27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
-I have to inform the House that we have present in the gallery this morning the Honourable Tupuola Efi, M.L.A., Minister for Works, Marine and Transport, Western Samoa, and a delegation of four led by Mr Isao Matsudaira from the House of Councillors of the Diet of Japan. On behalf of the House I extend a very warm welcome to these gentlemen.
Honourable members - Hear, hear!
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That there is a crisis in Aboriginal Welfare in the South West Land Division of Western Australia resulting from a population explosion, poor housing and hygiene and unemployment and unemployability.
That there is a need to phase out Native Reserves in the South West Land Division of Western Australia over the next 3 years.
That town housing must be provided for all Aboriginal families where the bread winner has permanent employment or an age or invalid pension entitlement.
That such housing must be supported by the appointment of permanent ‘Home-maker’ assistance in the ratio of 1 home-maker to every 8 houses or part thereof.
That incentives of housing, ‘home-maker’ services and training facilities must be created in centres of potential employment for those who are currently unemployed or unemployable.
That insufficient State or Federal assistance has been made available to meet these requirements.
That adequate finance to meet these requirements can only be provided by the Commonwealth government.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will give earnest consideration to this most vital matter.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I wish to address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, but I cannot see him in the House.
-The Minister is not in the House.
– If the honourable member would hold his question for a few moments, the Minister will be here shortly.
– The Minister is alighting now.
– No doubt the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation will be aware that the interdepartmental committee set up by the Government to recommend the siting of the second international airport for the Sydney region recommended 4 locations as being suitable, namely, Duffy’s Forest, Richmond, Somersby and Wattamolla. No doubt he will be aware also that the Government has rejected the committee’s recommendation in respect of Duffy’s Forest and Wattamolla. Could the honourable gentleman advise the House of the grounds upon which the Government rejected the committee’s recommendation in respect of the Duffy’s Forest site?
– I think that first of all I should draw the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to the fact that I was in the House some time before he was this morning and, in my brief absence a moment ago, was attending to House duties. But in response to the question asked by the honourable member, I do not know whether he was in the House last night when a debate on a statement which 1 made on behalf of the Minister for Civil Aviation proceeded until 11 o’clock. Many Opposition speakers then discussed in detail the matters that were referred to in the report. The whole matter is being referred for further investigation to a committee consisting of Commonwealth and New South Wales State representatives. All the various points that were covered in the report, including the investigation of any other matters which the proposed committee considers desirable, will be taken into account. As to the exact details in relation to one site of the 4 sites which remained when the report had been executed I have not this information available. If the honourable member desires to know the reasons, I can obtain them for him from the Minister. But I think that he would do better to restrain himself until the matter is considered by the proposed joint committee.
– 1 ask the Minister for the Navy whether the calming down of the bombardment and shelling of Beecroft Head which has caused anxiety to the people of Currarong is a temporary relief or whether it will start again. I refer to the fact that the shells have been falling on this area, ricochetting at an angle of 45 degrees and travelling approximately 14 miles. I hope that the Minister can tell the House whether this bombardment will be reduced as soon as possible.
– For some time, representations have been made by the honourable member for Macarthur and other members interested in the area with regard to the naval bombardment range at Beecroft Head, which is shared for certain purposes with the Royal Australian Air Force. About IS years ago, an unfortunate incident occurred when some shells from a New Zealand cruiser went somewhat astray. This gave cause for alarm to the people in the township of Currarong. Since that time, no practice rounds have been fired that have fallen outside the boundary of the range. I am not sure of the ballistics - 45 degrees and the rest of it - that the honourable gentleman mentioned. But my experts assure me that no actual danger has resulted from these firings.
I am happy to be able to tell the honourable member that steps have been taken which mean that the nuisance caused by the noise factor has been contained. It will not continue in the way in which it has in the past. No further bombing will be carried out on the unique rock features on the coast. The hours of bombardment will be restricted so that bombardment will not occur in the sleeping hours of inhabitants. Indeed, some of the types of shells used have been looked at so that there will not be as many explosions as in the past. So the present happy conditions, on which we have received letters from Currarong congratulating us on the change, will continue.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Last week, the right honourable gentleman was asked 2 questions about parliamentary salaries. On Monday of this week I wrote to him and yesterday the Government and Opposition Parties discussed the matter. I ask him whether the Government has discussed the matter and whether he is in a position to announce a decision upon it.
– The facts in the statement of the honourable gentleman are correct. The Government has made a decision. I will ask the Leader of the Opposition for leave to make a statement on parliamentary and ministerial salaries and allowances immediately after question time this morning.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Bearing in mind that the present system of concessional tax deductions confers greater benefits on taxpayers with higher incomes than on taxpayers with low incomes, will the honourable gentleman have an investigation made as to the feasibility - and, as one aspect of feasibility, the cost to revenue - of amending the taxation law so as to provide for taxpayers who incur expenses on such items as educating their children the option of a tax rebate up to a certain amount in respect of such expenses as an alternative to claiming a concessional deduction? If the Treasurer wants any further details of this proposal, 1 refer him to a powerful speech made yesterday in the debate on the Budget.
– It has been reported to me that the honourable gentleman made a powerful speech yesterday. I confess to him that the speeches of honourable members are reported to me in note form and examination is being made of any suggestion made by any honourable member in relation to the Budget debate. I will be examining the honourable member’s speech in that context, and when I have done that I will communicate with the honourable gentleman. I do not want to anticipate what the result of my examination will be but I would remind him that to adopt such a course would very considerably redistribute the incidence of taxation within the community and therefore is a much bigger question than it at first appears.
– I preface my question to the Prime Minister by saying that it is prompted by the grave concern that I share with all members of the Opposition over the attitude of the Deputy Prime Minister who, as recently as yesterday during question time, showed his unwillingness to accept the true reasons for our failures to sell wheat to China. I ask: Following on the Labor Party’s successful delegation to China and the Prime Minister’s subsequent announcement that he would seek dialogue with Chinese leaders, is he able to tell the House how far that dialogue has advanced and whether he has sought or received an invitation to visit China? In the event of such an invitation, will he assure the House that he would welcome it and speedily arrange such a visit? Alternatively, would he seek Chinese approval for a joint parliamentary delegation to visit China during the next recess in order to prove beyond doubt his Government’s genuine desire to establish full diplomatic recognition in the near future?
– The first comment I would like to make is that I am sure the Deputy Prime Minister is correct in emphasising that it is contrary to Australia’s interests that this problem of wheat should be raised by the Opposition and made a political issue. I can assure the honourable member that there have been numerous cables received by us from diplomatic sources indicating clearly not only the attitude of the People’s Republic of China to the statements that have been made by members of the Opposition relating to wheat but also informing us in pretty clear terms that if we want to come to some agreement with them it would be better if we stopped making a political issue of the matter. In these cases I can assure the honourable member that the People’s Republic operates in not the same open and frank way as we do. It is a mighty and a great country and does not like public references to what it is doing.
I can once again assure honourable members that far from this matter of representation being allowed to be forgotten and no action taken there has been a considerable amount of activity in recent months. We are considering the matter carefully, but we will do so against a background that we want to get the best out of the situation and not try to take political points. I emphasise again that it is not in the best interests of this country for anyone in the Opposition, including those who will frequently refer to the wheat problems, to raise this matter in the House as a political issue.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. In view of the fact that Australia is now a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, is the Minister in a position to indicate whether Australia will be joining the OECD gentlemen’s agreement on whole milk powder?
– The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development gentlemen’s agreement on whole milk powder was negotiated in 1960. It was designed to set a floor price for the international export of whole milk powder. The present minimum price for whole milk powder under this agreement is about $454 per ton. However, this should not be confused with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade working party’s arrangement for skim milk powder, which was negotiated in 1969 and which fixed a floor price for skim milk powder of $227 a ton. However, I believe that the need to join this gentlemen’s agreement is quite imperative. With the possible loss of our assured market to the United Kingdom, there is a greater need than ever to have orderly international marketing arrangements for dairy products, and we will certainly push ahead to try to achieve this. The Australian industry has been consulted about the possibility of joining this OECD gentlemen’s agreement. I believe that it is near finality and that as soon as an understanding is reached we will institute measures in order to become a full member of this agreement.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the ‘Sydney Morning Herald* yesterday summarised ‘the whole underlying strategy of the Budget as ‘creating a pool of unemployed to moderate wage demands and price increases’? ls he aware that on Tuesday the Liberal Premier of Tasmania said in regard to the Budget strategy that ‘from the beginning I have said it was a mistaken policy which did not achieve what it set out to do’ and that the Tasmanian Chief Secretary described the unemployment statistics for the State as ‘alarming’? Will the Prime Minister pay no more heed to his Tasmanian colleague’s call for a mini-Budget to boost the economy and counter unemployment than he has paid to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Manufactures, the trade union movement and independent economic commentators? Further, is the nation’s economy to be sacrificed so that the face of the Government can be saved?
– The first comment I will make - and 1 will not make many comments because we have had too many questions about this matter already - is that the leading article in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald* to which the honourable gentleman referred is totally false and could not have been made by anyone with a knowledge of the Government’s approach to these problems. Consequently, I believe it is an imaginative essay by the person who wrote it. It is unfortunate, it is untrue, and the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ deserves to be criticised for it.
As to the second part of the honourable gentleman’s question, 1 can assure him that this Government is not directed by big business interests. It will make up its mind in the interests of the Australian population. If he and his Leader wish to join with big business, that is their concern, and I make no comment about it whatsoever. The only other facts that I will make known to the House this morning, because I think they are important, are that if the honourable gentleman wants to look at some of the indications of what might happen in the future, I can remind him that trading bank deposits rose by $157m last month. In the corresponding month of last year there was a slight fall. New lending increased, I think, by $44. lm last month as opposed to $35m the month before. These are all pretty important signs of what is happening.
What 1 want to point out to the honourable gentleman is that one of the two criti cal figures that will concern us will be known when we see the next consumer index. I am not sure of the date on which it will come out, but probably it will be towards the middle of next month. When that happens we will be in a position to judge just what the inflationary pressures are. I do not know what they are likely to be, but this will be a critical set of figures for us. But might I also state that this is an occasion when statesmanship is desperately needed in this country.
Opposition members - Hear, hear!
-Order! The House will come to order. I remind the honourable member for Stun that all interjections are cut of order.
– That statesmanship and a degree of courage are needed, too, because we have to wait until we see the figures that are emerging before there can be any indication of a change of policy. But I affirm - and I want to affirm this in very clear language - that I believe many questions have been asked which all relate to the same subject and which I believe are considerably repetitious. What I can say to the House is this: The employment figures will be watched by us with the greatest caution and as each group of figures comes forward I will make certain that they are given immediate consideration by the Government.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Environment, etc. The Minister will recall informing the House that it will cost some $7m over 5 years to establish the formerly proposed film and television school in Australia. Will the Minister inform the House how this sum is arrived at, breaking it down into land and buildings, capital excluding land and buildings, and annual running expenses? Will the Minister also inform the House whether this is the only proposal that was put before him or whether there were other proposals for the establishment of this Australian School which were estimated to cost less than the sum he mentioned in the House? If this is so, will he inform the House what the other estimates and suggestions were? Is it a fact that Australia sends or remits some
S55m a year abroad for films alone, excluding the cost of television, and if so, has there been any estimate made of the saving to Australia which even one successful film or television series with world wide distribution would bring to Australia?
– I do not have the exact figures at my fingertips but I recall some figures that I gave to the Leader of the Opposition last week. The §7m was split up as follows: Capital costs, 1 think, were of the order of $5.1m and the balance, as to running costs, were to be in the first year of the order of $150,000 and rising at the end of the fifth year to about $400,000. In regard to capital costs, capital other than land and buildings amounted to $1.6m and the cost of land and buildings was made up of the difference between that sum and $5.1m. Honourable members can do the arithmetic to calculate that amount. But these figures are given off the cuff and 1 will let the right honourable member have the details.
I received 2 reports from the Interim Council, one delivered in November and the second in March. Having received the second report and having seen the costs for this proposal, I asked the Interim Council whether it could find a slightly less expensive form of producing the result. I received this report but the costs were still of a high order. It was on that basis that I recommended to the Government that the decision should be deferred for 12 months.
Dealing with the other more general matters about the importance of the film industry to Australia and the costs to Australia of importing films, I say yes, I am aware of these costs. However, I also would like to draw the attention of the right honourable member to the fact that already we are making other contributions to the film industry through the Film Development Corporation.
– I remember that.
– Yes. I congratulate the right honourable member for the incentive that he has given to the film industry over the years.
– You do it your way.
– I was just about to tell the honourable member for Sydney that I am going to do it my way and how it will be done.
-Order! Do not let us make a farce of question time, please.
– May I say that there is aid being given, firstly, to the Film Development Corporation; secondly, through the experimental film unit which is already contributing a good deal to the training of people in the industry; thirdly, in travelling scholarships to send various experts abroad. I wonder whether the right honourable member for Higgins really considered when he first put up this proposal the total number of people that would be required in the industry and the number of graduates that would come out of the schools, because I am not certain at the moment that the industry as a whole has really calculated the number of graduates it wants in the film industry and in the television industry over the next few years. Already the industry is training within its own organisation a number of talented people in this field. I believe that through the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the private television companies, in conjunction with the new interim council that I have established, we can get just as much aid for the film industry over the years at a very much less cost than by setting up an expensive school from which, at the moment, we cannot be certain that we will need all the graduates. I have been giving a good deal of careful thought to the future of the film industry. 1 have had discussions not only with the interim council but also with such interested bodies as the Australian Broadcasting Commission and I believe that in the long run I will be able to put to the House a very much better series of proposals than the original proposal for encouraging this great industry.
– My question which is directed to the Prime Minister is supplementary to that asked of him by the honourable member for Bowman. I ask the Prime Minister whether he is prepared to table in the House or in the Parliamentary Library the cables concerning wheat sales to China to which he referred in his answer to the honourable member. If these documents have been declared to be confidential by him or his colleagues will he reclassify them? If, however, they have been declared confidential by the senders will he at least state who the senders were and when they sent them? I realise that there would be some difficulty in stating the dates from memory but I do wish to know at least when one could get that information. I had to wait for over 4 months to get an answer to questions concerning the previous cables to which he referred last April. One of them, the Prime Minister stated, came from the British Consul-General in Hong Kong who, of course, does not exist since Hong Kong is a Crown colony.
-Order! The honourable member has asked a question and is now beginning to elaborate on it and state reasons.
– I ask the Prime Minister: If the cables to which he refers are confidential and he cannot reclassify their confidentiality, will he at least - and promptly - inform the House as to the senders and the dates.
– The answer to the second part of the honourable gentleman’s question is: No, I will not reclassify the documents. In fact, they were classified confidential from source and were not in any way varied by the Commonwealth Government. Obviously the honourable gentleman missed the substance of what 1 said in answer to the first question that was asked. We have had communications from very many sources in recent weeks, mainly representations from ambassadors overseas representing the People’s Republic of China. I believe it would not be in Australia’s interests to let the Leader of the Opposition know of either the source or the contents of these documents. I believe it would be completely contrary to Australia’s interests to do so. But I remind the Leader of the Opposition of 2 factors. I remind him of his allegation that Mr Chou En-lai recommended that there should be a Geneva-type conference. I also mention to him the fact that he divulged a private conversation he had with Mr Manac’h in Peking which I believe has been regretted by the person who bad the conversation with him and certainly by the French Government ever since.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services: Are the facilities of sheltered workshops which obtain assistance from the Government available to people in the upper age groups who would benefit physically, psychologically and financially by participating in the workshop activities?
– The answer to the honourable gentlemen’s question briefly is yes. I appreciate his interest in this matter. It is not usually, or perhaps not universally, realised that the facilities of the sheltered workshops system are already available in a sense to aged persons. They are available in 2 ways: Firstly, the aged persons may themselves be suffering from a disability; and secondly, under the existing legislation it is possible for a sheltered workshop always to employ a certain number of people who are not classified as disabled persons.
The importance of this, I believe, is that aged persons can benefit very much by having some kind of part time employment because this alleviates to a great extent the loneliness and lack of purpose which so often characterise their lives. I know that this matter has been put forward constructively by organisations. I instance for example the Jewish Family Welfare organisation in Melbourne, which has been interesting itself in this field, but lately this matter has taken on a new dimension by reason of the pioneering work done by Alderman Joan Pilone and the City Council in Sydney in the establishment of the Beehive Industries. Beehive Industries are established in the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney. I had the opportunity recently of visiting them and I was exceedingly impressed by what was done there and the lead being given.
Consideration has now been given to thinking in more direct terms of helping the establishment of sheltered workshops which are largely oriented towards the needs of aged people, and I hope that the House will realise that this is a most forward and significant development which follows on the pioneering work which has been done by organisations, to whom I would like to give full credit. It will not be possible, of course, to give blanket approval in this. It will be necessary, I would think, to look at the needs of the individual people concerned insofar as they do not constitute a majority of the people in sheltered workshops. This fresh initiative to which I have referred is in terms of the existing legislation, and no amendment of the existing legislation will be necessary. But I commend to the House the significance of this new development. What we want to do is to see our elderly people happy and contented and to give them some sense of purpose in their lives. I gratefully acknowledge the lead that has been given in this field by such activities as those of the Jewish Welfare organisation in Melbourne and particularly of course the initiative shown by Beehive Industries in Sydney.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. It refers to the subsidised health insurance scheme for low income families. Did the Minister, when he introduced this scheme, quote figures which indicated that the scheme would cover a total of 184,000 families, or over half a million adults and children, living in poverty or near poverty? Did he also say last year that changes in the national health scheme would help to provide financial protection for every person in the community? Is he aware of figures produced this week by the Department of Health which show that only 6,402 families, or fewer than 16,000 persons, were receiving help at 30th June - in other words, less than 4 per cent of all eligible persons? How does the Minister explain the almost total collapse of a scheme which has been in operation for almost 2 years?
– I am aware that the honourable gentleman has a question on the notice paper addressed to my colleague, the Minister for Health. I am advised that the Minister will be answering that question today. The information that the honourable gentleman has sought will be provided in that answer. If the answer does not provide all the information for which the honourable gentleman has asked in his question I will ask my colleague to give him that further information.
-A point of order, Mr Speaker. The question I have asked does not relate to my question on the notice paper.
-Order! There is no valid point of order.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is it true that the United States of America is at present reviewing its legislation affecting sugar imports? ls the Minister able to inform the House of the present situation regarding any new legislation and how this might affect Australia’s exports to that market?
– It is true that the appropriate committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States Congress are reviewing the importation into America of certain commodities, one of which is sugar. There is some difference between the recommendations of those 2 committees. I am told that there is to be a joint sitting of the Senate and House of Representatives committees to finalise the matter. However, there is consistency between the reports of the 2 committees as far as Australia’s position is concerned, and that is to maintain the existing level of about 200,000 tons of sugar to that market. Naturally we hope that this is where the eventual decision will lie. The American market is a very important market of the Australian sugar industry. We sell approximately 20 per cent of our total exports of sugar to that market
– I would like to address a question, not quite without notice, to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Has the Minister seen the article by Professor John Read in the latest ‘Current Affairs Bulletin’ in which he points out that: ‘a doctor’s fee for deciding not to operate might be between $5 and $20. But a decision to operate on the same patient’ - for the same disease - ‘might bring him a fee of between $20 and $250’. Has the Minister seen the numerous scientific reports supporting Professor Read’s claim that fee-for-service medical practice leads to unnecessary medical treatment and hospitalisation? Finally, will the Minister comment on Professor Read’s statement that ‘when a major part of the funds comes from the public purse there is every reason to examine its propriety and necessity’?
– I have not seen the article by the late Professor Read although I have seen Press reports in relation to it which substantially confirm that the late Professor Read’s views were as expressed by the honourable member. They are his personal opinions and for that reason they must be respected. I believe that the fee for service system, which is overwhelmingly supported by the medical profession, has provided a very high standard of medical attention in this country. I believe it is true to say that in those countries which have abandoned the fee for service system the standard of medical treatment and particularly the personal relationship between doctor and patient has declined. As one who is very interested in this matter 1 have noticed that in some of the countries which have abandoned the fee for service system the trend has been to go back to the system.
The Leader of the Opposition has denied publicly that it is the intention of the Australian Labor Party, if it should come into power, to abandon the fee for service system. On the other hand everything that has been said by honourable members opposite and their attitudes, like the attitude of the honourable member for Maribyrnong, suggest the contrary. 1 believe it is time that the Opposition came into the open and told us precisely what it Intends to impose on the Australian public in relation to its health scheme because there is absolutely no doubt in my mind from the information provided to me that the Opposition could not put into operation its own health scheme at the cost claimed for it without abandoning the fee for service system. In other words, I believe it is the intention of the Opposition, if it forms a government, to honour the promise to introduce a health scheme by nationalising medicine in Australia. That is the only way the Opposition can do it and I believe that the question asked by the honourable member for Maribyrnong proves that proposition.
