveness of the representation of Country Party members and their failure to do anything about decentralisation, the Country Party would change the Electoral Act so that it could have smaller electorates and achieve the same number of members here out of the smaller voting population. In our community there is real reason for unrest. The Government should look at it. Inflation is a word that is bandied about but very rarely acted upon because inflation is a very comfortable thing for those who are investors and for business people who can promote their businesses by a false imagine of profitability when in fact that amount of profitability just does not exist as the value of money has depreciated.
The Government has granted, magnanimously I might suggest, in this Budget a reduction of 10% in income tax to persons with incomes under$1 0,000 per year. If this was an isolated economic act, one could well say that it was a welcome one and one long overdue. It is interesting to note that, even with the deductions granted, the Commonwealth’s collections of income tax, pay-as-you-earn tax, this year will increase by $191m. So the Commonwealth has not reduced income tax, it has just reduced the increase in income tax. For a person whose income is the equivalent or approximately equivalent to that of an invalid pensioner with a wife and 4 dependant children, the increase in the cost structure which is caused through the increases in sales tax and other duties which the Government has introduced is $27.90 a year based on estimates of family spending. A person whose income approximates $1,500 a year will be required to pay some $27.90 additional income tax. If he is earning that amount, as opposed to being in receipt of a pension - if he is in receipt of a pension the only relief that he will receive is the 50c increase included in the Budget and therefore he will have a net loss of$1. 90 - he will have a saving in income tax of something less than$9 a year. In return for that, he will pay just on $28 a year in increased sales tax and other imposts - not a very good bargain and not one which would make any businessman rich.
On the other hand a man on a salary of $32,000 a year with a wife and 3 dependent children will have a saving in income tax of slightly less than $500 a year. The computed increase in his costs caused by the alterations in sales tax and other taxes will be over $100 a year. It is evident, and typical of the Government’s thinking, that those people least in need have been granted the greatest relief. We have heard talk about the 50c a week granted to pensioners. If the Government honestly believes that it is an act of political responsibility to reduce tax by 10% almost across the board, and to reduce income tax for persons earning up to $32,000 per year, while stating that it can afford to increase pensions by 50c a week only, I have grave doubts about its judgment of what is honest and what is dishonest. I think it is fair to say that age pensioners without dependants are not the only people about whom we should be concerned. We should have more concern for the people who have to survive on invalid pensions and who at the same time have to attempt to educate their children. For this they receive no assistance whatsoever. If it is considered that these families can exist or even subsist on an increase of 50c in their living allowance, I would like some honourable member on the Government side to stand up in this place and tell me the standard at which he expects such families to live. I would like to hear some honourable member tell me what goods these families should deprive themselves of in order to remain alive in this society, even if they do not participate in it.
The Treasurer (Mr Bury) said that people can avoid paying the increased sales tax and thereby gain the full benefit of the income tax reductions if they do not buy the goods which bear the increased sales tax. I suggest that the only person who could possibly gain the full benefit of (he reductions in income tax would be the non-smoking teetotaller, who neither washed nor shaved, whose wife never used cosmetics, who did not use motor drawn transport, who had neither a radio, a television receiver, record player or other form of entertainment regarded as a luxury, and who did not communicate by telephone, telegram or letter and who was celibate. That is the only type of person who could possibly gain the full benefit of the taxation reductions. Fancy anyone suggesting in any Parliament in Australia or in any modern parliament that people should avoid using such things as soap and razor blades. Fancy suggesting that women ought to regard cosmetics and toiletries as luxuries. Any such suggestion is. in my opinion, absolute rubbish. Cosmetics are as much a necessity to most women as are clothes. The fact is that these are not luxury items; they are items of daily necessity. These items were chosen by the Government for sales tax increases because the Government knows full well that these are items which the average person cannot do without and therefore the revenue it desires will be raised. If the Government had chosen items for sales tax increases which could easily be avoided by the people of Australia then its budgetary planning would have been thrown out of gear and the expected revenue would not of course, have been raised.
Another matter which I wish to raise tonight is the Government’s supposed concern for our ex-servicemen. Honourable members should have a look at the facts of this situation. The facts are set out in this Budget, lt states what the Government is doing for our ex-servicemen and their next of kin. Let us have a look at the general rate pension for our ex-servicemen. The rate prior to the Budget was $12 and now, after the Budget has been brought down, it is still $ 1 2. Before the Budget the allowance for a wife was $4.05 and it is still $4.05. The allowance before the Budget for each child was $1.38 and the allowance has remained at $1.38. Our war widows are in a very fortunate situation. They lost their husbands but the Government considers that an extra 50c a week is sufficient reward. Is this good solid support for the people whose husbands gave their lives for their country? Government supporters should stand up in this place and say how much they support our ex-servicemen.
– lt is supposed to be an ex-serviceman’s party.
– I do not think it is. The Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock) could have gone to war but he chose to come into this Parliament and so did a lot of other honourable members in that age group so 1 do not think we should spend too much time talking about that. Before the Budget was brought down the attendant’s allowance for persons attending disabled exservicemen was a maximum of $14 a week. It is still $14 a week. Did their costs not rise? Or are these people considered not to be sufficiently important to be dealt with in this Budget? The Budget provides a $500 reduction in taxation for a person in receipt of $32,000 a year but it makes no provision for increasing the pension rate for ex-servicemen. Those honourable members who stand up in this place and who for political reasons get on the bandwaggon of self-righteousness and patriotism ought to have a look at what is being done for the people who did go to war to defend this country. We should have a look at what is being done for the dependants of those who gave their lives and for (hose people who destroyed their future. These people need assistance; in my opinion they are very important. I think it is time we had some real, honest support for these people instead of the sort of hogwash that we heard from one honourable member tonight.
In the time that I have left in this debate 1 want to raise one or two other matters which are of serious concern to me and which will create and are creating serious problems within the community. I think it is reasonable to express concern about the state of our rural industries. However, 1 will leave this important subject to other honourable members who are more qualified in this field than 1 am. Tonight I want to express my concern for the industries which are dependent on the primary producer. I have done so throughout the period I have been a member of the Parliament. I refer to the agricultural implement makers especially. They are practically going out of business because of a lack of orders for equipment. This industry is important to the future of Australia. If rural industry is to recover it is absolutely necessary to have available to the people in rural industry the equipment which they need in order to function effectively. If the agricultural implement making companies are allowed to lag behind, get out of date and become uneconomic, the recovery of the rural industries will be much more difficult in the future. The economic capacity of these industries may degenerate to the extent that they may not be able to recover.
