27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-I desire to inform the House that 4 members of the delegation from the Sabah Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association are at present in the gallery of the House. On behalf of the House and the Commonwealth of Australia Branch of the Association, I extend to members of the delegation a very warm and cordial welcome.
Honourable members - Hear, hear!
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members ot the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth -
That the Sales Tax on all forms of Contraceptive Devices is 271 per cent. (Sales Tax Exemptions and Classifications Act 1935-1967). Also that there is Customs Duty of up to 47) per cent on some Contraceptive Devices.
And that this is an unfair imposition on the human rights of all people who wish to prevent unwanted pregnancies. And furthermore that this imposition discriminates particularly against people on low incomes.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Sales Tax on all forms of Contraceptive Devices be removed, so as to bring these items into line with other necessities such as food, upon which there is no Sales Tax. Also that Customs Duties be removed, and that all Contraceptive Devices be placed on the National Health Scheme Pharmaceutical Benefits List
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of electors of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth -
that the United Nations General Assembly
Resolution 2603 XXIV A (December 1969) declares that the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which Australia has ratified, prohibits the use in international armed conflict of any chemical agents of warfare - chemical substances whether gaseous, liquid or solid - employed for their direct toxic effects on man, animals or plants;
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray -
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of 10 electors of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth -
that the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2603 XXIV A (December 1969) declares that the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which Australia has ratified, prohibits the use in international armed conflict of any chemical agents of warfare - chemical substances whether gaseous, liquid or solid - employed for their direct toxic effects on man, animals or plants;
that the World Health Organisation Report (January 1970) confirms the above definition of chemical agents of warfare;
that the Australian Government does not accept this definition, but holds that the Geneva Protocol does not prevent the use in war of certain toxic chemical substances in the form of herbicides, defoliants and ‘riotcontrol’ agents.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray -
that the Parliament take note of the consensus of international political, scientific and humanitarian opinion; and
that honourable members urge upon the Government the desirability of revising its interpretation of the Geneva Protocol, and declaring that it regards all chemical substances employed for their toxic effects on man, animals or plants as being included in the prohibitions laid down by that Protocol.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House ot Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:
The red kangaroo and many other marsupials, through the 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 laws in existence. Uniform laws and complete cessation of commercialisation can ensure the survival of our national emblem.
It is an indisputable fact that no natural resources can withstand hunting on such a concentrated scale, unless some provision is made for its future.
We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray:
The management of Australia’s Wildlife be controlled by the Commonwealth Government and sufficient wardens appointed to enforce the laws.
The shooting of kangaroos for commercial purposes be stopped immediately.
The export of all kangaroo products from Australia be banned.
The Commonwealth Government establish large national parks of good quality land as major tourist attractions.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of residents of the Division of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth -
That there is a likelihood that education in the Australian Capital Territory will in the foreseeable future be made independent of the New South Wales education system:
That the decentralisation of education systems throughout Australia is educationally and administratively desirable, and is now being studied by several Stale Government Departments:
That the Australian Capital Territory is a homogeneous anil coherent unit especially favourable for such studies.
You Petitioners therefore humbly pray that a Committee of Enquiry, on which are represented the Department of Education and Science, institutions of tertiary education, practising educators, and the Canberra community, be instituted to enquire into the form that an Australian Capital Territory Education Authority should take, the educational principles and philosophy that should underlie it, and its mode of operation and administration.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
-I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition or residents of the Division of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth -
That there is a likelihood that education in the Australian Capital Territory will in the foreseeable future be made independent of the New South Wales education system:
That the decentralisation of education systems throughout Australia is educationally and administratively desirable, and is now being studied by several State Government Departments:
That the Australian Capital Territory is a homogeneous and coherent unit especially favourable for such studies.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a Committee of Enquiry, on which are represented the Department of Education and Science, institutions of tertiary education, practicing educators, and the Canberra community, be instituted to enquire into the form that an Australian Capital Territory Education Authority should take, the educational principles and philosophy, that should underly it, and its mode of operation and administration.
And your petitioners, as in duly bound, will ever pray.
– T present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of electors of the Division of Hawker respectfully sheweth -
That the determination as to which young men are required to undergo compulsory military service under the National Service Act 195’1 -1968 is arrived at by a ballot system, based upon arbitrary grounds as to their date of birth.
And that this procedure providing for selection by a method of chance is an unfair and arbitrary imposition on the human rights of a minority, and discriminates against certain of the young male persons in the community in favour of others solely by reason of their respective dates of birth.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that Section twenty-six of the National Service Act 1951-1968 be repealed.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I present 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 Division of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth -
That the Australian Capital Territory Pharmacy, Ordinances 1931-1959 section 46, sub-section (1) states that ‘A person shall not publish any statement, whether by way of advertisment or otherwise, to promote the sale of any article as a medicine, instrument or appliance … for preventing conception’.
And that this infringes upon each individual’s right as a human being to all available information about contraceptive devices in order to help prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the words ‘or for preventing conception’ be deleted “from sub-section (1) of section 46 of the Australian Capital Territory Pharmacy Ordinances. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present 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 Austalian 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 request that your honourable House make legal provision for -
The allowance of personal education expenses us 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.
Increase in the maintenance allowance for students.
Exemption of non-bonded scholarships, for part-time students from income tax..
And your petioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Mr Speaker, my question is directed to you. I draw your attention to a question which I asked on 22nd September 1970, and which is reported at page 1416 of Hansard. It referred to the hundreds of petitions that had been presented to the House during that session. Of course, the process has been repeated during this session. I asked what had happened to the petitions and whether the petitioners were not wasting their time in preparing and signing the petitions just to have them pigeonholed. 1 drew your attention, Sir, to the fact that a committee examines petitions presented to the House of Commons and reports on them. I asked you if you would consider adopting such a system here and you said that my request would be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. 1 now ask: Has anything been done in regard to this matter?
Mr SPEAKER: Yes. The Clerk of the House of Representatives has made inquiries from the House of Commons, the Canadian House of Commons and also the New Zealand Parliament in regard to the manner in which petitions are dealt with in those places. Information has now been received from the respective clerks in those Parliaments and it will be put in concise form and presented to the next meeting of the Standing Orders Committee.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Does the Minister recall that I asked him not very long ago whether he was aware that what the farmers really wanted was a reduction in tariffs and that they are no longer fascinated by the fast footwork or satisfied with another helping of his sunny smile? Does the Minister realise that the action of this Government in continuing the lavish temporary protection on shirts will be regarded as just as another helping of his sunny smile? What the farmers want to know is whether tariffs will be reduced and whether the Minister will help in this endeavour. If so, when will the Minister start to do something?
– I do not think the honourable member can speak for all farmers in Australia. Nearly every industry in Australia, with the possible exception of the wool industry, does get the benefit of some form of protection. Some of our farming industries are very heavily dependent on this protection. I have been conscious that whenever agricultural commodities have been imported into this country, even in the most minute quantities, all hell has broken loose with the cry that something should be done about it. I ask the honourable member not to generalise and say that all farmers want all tariffs reduced. It is an objective of this Government to try to keep costs as low as possible. I think we all agree that protection for industry does tend to increase cost pressures although I do not accept that tariffs are a device that can be switched on or off and varied according to the economic tempo.
It should be the objective of any government to ensure that tariffs are not excessive and that they are invoked only to sustain efficient industries. It is true that the Government, as was stated yesterday in this House, has agreed to a continuation of temporary protection for woven and knitted shirts and the outer garments industry for a further 18 months. After that period the Tariff Board’s report will be implemented following in the meantime negotiation with Asian countries for a voluntary restraint against their cheap textiles coming into this country. This is not an unusual procedure for a developed country to adopt. At least 11 or 12 developed countries have been able to come to arrangements with Asian countries so as to maintain a reasonably efficient industry within their own borders and still be able to increase imports in the future. In other words, it is more or less a method of stabilising the industry at its present level and the benefit of any growth that is to take place will go to those overseas countries. We are more or less following an approach that has been adopted by most developed countries which have run into problems in this area.
– I direct a question to the PostmasterGeneral about the contribution which a reduction in telephone and teleprinter charges would make to the accelerated development of cities outside the State capitals. The honourable gentleman will remember the recommendation of the Victorian Decentralisation Advisory Committee in September 1967 that such places should be recognised for charging purposes as extensions of the Melbourne metropolitan area. He will remember also the similar proposals in the report to the New South Wales Government on selective decentralisation in March 1969. I ask him: How far has his Department proceeded with the examination and costing of such proposals? What, for instance, is the comparative cost of installing an additional 20,000 telephone services in new suburbs of Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide on the one hand and in chosen cities like Albury Wodonga or Portland on the other? Is his Department represented on the CommonwealthState Officials Committee on Decentralisation?
– To take the last part of the honourable member’s question first; 1 am not aware that the Post Office is represented on the Committee to which he refers. As to the other aspects of his question, I can say only that we have developed in Australia a system of charging which is not dissimilar to that in many other countries. Yet, on the other hand, it is dissimilar to the system in a smaller country such as New Zealand. In Australia we are faced with tremendous distances and it is a very expensive operation to extend telephone services because of the large quantities of equipment required. Without doubt, the investigations which we have made show that on average it is cheaper to install telephones even in great numbers in metropolitan areas than it is to take the trunk channels into the country areas. On the question of charging, all I can say is that trunk channels are very expensive and it would be necessary for us to review the whole scale of telephone charges if we were to attempt making reductions in any particular area for the benefit of people who have established themselves in that area. The honourable gentleman will remember that some time ago in the House I was asked whether it was possible for us to have a single charge covering local calls and trunk calls throughout Australia. At that time I pointed out some of the difficulties and I will not repeat them now. Because of the representations received outside the House the Post Office has been studying this matter. 1 have not yet received a report.
– I ask the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts whether he can give to the House any information about the proposal to establish an Australian National Film and Television School.
– I think honourable members will recall the announcement made in 1969 that the Government had established an Interim Council to investigate and report on a proposal for the form and location of a national film television training school. Whilst the Council’s enthusiasm for this project is fully apparent, the continuing economic stringencies and the substantial cost of its proposals - estimated to be over $7m during the next 5 years - have led to consideration of the proposals being deferred for 12 months. The proposals may then be considered in the light of what I hope will be more propitious economic circumstances. By that stage we shall also know more of the progress of the Australian Film Development Corporation, the success of which is so important to ensure a viable industry, usefully employing graduates from a training school.
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. This is the time for questions without notice and the Minister is reading from a prepared statement. This is obviously a Dorothy Dix question. He is giving a lecture.
– On this subject, a man is entitled to follow a script.
-I have pointed out to the House on many occasions the position in which the Chair finds itself in relation to matters such as this.
– I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his help. He may be interested to know, however, that the Government has already provided a good deal of financial assistance for training in the film industry over the last 3 years. Through the Australian Council for the Arts the Government has provided a number of travelling scholarships to enable promising young students to study overseas various aspects of the film industry. The Government has also provided to the Experimental Film Fund grants which have enabled those with talent to try their hand at film making. There has been such an interest in the film industry that I felt it was important to answer the question at this length. 1 believe that these 2 matters are closely associated with the objectives of the proposed school.
– I raise a point of order. The Minister said that he knew there was a certain amount of interest in this subject and that he would take the opportunity to give certain information at this point. It is obvious that he came into the chamber having already planned to use question time for this purpose when the logical thing for him to do was to ask leave to make a statement after question time.
-Order! I have explained a dozen times the situation in which the Chair finds itself in relation to these matters. I again say to Ministers that many of their answers are far too long. The Leader of the Opposition has given an assurance, that where a prepared statement forms the basis of an answer that might be given in the House during question time, leave will be granted to deliver the statement after question time. I think that this course should be given some consideration.
- Mr Speaker, I am just finishing this. If the Leader of the Opposition would like to bear with me-
– Speaking to the point of order, I would like to give the assurance which you have invited me to give on behalf of the Opposition. I do so with alacrity because it is only by taking this course that other members on both sides of the chamber will be able to speak on this matter, which has in fact concerned members on both sides in successive Administrations.
-The Chair is not involved in the politics of this matter. I take the assurance from the Leader of the Opposition given in this House some time ago. I believe that the Minister will be quite right ia continuing his remarks on this occasion.
– 1 am glad that the Leader of the Opposition has such an interest in this matter. If he would like to let me make a short statement shortly after question time I would be delighted . to make it. I am glad that for once there is such an interest in some of these important aspects of the arts.
– Is the Minister for the Navy aware of the discontent and unrest among naval personnel, particularly naval police at the’ Williamstown naval dockyard in my electorate, due to the Kerr report? What is the reason for naval police being placed on level 3? Have approximately 50 per cent of these men applied for a free discharge or a transfer back to the fleet? Will the Minister define whether these men are only an auxiliary unit or a permanent unit? Will he inform me why naval police have to provide their own meals while fleet personnel receive a privilege in relation to meals both when with the fleet and when living out? Finally, what are the reasons for the downgrading of this branch of the Service in the new wage structures and for the loss of other privileges that men in this branch previously held while members of the fleet?
– 1 am aware that there has been discontent at certain levels in Williamstown dockyard for some time. 1 have visited Williamstown on several occasions and have talked with the shop committee and other representatives of the men. I am surprised that the implementation of the Kerr report should have occasioned the kind of discontent that the honourable member has mentioned. We are taking steps in the Navy to see that al) sailors and employees are informed of the implications of this report. A team is currently visiting each of the ships and establishments to inform personnel at both the officer and the sailor level of the changes that have been made.
With regard to the dockyard police, I do not think that the figure that the honourable member has quoted is correct. I have been following this matter carefully. I think the figure is approximately half the number that he has mentioned. I am disappointed also that even that number has been involved, because I think there is a mistaken concept, of the implications of the Kerr Committee report. It is true that ws have narrowed down through this process of the Kerr Committee report the large number of levels that applied in group pay. For instance, the dockyard police whom the honourable member mentioned were on group 10 now are on a commensurate level at group 3 under the new system. That represents by no means a downgrading, nor does it mean a diminution of pay. Indeed, for most, almost all, personnel in the Navy it means an increase in their pay structure. Moreover the dockyard police are certainly not an auxiliary unit as the honourable member put it. They are part of the permanent force of the Navy. With regard to the supply of their own meals, the Navy Board some 2 or 3 meetings ago decided that this will be one of the perquisites that attach to their office. It may not yet have been promulgated, but it certainly will be and that matter will be taken care of.
The naval police fulfil a very important function in the Service. I am more concerned about other actions in the Williamstown dockyard which recently gave rise to the possibility of rolling strikes. These would be perhaps more related to the activities of certain more militant unions in Victoria - some 26 unions - that have been concerned about the metal workers aspect of the situation. They have been promoting the powers of the shop steward inside the organisation. This has given rise to some discontent.
I conclude by saying that in the naval dockyards we are looking forward to a long period reaching many years into the future during which we will be engaged in our own construction, and increasing the amount of the Australian content of the hardware of the fighting services. This can only take place if we have the application and good will of the work force. Given a fair days work for a fair days pay, I believe there will be increased security of employments and increased opportunity for the development of such dockyards as the one at Williamstown of which we are proud.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether in view of the increasing body of opinion among wool growers that the acquisition and disposal of the whole of the Australian wool clip is the only satisfactory and effective way of marketing wool, the Minister will advise how soon the Government will be in a position to appoint a statutory authority to undertake the marketing of wool if requested to do so by the industry and if that request is acceptable to the Government? Will the Minister advise the House of the progress being made towards enabling objective measurement of the whole of the Australian wool clip to be undertaken and, consequently, its sale by sample thus eliminating one of the great disadvantages wool suffers by comparison with synthetic fibres?
– In the last Budget there was an allocation of $1.5m to further the work generally in the field of objective measurement. That money is still partially spent. It is being used to try to ensure that there should be criteria acceptable to both buyers and sellers and which would enable objective measurement then to be a reality. I understand that there are 2 sales rostered this year at which wools are to be offered on an objective measurement basis and which are designed to try to give the buyers and the sellers an opportunity to test this new method of sale.
As to the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question, it is true that at the moment there are quite obviously forces in the market place which make it very difficult to take the market as a normal one. One would hope that once the international monetary situation has settled down it might be possible to see the more optimistic trends which had been forecast for this season appear. At the same time, I think it needs to be realised that wool has suffered very considerably because of the comparable way in which the synthetic product is produced, marketed, distributed, sold and promoted in the hands of one single selling organisation. Concerning the advantages to growers of a changed marketing system, however, I think they need to be conscious that, as things stand at the moment, the principal difficulty in the market place seems to be the slackness in demand rather than necessarily the form of selling itself. I think that the Government will obviously have to take into account all recommendations from indus try and from buyers in considering the circumstances of the wool industry in the course of the next few months. Personally I am hopeful that with the maintenance of the wool selling season and with the continuation of the sales the strength in the market place will recover and we will be in a better position to take an assessment of long term trends in the market away from the emotion that tends to prevail at the present time.
– I address my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Sid the honourable gentleman address a forum organised by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia on 6th September this year at which he said, amongst other things, that full employment means simply the highest rate of employment which can be sustained without widespread severe demand pressures or serious balance of payments difficulties and must also depend, amongst other things, upon the rate of growth and adaptability of the labour force and the imbalance in the labour force? Did he conclude his address by saying that the Government is firmly committed to a policy of high employment as distinct - these are my words - from a policy of full employment? To what extent will full employment be jeopardised by widespread demand pressure or a balance of payments difficulty or a structural imbalance in the economy and the labour market? Finally, does bis reference to a Government policy of high employment mean that the Government contemplates an increase in the present unemployment figure of H per cent of the employees in the work force?
– lt is certainly true, as the honourable gentleman has suggested, that in a recent address to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia in Melbourne I discussed the problems of a full employment economy and I drew attention to the diverse factors on which the maintenance of full employment is based. I will not repeat those factors because, as I recall it, the honourable gentleman would have been correct in his summation of the points that I put to that organisation.’ The honourable gentleman asked me to speculate on what might be the situation should a series of different factors obtain. I am sure the House will understand that forward employment levels constitute a very sensitive and essentially dynamic area - and it would be quite impossible, as I am certain the honourable gentleman with his wide experience in these matters appreciates, to predict to a point of any precision what might be the situation in the future.
The honourable gentleman did ask me a question of substance and I certainly want to assure this House that for a quarter of a century one of the major objectives of Government economic and social policy has been the maintenance of full employment. We are committed to that objective. We do not resile from it. So far as the forward pattern is concerned, of course we will look closely at developments in the labour market. There are those in the community, including the Leader of the Opposition, who on this and other questions are seeking to generate a psychology of gloom. I want to make perfectly clear to the House that we do not subscribe to that psychology.
As to the reference bv the Leader of the Opposition to the Prime Minister’s statement that he would not be surprised at the development of a figure of 100,000 unemployed during January, I simply say that in that month the seasonal impact on the employment market is at its maximum and even if the figure of 100,000 were reached in January, adjusted on a seasonal basis it would represent 1.3 per cent of the workforce. That happens to be the same percentage, seasonally adjusted, that applied at the end of July, as was shown by the figures which I released publicly. I say, therefore, to the Opposition and to those who have speculated on this matter in the Press that first of all they should bear in mind the seasonality of the January situation and that the 1.3 per cent unemployment rate in January, if in fact that is the figure, will be the same as the rate at the end of July. Those who judge the Government’s record in relation to unemployment should bear in mind that whether Australia’s rate is 1.3 per cent at the end of July or 1.3 per cent seasonally adjusted in January, the rate in the United States of America is 6.1 per cent, in Canada 6.2 per cent and in Great Britain 3.3. per cent. One of the most notable achievements of this Government has been the implementation of its full employment policy.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the annual salary of his Press Secretary is $3,000 more than that received by a member of the Federal Parliament. Will the Prime Minister explain to the House the relative importance and responsibilities of his Press Secretary and a member of the Parliament so that both the public and honourable members may get this matter into perspective and understand the true importance of the relative roles?
– I am not sure of the figures but I would be reasonably certain that those quoted by my friend would be accurate. In other words, my Press Secretary does receive about $3,000 a year more than back benchers of this Parliament. I cannot make a comparison between members of the Press and members of the Parliament because no exact comparison is possible. But I can say that the members of this Parliament represent the Australian people in the highest national assembly we have. Consequently, if we were in an arbitral or in some other way to carry out a work value study to determine what members of the Parliament are entitled to receive I believe it would be found by arbitral authorities to be considerably in excess of the salary received by a Press officer, no matter how able, distinguished or capable he may be. I can merely state that as a matter of work value appreciation, though I do not want the honourable member or for that matter any section of the media to think that I am advocating a reduction in salaries paid to members of the media - I am not. Nor am I doing any more than sympathise with my colleague who has just asked me the question because I believe that in terms of work value he is distinctly underpaid.
– Does the Prime Minister agree with the annual business forecast released 2 days ago by the leading management consultants, W. D. Scott and Co., that the Government has decided for the first time since 1960-61 to generate unemployment in excess of 2 per cent? Does he agree with their chief economist - whom the Minister for Labour and National Service might describe as a psychologist of gloom - that there will be more than 100,000 unemployed in March next? Will he confirm that despite the Government’s decision he rejected proposals for an increase in the current SIO a week rate of unemployment benefit and the abolition of the 7-day qualifying period for benefits of this kind which were put to the Government in May by the Australian Council of Social Service and to Cabinet by the Minister for Social Services in his p reBudget submission? Does he think it fair that more than 100,000-
– Order! The honourable gentleman has been asking the Prime Minister a series of questions relating to his opinions. This is distinctly out of order, as I think the Leader of the Opposition knows. I would ask him to complete his question without asking for opinions.
– With respect, the last question was whether he would confirm certain facts. It was not seeking an opinion. Does the right honourable gentleman think it fair that more than 100,000 Australians who bear the brunt of his programmed unemployment should do so with the meanest and least adequate of all forms of social service benefits?
– As to the first question asked by the honourable gentleman, I can say that it is a totally false assumption and could have been only the product of an imagination that has run completely riot. There was never any discussion with myself or, for that matter, 1 would be fairly certain, with the Treasurer or any other member of the Australian Cabinet. Consequently that was a hypothetical case which any sensible member would have rejected immediately. But the honourable gentleman opposite loves to pick up the riddle taddle and pibble pabble of Pompey’s camp. He asked me yesterday about something that was alleged to have occurred at the meeting of my own Federal Council which was in fact false. He could have got his information only from somebody who wanted to whisper and not from any person who in fact was present at the meeting.
– Your Minister did not deny it.
– I denied it immediately.
– But he did not.
– He took a more proper course and said that he was not going to inform the Leader of the Opposition, in any circumstances, of what had happened at the meeting of our Council. For that matter, I would not let the honourable member listen even at the keyhole of my own Party meetings. The second question that was put to me related to the chief economist of W. D. Scott and Co. I contacted him yesterday and asked him whether what he was reported as saying in one of yesterday’s papers was true. He said he was rather sorry about the heading that was put in the newspapers concerned. Because it did not reflect in any sense the impression he wished to convey. But he had carried out a survey and it was contained in W. D. Scott’s latest memorandum. I have not had the opportunity to read it but nonetheless I will do so.”
The point I have to make, which I made last night in my statement to the House, and the point that the Treasurer himself made in the course of his Budget Speech is that if ever there was a government dedicated to full employment and to trying to remove pockets of poverty, it is this Government - the Liberal-Country Party Government that has governed this country successfully for the past 22 years.
– Too long.
- Mr Speaker, I was asked a question of great importance. If honourable members opposite do not like to hear answers they should not ask questions. The Government has done certain things in this Budget. The Government said that it would not be prepared to have demand inflation superimpose itself on cost or wage inflation, because the Government believes that the predominant cause of inflation today is wage inflation or the increase in average wage earnings. That is the cause, and we want to prevent it from growing worse. We have pointed out that the Government has now budgeted for an internal surplus of $650m and has kept a relatively tight monetary policy in order to prevent these circumstances occurring. We therefore have adundant opportunities lor movement in one avenue or another if there appears to be sufficient cause to adapt different policies. We have adopted this course of action ever since we have been in Government and we would not hesitate to adopt it in the future. In other words, we remain dedicated to these ideals. 1 want to emphasise a little more emphatically than did my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, that we are dedicated to the ideal of the full and effective employment of our people. We want large scale national development. But at the same time as we have this national development we shall seek, as we are doing in this Budget, to remove any pockets of poverty that exist and to give the greatest assistance to those people whom we regard as having the very greatest need.
-] direct a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to a claim involving the Japanese Embassy’s alleged complimentary comments relating to our negotiations with Japan and Peking China, ls the Minister aware that a check has indicated that no such complimentary remarks were made? This claim, involving as it does a foreign embassy, could influence Australia’s overseas strategic relations and embarrass the Japanese Embassy. Does the Minister consider this to be the best way for the Commonwealth to pursue friendly relations with other countries, especially as this unfortunate claim was made in this House by the Leader of her Majesty’s Opposition?
– It is, of course, true that on 19th August, after referring to some comment he had made at the National Press Club, the Leader of the Opposition said, according to Hansard, that he wished to add that after his speech to the Press Club he received a phone call from the Japanese Embassy to compliment him and to thank him on the balance of his presentation, lt would be obvious, I think, to other honourable, members that the last thing any member of this House should do is seek to embroil an embassy in the political affairs of this country. I think that this is to be deplored. I have known for nearly 3 weeks that this statement was without foundation, but I would not myself have raised this matter in the House. As the honourable member has asked me a question on it, I feel bound to give him and the House an answer. The facts are: On the same day, after these remarks were made in the House by the Leader of the Opposition, an official of the Janapese Embassy telephoned my Department to say that they were most concerned about the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition. The official of the Japanese Embassy said: ‘The Ambassador is anxious that the Department s’-odd have an unequivocal assurance’, which he gave, that there was no foundation for the statement’.
– Mr Speaker, I take it that the appropriate time for me to speak on this matter would be at the end of question time?
-If the Leader of the Opposition wishes to make a statement, yes.
– 1 ask the Minister for Repatriation: Did the Prime Minister announce on 27th May that an inquiry would be held into the repatriation system in place of a departmental inquiry? Did the Minister say on the same day that he was drawing up the terms of reference and a list of possible members of the inquiry? If so, why has there been a delay of more than 3 months in announcing the terms of reference and the composition of the inquiry? Has staff been appointed to assist the inquiry and when is the inquiry expected to begin?
– Considerable progress has been made towards the appointment of a chairman to conduct the inquiry and also in the finalising of the terms of reference. I am sure that the House will understand that an appropriate person to chair the inquiry, coming from the judiciary, would not be available at a moment’s notice or even at short notice and that the terms of reference would have to be the subject of considerable discussion and consideration both by the department concerned and the Government. But I assure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the House that I hope to be in a position to announce both the chairman of the inquiry and the terms of reference in the near future.
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry give some indication of the estimated sales of butter on the home and export markets for the 1971-72 financial year? What effect will margarine sales have on sales of butter to the countries in the European Economic Community? What does the Minister believe will be the position in future years?
– I will not delay the House by giving a completely comprehensive analysis of the whole of the trends in the dairy industry, but let me say that the United Kingdom has always been the principal market in the world for dairy products. In fact, I understand that annual imports of butter into the United Kingdom amount to approximately 430,000 tons. When one compares that with the 130,000 tons, which is the balance of butter imported into all other countries, it places in perspective the very real importance to Australia of being able to retain some access to that market after Britain’s entry, if this should occur, into the European Economic Community as from 1st January 1973.
As regards the domestic production of butter, I understand that Australia’s consumption this year will be approximately 112,000 tons and that a further 8,000 tons is expected to be taken into stock by the Australian Dairy Produce Board, which will help to make up the short-fall of butter which occurred last year because of adverse seasonal conditions. The honourable gentleman asked me a question about the effect of competition from margarine on market demands for butter in the United Kingdom. As I understand the position, since prices for butter have risen in the United Kingdom - and today they stand at about £Stg480 per ton, which is a very high figure - the general consumption of butter has fallen by about 16 per cent and the consumption of margarine has risen by about 18 per cent.
Of course, this highlights one of the disadvantages from which dairy products suffer; as soon as butter prices rise to cover increased costs of production, butter sales meet with increased competition from margarine. As far as future trends are concerned, the Australian Dairy Industry Council is pursuing its objective of introducing a 2-price quota scheme which, I hope, might be able to adapt the industry to meet the marketing changes which it faces.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation as I was grievously misrepresented during question time by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) in answer to a question, purporting to be without notice, by the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron). I at least had no notice that this question was going to be asked, but I have been able to get the following dates in amplification of what 1 am about to say. On the night on which I bad spoken to the National Press Club in Canberra, a call came from the Japanese Embassy, from a senior official there who is well known to myself and my wife. He spoke to my wife - she is in the gallery at the moment: - and asked her to give a message to me. That was on 26th July. On the following morning, 27th July, I telephoned this senior official of the Japanese Embassy. He then complimented me on the balance of my presentation at the National Press Club luncheon and particularly in respect to the dilemma of his country in its relations with China.
The same official had called to my house when my wife was present on Saturday 26th June, the eve of my departure for China. He came because that was the only place and time at which it was possible for us to meet. I will naturally not mention his name. If, however, the Minister wishes to know this 1 will give it to him.
I made the reference to the telephone call complimenting me on this matter on the Channel 9 programme ‘Meet the Press’ in Sydney the week after the National Press Club luncheon. I was asked about the reaction in other countries to my visit to China and comments that I had made there. In those circumstances when 1 was asked the question, insinuating that I had embarrassed Japan I volunteered this reply which completely disposed of any such allegation.