– I direct to the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the
Arts a question supplementary to that asked of him by the right honourable member for Higgins. I ask: Am I right in drawing the inference from the latter part of the Minister’s answer to the earlier question that the Government has to all intents and purposes abandoned the proposal to establish a national film and television school? Will the Minister advise me whether it is at present the Government’s policy to establish such a school.
– I am pleased that the honourable member has asked me this question. He will recall my statement made last week to the effect that the Government has for the time being deferred a decision on this matter for at least 12 months. In the meantime, while the overall report is still being examined, I am also taking steps to find out whether the film industry can be assisted in any other way to obtain the same result but at a cheaper cost. It was in order to give the House some insight into my thinking at the present time and the investigations that I am carrying out that I added those words in my earlier statement. I am at present examining a number of proposals as I believe that the film industry must be encouraged but from the reports I have so far received there are other ways of assisting the industry which are worthy of examination and these will be examined before I again put this matter before the Government.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. I refer to his current terrified overreaction to the subject of inflation and the obsessional fixation of him and his colleagues on the subject of wages.
– Order! The honourable member will ask his question. He shall not make comment.
– 1 ask him: In relation to the causes of inflation, has he had an opportunity of reading the Reserve Bank annual report in which, inter aiia, the following cause of inflation is stressed: The need for structural changes and measures to increase competition amongst domestic producers in the Australian economy? Has he read the White Paper from the Treasury on the Australian economy 1971 where causes of inflation are identified as, inter alia, insufficient competition and wrong allocation of scarce productive resources? Will he outline steps he has contemplated to achieve these ends - that is, structural changes, increased competition and more effective allocation of scarce productive resources - since these comments were published by authoritative bodies a few weeks ago? Finally, will he prepare and publish a paper on how these ends are to be achieved and especially how economic fine tuning and careful discrimination in the use of economic tools between sectors of the economy -
– Order! The honourable member’s question is far to long and far too intricate to be asked at question time. I ask the honourable gentleman to finish his question.
– Well, Mr Speaker, I know that he is a beginner as a Treasurer but he should be able to answer this simple question.
-Order! Never mind whether he should or not. I think that this question is far too long to be asked at question time.
– I conclude by asking him how he will do those things to avoid a repetition of his Government’s policies of broad-axing the economy as is currently the case.
– I appreciate the kindly references the honourable gentleman has made and 1 remind him that such references do not in any way hide the rather facetious nature of his question, nor do they hide that the question does not report what the Reserve Bank annual report and the Treasury White Paper stated. It is universally condemned when a person quotes something but does not complete the quotation. That is why the oath in a court refers to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. What the honourable member is doing is attempting to extract some basis on which to prop up a question which is designed to show how smart he is. Others will judge whether or not he is smart. The causes of inflation have been argued by myself, by the Reserve Bank and in the Treasury White Paper and there is a complete unanimity of view among all three. The cause of inflation in Australia today is essentially a cost-push pressure and I said in the Budget Speech that this cost- push pressure is caused mainly, though not wholly, by wage pressures. On many occasions I have spoken about, the need for greater competitive forces in our economy and I remind the honourable gentleman that I had the honour of introducing into this House the Trade Practices Act. It is on the basis of the Trades Practices Act that we have now before us the prospect of a greater free flow of competitive forces in our economy. It so happens that I am proud of the part I played in that process and I will continue to play it.
– Can the Minister for National Development representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, state when the report of the committee investigating the site for the new Sydney airport will be made available to the members of this House? Is the interdepartmental committee possessed of any mandatory or statutory powers or is it an advisory body? Has the Minister for Civil Aviation given his unqualified assurance that every objector to a proposed site will be heard before a decision is made? Can he state whether all members of the committee are competent and in full possession of their faculties?
– I know the very sincere and deep interest that the honourable member has in this matter and the number of occasions on which he has expressed his views in this House. However, as the position in relation to the previous interdepartmental committee and the setting up of this new Commonwealth and State committee is rather complex, 1 think I should refer the question to my colleague in another place and see that a detailed answer is obtained for the honourable gentleman.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation because the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and, later, the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes), who represents the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), misrepresented me during question time. The Prime Minister could have given a civil or even a factual reply to the question that I asked him. But he intruded references to 2 matters and misrepresented me on each. First, he made a reference to my report of what Mr Chou En-lai had said to me about a revived Geneva Conference. What Mr Chou En-lai said to me on the question of a revived Geneva Conference and a revived Bandung Conference, and the circumstances in which he spoke on both those subjects, were given by me a couple of days after I left China to the Australian Ambasador in Tokyo who saw me with the American Ambassador there and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern and Pacific Affairs. Again, it was given by me to the Australian Ambassador and the American Ambassador in the Philippines and also to the American Ambassador to Australia who was in the Philippines at the same time. It was given by me also to the Foreign Secretary of the Philippines in the presence of the Australian Ambassador. Again, Sir, I have little doubt that these matters were reported to the Foreign Ministry in Australia. The reports which I have been given by the Department of Foreign Affairs here of my conversations with many Ministers and officials in Japan - the greatest number of Ministers or officials that any Australian politician has seen in Japan in such a space of time - bear out-
Government members - Oh!
– This may be a matter for merriment or consternation among some people in the Government Parties.
– That is a lot of speculation on your part.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition is making a long and involved personal explanation but, at the same time, I believe that he is endeavouring to establish where he has been misrepresented.
– It is not just my reputation but the reputation of this country and its relations as well as my relations with countries closely associated with this country which are involved. I was saying that the reports which came from Tokyo completely bear out the cordiality and the interest of my reception there. It would be easy, I believe, to establish the same as regards the Philippines. I am under some limitations as to what I can say to verify these things. I did refer on an earlier occasion, when some reference was made to this matter, to a confidential document which Ministers get, which I get, which my Deputy gets, and which I guess you, Sir, get. I cannot further specify it. But since covert references are made constantly to the fact that I might have misrepresented or misjudged Mr Chou En-lai’s attitude to this matter, let me quote an official assessment - let me put it that way - of an editorial in the ‘Peoples Daily’ of 20th July 1971. The editorial marks the first time in 7 yean that the Chinese have noted the anniversary of the 1954 Geneva Agreements. It was also the first time since the Paris talks back in 1968 that they have made complimentary remarks about the Agreements, which were described as a great achievement’. On this matter then I want to reassert that what I have said about Mr Chou En-lai and any revived Geneva conference is something which I reported at the earliest possible time to the persons who had some concern in it on behalf of this country or its allies, and moreover, this is borne out by documents which I cannot further specify.
The second matter on which the Prime Minister misrepresented me was in a reference to M. Etienne Manach, the distinguished French Ambassador to Peking - a man who more than any other Ecropean diplomat is acquainted with affairs in the Far East and has been ever since the Geneva Conference which he attended. The Prime Minister-
– Could we find out first of all where you were misrepresented as to whether in fact Chou En-lai had suggested to you that there should be a reconvened Geneva-type conference. You have not dealt with that.
– I have said previously to your officials and, I think, in the House and at Press conferences what was said and I do not think I need go over it again.
-Order! The honourable member is making a personal explanation in his own way and he is not obliged to answer any questions on this matter.
– Speaking about M. Manac’h, the Prime Minister asserts that I have in some way embarrassed M. Manac’h or his Government. The Australian Government made representations to the French Government about the part which M- Manac’h was reported to have played, and which I believe he did play, in securing an invitation by the Chinese Government to the Australian Labor Party to send a delegation. These representations were made before I returned to Australia and based on a report which showed that it did not come from me. It is true that our delegation was entertained by M. Manac’h. Also at the dinner which he gave was his councillor, a previous French Charge d’ Affaires ad interim in Canberra and nobody gainsays what M. Manac’h said to us and what we have reported. But there are 2 things I want to say about this. The allegation that I have embarrassed M. Manac’h can be readily disposed of if, for instance, you, Sir - and I would be very happy for you to see it - were to look at a letter which M. Manac’h sent to me from France in his own handwriting on 24th August on the French Foreign Ministry letterhead.
These constant allegations are very tempting, but I will resist the temptation to disclose such communications. I have been overborne in this respect once only when my colleague the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) read a letter which the Foreign Secretary of the Philippines wrote to me. The letter I have from M. Manac’h would certainly dispose of any such allegations in his attitude towards me or my fellow delegates. But furthermore honourable members would know that a person in my position should be acquainted with the ambassadors here, and they know that I am and it would be completely false to suggest that the French Government or the French Ambassador here is in any way incommoded by anything that I have said or that M. Manac’h has done.
The other matter-
Government supporters - Oh!
-Order! The honourable member is entitled to show where he has been misrepresented, and whilst he has taken some length of time, it has been a long and involved explanation and I think that the House should hear it.
– The Minister for Immigration who in this chamber represents the Minister for Health made reference to the Australian Labor Party’s health scheme and although I had not asked the question made references to me in his reply. 1 want to make it plain that my Party supports the fee for service payments to doctors. What my Party has said is that there would be very great savings for patients and for taxpayers if two things were done. Firstly, there would be great savings for patients and taxpayers if, instead of a multiplicity of private Government sponsored funds, there was one Government fund. Secondly, there would be great savings for patients and for taxpayers if, instead of doctors and patients having to make claims in respect of every individual service, the doctor could make a claim for all the services which he had rendered in one month.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I claim to have been misrepresented by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden). In reply to a question which I asked, the Treasurer failed to deal with any of the points raised, but set about strongly suggesting that I had misrepresented the points to which I had referred from the annual report of the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Treasury White Paper entitled ‘The Australian Economy 1971’. Accordingly, I take the opportunity to put these statements into the record so that it will be clear as to who is misrepresenting the position and who shows a rather alarming lack of competence in understanding economic principles. In the annual report of the Reserve Bank, under a section headed ‘The Problem of Inflation’, a brief analysis is made of the economy between 1969 and 1970, and then the following conclusion is made:
Hence it is harder to attribute the recent acceleration of inflation in this country to excess demand pressures.
That is something which seems to have escaped the Treasurer and other Government members. The report then goes on to discuss what measures might contribute to achieving greater price stability. The Treasurer and the House will remember that in opening my question 1 pointed out that there was an obsessional fixation ‘ on the part of Government members on wages being the sole cause of the present problems, and I was raising with him the point that there were other factors quite significant and substantial in their effect, demanding urgent attention.
-Order! The honourable member in his personal explanation must concentrate on showing where he has been misprepresented. He cannot bring in extraneous matters or pass opinions.
– I said that the Reserve Bank had called for structural changes and measures to increase competition amongst domestic producers. I quote:
Measures to increase the degree of competition among domestic -
– Look, 1 have been misrepresented. This man is totally incompetent.
-Order! The honourable member for Oxley will resume his seat for a moment.The honourable member is not being told not to make his personal explanation; he is being asked to make his personal explanation in the manner in which I have just requested him to do it, that is, to show where he has been misrepresented. He may not debate the matter.
– With respect, Mr Speaker I am not debating the matter; I am putting the full quote on the record. In each case the Treasurer said that I had misrepresented the situation by truncating the quote.
-Order! I must insist that the honourable member should point out to the House where he has been misrepresented. He will not debate the matter or quote at length from any document.
– Then I suggest shortly and finally that the Treasurer, firstly, ought to read the documents from which I quoted, because I did not misrepresent the quote and, secondly he ought to show the common gumption to understand the policies of his own Party on labour retraining, primary industry and, tariff review -
-Order! The honourable member is going beyond a personal explanation and will resume his seat.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a persona] explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been miserpresented?
– I do. The honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) stated in the House last night, in my absence, that leaks in respect of the siting of the second international airport came from me. That is not the case. It is obvious from recent articles which have appeared in major Sydney newspapers that confidential information was leaked from Government sources, but this certainly did not come from me, obviously. On 18 March last year I indicated to the House that I had heard that a preliminary land survey for an airport had been made in the Richmond area and that the rumour was that it related to the second airport for Sydney. This was denied by the honourable member for Mitchell, as reported in Hansard of 19th March. He said:
Earlier, he had said:
There is nothing in the suggestion about the establishment of an aerodrome in the area.
It is so that I heard that there had been a survey in the Richmond area for the purpose outlined. But this was common talk around the Richmond, Windsor and surrounding districts at the time. I find it hard to comprehend that the honourable member for Mitchell, who represents the area, had not heard it either there or from his own Government.
-Order! I have just had to draw the attention of the House to the fact that members must confine their remarks to explaining where they have been personally misrepresented. I insist upon the honourable member for Chifley confining his remarks to that explanation.
– Very good, Mr Speaker. This information did not come from any senior public servants, as stated by the honourable member for Mitchell.
-Order! This has nothing to do with the honourable member for Chifley. If he shows exactly where he is involved in the matter I will listen to him, but if he is going to bring in other people and extraneous matters he will have to resume his seat.
– I will quote from Hansard what the honourable member for Mitchell said last night.
-Order! I think that the honourable member for Chifley has made his personal explanation, if I am any judge of the matter.
– All right. I only wish that the honourable member for Mitchell would put party politics out of this matter and help me prevent the airport from being built in that area.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
-r-Yes. I have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage). He referred to a survey being carried out in the Richmond area. I had assurances from the then Minister for Air, the then Minister for Civil Aviation and the then Minister for Works that no such survey had been carried out in regard to a new airport.
– Pursuant to section 22 of the Public Service Act 1922-1968, I present the annual report of the Public Service Board for the year ended 30th June 1971.
– For the information of honourable members, I present report No. 2 of the Committee of Inquiry into Services Pay (the Kerr Committee) dated July 1971, which is a supplementary report on the rates of pay for other ranks.
– Pursuant to section S3 of the Overseas Telecommunications Act 1946-1971, I present the annual report of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission for the year ended 31st March 1971 together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report on those statements.
– by leave - 1 inform the House that the Government has decided that there should be an inquiry into parliamentary salaries and allowances. Parliamentary salaries and allowances were last adjusted in December 1968. It will be generally accepted that there should be periodic reviews of Parliamentary salaries and allowances just as there are in other sectors of the community. It has been represented to me from both sides of the House, including strong recommendations from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), at the request of their own Party, that there should be a review at this time.
In the recent history of this matter, there have been 3 inquiries held - in 1952, in 1955 and in 1959. Since then, in 1964 and in 1968, the salary adjustments were made by decision of the Parliament itself. The Government has decided that in this instance it should revert to the inquiry method. We propose that one of the terms of reference will be an examination and report upon methods by which Parliamentary salaries and allowances may be determined in future. The Government has decided to ask Mr Justice Kerr to undertake this task. He has accepted. Mr Justice Kerr was appointed a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court in 1966. As a Senior Counsel at the Bar, he had previously had an extensive practice in industrial matters. Mr Justice Kerr is at present chairman of a 5-man committee that the Government has appointed to inquire into pay and other conditions of service of members of the armed forces. He has informed me that the committee has a planned programme for carrying out the remainder of its inquiry and for the submission of its further report. I have the Judge’s firm assurance that the examination of Parliamentary salaries he has now been asked to undertake will in no way delay the completion of the work of the armed forces pay committee. That work will proceed and will be carried to finality as originally planned.
The terms of reference of the inquiry will be:
To examine and report upon the salaries and allowances of senators and members of the House of Representatives, and those paid to Ministers and senators and members who are office-bearers of the Parliament.
If it be reported that it is necessary or desirable to alter such salaries and allowances or any of them, then to recommend the nature and extent of the alterations that should be made; and
To examine and report upon methods by which such salaries and allowances may be determined in future.
– by leave - The Opposition had suggested and it supports the approach which the Government has adopted. I compliment the Prime Minister on having sought and secured the services of a judge with such experience and distinction in public affairs and industrial matters.
– by leave- I did not know until this morning at question time that the Prime Minister proposed to make an announcement on this matter and therefore I have not had the opportunity to prepare the kind of considered speech which I would like to make. I have been able to jot down only a few headings during the course of question time. Nevertheless, I believe that some preliminary observations should be made by me at this time.
I am deeply concerned about the rate of inflation that we have witnessed in the economy in recent times. I have expressed that concern in the House and I would be less than honest if I then accepted in full what I believe to be the intentions of the Government and the Opposition in this matter. I must say, therefore, one or two words on this matter because it is perfectly obvious that the example that is given by this Parliament must have enormous repercussions on the whole of the community in regard to claims for increased pay of one kind or another, or increased prices that people may wish to levy.
Firstly I want to make 2 points. The first point is the injustice of the rate of inflation that we have witnessed and are still witnessing to people who are in retirement, people who are living on the proceeds of small savings and people who are living on superannuation, whether from governments, public instrumentalities or private companies. On the whole superannuation has not kept in step with rises in the cost of living. 1 draw attention also to the injustice of inflation to poor people, particularly those with large families. I do not want to enlarge upon this. I simply say that this is a matter of gross injustice because inflation comes, as it has been said, like a thief in the night, stealing the savings of people and reducing their living standards quietly and effectively so that their incomes melt away like a lump of ice in the noonday sun. I cannot see this kind of injustice with equanimity.
The second point I want to make is the effect of this rapid inflation on the economy - not just the creep of inflation in recent years but the rapid inflation that we have seen recently, which we are still seeing and which is still in sight. I want to draw attention to the effects of inflation on our export industries and on the economy. Inflation distorts the economy. For example, inflation boosts the price of land because this is something that cannot lose value. Also, there is the gambling on the slock exchange because people have sought to make up by way of capital gains what they cannot get from the normal return on investments. There are other distortions. But this is not a speech on inflation. I merely make the point that what Parliament does is an example to the community as a whole and that inflation is, firstly, a grave injustice to many people in this community and, secondly, it has enormous distorting effects and influences on our export industries and the economy.
Another matter which I wish to mention is this: The Prime Minister has referred to the terms of reference of the inquiry. I want to say a few words about this matter. I hope that the Judge will make an analysis of the movement of comparable salaries, that is to say salaries in the bracket of professional people whose salaries have been traditionally of the same order as the salaries of members of Parliament. 1 hope that he will examine the movement of comparable salaries since the last adjustment in 1968. It has been less than 3 years since this adjustment was made. This should not be a work value inquiry. It should be related purely to the increase of other comparable salaries. However, there are no comparable salaries really because other people do not have the same responsibilities of a member of Parliament. If the salary of an employee of the Public Service or some person in the office of the Prime Minister, maybe, has gone up, that has nothing whatever to do with the responsibilities of members of Parliament. The official or other person is entitled to whatever he may get. But members of Parliament have a responsibility to set an example to the people at large. I have a responsibility to my constituents and there are thousands of them who are in the categories that I have mentioned and who are suffering injustices. It is not that I do not have regard or sympathy for members of this House, especially those with young families and who perhaps may be paying off mortgages on homes. But I also have sympathy with the thousands of others whom I represent and those in this country who suffer from the results of inflation and who, if this Parliament sets a certain example, will suffer even more. So much then for the nature of the inquiry.
The next matter I want to mention - and I will conclude on this important point - concerns what action will be taken on the report. I assume that the report will be tabled, and that it will not merely be presented to the Government as has been the case with too many reports. I expect the report to be tabled and when it is tabled this Parliament may take such action as it pleases upon it. The Government could let the report lie and take no action at all, or it could take no action for 12 months or until the next Parliament or it could accept the report in part. It could say: ‘We will accept the increase but not the whole of the increase’, and cut off a certain percentage of it. It could take this kind of action. As I have said, Parliament has a special responsibility in this matter. In due course we will have the report; in due course no doubt legislation will be introduced. I reserve what I have to say at greater length and in more detail till that time. At the moment I merely put into the mind of the Prime Minister that action on the report is a different thing from getting the report or from what the report may recommend. This is not a pleasant task that I have had to say these things today. I know that I shall not be a popular member in this Parliament and I am also aware that so far as the people are concerned neither shall I be popular with them. They are all seeking increases in wages or salaries or whatever it may be and if Parliament does what is proposed they will cheer. They will say: ‘Ah! That gives us a greater opportunity of pressing our claims too.’ Indeed, this is the hub of the matter. So I expect popularity neither in this Parliament nor among the people. But when one sees something very clearly as one’s duty - and 1 hope I will not be regarded as priggish in this; I dislike this task intensely - I feel I must say what I believe to be the truth of the matter.
– by leave - The rural reconstruction employment training scheme is an integral element of the Government’s policy for the reconstruction of rural industries. The intention of the scheme is to assist farmers whom I shall describe later to transfer to suitable alternative employment away from their farms. This explains the reference to the scheme by my colleague the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his Budget Speech as applying to ‘farmers not in a position to achieve commercial viability’. The scheme is to be available to farmers affected in the whole range of agricultural and pastoral production industries.
The type of assistance that is available is the opportunity to undertake full-time or part-time training by entering formal courses in technical education, or through training by job experience in subsidised employment by approved employers. The applicant for training will be free to choose the vocational training he wants provided it can lead to immediate employment on completion. Thus the range of vocations covered by the scheme is wide, including technical, clerical and commercial fields. As I shall explain later, fees and other expenses associated with full-time courses will be paid and persons in full-time courses will receive a training allowance according to their ongoing income. Persons who enter into employment for training purposes will be paid the full award wage, part of which will be reimbursed to the employer by the Government.