I wish to deal with another matter which is of serious consequence to the community. Because of the increased efficiency of medical treatment, most people have a much better life expectancy. The fact that we have more people dependent on a pension makes this a pressing and urgent problem. Because people are today living much longer than people did many years ago there is an ever growing need to establish nursing homes to care for aged persons. As a society we have not degenerated mentally to the stage where we are prepared to practise euthanasia and we therefore have a moral responsibility to provide facilities where our aged persons can have, in the twilight of their lives, decent surroundings and comforts without any anxiety about their ability to pay for convalescence or hospitalisation in the final years of their lives. Both government and non-government institutions are doing a good job in caring for aged persons but the capacities of these institutions are very limited.
In my own electorate there is the Grace McKellar House which is an extremely good home for aged persons. It has accommodation for about 200 persons and there are on the waiting list at present about 1,000 names. Throughout Australia numerous private nursing homes have been established, mainly in large houses which have become uneconomic and for this reason have been converted into nursing homes. The cost of operating these small units is such that the prices charged are beyond the reach of most elderly people. Even people who retired with a reasonable amount of money behind them have found that it has dissipated very quickly once they have had to start paying regularly in order to obtain a bed. It is also true to say that most of the wage and salary earners in up to what I would have to call the lower middle income group, having regard to what the Treasurer regards as the middle income group, are not financially able to meet the differential cost of keeping their parents. In lots of cases there are no next of kin and the problem is even greater as the persons who operate nursing homes cannot afford to keep charity patients because of their cost structure.
However, if they do accept charity patients they have to increase the amount they charge those patients who are able to pay their own way or who have someone who would pay for them. Because of the cost factor, many patients are deprived of the level of care which they desperately need.
I am not trying to make political capital out of this matter. I appreciate that the Government did introduce a scheme whereby between $2 and $5 a week will be paid to assist those persons who are, to all intents and purposes, bedridden and in need of intensive nursing care. But this is a very serious problem. It is a problem which is growing with the increase in the longevity of our population. It is a problem which will have to be tackled at a Commonwealth level because the State governments do not have the finance to tackle it nor are they saying at this stage that they have a wish to do so. I think the Commonwealth Government has some responsibility in this field. I believe it has a moral obligation to do something. I believe that the wherewithal must be provided which will enable everybody to obtain the nursing home care they require. This is a very serious problem in our community. It is not a problem which will be easy to solve, but it is one which must be solved in the name of humanity and it must be solved quickly because costs are increasing and the ability of families to pay is decreasing.
The final matter with which I wish to deal specifically is the reduced amount of income available to most family men. The Government seems to think that wage and salary earners could stop asking for wage and salary increases tomorrow with impunity. The fact of the matter is that even if there had not been an increase in prices last year there would have still been a serious reduction in the purchasing power of wage and salary earners. For example, the increase in interest rates two or three months ago has meant to a person buying a house through a co-operative housing society a direct increase in repayments in excess of $1 a week on most loans around the $8,000 mark. The increase in interest rates has meant a dead loss of $1 a week to them. This money has been removed from the pockets of home purchasers as ruthlessly and effectively as if taxation had been increased. No benefit has accrued to home purchasers as a result of the expenditure of this additional money. The Government seems to think that wage and salary earners should be benevolent about losing this amount of money and say: ‘It is bad luck. We will have to cut back our spending by Si a week.’ Most wage and salary earners are not that fortunate. They cannot cut back their spending by $1 a week, because they have commitments to meet. Their commitments include the education of their children, looking after the health and welfare of their families, paying off their homes and providing their families with what most Australians would consider to be the standard of living to which they are entitled. Wage and salary earners have commitments to meet which cannot be reduced by, say, $1 a week.
An increase in interest rates is not the only thing which has affected wage and salary earners in recent times. There has also been a compulsory increase in payments to medical and hospital benefit funds. This money has been taken directly out of the pockets or pay envelopes of most people by the Government. It is all right to say that the wage and salary earners should not be asking for wage and salary increases and it is fair to say that they gain very little from them, but it is impossible for these people who are having their incomes eroded and money taken out of their pay envelopes by direct Government action to say that they can afford not to ask for increased wages and salaries. If the Government genuinely wishes to reduce the level of unrest which exists in our community and genuinely wishes to earn the respect of the people of Australia it should cease immediately its politicking with their feelings and try to determine the real cause of the unrest, seek solutions where they are able to be sought and come into this Parliament and tell the nation that it is tackling the problems of the nation in a responsible manner and a manner which is befitting of a government in a democratic country.
– I wish to congratulate the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) on the comments which he made during his contribution to the debate on the 1970 Budget. The honourable member said: ‘At least I say what I think and I do not speak to earn votes’. I was attracted to this comment, and I listened carefully to what the honourable member had to say to seek justification for the comment. I regret to say that I became confused as his speech went on, because it seemed to me that the honourable member has not studied the speeches which were made by his leaders in recent years during budget debates. The honourable member has completely forgotten the budget programmes in the post-war period when his own Party, the Australian Labor Party, was in office and Australia was suffering from inflation as a result of the great economic distortions between 1939 and 1945. Not only has the honourable member forgotten this, but obviously he has not made a close study of the policy speeches of leaders of the Australian Labor Party who have from time to time during election campaigns - in 1953, 1954 and 1955 in particular - made enormous gestures towards a welfare state in Australia. Apart from the first election in 1954 it can be fairly said that they have not failed in their political ambitions to attract Australians by the process of earning votes by promises. It was this type of policy to which the honourable member for Corio was referring when he said: T do not speak to earn votes’. If I were to rely for my interpretation of the reaction of the people of Australia to the 1970 Budget of the Commonwealth upon the comments of members of the Australian Labor Party and the Press, I might come to the conclusion that this could be fairly said of the Commonwealth Government, because the Commonwealth Government’s Budget has not attracted in the Press what I would describe as political reaction, which would be indicative of a great swing of votes towards the Government.