Sir. I find it distasteful to have to quote a diplomat or any public servant who must remain anonymous but in the light of the consistent campaign of blackguarding me which has gone on in this matter, including the campaign by the Minister and, to their shame, some of his unreconstructed officials, I have found it necessary to state this matter about Japan and also I allowed, with some misgivings, my colleague the honourable member for Reid to quote the letter which came to me from the Foreign Secretary of the Philippines. What 1 said on the Channel 9 programme Meet the Press’, what I said in the House and what I am saying now is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. As to the visit by this senior official to my home on 26th June I have the corroboration of my wife and of Commonwealth car drivers. As to the telephone call on 26th July and the call that I made the following morning I have the corroboration of my wife. I have little doubt that through the resources available lo the Government the telephone calls that were made from Canberra to my home on the night of 26th July and from my home to Canberra on the morning of 27th July can be confirmed.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Leader of the Opposition has spoken of my conducting a campaign against him. Let me recapitulate the facts of this matter. I referred not to something he had said on Meet the Press He just slides away from what I said. He said in this House on 19th August - and he dragged it in simply because it gave him perhaps some personal satisfaction - after quoting what he had said at the National Press Club luncheon, that he had received a telephone call from the Japanese Embassy complimenting him and thanking him on the balance of his presentation. I have known for 3 weeks the Japanese Embassy’s reaction to that state ment, so if there was any campaign I did not initiate it. It is a gross misrepresentation to say that 1 have initiated anything in this matter or sought to do anything except to prevent any embassy being brought into a discussion in this House. 1 have been asked a question and I have stated not my opinion but the facts. The fact is that the senior official at the Japanese Embassy has telephoned my Department and given me an assurance that after investigation there is no foundation for the statement made in this House. If that is a campaign it is a misuse of the English language.
– Pursuant to section 12 of the Marginal Dairy Farms Agreements Act 1970, I present a copy of an agreement made between the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales in relation to the marginal dairy farms reconstruction scheme.
-Order! There is far too much conversation in the chamber. Repeatedly immediately after question time I have asked for honourable members’ cooperation in restricting audible conversation. Once again I request them to refrain from conversation that makes it impossible to hear the proceedings of the House.
– Pursuant to section 147 of the Defence Act 1903-1970, I present the annual report on the Royal Military College of Australia for the period 1st February 1970 to 31st January 1971.
– For the information of honourable members, I present the interim annual report of the Director of War Service Homes for the year ended 30th June 1971. When the final report is available, I shall present it in accordance with statutory requirements.
– by leave - Honourable members will recall the announcement in 1969 that the Government had established an Interim Council to investigate and report on the form and location of a national film and television training school. Whilst the Council’s enthusiasm for this project is fully apparent from its reports, the continuing economic stringencies and the substantial cost which is estimated to be over $7m during the next 5 years have lead to consideration of its proposals being deferred for 12 months. The proposals may then be considered in the light of what I hope will be more propitious economic circumstances. At that stage, we shall also know more of the progress of the Australian Film Development Corporation, the success of which is. so important to ensuring a viable industry, capable of usefully employing graduates from the proposed school.
However, as honourable members may be aware, the Government also has been providing financial assistance for training in the film industry over the last 3 years. Through the Australian Council for the Arts, the Government has provided a number of travelling scholarships to enable promising young students to study overseas various aspects of the film industry. The Government also has provided grants to the experimental film fund which have enabled those with talent to try their hand at film making. I believe that these 2 matters are closely associated with the objectives of the proposed school and therefore should be the responsibility of the Interim Council. After discussion with the Chairman of the Australian Council for the Arts, Dr Coombs, and the Chairman of the Interim Council, Mr Peter Coleman, I have arranged that the Interim Council will be responsible for these continuing forms of assistance over the next 12 months and so enable the Interim Council to play its part in the development of the Australian film industry. The chairmen of the 2 councils will be discussing in the immediate future the measures necessary to implement these new administrative arrangements.
Bill presented by Sir Alan Hulme, and read a first time.
– I move:
Mr Speaker, my colleague the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) has referred in his Budget Speech to new postal and telephone charges which are to be introduced during the financial year 1971-72. The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Post and Telegraph Act to introduce certain changes in postal conditions and to deal with proposed variations in charges requiring amendments to the Postal and Telephone Regulations. There will be another Bill to amend the Post and Telegraph Rates Act to impose new basic postal charges. Simultaneously certain other miscellaneous charges will be adjusted by administrative action.
The proposed adjustments are set out in some detail in the statement which I made in the House on 17th August and in the schedules that are incorporated in Hansard. I. shall now amplify for the House the reasons for the adjustments and the main variations proposed. The increases in the charges for telecommunications and postal services are proposed to be effective in the main from 1st October 1971. At the beginning of the financial year 1970-71 the overall Post Office trading profit was estimated at $30m; by the end of the year this had changed to a trading loss of approximately $2. 5m with a loss on postal operations of about $25. 5m and a profit on telecommunications operations of about $23m. Without an adjustment in charges the current forecast for 1971-72 is a loss of $36m - $35m on postal and $lm on the telecommunications side.
The deterioration in the financial position is due principally to new wage awards. During 1970-71 some 50 new awards affecting Post Office staff were granted and the direct costs of these will add $77m to Post Office expenditure in 1971-72, compared with a 5-year average increase of $40m. In addition, arbitration awards to industry generally have had an effect on prices of materials and services’ used by the Post Office and increased prices will add about a further $10m to expenditure during 1971-72. Mr Speaker, this represents an increase in Post Office expenditure during 1971-72 as a result of awards and determinations of $87m or 8.7 per cent on expenditure during 1970-71, compared with an increase of 4.8 per cent in the consumer price index for 1970-71.
The problems which confront the Post Office in 1971-72 and have caused the Government to increase certain postal and telecommunication charges could be summarised as: Abnormal increases in labour and other costs; serious deterioration in financial prospects; the level of demand for services and the excessive pressures this places on available resources.
The proposals I am now presenting to the House are expected to provide $50m in 1971-72 and $90m in a full year. The estimated overall trading position for 1971-72 will then be $36m profit with a $53m profit in telecommunications and a $17m loss in postal operations. Honourable members will be aware that the Post Office made substantial reductions in expenditure during 1970-71 - $15m in total - in an endeavour to assist the overall reduction in Government expenditure. I should say, too, that to contain costs staff recruitment was restricted to a growth of 2.3 per cent during 1970-71 - it had been 3.7 per cent in 1969-70 - and staff growth will continue to be limited during 1971-72 to less than 2 per cent.
Telecommunications is a capital intensive growth service. Failure to maintain a reasonable level of capital investment would in the short term cause congestion within the telephone network and increase the numbers of deferred applicants for telephone service. In the longer term it would result in an accumulating problem requiring still greater investment. In the telephone network the plant provided for the exclusive use of each subscriber comprises a telephone, a line to the exchange and a small amount of equipment in the exchange. Even though there are 2.8 million subscribers’ services connected to the network this plant accounts for less than half the expenditure on the network. The remainder of the plant including exchange switching equipment, cable between exchanges and trunk lines interconnecting places throughout Australia is used by all subscribers. This common plant accounts for more than half the capital expenditure on the network.
If investment in common plant is allowed to lag seriously, in an automatic system with national dialling, inadequacies may not become apparent to subscribers until the problem has reached serious proportions. The network would become congested by repeated but ineffective calls and this would result in the volume of calls connected being reduced, complaints about operators becoming overloaded and the possibility of a catastrophic breakdown in service. This situation did occur in the New York network in 1969, with heavy loss to the community and massive restoration problems. Difficulties of the same kind developed in our Perth network in 1970 with the rapid growth which accompanied the mining boom. Once such a situation arises, it takes a. considerable time to correct due to long lead times for equipment. This leads to costly and inefficient rearrangements of resources as the works programme has limited short term margin. The programme the Government is proposing is intended to secure a balance between connecting new subscribers and maintaining satisfactory service to all users of the system.
I have said that the statement and schedules which I tabled in the House on 17th August contain details of the proposed alterations to charges for postal and telecommunications services. However, I would like to outline briefly the main telecommunications adjustments. The Government proposes to increase the three basic telephone rentals of $47, $31, and $23 by $8, $6 and $4 respectively. The one-third reduction in rentals which is given to blind persons and certain classes of pensioners will be maintained. The service connection fee is to rise by $10 to $50. Local telephone calls will increase from 4c to 4.75c with a corresponding increase in trunk line charges. Increased charges are proposed for the installation or renewal of miscellaneous items of telecommunication equipment. Telex call charges will increase from 5c to 6c for each meter registration.
It is estimated these variations will bring in additional revenue of S35m in 1971-72 and S69m in 1972-73.
The telecommunications service will continue to be capital intensive in nature, particularly with the extension of automatic service and subscriber trunk dialling facilities throughout Australia and the very high rate of growth in trunk calls generally. Meeting demands for basic services, continued development and redimensioning of the telecommunications network to assure satisfactory service to customers, and preparing for demands for new facilities and equipment, together must inevitably mean that Post Office needs for additional capital will not decrease. In fact, I am sure they will continue to rise. Against the background of demands for increasing shares of the nation’s resources for education and other works, the Government must expect the Post Office to finance more of its own growth through revenue it raises itself.
With estimated postal losses at current tariffs of $25m in 1970-71 and $35m in 1971-72, a general increase in rates is unavoidable if rising costs are to be recovered. It is expected that the increased charges will bring in $15m in 1971-72 and $21 m in a full year and reduce the estimated postal loss to $17m in 1971-72. Although there was an increase in the basic postal rate last year the wage rates payable to postal staff have been increased since then by an average of 16 per cent. These have had a particularly adverse effect on the postal services because some 70 per cent of its costs are associated with labour. In the last 3 years postal wage rates have risen by almost 40 per cent.
The statement and schedules to which I previously made reference also contain the complete detailed information on the proposed increased postal charges but again I would like to repeat for honourable members the more important of these. The basic letter rate will be increased from 6c to 7c for the first ounce. Parcel rates on the average will be increased by 10 per cent for domestic and 20 . per cent for overseas services. Overseas airmail letter rates will rise by Se per half ounce, and 2c in the case of New Zealand. Aerogrammes will increase by 2c. Increased charges are proposed for registered post and certified mail but at the same time compensation on registered mail will be increased to $150 and a compensation of up to S20 for loss or damage in respect of certified mail will be introduced.
Because of proposed -changes in rates and conditions for registered publications under categories A and-B, I make the following comments: In category A the only variation is an increase in the tariff from 6c to 7c for each 12 ounces assessed on total consignment weight with a minimum of 1.5c per article. Increased rates on a sliding scale will be applied to category B publications but they will still enjoy a substantial concession. However, because of the need to contain increases in the loss from this concession area, no further registrations will be allowed in category B after 31st December 1971. Existing publications will retain their registration as long as they comply with the eligibility conditions. The increased charges on bulk postings of category A and category B will be effective from 1st March 1972 to give publishers and organisations time to adjust subscription rates. A new category C at economic postage rates and requiring compliance with conditions to reduce postal costs will be introduced. Controlled circulation publications sent on request by publishers to defined customer groups not previously eligible for registration will be eligible for the new category C. These publications, mainly heavy business magazines, are at a great disadvantage in relation to other comparable registered publications. From 1st January 1972 all publications which would have been eligible for registration in category B can be registered under the new category C.
It is appropriate to compare the costs for postal services in Australia with those in overseas countries, particularly the Western countries. Such consideration must have regard to a country’s area and its density of population. Generally, population concentrations result in reduced distribution costs. The proposed basic postage rate of 7c compares favourably with that of other countries especially when considered in conjunction with Australia’s vastness and scattered population. As a matter of interest, some of the overseas rates expressed in Australian currency are:
Most of these overseas postal administrations are experiencing problems similar to those of the Australian Post Office - a rapid increase in wage rates in a highly labour intensive operation. The United States Post Office deficit last year - I remind the House that it covers only postal services - was $ 1,300m; the British Postal Service, notwithstanding the change to statutory corporation status - I- emphasise that for the benefit of members of the Opposition - had a loss of $53m; and the Canada Post Office loss was $100m.
The postal service is vital to government, to business efficiency and to community life. To contain costs, staff increases have been restricted to a minimum but with the rapid growth in wage rates in recent years it is impossible for these to be offset by greater productivity. Continuous efforts have been made to introduce new services where there is a need and costs can be covered, such as priority paid, air parcels, and the surface air lifted service to overseas. However, there are services and facilities with a low usage where the costs are disproportionately high. Service cannot be provided irrespective of cost, and it is the Government’s responsibility to see that a reasonable balance is maintained between usage and costs.
In recent times, a number of small nonofficial post offices have been closed where the volume of business was low or declining and, for similar reasons, some small official post offices have been changed to the non-official method of operation. In addition, official post offices have been closed on Saturdays where usage was low or alternative facilities were located nearby. In each of these instances, the effect on the local community has been carefully examined and in some cases, rural residents have obtained better service from extended mail deliveries. Continuing adjustments to the service are necessary to meet changing community needs and habits. In a motor car age, people are increasingly patronising larger shopping centres with consequent changes in the pattern of postal business. There is, for example, a decline in usage of many street letter receivers in metropolitan residential areas and small post offices in suburban corner shops and country villages. Changing patterns of this nature cannot be ignored and the Post Office must look for cheaper alternatives which meet customer needs in a reasonable way. I believe that continuing studies are essential by the Post Office of ways of providing a quality service in an economic way, which will of course have implications for customers, management and staff, if the postal service is to become a viable enterprise and not make disproportionate demands on national resources. Impact of Wage Escalation
During the speech I have several times referred to increases in wages and increases in costs. I believe it appropriate that I deliberately express views about both but particularly about wage escalation because substantially costs follow the wage adjustment. The community, and particularly the housewife, has come to realise that increased wages not associated with increased productivity give a very fictitious feeling of increased prosperity. 1 am certain that members of the Opposition and leaders of the trade union movement understand this situation, but never express it because they believe that in not expressing it, it brings political advantage to them, first of all by creating in the mind of the wage earner that he is receiving a benefit, often a substantial benefit, but secondly that by creating the resulting inflationary condition they are embarrassing the Government and those who have responsibility for management of Government expenditures.
I am also very concerned that some’ of the arbitral authorities do not appear to appreciate the inherent problems created for the community by the lack of relating increased wages to increased productivity. Over the last 12 months, the disparity has been so enormous in many areas that it is hard to believe that those who are responsible cannot see the inevitable result. While I believe that industry generally has some prospect of carrying the burden, and in recent times it is very minimal, I can only say very clearly that public utilities have no prospect whatever and the increased costs must be passed on to the consumer or the user. This applies in the Australian Post Office; it also applies in other instrumentalities such as State railways, tramways, bus services and the like. The Government does receive some additional income from taxation but this in itself merely reduces the value of the increased wages granted. Seldom is the increase in revenue to governments sufficient to meet increased governmental salaries or indirect costs. I hope that continual expression of the principles involved would have its effect on those who propound elaborate theories to justify substantial wage escalations. I also hope that it will make, some impact upon employees so that effort will develop within the community to avoid increased wage structures which lead to inflation rather than improved living standards. J commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motton by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Sir Alan Hulme, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Post and Telegraph Rates Act to adjust basic proposal charges. The reasons underlying the decision to increase charges for Post Office services were dealt with when I spoke to the Post and Telegraph Bill. I outlined for honourable members the more significant of the changes, including those dealt with by this Bill. I will not take up the time of the House by amplifying any further on these matters. I merely commend this Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
– I move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Government Business taking precedence of General Business on each sitting day until the Appropriation Bill (No. t) 1971-72 has passed all stages in the House.
This motion is introduced again this year as it has been introduced in previous years. It has become traditional that general business be suspended during the period of the Budget debate and the debate on the Estimates relating to the main Appropriation Bill. I have had taken out some records relating to similar motions moved in previous years. I have not gone any further back than 1963. In each year from 1963 to 1970 motions of a similar nature have been introduced and passed by this House. The main reason for moving this motion is that when the Budget is being debated all aspects of governmental business can be debated and when the Estimates are being considered all matters associated with each department can be covered. This is now a traditional motion and I commend it to the House.
– I wish to make one or two points in relation to this matter. The Leader of the House (Mr Swartz) concluded his statement by saying that it was traditional for the Parliament during the course of the Budget debate and the discussion of the Estimates not to introduce other matters. I accept this. But what I think is probably unfortunate is that the matter appeared on the notice paper at all. If we accept the fact that it has been a tradition adopted by the Parliament during the debate on the Budget and the Estimates not to introduce other matters, I think it would have been preferable had this agreement - if I may use that term - been adhered to rather than a discussion invited on a matter about which some honourable members quite naturally feel very strongly. Having said that let me emphasise again that it does raise a matter of principle. Naturally some honourable members are concerned. While I am prepared to concede, as I have already put to the House, that we have on other occasions accepted that no other matters would be debated during the Budget debate, I feel that where the Government has erred on this occasion, and I say this with due respect to the Leader of the House, is that it would have been far better if this matter had not appeared on the notice paper at all.
– I do want to support the remarks briefly made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) particularly because it seems to me that what we are doing by placing this matter before the House in this way is asking the House of Representatives to put itself in a position where it says it will not raise any further matters during the course of the debate on the Appropriation Bill. I know that an agreement has been reached, but I do want to draw attention to the real effect of this.
– That is not the correct interpretation.
– Let me just finish my submission. I want to make the point that the motion says:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Government Business taking precedence of General Business om each sitting day until the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1971-72 has passed all stages in the House.
I would like to draw attention to the notice paper in relation to general business. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has had on the notice paper for one year and four months a motion which has not yet come forward. The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) has a motion in relation to the siting of the new Parliament House and again it has been there for one year and four months.
I draw attention to the fact that the first matter listed under orders of the day shows the resumption of the debate from 23rd April 1970. I remember that day particularly well one year and four months later. It was a day on which the House was anxious to adjourn because honourable members had either to greet or to say farewell to someone - I am not quite sure what we were supposed to be doing. I had no objection to that because it was put to me that almost all the 125 members wanted to go to say farewell or offer their greeting. That was very nice, but 1 did point out that this was a most important matter and that I hoped that if it was adjourned - I secured the adjournment of the debate - an arrangement would be made for it to come back on again. I draw attention again to the great spread of matters listed under general business. The Bandung Declaration, now so old that I am sure some honourable members have forgotten what it was, is listed. Then we have the matter of the new Parliament House. Then we have a motion for assistance for the wool industry, we have the matter of land tenure raised by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), and then we have a motion by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) relating to the National Service Act.
There is also the naval base at Cockburn Sound and then a number of Bills which have been introduced by honourable members from this side of the House. They include a Bill to set up a national water conservation and constructing authority, the Commonwealth Electoral Bill and all sorts of terribly important matters which have been there, though not all of them, over a period now of one year and four months. It is the practice in other Parliaments not to interfere with general business. I know the theory is that the Budget debate gives every honourable member an opportunity to deal with whatever he wants. It does not work out quite like that but I know what the intention is. I have no quarrel with the Leader of the House (Mr Swartz) in his intention in relation to this matter but there are many urgent matters which could and should be raised as a matter of duty by members on both sides of the House of Representatives who may already have spoken in the Budget debate. It is very important for us to recognise that if we agree regularly to put ourselves in the position of denying ourselves the right to raise urgent matters as they occur then we are not doing the right thing by the institution of Parliament or by ourselves. I do not intend, and I do not think our distinguished Deputy Leader intended, because of the tradition that has grown up to divide the House on this issue.
– Why not?
– Because he has entered into a gentleman’s agreement with the
Leader of the House. I am sure that whatever agreement our distinguished Deputy Leader enters into will be honoured by him and his colleagues. I do not intend to interfere with that agreement but I do intend to draw attention to the fact that it is not a practice I would like to see continued.. I do feel that we should make a firm resolution to clear up the general business items on the notice paper. It does little honour to the Parliament, little honour to the institution and little honour to ourselves as individuals to have matters left there for one year and 4 months. If they are of no consequence and should be thrown out let us raise them, debate them and dispose of them; but let us not just leave them there.
Finally 1 draw attention to the fact that this decision will have the effect of preventing the motion to be moved by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) under the heading ‘Notice given for general business Thursday No. 9’ from being moved. I know that the honourable member for Angas is most anxious to have this matter brought before the House and voted upon but the effect of the motion that is now being debated is that he will be effectively silenced. This is surely a matter for regret by us all, because T am sure that where we have a major industry in trouble and one of its representatives - I happen to be one myself - feels an urgent need to rise in his place and draw attention to the industry he should be able to do so. Surely we should not put him in the position where he is voting- if we did have a vote on it; 1 think it is a measure of the sweet charity on the part of the Opposition that we are nol voting upon it - to gag himself because of tradition. I do not really want to put the Deputy Government Whip in that position but I do draw attention to the fact-
– 1 rise to order. I want to ask-
-If it is the question I think the honourable member is going to ask, it is out of order.
– 1 rise to order. The honourable member for Riverina has stated that the Deputy Government Whip has said certain things. I have not said them at all. I am the Deputy Government Whip and it is quite wrong that the honourable member should say that I have said something that I have not. He should apologise.
– Of course, if the honourable member for Mallee thought I was referring to him I will make it quite clear that I was referring to the Deputy Liberal Party Whip.
– No, he is the Assistant Whip.
– Very well, he is the Assistant Whip. Oh, well, let us get our terminology correct. I accept the stricture! I was, of course, referring to the honourable member for Angas. I return to my original point and say that it is not a good practice for this House to put its general business in such a situation that it can lie around for more than a year before being disposed of. I think this motion, as our Deputy Leader says, is an unfortunate one. I think we should have a look at this tradition before next year. I hope we will not follow it again. I make this point very sincerely to the House.
– I want to make a brief comment about this. It is true, as the Leader of the House (Mr Swartz) says, that this procedure is traditional. There are a lot of traditions, of course, that are worth preservation, lt used to be traditional to burn witches. It used to be traditional to do all sorts of things. It used to be traditional not to give people a vote if they did not have enough property. It is traditional still around Australia to rig electoral boundaries in favour of country areas. I do not think we need to preserve tradition on this, because traditions are not those things which this Government creates. In a moment the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) will probably say that between 1946 and 1949 the Labor Government did worse things. I was not here then and I am not sure about it. But I do believe it is important that we should take some steps to preserve the rights of the rank and file members of this Parliament, not only on this side of the House but on the other side too as the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) has pointed out, and to bring forward public business and have it discussed with regularity and without, interference. I believe we should abide by the standing order that prevails in the House of Commons which provides that there shall be 10 Fridays on which private members’ Bill have precedence over Government Bills and 10 other Fridays and 4 days other than Fridays until 7 p.m. upon which private members’ motions enjoy a similar precedence, etc.
So that what happens in the House of Commons, as I understand it, is that at the beginning of each session - its session is not quite the same as ours - there is a conference between both sides of the House at which it is decided what days these will be. The members then know for sure that on such-and-such a day general business will proceed. The Opposition there is given many more rights than the Opposition here has. From my studies I believe that this is the most suppressed Opposition that one will find in any similar parliamentary system. There is no possibility of our initiating anything in this place. There is no possibility of any private member’s Bill getting onto the stocks, being deliberated and even being discarded, let alone accepted. The Government never accepts an amendment from this side of the House. At question time Ministers make all sorts of statements and there is no way of answering them. When honourable members on this side of the House seek leave to make statements in reply they are not given leave.
This Parliament meets less often than any equivalent parliament. Since 1969 when we were elected this Parliament has met on 113 days. I looked up the figures and found that the House of Commons in the same time has met on about 310 days, Congress has met on about 280 days, the Canadian Parliament has met on 208 or 220 days and the New Zealand Parliament has met on 150 days. Even the Tasmanian Parliament has met more times than we have since 1969. As we go on we get continuing demands to accept the tradition. More and more the axe falls on us. I for one accept the offer from this side of the House on this occasion with great reluctance. I believe there is more to this than just the simple statement by the Leader of the House that it has a precedent, it is a tradition, we have been doing it for 10 years and anyhow we can talk about any matter in the Budget debate. Last year I was not listed to participate in the Budget debate until somebody dropped out. The previous year 1 did not speak in it at all. Honourable members cannot speak on specific issues in the Budget debate; it is nonsense to say they can. I believe we should move towards the system adopted in the House of Commons - it seems to be a good precedent - in which a substantial amount of time is allotted. There is no interruption. We can do this in some kind of conference between both sides of the House.
In civilised discussions of decisions between majorities and minorities we have to accept the rule that even though the other chap does not have the numbers we have to listen to him some of the time. On this occasion I believe we are continuing a very bad precedent and, like the honourable member for Riverina, I think we will have to get our muzzles loaded and everything charged to ensure that we do not allow this practice to continue. The Leader of the House, a man of great economy in terms of parliamentary time, has made sure that we suspend next week without having a discussion of this sort. Next week it will be grievance day, I suppose, so he will bring in a motion about that and then say it is traditional, we have been doing it since 1906 or 1910 or 1919. I believe, as does the honourable member for Riverina, that we must not let this procedure go any further.
– I too want to register my opposition to this move. I am cognisant of the fact that during the last week that this House met 2 honourable members on this side were denied leave to make a statement. This is a matter that we on this side of the House should take very seriously. One of those honourable members sought leave to make a statement in response to certain matters that a Government Minister had raised in relation to South Australia. I also am cognisant of the fact that during the autumn session the Government by the vicious use of certain provisions of the Standing Orders of this House completely and utterly denied Opposition members the opportunity to debate a number of Bills - some 20, if my memory serves me correctly. There was such a limited amount of time available for debate on some of the Bills that we may as well not have debated them at all.
My mind goes back a little earlier in the autumn session when there was a change of Prime Minister. One of the first statements made by the present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) was that while he agreed with Cabinet rule, and one might say Cabinet dictatorship - they were not his words, of course - Parliament was supreme but he made sure, as I just said, that the guillotine and the gag were used. Indeed, the worst feature of these actions of the Government’s was a denial of the right of the Opposition to use the procedures of this House to move for a suspension of Standing Orders. This was the last straw as far as we were concerned. The total votes recorded for honourable members on this side of the House in the last House of Representatives election were far in excess of the votes recorded for the Government Parties. For that reason, and taking that as a democratic guide, we should insist on our rights at every possible opportunity. At the moment there are 4 or 5 Government supporters present in the House. There is no quorum here and this is the Government’s responsibility. I thought this was sheeted home to it at the end of the last week of sitting but it has not learnt the lesson.
Is it not the right of Opposition members to move motions that they have placed on the notice paper? I see this as some form of veiled protection of some honourable members on the Government side who it appears have placed matters on the notice paper but now do not want to debate them. One was placed by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). Was it put there as a sop to his electorate? Does he not want it to come on for debate? Perhaps he wishes it to lie on the notice paper for ever and a day. This is the way this House has come to work so far as the Government is concerned. It is too early in this session for the Government to consider any restrictions being placed on honourable members on this side of the House. If the Government wants to play it purely on the basis of a hard line, the numbers game, of course it will win. This is recognised on this side of the
House, but the Government does not win on the morals and principles of the issue. We have been meeting in this place for only a very short time during this Budget session: yet we on this side of the House have been denied the right to raise some matters. The Minister said it is traditional to do this. I support the remarks made by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) on this matter a few moments ago. As far as 1 am concerned any procedure which involves a denial of rights should not be traditional. If the Government wants to use tradition as a means of denying democracy, it may as well say that Lord Shaftesbury would not have done anything about children in the mines. The Government is not progressive enough.
We on this side of the House have been screaming our heads off trying to have committees established. I had something briefly to say on this last night. But not only will the Government not entertain that suggestion; it comes down with these petty attitudes now and again. Is it fearful of the matters the Opposition raises against it as a government, matters such as its inequalities, its shortcomings, its procrastinations and the fact that its members place matters on the notice paper but are not sincere in doing so? One’ can only say that the Government’s actions this afternoon confirm this suggestion. Its actions certainly confirm my line of thinking. I suggest to the Minister that he should not expect to be able to come into this House and say: ‘We did something in 1908 and we ought to do it in 1971’. I suggest the Minister should be big enough to recognise that perhaps the Prime Minister and his Government have erred in their instructions to him on this occasion, admit the mistake he has made in the Parliament and withdraw the motion he has placed before this House. Perhaps, if it is necessary and if at some later date the Government realises that it is in trouble over the Budget debate the matter can be resolved in a discussion between the Leader of the House and his opposite number on this side of the House. I most certainly oppose the introduction at this stage of the Budget session of anything which in any shape or form smells or looks like a gag or guillotine.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1971-72 Second Reading (Budget Debate)
Debate resumed from 7 September (vide page 869), on motion by Mr Snedden:
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: ‘the House condemns the Budget because (a) it breaks the Prime Minister’s pledge to Parliament on taking office to bring into effect for 1971-72 a fundamental review of social services and of methods for adjusting them, (b) it contains no proposals to balance the finances and functions of the Commonwealth, the States and local government and (c) it produces no programmes for high national objectives of social welfare, economic strength and national security’.
– The amendment moved on Tuesday night by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) condemned the Budget for a number of reasons. One was the failure of the Government to provide programmes for high national objectives of social welfare, economic strength and national security. I intend to concentrate my remarks concerning the Budget on the last element of the Opposition amendment; that is the Budget’s impact on the defences of Australia. This Budget provides for estimated spending on defence services of $1,252. 4m in 1971-72. This was known well before the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) delivered his Budget statement. There was a wideranging debate in the Press on the size of the defence vote and what cuts would be made.
Depending on what leaks you chose to believe, the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) had jumped on the former Minister for Defence and made him trim his submissions, or the former Minister had won a stirring victory on behalf of his brass against Treasury cuts. The Treasurer’s comments on the defence vote are lacking in illumination. He was circumscribed by the Prime Minister’s insistence on keeping the well-leaked withdrawal from Vietnam up his sleeve for the following day. There was a brief reference to the Committee of Inquiry into Financial Terms and Conditions of Service Employment- known as the ‘Kerr Committee’ - which recommended new rates of pay for other ranks in the 3 armed services. This was subsequently elaborated by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn).
Apart from these plugs for the Minister for Defence and the Prime Minister the treatment of defence in the Budget Speech was meagre. It was confined to a statement of the total defence vote and the amount to be spent on new capital equipment and works, a quick run through of items of equipment to be delivered this year, and passing references to Cockburn Sound, Learmonth Airfield and defence aid programmes. This cursory treatment was rather disappointing because the Parliament has not had the benefit of a major statement on defence policy since March last year. That is 18 months or 3 Ministers ago. The defence report for 1971 will not be available for at least another month. Unlike governments of other parliamentary democracies this Government has shunned the custom of printing regular White Papers on defence.