In developing the scheme my Department has been in close consultation with the Department of Primary Industry. The States were also consulted during its development and have notified their concurrence. The scheme will be administered by my Department. I must emphasise the purpose of the training. It is to help farmers to prepare themselves for employment other than farming. The training they choose must be oriented to employment away from farming. Clearly the scheme is not a solution to all the problems of farmers whose properties are not economically viable, but it can assist people who decide to seek an alternative means of livelihood. This will not be an easy decision for them to make. Some farmers, for example, may have to resolve concurrently or beforehand very complex issues associated with physically relocating themselves and their families if there is to be an assurance of employment in the occupations for which training is sought. In this regard it is realistic to keep in mind the characteristic and understandable reluctance of the farmer to leave the land.
As honourable members will recall, the Commonwealth/ State rural reconstruction programmes provide for financial assistance for debt reconstruction or farm build up to farmers who, with that assistance, can become commercially, that is, economically, viable. Decisions on the economic vialibility of applicants for debt reconstruction assistance devolve on the appropriate authority in each State administering the rural reconstruction programmes. Fanners eligible to apply for assistance under this employment training scheme are those without prospects of long-term economic viability, that is, those who are refused or who are likely to be refused debt reconstruction assistance, and those whose properties are acquired under the farm buildup provisions of the State Grants (Rural Reconstruction) Act or the Marginal Dairy Farms Agreements Act. In all cases the farmers must have been in personal working occupations of their farms.
The scheme will also assist members of the family of an eligible farmer who have been working full-time on farming other than domestic responsibilities, and who have been primarily dependent on the income of the farm. Farm workers leaving the industry will also be eligible for training if they have been employed by eligible farmers for an uninterrupted period of at least one year immediately prior to their departure. The types of training to be provided and the principles for financial assistance are consistent with those adopted for the employment training scheme for persons displaced by technological change. Honourable members will, therefore, note the similarities in the two schemes as regards the nature of the training, the length of the training period for full-time courses and the amount of and eligibility for training allowances. There is a difference as regards the training period for part-time courses, 24 months as compared wilh 12 months, so as to permit some rural people to combine temporary employment with training while readjusting their affairs.
Farm workers who lose their employment through the introduction of technological change on the farm where they work can claim training benefits under the employment training scheme for persons displaced by technological change. Married and adult single women whose domestic responsibilities on the farm have restricted them from seeking job opportunities but who now desire to enter into employment can qualify for training under the employment training scheme for women restricted from employment by domestic responsibilities. It will be evident that the 3 employment training schemes mentioned are complementary to one another and in combination provide training benefits to a very wide range of people in the rural industries.
It bears repeating that this employment training scheme has been developed in the context of rural reconstruction programmes. It is not available to farmers who leave the industry for reasons which are not wholly attributable to their commercial non-viability as assessed by the appropriate State authorities or to the farm build-up provisions of the legislation referred to earlier. The approval of training as already indicated will have regard to employment opportunities in the particular occupations for which eligible applicants have stated a preference. Training is unlikely to be approved for occupations in which employment is very doubtful immediately on the completion of the training.
The scheme will aim to be as flexible as possible since the objective is to help people to find new employment. Whilst there is no age limit, age, personal capacity, educational background, may affect training preferences which persons can realistically pursue. To ensure the necessary flexibility the provisions of the scheme will be kept under continuous review, and change made from time to time as experience is gained with the types of employment and training that are being sought. The basic approach in the employment training schemes that have already been developed by my Department and that is implicit in this scheme is to seek the best match between the individual’s training preferences, the likely employment opportunities at the end of training and the available training facilities. The counselling services of my Department will be available to potential applicantas for training who seek information about employment opportunities, training courses or the provisions of the employment training scheme most appropriate to their circumstances.
Farmers eligible for training are those who have been in personal working occupation of farms that are not economically viable to the extent that an application for debt reconstruction has been, or is likely to be, rejected by the appropriate State authority. In addition, eligibility extends to farmers who have been in personal working occupation of a property that has been or is being acquired by a purchaser who is assisted under the Government’s farm build-up schemes. Both categories of farmers are described as ‘eligible farmers’ for the purpose of this employment training scheme. Members of the families of eligible farmers will also qualify for training if they have been working fulltime on farming, other than on domestic responsibilities, for at least the 6 months prior to their applications for training, and if they have been wholly dependent for their livelihood on the income earned by the farm. If the appropriate State authority assesses a farm as economically viable in terms of its capacity to support one farmer but not two, those obliged to leave the farm will also be eligible for training.
Farm workers who had been employed by eligible fanners for an uninterrupted period of at least one year immediately prior to their dismissal will also be able to apply for training assistance. Married women and adult single women members of the families of eligible farmers should, generally speaking, apply for training under the employment training scheme for women restricted from employment by domestic responsibilities. Farm workers displaced from their employment because of technological change on the farm where they worked should submit applications for training under the employment training scheme for persons displaced by technological change. My Department will inform inquirers of the appropriateness of each employment training scheme to their circumstances.
The objective of training is to enable eligible persons to enter alternative suitable employment of their choice. Some will, of course, be able to obtain employment in their chosen fields without the Deed for further training. The Commonwealth Employment Service will provide assistance in appropriate cases to facilitate an immediate transfer into available employment. When an application for training is being considered, an applicant’s ability to complete the proposed training, and his readiness to take up the first training opportunity available in his preferred field, will be taken into account. The training must be such as to assure him employment which is suitable to him. The Commonwealth Employment Service, with which all applicants for training must register for employment, will assist those completing training to find employment.
Training is offered in three basic forms. First, there are existing formal courses at approved technical schools or vocational training institutions, either full time, part time or by correspondence. Second, on the job training will be arranged with approved employers. Third, training may be arranged as a combination of on the job training and a formal course where such is available.
Approval of Institutions and Employers as Trainers
The reference to an approved training institution or approved employer means an institution or employer nominated by the potential trainee as his desired trainer. The scheme will be flexible, but institutions and employers will be approved separately for each trainee. They will not be classified as ‘approved’ in general. In the course of discussion with the potential trainee or as a result of investigating a training application, the Department might recommend to the applicant a change of nomination. Institutions and employers cannot gain recognition as ‘approved’ on their own initiative and hence will not be in a position to use the scheme, or to obtain any payments under the scheme, for training and costs which ordinarily would have incurred as part of their normal recruitment and training arrangements for new entrants or new staff. Approval will only be given to nongovernment training institutions where a suitable programme of training is not available from a government institution.
The period of training available is for 12 months full time or 24 months part time. Shorter periods will be approved, but longer training up to a maximum of a further 12 months will require consideration by a broadly based advisory committee before approval. Where entry to a training programme depends on additional educational qualifications, applications for the tuition necessary to acquire the prerequisite education will be considered up to a maximum period of 12 months prior to commencement of the approved training programme. The extra tuition will be additional to the maximum period approved for the actual training.
The costs of fees for existing courses in State government training institutions will be met by the trainee’s State government.
The costs of fees for courses in other institutions will be borne by the Commonwealth Government. Regardless of the training institution, all other costs, including training allowances, will be the responsbility of the Commonwealth.
Trainees in full time courses of study at an approved technical or vocational institution will receive a training allowance of $46.20 a week. Trainees who are minors will receive a percentage of this allowance calculated on a sliding scale according to age. The allowance will be subject to an income test, as follows: If a trainee receives, in the period during which the allowance is payable, income from employment other than vacation employment, or from investments other than savings bank deposits, the amount of the training allowances payable each week will be reduced by the weekly equivalent of that income. The income of the spouse is taken into account. As in other employment training schemes, fees will be paid in full for formal courses at approved technical or vocational training institutions, and costs will be met for examinations and evidence of qualifications. There will be a maximum allowance for essential books and equipment of $80 and fares to and from the training institution will be paid. These provisions for fees, book and equipment allowances and fares apply to all courses, whether full time, part time or by correspondence. In addition to the training allowance there will be an extra contribution of $10 a week for married trainees who may have to live away from home while undertaking full time training courses not available at a local training institution. This is intended as a contribution towards expenses and is not expected to meet actual living costs.
When in-plant or on the job training is arranged, a wage subsidy will be payable on a sliding scale to employers or principles incorporated in existing employment training schemes. The wage subsidy provides for reimbursement to approved employers only, and is calculated as a proportion of the award wage for age and job classification in respect of each trainee.
The subsidy will be payable only to employers providing training at the trainee’s request through the Department of Labour and National Service and in accordance with a previously approved time schedule. During training the employer will be required to pay trainees at least the appropriate award wage.
The scheme will be operative from 1st October next. Application forms for training and leaflets describing the details of the scheme will be available from any office of the Commonwealth Employment Service, from offices of the State rural reconstruction authorities, shire officers, farmers organisations and relevant trade unions. Persons wishing to apply for training under the scheme may obtain information from my Department on training facilities available and on procedures for applying for training under the scheme. The employment training scheme, as is the whole rural reconstruction programme, is a co-operative Commonwealth-State undertaking. It takes into account the special needs of farmers who may be obliged physically to relocate themselves and their families before being able to consider training for alternative employment, and recognises that training will play an essential, though necessarily limited part, in helping farmers to adopt to a fundamental change in their way of living. The finer details of the scheme are set out in the appended statement - Rural Reconstruction Employment Training Scheme - which I am pleased to present. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate that statement in Hansard.
To assist eligible farmers to transfer to alternative suitable employment away from their farms. The Scheme will become operative from 1st October 1971.
The objective of the training is to help eligible persons to obtain alternative suitable employment away from their farms. Some may be able to take up employment in their chosen fields without the need for further ‘ training, and they will be assisted by the Commonwealth Employment Service. The considerations taken into account when selecting applications for approval are:
The costs of fees for existing courses in State Government training institutions will be met by the trainee’s State Government. The costs of fees for courses in other institutions will be borne by the Commonwealth Government. Regardless of the training institution, all other costs, including training allowances, will be the responsibility of the Commonwealth. 11. (a) While undertaking an approved full-time training course at an approved training institution and not available for placement in employment -
All training allowances are subject to an income test.*;
In addition to (i) a contribution of $10 a week towards expenses for a married person when full-time training is undertaken in a school located in a town other than that in which the trainee normally resides.
An allowance for essential books and equipment up to a maximum of $80 in total.
I present the following paper:
Rural Reconstruction Employment Training Scheme - Ministerial statement, 16th September 1971.
Motion (by Mr Peacock) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– I understand that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) will be unavoidably absent from the chamber during this debate because of a Cabinet meeting. I would say before he leaves that I intend to move an amendment to the motion proposed by the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock). I hand him a copy of that amendment. Briefly the amendment will be to widen the scope of this statement to include all people who are unemployed as a result of the variables he has mentioned in country areas. We think the scheme should include not just farmers, the families of farmers and the work force on those particular farms or those people affected by technology, but also people who work in country towns and are out of work because of the problems in the rural areas. I do not think that the Government has the right to discriminate between people in country areas. That will be the substance of my amendment. I will elaborate on that later.
The principal objective of the Minister’s statement is to acquaint the Parliament with the Government’s intentions in the field of rural rehabilitation. On behalf of the Opposition 1 would like to protest about the way in which an increasing number of these types of decisions are being taken. Obviously there will not be any legislation in this Parliament on which formal amendments can be moved and formal votes taken in respect of the various clauses which would be embodied in legislation authorising the expenditure of Federal money in the field of reconstruction and rehabilitation. It seems to me that the Government is simply going to foot the bill for a worthy principle for the country, but there will be no legislation. That is the wrong way to govern a country. Legislation should be introduced in the Federal Parliament, with or without mirror legislation in the States.
I draw the Government’s attention to the relevant Acts passed in 1935 or thereabouts relating to the various moratoria, reconstruction and rehabilitation schemes of the Federal Government. They were debated in this Parliament and then suitable amendments were moved to a number of them, and the same procedure happened in the States. Apparently the only way we can debate anything in this House today is, as I am doing now, by getting up and moving an amendment and speaking generally on the subject. But we have no right and no way to debate the subject properly as would be the case with legislation. In my opinion the proposed scheme represents another unco-ordinated decision of the Government. In relation to the policy of rehabilitaton for rural areas, which is the end result, it is a good principle. But, as we all know, such policies must be complementary and not ad hoc.
Where is the Government’s policy on unemployment in the country areas in general? Where is the Government’s policy on decentralisation in country areas? Where are its policies on debt alleviation and stabilisation of incomes in country areas? We have heard a little about the socalled 36c average guaranteed price scheme for wool in the Parliament, but we still have seen no legislation on it. Where is the Government’s policy with respect to the drift to the cities and the increased demand for urban housing it will create? All of these things are complementary. What we are seeing in this Parliament are hastily prepared, ill conceived, ad hoc decisions which are just not related. 1 think everybody would agree that we need a comprehensive plan and not just a set of decisions taken by Cabinet and relayed to the Parliament in this fashion. If we cannot get a comprehensive plan embracing all these things we are going to have chaos in the rural areas.
One thing that has become obvious is the Government’s policy on unemployment. If ever we needed stark truth it is now. The Government has decided to accept a high level of unemployment in this nation. The Government has taken it for granted that there will be a wholesale closing down of properties, farm businesses and rural businesses and a reduction in the rural work force. Its orthodox antiinflationary policy is to slacken the demand and deliberately create unemployment. This is a very dangerous policy for any government to pursue. Any government that takes for granted that there will be a high level of unemployment does so at its own risk. Things are quite different today from what they were before the war. Before the war, accepted levels of unemployment were about 8 per cent, 9 per cent or 10 per cent. That was thought to be a common part of the national economy. But in post-war years every worker in this nation has been conditioned to a system of near full employment. The political fortunes of a government are very closely correlated with the level of unemployment.
This is a most explosive factor. A figure of 3 per cent national unemployment is sufficient to blast the Government out of office. The way that this Government is behaving with its anti-inflationary policies, and the fact that we are fast approaching high levels of unemployment, will blast the Government out of office even before the next election. There are many people in the country who have mortgaged their future. They have bought houses. They have bought motor cars. They have bought television sets, on hire purchase and by other means. They, believed that the Government would look after their security. I notice that in the Minister’s statement no provision at all is made for loss of equity for people who will be forced to move out of the country areas. Everyone knows full well that the value of housing in those areas has decreased.
Many people have invested their life savings in country areas and they should at least be given the right to recoup some of those losses. The main intention of the scheme is to assist farmers, their families, their work force and those workers who have been displaced because of technological change. But what about all the other people in the country towns? What about the shearers, the dam sinkers, the unskilled machinery workers, the shop assistants, the people who work on councils - the amount of rates collected will decrease and these people also will be out of work - the stock firm employees and the truck drivers? They are just as important to the country areas in terms of population as the farmers and the workers on the farms ure. This is a glaring deficiency in the statement. Those people are fully entitled to receive retraining benefits, just as are their friends who happen to own or work on the properties affected. I do not think anybody could justly deny that.
Many of these people have worked in the country for generations. They have been brought up in those country towns, and that is their whole life. They are out of work because of the crisis in rural industry. Surely they are entitled to some consideration. I think it is time that the Government widened the scope of its decision and included every person in the country who is unemployed, to give everybody the chance of rehabilitation and retraining. There are plenty of examples of this need in the pastoral areas in particular. Those areas are the ones being hit the hardest at the present time. The most vulnerable are those who have been affected by drought for a number of years. In the most intensely populated areas crises are developing in the dairying and fruit industries. The people in the country towns are entitled to rehabilitation and retraining under the reconstruction scheme. That is my main point. I therefore move:
That the following words be added to the motion: but this House is of opinion that the scheme as proposed by the Government should not be confined only to displaced farmers, their families, their work force or those workers displaced by technological change but should include all people in rural areas whose occupation is directly dependent on th? viability of farming such as people engaged in local businesses or country town works who will also be unemployed’.
It must be obvious to anybody that there is justice in the amendment. If honourable members do not vote for the amendment they will be showing blatant discrimination against sections of the work force living in country towns. What concerns me is that the statement contains no complementary statements relating to the whole facet of reconstruction and financial assistance to producers in the country areas and it contains no decentralisation policy and no policies relating to unemployment in the country areas or in the country towns. There is a lack of information and this is one of the reasons for the uncertainty in country areas. The Government has not announced a comprehensive policy embracing the reasons for the present decline of economic activity in rural areas. This is needed, not the ad hoc decisions which this Government takes from time to time. We had a statement by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) a few weeks ago relating to a guaranteed price of 36c a lb for wool but we have heard nothing further about this. 1 understand that the preparation of the Bill is in chaos because the Government cannot agree on the types of wool to be included in or excluded from the deficiency payment. This is not the way to run a government. We have to have comprehensive policies introduced speedily into this Parliament, debated and passed. If this were done confidence in the country would be stabilised at least to a degree.
The statement on the rural reconstruction employment training scheme has to be closely examined. Neither I nor any member of the Opposition have had time to study this statement in detail. We had approximately 1 or 2 hours in which to try to digest it before it was presented by the Minister. It is a most complex statement dealing with specific allowances, rates of pay and terms and conditions for trainees. It is quite obvious that the provisions of this statement must be looked at very closely by those concerned. I ask honourable members on the other side who are to speak in this debate whether my assumption is correct from the Minister’s statement that legislation will not be forthcoming in relation to this scheme? We have not had sufficient time to study the proposals under this scheme introduced by the Government. If there is to be a pool of unemployment in country areas - and this is the basis for this statement - there are 2 major things we have to decide. What will happen to the unemployed? Is it the intention of the Government to train them and then to employ them in the capital cities? Is it the intention of the Government to try to keep these country people in country areas? What is the intention of the Government? It is certainly not set out in this statement.
Obviously such a scheme must lay down principles. The Australian Labor Party represents all sections of the community. Our priority is to allow people to go to areas where they would be of the greatest benefit to the nation. Our first priority is to try to retain them in country areas in the interests of decentralisation. The Government has no policy of regional development or decentralisation. We have heard it put in this House time and time again that the Opposition has no policy on regional development or decentralisation. We have had promises by 3 Prime Ministers of information and findings by committees on decentralisation but we have not received any concrete proposal on this matter. It is quite obvious that reconstruction, rehabilitation and decentralisation are part and parcel of this scheme put forward by the Government. As I see it this scheme is deficient in the principles I have elaborated.
I commend to the Government the Labor Party’s policy on this matter. I have not sufficient time in this debate to read it. It is published in the annual conference platform of the Labor Party. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has had a lot to do with the formulation of this policy. Our policy makes it quite clear that the Labor Party places human rights and values first and provides for the development of full human dignity in this sphere. This means that every person should be entitled to consideration in the expenditure of Commonwealth funds on rehabilitation, reconstruction and retraining for the future development and benefit of Australia.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hallett)Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and I wish to speak to it now.
– On a point of order. I assume that the honourable member for Riverina wishes to speak in this debate now because he is not certain whether he will be able to speak to it later. Is there an agreement that there will be 2 speakers from each side in this debate? The Government Whip did tell me that this would be so.
– I understand the arrangement is for 2 speakers from each side.
– -I rise to second the amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). While I welcome the principle of a rural retraining scheme we must reject the context in which it was put forward by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) and also because it is inadequate as far as we on this side are concerned because it does not take into account all the people in the rural areas whose occupations are directly dependent on the viability of farming, such as those people engaged in local businesses or country town works who will also be unemployed. This statement made today by the Minister was without prior warning although 1 did have a little message in regard to it - I thank the Minister for that - shortly before it was presented to the House. As the honourable member for Dawson pointed out we have not had sufficient time to examine what is a most important measure. I repeat that the context of this statement has to be rejected because the context of it is completely inadequate. One of the things that must be said is that this statement and scheme comes forward at a time of national scandal of unemployment. Even in the most prosperous rural centres at the present time there are reports of a 50 per cent rise in unemployment. We have the situation in country towns, including some towns which 1 represent, where young men are ready, willing and able to undertake employment but they are denied the opportunity. We have the situation of family men having to evacuate like refugees moving to the city because of the rural situation created by decisions of this Government.
I think I must address my remarks to the context of this proposed scheme. The Minister said that the scheme was in the context of the Government’s assessment of the rural crisis and the rural reconstruction scheme. The rural crisis is an incredible example of Government mismanagement at a time when there is a boom in Asian countries for primary products. But not only is this boom passing us by, it seems to have the opposite effect as far as our rural sector is concerned. What the Government is in effect saying is that there is very little hope for the rural sector based on primary production. Therefore we have a rural reconstruction scheme which, if it is allowed to take place in its present inadequate terms and on this pernicious basis, will banish one million people to the cities in this decade. Let us have a look at the scheme. It has been suggested that it will be an effective means of assisting in the present rural crisis. We have in New South Wales, for example, . more than 1,000 applicants for rural assistance. We have a serious situation in most of the hard hit areas in the West, yet only two applications from that region have been approved this year. This is no reflection on the State Rural Reconstruction Boards which are faced with a queue of people and which in New South Wales have only $4m for the entire year wi:h which to satisfy the needs of these people for debt adjustment finance to carry on. How can any supporter of the Government or any member of this Parliament accept that situation in the present context I do not know because it is ludicrous.