The honourable member for Corio - I wish to spend only a few moments dealing with these points - was critical of the income tax reductions which were announced last week by the Treasurer (Mr Bury). He seems to have completely forgotten that at the time of the 1969 Federal election when his own leader, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), was making a policy speech in which he promised substantial variations in our system of income taxation he stated that the policy commitment of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) -to reduce the level of income taxation on the lower and middle levels over the next 3 Budgets by more than $200m was not enough.
The criticism levelled this week that the Treasurer’s gesture is designed to earn votes seems peculiar when one remembers that less than 12 months ago the leaders of the Labor Party were arguing that the Government’s commitments were not sufficient. The honourable member for Corio was also extremely critical of the small increases in social services and repatriation pensions. He appears to have forgotten the history of economic assessments by his Party. If be examines the Budgets of 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1949 it will be clear to him that when the economic health of the country was at stake the leaders of his Party, when in power, acted in what could only be described as a prudent and discreet way.
Let me now refer to one or two points made in this debate by the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) and the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay). The matters to which they referred were absolutely vital but unfortunately 1 cannot afford in this debate to devote too much time to them. I merely indicate my concurrence in the views they expressed. The honourable member for Hume referred to the significance of law and order within the Australian community and to the vital significance of Government considerations in relation to the future of the wool industry. These are matters vital to the welfare of Australia and matters which over the next 12 months the Government must consider carefully. I am sure that during the remainder of this financial year the Government’s policies will prove beneficial to the nation.
The honourable member for Boothby referred to the Government’s defence programme in recent years and to the grave problem of our survival in a hostile environment which bids fair in the next decade or so to become more sensitive to the intrusion of naval forces of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics into the Indian Ocean. It is common knowledge that in recent months the Government of the United Kingdom has made special arrangements with the Government of South Africa for the protection of the sea lanes around South Africa. Honourable members opposite may be interested to know, if Mr Chapman pincher’s claims are correct, that the recently defeated Government of Mr Wilson made arrangements to sell to South Africa troop carrying helicopters. I do not think these would be used for maritime defence unless they were equipped with dunking sonar, in which case they would not be of troop carrying size. Obviously there has been some serious reconsideration of policies in recent times by the Labor Party in the United Kingdom.
Turning to the Budget, 1 would like to remind the House of some of the statements made last week by the Treasurer. These are vital because they are germane to the economic background of the Budget. They are vital because they represent the basis upon which all segments of the Budget are fitted together. The Treasurer said that the Government seeks to provide for a large increase in essential expenditures, especially on payments to the States. Here I would remind members of the Labor Party of a speech made some 2 years ago by the Leader of the Opposition in which he attacked the Government for its alleged failure properly to develop the great metropolitan areas of Australia. He took the line that insufficient funds were being provided to the States to enable them to provide all the services that are so essential to urban development within the great cities. In this year’s Budget there has been an enormous increase in essential expenditures on payments to the States. A very large part of this year’s estimated increase in expenditure of $795m is attributable to the very large increase in payments to the States. Those payments, including funds required for State works and housing programmes, are estimated at no less than $2,708m or $29 lm more than in 1969-70. Payments to the States will absorb one third of this year’s Budget and account for more than one third of the estimated increase of $795m in our total expenditures this year.
In his critical speech yesterday I would have expected the Leader of the Opposition to concede that in this Budget there was an enormous diversion of resources to the States and to assert that these were insufficient, which is the usual Opposition line of attack, or that too much money was being diverted to the States and that from the vast sums going to the States funds should be diverted for social services and welfare payments. But the Leader of the Opposition seemed to forget his argument of 2 years ago that the most vital problem facing Australia was the provision of services in the vast metropolises of this country. In his speech on the Budget yesterday the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) made little reference to this matter, although in a number of speeches in the last 12 months he has stated that there should be a great diversion of resources towards the States.
I had hoped tonight to take advantage of the opportunity to refer to the economic background against which the Budget is framed. It is projected that the Australian labour force will increase from 5.1 million in 1968 to 5.6 million in 1971 and 7.2 million by June 1981. Those projections are based on the assumption that the rate of net migration during the period will be 1% of the population per annum.
An alternative projection, based on a net migration rate of .75% per annum, would give a result of lower than 300,000. Assuming 1% migration the growth rate of the labour force is calculated to be 2.5% per year for the decade from 1971 to 1981 - a little less than the strong growth rate estimated for the 1960s. This means that we must expect in the next 10 years that the incipient inflation which has been spoken of will be constantly present in the Australian economy. In my opinion we have real reason to be proud of the fact that good management in the Australian economy has given us a better result than has been experienced in comparable great countries although their economies are so much greater than our own.
During the 20 year period from 1949 to 1969 the registered unemployment rate in Australia has not exceeded 3.1%. Over the last 6 or 7 years the rate has never moved outside the range of from .9% to 1.4%, apart from seasonal influences. This shows that for the past 15 years or so industrialised economies like those of the United States of America, Italy, Canada, France and the United Kingdom had much less favourable employment experiences than Australia. I ask honourable members to listen to my words and consider them with the words spoken last night by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, the shadow treasurer of the gentlemen who sit on the Opposition side of the chamber.
The honourable member for Melbourne Ports said that the managers of the Australian economy ought not to be substantially afraid of inflation. He said that he would prefer a degree of inflation with full employment rather than no inflation and a degree of unemployment in the community which would be inconsistent with the social levels that the Labor Party accepts as mandatory in 1970. Of course, we have on record the famous statement by a former honourable member for Parkes that 5% of unemployment in the Australian economy should be accepted as normal. I regard that statement, which he made in 1945 or 1946 in a speech related to the rehabilitation of the vast forces returning from World War II, as being properly quoted only in those circumstances. He knew that in the period of 1937, 1938 and 1939 a much higher level of unemployment had existed. He was looking at the pre-war pattern of performance. In effect he was saying to the House: ‘In the light of those circumstances, when we return to the postwar period a figure of 5% will be as good as we can hope to maintain on an average.’ In itself this was by no means an unreasonable assessment at that time and in those circumstances by the former honourable member for Parkes.