The only information oh Australia’s defences in this Budget is the few brief paragraphs in the Budget Speech and the Estimates and brief explanatory notes in the schedule headed ‘Item No. 1 - Defence Services’ which is contained in the Budget papers. However, a clear trend can be discerned in these brief references and figures, a trend which I will try to summarise and elaborate in the rest of my remarks. This trend may be baldly stated as an impending conflict between two objectives: The need to re-equip the three armed services and the need to ensure proper pay and conditions for members of the Services. The over-riding aim of defence policy in the next few years must be to bring these two objectives into balance. On the evidence of this Budget the Government has set them on courses which are irreconcilable.
The Treasurer said that the defence vote proposed for 1971-72 was $ 1,252.4m, an increase of $11 7m or 10.3 per cent more than the previous year. In terms of the gross national product, this is a marginal increase from 3.2 per cent in 1970-71 to 3.4 per cent in 1971-72. As a proportion of Government spending this year’s defence vote is much the same as in 1970- 71. in real terms defence spending has shown little significant variation in recent years. The Government seems to have accepted a level of defence spending, around $1.2 billion or just over 3 per cent of gross national product as electorally acceptable. Spending at this level may well be the least the Government can do without feeling the lash of the Australian Democratic Labor Party.
With this almost statutory order of spending, what is Australia getting from this Budget to assure national security? Analysis of the various components of the defence vote is much the same as in 1970- concern. The most significant is the large part of defence spending absorbed by civil salaries and other administrative and maintenance costs. Pay for servicemen in the Army, Navy and Air Force accounts for 32 per cent of the Budget. If the total defence vote is kept at its present percentage of the national income this allocation is unlikely to fall.
The Treasurer implied that the implementation of the Kerr Committee recommendations was responsible for half of the substantial increase in provision for service salaries. However, this is not a onceandforall factor. The Kerr Committee has just begun its work. In this Budget higher salaries for other ranks are provided for under a system of new pay classifications sponsored by the Kerr Committee. The Committee’s recommendations for officers’ salaries have yet to be put before the Government. Undoubtedly these will mean a further increase in Service pay provision. On top of this will come the Committee’s recommendations on conditions. These are likely to include revision of allowances and improvements in entitlements such as housing which will mean more spending.
Furthermore the Government has accepted the Kerr Committee’s suggestion that it conduct a work value study of Service jobs. This sort of study is likely to turn traditional assessment of Service jobs on its head just as work value studies have done in civil occupations such as professional engineering and journalism. If concepts of job values in the Services are recast then additional increases in pay rates are inevitable, lt is difficult to see pay, allowances and other benefits for servicemen absorbing less than a third of the defence vote in the next few years, allowing for the recommendations of the Kerr
Committee and their acceptance by the Government. With Service pay taking this slab of the Budget provisions it is worth looking at the provisions for production and procurement of new equipment for the 3 Services. This amounts to $177m or about 14 per cent of the total defence vote. These figures would be rather lower but for a sharp increase in spending on new equipment for the Army.
In total, paying servicemen and giving them appropriate equipment account for less than half of the defence vote of this Budget. If the Government contribution to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund is excluded, the remaining half of the defence vote is soaked up by the extremely long administrative tail of our defence structure. Civil salaries, administrative expenses, maintaining forces overseas, repairs and maintenance of equipment, maintaining inventories, running the Department of Defence and the Department of Supply account for half of our defence spending. This leaves the other half of the defence budget for Service pay and production and procurement.
Quite obviously if heavy pressure is applied to one part of this side of the equation the other must suffer. This is what is happening at the moment. Production and procurement is being cut back so that the increases in service pay flowing from the Kerr Committee report can be implemented. Provision for new equipment in the Budget is revealed under several items of the statement for the defence vote. For the Navy a provision of $29. 267m is made for naval construction and aircraft purchase and manufacture. The Army gets a total of $ 109.533m for arms, armament, and equipment and the Air Force $38. 245m for aircraft purchase, manufacture and lease.
The total provision for new equipment for the 3 Services is $177m or about 14 per cent of the total defence vote. The only Service at all adequately served by this Budget is the Army. The amount allocated for new production and procurement amounts to 14 per cent pf the total defence vote. The inadequacy of this provision is pointed up by the omissions in the list of new acquisitions given in the Budget Speech of the Treasurer. Items listed include 10 Skyhawk aircraft for the Navy. 13 Macchi trainer aircraft for the Navy and Air Force and 12 light observation helicopters, communications equipment and armoured personnel carriers for the Army. There is no apparent provision for the new items of hardware, particularly for the Navy, that were announced by the former Minister in March of last year. Only SI 8.6m has been provided for naval construction in 1971-72.
As part of the 5-year rolling defence programme the Government has accepted definite requirements and commitments for a number of new ships. In March of last year Mr Malcolm Fraser, the then Minister for Defence, said the Government would buy 2 new Oberon submarines at a cost of $37.2m. There is no indication in either the Treasurer’s statement or the Budget papers that this purchase is being made. This is surprising because there is other evidence that the purchase of these submarines is at an advanced stage. The then Minister for Defence, Mr Gorton, in an answer to a question on notice, informed me that reciprocal purchasing arrangements had been negotiated for the order and that tenders for offset orders were under consideration by the Department of Supply. The Government has also accepted a requirement for fast combat support ship at a cost of $42m and a logistic cargo ship at a eost of $10m. Again these have been omitted from the Treasurer’s shopping list and do not show up in the attached papers. Even more significant is the absence of any reference to the programme for the building of at least 6 light destroyers in Australian shipyards. This programme is already behind the time schedule announced by former Defence and Navy Ministers.
In the 1969-70 estimates provision was made for a preliminary design study for a light destroyer. In March of Last year Mr Malcolm Fraser announced that the Government bad agreed to the next step, which was the detailed design stage. According to an article in the ‘Navy News’ of September 1969, the preliminary design phase would be completed at the end of 1970 and the detailed design phase by early 1972. Construction of the first destroyer was to take 4 years from the completion of the detailed design study. However, it was reported in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 30tb June that the preliminary design study had not been completed but the Budget would authorise spending of at least $10m for the detailed design study. If this spending has been authorised it does not show up anywhere in the Budget. Assuming the allocation has been made and included in the provision of $ 18.6m for new naval construction, then very little remains for new construction. On the meagre evidence of the Budget there is no chance that construction of the destroyers will start in the 1971-72 financial year, as initially scheduled. The Government has grandiose plans for naval expansion involving very large sums but these plans do not show up in the Budget. Plainly they have been deferred or rolled on somewhere into the future under the 5-year rolling plan.
In the provisions fot the Royal Australian Air Force there is no hint of a new maritime reconnaissance aircraft to replace the Neptunes which Air Marshall Hannah has said are deteriorating rapidly. Reconnaissance aircraft are important not only for defence purposes but also because of the non-military role they play in the surveillance of coastal waters and in searescue operations. The RAAF urgently needs new transport aircraft to replace the C130-A Hercules, which have been worked to the limits of their airframes and are suffering severe corrosion. Quite plainly the provision of $38. 2m for aircraft purchase, manufacture and lease will be fully absorbed in payments for the Fill, the Phantom, and the Macchi trainers.
With regard to the Army the Treasurer announced the purchase of 12 light observation helicopters. According to the statement of March of last year, 84 of these helicopters were to be bought at an estimated cost of $23m. It appears that the initial 12 will be purchased from overseas and the rest will be made locally. No reference is made in the Budget to other purchases which have been announced to give extra tactical mobility to the Army. These include 11 helicopter gunships, 12 medium lift helicopters and the remaining 35 of an order of 42 utility helicopters. Plans for the future procurement of helicopters seem to be most uncertain. Mr Gorton, when Minister for Defence, told me in answer to questions that the placement of a firm order for the medium lift helicopters had been deferred and that contracts for the gunships and the utility helicopters are still being considered. It seems that the Government is making a complete reassessment of its requirements for helicopters but it is not clear whether this is in response to Service demands or because of the results of the invasion of Laos earlier this year. Certainly there is no sign in the Budget that the delivery of these helicopters is likely in 1971-72.
I have tried to point to the gaps in budgetary provision for new defence equipment. Quite obviously the bulk of the new production and procurement announced in the past 2 years by the Government has been shelved or deferred because the Government cannot find the money. The blame for this cannot be attributed to higher pay rates. As I pointed out earlier, further substantial increases in service pay rates are inevitable. The Government has got itself into the dilemma that it cannot afford higher pay rates for servicemen and urgent re-equipment programmes in the one year. If it is to continue its defence budget on the lines of 1970-71 defence budget then one or other of these 2 important components has to suffer. Put briefly, the crisis facing the Government is to assure the payment of the new pay rates and improved conditions for servicemen decreed by the Kerr Committee while freeing sufficient resources for the reequipment programme it has announced over the past 2 years.
There are two ways by which these broad objectives can be reconciled. The first is the obvious course of a significant lift in overall defence spending. As a proportion of the gross national product, the defence vote in the Budget is less than it is in countries such as Britain, Sweden, West Germany and Norway. They are not countries which foster militarism or seek excessive military strength. Three of those countries are lead by Democratic Socialist governments. It is arguable, however, whether the political and social climate in this country in the next few years is conducive to more of the national income going to defence.
With so many urgent domestic requirements and the sour aftertaste of the Vietnam venture higher defence spending will be extremely hard to sell in the years ahead. That is entirely the fault of the present Government. It has brought this legacy on its own head. The alternative is to make economies in the existing structure so that funds can be freed for essential reequipment programmes. Undoubtedly a defence system which sops up half of the defence vote in non-Service salaries and administrative costs is not operating at peak efficiency.
This is the area where cuts can be made by reorganising and rationalising the whole defence structure, which is riddled with duplicated and often wasteful spending.
Accurate comparisons are difficult to make, but any sort of comparative study of defence organisation in other countries emphasises the waste and inefficiency inherent in the Australian structure. An example is the British defence budget as outlined in Lord Carrington’s statement on the defence estimates for 1971. We face the danger under this sort of administration of building up adequately paid and maintained armed Services with either obsolete equipment or none at all. The alternative is to have sheds full of fine equipment with no-one to use it because uncompetitive pay rates and poor conditions have depleted the ranks. (Extension of time granted.)
On a rough comparative basis Britain allots 28 per cent of defence spending to Service pay compared with 32 per cent ot the Australian vote. However, British spending on new production and procurement is 30 per cent compared with 14 per cent in this Budget. The British Budget devotes 36 per cent of spending to civilian pay, administrative services, stores and supplies compared with around SO per cent in the Australian defence vote. These comparisons are somewhat crude and there is no certainty that precisely the same aggregates are being compared. But the basic point is valid that Australia is not spending enough on re-equipment because the housekeeping costs of the defence structure are much too high. Unless economies of the order of at least 10 per cent of the total vote can be made in these costs, then the squeeze will stay on Service pay rates or re-equipment. 1 have sought to draw attention to many of the features of the Budget defence vote which need clarification and resolution. The
Opposition will have another chance to look at specific features of defence spending in the Estimates debate. However, the overall picture of the present state of our defences and their future role and effectiveness is dispiriting and depressing. This is why the amendment condemning the Budget moved by the Leader of the Opposition emphasises the Government’s failure to plan and programme for the high national objective of social security..
As I said when I first commenced to speak, not only did we deal with the questions of social objectives and the lack of the Government’s foresight in planning in relation to these important matters, but we also spelt out the failure of the Government to plan in relation to the security of this country. Naturally I have had to draw comparisons between what the Government is spending on defence procurement and what it is spending on Service pay and conditions. The comparison shows at once that there has been a failure on the part of the Government to plan and look ahead and to accept the proposition, which was inevitable, that there would be a need to increase the pay and allowances for men in the armed forces. The Kerr Committee was quite properly set up not only because of agitation from honourable members opposite, and also because of the initiatives shown by members of the Opposition. That Committee had an opportunity to investigate the present rates of pay and the conditions which apply to those serving in the ranks of the armed forces, lt quite properly brought back recommendations for increased rates of pay.
As I have pointed out, the Government has yet to receive recommendations, which the Kerr Committee will inevitably make, in relation to pay and allowances for officers serving in the armed forces. I believe that these recommendations highlight the lack of the Government’s foresight in planning to maintain at a relatively high level the rate of enlistments into the armed forces on a voluntary basis. At the same time the Government has completely neglected to provide for the purchase of essential equipment for the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. For these reasons I believe that the Government deserves to be condemned for its policies on the question of defence generally and that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition should certainly be accepted by this House.
– I support the Budget and I certainly do not accept the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). At a time when the Government is heavily curtailing expenditure throughout the Commonwealth, I note from the estimates for the Department of the Interior that Commonwealth expenditure in the Northern Territory is to rise by $10.2m - $5.7m for operational expenses and $4. 5m for capital expenses - to a total of §91 m. That increase, if it does nothing else, should help to defray rising costs. There are many matters in the Budget which I want to discuss, but 1 do not think time will allow me to do so.
While commending the Government for its proposed expenditure, under the various heads in the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation, on airport extensions at Alice Springs, Darwin and Gove and also for its proposed expenditure on health projects and education and science projects, I deplore the decision to increase by 2c a gallon the price of motor spirit and, more particularly, the price of automotive distillate and aviation gasoline. The Northern Territory is a vast area and these commodities are used in tremendous quantities by the airlines, airline charter firms, private fliers, transport operators and private motorists. The increase in the price of these commodities will impose a hardship on people who have to travel great distances. In addition, hanging over the whole transport scene in the Northern Territory is the doubt as to whether State ships will continue their run up the coast of Western Australia to Darwin and whether the Darwin Trader’ will be held up for any lengthy period. So road transport plays a very important part in the economics of the Northern Territory. 1 should like to refer to the matter of public and rural health. My remarks refer particularly to the Alice Springs Hospital and to the area surrounding Alice Springs, because the situation is fairly clear, but they could also refer to the other major hospitals at Katherine and Darwin and to the hospital, which is to cost $7m, being built at Nhulunbuy. Various people have written trenchantly on the subject of overcrowding and overstaffing at the Alice Springs Hospital. The Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) was recently in the area and he has seen the position at first hand and beard about the shortcomings at the Alice Springs Hospital.
The Alice Springs Hospital has a bed capacity of 225 and for much of this year and last year it was sorely pressed for accommodation. At the present time there are 192 patients in the hospital, comprising 53 European adults, 15 European children, which is about the normal figure, 49 Aboriginal adults, which is also about the normal figure, and 69 Aboriginal children, which is a rather low figure. This has been the situation for the last 3 or 4 months. The establishment for medical officers at the hospital is 11. At present there are 10 medical officers at the hospital and there is an American surgeon assisting the medical officers. The nursing establishment is 157. At the present time there are 14 senior sisters out of an establishment of 15; 64 trained sisters out of an establishment of 99; 71 nursing aids and hospital assistants out of an establishment of 72; and 9 part-time assistants, although the normal establishment is only 7. Under existing circumstances the hospital is permitted to recruit staff over and above that number. In the children’s ward where 3 or 4 months ago a very serious situation existed the number of patients is at its lowest for the past 12 months. An intensive care unit is to be built this year and it is expected that this will prevent a recurrence of the state of affairs which brought about the death and cross infection of so many children in this hospital. I refer to the measles epidemic which occurred, followed by a chicken pox epidemic. Measles was a great killer of Aboriginal children in years gone by. Even in my short time in the Northern Territory I have heard about many deaths in the outback as a result of measles. I am speaking of the last 40 or 50 years.
The Alice Springs Hospital not only caters for a town and district population of about 10,000 but it is a back-up for the Tennant Creek Hospital which is 320 miles north of Alice Springs. The Alice Springs Hospital is responsible for the area 300 miles south to Oodnadatta and it also encompasses the area out to the Queensland border and to the Western Australian border. In this tremendous area which has only 2 hospitals there are 12 Aboriginal settlements. On some of the settlements there are small hospitals, most of them capable of dealing with 4 to 8 patients. Four of these settlement hospitals have infant welfare clinics. The Aboriginal population of these settlements is about 4,300. The Aboriginal population in the whole of this area is about 7,500. In addition there are some thousands of Europeans. Back in 1845 the explorer Eyre discovered that it was unusual to find an Aboriginal family with more than 2 children. In those days an Aboriginal family with 4 children was rare. Today it is not uncommon to find an Aboriginal family with 6 or 7 children.
It can be seen that there has been a terrific build-up of the Aboriginal children population. These families are desperately in need of health and hygiene education and education on family planning, ft has been reported that 50 per cent of Aboriginal children are under the age of 15 years. Kerry Kirke in his book ‘Aboriginal Infant and Toddler Mortality and Morbidity in Central Australia’ lists the percentages of Aborigines and Europeans in the various age groups. In the case of Aboriginal children 19.3 per cent are under 5 years of age; 12.9 per cent of white children fall in this group. In the age group 5 to 14 years the figures are 27 per cent and 18 per cent respectively: between 15 and 45 years they are 37 per cent and 53.4 per cent respectively. This age group is the only one in which Europeans have a higher percentage than Aborigines. In the age group over 45 years the figures are 15.8 per cent und 15.7 per cent respectively. He states in his book that the Aboriginal birth rate is 43 per thousand whereas the European birth rate is 26 per thousand. I cite these figures as a background to the pressures which have been placed on the Alice Springs Hospital in the last 3 years. Kirke goes on to say that at the present rate of 3 per cent increase in just over 25 years the population could be double the present figure of 7,500. We therefore must assume that the settlement and mission populations in this area will do the same.
May I now return to the base hospital in Alice Springs which serves this vast area. I point out that in this area there are 12 settlements and about 70 cattle stations which have in some cases several hundred Aborigines congregated around them. There are many mining and drilling camps in the Territory around which Aborigines gather. There has been a tremendous amount of criticism, and rightly so, of the situation in Alice Springs with regard to hospital services. I am painting this picture to illustrate the reasons for this criticism. It is nol true to say that no-one has done anything about the Alice Springs Hospital. The Government through the Public Works Committee has presented to this House plans to build a $ 11.2m hospital in Alice Springs. Since the presentation of those plans we have had a further report that an additional nurses’ quarters and a swimming pool will be added to the original plans at a further expenditure of $lm. I do not think it matters how big this hospital will be because it will not be able to cope with the needs of the territory. I urge the Government to upgrade hospitals in outback areas. These hospitals are responsible for serving a great number of outpatients and if they were updated in status, in the type of buildings and the numbers of staff they would be able to alleviate to a great extent the pressures that have been placed on the Alice Springs Hospital, the Darwin Hospital and to a lesser degree the Katherine Hospital. When the Nhulunbuy hospital is erected it will help to relieve some of the pressure on those hospitals.
I recommend to the Government that it should take steps to use these central hospitals as base hospitals and to stock up the outlying hospitals so that people in those outlying districts will remain in their own communities. A notable feature of the Aborigine is that he really likes to stay in his own community. Aborigines on the Yuendumu Reserve prefer to stay there. The Pintubi people like to remain in their own district and the Papunya also like to remain in their own areas. This applies to all the tribes. It is a major social upheaval for these people to have to travel 200 to J00 miles to a hospital and very often the children go with the parents. This does not do the children any good and it certainly does not do the parents any good. It is for this reason that I would like to see the outlying hospitals updated. The Aboriginal families would remain in their own districts and would not have to travel with their children many miles from home to Alice Springs or some other hospital. In regard to staff for these outlying hospitals, facilities should be available to enable the staff to travel to Docker River 400 miles southwest of Alice Springs; to the Yuendumu Reserve 185 miles north-west; and up to the Papunya-Haasts Bluff area which is 130 miles west of Alice Springs. This area boasts fabulous scenery. The hospital staff could spend perhaps 6 months in one place at any one time. They would not have the awful drag of being in just one hospital. It should be an interesting exercise for them to see all these places and people. I urge the Government to plan for the reorganisation around the base hospitals in the main areas and to put the whole public and rural health plan under the one management - that is, the Commonwealth Department of Health. In recommending this, I do not detract from the excellent work that has been done by the nursing staffs, by the Welfare Branch of the Northern Territory Administration and by everyone connected with the running of these hospitals.
In the short time I have remaining 1 should like to discuss the possible manufacture of bio-super - superphosphate - at Rum Jungle which is 50 or 60 miles south of Darwin. I urge the Government to continue the tests which have been conducted in the production of bio-super at Rum Jungle. Rum Jungle is in the heart of the farming, agricultural and close pastoral area. It is improved pasture country, is in the 25 inch to 60 inch rainfall area and is ideal country for using superphosphate. Messrs M. J. Fisher and M. J. T. Norman have produced a series of tests on the use of phosphates from the Rum Jungle area. In 1966-67, they started a split plot experiment with Townsville stylo, using various quantities ranging from nil to 56 lb, 112 lb, 224 lb, 448 lb and 896 lb per acre of standard superphosphate or Rum Jungle bio-super. A comparison was made between some plots treated with 112 lb of superphosphate per acre and others treated with bio-super. When the Townsville stylo was harvested in 1968 it was found that the plots treated with superphosphate and biosuper gave almost the same production. Without running through all the figures. I thinkI could say that they yielded almost the same production in the period from 1967, when the Towns ville stylo was planted, to January 1968. In March 1968 in many instances the bio-super produced a greater yield per acre of dry seed than did the standard superphosphate and in March 1969 it was found that in about half the cases this was the result. Since biosuper can be manufactured in the Rum Jungle area and distributed from that centre, all the Government would need to do would be to support this industry and it should pay off because all that would need to be introduced would be sulphur. It would not be necessary for freight to be paid on the transport of superphosphate to this area. Bio-super has a nonchemical action; there is no acid; it does not rot the bags, it can be spread together with seed, which is somewhat difficult in the present circumstances; it can be tailored to suit the sulphur requirements of the soils in which it will be used; it is not easily soluble but is absorbed steadily and does not cause pollution on being washed into streams in an area where there is a heavy rainfall of 25 to 60 inches.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). Two weeks ago when the Budget was first debated in this House, my colleague the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) in an excellent contribution to this debate made the point that the pension rate under the last Labor Government in the late 1940s amounted to about 27 per cent of the average weekly earnings whilst today it is less than 19 per cent of the average weekly earnings. The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin), in replying, said that the reason for this was because of the high unemployment under Labor. He said:
That is, the Liberal Party- came to government because of this unemployment
Not for the first time, of course, the honourable member for Mitchell was completely wrong. At 30th June 1948, unemployment in the Australian work force was 0.42 per cent: in 1949 it was 0.45 per cent; and, in 1971 it was 1.20 per cent.
In dealing with this Budget, I think that one has to say that it is one of the most complicated pieces of figure juggling in recent years. In the wool deficiency payment scheme, for instance, already there have been 2 qualifying statements by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), and I challenge most honourable members to say that they can really understand what the Government proposes to do. It certainly is not clear. I am sure that it is not clear to the farmers. In exactly the same way the Budget proposals for pensions were extremely unclear. It suddenly developed that fewer than 80 per cent of pensioners would, in fact, receive any rise at all. It was only when the honourable member for EdenMonaro (Mr Allan Fraser) put on a bit of a turn in this House and asked a question of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) that we found out exactly what was happening. In his reply, the Minister suggested that the honourable member for Eden Monaro should have read the fine print. I was impressed by his reply but, having been in this House for some time, I realise that one always reads the fine print whenever the Government brings down any sort of legislation. The important thing, of course, is that, in the main, pensioners are not able to read the fine print. They are not even able to see the document. They see headlines in the newspapers and that is all.
With what does this Budget attempt to deal? What is the present state of the nation? After 22 years of Liberal Government we have a high rate of inflation, poor social services, poor health services, poor educational services, shortage of accommodation, expensive housing, a regressive taxation system and conmen running many of our stock exchanges and alleged mineral companies; and that is a far from exhaustive list. Let me deal with some of the problems which have arisen in this country; firstly, with the question of social services. At 30th June 1949 the benefit rate for single age pensioners amounted to 24 per cent of the average weekly earnings; now it is 18.9 per cent. Next year, after the increase proposed in this Budget, it will be down to 18.2 per cent. In 1949, under the last Labor Government, child endowment for 3 children under the age of 16 years amounted to 11.3 per cent of the average weekly earnings. It is now down to 3.5 per cent of average weekly earnings. In 1949, unemployment and sickness benefits for married couples represented 25.4 per cent of average weekly earnings but now represent 19.6 per cent.
On page 887 of yesterday’s Hansard, in an answer to a question by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), we note that expenditure by the Department of Social Services has increased by 103 per cent from 1960-61 to 1970-71 whilst the total Budget expenditure for the same period has increased by 151 per cent and defence expenditure by 184 per cent. All this has happened at a time when we have just been assured by the Government that we have won in Vietnam and that we are in no danger for the next 10 years. Imagine what the defence expenditure would have been if we had lost in Vietnam and we were in some danger.
I turn now to health services and refer to the ridiculous pumping of money into the support of medical fees. We have had huge increases in medical incomes over the last couple of years without any improvement in the -services rendered to the patient and only because the Government is completely scared of the Australian Medical Association. According to Government figures supplied to the AMA, between the December quarter of 1969 and the December quarter of 1970, that is before the recent 15 per cent increase in doctors’ fees, total doctors’ income increased by 30.5 per cent in New South Wales and by 25.5 per cent in the whole of Australia. The average family now, of course, has to pay over $2 a week for what is a quite inadequate form of health insurance. I shall try to come back to this point later.
Turning to education, I am sure that everybody in this House receives continuing complaints concerning the education which is provided in state schools. There is a shortage of teachers and a terrific turnover in teachers. There is a real crisis in education. By that I do not mean that the education system is about to break down but that there is a crisis in education for particular students at particular high schools now. Those students will be at those schools for only a short number of years. They are not getting the sort of education which they deserve and in many cases the sort of education which they need to fit them for an occupation in their later life. For those students it is a real crisis. As one State Minister for Education put it after listening to the Budget Speech, as far as education is concerned it is a nothing Budget.
What has the Government done? It has increased the taxation allowance for education expenses from $200 to $300. According to the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in reply to questions yesterday in the House, this means that for the poor graziers who are sending their children to Kings College, St Peters College or Geelong Grammar School there will be an increase in the taxation allowance. I would not have thought that they would worry about the taxation allowance if they are as poor as the Minister suggested yesterday. This increase in allowance, of course, helps the rich in 2 ways. It helps as a deduction which is worth more to them and it helps because they are in fact the only ones likely to be able to take advantage of it. The top 10 per cent of income earners will collect most of the $6. 25m Government subsidy in this instance.
We have an extremely regressive taxation system generally. Even the United States Government, which is often accused of favouring the very rich, does not have the hide of our Government. Expressing different forms of taxation as a percentage of gross national product, these are the figures from the 1969 edition of the United Nations Yearbook of National Account Statistics: In Australia personal income tax is 8.9 per cent and in the United States it is 16.3 per cent. Company tax in Australia is 3.7 per cent and in the United States 4.7 per cent. In Australia indirect tax is 11.4 per cent and in the United States 9.2 per cent. In fact we have a much more regressive system of taxation than has the United States. The taxation deductions ate continuously regressive. A deduction of $208 for the first child it worth S156 to a man with an annual income of $20,000, about only $70 to the man on the minimum wage, and nil to the pensioner, for example the pensioner widow. We are adding $3 per week to the child endowment of the very rich and proportionately less the poorer a person is, and to the very poor we give nothing extra. How can it possibly be argued that this is fair?
The same is true about taxation deductions for health insurance fund subscriptions. The net cost of health insurance is now between $30 and $40 a year for the very rich, double or more for those on average weekly earnings and more still for those on very low incomes. The same is true of taxation deductions for life assurance. Rich people save up to $800 a year on their $1,200 life assurance deductions. This is a government subsidy equivalent to the pension for those people throughout their working life compared with the pittance which is given to the pensioner for a few short years after his retirement. It would be much fairer to give straight taxation offsets for health costs, dedications for dependants and so on rather than increase the value of allowances for those who least need them.
Now let me come to the people running our stock exchanges, the mineral exploration companies and so on. Can anybody have faith in them? At one stage stock exchanges were being accused of being casinos running roulette games. I have to defend the casinos without ever having been in one. But I do know something about racing and my comparison would be that the Sydney Stock Exchange acts as owner, trainer, punter, judge, steward and committee. 1 am sure that the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) would understand what would happen there. When all else fails, for example in the case of Antimony Nickel, stock exchange officials declare it a no race.
At present 2 young men in New South Wales have been charged for short selling and thus defrauding a broker. Fair enough. But Sydney stock brokers short sold 500,000 Antimony Nickel shares and then the same stock brokers, sitting as the committee of the Stock Exchange, suspended trading in these shares. Recently a Mr Dowling, a senior partner of Patrick
Partners and a member of the Sydney Stock Exchange, gave evidence before the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. He admitted that he knew that false reports had been issued by Queensland Mines Ltd, of which he had been a director, and that no quarterly reports had been issued on 31st October 1970, 31st January 1971, 30th April 1971 and 31st July 1971. May I read part of the transcript of the Senate Committee’s inquiry, remembering that Mr Dowling is a Stock Exchange committee member. Senator Wheeldon said that exchange regulations provided for quarterly reports regardless of whether’ anything new happened. He said that no results could also be of interest to shareholders. The transcript goes on:
Dowling: I have not read that regulation, I would imagine . .
Wheeldon: I would have thought that as a committee member .
Dowling: There are a lot of regulations and rules. 1 am extremely familiar with them, probably more than most people . . .
Wheeldon: I hops not.
I must completely agree with that point. It is ridiculous for- a stock broker who is a member of the Stock Exchange committee to defend himself on that basis. At another stage Mr Dowling said that he did not raise on the Stock Exchange committee the fact that Queensland Mines’ claims were false because it might have caused him personal embarrassment. Senator Little then put it this way:
May I suggest that a committee of brokers, with all their interests, are not in a position to regulate the stock exchange if personal embarrassment would not allow you to raise a matter, involving millions of dollars?