We also have the situation where there has been very little movement or application for a build up of farms, and the reason is fairly obvious when one looks at the fact that the Government is determined to make a profit out of rural misery by imposing a high rate of interest which means, in effect, that a- return of between 9 per cent and 10 per cent has to be obtained before a successful build up scheme can be carried on under the present financial basis. This is again absurd. What does it really mean? It means that the scheme is not reconstruction; it is, in fact, the destruction of the rural sector and has been described as such by Liberal Party Ministers in Victoria and by Liberal Party members in New South Wales. I commend them for their forthright condemnation of a scheme, which is, at best, a farce and, at worst, a considered attempt by the Government to close down the rural sector. This is the context of the scheme which was proposed today and which must be rejected.
The honourable member for Dawson said that there should not be a series of isolated ad hoc decisions which do not complement each other at all. The situation will rise under the rural reconstruction scheme where a primary producer who has been engaged in his occupation all his life arid who has done a particularly good job, because of a series of Government decisions will find himself non-viable. Through the great generosity of this Government, under the rural reconstruction scheme, which is supposed to be complementary to this rural retraining scheme, he is said to be able to apply for a resettlement loan of $1,000. Was ever a more insulting provision presented to a great body of people in our nation? As has been pointed out, this loan is less than the assistance which is available in the industrial sphere, but it must be looked at in the context of this particular scheme.
As I have said, the principle of rural retraining is something that the Opposition accepts because in every decade there will be probably 10 per cent of the farming members of the nation who will need some retraining. That 10 per cent could be 15 per cent at this time but certainly no more than that. In the natural order of things, this is brought about by technological change and by the need for human adjustment. This would be normal in a dynamic age such as even we manage to live in in misgoverned Australia. This problem is always with us. In my opinion, from now until the end of the century, at least 10 per cent or at the very most 15 per cent will need to be retrained. Of course, if we accept the Government’s context, as it is called, of rural reconstruction that percentage will be doubled immediately but without reason and justification.
Having accepted the fact that there will be a need because of technological and human reasons, we must apply ourselves to the details of the scheme. Unfortunately, as was stated by the honourable member for Dawson, the Opposition has not been able to apply itself to the details of the scheme because it has not had the opportunity of examining them. However, Opposition members have immediately discerned that the scheme does not cover all the people who are affected. An important point to be made here is that when the primary producer is forced out of the industry, other people who are part of rural production will be banished with him. This is happening now. The Opposition maintains that any rural reconstruction scheme is incomplete unless it takes info account all the people who are affected. The great question mark lying against this scheme and the Government’s attitude generally to the rural crisis is: Where is it envisaged that this retraining scheme will take place? Is it intended that the retraining should be part of a movement out of rural areas? I point out that at a time of rising and serious unemployment across the countryside, people are standing around unwillingly and impatiently and receiving only 20 per cent of their normal earnings as a social services handout. This situation exists when at least 100 years of work is necessary in most areas to correct deficiencies in roads, hospitals, schools and public facilities which are, generally speaking, substandard in so many areas. The Government has people standing by idly - a spectre of the 1930s that our fathers and grandfathers knew. This is ridiculous and unnecessary. The Opposition asks the Government in relation to this scheme: Will these people be retrained to get out of the industry and to evacuate rural areas like refugees, or will it be part of a scheme to ensure the continuing viability not only of the individual but also of the whole community? I have serious doubts about the Government’s intentions because only last evening the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin), who is a senior member of the Liberal Party, made a statement in relation to the countryside of the State in which I happen to live. He said:
The people of New South Wales - and New South Wales means the people of Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong, and to hell with the rest-
– Who said that?
– -The honourable member for Mitchell, who is a senior member on the Government side. In case there was any thought that he had been carried away and did not really mean what he said, some time later he repeated this concept when he said:
As I said before, New South Wales now stands for Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. We should either divide up the rest and make it into 2 States or give it back to the Aboriginals and ask them to try and do something with it.
That statement was made by a responsible and senior member of the Government back benches; a man who, I might say, is a senior spokesman on the wool industry. He has been telling us exactly what we must do with the wool industry, how we must not interfere with the forces of free marketing, and must not implement that dreadful Labor policy of acquisition, appraisal and orderly marketing. He seems to have let a cat out of the bag when he makes statements of that nature which have gone unchallenged. Not one member of either of the Government parties has dissociated himself from them. I hope they will take the opportunity to do so. But when the sort of thinking is being put forward in a debate in the House of Representatives that a State should be given back to its original inhabitants, presumably because of a failure to persevere and a lack of interest, it causes members of the Opposition to be seriously concerned about the philosophy and intentions of the Government as they touch on the primary industry sector at this time.
Local government bodies representing parts of my electorate have made representations to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), the Treasurer (Mr Snedden), the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) and have seen the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony). They have come forward and have said: ‘We have this unemployment problem’ and have asked for help. So far, they have received no help at all. The problem remains; action is suspended. It has been said that this scheme will help eligible farmers to undertake some retraining and receive some personal assistance. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, the Opposition accepts the principle of rural retraining although not in the Government’s context and not in relation to the philosophy which was enunciated on behalf of the Government by the honourable member for Mitchell but in the context of normal technological change which takes place across the countryside in a dynamic situation.
I should like to make 5 points in summation. Firstly, the Opposition rejects the inadequacy of the Government’s proposal as it leaves out so many of the people with whom we are concerned and who are affected at present. Secondly, the Opposition accepts the need for technological change and human adjustment which in any decade could affect 10 per cent of the farm force and at present would affect no more than IS per cent. Thirdly, we would welcome a rural retraining scheme on a sound basis and in a sound integrated context. Fourthly, the Opposition would want the provisions of the scheme widened to cover all the rural people who are involved in hardship. Finally, the scheme should be brought forward in the context of an overall rural development programme designed to remove the present scandal in the rural heart of the nation - a depression in what has been claimed by successive Treasurers to be one of the most prosperous and rich nations on the face of the earth.
– The Government rejects the amendment which has been moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). The rural reconstruction employment training scheme is designed to be part and parcel of the rural reconstruction scheme. There may be need for unemployment benefits or for opportunities to be given to other people outside this scheme but that is another matter. The honourable member for Dawson talks about a comprehensive scheme. This proposal could be part of a comprehensive scheme if such a comprehensive scheme were needed in the total concept. I remind the honourable member for Dawson that the record of the Government in the matter of unemployment is a very good one. It is a better one than Labor governments have offered in most cases. It bears favourable comparison with schemes operated in other countries.
Let me indicate what other countries have done in this respect. Have they decided that the schemes or the ideas that have been proposed by the Opposition on this occasion represent the right way in which to tackle this problem? Let us look at what has happened in other countries. Rural retraining schemes for displaced rural labour, according to the information that I have before me, have been introduced in many countries including Germany, the Netherlands, the United States of America, Canada, Japan, France, Norway and Sweden. Yet, the honourable member for Dawson says that we must have a comprehensive scheme. I suggest that his proposal is simply a way of grasping a poor opportunity to offer criticism of the Government at the expense of Australia’s rural unemployed and to endeavour to delay the application of this excellent scheme. The only 2 Opposition spokesmen who know anything about rural industry - and they do not know much - have not been able to make out a real case against this scheme. They have tried very hard and I suppose that one can always forgive them when they have tried as hard as they have done on this occasion. So this is the object of the amendment, and the Government rejects it.
The rural reconstruction employment training scheme is an important part of the whole of rural reconstruction. The statement which was presented by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) clearly sets out that opportunities will be provided for those people who are unemployed now as a result of conditions which are operating in rural industry, including technological change which has been admitted by the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) as being one of those conditions.
– No, it is not.
– You keep to the things that you do know; you are not much good on them either. As far as I am concerned, it is a matter for regret that circumstances have created the need for this type of opportunity to be given to many of these people. It would be better if the necessity for this scheme could have been avoided because our rural areas and country towns have a great need for population. But with the circumstances now operating which, in the main, are very largely well beyond the control of this Government, something has to be done about them.
Very often members of the Opposition accuse the Government, particularly members of the Country Party, of representing anything but people. In this scheme, we show our sympathy for the people. This scheme might be against the best interests of the Country Party from a population point of view. From a purely political angle, it might be that we would wish to keep as many people in the country as we can. But we cannot continue to keep people in the country unless reasonable opportunities are available there for them.
That does not mean that we will not take every opportunity to try to promote regional development. I hope that the Government will encourage the establishment of industry in country towns so that opportunities for employment will be available there for these people who are so much in need of employment opportunities. Honourable members opposite should realise that this scheme, which has the support of the Country Party, is in the interests of those people represented mainly by the Country Party. Certainly these people are represented more effectively by the Country Party than they were when they were represented to their disadvantage, by honourable members on the Opposition benches.
The proposed rural reconstruction employment training scheme is a voluntary one. The opportunity is given to these people. They do not need to take part in the scheme if they do not wish to. Let me emphasise that proposals similar to this scheme have been introduced in so many other countries which have recognised as Australia now realises the need for such a scheme. Having recognised the need for such a scheme, the Government has lived up to its responsibilities and has made it a part of our rural reconstruction scheme. This scheme does emphasise the need to encourage industry in our rural towns.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I had mentioned that the Country Party represents most of the people who will be affected by this scheme and that they are effectively represented by the Party. There are also members of the Liberal Party who represent rural areas and they too give much more effective representation than do members of the Opposition. I also mentioned that the scheme emphasises the need to encourage industry in rural areas. I think this is something that should be given very serious consideration by the Government even if it is done at some cost to the community at large because while we recognise the necessity of providing employment for these people it is essential that they be given an opportunity to live and earn a reasonable income in the areas from which they come. It is much more beneficial to the nation at large if employment can be found for them in the areas from which they come. I also spoke about the development of schemes of this type in other countries. I think this is something that can stand some emphasis.
As I said before, and I think it is worth repeating, I sympathise with those people in the country towns - and I know many of them - who are having great difficulty as the result, to a great degree at any rate, of the lack of prosperity in rural industries. But as I pointed out this is another aspect of the total scheme. I am sure it is an aspect that will be given consideration by the Minister if an examination of the scheme is made and if there is a means by which such a scheme can be applied to give special consideration to people in a special field just as it applies to the people who are now finding difficulty in making a reasonable living in the circumstances in which they find themselves. Even this scheme has its problems. As I understand it, there is no accurate pattern of demand for retraining yet discernible by the Department of Labour and National Service. It has to be defined and we do not want to complicate the scheme by including those categories which the honourable member for Dawson would try to include in it. I repeat that the introduction of his idea into this scheme could do nothing but delay the very urgently needed assistance for those people who are now waiting for this scheme to be set in motion. So let us get on with the job.
If members of the Opposition were honest I am sure that after having heard my comments and after having made their speeches they would be prepared to admit that the introduction of this scheme does not disadvantage anybody. There is plenty of room for a scheme to cater for these people. If the Opposition wants to bring another one forward the Government can have a look at it. As I said, the pattern of demand is not clearly apparent at this stage but interest has been shown in the scheme since it was announced. Of course, no statistics are available to give us a clear picture, although it is reasonably clear, of the lines upon which this rural reconstruction employment training scheme will eventually be run, or the extent to which certain sections of it will be utilised. For example, we have to look pretty carefully at the attitude that will be taken by the older members of the community. They too are deserving of all the assistance that we can give them. They too have spent their lives in an endeavour to promote the welfare of Australia and its people and they must be given consideration.
But their attitude would certainly be different to that of the younger people and would, in all probability, lean more towards the practical open air type of occupation such as that of a motor mechanic or welder - something that they can turn their hands to more easily. I think the younger farmers could reasonably be expected to be more ambitious. Their minds would turn more to a long term future. They could reasonably be expected to lean towards an occupation with a better future and greater financial rewards. The whole plan should be developed along those lines. When we see what is happening the scheme can be adapted and, no doubt, improved in some ways to meet the full requirement. I want to make another one or two points with regard to some of the aspects of this worldwide problem. I commend the Minister and the Government on introducing this very com prehensive plan, but let us look at what is happening even in an industrial nation like Japan. The Japanese too are giving special attention to the rural sector. In Japan grants are made available to farmers who settled after the war up to the end of March 1958 and whose farm is in a difficult situation and offers no prospects, for the future and who, although they would like to leave agriculture, are unable to do so through lack of funds.
So there are many problems confronting people in other countries. In France the AMPRA, an association for occupational transfers in agriculture, has been set up. The French Minister for Agriculture approved the setting up of. a specialised association and allocated funds for its operation. The Minister pointed to the difficulties associated with action to facilitate occupational movements. The duties of the AMPRA consist in particular of seeking out under-employed persons in agriculture. This is a clear example of the worldwide trend which Australia is facing up to with a very well drafted scheme which was presented to the Parliament this morning. In addition to what I have said about seeking out under-employed persons the AMPRA also has the duty of informing those people of the general opportunities available for vocational re-adjustment, helping them to select the vocational training best meeting their qualifications and the labour, market and conditions, giving them every assistance and encouraging them to change their occupation if they are in the position in which we find so many of our people in rural areas today through, as I emphasised, no fault of the Government but through a change in circumstances.
– Rubbish! That is not true.
– It is all very well for the Opposition to claim that but this is a worldwide situation. Honourable members opposite are prepared to blame the Government for everything. I sometimes think - and I would like to use what little time I have left without interruption - when I look at the suggestions made by members of the Opposition over recent years that they must surely have adopted the Social Credit principle of printing money because of the things they want to do. They have no financial worries. They just put everything up and it does not matter 2 hoots what the cost is because they do not have to find the money. I commend the Minister and the Government on this scheme and in the interests of those people who badly need the services that will be provided I hope that its implementation will not be delayed.
– The matter before the Chair being the amendment, I move:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr Hallett)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the words proposed to be added (Dr Patterson’s amendment) be added.
The House divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr J. M. Hallett)
Majority . . . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move:
That the debate be now adjourned.
-The question now is: That the House take note of the paper.
– I rise on a point of order. Mr Deputy Speaker, I was on my feet and you put the question. I think that is out of order.
-The question now is: That the House take note of the paper. I called the honourable member for Angas- the call was to a member on the other side of the House.
– I rise to order. The point which you are being asked to clarify, Mr Deputy Speaker, is this: Four members were listed to speak and the last member who spoke was the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett). So the question before the Chair is which honourable member is next to get the call.
– I rise to order. May I just draw the attention of the House to the arrangement that was made regarding this statement? The arrangement was that there would be 2 speakers from each side of the House - 2 Opposition speakers and 2 Government speakers. As it turned out on this occasion, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) moved an amendment. His amendment was seconded by the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby), who did not defer his opportunity to speak after be had seconded the amendment but spoke immediately. So in fact there were 2 speakers from the Opposition side immediately followed by a speaker from the Government side. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) made a statement, 2 Opposition members spoke and then finally a speaker from the Government side took part in the debate. If we had followed the normal procedure, the honourable member for Riverina would have seconded the amendment and reserved his right to speak, and the honourable member for Maranoa would have spoken. He would have been followed by the honourable member for Riverina and the call then would have been back to this side of the House. I think that in the special circumstances and in view of the arrangement that was made the call would be due to a member on the Government side of the House.
– 1 rise on a point of order.
-Order! The honourable member for Riverina will resume bis seat for a moment. The question before the Chair is: That the House take note of the paper. The motion is open for debate. The honourable member for Riverina has a point of order.
– My point of order is in relation to the statement made by the Leader of the House (Mr Swartz). I am not cavilling at it but I just want to present the situation in relation to my point of order. It was agreed, of course, that 2 speakers from this side of the House would participate in the debate but what has happened has been that we have now had a vote - a precipitate vote - on an amendment which in effect negatives the whole debate on the statement read by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) - a most important statement to the rural part of our country. The suggestion is that it was perfectly in order for the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) to move the adjournment of the debate under the arrangement that was made. The arrangement of speakers was made in good faith between the 2 sides of the House and I am not cavilling at what the Leader of the House had to say. What I am saying now is that precipitate action has been taken by the Government to resolve a major matter which is before the House and which was the subject of an amendment. If the whole of the debate is now adjourned there will be nothing before the House other than the original question-
-Order! The question before the House is: That the House take note of the paper. Does the honourable member for Kalgoorlie wish to raise a point of order.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I have believed for a long time that the Country Party-
-Order! Is the honourable member speaking to the motion before the Chair?
– 1 am, yes. As I was saying, I have believed for quite a long time that the Country Party is a phony organisation. It is a completely phony show in what it pretends to represent. As you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, it claims to represent all the people in the country areas and yet the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) completely rejects on behalf of his Party - he is the speaker for the Country Party, the Party’s spokesman
– I raise a point of order. I draw your attention, Mr Deputy Speaker, to the fact that you called the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) who moved that the debate be adjourned in accordance with Standing Orders. That question should be before the House. As I indicated before, the arrangement was that there would be 4 speakers on this statement which would then go on the notice paper and be subject to debate at a later stage.
– How soon?
– During this sitting the debate will take place because there are honourable members on both sides of the House who wish to speak on this subject. One of the reasons for the limitation of speakers as arranged was that the House has to conclude the Budget debate today as well as some Bills. The debate on the statement was fitted into that programme. In accordance with the Standing Orders you gave the call to the honourable member for Angas and he moved that the debate be adjourned. I suggest that that is now the question before the House.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hallett)The question before the House at the moment is: ‘That the House take note of the paper’, and the honourable member for Kalgoorlie has the call.
Mr- Collard^- Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. As I was pointing out, I have always believed that the Country Party was a phony show. My belief has been proved by the very fact that the honourable member for Maranoa-
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
-Order! The honourable member for Kalgoorlie and the honourable member for Angas will sit down. The question that I had before the Chair was as I have stated it. If the honourable member for Angas did move a motion I did not hear it. If the House will come to order the Chair may be able to hear what is going on. The motion before the Chair is precisely as I have stated it.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to order. A while ago I moved that the debate be adjourned. Will you put my motion to the House?
– You never had the call.
-Order! I ask the honourable member for Angas to repeat what he said.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
-Order! I did not hear the honourable member for Angas. Will the honourable member repeat what he said?
– Some time ago I moved in relation to the amendment that the question be put. After that I moved that the debate on the statement be adjourned. I thought that you put that motion to the House.
– You are not moving that motion now, are you?
– For the adjournment of the debate.
-The question is that the question be put.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I moved for the adjournment of the debate.
-The question is that the debate be adjourned?
– I rise to order. I think we can clarify this issue. There was an agreement made between-
– Why do you not keep it?
– If 1 do not talk the debate will go on. There was an agreement made between the Leader of the House (Mr Swartz) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). I have checked on this. There were to be 2 speakers from either side. We have had 2 speakers from either side so that agreement ‘nas been kept. I think the Opposition has no alternative but to honour that agreement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– As Chairman, I present the 131st and 132nd reports of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The 131st report relates to the Treasury Minute on your Committee’s 112th report which concerns Commonwealth advertising. The 132nd report refers to the Treasury Minute on the 115th report concerning expenditure from the advance to the Treasurer for 1968-69. Honourable members will recall that on several occasions the former chairman of the Committee, the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie), referred to the .Treasury Minutes arrangement as an important element in ensuring that through your Committee this Parliament maintains a significant role in the financial administration of the Commonwealth. I endorse that view completely. While under that arrangement it is open to the Committee to make such comments as may be necessary on any Treasury Minute arising from its reports, your Committee has not found it necessary to make any comment on the Treasury Minute relating to the 112th report. It has found it necessary, however, to comment on the Treasury Minute relating to the 115th report. This comment takes the form of an observation set out in chapter 3 of the 132nd report.
As honourable members will be aware, your Committee has been concerned on many occasions over the years with the quality of the evidence tendered by the witnesses. In this regard the Treasury Minute on the 115th report suggests that factually inaccurate evidence may have been submitted by the Department of the Inter ior in connection with item 363.2.02 relating to stationery and printing for the Australian Capital Territory Police Force. In view of the comments made in the Treasury Minute your Committee re-examined the relevant evidence and also sought advice from the Department of the Interior regarding the accuracy of the evidence that it had tendered during the inquiry in relation to matters of fact. On the basis of this re-examination and the advice obtained your Committee believes that the evidence tendered concerning an order that had been placed for a law manual and a police law reference book lacked clarity. Your Committee also believes, however, that evidence given in relation to an amount of $500 for the police law reference book was correct on the basis of information available to the Department at the time when the evidence was tendered to the Committee. I commend the reports to honourable members.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
Bill presented by Dr Forbes, and read a first time.