I have mentioned these things because they are germane to the background to this Budget. The most vital things that we can do in Australia are to contain the inflation of costs and prices and to maintain employment at the optimum level - that level which is best for the most healthy and most rapid development of the Australian economy. In my judgment, against that background it will be seen that the Treasurer has produced a sound Budget. He made the comment - I think it is worthy of notice - that the demand side will bear watching. He went on to say:
Consumer spending is currently very buoyant and that situation seems likely to continue. Private spending on plant and equipment and nonresidential building and construction seems set for continued strong growth - there is a wealth of investment opportunities, and such forward indicators as we have clearly suggest this.
These are the things which would be gravely affected if inflation were to become more significant in the Australian economy and were to grow at a greater rate. The Treasurer also said;
It may be said that we could equally have achieved the same Budget result by drastic pruning of expenditures or by postponing personal income tax reform.
I would have been inclined to agree in some measure with that statement. I take the view that if one tries to follow the programme that the Leader of the Opposition set out in his speech - although he had at an earlier stage in his policy speeches indicated that there was a capacity of $l,700m in the future period to about 1974 or 1975 - one must conclude that he would never have given such income tax reductions but would have preferred to have increased social services and repatriation services on a comparative basis in the Australian economy. A study of the economies in the United States. Canada and the United Kingdom would quickly show the honourable member that this type of programme has not been followed by them. As my friend the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) said last night, the Leader of the Opposition is on record as having cited the Canadian economy and political management pattern as being the exemplar of the type of rearrangement of the economy and political pattern that he wishes to see developed in Australia. In those circumstances it is only reasonable to assume that he would not have been able to make reductions of taxation in this financial year to any degree greater than the Treasurer has done.
For purely emotional reasons people are prone to look at the social services commitment in 1970 and conveniently forget that of 1969. Last year the tapered means test was introduced. The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) said at that time that more than 250,000 people would benefit. Yet I point out that last year some Opposition members said that the 1969-70 Budget should be discarded as being an irresponsible social services budget and more like a bow to vote card than a financial document. I have heard none of those honourable members make similar references tonight. In the circumstances I think it would be only reasonable to read one or two quotations form their speeches on the Budget last year. Be that as it may. it always has been the rule of the Opposition to oppose and of the Government to endea vour to govern. Having read some of the Opposition speeches delivered by some friends and former friends in 1947, 1948 and 1949 I am pretty well aware of the type of criticism that would be offered by honourable members opposite in these circumstances. However I feel that, when my friend the honourable member for Corio said that he did not speak to earn votes, he was being a trifle unfair to honourable members on this side of the House. Certainly he appears to be inconsistent in that he derides the Government for an unpopular Budget and then finds himself in a position where he either believes that we should have done something to present a popular Budget or else he refuses to recognise that we were acting in a manner which was consistent with responsible government in Australia.
In the last 5 minutes of my speech I want to say something about a matter that is not in the Commonweath Budget. I point out to a number of the members of the Opposition who have not been long in this Parliament that it is a custom in this House to permit an honourable member in his speech on the Budget to refer not only to matters that are part of the Budget but also to matters which arc not part of the Budget, the inference being that some of these matters, significant as they are, should have been dealt with in the Budget. I turn to a matter which I raised by way of question to the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme). I refer to the television industry. I am anxious to put on record my own anxiety about the policies which ought to be followed to develop Australian capacity to promote a television industry. I refer in particular to the people, the goods, the productions and so forth which make up our television industry. Firstly, I am advised that because of the lack of work and the lack of incentive in Australia 217 trained directors, producers and technicians have applied for positions in the South African Broadcasting Corporation which intends to commence television at the end of next year. Secondly, all but one of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s directors and producers who commenced with the ABC when it started television are now working in Canada and the United Kingdom. Thirdly, many television technicians have been made redundant from television channels here in Australia largely as a result of the enormous expenditure overseas. I understand that 28 technicians have been made redundant at television station BTQ Channel 7 in Brisbane. As this is quite a small station one can imagine the proportion of technicians affected in Melbourne.
Since 1963$A77.8m has been spent on overseas programmes. In 1963-64 the figure was$13.4m; in 1964-65 it was $16.1m; in 1965-66,$15.9m; in 1966-67, $12.5m; in 1967-68, $12.9m; and in 1968-69, $7m. However, enormous as this is, it is nothing compared to the additional spending since 1969. It is estimated that one of the major networks in Sydney will be spending $A8m in 1970 on feature movies and $A5m on television series, mainly on programmes from the United States, I mention these facts because I shall be seeking over the next 3 or 4 weeks opportunities to put before this House the facts which will show that there is a need for careful consideration of the future of the Australian television industry, and above all things, the future of Australians within that industry.
In Europe and in the United Kingdom any American film company that makes or sells films in that country can take only a small percentage of money out of the country. The rest remains in that country as frozen assets and can be used by the company to make more films. This then generates a continuous industry. I am told that in Australia, however, it is a different scene. Here, for example, the American Broadcasting Corporation can sell a network $lm worth of films and 85% of this outlay is returned to America immediately and the remaining 15% is taxed but at approximately only 13c in the $1 which means that out of$1m only about $50,000 stays in Australia. Over the years Australia has become what one might call a dumping ground for overseas artists. As these artists have come to Australia with overseas names they have tended to affect greatly the opportunities of people in Australia who are seeking to develop their own capacity. The television industry is something which I consider to be germane to the Budget and to the future development of our country. I hope that the Government, the Commonwealth Treasurer and the Postmaster-General will give this matter urgent and considerable attention. I thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and the House for the indulgence shown to me.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). Before I deal with my speech I should like to direct the attention of the House to what the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) had to say. The honourable member said that this was a sound Budget. It may be sound for those on very high incomes whom he in the main represents but it is not sound for those on lower incomes, pensioners and other recipients of social service benefits, as I will show during the course of my remarks.