Again I must say that I completely agree with the proposition put up by Senator Little. I just hope that this Senate Committee will bring down reasonable recommendations and that any personal friendships or relationships between our new Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and members of. the Sydney Stock Exchange will not prevent their implementation. It is not surprising then that Patrick Corporation was formed in 1967 with $84,000 and in 3 years made a net profit of $5,732,000 and paid taxation of $34,000. Talk about Ned Kelly in a pinstriped suit. As one of Australia’s leading financial journalists put it:
After the crash of the Mineral Securities conglomerate and the admission of inaccurate assay, reporting by Leopold Minerals, last weekend’s acknowledgment by the board of Queensland Mines that they bad overstated sixfold the indicated uranium reserves at Nabarlek last September is enough to destroy anyone’s confidence in the system of mining in this country . . . The most astonishing aspect of the Nabarlek fiasco was the blithe assumption of the directors of Queensland Mines last week that they did not have to offer a word of explanation as to how the enormous untruth was issued last September. Not a token attempt was made to assure the public that this may not happen again. It was taken as a matter of course that this is good enough as a general attitude. The acknowledgment of gross overstatement of ore reserves was winkled out of the directors only after an informed run on the shares had depressed the price enough last week to make the Stock Exchange demand a statement from Queensland Mines . . . The Government in Canberra can no longer pretend that it is able to avoid responsibility for the surveillance of the investment markets.
What does the Government propose to do about all this?. Our pathetic new Prime Minister talks about free enterprise. As Professor Karmel put it recently, after 22 years of Liberal government in Australia free enterprise means that an air traveller in Australia can choose the colour of his hostess’s uniform. And that is all he can choose. May I add that when allotting television channels the Australian Broadcasting Control Board can choose between those channels owned by Sir Frank Packer and those owned by John Fairfax. Yet the Government blames Bob Hawke and the workers for causing trouble. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch), who was an excellent Minister for Immigration, has Dorothy Dixer questions directed to him from an honourable member who is one of the representatives of the real estate lobby. In reply, the Minister says that strikes cause inflation. He does not say that excessive real estate profits and manipulation by directors of international mining corporations cause inflation, but that strikes cause inflation. Let us look at what has happened. The days lost through industrial disputes as a proportion of total working days in Australia in 1969 we’re less than 0.2 per cent. In 1970 the figure was 0.2 per cent. Days lost through unemployment are 6 times as much, but that does not seem to matter. That is good for inflation! The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) admitted last night that soon the figure will be at least 10 to 12 times as high. We have here a Government which allows prices to rise more and more quickly. The comments I am about to make apply to New South Wales but I am sure the situation would be the same in the other States. Recently hospital fees in that State rose by SO per cent; train fares increased by 50 to 100 per cent; ferry fares rose by 50 per cent; bus fares rose by 50 per cent to 100 per cent; car prices were increased; the cost of car insurance was increased; the price of petrol increased; water rates increased; the price of hair cuts increased; food prices increased; houses and land prices have increased; health insurance charges have increased; and doctors’ fees have risen. But the Government says that it is all Bob Hawke’s fault. We have a Government which is giving subsidies to farmers, some of whom are undoubtedly poor. What the Government ought to be doing is helping the poor, some of whom are undoubtedly farmers.
The Government causes psychiatric illness by imposing excessive strains on many members of the community but will not help psychiatric hospitals. Psychiatric hospital patients receive no Commonwealth Government bed subsidy and the health fund insurance schemes do not cover them. Such people are ignored by this Government. After the death of such people, all their possessions are sold up by the Master of Protected Persons to pay the accumulated debts built up during hospitalisation. The debt accumulates at the rate of $10 a day. This high minded Government talks about helping those in greatest need. Honourable members saw the Prime Minister enter the House last night and give us this line. But his Government ignores the 70,000 patients in psychiatric hospitals. If members of the Ministry and their families suffering from psychiatric complaints had to enter psychiatric hospitals, rather than the nice, private hospitals where they receive health fund benefits, a change in attitude would soon take place.
The Government blames the greed of the workers for causing inflation. Let me read to honourable members some headings from a copy of ‘Theseus’ the journal of the New South Wales Section of General Practice of the Australian Medical Association. I will quote from the edition dated August of this year. Of course, this is a journal; it is not a trade union paper. Let us look at the headings in this journal which is supposed to be dealing with general practice. The editorial is headed: All the talk is of cost … but what about quality!’ Well, that sounds very nice. Let us look at some other headings. One article is headed ‘Negotiations on Common Fees’. Another is entitled ‘What Do You Charge?’ That article is presented with black borders - in fact, it is boxed by thick black lines. The next heading is ‘Scheduling fees for the GP of tomorrow’. Another heading is ‘Suggested fees’. A further heading to an article is ‘Consultation and Fee Visits Expressed in Units’. Underneath that we read ‘See Scheduling Fees’. The next heading I note reads ‘New Rates for Locums and Assistants Suggested’. Those are a few of the headlines.
I turn now to a suggestion from one of the members of this Section who proposes that there ought to be a consultation fee which is payable in specific instances even without the physical presence of the doctor. He states:-
However, an extra fee was immediately due when the doctor took a detailed history, did physically examine the disrobed patient’s chest or abdomen, took his blood pressure . . . and he goes on to deal with other matters. In other words, if a doctor felt the peripheral pulse or the radial pulse he should receive an extra fee. The next heading to which 1 direct attention is ‘Protest by Group’ which deals with a letter from certain doctors who claim that the most common fee ought to be $5.5 rather than $3.80. Another letter is headed ‘Payment for Item 931’. Yet a further heading is Fixing Fees’, and it is followed by an article entitled ‘Scheduling Fees’. I remind the House that these headings that I have quoted come from Theseus’ which is the journal of the New South Wales Section of General Practice of the Australian Medical Association. This Government indeed must be pleased that there are some sections of the community, such as the general practitioners who, unlike the unionists, are not particularly concerned with money!
– The Budget is concerned with the economy as it is at present and as it can be expected to progress in the ensuing year. This Budget debate in which we are taking part at the moment gives us an opportunity to scrutinise the Budget and to see in what areas improvements can be made. If I may say so, the speech made by the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) is quite a contribution to this objective today. It is unfortunate that time prevents me from dealing with some of the matters that he raised. But I do say quite honestly that some of the points that he raised today have given me a great deal to think about.
The aspect I wish to concern myself with is the industrial development of the country because it is clear that our economic success will depend increasingly on the strength of our industrial base. Only from a sound and expanded industrial base can come the improvements to society that we all want to see - improvements in education, health, social services, local government and, in fact, in all of the areas of government activity. I wish to look in particular at 2 specific matters where I think the Government could make improvements to the part it has played up until the present. The first is industrial research and development.
In 1967 the Government quite rightly introduced a scheme to give support and assistance to private industrial research and development. Until then Australia had lagged behind in this field. The proportion of gross national product spent on research and development in Australia had put us very low on the international list. In 1964 we were below 10 other countries and the European Economic Community and spent only 0.7 per cent of our Gross National Product on research and development. Even in 1968 Dr P. C. Stubbs of the Institute of Applied Economic Research at the University of Melbourne was able to write in the Australian Economic Review that ‘it is generally accepted that Australia spends little on research and development, either absolutely or in relation to her gross national product’. The most notable feature of industrial research and development in Australia was that only a very small percentage of research and development was carried out by the private sector; the bulk of it was financed by governments and was performed not in industry, but in government institutions. Hardly any research and development in private industry was financed by government funds. This was in contrast to other industrialised countries where governments supported and encouraged research in private industry.
There were several reasons why there was comparatively little private research in industry. Those reasons were that there were limited economies of scale; a shortage of capital; and an obligation, or at least a strong inclination, to rely on proven overseas research and development by parent companies who owned an Australian company, rather than to experiment in Australia with risky, long and costly projects. For instance, Dr Stubbs” survey for the Institute of Applied Economic Research of 45 major Australian industrial companies showed as he put it: ‘that over two-thirds of major product innovations and over nine-tenths of major process innovations between 1954 and 1964 were either direct applications of overseas innovations or modifications of them’. What was needed then was government support and incentive to encourage Australian businesses to spend more on research. The Government provided that incentive, I believe, in 1967 when the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act was passed. The Minister who introduced the legislation very accurately summed up the malaise that had been striking at industrial research in Australia. He said:
We are in danger of becoming copyists in a wide area of industry with an undue reliance on overseas technological development. To alter this the Government believes that it is necessary to alter the attitude of Australian management towards industrial research and development. We are, therefore, proposing the introduction of a system of grants to Australian industry to encourage firms to undertake additional research and development work.
That is where the emphasis is contained in the scheme which was then introduced and which still operates. General grants under the scheme were 50 per cent of the eligible expenditure paid out by a company on research work up to an expenditure of $50,000. The intention clearly was that companies should spend more on research and development. If they did, they would be paid by the Government 50 per cent of their eligible expenditure. There is every reason to believe that the scheme was operating well. After an initial reluctance or hesitancy by companies to apply for grants under the scheme, many applications were made and substantial sums were paid out for private research and development work that may well not have been expended if it were not for the scheme.
The third annual report of the Australian Research and Development Grants Board brought down in 1969-70, showed that the scheme was working well and was achieving the objectives that the Minister emphasised when the scheme was first introduced. That report said in part:
There has been a further substantial increase in the response to the assistance afforded by the Act to the performance in Australia of increased industrial research and development. This is evident from the statistics given below.
The statistics do indeed bear out this favourable report, for in the first year of its operation the Board made grants of only $653,703; in the second year of operation it paid out $5,300,000; in the third year, it made grants to the value of $8,915,000; and last year it doubled them to $16,250,000. But what has happened now - and this is the basis of my complaint and the reason why 1 raise it in this debate - is that the Government has reduced the grants payable for research and development from 50 per cent to 35 per cent of eligible expenditure. I believe that thc grants should not have been so reduced, and I believe that the decision not to re-introduce grants of 50 per cent in the present Budget was a mistake.
There are several reasons why this is so. First, it is important that companies should be able to plan ahead - to plan a programme of research and development over a number of years to fit in with other activities, and a plan that the company will be able to afford. It will not encourage inventiveness and it will not stimulate research if the Government changes the degree of financial assistance it is prepared to give from time to time. Indeed, the Government itself recognised the importance of this factor when the scheme was introduced. The Minister said in introducing the legislation:
As the scheme aims to provide Arms with an incentive to invest in additional research and development staff and facilities, the Government recognises the need for the incentive to have a reasonable and certain continuity.
I suggest that it will not give reasonable and certain continuity if the extent of the grants is changed after only a few years and if, above all, the grants are changed without adequate notice. Secondly, the type of business most affected by this cut is the small firm which might have considered a modest research programme but which is not given much incentive by a grant of 35 per cent of its eligible expenditure. The grants are taxed and when that fact is taken into account, the research grant may be worth only about 18c in the dollar. A company is not going to be very much stimulated to research by a modest return of 18c of each dollar of eligible expenditure that it incurs on such a risky and uncertain field as industrial research and development.
Thirdly, improved technology and industrialisation will improve productivity and tend to reduce costs and these are in themselves anti-inflationary measures. Consequently there should be more and not less stimulus to the practical research that may result in improved technology and industrialisation and lower costs. The fourth reason I suggest is that research and development can encourage inventiveness and innovation and this can be turned to Australia’s great advantage by earning both royalties overseas and export income, and of course by lessening the enormous royalty burden that this country already bears. Research and development in the right fields can reduce or at least restrict an expansion of expenditure on overseas technology. For instance, we now pay out to overseas companies in each year over $60m in royalties.
The scheme introduced by the Govern-, ment has been successful. The scheme itself is one of the major reasons why the expenditure on research and development has increased so rapidly. One only has to look at the figures to see the results of this beneficial scheme. Australian industry now spends around $60m a year on research. This means it has almost doubled in 3 years, and that doubling is mainly due to the incentive and encouragement offered by the Government under the grants scheme. But now, right at the time when industry is starting to realise the importance of spending on research, when industry is in fact spending and planning for research, we cut down on the incentive and we reduce the very factor that has brought about the increases in spending, planning, and employment in research and development.
In this year’s Budget the Government is appropriating $13m to industrial research and development under this scheme. Last year, as I said before, it spent $16,250,000. I suggest that this is no time in Australia’s industrial development to reduce by $3. 25m the amount of Government support for research and development which can do so much to strengthen the industrial base of the country. I cannot help but agree with what the then Minister for Education and Science said when he opened the Science and Industry Forum of the Australian Academy of Science in 1969. He said:
Further to that there seems to be a nigh correlation between the rate of growth of an industry and its investment in science and technology. Now this does not necessarily mean that investment in research is the cause of growth; it may be that growth and, if you like, increasing industrial affluence, induces a greater inventiveness in research. … Be that as it may, as this difference in growth rate continues, and as new science-based industries evolve, it seems clear that the research of intensive industry will become an increasingly important segment of the economy.
I hope that the emphasis contained in the Minister’s speech will be carried on and that the Government will look again at this important matter and restore the grants to 50 per cent of eligible expenditure and not leave them at 35 per cent as they now are.
The second matter in this general field to which I wish to refer relates to Australia’s industrial development also and its progress. Again it is a field where the Government could well have adopted a different course from the one it has adopted in the Budget. This relates to the investment allowance. The investment allowance, as it is called, is an allowable deduction from a manufacturer’s income tax based on his expenditure on new manufacturing plant and equipment. This was allowed as a deduction from February 1962 until 3rd February 1971, when it was removed as an allowance as an antiinflationary measure. It was allowed in 1962 to encourage manufacturers to install new machinery, to stimulate industrial activity, to increase output and to provide more employment. The allowance was for a deduction of 20 per cent of capital expenditure on new plant and equipment and. ancillary plant used in the production of manufactured goods and it was deducted from the income of the year when the plant and equipment was first used. Depreciation was of course still allowed and it is only fair to say that with depreciation and. the investment allowance, 120 .per cent of the. cost of the equipment was deductible. The investment deduction was not a loose benefit but was tightly defined so that it applied only to new equipment actually bought and used on the premises, owned by the taxpayer and used in Australia.
I have said that the purpose of this new allowance was to stimulate production and increase employment opportunities in industry. The then Treasurer summed up the intention of the Government in introducing this new deduction when he said that the purpose of the allowance was to provide a general incentive to investment in manufacturing industry. He added that the manufacturing industry was a great employer of labourer and that the Government wished particularly to encourage it to expand and to increase its efficiency to the highest degree. One could not disagree with that opinion that he then expressed. The deduction operated, as I said, until 3rd February 1971 when it was abolished as part of the Government’s anti-inflationary measures.
If it were restored it would not by any means be a cheap measure for the Government. It would probably cost around $50m a year in lost revenue. So far as it operated with respect to manufacturing industry the revenue forgone by the Government as a result of the deduction was $46. 5m in 1968-69, $55m in 1969-70, and $45m last year. Nevertheless it would seem to me that a case can be made out for reintroducing the deduction either completely or at least at a lesser percentage than the original 20 per cent. In the first place, the grounds of the disallowance are open to question. It was said that private investment in nonfarm plant and equipment was rising at a rate in excess of 20 per cent a year. If one looks at the figures it is clear that this 20 per cent did not apply in manufacturing industry. The rate of increase of investment in manufacturing industry over the 5 years up to this year was only 4.4 per cent. In wholesale and retail trade it was 7.7 per cent; in transport 13.4 per cent; in mining 29 per cent and in other non-manufacturing industries 13.9 per cent. I think it could be fairly agreed that the 4.4 per cent increase in manufacturing industry was not excessive, but that in fact there is a case for more stimulus to manufacturing, to encourage modernisation of equipment and improvements in efficiency and productivity.
It is a complicated question to work out the desirability of reintroducing the deduction. It has been argued for instance that the encouragement to invest in plant and equipment that comes from such a deduction attracts resources in a distorted fashion to what may not be the best area of resource allocation, it has also been argued that to justify the reintroduction of the allowance the manufacturing industry should have to show that the tax loss of $50m or so has been made up by the increases in productivity and efficiency.
What concerns me most, however, is that the absence of an investment deduction now certainly does not encourage the installation of the newest and most modern plant and equipment which surely should be the best encouragement to increased productivity. Our labour costs are very high indeed and severely restrict our competition in world markets. We can aim to offset the high labour costs by striving for more modernisation and sophistication, more innovation and specialisation and, above all, more productivity. All of these factors will help to increase our export income from manufactured goods. So we should look to those factors which will tend in that direction. I have already mentioned one, encouragement to research and development, and another is the investment allowance. A country must invest in productive capacity. Exhortations to increase productivity are not enough. The money has to go into those areas where improved productivity will result. And a government’s role is to encourage that type of investment. The American experience is not dissimilar from our own. In 1961 the United States Government introduced an investment credit system similar to our investment allowance. Like Australia, the United States cancelled the investment credit system as an anti-inflationary measure. But enlightened opinion there, as here, has pointed to the long term importance of investment in productive capacity. A team of experts reported to President Nixon late last year in the following terms:
Congress’s repeal of the investment credit was in large part motivated by the desire to curb inflationary pressures and, although any increase in income tax may have some short range effect in this direction, we think that the long range result of increasing tax on business, particularly if the increase results in curbing the growth of productive capacity, will be to hinder efforts to reduce or stabilise the price level.
Without Government stimulus, industry has to generate its own resources, to increase resources and to put these into increased productivity. I wonder whether these resources are there without further stimulus. The gross operating surplus of all trading companies, including depreciation, net interest, rents and royalties paid, and profits, fell by $30m in the June quarter of 1970-71 compared with the same quarter in 1969-70. Clearly there can be no great extravagance of resources within industry without more incentive to invest in new plant and equipment. I would suggest, therefore, that there could well be a case for more stimulus and more encouragement from the Government to invest in industry and I would hope that the Government would keep this matter under review with a view to restoring the investment allowance.
Briefly in conclusion, as I said at the outset, the industrial development of the country is the most important single factor that will determine the future well being and prosperity of the people of Australia. Industrial development has become even more important as many sectors of primary industry have become beset with deep and long term problems. The future of this country will depend on whether we can build up viable and substantial secondary industries. Industrial development is inevitably closely linked with and affected by Government policies and, indeed, by the philosophy and attitude the Government takes towards industry. I suggest it is time that we articulated a charter of the general policy approach and attitude that the Government will adopt towards industry. If such a charter were drawn some at least of the following points would be well qualified for inclusion: Firstly, that the Government’s role is to give incentive and encouragement, to stimulate production and adoption of new and improved techniques; secondly, to create a climate of genuinely free competition in which manufacturers will know that their efforts and energies will not be stifled by the dead hand of restrictive practice in industry; and thirdly, that the Government must pay a high regard to expanding exports by incentives and, in particular, by examining critically the shipping arrangements that presently operate on the transportation of exports from Australia. If the right climate is created private initiative and personal endeavour can operate with their full power. So much of that power is today held in reserve and not properly utilised. I suggest that by the adoption of some of the ideas I have put forward in the course of this speech resources and energy can be let free and benefit the community as a whole.
Mi KENNEDY (Bendigo) (5.44)- This Budget has been condemned by the Opposition and I add my support to that condemnation. One of the most worrying features of the Budget is its failure to deal with the plight of the primary producer and the provincial cities and towns. We have been presented over the last few years with a process of depopulation of the countryside which is almost unprecedented in this country’s history. We have a situation where country towns are closing and becoming ghost towns; where in many country towns and cities businesses are closing, liquidity is very tight indeed, there is unemployment and it is very difficult for many people to get jobs. This situation merely exacerbates that which will apply at the end of the school year when most of the school population in the country goes off to the city.
What is causing this situation? We know what is causing it but unfortunately the Government is not taking action to deal with it. If we look at a document entitled National Income and Expenditure 1970- 71’ on page 5 we will see evidence of the overall decline in the rural economy which this Government has presided over for the last few years. It is a disgraceful commentary on a situation in which we have a Country Party in coalition with a metropolitan based Liberal Party which is actually watching the decline of the countryside and the collapse of rural Australia. The paper ‘National Income and Expenditure 1970-71’ reports:
In terms of current prices, gross national product - the market value of final goods and services produced in Australia - increased by 10 per cent in 1970-71. Gross farm product at market prices fell by 12 per cent, while gross non-farm product at market prices increased by 11 per cent. Gross national expenditure - the total market value of expenditure on final goods and services for use within the Australian economy - also increased by 10 per cent.
This is clear evidence of the bias that has developed in this Government on the issue of the country versus the city. As a result we have economic stagnation, depopulation and unemployment in country areas. These have been caused directly by Government policies in collaboration with events that have been taking place in our marketing overseas. It is a problem that is not being tackled.
The Government has claimed that it is concerned with the plight of the rural producer and has brought in a rural reconstruction scheme aimed at providing $10Om over 4 years. The bulk of this money is to be loaned at 6 per cent and will produce a profit for the Commonwealth Government. This proposal is entirely hopeless. 1 do not know of any piece of Government legislation or social engineering which has been so wholeheartedly condemned by the people who operate it as this scheme has. This scheme has been condemned by virtually every State Government and every primary producer organisation in Australia. The scheme encourages the flight of some 100,000 farmers from the Australian countryside over the coming years. No wonder it has been condemned. In place of this scheme we should have a policy of providing long term low interest loans to farmers so that they can get themselves out of their extraordinary indebtedness, so that liquidity can be put back into the countryside, debts paid in country towns and cities and the economy of the countryside reactivated.
In addition to that there is the problem of farmers who. are so deeply in debt that they face the possibility of foreclosure in the coming months. For those people this Government should announce a moratorium on debts for 2 to 5 years to protect them from a legal process which will condemn them to life in cities for which many of them are not educated or prepared. One of the aims of the rural reconstruction programme in providing what I do not believe is a large sum of money when we consider the size of the debt involved would be not merely to relieve the problem of individual farmers but to put money back into the countryside. Let us look at the Government’s deficiency payments for the wool grower. The money is not even going to the wool grower. It is going directly to the financiers - to the wool brokers. It will never be seen by the wool growers and much of that money will never reach a country town or country city.
In addition to that, what has been happening in the last 2 or 3 years clearly highlights the importance of a policy of decentralisation. No government in Australia has been as lax and as indolent on the question of decentralisation as this one. State governments have shown some initiative, but on every occasion on which the Labor Party has raised this subject in the Federal Parliament it has been told that it is purely and solely a question to be dealt with by the State governments.
– Hear, hear!
– The honourable member for McMillan is a typical Liberal. He says: ‘Hear, hear’. He represents a country electorate. No doubt he is very satisfied with the situation of the economy in his area.
– I did not say that at all. You said it was a State responsibility and I said ‘Hear, hear’.
– That is right. The honourable member said: ‘Hear, hear’, and he is quite prepared to see rural Victoria collapse and be depopulated in the coming years.
– That is nonsense.
– That is the logical conclusion to be drawn from the statement that the Commonwealth Government has nothing to do ‘ with the matter. Until people start to recognise that there must be a Commonwealth initiative in the field of decentralisation there will be no genuine growth in country and provincial areas in this nation for years to come. Surely the thing that has held up such progress most of all has been the indolence, laziness and apathy of the Commonwealth Government. We on this side of the House want to see a genuine initiative coming from the Commonwealth Government. I always find it difficult to understand how the Liberal Party can take refuge so frequently in the argument that this and that are a State right when it knows that the State’s obligation cannot be discharged unless it receives Commonwealth assistance. But this is a situation that satisfies members of the Liberal Party. They are quite prepared to see the countryside go to pot-
I should like to refer to one aspect of decentralisation. The first thing we need to establish in this country is a department of housing, urban affairs and regional development which will reflect the commitment by the Commonwealth Government to decentralisation. So far this Government has no such body which is concerned mainly and principally with decentralisation. It would be an easy task for the Government and it would make a very great difference to the growth of provincial cities and towns if the Government were to accept that it should match the State governments’ expenditure on decentralisation on a $1 for $1 basis, which is the way in which the Labor Party would start to deal with it.
I should like to refer to particular problems within the field of primary industry. I am very concerned about the price of wool. Nothing illustrates better than the last few weeks just how urgent it is that we should have a policy of acquiring, appraising and marketing the entire Australian wool clip. I was not at all impressed with the answer given today by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair). It strikes me that what we are probably being faced with is putting off for another 18 months what can be done today. After all, it was the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) who said only a few weeks ago that in 18 months time the Government might have to consider a policy of acquiring the entire wool clip.
My mind turns to a statement made by Mr G. Chance, a member of .the Australian Wool Board and president of the Wool Section of the Farmers’ Union on his return from the International Wool Secretariat meeting in London. I quote from an article in the ‘Financial Review’ of 12th July this year. Mr Chance said:
Until a single authority, acquires all of our wool and markets it according to quality and type, we will continue to lose out to synthetics. The situation has now developed to die stage where acquisition is the only immediate means by which the Australian wool industry can be saved from total disaster.
The article continues:
Mr Chance said his discussions with overseas wool textile manufacturers had also made it clear that there was an urgent need for current research on the high speed knitting of wool to be concluded.
He said this research was already well advanced, and once a solution to the problems was established, a whole new field of manufacturing possibilities, from which wool was at present precluded, would open up.
That statement backs up the policy statements that the Labor Party has been making consistently. Those statements are supported by the majority of the wool growing community in Australia.
I turn now to the position of wheat. We have been very fortunate in that the Australian Wheat Board has enjoyed a very good record in the marketing of Australian wheat overseas. Nevertheless the fact is that we have lost a real bonanza in the China wheat trade. No amount of politicking by the Government parties and attempts to throw up a smokescreen around the visit of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) to China can conceal this one fact, that Australia has lost a real bonanza in its wheat trade to China. We can rest assured that the American wheat grower who for so long has been deprived of this very important market is looking very keenly towards America’s improved relations with the People’s Republic of China. At the beginning of the present financial year, 1971-72, there was a carryover in wheat in the United States of 19 million metric tons, and this is a surplus which the American wheat grower will be doing everything he can to sell. If I were the Chinese looking forward to improving relations with the United States one of the first things I would do would be to offer to purchase substantial quantities of American wheat. This is quite a possibility. What it means is that Australia no longer has one principal rival - Canada. It also has the United States now. This makes trading in wheat a more difficult proposition for Australia in the future.
I am concerned also with the position of the poultry industry. There is a need for a Commonwealth initiative in prodding the Victorian Government into taking action on’ the control of egg production in Victoria. We have reached a situation in the poultry industry in Australia where there is over-production. Too many eggs have been produced for our own local market. The sale of eggs for export is uneconomical. We look like losing our export market to Japan by perhaps 1976. The situation is a very serious one. Approximately 9,000 poultry farms are involved in the question of control of production. There are approximately 2,500 poultry farms in each of New South Wales and Victoria. About the same number exists in South Australia, and there are smaller numbers in Queensland, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia. So there is getting to be a surplus production of eggs. The States other than Victoria realise just how dangerous this situation is becoming. They are prepared to support common legislation for the control of production.
At the July meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture produced model legislation for the control of egg production. This enjoys very substantial support among the other States, but the main obstacle to implementing this control of egg production is the Victorian Government. It is a disgraceful and scandalous situation in which Sir Henry Bolte is holding the poultry farmers of this nation to ransom because of his policy of supporting the present chaotic position of egg production. I like the use of those words ‘holding Victoria and New South Wales to ransom* particularly in reference to Sir Henry Bolte as he is always using them in referring lo brigands, louts, larrikans and other people who protest against him. But Sir Henry Bolte’s action is very dangerous because while we fail to control the production of eggs the situation will get worse and worse. The Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industry should call an urgent meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council to put pressure on Sir Henry Bolte to agree to uniform legislation throughout this country for the control of egg production.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was talking about the need for Commonwealth Government initiatives in the controlling of egg production. I believe that the Commonwealth could also take the initiative in offering Australia’s surplus egg powder to the Pakistani refugees in India, of whom there are now Si million. The Victorian Commercial Egg Producers Association made this suggestion in June to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair). The Minister replied that egg powder would not be supplied to the Indian Government until Australia was asked for it by the Indian Government.
I regard that as being an unnecessarily formal and legalistic approach to the needs of the 8J million refugees, many of whom are suffering from a severe protein deficiency and who would therefore benefit from the supply of Australian egg powder. I have been assured by medical advisers not only that it would be quite nutritious and acceptable to the refugees in India if it were mixed with normal foods but also that its high protein would in fact be ideal for them. The point is that Australia has an over supply of egg products and many Pakistanis are hungry and suffering from malnutrition. Therefore, I urge the Australian Government to take the initiative and tell the Indian Government that we would be willing to purchase egg powder from our own egg producers and give it free to the Indian Government if it is required.
Finally, I wish to refer to the very grave financial position of -a home for the aged blind in the city of Bendigo, which is in my electorate. I refer to the Mirridong Blind Home. Its financial position is deteriorating so rapidly because of escalating running costs and static income that, unless it receives additional money from government sources by the end of October, it will be threatened with the very real danger of having to close. There are about 5,000 blind persons in Victoria, Probably 3,300 of them are aged. Mirridong, which is run by the Victorian Association for the Blind, which itself now has an overdraft of $100,000, provides accommodation and care for 32 blind aged people. It is the only institution north of the Great Dividing Range in Victoria which provides specifically for the aged blind. It is run on a voluntary basis. No such institution is provided for the blind by either the State or Commonwealth governments. Actually it has accommodation for 50 people, thanks to the 20-bed hospital wing that was opened in March of this year by the Governor of Victoria. However, due to the home’s extraordinary financial difficulties, the new wing was virtually closed on the same day that it was opened for, while the Commonwealth has paid a substantial subsidy towards the building of this new wing, it has not provided adequate finance to meet the running expenditure of the home. Thus the residents who are now going into the new wing actually are not new residents but resident of the older wing.
Although SO beds are in fact available 18 of them are not being used. This is despite the fact that there is a total of about 40 people on the active and precautionary waiting list for this home. So we are presented with the extraordinary spectacle of an institution which, far from increasing the services it provides to the blind community, is being placed in the position of restricting and cutting back on the services it provides. Much of the problem facing Mirridong is outlined in correspondence which, with the permission of the House, I will incorporate in Hansard.
– Order! Is the honourable member asking for permission to incorporate certain correspondence in Hansard?
– Yes. may I have permission to incorporate 2 letters in Hansard?
-Is permission granted?
– 1 have not seen them.
– I will show them to the Minister for Labour and National Service.
– Permission is not granted.