– I. move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is, firstly, to give effect to the Government’s Budget proposals in relation to the contribution payable by the patient for pharmaceutical benefits and, secondly, to incorporate in the Schedules of the National Health Act variations made to certain items of those Schedules during 1971 by regulations. As announced in the Budget, it is proposed to raise the level of patient contribution in respect of general pharmaceutical benefits from 50c to $1. The fee has remained at 50c since 1960. However, the contribution payable by persons receiving assistance under the Subsidised Health Insurance Scheme - now to be known as the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan - will be maintained at 50c. Pensioners and their dependants covered by the pensioner medical service will continue to receive pharmaceutical benefits free of charge. It is proposed that these provisions will come into effect on 1st November 1971. The present system of providing pharmaceutical benefits to the general public, other than pensioners, is based on the principle of Government assistance to the individual in meeting the cost of medical treatment rather than the provision of ‘free medicine’ in the literal sense.
In September 1950 a scheme was introduced by the Government which provided certain life saving and disease preventing drugs free of cost to the whole community on a doctor’s prescription. From July 1951 the Government introduced a further scheme which provided a comprehensive range of medicines for pensioners who were enrolled in the pensioner medical service. No charge was made for these drugs. Between the years 1951 and 1960 the list of life saving and disease preventing benefits was periodically expanded to include newly developed drugs. In March 1960 a major departure was made to the then existing schemes. The general and pensioner benefits schemes were amalgamated and the entire range of drugs in both schemes, with the exception of a small number of drugs restricted to eligible pensioners, was made available to the general public. The list of benefits was greatly expanded to provide a much wider range of treatment. At the same time all items on the list, except those restricted to eligible pensioners, were made available to the general public at a fee of 50c for each item supplied by a chemist. Pensioners, however, continued to receive the benefits free of charge. The drugs and medicinal preparations made available as pharmaceutical benefits are determined by the Minister for Health on the advice of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee established under section 101 of the National Health Act.
As honourable members are aware, pharmaceutical benefits are the most expensive component of the Government’s overall health benefits plan. In 1970-71 the cost to the Commonwealth of prescription benefits to the general public amounted to $88.2m. Additional costs to the Commonwealth included payments to public hospitals and miscellaneous sources of $26.9m and payments in respect of benefits supplied to eligible pensioners and dependants under the pensioner medical service of $45.2m, a total of $ 160.3m. This figure compares with $1 37.7m in 1969-70.
In 1960-61 the corresponding costs were S34.3m, $6.8m and $ 14.7m respectively, a total of $55. 8m. Commonwealth expenditure on pharmaceutical prescription benefits for the general public has thus increased by 157.2 per cent over a period of 11 years. The patient contribution has increased from $ 10.3m to $24.4m for the same period, an increase of 136.9 per cent. However, the relationship of patient contribution to the total cost has fallen from 23.1 per cent in 1960-61 to 21.7 per cent in 1970-71. While the cost per prescription has risen from $2.18 in 1960-61 to $2.30 in 1970-71 and is estimated to rise to $2.65 in 1971-72, the number of prescriptions per head has increased from 2.13 in 1960-61 to 4.26 in 1970-71 and is expected to rise to 4.48 in 1971-72. The effect has been that the cost per person in respect of general benefit prescriptions has risen from $4.62 in 1960-61 to $9.80 in 1970-71.
Three main contributing factors are responsible for the increase in cost to the Commonwealth. These are the addition of new expensive drugs and the relaxation of restrictions on prescribing of certain drugs, particularly in relation to the antibiotics, analgesics, anti-hypertensive and antidepressant groups of drugs, together with some increase in prescribing by doctors unaccounted for by the above two factors. It is estimated that the proposed increase in the patient contribution from 50c to $1 will effect a reduction in the cost of the scheme to the Commonwealth, in respect of general prescription benefits, of $24. 6m in a full year and $ 15.8m in the current financial year. These estimates have been made on the basis of the situation that pertained in 1970-71. The expected savings, however, could be affected by variations to the list of benefits and changes in doctors’ prescribing habits. At a time when the Government is concerned with the continuing sharp increase in the cost of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, it believes that it is not unreasonable for the community at large to bear the cost of the increased patient contribution. There have of course been substantial increases in incomes since 1960 when the existing patient contribution was first set.
The proposed increase to $1 will mean that those items listed in the Schedules to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Regulations as pharmaceutical benefits which cost $1 or less will not be available as benefits to the general public. It is not proposed that these benefits be deleted from the schedule of benefits, as the Government recognises that such items should be retained and made available for the use of pensioners and persons receiving assistance under the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan. The present provisions of the National Health Act relating to the treatment of chronic diseases or conditions will also continue to apply. As I have already mentioned, beneficiaries under the Subsidised Health Benefits Plan will not have to meet the increase of 50c for national health prescriptions. This decision is in keeping with the Government’s policy under the Health Benefits Plan to assist where possible those special groups in the community to meet the cost of medical care.
The subsidised health benefits plan which has been in existence since January 1970 provides assistance, in meeting the cost of medical and hospital treatment, to persons receiving unemployment, sickness and special social service benefits, to migrants during their first 2 months in Australia and to low income families. The Bill provides that persons receiving assistance in each of these categories will be able to obtain medicines and drugs prescribed under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme for 50c a prescription. While the Government has taken this action to assist these special groups of people to obtain their pharmaceutical benefits for a charge of only 50c, it must be appreciated that the onus to establish initial eligibility must rest with the persons concerned. It is essential, therefore, that persons who believe they are entitled to subsidised health benefits should make application to the Department of Social Services or, in the case of migrants, to the Department of Health as soon as possible.
The Government has also considered the position of certain members of friendly societies who, under their lodge rules, are entitled to receive varying levels of rebates on the present 50c patient contribution for benefit items dispensed by frendly societies dispensaries. I should like to make it quite clear that the friendly societies dispensaries receive exactly the same payment from the Government as other retail chemists for pharmaceutical benefits dispensed. The rebate on the 50c patient contribution is met by the friendly societies and under the provisions of section 92a of the National Health Act this rebate is limited to members and their dependants who joined societies prior to 24th April 1964. Members who joined on or after that date are not entitled to any rebate on the patient contribution for pharmaceutical benefits.
Members of friendly societies were not required, by legislation, to pay the 50c patient contribution, introduced in March 1960, for benefits supplied at society dispensaries because those members had long been accustomed to meeting the cost of medicines by regular weekly or quarterly payments to their societies. However, by 1964 there were indications that other organisations were considering entering the field of rebate insurance against the 50c patient contribution. The Government was concerned that a situation might be reached where the deterrent effect of the patient contribution would be nullified. The National Health Act was therefore amended in 1964 to ensure that persons who became members of friendly societies on or after 24th April 1964, the date of operation of the new legislation provisions, paid the 50c patient contribution. Persons who were members of friendly societies up to 23rd April 1964 and certain of their dependents, retained their entitlement to rebates.
The Bill provides that friendly societies will not be permitted to rebate more than 50c for each pharmaceutical benefit item supplied. The effect of this is that persons who were members of societies prior to 24th April 1964 will not gain any additional advantage over persons who joined subsequent to that date. What this in effect means is that members of friendly societies who are entitled to the rebate may not necessarily have to pay the full $1 for prescriptions but an amount somewhere between 50c and $1. However, I would repeat the Government will deduct $1 from the price paid for each pharmaceutical benefit prescription dispensed by friendly societies for persons not eligible for concessional or free benefits. The societies will meet the amount of any rebate.
The second purpose of the Bill is to incorporate into the Schedules to the National Health Act variations made to those Schedules by the National Health (Variations of Benefits) Regulations in accordance with section 13A of that Act. This section provides that a table in a medical benefit schedule to the Act may be varied by regulation. However, the regulations cease to have effect unless they are ratified by an amendment of the Act within 15 sitting days of the House of Representatives following the expiration of 12 months after notification of the regulation in the Commonwealth Gazette. This particular section was inserted by amendment to the Act in 1970, as part of the reconstruction of the medical benefits segment of the new Health Benefits Plan. It was recognised at that time that adjustments to the schedules would be necessary as more comprehensive data become available regarding fees commonly charged by doctors for medical procedures infrequently carried out. It was also realised that it would be necessary from time to time to fix appropriate amounts for new medical procedures as they were introduced and to adjust Commonwealth and fund benefits for medical services when new common fees were determined. The National Health (Variation of Benefits) (No. 1) Regulations (Statutory Rules No. 43 of 1971) were notified in the Commonwealth Gazette on 1st April 1971 and came into force on that date. The National Health (Variation of Benefits) (No. 2) Regulations (Statutory Rules No. 75 of 1971) were notified in the Commonwealth Gazette on 24th June 1971 and came into force on 1st July 1971.
The variations made to the medical benefit schedules contained in the Variation of Benefits Regulations No. 1 and No. 2 are therefore covered by the present Bill. The regulations which became effective from 1st April 1971 involved amendments to 29 items of the Schedules. A number of services not previously listed was introduced into the Schedules and in addition the common fees and benefits ‘ for some items already listed were varied. The varia tions in the most common fees were made because at the time the original list of most common fees was drawn up information on some services had been incomplete. These amendments from April 1971 resulted from recommendations of the Medical Benefits Schedule Advisory Committee which is a body appointed by the Minister for Health to consider and recommend changes in the benefits schedules. The Committee consists of representatives of the Australian Medical Association, the registered medical benefits organisations and the Department of Health.
The changes to the medical benefit schedule made by the Regulations which became operative from 1st July 1971 were much more significant in their scope than the previous regulations, although not as many in number. The most significant feature of these regulations was the increase in Commonwealth and fund benefits in most States for the important general practitioner surgery consultations and home visits to meet the increases in the most common fees for those services as from 1st July 1971.
When the new common fee system was introduced on 1st July 1970 both the Government and the Australian Medical Association recognised the necessity for periodic reviews of medical fees to take account of economic circumstances. It was decided that there should be a review of the most common fees at 2-yearly intervals and that the first review would have effect from 1st July 1971. These regulations incorporate the changes made to the most common fees for surgery consultations and home visits as a result of a review of common fees. Consequential adjustments were also necessary to fees for 11 other medical services which, for fees and benefit purposes, are equated to general practitioner surgery consultations. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hayden) adjourned.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! As it is now past the time provided for the grievance debate the order of the day will not be called on. The Clerk will call on the next order of the day.
Debate resumed from 14 September (vide page 1285), on motion by Mr Snedden:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have the indugence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate on this Bill is resumed I would like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill, the PayRoll Tax (Territories) Assessment Bill 1971 and the Pay-Roll Tax (Territories) Bill 1971 as they are associated measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the close of the debate. I suggest therefore, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of the 3 Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 3 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– On behalf of the Opposition I indicate that we oppose this legislation because it is our belief that the collection of payroll tax ought to have been retained by the Commonwealth. If the States want additional money as apparently many of them do; by increasing this tax, which will in future be in their hands, from 2± per cent to 3i per cent, on last year’s figures this would mean that over $100m will be collected. It is our belief that instead the Commonwealth should increase its reimbursements to the States by that amount. I want to say something about the operation of the payroll tax and the rigmarole or contrivance that is now being used to continue this form of taxation under the control of the States. Payroll tax has never been anything but a Federal tax since its inception in, I think, 1941, when it was introduced by a Labor government. At that time it related to payment of child endowment for the second and subsequent children. As child endowment payments and social service payments generally have been extended there is no longer a direct connection between payroll tax and the payment of child endowment.
Payroll tax has become part of the revenue system of the Commonwealth. Last year about $300m was collected in payroll tax. As we all know there is considerable dissatisfaction from time to time on the part of the States over the reimbursement of money paid to them by the Commonwealth. We all know that the most significant tax - income tax - as it is imposed on individuals and companies, resides solely with the Commonwealth. There seems to be no intention on the part of this Government to relinquish it. It is the platform of the Australian Labor Party that income tax on individuals and companies should remain with the Commonwealth. At least we have our policy on this in writing while this Government only has it in the operation of the present system.
I draw the attention of the House to the interesting information about Commonwealth and State financial relations contained in the document ‘Commonwealth Payments to or for the States 1971-72’ which was tabled in this House with the Budget Papers. That document sets out the history of Commonwealth and State financial relations since the beginning of Federation. There is quite a considerable amount of detail set out in this document which clearly indicates that when the question of the responsibility for the collection of income tax being returned in part to the States was raised the present Government said: ‘No go. We will keep it’. On page 13 and subsequent pages in this document there is considerable detail from the time of the 1970 Premiers Conference setting out first the legal challenge on payroll tax. I will say something about this later on. It also refers to the cessation of the receipts duty tax that the States had attempted to levy but which the High Court determined they could not levy because it was in the nature of an excise. There is also a section which deals with the transfer of payroll tax to the States. I want to say something about each of those aspects.
The payroll tax as it applied from 1941 onwards was levied by the Commonwealth on something like two-thirds of the total wages paid in Australia annually. Details on how it is collected are set out in ‘Taxation Statistics’ published by the Commissioner of Taxation. In this document on page 191 and subsequent pages figures are set out on a monthly basis showing that there are about 58,000 separate payers of payroll tax. That is to say there are about 58,000 firms on whom this tax is imposed. This tax is levied monthly on wages exceeding $ 1,000m or on an annual basis the tax base is something like SI 2,000m. The figures I am quoting are for the year ended 30th June 1970 when the total wage and salary payments in Australia were in the region of $ 18,000m. As I said the payroll tax applies to two-thirds of all wages paid in Australia. The main exception to the imposition of payroll tax is the wages bill for the Commonwealth. Apparently the Commonwealth could not see much logic in imposing a tax which would be payable to itself. All Commonwealth instrumentalities are exempted from this tax. The exemption was not extended to the States or to local government authorities whose wages are subject to payroll tax if in individual instances the annual wage bill exceeds $20,000.
A few minutes ago I took the trouble of telephoning the Victorian Treasury Department because that State is imposing payroll tax and legislation to this effect is now before the Victorian Legislative Assembly. I asked that Department whether it was intended to impose a tax on State undertakings. The reply I received was yes. Apparently the reason for this is that it helps in the collection of statistics. However it will become a rather large bookkeeping exercise. For example, Victoria will collect tax from the payroll of the teachers.
There is still apparently no intention to tax the payroll for Commonwealth employees, even though the States are now imposing this tax. This seems to me to be a rather curious system to say the least. What the States will not do is tax local government authorities. To me this is a sensible move and it is part of the arrangement agreed upon at the 1971 Premiers Conference when it was decided that the States could have control of payroll tax. In essence what the Opposition is saying is really that the same system will operate except that instead of payroll tax being a
Commonwealth tax it will now be a State tax. What is happening is that the reimbursements that the Commonwealth would have made to the States under the old formula are to be reduced by the amount ot the payroll tax at a level of 21 per cent. So again the net effect is nil to start with but the States now have the ability to increase this tax if they want to and they have chosen to increase it by 40 per cent. It has been increased from 2± per cent to 3i per cent. This increase of 40 per cent in the rate of tax should yield, on the basis of collecting $300m a year, something like an additional $120m for the States in a full financial year. It has been said, although I suggest that it is not spelt out clearly, that if the States choose to increase the payroll tax their reimbursement will not be affected and that this is a growth’ tax - a pleasant word - which the States will now have and which they can spend as they like. I do not know how this will be ajudged in the end - whether it will be X plus so many dollars instead of just X dollars. This seems to me to be one of the great mysteries in the scheme. We have a practical example of the yield from payroll tax and a theoretical exercise still as to what reimbursment the Commonwealth will make, supposedly ignoring the growth element on the part of the States.
Two or three of the States have imposed the tax already. I understand that in South Australia it has been imposed on the wage bill at the rate of 31 per cent, not at the former rate of 2i per cent. On the basis of this anticipated revenue, South Australia has made considerable improvements in public expenditure, particularly in the field of education. Of course, this shows the very real need of the States for extra reimbursement but it still leaves open to question whether this is the best way of bridging the bill. I do not know whether an additional 1 per cent on the wage bill of South Australian industry is necessarily a healthy thing at this stage of the economy but it certainly is the only device which was open to South Australia, unless the Commonwealth was more generous in its reimbursement.
In 1967 or thereabouts, the State of Victoria challenged the right of the Commonwealth to impose payroll tax on the employees of that State. The High Court ruled in favour of the Commonwealth, suggesting that the Commonwealth did have that right. I do not know whether Sir Henry Bolte took that action to try to have the whole system declared invalid or because he believed that it was a futile thing for the Commonwealth to impose a tax on State instrumentalities. However, he does not seem to have changed this practice now that Victoria has the right to impose this tax. The tax is imposed upon the very organisations on whose behalf Sir Henry Bolte challenged the Commonwealth in the High Court and those organisations must still go through the rigmarole of having a grant paid to them at the beginning of each year and having to return part of it to consolidated revenue by way of payroll tax. Again, 1 leave it to the imagination of people as to whether that is a rational way to conduct one’s finances or whether it will salve anybody’s conscience. However this is a tax that the States have for themselves. The Opposition still feels that it would have been better had this tax remained the responsibility of the Commonwealth, which could collect the tax, and this is our motive in moving the amendment. This would have been a sounder system administratively. If necessary, this is the sort of tax that could be used as what has been described in public financial discussions as an automatic regulator. If the economy needed to be dampened down the Government could suddenly increase the rate of payroll tax or if it were necessary to stimulate the economy, the tax could be reduced. To my mind, sometimes these are necessary fiscal weapons and now that the States are operating this tax the tax could possibly move in the opposite direction to that which, on a national basis, might be the soundest way to move.
Yesterday a national superannuation scheme was discussed in this House. Whatever may be the obstinacy or obduracy of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in this matter, in the long run such a scheme must be introduced in Australia. Probably the area where it could most easily be applied would be in respect of the contribution from industry and on the basis of the payroll tax system. However, the Commonwealth is handing this tax to the States and the present central administration will be abandoned. I still do not know whether it would not have been preferable - even if the States normally had this right - to have done what used to be done in the past with income tax, when the States were the collectors for the Commonwealth prior to the uniform taxation arrangements. Perhaps the reverse process could have been employed. The Commonwealth could have been the collector of this tax, as it is now, and simply paid the sum collected to the States at the end of each financial year. Provision could be made for some flexibility, which could be arranged each year at the Premiers’ Conference and this would apply if a State wanted to increase the rate. The rate might even vary from one State to another, but some flexibility would enable the States to levy part of the tax themselves. lt has been suggested that there may be some constitutional difficulties which would prevent this because whilst there is no doubt that the Commonwealth has the ability to charge such a tax the Constitution is so written that if a tax is imposed, it must be imposed equally throughout the Commonwealth. It could not be 2i per cent in Victoria and 3i per cent in South Australia although, oddly enough, I understand that the rate will be 3i per cent in all States and only 2k per cent in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Apparently if the Commonwealth imposes a limited tax, it can have a limited application. I am not a constitutional lawyer and I do not propose to argue that point. Nevertheless when examined, this seems to be a rigmarole or a contrivance rather than a genuine attempt to provide a growth tax to the States. This tax certainly does grow because it is linked to the wage bills of the States and during the last 2 or 3 years there has been the spectacle of wages rising at the rate of about 10 per cent or 11 per cent a year. The tax base at least will increase each year. Of course, most of that increase is due simply to the effects of inflation in the community and automatically the 2i per cent will be levied on a higher amount than previously and the level of the tax will grow. In addition, there has been superimposed upon it a rise of some 40 per cent in the rate at which it is to be applied and it is likely that about $400m will be collected this year.
The other matter that remains for me to deal with is a rather curious device known as the export rebate scheme. The reason that this is linked to payroll tax is that because Australia has certain contractural obligations under the scheme known as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade limits are placed upon those who adhere to GATT as to what they can do in their external trade with respect to concessions on exports. By some curious logic apparently a business undertaking cannot be exempted by subsidy from direct taxation but it can be exempted from the effect of indirect taxation. Payroll tax apparently has been regarded as an indirect tax. Therefore we have this curious contrivance by which instead of directly paying subsidies to industries to increase their exports we allow those industries a rebate of their payroll tax if they achieve a certain level of export performance superior to what was adjudged in a base period. This kind of provision apparently is still to be continued even though the tax no longer will be a Commonwealth tax.
In his second reading speech, the Treasurer stated:
The Bill proposes also to terminate the payroll tax export rebate scheme with effect from the close of the 1970-71 fianancial year. I have already foreshadowed the later introduction of a separate Bill to provide a system of direct grants based on exports until 30th June 1973 when the present rebate scheme was due to expire.
We may describe this as another contrivance necessary at the Commonwealth level in order still to be able to pay the payroll tax rebate even though the Commonwealth no longer collects that payroll tax. Certain other difficulties arise in the transition which are described quite adequately in the document entitled ‘Commonwealth Payments To or For the States 1971-72’. Under the heading: Transfer of Payroll Tax to States’, the document states:
The Prime Minister indicated that the transfer could only be effected if all the States agreed to take over the tax and to do so on a common date. He said that the Commonwealth would continue to operate the export incentive scheme so as to give exporters the same benefits, based on the payroll tax rate of 2.S per cent, as they enjoyed under the existing scheme. The Commonwealth would continue to impose its own tax in the Territories at the existing rate of 2.5 per cent, with the rate being subject to review in the light of any changes the States might make in their individual rates of tax.