During the course of his Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr Bury) used the expression:
Honourable members may remember that I interjected and asked the Treasurer whether he thought he was driving a hearse and referred to him as ‘Bury the Undertaker’. This is an expression which in my view admirably suits him. When one examines the Budget one sees how apt is the expression. The Treasurer in his opening remarks built up the hopes of all listeners when he stated that he proposed:
The collective spirit of this large body of people rose when they heard this statement but it very soon sank back to the grave when the dead hand of the Treasurer reached out and took more from them than he was handing out. Never before has such a shabby confidence trick been played on the Australian people. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) had promised during the course of the last election to give taxation relief to people in the lower and middle income tax groups. This has been done, but in such a way that most of them will finish up in a worse financial position. In other words it is a thimble and pea trickhere you see it, now you don’t
Before I give some examples 1 direct attention to a comment by Mr E. F. Mannix, the co-editor of Butterworth’s Taxation Service, which appeared in the ‘Australian’ of 21st August. The article stated:
Mr Mannix says the latest Budget assumes that there will be a 3.5% increase in the work force and an 8% increase in the average . earnings. Removing the factor attributable to the increase in work force, the estimated income tax to be received from individuals during 1970-71 is $2,933m, as opposed to $2,858m in 1969-70.
In other words, those who paid income tax in 1969-70 are going to pay (75m more income tax in 1970-71; this, notwithstanding the fact that the Budget estimates that the income derived by primary producers will decline by about 22%.
He goes on to give some examples. The article states:
A man presently earning $50 per week pays $6.80 tax per week, or 13.6% of his income. Assuming that he earns an additional 8% in the present year, his income will be $54 per week, upon which it appears that the new tax will be $7.10, or 13.15% of his income - a reduction of 3% and not 10%.
He gave several other instances, which I do not want to quote. He also drew attention to the fact that in this assessment he was not taking into account the increase in sales tax which raises the price of goods.
Let us look at the position of a man on an average weekly earning of about $70 who has a wife and 2 children. His income tax will decrease by 50c or 60c a week from 1st October but he faces increases in petrol tax that could easily absorb 20c to 25c a week; excise on cigarettes, as has been pointed out by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), that could take another 20c to 25c a week, as well as increased sales tax on dozens of other items which would more than absorb the rest of his reduced income tax. In addition, he has to pay $7 more for telephone rental. He has to pay increased postal charges. More will be needed by his wife for housekeeping. In addition, she has to pay more for her cosmetics. Let us remember, too, that all these increased charges have to be paid out before the income tax reductions take effect. The Treasurer has not only increased the cost of living but he has also increased the cost of loving. If honourable members look at the fourth page of the items that have been increased by sales tax amendments they will see that the sales tax on contraceptives has also been increased. Still, 1 suppose love will find a way, even though our spoil-sport Treasurer may put a temporary damper on things.
This large body of people to whom the Treasurer refers will be much worse off as time goes on. Al) these increased charges in the form of sales tax, excise, telephone rentals etc. will remain with us for ever more, but the so-called reduction in income tax will be swallowed up by inflation in the very near future. Let us look at the pay-as-you-earn estimates in the Budget Speech. It can be seen that for the year 1970-71 the receipts from net pay-as-you-earn will increase by SI 90.3m. Even though the rates are reduced the Commonwealth will receive more in taxation. These pay-as-you-earn figures show expected increases in wages, but the fact is that money incomes will rise faster than real wages, thus placing wage and salary earners in higher income brackets, which means they will, pay higher income tax. It means also that the purchasing value of the take-home pay has been reduced. Tn order to make a decent living these days the wage earner has to have 2 jobs or work a lot of overtime. If he wants to buy a home his wife has to go out to work as welt. The Leader of the Opposition pointed out:
The average wage earner in 1954 took 5 weeks work to pay his tax; in 1969 he look 9i weeks work.
That is almost twice as much. Inflation and consequential wage rises will begin to operate immediately in the same way as they have done in the past 16 years - against the lower and middle income earners.
The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that the system continues whereby 10% of the top income earners paid 58% of all personal taxation in 1954 but only 44% in 1968-69. Where the top 1% of wage earners paid 30% in 1954 they paid only 154 % in 1968-69. Do honourable members know that as average incomes move up the taxation scale the Government reaps about 30% of any real wage increase? This means that with every rise in money wages, even if real wages do not rise, the recipient goes into a higher income tax bracket? The family man suffers most, as tax allowances for dependants have not kept pace with inflation. This applies even more to the family man in the lower and middle income groups. These deductions have failed to keep pace with incomes. The Government’s failure to adjust these dependants’ allowances has meant that large families have had their relative tax advantage over the single man substantially reduced. On the other hand, the Government has found itself able to increase the allowance for life insurance and superannuation by over 200% since 1954. The present system of deductions assists the man on the higher income. Only those on very high incomes can take full advantage of the $1,200 allowable deduction for superannuation and insurance premiums. On existing rates he can save as much as $700 in tax so that the premium costs him only $500. A process worker would be lucky if he could afford $100 for a premium. If he could on existing rates, his policy would cost $87 - a saving of $13. Deductions for education favour those on high incomes. The high income earner can claim the maximum deduction of $600 for 2 children. Under existing rates his saving in tax is $330, making the cost $270. The process worker could not possibly afford to pay $600 for the education of 2 of his children, nor could he afford to pay half that. But if he did pay $300 he would save only $34 in tax. In other words, the public pays 55% of the education bill for the wealthy man and 1.1% for the process worker.
By means of tables the Leader of the Opposition was able to show that 70% of households are worse off under the Budget. Most of them in the $4,000 to $5,000 bracket and below are worse off, and those in the higher brackets are better off. The table which is contained in Hansard shows that a householder receiving between $1,000 and $2,000 receives a tax relief of $2.10 and an added indirect tax burden of $27.90 over the year. The table shows that at the other end of the scale the householder with an income of just over $18,000 would receive a tax reduction of $467.70 and an indirect tax . increase through higher prices of $107.50. Where is the justice in this Budget?
In this Budget, too, the Government continues to adopt an attitude of callous disregard for the aged, the invalid and the widows. An increase of 50c a week is an insult. In other words, it is an increase of 3.1%. This does not even keep pace with inflation. The Treasurer said:
Cost and price increases gathered pace. Average weekly earnings rose by about 8% in 1969-70. The consumer price index rose at an accelerating rate throughout the year, reaching an annual rate of growth above 5% in the June quarter.