– I wish to point out that the aged blind at Mirridong are victims of the economic and financial policies pursued by this Government. They are not responsible for these policies and they cannot control them. They are just the victims of a continual inflation in prices and wages. No other situation could more highlight the warped priorities of this Government during the period of a booming economy. Profits and wages have never been higher. There are rich profits for the minority in private enterprise, but the institutions which care for those in need and for those who are the most vulnerable are the victims of chronic government neglect. This situation is not acceptable to me.
I wish to refer very briefly to the financial position of Mirridong. In 1969-70 it showed a deficit of $3,000, which rose in the next year to $23,500. There will be a deficit of $35,000 in the 1971-72 financial year. All the home really needs is about $30,000 in the current financial year. If it had the money it would be able to continue its operation. I call upon the Government to take urgent action in relation to this matter.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, this Budget is worthy of a government that has never shirked (Quorum formed) I shall start again, Mr Deputy Speaker. This Budget is worthy of a government that has never shirked its responsibilities; a government that has given the Australian people more than 2 decades of prosperity with full employment; a government that has made the strength and stability of this economy the envy of most other industrialised countries. The Government’s success was not achieved by seeking cheap transient accolades; it was and is based on a quest to do that which is right for Australia in the long run. It is in this context that the Budget must be judged. The objectives are to maintain sound and balanced growth and a high level of employment, to maintain the balance of payments in a healthy state and, . very importantly, to contain inflation. That is not an easy task. We do not pretend that it is.
In the past, our endeavours have met with considerable success. Over the last 8 years the number of registered unemployed in Australia has averaged 1.3 per cent of the labour force. It has never at any time exceeded 1.8 per cent. Compare this with the position in other countries. In the United Kingdom over the same 8-year period unemployment has averaged 2.1 per cent. Recently it reached a peak of approximately 3.5 per cent. In the United States it has averaged 4.4 per cent with a peak of about 6 per cent. In Canada the average is 4.7 per cent and the top figure around 6 per cent. Allowing for international differences in the definition of uemployment, our record is clearly and incomparably superior.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has charged that our economic strategy was ‘to produce unemployment’. That is the opposite of the truth. The
Budget seeks in fact to protect and secure employment by curbing inflation and maintaining the strength of our balance of payments and our currency. The Budget aims to prevent a serious situation arising which could call for drastic measures. Thus it aims in the long run to sustain employment. As the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) said in his address to the House last night, it would not be surprising if unemployment exceeded 100,000 by the end of January 1972. But let me put this into perspective for the House. January is, of course, the seasonal peak month for unemployment in Australia. At that time of the year there are normally some 40,000 workers unemployed as a result of temporary seasonal influences - for example, the sudden intake of large numbers of school leavers into the work force. When adjustment is made to exclude the effects of seasonal influences, an unemployment figure at the end of January of 100,000 would represent only some 1.3 per cent of the labour force, which is the same as the rate at the end of July.
I should add that it would be wrong to attribute this unemployment to a deficiency in aggregate demand. Rather, the unemployed would be made up of 3 components: Frictional- this occurs because workers need time to find jobs even when jobs are available; structural - this occurs because the skill pattern and location of the unemployed does nol always match the skill pattern and location of the jobs available; and marginal workers - for example, people who are mentally or physically handicapped or’ who have unfavourable personal characteristics. The frictional and marginal components of the labour force probably represent about one-half of 1 per cent of the labour force. In addition, structural unemployment accounts for at least another one-half, per cent or so of the workforce. This unemployment arises from an imbalance beyond the skill pattern and location of the unemployment on the one hand and the skill requirements and location of available job’ vacancies on the other.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I mentioned earlier , in fact, I mentioned it in the House today , that by international standards we have a very fine record in regard to full employment. I repeat what I said in the
House today: During the past 25 years one of the major objectives of government, social and economic policy in this country has been that of full employment. We are committed to that policy and we will continue to be so committed. 1 make that point very clear.
I turn now to the question of inflation. Until recently our experience with inflation was quite favourable. Indeed. We have been able to contain inflation at an average of about 3 per cent per annum during the course of the last 8 years - a better performance than in the countries I mentioned earlier. Nor can our growth performance be fairly criticised. The overall rate of growth in our gross national product has averaged around 5 and 1.2 per cent per annum over the last 8 years. In the same period our reserves of foreign exchange have increased. ft is certainly true that our rate of productivity growth does not compare favourably with that of some European, countries, a point to which I will return later. Productivity apart, Australia had an excellent economic record until some 18 months ago. More recently, however, a serious economic problem has arisen. I am, of course, referring to the acceleration in the pace of inflation which began early in 1970 and has continued since that time. This has developed in the absence of any increase in overall demand pressures. Indeed, the average rate of unemployment in the last 2 years has not differed noticeably from that in the previous 5 or 6 years. While demand pressures cannot be held responsible for the recent acceleration in the rate of inflation, it is vital that future demand pressures should not exacerbate the problem. The Budget must be seen, at least partly, in this light.
Much is made of the fact that we are acting now to restrain a potential increase in demand. There are some who see something improper or unwise in this approach. Yet it is these very same people who would label the Government shortsighted if it did not move to head off problems it saw on the horizon. Of course there is always some risk in taking decisions based on estimated future trends in demand, but surely it would be far more risky for the Government to bury its head in the sand - as indeed the Opposition would have us do - and hope that the dangers which lie ahead will simply disappear of their own accord.
Quite apart from seeking to prevent the development of excess demand, it is hoped that the Budget will assist in easing the cost-push inflationary pressures which have already developed. It will do this by shaking some of the euphoria and unreasonable income expectations to which the economy has been subject. If the Budget is successful in changing attitudes to inflation; if it encourages employers to behave responsibly in dealing with excessive wage demands; if it gives unions a more realistic appreciation of the capacity of the economy to absorb wage increases; and if it alters the environment of almost unqualified optimism in which industrial tribunals have operated - if it does these things, even if only partly, then we will have been very well served.
– Whom do you include as «we*?
– We, the people of Australia. That is hardly a posture that the honourable gentleman opposite could adopt. But it is quite clear that wages have held a pivotal position in the recent accleration of inflation, and this is a point to which the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) might pay particular attention. An analysis of the latest National Income White Paper shows that in 1968-69, which was the year just prior to the accleration in inflation, labour costs per unit of output and private profits per unit of output increased by virtually the same percentage. The increase was. 4.6 per cent for labour and 4.8 per cent for profits. From this point on, the rate of increase in unit labour costs acclerated while that for unit profits slowed down. The figures for the year ended June 1971 show the divergence at its most dramatic. The rate of increase of unit labour costs accelerated to 10 per cent for the year, while unit private profits slumped to show a 3.3 per cent decrease. The figures I have just quoted relate to the economy as a whole other than the farm sector.
These, Mr Deputy Speaker, are the plain unadorned facts. They contrast sharply with a fundamental proposition of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), who sought to put some of the blame for inflation on what he termed ‘unjustified’ price increases. Clearly then our major task should be to restrain the rise in labour costs. The Budget will help, but significant progress can be achieved only if trade unions are prepared to show a greater sense of social responsibility. They must realise that the economy can produce each year only a certain volume of goods and services and that the attempt by individual unions to apportion for themselves a larger share of the national cake is generally self-defeating in the long run. If they achieve unreasonable gains, they will do so at the expense of the rest of the community. And the ‘rest of the community’ means not only profit earners and farmers - although these may indeed suffer, and certainly do - but also the very people whom unions claim to protect - the pensioners, the small savers and the lower-paid wage earners. The gains, such as they are, go to the most strident and the most militant.
On sheer grounds of social equity and justice, therefore, the Government cannot allow economic conditions to persist in which union militancy will pay off. In the Government’s view union leaders must understand that when they rock the boat too much, everyone gets wet, including themselves. On this point it is relevant to refer to the comments of the noted economist Lord Thomas Balogh, who was Economic Adviser to Mr Harold Wilson’s Labour Government. He is a man who commands a great deal of respect in Labour circles, although certainly I myself would not share a number of the views which he has set forth: But this is what he said about recent experience in the United Kingdom and his comments bear repetition in Australia:
Trade union action, was successful in certain instances in increasing the share of certain privileged or closely organised groups such as tally clerks, dock workers and so on. The lower paid, the defenceless and the handicapped, despite the declamations of the unions, have not been protected.
The direct social gain from ‘industrial action’ was not merely negligible; it might well have been negative . . .
A free for all in the labour market is incompatible with the achievement either of full employment or of a satisfactory rate of expension of material resources needed for a better, fuller, more civilised and humane way of life.
Those are the views of one of the British Labour Government’s top and well known economists and advisers during its recent period in office.
It is precisely this that the Government is conscious of in the Budget which, incidentally, the Leader of the Opposition has chosen to label, with a certain amount of drama, ‘a declaration of war on the wage earners’. The truth is that the Budget seeks to protect the very large number of workers who depend for their living standards on national wage increases secured through the Arbitration Commission and whose wellbeing depends on the maintenance of high productivity growth and a reasonable degree of price stability.
The favourite ploy of unions is to assert that labour must submit to arbitration to increase its price whereas employers are accountable to no-one and can increase their prices unilaterally. There may be instances of firms in Australia earning excessive profits but what unions conveniently ignore is that competition, whether domestic or external, generally keeps a tight rein on profit margins. I have referred to the recent experience of profit margins in Australia. The Government has taken steps further to activate competition - a point to which I will return. In any case profits account for a relatively small proportion of the price paid by the final consumer, and as I indicated a few moments ago, profits made no contribution at all to the major increases in prices which have occurred over the last 12 to 18 months. One must not be left with the illusion that union militancy contributes to inflation only through excessive wage increases. There are also losses in production, both direct and indirect, through industrial stoppages. And this may be one of the reasons why the nation’s rate of productivity growth has been lagging for many years and reached a dismal low of only 1 per cent in 1970-71. I will not quote statistics of man days lost as a result of industrial disputes. They are well known to the House. In any case they grossly understate the true magnitude of the production losses.
The Commonwealth Statistician’s figures on man days lost due to disputes relate solely to the establishment in which the strike takes place. Clearly the effects of strikes do not stop here. Other establishments must be affected. This assumes particular importance if the dispute is in an essential service or public utility industry. Industries are unable to stock up on services such as power, light or transport as a hedge against the dispute. The consequence is obvious: Workers are stood down. And this is only the second step in the chain. Some businesses will try to catch up after the dispute by working more overtime at penalty rates. This contributes to cost inflation. Again, a dispute in a plant leaves traces of bitterness, the effects of which can plague the enterprise for a very long time. Other long term effects flow from disruptions to operational efficiency, to training programmes and to investment plans. Furthermore, in an economy subjected to frequent but unpredictable strikes, businesses will naturally try to protect themselves by keeping larger stocks, both of materials and of finished goods. Naturally, these inflated stock levels increase costs and represent a sterilisation of some of the nation’s resources.
There is also the effect on business confidence - always a sensitive element even in a healthy growing economy like ours. Our strong post-war economic growth has been built on a very high rate of private investment; indeed one of the highest rates in the world. We must be careful not to allow this pillar of our economy to be undermined or white-anted by growing industrial disputation. Apart from union militancy, the arbitral tribunals have also played some role in our recent inflationary experience. I refer in particular to the last national wage case but it goes further than that. I should perhaps add that in the years prior to 1971 national wage decisions were not a serious inflationary factor in the situation. Thus, in the 3 years to 1970, such decisions added on average less than 2 per cent to average weekly earnings and accounted for less than one-quarter of the total increase in average earnings. The main sources of wage inflation in these years were other award and non-award payments. In the current calendar year, however, we have not only been experiencing substantial other award and non-award increases, but super-imposed on these the economy has been required to absorb the 6 per cent national wage increase of December 1970.
The latter will add some 4i per cent to average weekly earnings and will make up more than 40 per cent of the total increase in average weekly earnings expected in calendar year 1971’. This is a matter which should certainly commend itself to the attention of the House.
I refer very briefly to the rural crisis and say. that I find it extraordinary that the Opposition should take the attitude that it does. The Labor Party professes great concern for the plight of our rural industries and yet it condones the excessive wage increases which are partly to blame for the present depressed conditions. This is a courageous Budget. It meets the economic circumstances as we see them and as we believe they will develop. Should any of the major premises on which this Budget is based change the Government will not hesitate to meet its responsibilities by acting swiftly and effectively. I commend the Budget to the House.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) has given his views on a comparison between the Government’s assessment of the economy and that of the Opposition. Very briefly I would like to give mine. The Government believes that we are in a cost-push inflationary situation and that certain indicators, notably the level of retail sales, indicate that we have a latent demand inflation. The Government believes that a reduction in Government spending with a Budget surplus will arrest inflation with only a moderate rise in unemployment which could be rectified, as the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) said last night, with increased Government expenditure if too many people lose their jobs. The Opposition questions the existence of latent demand. We on this side are convinced that overseas experience shows that monetary and fiscal’ measures such as those in this Budget will increase the rate of unemployment without halting price increases. We believe that even 100,000 unemployed is unacceptable and that a certain lag will occur even if you apply reflationary measures later, which means that you could still have a prolonged recession.
We believe that these measures are especially inappropriate at this stage of the international monetary crisis. We believe that appropriate measures include a reduction in interest rates - which I believe would at this stage be deflationary - and improved trade practices legislation and Commonwealth prices control. It is absurd for the Minister to talk about relentless action and irresponsible unionists. It is not as if every wage earner, here and overseas, because inflation is a worldwide phenomenon, individually and suddenly, for no good reason, has decided to become aggressive. Human behaviour, and certainly human group behaviour, is not determined this way. Human behaviour is determined by the environment - the social, economic and physical environment. It is this which we must alter. You cannot alter human group behaviour, not in a democracy anyway.
So it is futile for the Minister for Labour and National Service or the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) to ask unionists, whether Liberal or Labor voters, to change their attitudes because this is not on. You must alter the climate in which those attitudes are formed. For the same reason I reject the proposition of Professor Downing made earlier this year that there should be a national consensus against inflation. You cannot alter human group attitudes. You must do something about the environment which determines those attitudes. The measures I would suggest are manifold but in the limited time I have available to me in this debate I shall speak of only one and that is that a prices commission or tribunal should be set up. It is quite possible that the High Court judgment in the concrete pipes case means that the Commonwealth has the power to control prices. Under these circumstances requests for price increases could be approved where it is established that a demand existed for labour or for any other input. If there were no such justification the price would stay down.
At the same time I believe that pensions and award wages should be automatically adjusted according to rises in prices as well as productivity. Over award payments and other causes of earnings drift will still occur but in these circumstances they would not be at the expense of those on fixed incomes - I am sure that the wage earners do not want that - but at the expense of the profit earning sector, which the wage earners want and which I want and which I am sure the Opposition wants. The other great difference we have with the Government is that we do not regard government spending as being a necessary evil. Our view is that there should be more government spending and not less. We believe that much more needs to be spent on social welfare, Aboriginal welfare, education and other important fields.
The main topic I want to discuss tonight is the wool industry because if ever there has been a national crisis it certainly has been in wool. The cause of this industry’s problems is twofold. In the first place, there have been ominous signs over the last 12 months or a little longer in the way of falling prices that if we wish farmers to continue to sell wool to earn foreign exchange for Australia, the workers in the cities will have to pay for them to do so. But this problem has now been compounded by another more critical problem which must be overcome with desperate urgency and that is that the death of the’ wool industry is an immediate threat and that the war against synthetics might be lost forever. I think that the wool industry can be saved but it will require immediate and courageous action by the Government.
The Government has 3 major and costly programmes to assist the industry the Australian Wool Commission, the rural reconstruction scheme and the 36c per lb price support scheme. None of them as at present operating will benefit the industry in the long run. In some respects their purposes are running counter to each other and some of the schemes are being implemented in such a way as to push the industry over the edge of disaster quicker than it would go otherwise. The Australian Wool Commission is committing at least 3 critical errors. Firstly, it is dilly-dallying about whether or not it will continue to hold wool sales. Last week, noone knew from day to day whether the wool sales would continue. How on earth is a wool buyer in Australia going to accept an order from his European principal if he does not know whether or not the wool gales are to be held? The Commission did not make up its mind until last Friday night whether to continue sales this week. By then it was too late to take orders from Europe. In the event, I point out to the
House that the Japanese bought as much woo] in the Adelaide sales last week as they buy in what is regarded as a busy week. It was orders from Europe which were down and if the Commission had not been so dilatory the results would have been much better from that quarter as well. For the same reason I believe it is quite spurious to ascribe the present situation to the international monetary crisis, although this could become a factor in the near future. 1 shall refer to this later.
The second great error of the Commission is to withhold stocks from the auction. This is inviting defeat. The Commission is jeopardising its solvency by increasing its stockpile even before the auction begins. It is not hard to imagine the impact this will have on the ultimate price of the product and I am sure this point will not escape the attention of the wool buyers and manufacturers. Finally, the Commission is without doubt trying to force the market with a fixed reserve price. This is completely contrary to the spirit and letter of the Australian Wool Commission Act, section 18 (1) (a) of which states:
The functions of the Commission are -
to operate a flexible reserve price scheme in respect of wool offered for sale at auction. . . .
This is the purpose of it to conduct a flexible reserve price scheme to increase the amount of competition due to the reduced number of wool buyers in the auction room. It is not intended to be a fixed reserve price to try to force the price up. Why the Commission should try to do this I do not know. Perhaps the Government is intervening to keep the price up so as to minimise the payments under the 36c per lb scheme. If we are to subsidise the industry, surely a straight-out subsidy is better. It should not be done through the Commission because this will mean paying for storage costs as well as interest rates to the private usurers who are financing the Commission. What is the Commission trying to do? Is it trying to engage in a trade war with the Japanese? Nothing could be more foolish. If we force the Japanese to pay an uneconomic price for wool we run the risk of pricing them out of the United States textile market
– They bought their normal quota in Adelaide. You just said so.
– Yes, but the Commission will be running a very grave risk if it keeps trying to force the market along. Does the honourable member agree?
– Like it or not, if the Commission is successful in forcing the price above the normal market price, the Japanese will be paying a high price and we will run the risk of forcing them out of the market. If the Japanese are forced out of the United States textile market that will affect us. Whether we like it or not we are in it with the Japanese. We are partners with them and if the Japanese sink, Australia sinks with them and the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean will be as one. I am reliably informed that some buyers were prevented from buying by the Commission entering the auction at 10c over the calling price. What is the basis of the Commission’s appraisal? To plagiarise the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), it seems that it has power without responsibility. I am also reliably informed that wool stocks throughout the world are very low. Withholding wool from the market at this critical stage could mean that we lose out to synthetics permanently.
It is no longer difficult for a manufacturer to convert from wool to polyester; it requires very little if any outlay. But we should not think that we have to lose out to synthetics. The in-factory cost of wool tops is still about the same as polyester at a comparable stage. There is a differential however in converting from tops to yarn but let us remember that the man-made fibre industry has its problems too. It is over-capitalised and faces rising costs. One reason why synthetics have been outselling wool is that the promotion of synthetic fibres is subsidised by the fibre makers. I am told that this subsidisation has been curtailed because of the financial difficulties of the synthetic fibre industry. So all is not lost. Let woo] find its own level. I believe in time that there is a good chance that prices will rise. But the worst thing to do is to withhold supplies or try to force the market at this stage. Let the trade have its requirements whilst we go about reconstructing the industry to make it as efficient as possible. - I turn now to the rural reconstruction scheme because this is not working properly either. The aim of the scheme was ostensibly to help the viable producers to get on their feet, to rationalise the industry and to assist the non-viable people out. In the first place, the farm build-up - the farm amalgamation - is just not working at all. At the end of July I obtained some figures from the appropriate State authorities. I found that in South Australia 164 requests had been made for assistance for reconstruction and of these, 6 were for farm amalgamation. In New South Wales there were 1,219 applications for debt reconstruction with 173 approved. I do not have the figures for applications for farm buildup but there was only one approval. In Victoria there were 1,700 applications altogether of which 5 per cent were for farm build-up. It should not come as a surprise that hardly anybody is applying for assistance for farm build-up. With so many growers insolvent or facing insolvency one can scarcely blame them for lacking the confidence to start expanding. The result is that nearly all the applications so far have been for debt reconstruction. The initial intention was that about half of the money was to go for debt reconstruction and half for build-up. It appears that the allocation will be very lopsided.
The time has come for the Government to abandon its customary Country Party pussyfooting and waiting for the industry to tell it what to do. It must give a positive lead. Having made, the decision that some farm build-up is desirable, it should act on that decision. It should decide where the build-up should occur, who should be encouraged to form farming co-operatives, who should be encouraged to diversify into other forms of production and who should be encouraged to leave the land. What happens if they are refused assistance? Nothing, apparently, and this is a major problem. I note that in New South Wales, at that time that 173 applications were approved, 254 were refused. But nothing apparently happens when they are refused. They are told: You are non-viable’ and that is the end of it. Admittedly something is provided under the scheme for rehabilitation but, goodness, how the Minister must blush when he calls a loan of $1,000 rehabilitation. It is small wonder that almost nobody has applied for it. The assistance must be much more realistic. Admittedly in the short run it will be more costly but in the long run it will save money. I should like to quote from President Johnson’s Budget message in January 1968 when he was talking about vocational rehabilitation programmes. He said:
This study indicated that the increase in lifetime incomes of participants is many times the rehabilitation cost, confirming previous judgments that this programme merits high priority.
So, a meaningful rehabilitation scheme does not cost; in the long run, it pays. Now for the third of the Government’s schemes - the price support scheme of 36c per lb. My colleague, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) already has pointed out the great iniquities in this proposal. Wealthy wool growers who do not need assistance - there still are some - will receive the lion’s share. The implications of this are a further underlining of the grotesque inequalities in our society.
A further objection is that it does not help the rural reconstruction scheme. In fact, it positively hinders it. There is no doubt that great changes have been made necessary in the structure of rural industry. Is a subsidy going to increase the motivation of the individual farmer to make the necessary changes? I think it might do the reverse. The farmer will think that what sufficed for the last 4 generations will suffice for today, that subsidies will be introduced and that the community will support him in preserving the status, quo even if the status quo is no longer appropriate.
But now I come to the most ridiculous feature of the lot. The New South Wales Rural Reconstruction Board in July had deferred 37 applications for debt reconstruction because it was waiting to see whether a price support scheme of 36c per lb would be announced in the Commonwealth Budget. What sort of a situation is this? The Government on the one hand says: ‘We are supplying money to assist viable farmers’. What is the criterion on which it will be decided whether the farmers are going to be viable? It is how much money the Government will give them through a different appropriation. What a Gilbertian situation. The Government is saying: ‘I will give you money out of my left pocket providing you can get so much money out of my right pocket’.
A further comment, and perhaps the most important, is that 36c per lb is not sufficient to many farmers. Dr Bruce Davidson of the University of Sydney say& that about half of Australia’s 93,000 wool growers would not be viable at 36c. He says also that only 2 per cent of growers in the pastoral zone could survive at 36c and none at 29c. He gives other slightly better figures for the wheat-sheep areas and the high rainfall areas. What assistance wool growers get should be related to what they need, taking into account each grower’s place in a reconstructed industry. But what the Government is doing is taking an arbitrary figure, arrived at probably by a compromise of conflicting views in the Cabinet and not related to anything. It is probable that many wool growers need the equivalent of 40c per lb, some even more. But what each farmer needs in the present circumstances should not be related mathematically to whatever is the difference between 36c per lb and the current market price.
In the absence of any positive action by the Government, 36c per lb is, of course, better than nothing. But I would like to see the recipients accepting a responsibility to participate in a meaningful reconstruction scheme. In certain circumstances 1 believe subsidies do have a meaningful place. In an ideal world I suppose there would not be any subsidies and the economy would blossom with everybody working in optimally efficient industries. But over rural industries as a whole I believe that there are 3 justifications for subsidies: Firstly, to provide the people with food to eat; secondly, to provide export earnings and foreign exchange; and thirdly, to provide aid to underdeveloped countries. Only the second, the need for foreign exchange, is of great relevance in this context. If we can earn foreign exchange from wool by subsidising its production, it is in our interest to do so. So if we have sufficient farmers who can grow wool and remain viable it is all very well. But on the other hand if we can increase our foreign exchange earnings but the number of growers needed to grow the necessary amount of wool cannot earn a living, to that extent there is a case for subsidising the industry. That is in the circumstances where we have too few wool growers, whereas in the present circumstances, of course, we have too many. My view is that State aid should be for the welfare of the State and for all the people in it.
In summary, we may buy time with this 36c per lb but if we do not set about reconstructing we will be back to square one. The immediate need is to act urgently to stop the march of synthetics. If the Australian Wool Commisssion persists with high prices and withholding supplies, whatever good is done down on the farm will come to nothing. It may be wondered why I, as a metropolitan member, should be so concerned with the wool industry. The answer is simple. Wool is a national problem. If we get the industry on its feet, all Australians will benefit. If we do not, it will be a continual millstone around the neck of my constituents, the urban wage and salary earners and small businessmen, for they are the taxpayers of this country. It will not affect the wealthy supporters of the Government, who probably became wealthy partly by skilful use of the tax laws in the first place. Unless we can throw off the crushing burden of rural industry, led to bankruptcy and bewilderment by this Government, we can never really afford the urgent measures so desperately needed in the fields of social welfare, Aboriginal welfare, education and all the rest. A constructive rural policy will help the farmer and help the whole community.
– The Budget Papers now before the House have produced many comments and discussions on many topics over the week. The honourble member for Kingston (Dr Gun) has selected one topic tonight. The major part of his speech related to wool. I would say that one of the biggest problems that the wool industry is facing today is the uninformed comment that has been going on for many years but which has been accelerated over the last few months in the Press and on radio and television throughout Australia and by the speech of the honourable member for Kingston. It is a great tragedy that there are so many uninformed commentators who do not know what they are speaking about. In the Press we see many pages of criticism of the wool industry and synthetics. This is one of the great tragedies that the industry has to face. To say that the Australian Wool Commission is damaging to the industry, as the honourable member for Kingston has said tonight, indicates the point I have been making. People do not understand the wool industry and the world wide implications of its problems. The point that the honour-‘ able member for Kingston made about the withholding of stocks, of course, is contrary to every normal commercial operation. Every other commercial operation holds stocks. As to price fixing, the wool grower of Australia is entitled to a reasonable return for his wool. He is certainly not getting it today and has not been getting it for some time. I intend to return to the wool industry before I resume my seat.
In the Budget total receipts are about $8,654m. Three main sections of the Budget account for some 56,231 m. They include defence, the first responsibility of a national government, which will require SI, 252m, and the national welfare fund and repatriation, over $2,000m. This second item is an important aspect of any Budget and is a big increase on the provision in previous Budgets. The increases made available to pensioners and other sections of the community have been considerable. If in a Budget of $8.654m a sum of about S2,000m is for social welfare, surely this represents a reasonable deal for the people concerned. Payments to the States are the highest single item in the Budget. This year they amount to $2,930m. This again is considerably more than has been made available in the past to the States, who have an important responsibility in certain areas. Considerable increases have been made in the major sections to which I have referred. The rest of the Budget, about S2,000m, accounts for the other departments.
To obtain the necessary revenue the Government has found it necessary to increase certain charges. It has increased the tax on fuel, postal charges and telephone charges. Any increase in the price of fuel today is not welcomed by anybody, and much less is it welcomed by people in country areas where the distances that have to be travelled are very great. I remember the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) speaking about this today in relation to his area. This is a very vital matter in country areas today where costs are so important. But I do not underestimate the amount that has been provided in the Budget to assist country people in relation to fuel costs. I think a sum of about $25m is provided to pay for certain freight costs to ensure that the price of fuel is not more than 3.3c a gallon above city prices. This is of tremendous assistance.
The increase in postal rates and telephone charges is also disturbing. I realise also the problems which the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) has in relation to an extra sum of $77m for wages and salaries in a full year. This is a very large sum of money. It is a very difficult situation to face up to. So charges have been increased in these areas. But every effort should be taken by the Postmaster-General and his Department to see that costs are kept to a minimum in these areas. I also do not under-estimate the value of recent decisions by this Government to make telephones available to people in country areas with the cost of installation within a radius of 15 miles being met by the Postal Department instead of totally by the individual telephone subscriber as was the case to a large extent previously.
This Budget sets out to steady down inflation which is a very important factor in any budget, and certainly an important factor in Australia today. Inflation is not unique to Australia. Inflation is a world wide problem. In looking at the various figures connected with inflation, we find that Australia is faring better than most countries of the world. In Australia we have a problem in regard to our exports. In the main these are still primary industry exports.
I have stated that one of the subjects I wish to talk about is wool. This subject is related to cost inflation which on the one hand is occurring all over the world. On the other hand, in the main, Australian primary industries which export to various countries where these cost inflations are so great are not receiving in many cases - not in all cases - a fair return for their raw materials, whether they be food or fibre. This is one of the problems. Problems also occur in relation to freight charges from Australia to various parts of the northern hemisphere. Every effort must be made to sort out this problem because if freights continue to move, as they have been moving in recent years, obviously some problems will be encountered here in achieving the real profits that otherwise might be returned to the producer. Problems also can be seen in Great Britain’s proposal to join the European Economic Community. All these problems add up to the need for us to look at the future of our exports and at some of the difficulties that will be experienced in many areas. But I do not believe these problems cannot in fact be overcome. I believe that the problem of inflation is not only the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government or the State governments. I believe it is also the responsibility of the employer and the employee alike. No government can satisfactorily deal with the situation as we see it today. It must have the co-operation of all those concerned in Australia, and certainly this includes the employer and the employee. Some assistance also has been given by this Government to local government authorities to meet certain payments such as payroll tax.
I now wish to turn to the wool industry because this is a very vital issue. So much has been said by the Press. Much illinformed comment has been made. We have a situation in which the wool industry has been torn apart internally over the last 20 to 30 years. Every attempt by the wool industry to do what any other commercial industry would do - that is, to place its product on the world’s markets in an orderly fashion as has been done by many other primary industries - has been foiled. These attempts have been foiled by the Press, by overseas interests and by those commercial interests which are involved. This has happened every time until the present; at last we are getting somewhere as a result of the setting up by this Government last year of the Australian Wool Commission. The Commission is now standing its ground. Wool is at a very low price. The Commission must stand its ground. Wool is at a very low price. The Commission must stand its ground. It must not yield 1 inch in the circumstances.