Whether that implies that once the States have legislated to increase the level of payroll tax to 3i per cent the Common wealth also will increase the tax to 3i per cent in its Territories is not specifically stated. But certain other adjustments must be made. The document further states:
After discussion, it was agreed that the tax would be transferred on the basis that the deductions from the States’ financial assistance grants in 1971-72 would be less than the amount of payroll tax receivable by them (at the existing 2.5 per cent rate) by:
An amount of $20m to be distributed between the States in proportion to payroll tax collections in 1971-72 at the rate of 2.S per cent and a further amount, estimated at the time of the Conference at $2.7m, to be distributed between the 4 less populous States so as to bring their allocations to what they, would have been if the amount of $20m had been distributed in proportion to the financial assistance grants.
Whether anybody finds it easy to follow that argument, 1 do not know. I have had to read it 4 or 5 times to understand it. Perhaps, listening to it, honourable members will agree that it does appear to be a conundrum. The document continues:
In addition to the amount, estimated at the time of the Conference at $22.7m, the Commonwealth agreed that it would provide special revenue assistance of $40m in 1971-72 in the form of a. non-recurring grant (see section on ‘Other General Revenue Assistance’ below).
An amount equal to the estimated payroll tax payable in respect of non-business activities of local authorities in 1971-72 subsequent to the date of transfer of the tax.
An amount equal to the administrative expenditure incurred by the States in 1971- 72 as a result of their imposing payroll tax.
All those kinds of complications are necessary because this device was chosen ‘ to shift what historically had been, and which constitutionally still could be, a Commonwealth tax.
Whether all these proposals are justified in the name - I suppose theoretically - of better Commonwealth-State relationships perhaps boggles the mind somewhat. I still think that the procedure would have been much much tidier if the method of collecting payroll tax had been left as it was and if the Commonwealth had negotiated with the States - separately, if it wished - about giving them a bit extra. However, this was thought to be the best way of doing it. A curious backflow which will follow this action is that if the States do increase payroll tax to 31 per cent the payroll tax paid by businesses will be greater but their taxable incomes will be less as a conse- quence. The Commonwealth also will lose revenue in that the amount on which companies are required to pay company tax of 47i per cent to the Commonwealth will be reduced as a result of the increase in payroll tax.
To my mind, these are the sorts of things that ought to be more clearly thought through when the Commonwealth, in the name of one theory, begins to disturb what has been a sensible enough and practical working arrangement. I can well understand that the States, having been given the right to collect payroll tax and to increase the rate of that tax, must increase it. Again, it is arguable whether that was necessarily the best way of raising another $100m or so in the Australian economy. We have been told on the one hand that the Budget has a certain strategy. Whatever strategy is followed here - and sometimes, to say the least, it is a bit hard to follow - can be nullified to some extent if State government budgets when introduced run in the opposite direction. For reasons of the type that I have illustrated, the Opposition opposes the measures. We do not oppose them because we think that the States should not have additional revenues. We point out that, really, all that is happening is a readjustment and that all that the States have is an ability to impose upon the rest of the community a higher tax in relation to the wages bill.
– I rise for a few moments to record my objection to this legislation. The House has before it 3 Bills dealing with payroll tax. I point out, first, that at this time when our country is heading for an economic crisis the more powers that can be held in the hands of the Commonwealth - particularly taxing powers, which can help in economic planning - the better for this nation. Even members of the Government Parties are realising this fact at the moment. In the Budget debate the other night, the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), although paying Hp service earlier in his speech to the belief that he was not a centralist, concluded by saying: ‘Of course, we should consider ourselves as one country, not 6 separate countries, and as one economy and not 6 separate economies’. He said how much nonsense it was to play along with a lot of measures. I believe that he was referring to measures such as those before us now.
The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has said that our opposition to these Bills does not mean that the States do not deserve this money. Of course they deserve it. in my own State of South Australia, as with the other States of the Commonwealth, the fact is that this Commonwealh Government by its policies has created great demands on the resources of the State. Indeed, they are such great demands that the States have been forced into their only form of taxation, which is regressive taxation, to meet the great needs that they must supply to our everincreasing population. This money will be used to meet needs in education, needs in hospitals and needs in so many other fields. Yet, in all the talk that has taken place about improving Commonwealth-State financial relations and in all the documents that have been put out by universities and others interested in this most important subject for our country, no one has come up with this stupid measure of transferring payroll tax to the States as a growth tax. I have in front of me economic papers on the subject of taxation in the Australian Federal system by people such as Professor Russell Mathews, Professor W. Prest and Brian Dixon. Professor Mathews is from the Australian National University, Professor Prest was from the University of Melbourne and Brian Dixon was also from the Australian National University although he is now in the United States. These are well known papers on this subject of Commonwealth and State financial relations and yet nobody has used them in deciding on this measure of payroll tax. Giving payroll tax to the States is a desperate measure thought up by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) because he promised something new when he hurriedly took over the Government of this country.
– He does not understand the economics of it.
– As the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) has said, I believe he does not understand the economics of it and does not understand just what yoke he has put round the necks of all of us in establishing this legislation.
If there is one thing that taxation legislation should have about it, it is a certain simplicity and flexibility, and yet a measure which should be simple like this one of transferring payroll tax from the Commonwealth to the States has ended up in 3 Bills and an explanatory memorandum of 26 pages. It would take the most competent Queen’s Counsel conversant with taxation matters with wet towels around his head an age to understand them. This is an infliction on this country being brought about by hurried and stupid legislation brought on at the last moment. Payroll tax was introduced to Australia in 1941 specifically to provide the funds required for the payment of child endowment to the families of wage and salary’ earners. Another of the reasons why 1 am so against payroll tax being transferred to the States is that I believe this son of taxation should be used specifically for other social welfare measures - indeed, let us include child endowment. One of the things that my Party is extremely keen on instituting when we take over the government benches of this country is a national superannuation scheme in order to rid this country of the poverty now suffered by 1 million people. three-quarters of whom-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! 1 remind the honourable member that national superannuation is not the subject of this Bill.
– If you will give me a little latitude, Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 will explain that the only way a national superannuation scheme can be instituted in this country is by using payroll tax and the argument is extremely pertinent to my speech today. 1 want to point out that if we are to get rid of this poverty afflicting a million people, three quarters of which was created because of inadequate social services, we will be able to do it only through a national superannuation scheme and we will be able to have a national superannuation scheme only if part of the finances come from payroll tax. Yet here we are, on the threshold of a Labor government being able to bring this sort of reform to this country, handing over these powers relating to payroll tax to the States to inflict an ever increasing cost burden on this country because the States, in order to raise the sort of revenues they need, are immediately lifting the rate of payroll tax by 1 per cent. It is an unimpressive piece of legislation altogether and when I refer to the complications of it I refer also to the new Bill which will re-introduce this tax in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. If this is not to be a uniform rate of tax of 3i per cent why bother to have it at all for the miserly amount that will be collected in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory? I think the Government should have made up its mind to rid the Northern Territory of this tax, because of the cost disadvantages that exist up there already. But if the States must inflict it on their people in order to raise the necessary finance, we should have it at a uniform rate of 3i per cent throughout Australia.
– They want the Australian Capital Territory to be a tax haven.
– As the honourable member for Kingston says - 1 am looking forward to hearing his contribution to the debate - perhaps the Australian Capital Territory has to be a tax haven with a rate of tax 1 per cent lower than that which the States have to inflict. I promised the Leader of the House (Mr Swartz) and the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Peacock) that I would be brief on this subject but 1 hope I have been able to make the point quite clearly that this is a power that should stay in the hands of the Commonwealth. I believe that if we are successful in opposing this piece of legislation my Party will certainly facilitate the immediate passage of the necessary legislation to give the States the income that they require to replace the income we would be removing from them. It is for these reasons that I oppose this Bill.
– I regret that no Government supporter has seen fit to come in to bat on this measure. Perhaps there are 2 constructions we can put on this. The first is that I will presumably be able to say what I like without being refuted at the end of the debate. But the other more important inference is, I think, that it appears that as far as the Government is concerned we have now reached the perfect financial arrangement with the States and we do not need to comment about it any further because everything in the garden is rosy. 1 do not agree with this, and I would first like to underline the basis for the Opposition’s objection to this measure and that is the nature of payroll tax itself. I think perhaps the most obnoxious feature of it is that it is actually a regressive tax. As it is a tax that is levied on payrolls I have no doubt that it will continue to be passed on, as are most other similar taxes, in the form of higher prices. In other words, it will eventually pass on to the consumer in the community in higher commodity prices and this will, of course, affect the people with a lower capacity to pay. So in that sense it is a regressive tax. That is our first objection to it. Another one is that if it is to be a levy on payrolls it constitutes a selective imposition on labour intensive industries. In that sense it is much less fair than straight out company tax or corporate tax. I think these are 2 very important objections to the method of imposing this tax on payrolls.
This measure that we are debating at the moment is the latest of a series of ad hoc measures that have been devised by the Commonwealth Government to try to overcome some of the budgetary difficulties experienced by the State governments. The first measure that was introduced to overcome the problems that have arisen in recent years was the receipts tax. This was eventually declared to be invalid and so something else had to be found. That is when the Commonwealth, under the previous Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), at the Premiers Conference in 1970 decided to make some alteration to the arrangement with the States. A number of measures came out of this. For a start the base loading factor and the betterment factor, which increased the disbursements to the States each year, were increased. The betterment factor was increased from 1.2 per cent to 1.8 per cent per annum for the purpose of determining the grants for 1971-72 and subsequent years. Then, as I mentioned, the base loading which is used to determine the grants was also increased. There were other things such as interest free capital grants to try to tak? some of the debt burden off the shoulders of the State governments.
We have done that but even these measures have not been sufficient for the State governments to be able to cope with the tremendously increased demands on their services - services which I think should have the highest priority, those that happen to fall within the responsibility of the State governments, namely health, many aspects of social welfare, and, most particularly, education. So what do we have at the moment? We do not seem to have any concrete plans as to how the State governments are going to finance their future programmes. We have a hotchpotch. We have the current formula for disbursements to the States concocted at the 1970 Premiers Conference. We have payroll tax, which has recently been handed over to the States, and we have various specific purpose grants, such as grants for independent schools, Commonwealth secondary education and a whole host of other things, but we do not really know whether we will get the best value for our money.
I suppose it could be argued that the money is going to the State governments, anyway, and that it does not really matter what formula is used, so long as the money is given to the States and they spend it. But I do not agree with this because I think that we need to have an overall programme for allocating our national resources so that we get the best value for our money. At the present time we do not know how far we are advancing in the various programmes which the State governments are trying to formulate in health and education. We do not know whether there might be better ways of spending our money in order to achieve the same ends.
I do not agree with the general formula underlying the present Budget, that we need less government expenditure. This is where we differ very markedly from the Liberal Government. We believe that there is room for, and that it is imperative that there should be, much more government expenditure, but in spending more funds we have to get the best value for our money. There are areas in which government expenditure is excessive and unnecessary, and these are the things we have to prune. Where it is necessary, we must boldly increase government expenditure.
There are 2 things wrong with the present overall broad Commonwealth-State financial relationships. First, State governments seem to be the poor relatives who get the leftovers. If a matter is mainly within the responsibility of the State governments, somehow that matter seems to have secondary importance. I suppose it is because the Commonwealth is the one that collects the moneys.
For example, State governments are responsible for education. 1 suggest that it is because education is a State responsibility that the Commonwealth tends to think that education is less important than civil aviation, the Postmaster-General’s Department, or defence. I suggest that if, by some constitutional change, education became a Commonwealth responsibility, we would regard education as having the same priority as other matters with which the Commonwealth is concerned. I think that we must get away from this attitude that if a thing is the Commonwealth’s responsibility it is more important. The Commonwealth takes its chop first and the poor relatives, the State governments, take what is left over. I think that we have to look at all the programmes of the Commonwealth and the States, put them alongside each other and determine the priorities. The other great weakness in Commonwealth and State relationships is our present system of having budgeting on a purely annual basis.
– Order! I point out to the honourable member that he is straying from the Bills before the House. We are discussing the matter of payroll tax.
– With respect, Sir, 1 am only trying to point out that in our opposition to these Bills we are not opposing the principle of making payments to the States, but we believe that there are better ways of going about this than through levying payroll tax, and 1 am only trying to endeavour to establish the alternative arrangements which could be made. We are discussing an extremely important measure. It is the basis upon which State governments are increasing their expenditure. For example, the South Australian Government has increased enormously its expenditure on education this year. I think that the financial programme and the basis upon which it is formulated are of quite critical importance to this debate and to the Commonwealth Parliament. However, I do not want to canvass this matter much further. I believe that as part of the programme for improving Commonwealth-
State financial relationships we should look more towards adopting a system of programme budgeting. We should budget not so much on the basis of the type of expenditure - whether it is for postage, telephones, transport or something like that - but on the basis of the end use, on the programme for which the expenditure will be incurred. Of course, this also implies that we should budget for periods of more than one year and that we should have much greater emphasis on cost-utility analyses. 1 was going to say a little more about that, Mr Deputy Speaker, but perhaps I might be pushing your tolerance a little too far. I should like to point out how important it is that we should have broad programmes for Commonwealth and State expenditure on a programme budgeting basis so that we can decide the broad national priorities. This would save a lot of unnecessary government expenditure. This annual budgeting system has a great number of weaknesses.
-Order! I am sorry to interrupt the honourable member again, but the question of the annual budgeting system is not before the House for discussion. I must ask him to return to the subject matter of the Bills before the chamber, and that is the matter of payroll tax.
– Very well. I bow to your ruling, Sir.
– Passing references - but only passing references - to other allied budgetary matters are in order.
– In view of your ruling, Sir, I have not very much more to say. I will summarise my remarks. We do not object to the principle of the Commonwealth making payments to the States, but we believe that there are better ways of making the payments than by levying payroll tax. We should introduce the system of giving State and Commonwealth government programmes equal priorities. We should introduce a system of programme budgeting. Finally, I believe that in order to do this there must be much greater consultation between Commonwealth and State governments and much greater consultation between the Executive Government and the Parliament and between the Parliament and the people. For instance, I think that green papers on proposals for public expenditure should be produced, as is done in the House of Commons, so that everybody could be informed about matters and there could be much more discussion of them before the Government makes its final decision.
– Order! I am sorry, but the honourable member is straying far too wide from the Bill.
– in reply - It is not my intention to range far and wide, as other honourable members have done, or to attempt to reply in detail to the philosophical viewpoints which were expressed about assisting the States. It is refreshing to hear, on occasions, the Opposition indicate its preparedness to assist the States. I say no more in regard to that matter. Referring now to the assumption by the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) that no honourable member on the Government side was prepared to discuss this issue, it should be pointed out that both the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and the Treasurer (Mr Snedden), over and above the Treasurer’s second reading speech, have discussed the reasons for accepting the fact that the States needed access to a new area of growth tax. Consequently, the Commonwealth offered - and of course the States accepted - the transfer of payroll tax as a useful addition to State resources for revenue raising purposes.
The honourble member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) made the point that he believed that the Territories’ rate of payroll tax of 21 per cent could be increased. I have absolutely no authority to say other than that the rate of 21 per cent was declared for the Territories despite the decision of the States to increase the rate to 31 per cent. In other words, it was subsequent to the States’ announced decision, and it would not be right to assume that the Commonwealth should automatically follow the States. These Bills in fact do no more than honour an agreement with the States to provide them with a new area of growth tax in order to assist them in financing their services. The Treasurer, in his second reading speech, pointed out that the transfer of payroll tax to the States would be accompanied by a reduction in the financial assistance grants. As indicated by the Prime Minister also, following the Premiers Conference, the grants are to be reduced by something less than the amounts which the States would have received from payroll tax at the rate of 2½ per cent.
The decision to increase the rate from 2½ per cent to 3½ per cent was entirely one for the States themselves. The Commonwealth did not impose any conditions in this regard. The States thus have the right to declare such rate as they choose. They have exercised that right and, of course, they accept responsibility for it.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr E. N. Drury)
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Peacock) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 14th September (vide page 1286), on motion by Mr Snedden:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to bo moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Peacock) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 14th September (vide page 1286), on motion by Mr Snedden:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Peacock) read a third time.
– I move:
Customs Tariff Proposals No. 20 (1971).
The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amend ments to the Customs Tariff 1966-1971 and will operate from tomorrow. These Proposals implement the Government’s adoption of the Tariff Board recommendations on: light weight cotton sheeting: and chain and parts therefor, of iron or steel. and the Special Advisory Authority report on: woven man-made fibre fabrics.
In the report on light weight cotton sheeting weighing less than 3½ ounces per square yard, the Tariff Board has recommended that a general tariff rate of 30 per cent be applied, with the preferential tariff rate set according to international commitments. Presently such sheeting is dutiable at a rate of½ per cent general tariff and free preferential tariff but certain better quality sheeting known as ‘percale’ is dutiable by application of a Substitutes and Imitations Notice at 55 per cent with a maximum of 25c per square yard, general tariff. The Substitutes and Imitations Notice will now be revoked.
On chain the Board has recommended rates of 35 per cent general tariff and 25 per cent preferential tariff for sprocket and conveyor chain and parts therefor. For other chains rates of 25 per cent general tariff and 17½ per cent preferential tariff have been recommended.
In its report the Board noted that since its 1965 report on chain there has been no significant increase in local content in the manufacture of transmission chain and suggested that by-law entry of components for the manufacture of chain be discontinued. This suggestion has not been accepted because such action would be contrary to established by-law policy. However, interested Departments will consult with the companies concerned to review existing and proposed levels of local content and the implications for future by-law entry for components in this area.
I turn now to the Special Advisory Authority’s report on woven man-made fibre fabrics. The Special Advisory Authority found that urgent action was necessary to protect the Australian industry and recommended temporary additional duties of 10c per square yard on most types of imported man-made fibre fabrics and 15c per square yard on woven fabrics containing over 10 per cent and less than 50 per cent of silk in admixture with 20 per cent or more of man-made fibres. Polyester cotton mixture fabrics weighing less than 3.8 ounces per square yard and some other types of fabrics will be exempt from these temporary duties. Also included in Proposals No. 20 are changes making certain marginal and preferential adjustments in respect to the plastics report tabled last month, including a simplified arrangement of tariff classifications in respect to plastic articles. A comprehensive summary of the changes and duty rates is being circulated to honourable members. I commend the Proposals.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Reports on Items
– Mr Speaker, I present the following reports by the Tariff Board:
Chain and parts therefor, of iron or steel.
Light weight cotton sheeting.
Pursuant to statute I present also the Special Advisory Authority report on:
Woven man-made fibre fabrics.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
Debate resumed from15 September (vide page 1344), 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 Appropriation Bill is the main fiscal and economic policy statement of the year. It is the instrument which determines the guidelines of economic activity for at least the next 12 months. As the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and Treasurer (Mr Snedden) have stated this present instrument is a flexible one and one which can be used to adjust temporary movements. I shall now say the only political thing that I wish to say in my speech. I have been saddened by the gleeful way in which members of the Opposition are probing the Government day after day on rising unemployment figures. 1 remember the first year I was in this Parliament, the year of the credit squeeze, when Opposition members were joyful each day as unemployment figures rose. This seems incongruous for a party which champions - so called - the workers to gain some joy from the unemployment figures rising each day of the week. Might I remind them of a fundamental economic truth. If one makes a prophecy of doom in this most delicate area of employment and saps confidence then one has planted the first seed to create more unemployment.
Having said that might I say a truism. This Budget does affect all matters including employment levels, expenditure and social welfare. It impacts itself on exports, life in the cities and life in the country. In fact, there are very few areas which a Budget does not touch. Because of this it has become traditional it is even written into standing order 81 - that the Parliament becomes the forum upon which to debate any issue affecting the welfare and happiness of the Australian people. The Budget debate is, therefore, much more than a debate on the economy alone, it provides a unique opportunity for discussion on all matters concerning not only our standard of living but also our style of living.
With this in mind an outside observer might be forgiven for being critical that perhaps too many of the speeches given in the present debate have been those primarily directed to matters of material significance. Growth and development have become key words in today’s society. A belief in the need for growth seems to be an integral part of modern living. Not only Australia, but the whole world is passing through an era where economic growth and development is manifested on all sides of a rapidly changing society. Whether he wants to or not, even the smallest businessman is caught up in this dogma of growth. He must keep on expanding his enterprise or be swallowed up. The operative word is growth; growth at any cost but always measured in material terms. It is almost becoming an obsession which I fear may dim our values.