Yet he gives the pensioner a 3.1% increase. This means that if things remained as they were the pension this financial year would buy a lesser quantity of goods than it did following the last Budget. But we know that things are not going to remain as they are. The pensioner, like other members of the community, is going to be faced with increased sales tax, increased telephone and postal charges and increased transport costs. Without doubt transport costs are going to rise as a result of this Budget. The Leader of the Opposition rightly drew the attention of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) to the fact that, based on average weekly earnings of the March quarter of 1969 and 1970, the pension had declined from 22.3% of average weekly earnings to 21.7%. That is understandable, too, when the Treasurer in his Budget Speech stated that average weekly earnings rose by 8% in 1969-70.
The Government is always happy to quote average weekly earnings to show how workers’ wages have advanced. If that is the case the same guide line can be used to measure the value of the pension. The honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) said during the course of his speech on the Budget that the pensioners were better off under a Liberal Government than under Labor. The figures that can be quoted give the lie to that statement. In 1949, under a Labor government, the age pension wis 26.9% of average weekly earnings. That applied to both married and single pensioners. The single rate is now 21.7% and the pension for each of a married couple is 19.3% of average weekly earnings based on the March quarter. There was no mention in the Budget of some progress being made towards the abolition of the means test, which was so strongly advocated by the Minister for Social Services when he was a backbencher. Of course, now he has gone to cover. He has become a Minister. In view of his advocacy of this much needed reform, one would have thought that something would have been done about it or at least something would have been done to ease the means test. Let us look at the means test. In 1954 a single pensioner received a pension of $7, and the allowable income was exactly the same - $7. A married couple received a pension of $14 and the allowable income was $14. The pension now is $15.50 a week for a single pensioner and the allowable income is $10, so the value of the allowable income has dropped from 100% in 1954 to 64.5% now. The married couple pension is $27.50 a week and the allowable income is $17, a drop from 100% to 61.8%. The Government made quite a song, some 5 years ago, when it increased the amount of allowable income to $10 for a single pensioner and $17 for a married couple. It was the first increase in the allowable income since 1954. In fact, it did not represent the same value as regards purchasing power as did the amount of the $7 allowable income in 1954. Due to increased costs of living in the last 5 years the value of the allowable income has been reduced further. True, a tapered means test has been introduced, but this is a means test within a means test, and it means, in effect, that a pensioner earning ‘over the allowable income can keep 50% of what he earns. In fact there is a tax of 50c on every $1. Every recipient of social service benefits has been short-changed since this Government took office. Increases in social service benefits have not kept pace with price increases. Benefits are always dragging behind costs.
As a result of inflation over the years, as 1 have pointed out, taxpayers have passed into higher income lax groups and they get less in their pay packets and the Government takes more from them in taxation and gives them less in return. The taxpayers have been giving good money for bad. They have been contributing to the National Welfare Fund in the form of taxation and they have been getting shrunken benefits in return. The value of the dollar has shrunk to less than 40c compared with its value in 1949. The people are losing in 2 ways: The value of social service benefits has been clipped just as though an extra tax had been imposed on the people, and people have moved into higher income tax ranges without getting any more purchasing power in their pay packets. This Government stands condemned for its callous disregard of our aged and invalid people. One would almost think it was a crime to grow old. Instead of making their twilight years more pleasant this Government seems to take a delight in making their lives a misery.
The Treasurer (Mr Bury) in his first Budget is responsible for squeezing many sections of the community. In fact, the squeeze commenced some months before the Budget was brought down. A squeeze was placed on the building industry a few short months ago. This Government regards housing finance as an economic weapon. When the economy is a bit slack finance is provided for additional housing. When the economy has recovered and the need for housing is at its greatest the Government cuts back on housing finance. Finance for housing should be based on the needs of the community and should not be used as an economic weapon in the stop-go policy of the Government. Overall there is a steady deterioration in the number of houses that can be built for those on low incomes. In 1968-69 the State Housing Commissions built only 8,488 dwellings although over 51,000 applications were lodged during that year and there was a lag of over 76,000 at the end of 1968-69. This is a serious situation for those on low incomes. They cannot afford high rents. Their only hope of owning a home is to buy it through the State Housing Commission. I was interested in a statement made by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) on 16th July 1970. She said:
The tact that the overall decline in home building activity that has occurred has produced a barely significant increase in unemployment amongst skilled building workers, apart from bricklayers in Western Australia.
Obviously if bricklayers are unemployed in Western Australia other building workers must have been affected similarly. That is actually what took place. The fact that cannot be ignored is that the building industry has been hard hit by the policy of this Treasurer and the Government. Figures released by the Deputy Statistician in Western Australia show that in the June quarter Western Australia had the sharpest decline of any State. There were 3,650 approvals during the June quarter, which was 1,215 fewer than in the March quarter. Land speculators have been making huge profits at the expense of home builders. Land prices are more stable now, it is claimed, but are excessively high. Since 1950 land prices have jumped. In some areas land has doubled in price each 5 years and in other areas land has doubled in price in less than 4 years. Land prices are higher in Perth than in any other city. The cheapest of blocks costs about $5,000. This means that with a deposit of $1,000 to buy, such a block will cost the buyer $17.50 a week for 5 years - a total of over $7,000.
It has been suggested that the land boom has subsided. It did for a period, but land prices are starting to rise again. An editorial in a weekend newspaper last week revealed that at City Beach in Perth blocks of land were- sold for an average of $10,000 each. Two blocks sold for $14,000 and at St Lucia 2 blocks sold for $27,000 each. This indicates the situation with land prices. The Western Australian Liberal Government has failed the people just as the Commonwealth Government has failed the people. The credit squeeze and the increase in interest rates have made it more difficult for young couples to buy homes. More and more couples are having to borrow housing finance at high interest rates. Some in Western Australia are paying mortgage brokers 124% because the building societies and the banks have been forced by this Government to restrict lending for houses. The rate of 124% is about 4% more than charges made by building societies and about 5i% higher than some bank rates. The Government should be forcing interest rates down, not forcing them up.