Wool is worth money on world markets today. Let us take a simple example to illustrate this: Let us consider raw material supplies from anywhere in the world today. Wool is returning to the wool grower no more than 6c in the SI, if that much. The suit that I have on my back would return to a wool grower today 3c in the $1. Let me compare this situation with that in relation to other raw materials. Let us take steel. This is a raw material which is found in Australia and in nearly every other country in the world. Steel is a raw material which is extracted from the ground. Certainly, one does not need to grow it. lt does not take generations to make a good product out of it. Steel as a raw material represents a return of 35c in the SI. Honourable members will find the same story in relation to most other raw materials. But the return on wool is down to less than 6c in the SI. The return on a suit, if wool is taken to the final endues, is nearer to 3c.
I have here copies of this type of exercise, which I incidentally found after I had taken out my own figures, conducted by Australian and Japanese interests. Incidently, the Japanese estimates are somewhat lower than the Australian estimates. These were conducted in 1968. The Japanese put the figure at a return of 5.7c in the $1 at that time. As I have indicated tonight, the figure presently is much lower. Wool is a tremendous fibre. It has really no equal. We know this and the World knows it. But in marketing wool, we as a nation have never gone out into the world to sell our wool clip. We have always sat at home. I ask honourable members: What other industry could have survived in that situation for approximately 100 years? Nobody has gone out of this country in peace time to sell wool.
If honourable members study the history of wool, they will see that in 1921 the then Prime Minister, Billy Hughes, had the courage to move, to counter the pressures that were being applied. The pressures were the same as the pressures being applied today. He did not have the money to do that, but he had courage. In 1921 the statement was made in the House of Representatives - not here, but in Melbourne - that wool would not be allowed to leave this country under a certain price. That did not cost the Government a cent. That situation applied for 6 months by the insertion of a small paragraph in the customs and excise’ regulations. Within 18 months the price of wool was about 3 times above the price when that statement was made. This is what has happened on every occasion when a stand has been taken. There is no difference in the circumstances today, regardless of synthetic fibres. Synthetic fibres have been with us for a long time. Honourable members can find from the records that synthetic fibres have made a tremendous advance in this world. If it had not been for their introduction, the people of the world would not be clothed, because the wool industry certainly could not produce at the rate that the manufacturers of synthetic fibres can.
In the United States of America the introduction of synthetic fibres into a modern society is well under way. But it will be found that in the American situation, the American Government is subsidising - encouraging would be a better word - the wool industry to produce more. On certain classifications of wool coming from’ Australia and from other countries adhering to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade a tariff of approximately 24.05c a lb has been imposed. This almost doubles the price of wool coming into that country. That does not mean to say that the factories’ have all switched to the production of synthetic fibres. The contrary is the situation. Russia is an example of a country which knows that it must have wool and fur to keep its people warm and alive. It has learnt this through bitter history. In that country, it costs the Government approximately 300c a lb for the raw material to produce fabrics from wool. It costs 300c a lb in that country as against the return received by the growers in this country of approximately 29c a lb, or 36c a lb as guaranteed by the Government.
If this industry is to be placed on a sound basis and be capable of standing on its own feet, which it is capable of doing, there is only one way this can be done. That is by placing it on a proper commercial basis. I have seen reports in the Press in recent days that it has cost approximately $500,000 to store wool in this country. This is in the Annual Report of the Australian Wool Commission. The wool growers of this country own 286 stores. They have held these for approximately 20 years and paid for them. They belong to the wool growers. I make this point to the House: Those stores were kept for this purpose. They have been used for other purposes for 20 years, but they have been kept for use in the event of there being a change in the marketing conditions of wool in Australia. In this event they were to be turned over to an authority which would have charge of the situation. At this point, that is the Australian Wool Commission. These wool stores belong to the growers. They have been paid for. They are free of debt. Therefore, the cost of storing the Australian wool clip, which belongs to the Australian wool grower, is minor at this stage. It is a matter of keeping those stores in order. I stand by the point that the first thing we require is storage. Secondly, of course, we require an authority, which we have at the moment in the form of a commission. Thirdly, we must have money,, and the Government at this point is underwriting the price which we receive for wool.
Because it has been mentioned on several occasions and again today in the House I want to say that the only satisfactory way of marketing wool is to have a total acquisition of the Australian wool clip. There is no doubt that this will come but it cannot be done, as some people were suggesting in the House today, immediately. We need 7 complementary pieces of legislation to facilitate the total acquisition of the Australian wool clip. It is necessary to negotiate with all the States to get agreement because, as I say, we need 7 pieces of legislation. It is necessary to have stores and, as I have already mentioned, we have these. It is necessary to have finance and I believe that the Reserve Bank is the correct organisation through which to guarantee this finance. The storage of wool which is being carried out at the moment costs a few million dollars, which the newspapers seem to think is a tremendous amount and something out of this world. But this has been going on for years.
Australian wheat growers will deliver to Australian wheat silos this year hundreds of millions of bushels of wheat. It will be paid for by the Reserve Bank on behalf of the Australian Wheat Board. This year $400m will be paid out and nobody will flick an eyelid because the wheat industry is being run on a sound commercial basis. Yet we have here the biggest industry in Australia - the wool industry - worth in total thousands of millions of dollars and hundreds of millions of dollars each year in exports, yet when a few million dollars are spent by the Commission in buying in wool to be sold overseas at some future date the Press writes great headlines. Nobody has ever seen such headlines when $400m, $500m or $600m has been paid out to Australian wheat growers, because this is a proper commercial operation and nobody worries. But here we have the wool industry a far bigger industry than the wheat industry, and yet we see headlines when money is spent.
Not only the Commonwealth Government but also the State governments have a responsibility in this area together with the wool growers. If the industry wants to go ahead and do the right thing in relation to itself then it must start now to say what it wants. The Government guaranteed a price of 36c per lb applies for only one year and by the end of that time some form of permanent wool marketing operation in this country must be put into motion. I suggest that the industry must certainly get on with the job of doing just that.
One point that is always raised in a debate of this kind is that world wool stocks have risen, that there is a surplus and that if we withdraw wool from the market synthetics will take over, or some such nonsense. Wool stocks have not risen at all; as a matter of fact, they have fallen. I have some figures here taken out by the Commodities Division of the Commonwealth Wool Secretariat. I obtained these figures from the Parliamentary Library. These show estimated world surplus stocks of raw wool on a clean basis in the major wool growing countries. In 1968-69, for instance they amounted to 314 million lb. In 1969-70 the figure was 252 million lb and in 1970-71 it was 224 million lb; yet we hear all this nonsense about huge surpluses of wool. A huge world surplus just does not exist today. With a fibre with such tremendous implications and used by so many people it is good commercial business to have a few bales in a shed somewhere in Australia or in the world. No good commercial undertaking can operate without surplus stocks. That is the first essential in any business. Whether it is
Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd, a department store or anything else in this country or in any other, it must have surpluses to feed into the market. That is the most essential thing in any commercial exercise. Any other commercial operation in the world has to borrow money to pay for its surplus in the period before it is able to feed those goods onto the market.
– This evening as 1 speak on behalf of the electors of Bowman on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1971-72, I am confident that I have their overwhelming endorsement in supporting the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on 24th August. There is no need for me at the outset of my remarks in this Budget debate to deal at any length with the speech made by the honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett). He dealt in typically Country Party style with the problems confronting the wool industry today and has blamed, berated and demoaned everybody excepting those principally responsible for the plight of the industry. Make no mistake about it, the responsible party in this crisis, as in so many crises that have existed in the past during the reign of various Liberal Party-Country Party governments, is very clearly this Government itself. Government supporters wring their hands in pity and concern about the problems associated with Great Britain’s entering the European Common Market but for 10 years they took no action, using the powers that they possessed as those responsible or supposedly responsible for this country, to seek markets alternative to those whose loss they are now bemoaning. Similarly they did nothing about the wool industry but blame everybody else for its plight.
For the short time that is allotted to me I wish to speak about the future that awaits this country under a Labor government. The amendment that was moved by the Leader of the Opposition precisely outlined our objection to this outstandingly negative Budget. The speech of the Leader of the Opposition to the House very competently detailed the absolute failure of this Budget to provide a responsible programme for either Australia’s internal or external requirements during the forthcoming financial year. But the Leader of the Opposition did far more than simply expose this Government’s complete incompetence and indifference to the current national problems; he outlined plans for the establishment of a new society in which there would be a better quality of life for all Australians under a Labor Government. Quality of life’ is a term that I have noticed both the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) refer to frequently. They attempt to suggest that their Government is responsible for a very satisfactory quality of life in this country. Little do they realise that the standard of living enjoyed by Australians today, and the quality of life that they refer to, exist rather in spite of the Government than because of it.
The quality of life or the standard of living which is the right of every Australian to enjoy is today grossly inadequate, ft will continue to be so while this decaying, crumbling Government continues to falter from one crisis to the next, with each one more calamitous than that which preceded it. I intend to deal very briefly with several of the more important national problems as they affect sectors of the community that I have the honour to represent in this Parliament. They are problems which this Budget has lamentably failed to overcome. I will show honourable members where I believe the Budget has failed to attack these problems and I will show how the Australian people can expect to have them attacked by a Labor government.
As I have said, in the brief time that is available to me to speak in this Budget debate it is difficult to deal with many problems. Some of my colleagues who preceded me in this debate have very competently and adequately dealt with some of the problems and shortcomings of the Budget; no doubt those who follow me from the ranks of the Opposition will deal with more of them. This Budget must be examined in the light of the grave internal problems which are widespread in the ranks of the coalition. While I certainly do not suggest that I could refer very favourably to previous Liberal-Country Party coalition governments, those earlier Administrations, particularly under Prime Minister Menzies, could at least be said to have offered a certain style of leadership and to have prevailed with a certain solidarity so that the Government did in fact govern the country. But this Budget amply illustrates to the nation that the McMahon Government today has ceased to govern this country effectively.
This Budget perhaps offers one consolation. It is the first presented by this Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and it will probably be his last; for one must expect that he will continue to be involved with the rest of the Ministry in the ever changing portfolio allocations which can best be described as McMahon’s mobile Ministry. The better quality of life that awaits Australians under a Labor government is very close at hand. As this Government plays out the last months of its pitiful existence, mortally wounded by its self-inflicted internal injuries, the nation stagnates. Today there is no leadership visible in the ranks of the Ministry. This Government has ceased to govern. It has abdicated its responsibilities in favour of the. Public Service in many instances and it is now common to hear senior officials within the Public Service refer to the fact that the day by day business of running this country is being increasingly left in their hands. After the Liberal Party allowed and assisted the Press to destroy the last Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) the present Prime Minister endeavoured to suggest that it was his right as the new leader of the coalition to continue in office under the very shaky mandate gained by his predecessor at the 1969 election. However, week by week he has set out to dismantle and destroy every remaining policy on which his predecessor won office.
One such policy promise was that the Government would accept some responsibility for this crisis in pre-school education. Although it was always difficult to be sure exactly what was meant by the then Prime Minister when he used that term there is no doubt that the reference he made during the Senate election campaign late last year to the establishment of child care cum kindergarten centres did indicate his Government’s intention to make some financial grants to this level of the State’s education system. Very quickly on assuming office the present Prime Minister made it obvious that he intended to have nothing to do with this policy of his predecessor. Generally I am sure the pattern in pre school education varies little from State to State. However, I intend this evening to confine my remarks to the situation which currently exists in Queensland, particularly in Brisbane and the immediately surrounding area. A recent survey has indicated that no more than 10 per cent of Queensland children are receiving the benefits of kindergarten training. The sad fact is that this 10 per cent represents children from what may be described as middle class homes. Through the ability of their parents to send them to kindergartens and to pay the fees which often amount to $1 a day, these lucky children have an advantage denied to the great majority of youngsters in either the less affluent or newly developing suburbs or towns.
The establishment of kindergartens in these areas is often prevented by the inability of the community to take the initial step of raising sufficient finance to gain the State Government subsidy for the construction of a building. Today it is estimated that in over 110 suburbs in the Brisbane area there are no kindergartens. Throughout Queensland country areas the situation is far worse. Numerous country towns throughout Queensland with large populations are without any recognised kindergartens. In recent weeks I have received numerous letters from people and organisations within my electorate requesting my support to get the Federal Government to accept some measure of responsibility for the provision of pre-school education for all who wish their children to participate in this essential level of a complete education programme. These letters point out that while the child of the writeris . fortunate enough to receive pre-school education at a kindergarten affiliated, as is the usual practice in Queensland, with the Creche and Kindergarten Association of Queensland the cost of this pre-schooling is becoming a heavy burden for them to bear and is increasing year by year. The letters go on to point out the obvious fact that by the Federal and State governments accepting additional responsibility for preschool education all children will be able to benefit and, furthermore, the current heavy burden on parents will be greatly relieved.
I do not know how the decision of the Prime Minister not to honour the promise of his predecessor of Federal Government sponsorship of the development of kindergartens could be made by one who currently holds the title of ‘Father of the Year1. It amazes me. I am certain that his children will not be denied the benefits of pre-school education and I am equally certain, that by his decision many thousands of Australian children who should in all fairness be entitled to the same opportunity at this level of education will be denied a pre-school education. How can the Prime Minister claim to be proud of the quality of life that exists under his Government, the quality of life that currently is available to all Australians?
– Have you ever been to the Lodge?
– No, I have not. I understand that at this stage the Lodge is not suitable even for the Prime Minister to reside in and many thousands of dollars are currently being spent there to make that dilapidated - it must be dilapidated if it is not fit for the Prime Minister to live in - residence fit for the Prime Minister. I trust it will very soon be thought to be adequate for him to live in with his wife and children. How can the Prime Minister claim to be proud of the quality of life of Australians when his Government denies equality of opportunity for pre-school children and handicaps the parents of many thousands of Australian children who were hopefully awaiting the assistance which was part of the mandate he once claimed to have inherited?
I now wish to refer to another aspect of the Budget which aims a further disastrous blow at Australian families. I refer to the long neglected adjustment of concessional deductions for taxation purposes. In the period from 1961 to 1970 concessional deductions for a man’s spouse, his first child and subsequent children have each been increased by $26. These deductions were last altered in 1967. A good test of the effectiveness of these allowances would be to see how they have affected the average worker, the person earning average wages each year. Presumably, deductions are allowed to the family man to ensure that his tax burden in relation to that of a single man is not too onerous. The deduction should aim to make the tax system somewhat more equitable. The concessional deductions should at least not be used to discourage people from having families, as they appear to do at the present time. If the deductions are adequate then the family man’s tax burden over a period of time will not be increasing at a faster rate than the rest of the community’s. In fact deductions have not prevented this from occurring.
Since 1961 the amount of tax paid by the average wage earner, as defined by the Commonwealth Statistician, with no dependents has increased by 99 per cent. Over the same period the tax paid by a married man with no children has increased by 1 1 6 per cent. The average wage earner with a wife and one child now pays 128 per cent more tax and the average wage earner who has a wife and 2 children now pays 137 per cent more tax than he did in 1961. Over the same period, based on the same figures, average wages rose by a mere 39 per cent.
The 10 per cent rebate in last year’s Budget did not correct this injustice. In fact it aggravated the difference in treatment between the single man and the family man. Last year the average wage earner with no dependents would have received about $35 more a year as a result of the increases in that Budget, but when this is compared with the average wage earner with a wife and 2 children it shows, in the comparison of figures that I have taken out, that the additional amount he would have received over the 12 months would have been only $20, which is $15 less than the single man’s increase for the 12 months period. This year the 21 per cent increase in personal tax once again adversely burdens the family man. Certainly his actual additional taxation decreases in accordance with the number of his dependents, but this is only a minimal advantage to. him in the total consideration of the tax burden that the Government forces him to continue to bear.
As a result of this policy, the more dependents a man has the greater his tax burden becomes. The family man continues to be burdened in an unfair manner. I agree that the Budget - rather belatedly and begrudgingly - gives increases in child endowment of 50c a week for each child under 16 after the second child. This has extended some small measure of benefit to families. But only the most distorted analysis of these increases could suggest that they actually benefit the family by providing more than totally inadequate cost of living adjustments in endowment payments. Let me refer to another problem that has not been faced by this Government. I shall deal with it in greater detail during the Estimates debate. I refer to the new agreement that has been forced on the States by the present Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns) to replace the existing Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement.
Probably the most important transaction made by any. young couple - certainly it is their most expensive transaction - is the purchase of a home. Yet in a few words this Budget has dismantled any hope that a responsible and visionary approach would have been forthcoming from the Government in the determination of the new Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement.
– There are not many points on which the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) and I would agree politically but I certainly will agree with the point he made about pre-school education. There is a definite necessity for the Commonwealth to look seriously at this matter. I would like to discuss a number of issues raised in the Budget but in the time allotted to me in this debate 1 shall confine myself to those issues which I think should have been considered and others which I suggest should receive consideration in future budgets. The first matter I would like to discuss in this respect is financial assistance to local governments. I will enlarge on what previous speakers have said. The time has come when . a long, hard, close look at assistance for local governments should be undertaken by the Commonwealth.
On this issue I am most certainly not preaching centralisation. On the contrary, I am endeavouring to prove that local governments are playing a much more important role in the development of this country than they have done previously, and that a reappraisal of their work is very necessary. In my opinion, local government is the real government of the people. While we as a federal body must take the responsibility for good business and the development of the country collectively, and while the State governments play their part by managing their State businesses as a whole, it is the local governments which must bear the responsibility for regional development. Because Australia is a big country and areas differ so widely in matters of industry, climate, living conditions, transport facilities, costs of living and many other such day to day problems I am suggesting that a closer look at the system and the problems of local governments must be undertaken and understood before we can develop this country as satisfactorily as we should.
At State government level there is a growing awareness and at least some recognition of the problems of local government. But just to recognise the problems is not enough. There would be none that could argue with me that the cost of local government service is increasing rapidly and there are none that could argue with me that the sources of revenue available to local authorities are limited. Certainly they receive financial allocations from the State governments and they have access to money borrowed from loan councils and lending authorities, but these days there is no such thing as cheap money. Interest payments and repayments of loans must be met. In order to meet these commitments and to provide and maintain the services which the public demands and is entitled to, it has become necessary on frequent occasions over the last few years - we have all experienced this - to increase rates, thereby placing a further burden and a further imposition on the wage earner and the person who wishes to exercise his inherent right of owning his own home or property.
There has to be a limit to the frequency of this increased rating. It is the local governments, which in the majority of instances, as we know, comprise men and women working in the honorary capacity of aldermen and councillors, which must bear the brunt of disapproval and not the State and Federal governments, which in my opinion should share the blame if there is any blame to be directed. I know that local government is the responsibility of State governments but I feel that we as a Commonwealth should accept some of this responsibility by including some contribution to local government finances in the annual reimbursement grants to the States. It is worth noting that while the demands on local governments for works, services and amenities are growing at a tremendous rate there has been no corresponding expansion in the range of revenue fields that are available to councils. To meet these requirements local governmets have had to double their loan indebtedness over the last few years. I think it is bordering on the idiotic to imagine that land rates alone can provide the necessary funds for local authorities to meet their repayments and other commitments.
When the matter of direct financial assistance is raised it may be claimed by the Commonwealth that we cannot interfere in this matter because it is a State responsibility. But I feel that a precedent was created here when the Commonwealth aid roads grant was established. The introduction of the State subsidies system was a worthwhile move. But in nearly all cases this is restricted to specific capital works only, with the local governments having to raise the major part of the cost of these works.
In speaking of capital costs 1 am reminded of a situation which is very close to me at the moment in which the State and Commonwealth governments may become interested for the benefit of our community. I refer to the flood mitigation project which is at present being undertaken in the Townsville area. We are well aware of the rapid expansion and growth of Townsville over the last 10 years. As the residential areas have expanded beyond all expectation in that time it has become increasingly evident that a programme of flood mitigation must be undertaken if these areas are to be protected should the weather pattern revert to the normal monsoona seasons. The last monsoonal season we had was in 1958. Prior to that it was an accepted occurrence every year. There is nothing to say that the weather will not revert to its former pattern in 1972 and that that pattern will continue for some years to come. Due to the geography of the country it is more than possible that properties and even lives will be endangered should the city experience flood rains. Because of this the local government authority has been forced to initiate a flood mitigation project. This project, which has been commenced, will take at least 2 years to finalise. Such a project is no minor undertaking for a local government authority, especially as all the necessary finance has to be raised through loan channels.
Earlier this year the Commonwealth introduced flood mitigation legislation known as the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Act 1971. Its definitions section states that flood mitigation works means works for the purpose of reducing the likelihood of mitigating the effects of flooding. It defines ‘local funds’ in relation to a local government authority as moneys of the authority other than moneys paid to it by the State in respect of the cost of the carrying out by the authority of flood mitigation works in relation to a prescribed river. The expression ‘prescribed river’ meant any of 11 rivers in northern New South Wales. To assist this New South Wales project, which I believe was carried out on the Hunter River, an amount of $9m was paid to the New South Wales Government.
Sir, the Government may have thought the construction of a flood mitigation project was important to the Hunter River area, but I suggest that such a project would be just as important to every Australian living in the Ross River area of Townsville. In answer to a question I asked a couple of weeks ago, the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) intimated that there is a possibility that the Queensland Government will also be asking for Commonwealth assistance in relation to flood mitigation projects. If that is so, I appeal to the Queensland Government to get cracking and submit the request for this assistance. Knowing the merits of the case I have mentioned, I am positive the Commonwealth would not refuse it. This would be one positive way in which the Commonwealth could show its willingness to assist with local government problems. There must be many other ways in which the Commonwealth could take a direct interest in these problems for, after all, they are the people’s problems. To my mind that is something of which the Commonwealth Government should be ever mindful. It may be that when financial allocations are made to the States a sum could be earmarked for the specific use of local government. It could be proportioned by the States if necessary - 1 do not mind - according to the needs. But whether it is undertaken in this way or not, I feel that the Government has a definite responsibility to the local government authorities and it must find a way to exercise its responsibility.
– Vote in a Labor government; that is its policy.
– I do not think that that would help one little bit. The next thing I would like to mention is the matter of tourist development. Each year I am more amazed that the subject of tourist development does not receive consideration or mention in the annual presentation of our Budget. This industry - I classify it as an industry - is in fact one of our most important foreign exchange earners. As we all know, it is the means of livelihood for many thousands of our own people. This is becoming increasingly evident from the reports of the Australian Tourist Commission. To emphasise my point I could perhaps do no better than quote from the Commission’s 1969-70 report, which states:
In tourism, wc have a success story - as an export earner and as a generator of healthy economic activity at home. It is the Commission’s concern that the industry not be taken for granted; that it not be allowed to languish for want of interest and encouragement; that time is too short and the stakes too high for it to be otherwise.
We read where tourism is one of the largest, if not the largest, businesses in the world. There is an annual turnover of some thousands of billions of American dollars each year. Yet Australia’s percentage of that turnover is negligible. It worries me to think that countries like New Zealand and Fiji, to name just 2 of many, have awakened to the fact that the tourist industry is an extremely valuable income earner and are doing something constructive to corner a share of this valuable market. Like other businesses on an international scale, tourism is a competitive business. A country that wants to share its profits must be prepared to compete favourably on such a competitive and lucrative market. We read where spending by domestic and international travellers within Australia amounted to some S2,400m last year. That is quite an impressive figure. 1 fear a lot of the people who are responsible for the conduct of the industry could be lulled into a false sense of security by thinking that the industry is quite all right because the turnover is so great. In my opinion it could tend to stifle any critical thinking, which is what we need, and kill initiative when it is probably most needed. We read where Pacific tourism is growing at the world’s highest rate, yet this country is way down the list of countries which are taking advantage of this growth.
We need reminding that the requirements necessary to build a tourist industry cover a great number of services - accommodation facilities, restaurants, hotels, motels,’ resorts, railways, air services, coach and rail services, rent-a-car services, boat hire operations and convention facilities, to name just a few. A healthy and expanding tourist industry will mean security of employment for the people engaged in providing those services. I think that Government encouragement is very necessary at this stage, especially in view of the more impressive performances by other countries in the -field of tourism.
Perhaps one of the most important services in the industry which the Government could encourage is accommodation. This service is vital too a successful tourist programme. It is easy to appreciate that the basic requirements of tourists are food, shelter, satisfaction, comfort, convenience, cleanliness and good services. That is all tourists ask for. Those are their basic requirements. Bui 1 was amazed to read that in the past 25 years only 7 major international class hotels have been built in Australia. I suppose that that is understandable in view of the capital cost involved in building this type of accommodation and the fact that no cheap money is available on the money market to finance such deals, but it is certainly not in our best interests that this situation should prevail today.
Another important factor which I feel is operating against us is the high cost of travel to Australia. This cost could be reduced. It is possible that this could be done through an increase in charter travel for larger groups of people or perhaps a promotional fare system with the normal scheduled services. No doubt there are other ways in which travel costs could be reduced. However, regardless of which way is chosen, that must be done. We have some unique attractions to offer in flora,’ fauna and places. Some of them are world renowned. In my opinion criticism of these places by overseas tourists is justified when one looks at the lack of proper development or the inadequate and haphazard development which has taken place at our resort facilities.
Feasibility and fact-finding studies by reputable firms have been undertaken and completed many times during the last 10 to 15 years, but I have yet to see any of the recommendations contained in the reports on those studies implemented. I ask: What is the use of paying money to have reports compiled, of gathering all these facts on how to plan and present our attractions in the best possible manner, if we do not act on the recommendations which we receive? The potential, the initiative and the imagination are there, and I believe that capable management is available. But unless we are able to attract money at reasonable cost for development, all these attributes that we have will go for nothing.
Some 80 countries have overcome this problem to a marked degree. They provide what is called incentive assistance. They have instituted aggressive tourist development policies to encourage this industry’s growth and, in my opinion, we must follow their example and in the long term surpass them if we are going to achieve our share of this market. These countries have provided us with examples of how we can give this incentive assistance. We can do it by providing grants, loans, incentive arrangements, the insurance or guarantee of loans, tax concessions, investment allowances, depreciation allowances and, finally and probably most importantly, access to funds from the Commonwealth Development Bank. These are only a few of the measures that can be taken. I have raised this question previously: Why is not the tourist industry in a position to apply for Development Bank funds? I have been told that it is not an industry. Let us classify it as one and get over that hurdle. We are constantly battling to support our rural industries and our export trade, as income and foreign exchange earners - a lot of words have been spoken on that matter today and previously in this House - but, in my opinion, if we do not assist in developing tourism and encouraging its development to the full, we are bypassing one of the greatest income and foreign exchange earners of them all. There is a whole new market to be exploited in our national interest, and the lucrative opportunities in this market are immense.
I pay a tribute to the Australian Tourist Commission which keeps me up to date on the work it is doing on the international scene, but all of this work can be for nothing if governments - and by ‘governments’ I mean State as well as Federal governments - do not realise the value and importance of this industry. I firmly believe that if a sound policy for tourist development was instituted and implemented as quickly as possible it would be one of the greatest assets which we would have in the economy of this country. I also believe that to implement such a policy fully and to administer the industry effectively would mean that a completely separate portfolio may have to be created. This industry has a turnover of $2,400m a year and it could be trebled. As has been stated previously, that is not peanuts. I have extreme faith in the growing importance of tourism for Australia and in the people who at present arc attempting to administer it. If its importance is more widely recognised, I am positive that Australia will be the better off because of it.
– I rise to support the amendment .which was so capably moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and to endorse his condemnation of the Budget. In doing so, first of all 1 refer to the fact, that almost all of the Government members who have spoken in this debate up to now - and I do not include the honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) who has just spoken - have spent most of their time blaming everyone but themselves for the economic troubles of the country, in spite of the fact that they have been continually in office for some 22 years. This Government with its laissez-faire capitalistic attitude allows free enterprise monopolies, land sharks and finance companies to exploit the community at will, and only when a crisis arises does it acf to overcome a situation which competent planning could have avoided. As usual the Government then proceeds to overcome the ill, in this case mild inflation, at the expense of the working man, the chronically sick aged and those aged most in need.
There is no question in my mind that this Budget has been tailored unjustifiably to hit wage earners and to create a sizable pool of unemployment as a means of slowing down consumer demand, a measure which, in the view of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden), will contain inflation. Apparently neither the Treasurer nor his advisers have learned from overseas experience. Surely they are aware that the conservative governments of the United States of America and Great Britain made the fatal mistake of putting millions out of work in an effort to contain inflation and that these policies have not worked because as unemployment increased so did inflation. The governments in both of these countries now are trying to adjust the economy and reduce unemployment by applying some democratic socialistic measures. As these depressive policies have, not worked overseas I ask the Treasurer why he believes they will work here.
In the field of social welfare spokesmen for the Government continually assert that its welfare policies are based on the formula of first assisting those most in need. The Treasurer emphasised these words in his Budget Speech, as did the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) in his second reading speech on the Social Services Bill. At every opportunity the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and his predecessor have always claimed that the Government’s welfare policies are based on the premise - I repeat it - of assisting those most in need. However, once again in this Budget those most in need are completely forgotten. I refer to people such as a married couple where the wife, because of age, is not eligible for a pension. These couples are still expected to exist on a single pension between them.
I turn now to the question of the urgent needs of the chronically sick aged people. I propose to quote some pertinent extracts from correspondence addressed to me from the superintendents of 2 non-profit nursing homes in South Australia in the sincere hope that the Government will take heed of the plea for help from the practical experts in this field of health. The first extract is from a letter from the Port Adelaide Central Methodist Mission. It states:
I wish to register my concern and deep disappointment that the new budget has failed to take cognisance of the needs of chronically sick aged people.
The Treasurer, in his address, stated that the Government was anxious to ensure that those whose need was greatest should receive prime consideration. Yet no relief whatsoever has been offered to sick aged pensioners apart from the pension increases. In the main these are men and women who have served their country well over a lifetime and just when their need is greatest they have been forgotten by, their Government.