We are at a point in our history where governments tend to stand or fall on the growth record of the country while they have been in office. Political parties constantly criticise each other for the supposed inadequacy of their policies in fostering ever faster growth rates. The catchcry for a twentieth century candidate for political office, whether at the municipal, state or national level surely is the promise of greater growth and development during his term of office. There is no doubt that economic growth has brought us enormous benefits. The goods and services we now take for granted would have been inconceivable for previous generations, benefits that certainly allow more people to live better and longer than in any previous age; and that is progress. But, in our search for advancement, one should stop and wonder sometimes whether we are making real progress in human terms as distinct from material terms. lt would be a sad reflection on this Parliament and on the Australian public it represents if in our constant pursuit of economic progress, we neglect to stimulate discussion on those other issues designed to improve the quality or style of living, as distinct from our standard of living. In this connection, it was not encouraging for me at least to learn from the Australian nation wide opinion poll that when asked Australians saw as the 3 main advantages of living in Australia, first, a good standard of living, second, the climate and, third, other qualities primarily connected with the physical comfort of the people.
I was impressed with the editorial in the Australian’ of 23rd August 1971 which said:
The poll confirms a commonly held view of us. by some of our compatriots as well as by some foreigners, as fairly unambitious folk who are preoccupied with comfort, money and property, with concern mainly for economic stability and security.
The editorial concluded by saying:
In a way, the limits of our ambitions have served us well;, we cause no trouble in the world’s councils and the only people to have felt the backs of our hands have been palpable villains - mostly Asians.
Still, there is room for another worry that got no mention in the poll at all: that, while we are contemplating our navels so assiduously, the whole world might pass us by.
I should like to briefly discuss some of those issues which I believe bedevil our society as distinct from our economy today, issues which present a significant challenge to our future progress and development. These issues are not only the responsibility of Government but surely the responsibilities of the people as well. 1 refer first to our apparent reluctance, even refusal, to consider those problems in the non-hip-pocket-nerve area. A distinguished Australian whom 1 admire tremendously, Sir James Darling, said very recently:
Mankind has a remarkable capacity to resist an idea which might disturb its peace of mind if it were accepted. At the first sign of the idea it withdraws into its established shell and condemns the proponents as cranks, crackpots, idealists, nohopers. radicals, or nothing more or less than a bloody commo. Society has a second line of defence if this one failed: This was to say ‘Oh yes, that, we’ve heard all that before’. Finally, when the words of the prophet turned out to be true, mankind took to is reserve trench and sought a scapegoat.
Is he not right? We are constantly reminded in the Press, on radio and television of the horrors of war, pollution, racism, alcoholism, abortion, drug abuse, conservation, the road toll, and one could go on. How do we react not only as parliamentarians but as a people to those reports? Have we not learnt to live with the idea that we are capable of completely destroying ourselves through atomic warfare, although surely the threat is still there, as real, as terrifying, as hideous as it was in 1945? One only had to read the article by Mr Rohan Rivett in last weekend’s ‘Review’ to get some sort of perspective of the state which the world is in today.
And are we not now learning very fast to live with the concept that the world is in the process of destroying itself at a terrifying rate by the physical pollution of the environment? Pretty soon this too will become a bore and the national conscience, wrapped in a cocoon of complacency, will go quietly to sleep again. And what of the growing disaffection of today’s youth for our society? Do we treat this with the same indifference? Are we sufficiently concerned to ask why it should be so, or do we dismiss the problem as one which has been handed down for generalions? We have heard the smart remark: Oh, look, the generation gap was mentioned by Socrates 3,000 years ago’. We have heard the equally unsmart remark that the generation gap is nonsense because fathers have a habit of being older than their children. Worse still, do we simply not acknowledge any existence of communication gaps.
I believe that today’s youth see with crystal clarity that they live in a world in which all major issues are global issues, not local issues. 1 suggest that they see 4 issues. They are vitally concerned with the problems of world hunger, world illiteracy, the horrors of war, and racism. To them there is no dilemma. They believe that the present social, economic and political structures are perpetuating and will continue to perpetuate these problems. Without fear or even without thought of consequences, the idealism of youth demands action on these fronts at any cost to us and without considering the cost. Their admirers - and they have some - say this is the magnificent manifestation of the charisma of youth. Their critics and the knockers contemptuously suggest that it is because they have no responsibilities. They say: ‘They haven’t got kids at school. They haven’t got a job that could be taken by an Asian worker. They don’t pay taxes. They don’t contribute to foreign aid’.
But I wonder whether it is really so surprising that our young are seemingly so unimpressed by the ways in which modern technology has exploded - the spending of huge sums on space probes, for example, while massive human problems and physical deprivation still exist on our planet earth. Their own sense of frustration is compounded by the fact that, though educated to fulfil a useful role in combating these very problems, they remain remote from the decision making areas and are thus pre-empted from using their skills in the areas for which they were trained.
The young man’s counter reaction may manifest itself in protest, and it is then that society groups itself as though for civil war - the establishment versus the youth - without either side understanding or trying to understand each other’s position. The young may not be able to identify in detail the basis of their revolt and they may be widely astray in what they conceive to be the remedy. But I suspect that the mainspring of the attitude of the young people of goodwill is a realisation that the golden calf of material growth and the constant pursuit of material wealth is a false and unsatisfying god. I quote from Professor James E. Weaver, a distinguished American economist who said in Australia in May 1971:
The children of this affluence may well realise that with all of our vaunted growth this century has produced more wars, more mass murders, more systematic genocide, more ecological catastrophes, more alienation, more crime, more ugliness, more noise than any previous age.
The young are questioning many of the institutions which have created these results. One would have thought that all of our material possessions would have made us happy. But our system seems to be fatally flawed. The young today are asking the same question asked of old, ‘For what doth it profit a man to gain the whole world, if he loses his own soul’.
This questioning of our institutions and the directions they are taking us may well be healthy. This brings me to another issue which recently has come to prominence amongst the Australian community at large. 1 refer to the right of dissent amongst members of the community but more particularly amongst students at the universities. I remember my own days at the University of Melbourne, which was not a hundred years ago but one generation ago, when our actions, our behaviour as students, our right vocally to disagree with the decisions of the ruling body of the university were virtually non-existent. An extremist in any form in those days ran the risk of forfeiting any chance of finishing his degree at that university if he fell foul of the ruling body - and that was not hard to do. In other words, he was sent down without any appeal to the authorities or to the Press and with no chance of gaining public sympathy.
But happily - I say that advisedly - this situation has changed through the years.
In one short generation by a gradual process students now have gained what 1 call the precious right of dissent. Their right has been won by action taken by students and reputable student organisations at campuses throughout the world. Students of universities nowadays have more freedom of speech, expression and action than at any other time in history. Yet unhappily some are resorting to that age-old loser in the form of political activity - the use of violence or non-productive means to attain their ends. I say to the student population: This is a precious right which you have won. Do not abuse it. It gave me no pleasure to attend the University of Queensland a couple of months ago as an invited guest and to be confronted with placards calling for students to ‘strike now’ and ‘close the campus’ and to witness a well attended meeting by students being addressed by a senator of this Parliament, a man who I understand does not possess a university degree, calling on these young idealistic, altruistic students to go on strike at a time when the majority of them should have been using that precious time to study for examinations at the end of the second term.
– You have just spoilt a good speech.
– Is the honourable member wanting to identify someone? I did not mention his name. The call by this senator could hope to harm only one section of the community - the students he was addressing. Who else could he possibly hope to influence by closing down a university for political means? The purpose, of course, was the purpose of men of bad will, that is, the purpose of causing a breakdown in the institutions and causing anarchy; and the poor idealistic, wellmeaning young people are the only ones who suffer. But 1 have a great faith in the majority of students. During the recess I spoke at every university in Australia - I spoke at some of them twice - and I have been pleased to find that I have a great deal in common with many of their ideals and feelings. 1 implore them not to abuse their special place in society and not to be influenced by the odd political demagogue who appears on their campus from time to time to espouse his own way-out dangerous philosophy, but to use their undoubted energy and ability to change and reform society by productive and not disruptive means.
One of the most tragic results of this conflict with the enlightened, liberated young is the creation of a world of ‘us’ and ‘them’, the assumption by youth that they have a monopoly of the quality of idealism, the assumption that the ‘oldies’ and the straight people of my generation all are reactionary, completely dehumanised, obstructive and obsessed with protecting their hideous sacred cows in their pristine pastures. In this context 1 believe that we as members of Parliament should take the lead and have the courage to look closely at some of the hitherto sacred cows in our own philosophies. This is a challenge surely facing all political parties today. I suggest that the Labor Party might well re-examine its obsessive fear of the bad old days of sweated labour, the misery of life in the coal mines and the intolerable working conditions. There is no question that a generation or two ago employers mercilessly exploited the worker and it is therefore not so surprising that members of the work force should harbour this hangover, holding employers in subconscious resentment. This manifests itself in a wish - again, sometimes subconscious - to get even with the boss for his past sins by not giving a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. It is an attitude ably exploited by some ruthless and irresponsible union leaders. But let the work force not fool itself. Logic demands acceptance of the view that a greater slice of the cake can come only from a bigger cake.
Serious doubt is now being cast on the age old maxim that the only way to get the worker to do his fair share was by not too gently caressing, his back with the whip of an unemployment pool. Modern day industrialists, often motivoted, I would concede, as much by pragmatism as by humanitarian instincts, have found that incentive payments for work done produce palpable and exciting results. There is another sacred cow, I would suggest, that honourable members opposite might look at. Incentive payments are not necessarily the ruse of wicked employers to sweat labour more, but when geared to the proper basis can be helpful to everyone. To honourable members on my own side of the House I would suggest that we face the same challenge. The word ‘planning’ need not cause psychotic palpitations in the Libera) breast every time it is mentioned. The fierce devotion to the hard and fast plan may still remain in the dogma of the socialist bible, but surely the concept of looking at national goals for this country in 1980 and working towards them is worth contemplating. Indeed, if we are to fulfil the promise of our national development in all its aspects the vision of achievements in the 1970s will be essential. The image of the ‘vision splendid’ presents a challenge to all of us - the Australian people, the individual, and the Parliament.
We need to take stock of our aims and reassess our life style and our life values. We need to reinterpret the vision of progress in a way that will make it attainable and a source of human happiness and fulfilment. This is both a community and a personal responsibility as well as a responsibility of the Government. It is not enough to pressurise the Government and look to Big Brother all the time, however necessary that is. Citizens, individually, in all areas of human endeavour must be involved. Without this involvement that noble definition of democracy as government of, for and by the people is debased to a meaningless cliche as it has been now. Would that another phrase should catch the imagination of the man in the street so that he might involve himself in the problems of the nation. Or is it that man is, after all, an island unto himself? Surely the poets, philosophers, statesmen and thinkers of the past tell us loudly from their resting places that that is not so.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). It is interesting to look at the Government back bench and see so many distinguished - or should I say extinguished - former Ministers, including a former Prime Minister, who have been dismissed from office. It is shocking to think that the former Prime Minister is there on the back bench because of the machinations of Sir Frank Packer, the Press baron, who made it clear to the present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) that he should dismiss him from the position of Minister for Defence. He offended the Establishment and had to go. He would not bend the knee to the Packer Press. He wanted a more humane approach to the needy in the community. He would not allow his Minis ters to accept shares in Comalco Ltd. He wanted to restrict the overseas ownership of Australia’s assets. The High Court decision on the restrictive trade practices legislation shows how he laid the foundations to control and regulate big business. In other words, he wanted to do it his way.
This departure from Liberal-Country Party policy offended the Establishment. They wanted it done their way. With the dismissal of the Prime Minister others who supported him had to be disposed of. So we find the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury), the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes) and others on the back bench. The Prime Minister has been shuffling the pack until there are very few spots left on the cards. I ask him: What is the use of shuffling the cards when a new deck is needed? On this side of the House we have a new deck, a deck that will give the people a fair deal. It cannot be said that they have had a fair deal under this Government.
It is estimated that the Budget will add $1.57 weekly to the average man’s cost of living. Income tax, postage, telephone calls, television and radio licences will all be increased. Chemists’ fees for pharmaceutical benefits prescriptions will be doubled as a result of a Bill introduced in this Parliament today. All of these things will go up as a result of the Budget. The income tax levy will be doubled and will now be 5 per cent. This means that a man earning $80 a week will pay another $18.50 a year in income tax, It will now cost 7c to post a letter, which is an increase of 17 per cent. Telephone calls will jump to 4. 5c, an increase of 19 per cent. Telephone connection fees will rise to $50 and the rental will go up to $55, which is a rental of over $1 a week. Cigarettes will cost from about 4c more for a packet of 20. The price of petrol will rise by 2c a gallon. As I have mentioned, chemists’ prescription fees will go up from 50c to $1 .
Whatever is given in increases in pensions and child endowment will be more than swallowed up in increased costs. The Budget is designed to reduce the take home pay of the ordinary people. Not only will it reduce the amount they take home but also, by increased costs, it will reduce the purchasing power of the people. It has been suggested that this Budget could tip the economy into a recession. The economic indicators clearly show that this is so. There is no doubt that a lot of people, who may not realise it now, are going to suffer. Unemployment is on the increase. The Government has set out to create a higher percentage of unemployment. It wants to see people lined up outside the factory gates looking for jobs. That is part of the Government’s policy of disciplining the workers, lt does not make the Opposition happy to see unemployment, as the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) suggested. It makes us very unhappy to think that this pool of unemployment is being created deliberately.
The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his Budget Speech stated that it had been decided to limit the growth in the numbers employed full time under the Public Service Act. That number also was severely cut back earlier in the economy campaign. This policy will gravely affect the job opportunities of young people leaving school. The President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions has pointed out that the present unemployment figure could rise to 100,000 as a result of the Budget. The Prime Minister himself agreed that this could be so, and he suggested the figure of 100,000. The Budget has been framed with the objective in mind of building up a pool of unemployment. Later estimates are causing greater concern. The Australian Financial Review’ of 10th September suggested that the number of unemployed could rise to 150,000. A more conservative estimate is 120,000.
The August review of the employment situation shows that, seasonally adjusted, 75,000 people were out of work - an increase of 6.6 per cent over the previous month - while registered job vacancies have fallen by 4.2 per cent to 34,673. In other words, there are more than 2 people available for every job vacancy .The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) and the Leader of the Opposition by way of questions have pointed out that the number of man hours lost through unemployment over the last few months is greater in terms of production than the man hours lost through strikes. The Prime Minister now regrets supporting the suggestion that unemployment could rise to 100,000 in January next. He accuses people of indulging in a whispering cam paign and says that they want to create alarm and despondency. What he forgets is that the people who support him politically are issuing those warnings. Mr Blyton, the President of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, when referring to the August figure of 75,000 unemployed, stated:
These figures are a further indication that the level of economic activity is continuing to ease.
He called upon the Government to modify policies aimed at dampening demand. The Federal President of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures said:
It seems that now is the right time for the Government to inject seme renewed life into the economy.
This is the first Budget that I can remember in which the obvious weaknesses have been revealed before the Budget has actually been passed by the Parliament. The Prime Minister now has doubts about it himself and concedes that there is some danger of a recession in the economy early next year and has stated that action will be taken if this proves to be so. The Leader of the Opposition has called upon him to take action now, not to wait until it is too late. The Prime Minister prefers to wait and see. He reminds me of St Anthony the Hermit who refused to do right because the devil told him to do so. He ignores advice similar in nature given to him from all quarters including Mr Hawke of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Blyton, president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia, the president of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia and rural interests, all of whom have warned him of the dangerous consequences of deflating the economy. They have also warned him how much harder it is to get things running again once this deflated economy reaches its depth. He said during question time today that statesmanship was required. Statesmanship is required but the nation is not getting it from the Prime Minister or his Government. His policies spell economic disaster.
Without doubt this Budget will increase inflation. Additional taxes and charges must increase prices. One economist has suggested that the overall rate of inflation will be about 7 per cent. This being the case, how can this Government in all conscience call upon the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to clamp down on wage increases. The seeds have been sown in this Budget. The Treasurer said in his Budget Speech:
I might mention, in this budget context, that the Government is considering what might be done by way of strengthening the arbitration system and, in particular, bringing more to the forefront the economic consequences of decisions which are taken within thai system. When these studies have been completed we will consider whether further measures should be taken to cope with the problem of excessive cost and price increases.
The Government has told the Arbitration Commission before not to increase wages. lt did so in I960 before the big credit squeeze and honourable members will recall the consequences. Since Parliament resumed for the current sittings honourable members on the other side of this House have been making blatant attacks upon the workers of this country. In the Budget Speech threats were made to interfere with the arbitration system. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act is to be amended to force the court to comply with the policy of this Government. What could not be achieved by threats is to be achieved by amending the Act. About 12 months ago we witnessed the spectacle of Ministers of the Crown, headed by the Prime Minister, blatantly using their positions to influence the Arbitration Commission in the interests of employers. The then Prime Minister, speaking as guest of honour at the annual dinner of the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales and in the presence of the President of the Arbitration Commission, tried to influence the decision of the Commission in the oil industry case.
This is not something new. Incidents of this nature have been happening for some years. The former Treasurer, now the Prime Minister, at the annual dinner of the Metal Trades Employers’ Association, used the occasion to dictate to the President of the Commission, who was also a guest, what the attitude of the Commission should be in regard to the applications of the unions for increased wages. I refer to the 1967 work value judgment. So blatant were these attempts to influence the Commission that the President has stated that outside attempts to influence it were foolish, stupid and futile; they served only to distract the Commission from the job in hand.
This Government wants the Arbitration Commission to step into the economic field and take action to remove the responsibility from the Government. This Government has failed to take action to control prices; it has allowed inflation to run riot. It ignored the report of the Vernon Committee on the economy. It has failed to act on the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, published in 1959, which advocated a widening of the economic powers of the Commonwealth. The Government has failed miserably to live up to its responsibilities as regards the economy. It wants to side-step them still further by forcing the Commission to take the responsibility of managing the economy. Who is governing Australia? It is certainly not this Government. Sir Frank Packer is having a large say. The other 2 pressure groups controlling this Government are the Democratic Labor Party and the Australian Country Party. The Democratic Labor Party stopped the former Prime Minister from holding a House of Representatives election in 1968 when he had everyone keyed up for it, including his own party. In many other ways too numerous to mention the DLP has been dictating to the Government.
The Australian national opinion poll reveals that about 60 per cent of the people believe they will be worse off as a result of this Budget. It is loaded against city people in favour of country interests and mainly in favour of the rural aristocracy. One has only to look at the $60m allocated for assistance to the wool industry to prove this and to analyse how the big rural aristocracy is favoured rather than the little people. The Australian Country Party has influence out of all proportion to its voting strength. I want to quote an article from the March 1971 issue of ‘Rydge’s’ although it is not particularly related to the matters I am referring to and which are contained in this Budget. It relates to the power of the Country Party under the heading ‘Our Strangled Cities’. It reads:
Although Australians prefer city life and although the cities have become the principal reservoir of our mature talents and skills, the billycan and bowyang tradition continues to dominate our cultural image and political life.
Why should this be so? Politically, the city dweller has become disadvantaged: his vote at all levels of Government is worth less than his country cousin’s and this is reflected in the low ranking urban problems appear to have in the list of national priorities.
The bush tail
The shabbiness of many, of our urban areas is part of the price the community is paying for a coalition government in which the bush tail wags the city dog on important developmental issues. Politically this price may be well worth paying but it is building a substantial debit account of neglect which is undermining the quality of life in the cities.
– The honourable member might consider it to be terrible but 1 have not heard from anybody in his Party who is prepared to answer this accusation. 1 draw the attention of honourable members to this article to show how the Country Party tail is wagging the Liberal Party dog. Coming back to this Budget, all the little people will be hit by this Budget. The poor will get poorer and the wealthy will get richer. That is the unfortunate situation brought about by this Budget. The increase in the concessional allowance for education expenses from $300 to $400 is a concession to the wealthy. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, a man on $3,000 a year will have to spend $4 to get a $1 reduction in his tax whereas a man on $30,000 a year will get a tax reduction of $2 for every $3 he spends on educating his children. At one time a man’s wage would keep his family in reasonable comfort. Now a family cannot exist on the minimum wage of about $46.30 a week. In order to keep up any sort of standard he has to have 2 jobs, work excessive overtime and his wife has to go out to work. The paltry increase to pensioners does not keep up with the rapid increase in the cost of living.
I would like to draw attention to some of these factors. The single pension rate is increased to $17.25 which is 19.49 per cent of average weekly earnings of $88.50. The married couple pension rate has been increased by $1 each to $15.25 each which is 17.23 per cent of average weekly earnings. In 1949 all pensioners were on the same standard pension and at that time there was a Labor government in power. The 1949 pension represented 26.9 per cent of average weekly earnings. The Government is always happy to quote average weekly earnings to show how workers wages have advanced and to illustrate how affluent we are. Surely pensioners are entitled to enjoy their share of our so called affluence. It is noticeable that the amount of allowable income is the same - $10 for a single pensioner and $17 for a pensioner couple.