As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has pointed out, 75% of all housing loans from institutional lenders are now made at rates of interest which, in total, substantially exceed the value of the loan itself. The cost of interest on an $8,000 savings bank loan in 1949 totalled $4,456; it now totals $8,440. It is pointed out also that 24% of all home buyers are obliged to secure an average of $2,000 from fringe lenders outside the banking system at very high interest rates. If this Government really wanted to assist young people to secure their own homes why does it now allow interest on housing loans as a taxation deduction as is done in the United Kingdom? Surely this is something to which the Government could give consideration. In Western Australia there are over 19,000 on the State Housing Commission books awaiting accommodation, fa A years the waiting period has gone up from 14 months to 4 years for a purchase home. For a rental home the watting period is nearer 5 years. Emergency cases - people living on verandahs, in caravans and in condemned houses - have to wait an excessively long tim
In the time available to me I have raised three or four matters that are concerning the people and in respect of which the Budget has proved deficient. There are many other matters. Those that I have raised concern the failure of the Government to introduce any semblence of income tax reform; its failure adequately to restore value to social service benefits; and its failure adequately to assist in the provision of housing for the people. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition is a challenge to the Gorton Government to face the people. It condemns the Government for bringing down a deceptive and negative Budget which fails to meet the needs of the Australian people. If the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) feels so sure that the Budget is acceptable to the people why does he not accept the challenge? For over 20 years Liberal governments have been fooling the people, but it cannot fool them all the time. They are a wake-up to the Government. The skies are black with the chickens coming home to roost, and when they land the Government is going to get it where the chicken got the axe.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hunt) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Holten) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I apologise for detaining the House but I must respond to some matters which have come to my notice regarding the South Africa Defence and Aid Fund and some statements which have been made in criticism of it by the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay). I have tried to contact him this evening to let him know that I would be discussing this subject. 1 make no personal attack on him. He is an amiable and peacable kind of man in his face to face transactions but it is his resort to violence at the international level that I want to criticise tonight. He has referred to the South Africa Defence and Aid Fund as a typical Communist front organisation. In effect he has said the same of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign.
– Ask him what he means by it.
– I will discuss what he means by it, but first of all I want to say that I belong to those organisations and that I know of Communists in one of them. I know too of some very honourable gentlemen who are not Communists. For example, Mr St. John who was recently the honourable member for Warringah in this House, is an official of- the South Africa Defence and Aid Fund. If the honourable member for Boothby means that the Communists instigate, support or influence these movements then it is equally true to call them Australian Labor Party fronts or Australia Party fronts or Australian Council of Churches fronts and so on because all of those organisations have members who take part in their activities, who influence them, who support them, who instigate them.
However, if he means that the Communists hide their identity and their longer range aims in these movements - in other words, subvert them - then all I can say is that the Communists have a very inefficient organisation. They do not seem to be getting far with the technique of subversion. The net effect is that the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Council of Churches gets the credit for the activities of those organisations while the Communist Party in this country becomes more divided, weaker and loses its members. I cannot see that its activities are giving it strength. However, that is beside the point. I think that the boot is on the other foot. The so-called Communist fronts are making use of the hard work and dedication of some Communists to further their own long range aims. In other words, much as the Communist who takes part in these activities may think that he is strengthening the Communist Party, my personal opinion is that he is strengthening the movement that he assists. If he hides his identity and his long range aims he is not really getting much closer to them except insofar as he helps the movement with which he is associated.
I will co-operate with Fascists, with Communists, with Satan in a good cause. Do not let us have any of this nonsense of trying to smear people who work in organisations because those organisations are fronts for this, that or the other. The point is not what they are fronts for; the point is what they are doing. Let us judge them on - the issues and on their actions.
The illness which is being fostered in the community by statements like those of the honourable member for Boothby is known as paranoia. When if affects individuals it takes the form of delusions of persecution which, when they become prolonged and entrenched, give rise also to delusions of grandeur. This is the dangerous illness which causes wars. That was particularly well typified in gentlemen like the late Herr Hitler and Josef Stalin. These delusions of persecution, these delusions of grandeur, the feeling that you are the only one who knows what is right and what should be done, are destroying the world’s chances of peace and co-operation.
Let us look at what is being done by the South African Defence and Aid Fund. It is pointing out, first of all, that South Africa is based on minority rule. I do not suppose that Australia can fairly point the bone at South Africa in that respect. We have majority rule here, but I wonder how long it would last if the whites became outnumbered by the Aboriginals. I am not saying that Australia has clean hands in this matter just because we have majority rule. Nevertheless, this is a pernicious principle that is applied in South Africa and no steps are being taken to correct it. At least in Australia the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), who is at the table, is doing his best to reverse the tendency of majority rule to cause racial suppression in this country.
I wish now to refer to an organisation which some honourable members opposite may care to call a Communist front organisation. It has been said that South Africa is a police state which acts in violation of almost every article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I could name quite a string of such acts. Arrest without trial is one that is very popular right now in South Africa where more and more oppressive laws are being introduced. This organisation which honourable members opposite may term a Communist front is the International Commission of Jurists. Let us not identify as Communist front propoganda everything said by the South Africa Defence and Aid Fund. This organisation on 28th April last sent a circular to every member of this House. Apartheid is a disease.
– I do not know what he is talking about.
– I am sorry for the honourable gentleman who does not know what I am talking about. I will be very happy to place my services at his disposal, in a professional capacity or otherwise to ensure that he understands perfectly what I am talking about. I am talking about the disease which is eating into the minds of people in this and other countries which makes them see a Communist front in everything which opposes their entrenched privilege. The moment that they find a card carrying Communist affixing his name to a list which supports, fosters, instigates, promotes or initiates one of these movements, they deem it sufficient reason to (ay a blanket charge on every one associated with that movement as being a dupe of the Communists or a fellow traveller. It is sufficient reason for them to condemn as antidemocratic everything that is said by the movement, because they have seen the antidemocratic actions of Communists.
In the name of sanity let us have no more of these regressive and destructive smear tactics which try to identify every progressive move to restore humanity and equality in South Africa or anywhere else as one that is trying to reverse the order of privilege in our social system. I, for one, am not trying to reverse the order. I am just trying to even it out a little. I do not want the dictatorship of the proletariat or its vanguard, or rule by any person who so styles himself. All I want is a little fair play, a fair go and a little equality. If that is talking like a Communist front, then I atn a Communist and the honourable member for Boothby can similarly be judged to be a racist.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 11.9 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s question are as follows:
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
As the average weekly hours including overtime worked by full-time employees amounts to only 43.3 hours, and the International Labour Organisation has voted in favour of a maximum working week of 48 hours, will the Commonwealth act to present a case to the Commonwealth Arbitration
Commission to prohibit compulsory overtime which will oblige an employee to work more than 48 hours per week.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
No. The correct course of action would be for an appropriate union to institute proceedings before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission claiming conditions of the kind envisaged by the honourable member.