The second extract is from a letter from the Helping Hand Centre Inc. It states:
This is a matter of extreme concern to us in South Australia. We- seek your help as a representative of South Australia in ensuring that this matter will be reviewed and some positive action taken.
I draw the attention of the House to the next paragraph:
The disregard of the plight of the frail and sick aged people in need of nursing care is something that I cannot understand. It certainly appears to be a callous rejection of the welfare of a section of the population who have been written off as useless because they are no longer productive.
During recent months Prime Ministers and Treasurers - whoever they have been from day to day - have made many public statements on the state of the economy, and it has become quite clear that most of these speeches, which are all different, have been tailored to tickle the ears and impress the gathering which the speakers are addressing. The ordinary people, the electorate at large, are bewildered. They have become almost punch drunk with this underhand political skulduggery. They cannot understand how the economic situation can so change from day to day, nor can they understand how a government, after more than 20 years in office, can so blatantly excuse itself from any blame when things go wrong.
The Treasurer in his Budget Speech said We are suffering from cost and price inflation which is gathering pace’. Yet in spite of this in both the present Budget and the one preceeding it the Government increased petrol and postal charges. This action must increase the inflation he is so worried about because rises in these 2 items are not only a direct increase in costs to people with cars, telephones and so on but by virtue of the fact that they are so important and so heavily used by industry and commerce it is elementary that the increases will be passed on to the consumer by way of higher prices. Already this is clearly evident in the important transport industry, where, as a direct result of the Budget air fares and freights have been increased by some 64 per cent which in the final analysis will be borne by the consumer by way of higher prices for goods and services.
In this debate Government supporters are using the old Goebbels technique of attacking other sections of the community in an endeavour to take the spotlight off the Government’s failures. The honourable members for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer) and Hume (Mr Pettitt) are prime examples oi those who use this type of character assassination. They have viciously attacked the members of the Arbitration Commission for being weak and incompetent and they quite wrongly claim that the country’s inflationary condition is due entirely to excessive wage increases granted by the Commission. They make these ridiculous claims at the very time their Government’s own Bureau of Census and Statistics advises that its figures show that the wage increase for the quarter ended 30th June 1971 was 1.1 per cent - the lowest rise in any quarter for 2 years.
Furthermore the gross national product, now $33,00Om, is carved up on the basis of approximately SO per cent going to the 4,500,000 who represent the employees of the total Australian work force and the other 50 per cent going to the 750,000 non-employees. This is the same carve-up as 20 years ago when the number of employees was much fewer. The number of employees in the work force is increasing at a rate which in 3 years’ time will see an increase of one million employees compared with 3 years ago. What is more important still is the fact that over the past 15 years the percentage of the total work force who are designated as employees rose from 89 per cent to 91 per cent, yet their share of the gross national product is still the same. In view of the statistics from the Government’s own department how can anyone suggest that high wages are the major cause of inflation when the true fact is that the workers’ share of the economy is less than it was 15 years ago? lt is worth recording that the honourable member for Hume called for the sacking of members of ‘he Arbitration Commission and their replacement by other men. I would remind him that every current member of the Commission with the exception of one was appointed by his own Government and during my time in this place every new appointment has been greeted with acclaim from Government supporters. Government supporters still continue to mislead the public on the concept of wages and prices. They quite wrongly claim that wage, increases are the main springboard for price increases and that the unions are doing a disservice to workers in pursuing higher wage rates. The true facts of course are that decisions of wage tribunals in Australia are based, in the main, on the wage applying at the time of the nearing and its relativity to the appropriate price index, with in some cases a further minute upward adjustment covering any increase in the gross national product. In point of fact in most decisions of the Court where it awards a wage increase it makes a reference in its judgment that the increase so decided is one that, on the evidence before it, should be able to be absorbed by the employer without increasing costs.
Since arbitration was first introduced into the Australian industrial relations field wage increases, where granted, mainly cover price rises since the previous wage adjustment and anyone who suggests otherwise is either handling the truth carelessly or alternatively knows nothing about the subject. In my view one of the great faults of this Government and its supporters is their inconsistency in dealing with issues which are similar in principle. In many such cases they arrive at their decisions not on the issues involved but on the people involved. For instance, day after day in the House, Government supporters, particularly those from the Country Party, raise the issue of long term low interest loans for the rural sector, and 1 might say 1 commend them for their persistent endeavours to assist the farmer in this period of rural slump. However, last year when the Government meekly allowed the Reserve Bank to raise the general interest rate by one-half of 1 per cent, we on this side of the House requested the Government to reconsider the position because of the fact that this increase would cost the average home buyer something approximately an additional $1 per week, or alternatively it would take him some 5 years longer to pay off his home. It is of interest to recall that every supporter of the Government voted against our proposal.
– Even the Country Party.
– That is right. Another issue on which principle is disregarded by Government supporters is on the subject of compulsion - an issue that has been raised quite a lot recently in this House. On the one hand the Government and its members support compulsion in the many Acts requiring levies from the rural sector for research, promotion, marketing, etc., of the product involved. They claim, and in my view rightly so, that all producers in their particular fields, whether it be cattle, pigs, dried fruits or any of the many other fields, have much to gain from the legislation relating to their industry and accordingly they should all pay a levy in proportion to their production to support whatever programme is involved. In effect they obtain compulsion by legislation and they then safeguard this compulsion by prescribing heavy penalties for those who refuse to pay. On the other hand when the same set of rules and the same arguments are advanced by the trade union movement to obtain compulsory unionism or preference to unionists in order that all workers in a particular trade or calling equally share the cost of obtaining the best possible wages and conditions Government supporters completely disregard the principle that they have legislated for in the rural sector and raise the hackneyed cry of conscience and the rights of the individual.
For some months prior to the Budget the credibility of the Government was understandably at a very low ebb due in the main to the internal fighting and back stabbing within the Liberal Party. This situation has now considerably worsened because of the grim realisation in the electorate that the Budget repudiates so many of the Government’s solemn pledges. The Government has reversed the election promise to reduce taxation; it has ignored the pledge to pay special attention to the chronically ill; it has sabotaged the undertaking to establish a national system of kindergarten child minding” centres; it has failed in its social welfare programme to make adequate provision for those most in need; it has forgotten its indication to act on the report of the nation-wide survey on education. The Budget is silent on the promise to establish a rural finance insurance corporation and it makes no provision or indication of a plan or an inquiry into the possibility of establishing a national superannuation scheme. In point of fact it has moved backwards in this area because of its retreat from the easing of the means test in the present Budget.
The people are well aware of the false claims of the Treasurer that the real purpose of the Budget is to contain price rises because the document itself increases for the second year in succession petrol and postal charges which everyone knows will have a flow-through effect by increasing costs on most other goods and services. The Budget also proposes to increase the cost of pharmaceutical benefits by 100 per cent, television and radio licence fees, customs and excise duties on cigarettes and tobacco products, light dues and air navigation charges. Some of these increases, particularly the last two, will have a similar flow through effect as the petrol and postal charges. Several speakers have made the point that one of the main objects of the Budget is to create a sizeable pool of unemployment in order to contain consumer demand and at the same time quieten union or worker activity. Whilst I agree with this opinion I go further, because it is my belief that for some months now the Government has been moving quietly in this direction. I must admit that in some fields it has already succeeded with this shameful plan because in the metropolitan area of my home state of South Australia the motor industry last week dismissed some 750 skilled tradesmen and the work force of our small but competent local shipbuilding industry is very low when compared with its capacity and in some instances the Government is the guilty party.
The retrenchments in the motor industry, regardless of perhaps some error of judgment by the employers, are due mainly to the policies of the Government which make it comparatively easy for any of the world’s large foreign car producers to ship so much of their excess production into Australia. Surely the Government and its advisers must know that the great art of cheap and efficient mass production in a manufacturing industry such as the motor industry is high volume production. In other words, the more vehicles that can be produced from the one tooling programme, the cheaper the cost. Our Australian car manufacturers, realising this, have tried very hard, with some measure of success, to secure an export market and thus increase the volume of production However, due to the excessive number of -imported vehicles allowed into this country, their anticipated local growth rate has been curtailed drastically. In effect, the action of. the Government increases the cost of the wholly Australian product while at the same time it decreases the cost of the foreign vehicle. It is clear that this type of policy can only mean retrenchments in the Australian industry. I support the amendment.
– In this Budget debate few people will notice what we say or care what we say in this House. However, 1 am moved to reply to ray friend, the honourable member for Purl Adelaide (Mr Birrell) who put up an argument that we often hear in this place that the workers do not get a fair go and that other people in the community get a much greater share. I point out to him that the 3 per cent of the community who get over $8,000 a year-
– That includes people in this place.
– i hope it includes the honourable member for Port Adelaide. That 3 per cent pay about 25 per cent of all income tax. This in total is almost as much as would be paid by millions of the people about whom he has been talking. He calls them the workers: I call them Australians.
– lt would include the honourable member for Sturt.
– Leave me out of it; speak for yourself.
-Order! There are far too many interjections and all interjections are out of order.
– That small percentage of people pays 471 per cent or 47£c in the dollar in income tax which goes primarily to the welfare funds and which is spent by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), lt goes to the States and to defence.
– And it goes to the Fills.
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt will cease interjecting.
– He does not worry me a bit, Mr Deputy Speaker. Almost half of company profits go to the people of Australia and their services. I was informed just a minute ago by a speech I heard in the other place by that master tactician from Sydney. Senator Carrick, that the great companies of Australia are owned by what the honourable member for Port Adelaide calls the workers of Australia. Through the superannuation funds, the insurance funds and the mutual funds they have an enormous interest and whenever your friends like Mr Hawke-
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member address his remarks to the Chair.
– I agree, Mr Deputy Speaker. Whenever the friends of the honourable member for Stuart go on strike, they hit the people - the Australians whom the honourable member for Port Adelaide calls the workers - because they are now increasingly owning the big companies through superannuation funds, insurance funds and other kinds of funds which are invested in by small investors. This brings about what we call equality in Australia. Yet an honourable member who has been here many years and who has an honourable record in the Labor movement refers to the workers. There are no real classifications nowadays because we all enjoy the same rewards and fruits of our labour in Australia. When he refers to workers he is completely out of date.
– What about the poverty line that you created?
-Order! I have already warned the honourable member to cease interjecting and I will not continue to warn him. He is interjecting far too frequently. He must restrain himself.
– He is helping me, Mr Deputy Speaker. I do not want to talk about who gets the shares which I have pointed out are gradually evening up. The top bracket income earners are paying more and more taxation - equivalent to that paid by more than one million of those income earners in the bottom bracket. However, let us consider the whole position and what Australia is earning today as a result of its stable political atmosphere in the basin of the Pacific. Similar stability now has been reached in Indonesia, Malaysia, South Vietnam, South Korea and the Philippines.
– Go on! South Vietnam!
– The honourable member may delude himself. I do not know whether he has been to South Vietnam. I have been there 3 times.
– This is all nonsense.
-Order! The honourable member for Bendigo will cease interjecting.
– It is much safer in the streets of Saigon than it is in the honourable member’s electorate where a person can be mown down by a motor car. One poor chap was killed in a motor smash the other day and a request was made that his brother be brought home from Vietnam. He was to be brought to Australia where he would be unsafe.
– Stability in Vietnam?
-Order! I warn the honourable member for Bendigo to cease interjecting.
– I have been to Vietnam 3 times and it is safe in Vietnam. What is Australia’s position? By dint of hard struggling, we have assisted the people. Members of the Opposition and their Leader support Mr Robert Hawke. During this Budget debate they have endorsed Mr Hawke’s actions in taking on the people of Australia and trying to take away from them their freedoms. People in the electorate of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) were not very keen on his actions in respect of whether Australia should play football against the South Africans. Mr Hawke’s friends told the South Africans to get out of Australia and to stay away. These are the people who would destroy the stable political atmosphere of Australia.
Some honourable members on this side have given tremendous labour to organising the people and telling them about the true situation. They have worked to keep out the desperadoes who would take over in Australia if they could. I refer to the people who would sit down in the streets. When he came back from his visit to China after those 2 by-elections in Queensland which went so badly for the Labor Party, Mr Tom Burns said: There is nothing wrong with the ALP. There is something wrong with the people of Queensland’. He said that there was nothing wrong with the Australian Labor Party which had just been thrown out ignominously in 2 by-elections. He said that the people of Queensland are at fault because they cannot see the excellence of true Socialism. Socialism has never given a standard of living of the kind we have in Australia.
Mr Tom Burns , I hope I am quoting him correctly , a week later, after having had some advice, went out to a Young Labor organisation meeting and said: ‘We do not want you people involving the ALP in these kinds of demonstrations.’ A week later, after having abused the people of Queensland for their sins, misjudgment and deviationisms and after having been told certain things, he made another statement. He was told some of the things which have obviously been told to Mr Hawke lately, because Mr Hawke has become a strike breaker, a scab. He has suddenly become one of those outlandish people who would do away with strikes. But Mr Tom Burns exhorted the Young Labor organisation people not to be seen in the streets. While he was saying this a Labor senator was joining the Queen Street squat, with a great picture in a pro-Labor newspaper in Queensland. We see on the other side of the chamber a Party which is so dedicated to this great thing called Socialism. Honourable members opposite would hand Australia over to the bureaucracy, and they will if ever they get a chance.
Let us talk for a moment about what has been achieved. First of all, we have a stable situation in the Pacific, which is now becoming the centre of the world’s activities. In the Pacific we have the presence of America, the mightiest country in the world, and Russia, the second greatest country. In the north-west Pacific we have Japan, the third greatest country, which is overtaking Russia, and we have China, which has come into the news so much lately. We are a dazzling example to the world of what can be achieved in a young country with tremendous vigour. We have had our ups and downs. We had a depression in 1931. Our rural industries at the moment are in an extremely bad situation. Although export income from rural industries is stilt about $4m, it is not as great as it was. So we have to look to our minerals. We have experienced a slump in investments although statistically investments in Australian industry are still growing. I took out some figures recently which show that 2 years ago S40Om a quarter was being invested in Australian industry. Today the figure is $800m a quarter. This figure must go down, but each new figure as it comes in shows a rise.
There is a tremendous confidence in Australia because of our stable political atmosphere. When we go through Australia to the Queensland alumina works, to Gove, to Port Hedland, to Mount Newman, to Mount lsa mines or to Mount Tom Price and ask why all this money has been poured into Australia, there is always one answer: It is that there is a stable political atmosphere in Australia. May I pay some tribute to the people who work day and night, who give up their family life and go out arranging meetings to form Party branches. 1 can see that I will bring tears to the eyes of the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) in a minute because of the way he works. We get a stable political atmosphere in Australia by hard political work.
Now we have run into a period when the environment has become of immense importance. The construction of a steel works in my electorate by a company called Armco has been mooted. The complaints made to me are that we are going to put a steel works within 50 miles of the Port Kembla steel works. Why do we have to have them so close? The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) will know that when the steel works at Port Kembla were erected we did not bother about the environment. Pollution of the atmosphere did not matter. So the great smoke stacks are belching forth red dust and scale and polluted water is being discharged into the harbour. The noise is terrific. But Armco, who will be building the new steel works, has won 3 awards in America at its plant at Middleton in Ohio for the protection of the environment. There is no dust or smoke from these works. Every bit of waste material is caught and returned to the sinter furnaces. No effluent water is discharged from the steel works. There is no red iron ore dust and no scale, just clean air coming out of the steelworks. The noise level is kept down to 85 decibels. I am told that that is lower than the sound of a motor car. This is the kind of situation we have coming to us. We are going to protect the environment.
– Of course we can expect certain types to erupt and probably start a demonstration or something like that. We are protecting the environment with tremendous skill and with the best advice in the world. Now we are told that we will run out of coal. We cannot run out of natural gas for a while because we have just too much natural gas. We have about only half the oil we need. But there is no doubt that the world faces a shortage of energy. In America the nuclear power stations are facing a doubling in demand for power every 10 years. If we are to conserve our coal resources and not take the best coal and blend it with coal that is not so good we will have to use nuclear energy. Australia need not rush into this field because before we get nuclear energy we have to get enrichment of the natural material used in a nuclear power station. I am informed that U238 is put through 1,000 machines, each of which gives a little more enrichment to the fuel. There are several types of fuel. We have to put in a plant for fuel enrichment before we can operate Our first nuclear power station. The only discharge from such a station will be hot or warm water, which studies have shown will not interfere with marine life.
– It improves it.
– I thank the honourable member for Wentworth. I hope it improves the marine life. I live very close to the sea and the marine life is pretty good at the moment. Australia has to have a nuclear power station quickly. It will take 5 years to build it and 3 years to get the bugs out of it. Then we could move this kind of operation perhaps to Gove.
Bauxite when it is taken out of the ground by power machine is worth from $5 to $8 a ton. The alumina is worth $55 a ton. The difference is accounted for by the provision of power, energy and heat. The finished aluminium is worth 4 times the alumina; it is worth over $200 a ton. At the moment, we lose this. With the use of nuclear power at Gove Peninsula, Australia would receive an enormous income from the beneficiation of bauxite into aluminium. Therefore, the first nuclear power station must be installed.
– We cannot sell alu.mium.
– The demand for aluminium is not considerable in the short term, but in a few years the demand will rise 5 to 10 times. There will be an enormous demand for aluminium. This will give Australia time to look at fuel enrichment plants and to install the first nuclear power station. As I say, this must be done. But we can wait 6 months or 12 months to find out what type of fuel we need and to obtain the latest type of nuclear power station.
Probably coal will not enjoy a sellers market any longer. The quantity for export will rise to about 80 million tons. We have that amount of coal. That export alone involves approximately $l,000m. The value of our iron ore exports will increase enormously. Of course, every time a strike occurs on our coal fields the Japanese immediately buy more coal from America. I believe that the coal miners have never been better off. They are probably the most contented group of people in Australia and receive enormous incomes. My electorate of Macarthur has probably more coal output than any other electorate.
Australia does not now enjoy a sellers market for many of its minerals including coal and iron ore. We are beginning to catch up with demand. But there will be a consistent demand for these minerals which will give Australia a tremendous income. But this all depends on one thing: A stable political atmosphere. Our friends on the other side of the House are anxious to disturb this atmosphere. We have the position today where one man is taking on not the employers, not the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, but the people of Australia. Of course, those who are dedicated to Socialism do not care about the loss of freedom.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, it is quite a pity that the honourable member for MacArthur (Mr Jeff Bate) should have had to complete his speech in such a hurry. I thought that, at some stage, he was almost coming to one of the points of crisis. He was recognising that there will not be a sellers market any more - not that he was going to recognise any fact apart from that or do anything on the subject, except perhaps to ensure that workers’ wages were cut or that they were put out of work. I understand that we are to make a mint of money out of the bauxite discovered in Arnhem Land. The principal sufferers there will be the Aboriginals who are being displaced. The principal profiteers will be the people of Switzerland who own most of the productive capacity.
I think that I ought to answer several other points made by the honourable member for MacArthur. He did pass remarks about the Labor movement, demonstrations and Mr Hawke. Before I came into the House a few moments ago, I heard the announcement that the Australian Cricket Board of Control had decided not to invite the South Africans to play cricket in Australia in the coming cricket season. The tour has been cancelled. I congratulate the Cricket Board of Control upon that decision. But the Board would not have made that decision which I think is so vital to Australia’s standing in this part of the world and to the creation of a proper world opinion against the policies of South Africa but for the vigour with which people opposed the Rugby tour some months ago. It is a tribute to all of those people who faced the ignominy, the denigration and the assault by police that this tour has been called off. It is a tribute to the good sense of the Cricket Board of Control and demonstrates the complete lack of nerve of the Government because it has left Australia’s foreign policy to be decided by that Board of Control.
I wish to deal with one other point made by the honourable member for MacArthur. It concerns Mr Hawke, the
President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Mr Hawke, in the last 12 months, has 2 remarkable achievements to his credit. One was on the question of resale price maintenance. This was achieved without much harm to anybody. The Dunlop company was quietly told what would happen unless it came into line on the matter. This policy had substantial public support. Its support included even that of this Government. The other remarkable achievement was on the subject of penal clauses.
Some 5 months or 6 months ago, 1 could see coming up in the trade union movement a major confrontation between this Government and the trade unions. ( know the people involved quite well. I know how determined were my friends on the other side of the House that the trade union movement was to be challenged. 1 know the trade union movement well enough to recognise that the people who lead it will not be trampled on.
What did we find? I presumed that we were to have a long hard winter. I believed that we would have one of the greatest industrial confrontations in Australian history. That is not what happened. In the end. discussions took place between the representatives of the employers and Mr Hawke, with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) sulking in the corner. There was nothing he could do about it. That crisis has now passed. T believe that this was a great achievement on the part of the people involved particularly Mr Hawke.
We are speaking on the Budget. Perhaps nearly everything that could be said or that ought to be said on the subject has been said. My friend from Reid (Mr Uren) has raised the question of the environment. My friend from Bendigo (Mr Kennedy) has spoken about primary industry and in particular one small segment of it that is often overlooked - the poultry industry. My opponent from Herbert (Mr Bonnett) on the other side of the House, has been wringing his hands and weeping about our failure to develop the tourist industry. My own local member, the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown), has been giving the Government some advice about depreciation allowances. I have no doubt that neither of them will ever vote against the Government on the most simple matter or the most simple amendment: they will continue to wring their hands until we ring them out of the Parliament.
The Budget is an important social document - or it ought to be. It is the document containing the public accounts. It explains how all the money which is reefed off the community is to be spent - we hope for the community’s advantage. Perhaps we expect too much from it. Perhaps all those people who come to make representations to us before Budget time each year - now they are beginning to come to us at the beginning of each year - are expecting too much. They are expecting too much from a government such as this one, anyhow. The Budget is a document of various kinds. It is a description of the difficulties of the country and it ought to be a prescription for solving them. But what is the quality of thought that we find in the Budget? I turn to the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and I find that he is concerned with matters such as this:
Even more than usually the Government has this year found it necessary to shape its Budget to serve an overriding economic purpose.
The Government never considers matters affecting people. I now turn to the speech on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). He stated:
We are, 1 agree, now facing problems because cost and price inflation has recently gathered pace.
He mentions that there is likely to be an increase in unemployment. He does not mention that he is going to do anything about it. We all recognise that substantial difficulties are facing the Australian community. The economists, the Treasurer, the Prime Minister and the Reserve Bank have all had something to say about it. In the 1970-71 report of the Reserve Bank of Australia we read:
The growth in total spending, in real terms, tended to ease in 1970-71 to a rate slightly below that of potential supply. This was reflected in earlier conditions in the labour market as indicated by declines in job vacancies and by some increase in the number of registered unemployed.
That is what it says, amongst other things, in its consideration of the year in brief. What I want to emphasise is the term ‘easier conditions in the labour market’. What that means is that more people were unemployed. The most depressing theme in the whole consideration of the situation in Australia is that people run last and that for some reason or other it is the public accounts, as accounts, that matter. I believe that this is a total abdication of our responsibility and a reversal of what the priorities ought to be. I am fortified, one might say, in my despair about the kind of people who run the place by turning to some of the previous Budget Speeches that have become enshrined in the political literature of this nation. Here is a statement in 1956 by the Right Honourable Sir Arthur Fadden, a distinguished coiner of phrases. I remember on one occasion that he said we had to soak up our surplus spending power. I will take a phrase at random:
These figures show that except in the case of farm income all the main aggregates of income and expenditure rose considerably during the last financial year.
We go on and we find him saying:
Nevertheless, there was a marked levelling ofl in income and expenditure trends towards the second half of the financial year.
So he was going to do something about that. Then we take a statement at random from the 1960-61 Budget Speech. The right honourable Harold Holt said:
The Government has now taken stock of the position again in the light of recent trends and the prospects ahead so far as they can be seen.
Government supporters are always wringing their hands about a situation which seems to be beyond their control, but if we take the last 16 or 17 Budget Speeches they are all of the same sort - they all say the same thing and they all get nowhere. There seems to be no quality of thought behind them at all. We find in this Budget Speech the same sort of stuff - inflation, costs, limitation and pruning. We find complacency on things like education, national development and social services. My complaint is that it is a totally pedestrian approach to the government of Australia, totally non-visionary. I do not really expect the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) to listen. He has been here for 12 or 13 years.
– Too long.
– Well, I do not know that it is. After all, it has made no difference. He has been here for 12 or 13 years and in not one single speech have I ever heard from him a reference to any vision or any opportunity to expand the community in any way. So I do not think there is much point in him listening now.
As I look at the Budget 1 see no recognition of the influence of government on people’s lives. In the last 60 or 70 years there has been a total revolution in what government means. When we established this Parliament in 1900 it had nothing to do with education. It was a totally regulatory and negative system of government. The government adjusted things here and there; it raised a bit of revenue out of customs or something such as that for the public account; it organised some defence services and it did something about the Post Office; but it cared nothing about education. Education was not its responsibility. Education, in a large measure was not even recognised as a general community responsibility. The Government had no social services to worry about in a large measure, and very few public works.
What do we see in 1971? This Budget document and this Government, with its antennae, one might say, spread throughout the community, has a total effect upon the way people live. It has something to do with the day to day life of every citizen. The Australian Government now builds ships and aircraft. It plans cities. It is making quite a job of Canberra, I admit. It makes some errors here and there but on the whole we are building a city in a magnificent fashion. It is more or less planning and organising new cities in the Northern Territory. It controls markets, which would have been almost unbelievable 60 or 70 years ago. It delivers the mail. It handles people at airports, takes them through Customs and things like that. It is responsible for social services. It is the foster parent for thousands of children of people lost in the wars. The type and style of government is tremendously important to every person in the community. So I look in vain in the Budget for such things as Aboriginal advancement. One has not time to devote to that cause this evening. But what do we intend to do about the tragic rate of Aboriginal infant mortality which is, I understand, in parts of the Northern Territory 10 times that of the white community?
What do we intend to do about education? I taught in the Victorian education service for some 20 years. In 1938 I was at the Melbourne Teachers College and as one does in this situation I taught some classes for a few terms at schools in my own electorate in Brunswick and Coburg, particularly in Brunswick. Nearly every child in those schools was better served in 1938 than he would be in 1971. In 1971 every building that the children occupy is nearly 40 years older than those the children occupied in 1938. In 1938 every teacher who stood in front of a class was fully trained. Every class was smaller than it is today. Education must be one of the few areas of public or private endeavour in which the community is basically worse off in 1970 and 1971 than it was in 1939 and 1940. What are we doing about urban living? Why have we not started to plan new cities? I look in vain for any provision for that in the Budget. Frankly, I shudder at some areas of the Budget. I shudder at the indirect taxation system. It is becoming a malaise. It has gone beyond the stage of just creating difficulties in the community. The indirect taxation system has become so inbuilt now that we have the kind of nonsense the Victorian Government is perpetuating. It is worthwhile people taking a look at what happened in the 1640s when the people of Britain rose in revolt against this kind of nonsense.
We have allowed interest rates to get to the stage of absolute usury where they cripple people who buy houses and land and who run farms. We are making postal services not part of the community’s social service, which is what they ought to be, but something loo expensive for the people to afford. I believe a communication system between citizens is a fundamental right in a democracy and we are starting to make it almost impossible for people to use the system. Every one of us here knows this. The Minister for Shipping and Transport must know this through his own local organisations and so on. I take it that every one of us in this place has to deal with hundreds of people at a time. We want to send notices to people and organisations in our electorates, and now the basic postal rate has gone up to 7c or some such ridiculous rate. It would be cheaper in my electorate to get in a taxi to deliver 200 or 300 notices. So we have complacency in various areas and, I believe, mischievous financial policies in others.
My real grief is the total lack of vision shown in the Budget. This Government is totally inert. There is not one single new idea flowing from it anywhere. I know the people opposite very well. Some of us have sat here together for 16 or 17 years. We have travelled overseas together and I have talked to them privately. I have met them publicly and we have been on platforms together, but while I have no disregard for them at all as persons my deep grief is the total lack of vision that they are able to bring to the government of this country. I know the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) well enough to know that in the 15 or 16 years I have been here I have never heard him express one new, fresh, visionary idea. The same can be said about the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony). The same thing applies to my friend the Treasurer (Mr Snedden), who was elected to thc Parliament on the same day as I was. Then we have the new Minister for Supply (Mr Garland). I have nothing against the new Minister for Supply. How could I? I do not know the man. He has been here for only 2 years.
– Who is he?
– I do not know, but he is going to pick up Australia’s aircraft industry and make it go with a boom. He is going to take hold of our munitions manufacturing, docks, Woomera and the rest of our bases with their rockets and make them whiz. We hardly even know that he is in the Ministry. I do not believe that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) knows what the inside of a workshop is. I do not believe he has the slightest conception of what he is doing to the young people of Australia through the national service system. Then there is my friend the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). I must say that he and perhaps the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) are 2 people who occasionally - not very often - have expressed some vision and so they do not get anywhere. This country was built on vision.
I have here a book titled ‘Historical Records of Australia’. We should take a look at what Phillip had to face when he established Sydney 160 or 170 years ago, the tremendous difficulties and the hopeless task he had to face. He had a vision of a country that would become, I think he says somewhere, one of Britain’s greatest and richest possessions. We should remember Chifley and his light on the hill. We should remember the people who established the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. What was it all about? It was to cost $ 1,000m in 1948-49 when the country had a gross national product of perhaps $6,000m or $7,000m at the most. One-sixth of the country’s gross national product was planned to be spent on one single project. Can honourable members imagine this Government setting out on a project which was to cost $6,000m or $7,000m? Somehow we have to challenge this Australian Micawberism which just waits for somebody else to do things. It seems to me that the facts are clear enough. 1 have 3 or 4 minutes left and I want to place some facts before those people who care to stop and listen or look or read.
– There will not be too many.
– It does not matter whether they stop and listen. I suppose it will not make any difference. Let us look at the countries which are almost industrially self-sufficient. We can start with Britain and the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, some of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden, France, Italy, Japan, Australia and Canada. There are 10 or 12 of them. Let us now look at the countries which are almost self-sufficient in primary production. They are Australia, Canada perhaps, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America. What others? Then we can look at the countries which are almost self-sufficient in minerals. There is Australia. Who else? I have not time this evening to set out the tables I have available.
I have here an interesting table giving a general review of these matters. It deals with Australia’s self-sufficiency in the principal mineral commodities starting with alumina and finishing with zircon. There are SO of them. In 25 of these minerals we are 100 per cent self-sufficient: of most of the others we have sufficient. So here Aus tralia has the opportunity to be different in every single area. Its industrial capacity is one of the largest in the world. It has a level of primary production that is an embarrassment. It has minerals almost beyond belief when compared with what we used to think it had. We have an administrative capacity to do whatsoever we will. As I see it our problem is that we are completely bound by other people’s economic theories. The problems that are created in Europe and America are different from our own; the opportunities that flow to those countries are different from our own. What I want to see is a new vision and opportunity. I do not know what the term is that should be used. L. B. Johnson called it the ‘great society’. I think we should try to produce the human society. We have been through the agricultural society, the stone age society and the industrial society and it is time for us to start putting humanity first. I do not know whether my friend, the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles), is smiling at my
Utopian vision of a country that has to put up with him in it or whether he is supporting my theories.
I believe we have passed one of the watersheds of human society. We have come to the stage where we can produce whatever we need. In my electorate we can produce almost enough stockings to put a new pair on every woman in Australia every week. Of course, my wife says that their quality is such that that is about what we need to do. We can produce a new motor car for every family in Australia probably every 2 years. We are now faced with an embarrassment of riches. We might have to redeploy 500,000 people. We might have to replan cities and we are one country which has the capacity and resources to do it. But we are totally inhibited by restrictions imposed upon us by our past, by waiting for something to turn up. by waiting for somebody else to do it first and by a totally inert Ministry which is without vision beyond belief.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) - by leave - agreed to:
That Mr Dobie and Mr Robinson be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and that in their places Mr Irwin and Mr Petti tt be appointed.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– We have heard a stirring defence of humanity from the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). Whilst some major issues concerning this country have arisen in this Budget debate, and whilst we have in the last week heard Dr Paul Ehrlich outline some even weightier problems which face the world and in the solution of which Australia will have to play its part as one of the leading economies in the world, I want to concentrate in the brief time available to me on something of more immediate importance. I do this in the same spirit of supporting humanity instead of profit motives. I refer mainly to the advertising of alcohol and tobacco which this Government sees fit to allow to continue virtually unrestricted because apparently it suits its version of the economy of this country. I appreciate the presence in the House of the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes), representing the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) to whom I indicated that I would be talking on this topic. I want to protest at the sort of answers I have been getting from the Minister for Health and the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) on this matter of advertising. I have not time to go through all of them or to go through ad of the health aspects of this question.
Let me quickly recapitulate some of the risks that are run by people who are influenced by this type of advertising. I want to point out that it is not just a question of giving people facts. It is all very well to say: ‘If people are silly enough to abuse alcohol and tobacco let them take the consequences.’ This is the same sort of argument that we could put up to justify, say, the licensing of heroin pedlars in order to get revenue. I have no doubt the Government would do that. I have no doubt it could build up quite a clientele and it could justify this by saying: ‘We have put out pamphlets through all the Health Departments. It has been discussed on television. The AntiHeroin Association has just put out some television advertisements to warn people of the terrible dangers of heroin. If people are silly enough to use it to such an extent that it threatens then- health, what is that to us? It is a major source of revenue.’ Why not get into that? It would bring in a lot more revenue than the Government gets from alcohol and tobacco and it would not kill as many people.
– What about the undertakers? Where do they come in?
– They do not get any more money whatever way people die. They just get it a bit quicker this way. Alcohol has been blamed for causing 50 per cent of the road toll. The road toll is not just a matter of people dying and helping to keep undertakers affluent. It is also a matter of lifelong maiming, suffering and poverty for lots of families because this is the main cause of people being in wheelchairs and living a stunted and withered remnant of a life. Alcohol is the main single cause of admissions to mental hospitals, 50 per cent of such admissions now being attributable to this cause. I could go into all the less well established effects such as premature senility and arteriosclerosis. Because of the consumption of alcohol people have heart attacks and strokes at an earlier age than they otherwise would.
With regard to tobacco, the tobacco companies have stated that there is only oneninth of the incidence of lung cancer in Australia that there is in America and therefore all these weighty reports, which are now overwhelming and unanswerable, from other countries of research into the causes of lung cancer, for example, do not apply to Australia. What if they do not? Suppose we do have only oneninth of the incidence here because we have less smog and less of the other factors which have a part in causing lung cancer, which is well explained by Sir Macfarlane Burnet in his latest book on immunological surveillance. He is aware of this but is still active in campaigning against smoking. Suppose it is true that lung cancer is a minor, even trivial, disease in Australia. The fact remains that there is still a very high incidence of chronic bronchitis and emphysema primarily as a direct result of smoking. It is not excessive smoking but average to heavy smoking that is the commonest cause of this complaint which reduces the life of a smoker of 40 cigarettes a day by 8 years. The insurance companies have been impervious to suggestions that they should put a loading on for this sort of thing. Perhaps one of the things we should do is to pay people a higher rate of age pension if they smoke over 40 cigarettes a day. This would help them to pay for what they are spending on the cigarettes and we would not be out of pocket because they would be dying 8 years sooner.
– What about pipes?
– Perhaps we should be putting a bonus on pipes so that they could switch over to pipe smoking. Some people might think that I was being a little facetious in my earlier remarks about heroin, but the fact remains that opium peddling is going on today and heroin is being manufactured internationally. It was fostered by the British Government in China years ago. Now we have the wife of the Premier of New South Wales saying that this international drug peddling is a Communist plot. The evidence is, of course, that it is the Army and the police in Thailand which are mainly concerned in this and which are organising it. When there is a great outcry and a bit of pressure on them they round up a few bandits and say: ‘We have caught them red handed. It was a lot of Communists growing the stuff. They confiscate it all and of course they continue to sell it on the black market.
If anyone is going to argue that we should have revenue from alcohol and tobacco I ask: Why not marihuana? It is a thing you can take or leave. It is not like cigarettes the lack of which, for 2 weeks, makes you ready to tear the place down and belt your wife because you are so irri table. You do not get as attached to marihuana as that. It is not as dangerous when driving your car home as 4 drinks at the pub. Why do we not start legalising marihuana and put a bit of revenue on that? Let them advertise it on television. Has anyone any good arguments against it? Is it not a better way of raising revenue than these dangerous drugs that are killing Australians? It has been said that you give the people the facts and it is their own fault if they take no notice. Anybody who has studied the advertising business or who has done a little bit of psychology knows that this is rot.
I wonder whether honourable members have read the paperback book called “The Hidden Pursuaders’. In it a soap millionaire in America was asked how he got people to use his brand of soap. He said: We do not sell soap any more. We sell hope - get a little lovelier each day, bring out the hidden beauty, doctors prove that our plan will make your skin lovelier in 19 days’. They do not sell soap; they sell hope. The people who are advertising cigarettes on television are not selling cigarette smoke; they are selling sophistication and a man of the world, sportsman picture, lt is not a bit of good the Government saying that this should not be counted. We should either ban cigarette advertising outright or we should do as they did in America and require the advertisers to pay for equal time for publicity against cigarettes.
At the same time we should cease to make all advertising of these products tax deductible. This is the minimum we should do. It is said we must not restrict free speech. All right, let them advertise marihuana and heroin. Let them advertise alcohol and tobacco. But make them advertise the other side, too, and tax them on their advertising. I want to refer now to New Guinea. The first thing we must give the people of New Guinea is the right to stop migration to that country from Australia.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– There are 2 subjects I would like to raise tonight. The first is the subsidised health insurance scheme for low income earners and the second is care of the aged. I am particularly concerned about the subsidised health insurance scheme for low income earners because although this scheme has been in operation since January 1970 the Parliament still has no idea of how successful the scheme is. I asked a question on notice on 17th February this year about the subsidised health scheme for low income earners. Six months have now passed and I still have not an answer to that question. That means that the Parliament still has no idea of how successful this scheme for low income earners has been. I find this very difficult to justify.
If we are going to have a scheme like this which is aimed at doing good for a very important section of the community statistics should be readily available to tell us how it is faring. The question I asked on 17th February was:
Can the Minister state the number of people in each State and Territory in each of the categories of (a) unemployed, (b) migrants, (c) sickness beneficiaries, (d) other eligible beneficiaries and (e) families with weekly incomes of (i) below $42.50, (ii) between $42.45 and $45.50 and (iii) between $45.50 and $48.50, who have applied for subsidised health insurance by registering with (A) the Commonwealth Department of Social Services and (B) a hospital and medical benefits society since the introduction of the subsidised medical services scheme?
The second part of the question on notice was as follows:
Can the Minister say what percentage of those eligible for this assistance in each of the categories mentioned above have applied for assistance in each State and Territory.
Still I have received no answer. This is a reflection of very poor administration on the Government’s part if this sort of information is not forthcoming. The scheme was introduced last year. It was designed to help some 300,000 needy people. It is based on a means test. Families with less than $46.50 a week qualify for a full subsidy on hospital and medical benefits costs. Those receiving up to $49.50 have twothirds of their costs paid for the insurance, and those with incomes of up to $52.50 have one-third of their health insurance costs paid. This is not only for low income earners. It is for those who are receiving unemployment, sickness or special benefits and it is for migrants in their first 2 months of residence in Australia. Obviously we are dealing with quite a substantial section of the community. The question is how successful has the scheme been over 18 or 19 months? The answer is that we do not know. I would estimate that there are tens of thousands of low income families who are eligible for assistance under the scheme. I would say that there are tens of thousands who have not applied for the scheme because they do not know about it. I would say also that there are tens of thousands of people in the community in need who are precluded from assistance under the scheme because of its very stringent means test.
-Order! The honourable gentleman is speaking on the adjournment. The Social Services Bill is on the notice paper for discussion and the honourable member may not in an adjournment debate anticipate the programme that is before the House. The Bill is before the House at the present time. I have been listening to the honourable member for Bendigo fairly intently. I would suggest that this matter which he is referring to in detail would much better be discussed when the Bill is before the House.
– With respect, Mr Speaker, I think you will find that the Social Services Bill that is before the House is a detailed Bill which does not concern the subject with which I am dealing tonight.
-The Chair will be prepared to listen a little longer to the honourable member, but it is my impression from what he has said so far that he is dealing with aspects of a Bill which is before the House.
– I thank you for your leniency, Mr Speaker. For one thing, a lot of the families in the community which are eligible for this assistance simply do not know it is there. The Government’s view is if it continually advertises that there is such a scheme people will find out and apply, but that does not necessarily follow. For example, there is the factor of pride. Another factor which has to be taken into consideration is that some people in this category may be frightened or resentful of government authority. Some people who qualify for, say, the intermediate benefit - the two-thirds subsidy or the one-third subsidy - might still find the cost to be so high that they prefer to take the risk of going without health insurance and of paying later if things do not work out well.
A number of other factors are also involved. For example, it is a hardship to many people to have to go to an office of the Department of Social Services. Many people do not know where to find such an office. For many people it is a costly venture to go to such an office. It may involve a substantial fare. In this connection I would recommend to the Government a point that was brought out by the Canberra Anti-Poverty League in letters which it wrote to the Government on 26th October 1970 and 3rd March 1971. In those letters the League pointed out that it would be a good idea to have a contingency fund whereby the Commonwealth reimbursed hospitals in cases where the low, income earners who were eligible for assistance have not applied for assistance and have therefore got themselves into debt at these hospitals. Such a contingency fund could be operated by a reprenentative of the Department of Health, a representative of the Department of Social Services and perhaps a social worker at the hospital concerned. In my opinion this is a very good idea. The purely mechanical means of increasing the publicity through the mass media is not, I am sure, going to get through to the tens of thousands of families in such situations.
The second thing that is objectionable is the means test itself. I believe that an absurdly stringent and cruel means test is being applied. It takes no account of what is required to keep a family going. I have had some research done on this matter by the statistical research service of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. I asked it to look at the poverty levels on the basis of incomes in Victoria for the June quarter of this year. The average weekly earnings in Victoria for the June quarter were $91.50. I asked the statistical research service to examine what would be the poverty level according to the sizes of families on the standards laid down by the Department of Applied Economic Research, which is Professor Henderson’s department, at the University of Melbourne, using the criteria that it used in a survey of poverty in 1966.
It is interesting to note that a husband and his wife and one child would have needed to earn on these criteria $42.68 a week in the June quarter. That family group would be very lucky as it would qualify for assistance. The figure for the family group of a husband, wife and 2 children was given as $49.91 a week. That family group would qualify, but it would not qualify for the full assistance. It would qualify only for a one-third assistance. The family group of a husband, wife and 3 children would need to have an income of $52.56 a week to be on a very stringent poverty line. Of course, a family group earning that income, which it must earn to be just above the poverty line, would be immediately placed beyond eligibility for this subsidised health insurance scheme. That is very vicious and very cruel. The family group in Victoria of a husband, wife and 4 children would need $59.86 a week. It would have no hope of qualifying under this scheme. The family group of a husband, wife and 5 children on $67.44 would have no hope of qualifying under this scheme, nor would the family group of a husband, wife and 6 children on $74.97 a week. It can be seen that any family group in Victoria of a husband, wife and 3 or more children would be receiving such income that they would not be eligible for assistance under this subsidised medical scheme.
In my view the best system would be to offer a scheme whereby everybody would be covered as a result of a U per cent surcharge being imposed on taxable income. But the Government has no intention of introducing such a scheme because it would be contrary to the Government’s ideology. However, it could at least introduce the system suggested in its report by the Nimmo Committee whereby there was a tapered means test on the basis of a minimum wage of $46.50 up to say $50.50 a week. One-third assistance could still apply in those circumstances. A family could then be allowed to earn $4 a week for every child after the second child. That would be a much fairer system than the system at the present moment. I do recommend the comments I have made to the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson).
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I do not intend to delay the House long at this late hour. However, I do wish to raise again a matter that I raised about 2 weeks ago in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House which has apparently not raised a ripple of thought among supporters of the Government. I refer to the very critical situation which is developing in non-metropolitan areas in relation to employment. In the last couple of days we have heard some comments by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and quite a spate df figures which, I assume, were intended to indicate that there was no employment problem at present in Australia and there was no likelihood of any employment problem developing. On the previous occasion I pointed out, and I do so again, that the current situation is there are more people in the non-metropolitan areas of Victoria in receipt of the unemployment benefit than there are in the metropolitan area. As the population ratio is something like 1 : 2i, this is a fairly serious situation.
The situation in Geelong, which is in my electorate, is very serious. The number of people in receipt of the unemployment benefit in the Geelong employment district, which is somewhat larger than the city of Geelong, represents 14 per cent of the State’s recipients of the unemployment benefit. The ratio of the population of the Geelong employment district to the population of the rest of Victoria is about 1 : 25. It can therefore be seen that the situation is very serious. Some time ago the Department of Labour and National Service produced a publication dealing with the problems surrounding the employment of women in certain provincial centres. One would have thought that, the publication having been produced, some action would have been taken to provide the necessary employment for women in these centres. Apparently the Department decided that its responsibility ceased at the point it produced the publication because little or no action has been taken. I think this is a correct interpretation of the situation.
The present difficulty could develop Into a serious economic problem for a number of provincial centres. I am not fully aware of the situation in other centres in Victoria or, for that matter, the whole of Australia, but I am aware of the situation in my own electorate. The woollen textile industry is in a state of recession. Over a period of time I made representations to the former Minister for Supply concerning the situation in the woollen textile industry. I am not aware whether the present Minister for Supply (Mr Garland) has notified mills of orders which, it was indicated to me in June, had been allocated. Some weeks ago I did send a telegram to him asking whether that information could be sent. I have not received any reply to that communication. Therefore I am not in a position to know whether the Minister has notified the mills.
I was informed by the former Minister for Supply that 2 orders had been granted to Geelong mills. I understand that a small order was also granted to the RS and S mill, which has been in desperate trouble for some time and which is at present operating at something like a third of its normal staff component. In an area of confined employment opportunities such a reduction of staff is extremely serious. There has been a considerable drop in the level of employment in the textile industry. The drop has been considerably greater than what would be reflected in the unemployment figures. This is due to the high percentage of married women who are employed in this industry. Whilst the dropping out of employment of married women would not show up in the figures of the recipients of benefits it would very seriously affect the economy of the area and of the families concerned because the income of these women has become a part of the normal income of the family and the spending rates and standards of living have been geared accordingly. At this stage it does not appear that the situation is improving, and this is a matter to which I think the Government should be giving serious consideration.
I think that the situation which exists in Geelong most likely exists in a number of other provincial cities throughout Australia. Although capital cities are important, I do not think that many members of this Parliament - perhaps some would - would want to see the situation develop where the Australian community was finally convinced that the only places in which opportunities for employment and future advancement existed were in the capital cities. This situation is developing, and the lack of any form of initiative being taken by this Government in this field is adding to the problem. We are reaching the stage where people would be entitled to think that governments in Australia want people to Live in the capital cities because these are the places where amenities are provided and where governments create the cheapest form of living. It is much dearer to live in country areas. People would be entitled to think that governments support this policy in every possible way.
As I said, I do not intend to take up the time of the House for much longer, but I want to raise one other matter which I think is equally important and which requires urgent action by the Commonwealth Government. It is a matter which I think every honourable member would support if he had a a free vote on it. I think it is time that the Australian Government adopted a far more serious approach to the problem of providing relief to the refugees from East Pakistan. I do not believe that the Australian Government has done anything like it should have done in accepting its obligations to do something about what is quite clearly the greatest human tragedy of this century. The Indian Government is charged with the responsibility of spending $ 1,200m a year to provide food for these refugees. It cannot reasonably be expected that the Indian Government can afford to spend this amount of money in order to provide food for refugees from a neighbouring country. Regretfully, the Australian Government for reasons best known to itself, has chosen almost to opt out of the field of providing relief. I do not think that this does us good as Australians and I do not think it will enhance our standing in the world in the future. 1 believe that we should provide a level of relief which will maintain the standards of living which this country would hope that the countries of Asia would strive to achieve. I think that this is something which this Parliament should and must do. I hope that the Government will take seriously the fact that it has earned the obvious international reputation of being a miser in this field, and give relief at a far greater rate. Within a month 100,000 children from East Pakistan are expected to die. We are told that the Australian Government has done a magnificent job in giving $1.5m in relief for the refugees from East Pakistan. I must admit that$1. 5m is a lot of money, but it is not much money in the context of the Australian economy and it is a very poor contribution to overcoming what is a very serious human problem. I would hope that this question will be treated far more seriously and with far more feeling by the Australian Government. I make this appeal and I believe that every member of this Parliament will agree with the sentiments that I express. I only hope that collectively those who hold the rank of Minister, in their deliberations on the policy decisions of this Parliament which unfortunately are made outside the Parliament - will give expression to the wishes of the members of this Parliament
Question resolved in theaffirmative.
House adjourned at 11.15 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What (a) number and (b) percentage of (i) medical and (ii) hospital benefits organisations make provision in their constitutions for the election of contributor representatives to their governing bodies.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable members question:
The number and percentage of medical and hospital benefits organisations that have provision in their constitutions for the election of contributor representatives to their governing bodies are as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Mow many registered (a) medical and (b) hospital benefits organisations still hold reserves in excess of 3 months contribution income, and what is the excess in each case.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The number of registered medical benefits and hospital benefits organisations as at 30th June 1970 (the latest date for which figures are available) that held reserves in excess of 3 months contribution income, and the excess over 3 months are set out in the table below:
The above table shows the position prior to introduction of measures which were announced in Parliament on 4th March 1970. The then Minister for Health stated: ‘In future, a policy, will be applied under which larger funds’ ‘free’ reserves - that is, reserves in excess of amounts held against unpresented claims and contributions paid in advance - will generally be limited to the equivalent of three months* contribution income. In the case of smaller funds, more flexibility will he allowed and their free reserves may be permitted to exceed that level in appropriate circumstances’. This policy has been implemented.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The following table has been compiled relating branch structure to the total number of persons (contributors plus dependants) covered for health insurance by each fund operating branches:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health upon notice:
What is the number of (a) public ward beds and (b) private ward beds in each State of the Commonwealth in respect of which hospital benefits are payable.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
At 30 June, 1971 the numbers of beds, according to ward classifications, which were available in hospitals approved under the National Health Act for the purposes of payment of hospital benefits were as follows:
National Health Insurance
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Did the Nimmo Committee of inquiry into Health Insurance recommend the establishment of a National Health Insurance Commission; if so, what steps have been taken to implement this proposal and when will it become effective.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Yes. On 4th March 1970 Dr Forbes announced in Parliament that the Government had decided to adopt this recommendation. This decision is currently under reconsideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
(a) The Home Nursing Subsidy Scheme was in operation at the time of the. evidence.
For organisations in operation at the commencement of thc Scheme $3200 per annum for each registered nurse employed fulltime on home nursing over and above the number employed at 30th September 1956.
For organisations established since the commencement of the Scheme $1600 per annum for each registered nurse employed full-time.
The following table shows the number of nurses employed in home nursing in 1963-64, to the time of the evidence (1967-68) and since the evidence (A) in each of the States under the Home Nursing Scheme and in the Territories and (B) in the Commonwealth.
In addition the Government introduced, in 1969, a Programme of Home Care forthe Aged Under this programme, my Department administers the following legislation:
States Grants (Paramedical Services) Act
States Grants (Nursing Homes) Act
The States Grants (Paramedical Services) Act provides for financial assistance to the States in relation to the provision of paramedical services for aged persons in their homes. The assistance, amounting in aggregate to $250,000 per annum, is available to participating States on a $1 for $1 basis in respect of expenditure for approved paramedical schemes.
To date all States except Victoria have indicated their intention to seek financial assistance under this Act and 2 paramedical schemes in South Australia and a State wide scheme for Tasmania have been approved for subsidy. Proposals for paramedical schemes in Western Australia and Queensland are under consideration.
The Slates Grants (Nursing Homes) Act provides for financial assistance to the States in relation to the erection of nursing homes for aged persons of limited means. A total of $5m is available on a$1 for$1 basis during the 5year period ending 30th June 1974.
To date expenditure on the erection of public nursing homes in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania has been approved for subsidy under the Act. These projects when completed will provide an additional 464 nursing home beds.
Immigration: Student Visas (Question No. 3486)
asked the Minister for
Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question as as follows:
asked the Minister for Cus toms andExcise upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
State Ministers noted a proposal that there should be provision for recourse to the courts to determine whether or not as a fact afilm was obscene. However, after further and more detailed examination of this proposal by the Commonwealth it has been decided that it should not be implemented.
Immigration: Ministerial Meeting (Question No. 3693)
asked the Minister for
Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Have New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania yet amended their laws to correspond with the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1970.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Tasmania has not yet amended its Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) legislation but the Government has indicated its intention to do so. The necessary amending legislation has been passed in South Australia and is effective. In New South Wales, legislation has been passed and will come into operation shortly.
Committee on Overseas Professional Qualifications (Question No. 3694)
asked the Minister for
Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
These booklets have been distributed to Australian representatives overseas.
In consultation with professional associations and registration boards the Committee has planned the production of booklets on the professions of:
Progress ranges from initial discussion to advanced stages of preparation.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
What is the fare per passenger seat mile on each scheduled route flown by Qantas Airways Limited.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The following table shows the first class and economy class fares in cents per mile between Sydney and major points on Qantas’ routes:
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
During this period monetary recoveries amounted to $4,241,843.
During 1969, proceedings were taken against two employers in Victoria; during 1970 proceedings were taken against 3 employers in Victoria, 3 in Queensland and 2 in South Australia.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The review of ILO Conventions referred to by my predecessor was undertaken at the request of the International Labour Office in connexion with the International Year fur Human Rights. In its request forwarded on 12th January the States and Territories during each of the last 10 years for which figures are available.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
No. 11- Right of Association (Agriculture) 1921
No. 29- Forced Labour, 1930
No. 87 - Freedom of Association and Protec tion of the Right to Organise, 1948
No. 98 - Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining. 1949
No. 100- Abolition of Forced Labour. 1957
No. 105- Abolition of Forced Labour, 1957
No.111 - Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) 1958
The honourable member is aware of the present position regarding ratification of Conventions Nos 87 and 98. (vide answer to Question No. 2699, page 968, Hansard of 16th March 1971: Question No. 2700, page 1736, Hansard of 20th April 1971: and Question No. 3335. page 2635, Hansard of 5th May 1971). The Queensland Government has indicated its agreement to ratification of Convention No. 87 since my answer to Question No. 2699.
As to Convention No. 100 the current situation is that no State agrees to ratification, and one State has agreed to ratification of Convention No. 111.
Australian Capital Territory: Unemployment (Question No. 3870)
asked the Minister for
Labour and National Service, upon notice:
How many people were registered as (a) unemployed and (b) in receipt of unemployment benefits in Canberra in each year from 1960 to 1971 inclusive.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is shown in the following figures for the Canberra. District Employment Officer as at endJuly 1960 to 1971 inclusive:
Pollution (Question No. 3512)
asked the Minister for
Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In several capital cities of the world exhaust emissions from passenger cars have been shown to be the main contributors of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons in the air. They also contribute significantly to the total of oxides of nitrogen in the air, as investigations undertaken in the United States have revealed.
In order to prevent any deterioration of the position the Commonwealth and State Governments, through the Australian Transport Advisory Council, have taken steps to deal with exhaust emissions in this country. Council has agreed to an ‘Australian Rule for Vehicle Engine Emission Control’ which is to apply throughout Australia from 1st January 1972 to all new passenger cars. More stringent controls are to come into force from 1st January 1974.
The Australian Rule is based on the European (ECE) rather than on the American standards. This is because the former is more relevant to Australian conditions in terms of car type and average journey.
Meanwhile, Council is continuing to keep a close watch on air pollution caused by motor vehicles other than new cars.’
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
Was the Canberra bomber within the air space of South Vietnam when it was shot down on 14th March 1971 (Hansard, 19th February 1971, page 374); if so, whose forces shot it down.
– The Minister for Air has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
The Canberra bomber was within the air space of South Vietnam when it was shot down by North Vietnamese ground forces on 14th March 1971.
RAAF: Point Cook School of Languages (Question No. 3612)
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The Minister for Air has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Payment of an annual licence fee of $10.
Lodgement of a minimum security of $1,000.
Excise duty at a rate of $1.1375 per gallon must be paid on all beer produced whether for personal consumption or not.
Appropriate records of production and disposal must be kept.
The situation in Australia is that the excise on beer produces a very substantial proportion of total excise revenue receipts. Accordingly any excise free concession given to home production of commercial strength beer could have a serious effect on the Commonwealth Government’s returns from this area. This of course could not be justified in the current economic climate.
Royal Australian Navy: Personnel Leaving Ships at Sea (Question No. 3851)
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
There is no RAN ship named Adelaide currently in commission. Capital City names are given to major fighting units of the RAN and when the 3 DDG’s were being purchased all such names (with the exception of Sydney and Melbourne the Aircraft Carriers) were considered with preference then being given to Perth, Hobart and Brisbane in that order. When opportunity arises the name Adelaide will be given to a ship in the appropriate class.
Brisbane I - 10 years 4 months 12 days
Brisbane II (In commission)- 3 years 8 months 9 days (to 24 August 1971)
Hobart I (ex HMS Apollo) (RAN service only) - 9 years 2 months 23 days
Hobart II (In commission) - 5 years 8 months 7 days (to 24 August 1971)
MelbourneI - 13 years 5 months 21 days
Melbourne 11 (In commission) - 15 years 9 months 28 days (to 24th August 1971)
Perth I (ex HMS Amphion) (RAN Service only) - 2 years 8 months 1 day (sunk 1st March 1942)
Perth II (In commission) - 6 years 1 month 8 days (to 24th August 1971)
Sydney I - 13 years 4 months/ 29 days
Sydney II - 6 years 1 month 27 days (sunk 19th November 1941)
Sydney HI (In commission) - 18 years 11 onths 3 days (to 24th August 1971)
Adelaide- 5th August 1922
Sydney I- 26th June 1913
Melbourne I- 18th January 1913
BrisbaneI- 31st October 1916
PerthI- 29th June 1939 (RAN Service)
HobartI - 28th September 1938 (RAN Service)
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
On what dates has the CommonwealthState Officials Committee on Decentralisation considered the report submitted by the Victorian Decentralisation Advisory Committee on 26th September 1967 and the report submitted by the Development Corporation of New South Wales on Selective Decentralisation on 24th March 1969.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Report of the Victorian Decentralisation Advisory Committee on Selection of Places Outside the Metropolis of Melbourne for Accelerated Development, and the Report of the Development Corporation of New South Wales on Selective Decentralisation, were presented to the Governments of Victoria and New South Wales respectively. These reports are not, therefore, amongst those which have been commissioned by the CommonwealthState Officials’ Committee on Decentralisation. Copies of the reports have, however, been made available to the Committee, which is thus in a position to refer to them in the course of its work as it considers appropriate.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The honourable member will also know that following the Premiers’ Conference I announced that the Commonwealth would meet the cost of exempting the nonbusiness activities of local government authorities from payment of payroll tax as from the date of transfer of the tax to the States. It is estimated that local government authorities will, as a result benefit by an estimated $6m this year and $8m in a full year. This decision has been warmly welcomed by local authorities.
Pensioners: Housing (Question No. 3717)
asked the Minister for
Social Services, upon notice:
When does he expect to make a statement on his Department’s analysis from which it was concluded that some 50,000 age pensioners were neither in their own houses nor in some form of subsidised accommodation nor paying reasonable rents (Hansard, 31st March 1971, page 1280).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As stated in my earlier answer, it was my preliminary conclusion that some 750.000 of the total 800,000 age pensioners were either in their own houses, or were in some form of subsidised accommodation, or were paying reasonable rents. I also stated that upon further analysis, the figure of 750,000 could be found to be higher.
Subsequent attempts to refine this initial estimate have so far been inconclusive because of lack of relevant data. However 1 have asked my Department to give further examination to this matter.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 September 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1971/19710908_reps_27_hor73/>.