Man-made Fibres: Tariff Protection (Question No. 1082)
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In its report the Tariff Board recommended ad valorem duties on a range of man-made fibres and yarns. It also recommended a floor price on one area of production for a period of 18 months.
The Government adopted the recommendations of the Tariff Board. The question of a further inquiry by the Board would be considered if and when the circumstances of the industry and the import situation warranted such action.
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Separate estimates of sea and air freights are not available.
No estimate is made of total freight payable on Australian exports. This is because of balance of payments statistics, for which freight estimates are made, do not include an item for freight payable overseas on Australian exports. Conventional balance of payments practice, based on international standards, regards the cost of transferring goods beyond the exporting country as a transaction between the foreign importer and the carrier (in the case of Australian exports, usually a nonresident shipping company). Such a transaction is one between two non-residents (the importer and the carrier) which does not affect the Australian balance of payments and no estimate is prepared.
I might add to this advice provided by the Commonwealth Statistician that the Government has always taken the view that the freight charged on Australian exports invariably affects returns to Australian industries selling in overseas markets against competition from other sources of supply. The Government therefore considers the freight on Australian exports to be of critical importance in the development of our overseas markets.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Breaches of Federal awards reported by State Inspectors are not separately recorded. They are included in1 (a) above.
Geoscientists Payand Conditions (Question No. 1242)
MrClyde Cameron asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Has his attention been drawn to the dissatisfaction of geoscientists employed by the Bureau of Mineral Resources with the rates of pay and conditions of pay and conditions of employment fixed fortheir respective classifications by the Public Service Board and/or thePublic Service Arbitrator.
Was his attention directed to a large advertisement inserted by 42 of these officers in The Australian’ dated 30th May1970 to indicate that they were available for employment outside the Commonwealth Public Service.
If the position is as slated, will he request the Public Service Board to make an urgent review of the existing salary ranges for these positions as a means of eliminating dissatisfaction and of retaining for the services of the Commonwealth the training and experience possessed by these officers.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Oil Imports: Shipping Statistics (Question No. 1263)
asked the Minister for
Customs and Excise, upon notice:
What was the (a) name, (b) tonnage, (c) owner, (d) country of registration, (e) Australian agent,
originating port and (g) port of destination of each tanker which carried imports of crude oil to Australia in 1969.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The information requested by the honourable member has been extracted under three headings:
Origin of Voyage - Middle East (see Schedule A).
Origin of Voyage - Far East (see Schedule B).
Origin of Voyage- North America (see Schedule C).
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Within each State scholarships are awarded on merit and no specific allocation is made for particular, categories of schools.
I would like to draw the honourable member’s attention to a small revision necessary to 1 of the figures given in answer to part 4 of Question No. 1617 in 1969, namely that the figure of 6.0 per cent for ‘All schools - 1969’ should read .5.9 per cent.
Students first receive benefits from Commonwealth Secondary scholarships on entering the second last year of secondary schooling. 1 think that in answering (his part of the question a valid comparison can be made between the number of scholarships awarded and the number of students enrolled in the second last year of school. Enrolment statistics for 1970 are not yet available. Mowever the numbers of students awarded Commonwealth Secondary scholarships in 1969, expressed as percentages of enrolments tn the second last secondary year in 1969 at each category, of school were as follows:
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
How did the Australian Government delegates vote on the instruments adopted at the Fiftyfourth (1970) Session of the International Labour Conference.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Fifty-fourth 0197O) Session of the International Labour Conference adopted two Conventions and two Recommendations, viz. -
Convention (No. 131) and Recommendation (No. 135) - Minimum Wage Fixing
Convention (No. 132) - Annual Holidays with Pay (Revised)
Recommendation (No. 136) - Special Youth Schemes.
The Australian Government delegates supported the adoption of all. four instruments.
asked the PostmasterGeneral., upon notice: (I.) How many medium wave amplitude modulation channels were in use by commercial broadcasting stations when the Australian Broadcasting Control Board was set up.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
When the Australian Broadcasting Control Board was established in 1949 there were 107 frequency channels available in the medium frequency band; in recent years the number has been increased to 108. In 1949 there were 102 commercial stations using between them a total of 65 frequency channels.
In 1956, the Broadcasting and Television Act was amended to provide that licences for commercial broadcasting stations shall be granted only upon a formal invitation for applications published by the Postmaster-General. The table since 1956 therefore shows the number of applications for licences received in terms of the Broadcasting and Television Act. For the period before 1956, the table shows the number of applications received for the particular localities for which licences were granted.
Since the Board was established in 1949 a very large number of expressions of interest in the grant of licences for commercial broadcasting stations in respect of a great number of localities have been received. It would be a task of some difficulty to dissect these in the form posed in the honourable member’s question. None of these that might be called informal applications could be considered unless it were renewed in response to an invitation published by the Postmaster-General in accordance with the Act. No doubt in numerous cases the people concerned would be no longer interested as a period of 21 years is involved.
Carlton United Brewery (Question No. 1205)
asked the Minister for
Trade and Industry, upon notice:
In view of his answer to question No. 9 on 12th May 1970 (Hansard, pages 2023-4) advising me that the grant of $31,440 to the Carlton United Brewery was for research that must be treated as confidential, can he say, without disclosing any confidential information, if the grant is to be used for research into beer or some other alcoholic beverage.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The grant was made during 1968-69. It was given in relation to expenditure by the company on industrial research and development in 1967-68. I understand that the company has stated publicly that its research and development expenditure in 1967-68 involved the development of a new and improved process for the extraction of resin from natural hops.
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Membership of general trade missions is available to Australian producers, manufacturers and exporters who can take advantage of the facilities provided by the mission to explore new export markets at first hand at their own cost.
Membership of trade survey missions is confined lo businessmen and officials nominated and approved by Ministers because of their special qualifications and experience. They are required to report to Industry and Government on the results of their investigations.
Members of Parliament have not been included in any trade missions organised by the Department of Trade and Industry.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 August 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1970/19700826_reps_27_hor69/>.