In 1954 the amount of allowable income - that is, the amount a pensioner could earn without affecting his pension - was the same amount as the pension rate at that time. If that position applied today pensioners would be allowed to have an income equivalent to the amount of the pension without affecting the amount of pension. The allowable income has dropped from 100 per cent in the case of a single pensioner to 57.9 per cent and in the case of a married pensioner couple it has dropped to 55.7 per cent. The allowable income has in fact been almost halved. I could go on and quote other instances of how pensioners have suffered under this Government. This Government stands condemned for its treatment of pensioners. On 15th March, when he gave the pensioners a miserable increase of 50c a week, the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) said:
We will follow this immediate increase in pension rates with a fundamental review of social services and related pensions and also of methods of adjusting such benefits. This review, which has already been commenced, will be under consideration in the near future with the object of bringing emerging decisions into effect for the year 1971-72.
In the Opposition’s amendment, attention has been drawn to this. The amendment proposes that the House condemns the Budget because it breaks the Prime Minister’s pledge to the Parliament on taking office to bring into effect in 1971-72 a fundamental review of social services and also methods of adjusting them. The Budget contains no proposals to plan the finances and functions of the Commonwealth, the States and local government. It produces no programme for high national objectives of social welfare, economic strength and national security. All these things that he promised to do at that time were idle promises, no sooner made than broken. This is not unusual. What has happened to the proposed national superannuation scheme? What about the abolition of the means test? These are all promises of the past that have never come to fruition.
This Government is on its way out. The people are sick of the cards being continually shuffled when what is required is a new pack. The Budget was designed for an election at the end of this year and the Government hoped that its bad effects would not be revealed until after the election. This plan has come unstuck not only because of what happened in the economic sphere but also because of the infighting that has occurred in the Party itself and which has made the Prime Minister punch drunk. The skies are black with the chickens coming home to roost and whenever the next election takes place, sooner or later, this Government will get it where the chicken got the axe.
– The first comment that I want to make is that 1 am rather surprised that the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) should refer to prominent identities being backbench members when he himself and so many distinguished members of his Party, including the honourable members for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) and Cunningham (Mr Connor), were themselves dumped from the Opposition front bench. We are fearful that this could happen to a man whom we all like very much - the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly). We would despair if we saw this happen to him.
I suppose it is to be expected that a Budget speech should deal with national issues and avoid matters of local importance. What I propose to submit to “this House and to this Government admittedly concerns the electorate of Kennedy but let me state quite decisively that their application very much involves the stability and the future of this nation. What is more important they are issues affecting the financial security, the contentment and the daily lives of our people, and generations who may follow them. When one considers the many characteristics, the demands, the dramatic development, the diversity of industries, the deep and cruel economic conditions afflicting certain areas of a 250,000 square mile area such as Kennedy, one rather wonders where to begin. Quite obviously where people are facing appalling financial difficulties they are the ones to suffer most from what I consider to be certain most unacceptable features of this
Budget. I appreciate that the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) had tremendous difficulties, perhaps unprecedented conditions, not only on the domestic scene but that he was faced with producing a balanced economy for this nation at a time when international finance was reeling under the battle for currency supremacy. Overall, he has done a good job, but certainly not in regard to matters I now propose to discuss.
As I have said in this House time an again, the survival of the wool industry was not just a matter of concern for the wool grower and all who depend on him, not just a matter of an exodus from dozens of inland towns throughout Australia, and not just a matter of personal tragedy to those graziers, small businessmen, shearers, station hands and others who pioneered and stood fast with this industry and poured into the Treasury billions of dollars, establishing the financial lifeblood which made, sad to relate, wealthy men of many who have never seen this country and who would not know a min min light from a jackaroo. No, it goes far beyond this disaster; it is a calamity for this nation. If I am over dramatising this matter, let the great city based economists look up from their books, take time off from their computers and answer one question: Is it, or is it not, of importance to preserve an industry which earns from $550m to $850m yearly for this nation, and which represents 20 per cent of our national overseas earnings? What is their suggestion as to how these funds may be replaced?
Against this background of disaster in one of our rural areas there are great difficulties in many other sections. We have $6m less for the dairy industry, the tapering off of the cotton bounty and greater or lesser difficulties in many other rural sectors. Against this background, Post Office charges were raised. Telephone charges, particularly penalising rural subscribers, were increased. Television and radio licence fees were raised, again hitting in a special manner country people who may, in many cases, receive only one Australian Broadcasting Commission radio station and view one national ABC telecast, frequently both subject to interference because of storms or distance. However, far more serious was the rise in the price of petrol and other fuels. Not only do farmers and graziers have to carry this extra burden with vehicles, implements and equipment which are operating almost continuously, but the family man, the worker, the garage proprietor and contractors also have to drive long distances over bad roads for normal travelling and overland on vacation.
These rises and others in similar categories come at the worst possible time for country people. What can be done about this situation? I urge the Government immediately to give consideration to zoning rural areas for exemption from these charges. I consider this the most effective way to offer immediate relief.
I am reluctant to cast any doubts on the effectiveness of the newly introduced operations of the Wool Commission and the added assistance given by the deficiency payment. We had, by every possible means, urged the Government to grant a guaranteed average price of 40c per lb for wool. This did not happen but under certain conditions 36c was approved and generally speaking this was appreciated by the growers. But I have stated time and again, no support for this industry is worth a damn unless it is based on 3 essentials. Firstly, enough finance for commonsense restocking and getting a grower back into business; secondly, bonus payments to be made on the basis that they will not be made immediately in full to the financial house to which the grower is indebted, leaving nothing to get him back into business; and, lastly, he must have long term finance at the lowest possible rate of interest, and when he commences to earn again, taxation payments must be spread over a period to permit him to reconstruct his economy.
Most important in these considerations, let us not forget the others - the businessmen, the shearing contractors, fencers, tank sinkers and so many others and those who work for them. They are the small forgotten people. If debts are to be settled, let them get first consideration. None of them has financial reserves and I should know because I am one of them.
I said a little earlier that I do not want to knock in any way the present efforts to assist but I have come to a clear conclusion on what must be done if these efforts do not improve the market situation. I am completely convinced that the world still wants wool. Last year, for instance, the United States of America had on hand 30 million to 40 million articles carrying the woolmark and I was assured that the greater proportion of them would be sold. This is the situation in one country alone and if this condition exists and the market is still flattened, we must acquire the entire wool clip. It is a gamble of $300m to decide once and for all whether this industry is to survive. To my mind it is no gamble at all - we must win.
At the moment this nation relies heavily on the beef industry. My inquiries, through sources I established in Washington and elsewhere whilst at the United Nations, convinces me that the market prospects for beef are bright and will continue to be secure into the foreseeable future. One current difficulty, of course, is to fill our United States quota. I feel we could be at some disadvantage in future quota discussions if we fail to do so, but the general feeling in the industry is that we will make it. It is interesting to note that during the financial year just completed our exports of beef and veal were valued at $305m. It was suggested by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development a few years ago that there would be a possible deficit of beef amongst member countries - that is, Western Europe, North America, Japan, New Zealand and Australiaof 189,000 tons by 1975, falling to 145,000 tons by 1985. More recently, however, the World Bank submitted that there could be a shortfall in Western Countries of beef supplies of 117,000 tons by 1975 increasing - not falling - to 173,000 tons by 1980, not 1985. So the future looks secure, and will be much more so if we probe into other areas away from our traditional sources.
Before I turn to other matters, let me make one plea and offer one profound criticism. When, so help me, are we going to learn that this is a drought prone country? There are provisions in this Budget to give further assistance to Queensland for drought relief. This is much appreciated. We know that the Government has established a special drought committee but not one cent appears to have been allocated at this stage for constructive drought mitigation methods. I would point out - and here again I must specifically refer to my own electorate of Kennedy - that the Government gave magnificent support to the construction of the Fairbairn Dam - it is very pleasing to see the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn), whose name has been given to that dam, sitting in the House at this time - and soon the Emerald irrigation area will be the centre of a flourishing, expanded, prosperous farming and grazing community. Hopes are high in the central highlands. But what I want to stress is this: Never let it be forgotten that one of the primary considerations when the Dam was approved was that this area would be the fodder bowl for the huge inland grazing areas of Queensland. This must be organised and planned to give this at least as one source of income to the farmers who are there. J speak not only of those who are there but also of those who will be coming in shortly. They must have this assured income. So much for the grazing industry and the need to provide fodder for these inland areas.
Let me now deal with 2 other industries affected by the Budget - dairying and cotton. I deal first with dairying. There has been a general decline in the size of the dairy industry in Queensland in recent years. Of rural holdings with 20 or more dairy cows there were during the period 1965-66, 11,708; however they declined to a point where during the period 1969-70 there were only 8,372.
Butter production similarly declined from 33,200 tons in 1965-66 to 18,500 tons in 1970-71. Although producers’ unit returns for butter produced in 1970-71 may show considerable improvement on previous years because of lower Australian production and improved export markets, this must be evaluated in the light of a profit return which has been seriously affected by constantly rising costs and years of drought. The marginal dairy farm reconstruction scheme has been well accepted in Queensland. Under this scheme provision is made in the Budget for payments to States of $ 11.5m, a rise of $8.4m compared with last year. Expenditure on butter and cheese bounties this year is expected to be almost $40m, about the same as last year. Export prices on current trends may well be higher in 1971 than in 1970. With the announced bounty this will mean stability in producers’ returns on expected production of 210,000 tons of butter and 76,000 tons of cheese. In Kennedy many of our people in the Burnett Valley are very much affected by the fortunes of the butter industry and associated dairying activities. We could well see Monto and similar areas become the food bowl for the great developing coalfields of Moura and Blackwater. 1 urge the Government to continue to do everything possible to assist those who have continued on in the industry and who are so important to preserving our rural life and characteristics.
I turn to the cotton bounty. The Government has considered my representations and those of others in this House who represent cotton areas as well as the industry itself. These representations have called for a continuation of the cotton bounty for another 3 years and that it be increased to about $3m. The original cotton bounty legislation was introduced in this House in 1963. It is true that in the crop year from 1964 to 1971 a total of some $24.8m will have been allocated by the Commonwealth to the support of this important industry. In 1969, the Government announced that from the end of February 1972 the bounty would cease. The reasons given were that the cotton industry has expanded, lt has made good use of bounty and it has now reached self-sufficiency. But is this really the case? I have many growers in the Theodore, Wowan and other adjacent areas who would not agree, and who will provide me with further information which I hope will convince the Government that it should again review- the question of a continued bounty.
For years, Mr Deputy Speaker, both in and out of this Parliament I have pleaded with representatives of successive governments to give consideration to the fact that pensioners living in remote areas have to meet the additional financial burden, the extra cost for foods and services which apply in the country and they do not receive an extra cent to help in this matter. They are the only section of the community so treated. Industrial awards provide site allowances, northern and western allowances, and other concessions to help our workers, in part at least to meet the extra cost of living created by freight charges and other factors. Why not the pensioners?
I will repeat what 1 have so often said in this House: Pensioners in country and remote areas have additional upsets in such matters as having to leave their homes to travel great distances for special attention. Admittedly such services are free to them, as is their travel, but what about meals, taxis, accommodation and the general anxiety of leaving home? 1 plead with the Cabinet to give very special consideration to a special zone allowance.
I now turn to the giant mining industry to consider some aspects of how this Budget affects the lives of the people who are involved with it. Here in many cases we have a great new group of pioneers in areas such as Moura and Blackwater. We have the city of Mount Isa, no longer a scattered community of transient workers but now a proud city with a permanent population of 20,000 to 25,000 inlanders, including national groups of people who have come from other countries and who have blended in with our rugged westerners to produce a new and richly endowed character - the ‘Mount Isan’. We see the traditional coal mining families, who have remained loyal to an industry and their small town of Blair Athol, when they could have moved on to better homes and to much improved amenities. I hope they are rewarded when the projected development of Blair Athol occurs; no one is more entitled to recognition.
I realise that State and local governments have their finances strained most severely and we all know that our own Federal Government only has so much to spend. But in my book of rules it is a matter of ‘first things first’. Where we have people supporting industries that have helped save this country from what might well have been a great financial crisis, with drought and troubles in the wool and other industries and where we have them going to remote and isolated settlements scattered right across this nation, despite what might be provided by the companies concerned, governments - particularly the Federal Government - must earmark special funds to assist. They must ensure that adequate medical services and housing are available as well as water and roads and all the other things that go with good living in these areas.
Earlier in this speech I referred to the increased telephone charges. What 1 now wish to discuss is a most serious situation which has arisen in both the rural and urban areas of my electorate and other similar areas throughout Australia. Many of our graziers and farmers, particularly in the newly settled brigalow areas - young men with young families - are told that it might be 2, 3 or 4 years or longer before they have a telephone. The city of Mount Isa is bursting with development, providing this nation with employment for thousands of our people and producing wealth which is greatly assisting Australia to balance its Budget, yet we find the unbelievable situation where businesses cannot get off the ground because once again those prepared to invest in and provide services for our community are told that they cannot get a telephone in the foreseeable future.
Amongst the many situations placed before me recently, there is none more serious than the possibility that within the next few weeks the majority of the doctors in private practice at Mount isa will be in a building without a telephone because, I am told, there is no cable in the vicinity. This is intolerable. This situation must be corrected without delay. Apart from making constant representations in this matter together with my colleagues, the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) and Senator Lawrie, I had full-scale discussions with the Deputy-Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Brisbane recently. He pointed out that lack of finance and the non-availability of technicians are responsible for this serious situation. So I have asked that this crisis be discussed at Cabinet level. I have asked and urged, and I do so again on the floor of this House, that special funds be raised, by an overseas loan or, by an approach to the World Bank - an extreme measure perhaps - but we have an extreme situation on our hands. And if there is a genuine shortage of technicians the Government should act to advertise overseas as has been done time and time again to attract schoolteachers, doctors and others.
Now let me for a moment place before this House, and I cannot count how many times the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) and others have done so before, a situation where people having few enough amenities available to them have waited now for 15 years for television. The people I represent in the central highlands and the central west of Queensland are fed up to the teeth with the months and months of delay which have passed since it was announced that they were to receive television. They have seen private companies such as in Blackwater provide translators to boost the television signal. Again I am told it is a matter of finance and planning - no technicians. Four channels are available to the cities of Australia; none to most of our people in the areas I have mentioned.
It is proudly claimed that over 95 per cent of the people in Australia now receive television. Let me say that the remaining 5 per cent have over the years produced a great portion of the wealth and paid more than their share in taxation which helped foot this bill and surely after 15 years they are entitled to the same amenity. Perhaps I have been critical in this address. I do my job as I see it. People must come first. But I would be more than unfair if I were not to conclude my address by asking people to closely examine the record of the Opposition - the mock Labor Party - and recent utterances, conduct and attitude towards people away from cities. It is such that the only man in their ranks who in any way genuinely understands rural problems recently cried out almost in anguish that the performance and decisions at the recent Launceston conference were such that it would be difficult for the Australian Labor Party members in marginal rural seats to bold them at the next election. Do not gloat in this matter. I commend the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) for his courage.
– I restrain myself from commenting on the speech of the Country Party member for Kennedy (Mr Katter). I do this only because 1 want to make my own contribution to this debate. It was 4 weeks last Tuesday night since our latest Treasurer in this latest, make-shift Liberal-Country Party Government brought down this Budget. The document was out of date on the night it was brought down - made out of date not only by the irrelevant economic policies it espoused but also because of the Nixon proposals in the United States of America announced a few days beforehand. How much more can it be seen to be out of date now, because of the economic indicators which have been revealed to us since Budget day, 17th August.
The latest economic indicators are those staring us in the face in this week’s newspapers. We do not have to look to the banks, or to W. D. Scott & Co., or to the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia or to the Associated Chambers of Commerce for the clear message that there is a dangerous rise in unemployment and a marked drop in the level of effective demand and with it businessmen’s confidence. We merely go home to an electorate like mine and listen to our constituents who have been put off work by such a company as General Motors-Holden’s Ltd after years and years of good, skilled service. And we look at the unemployment figures and the job vacancy figures for August - before the Budget has had time to take effect. On the most conservative estimate we note, after seasonal adjustments have been made, that unemployment is growing at the monthly rate of 6.6 per cent. Also we note that registered vacancies are falling at the monthly rate of 4.2 per cent.
We look also at the table of quarterly figures for gross national product at average 1966-67 prices with its related tables, a new series of indicators recently released by the Treasury. Admittedly these figures are for the period to the end of last June - at a time when the Budget was merely being framed - ‘but this fact illustrates my proposition that this Budget was sorely out of date at the time of its conception let alone now. It was aimed at a situation which did not exist at the time it was brought down. The quarterly growth of real personal consumption to March 1970 was 4.8 per cent; to June 1970 it was reduced to 4.2 per cent; to September 1970 it was down to 4.1 per cent; to December 1970 it was down to 2.8 per cent; to March 1971 it was down still further to 2.2 per cent; and to June 1971 it was down to the disastrously low figure of 1.6 per cent. The figures for gross national expenditure are just as worrying, with the growth in the quarter to June 1971 down to 0.7 per cent from 5.4 in the March 1971 quarter - the 0.7 per cent meaning that the growth is not actually keeping in touch with the population growth.
And so, Mr Deputy Speaker, I return to my theme. We do not have to look to the banks, or to the Scotts or the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia for signs of this trend, for this message that unless there is quick appreciation of this problem - far quicker than it would seem is applying to this present Government at the present time if the answers of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) at question time this week are any indication - we are heading for a serious economic crisis with rising unemployment, even worse unemployment than we are experiencing right now. In fact, as some newspapers have written already, this Conservative Government is creating a pool of unemployment - an outworn policy, which will not cure the ill which is before us.
Why do I think it is so important to hammer home this message of the danger signals that are about us? It is because I and my colleagues in the Australian Labor Party realise that there is nothing worse than unemployment, nothing more degrading for our nation, nothing more depressing for the morale of our people. This Liberal-Country Party Government seems to be leading us into this situation - rushing headlong into it. Why? Because, in addition to all its other faults, so manifest in recent months, its members seem to be blind to these economic signs I have mentioned and they are prisoners of their own anachronistic economic theories. I am particularly concerned because my State of South Australia is the first one hit in the slightest recession because so many of our resources are bound up in the manufacture of motor cars, washing machines and other consumer durables - the first things hit in the slightest slump.
We in the Opposition do not quarrel with the diagnosis of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) concerning inflation. We do not quarrel with the fact that he and the Liberal-Country Party Government to which he belongs are at last trying to do something about it. We despair because they seem not to see that we are suffering from a classic case of stagflation - that is inflationary stagnation or stagnation with inflation; an economic illness which has overtaken the United States and the United Kingdom, among other countries, in recent years. Stagflation requires different treatment to inflation. Reducing effective demand overall, striking a blow at businessmen’s confidence, creating a pool of unemployment - these methods do not cure stagflation. The prices go on going up as the unemployment also goes on going up. In getting mesmerised by inflation for goodness sake we must not let this Government get mesmerised at the same time by old, outworn economic theories to cure it.
The blunt instruments of monetary policy such as stringent control over the limits to the supply of money and the high cost of that money, namely, high interest rates - these policies alone do not cure inflation. They are blunt instruments which help to cause stagnation. In the same way such fiscal or budgetary policies as large domestic budget surpluses, such as the one planned in this Budget of $630m, the siphoning off of funds from the community by higher personal and company taxes and by higher charges for such items as postal and telephone services, broadcast and television licences, petrol and other fuels, the doubling of the patient’s charge for pharmaceutical benefits from 50c to $1 - a wicked charge for so many, particularly young families on lower incomes and in many cases large young families at that - are but some examples of the methods of this Government in this Budget. I repeat: These policies, whether separately or collectively, are no cure for inflation these days. If used so heavy handedly as they have been they are a blueprint for even worse stagnation. Are not so many of these charges anyway passed on in higher costs to the community? Are not in so many cases the company taxes passed on. the postal and telephone charges passed on. the petrol and oil charges and so on?
Let me remind this Liberal-Country Party Ministry that it is much, much harder to revivify a sagging economy than it is to regulate an excessive boom. One would think that this lesson would have been learnt at the time of the Governmentinduced 1961-62 recession. At this point let me put on record that I object also to the way that cuts have been made in Government expenditure. The share of gross national expenditure going through Government hands is still far too low in order to provide adequately for the community’s needs in such areas as education, health and welfare. So many of my colleagues have touched on these subjects in this debate that I will not repeat their points. But we should be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves as a country of affluence - this lucky country - to be prepared to put up with these inadequacies inflicted on our education system and with the poverty suffered by so many of our people, particularly the pensioners and large families of our nation.
This is not to say that we must not cut out wastage, that we must not see in this sphere of Public Service expenditure, as in every other sphere of activity in this nation, that Parkinson’s Law must not apply and that a fair day’s work must not be given for a fair day’s pay. Of course these things must apply. Wastages and inefficiencies are a dead loss to us all, to each one of us in this nation. These matters are direct attacks on our standard of living. But this is a far cry from postponing the improvements to the Alice Springs Hospital and from postponing the provision of some badly needed schools. There are so many other examples that I could give of desperately needed government expenditure being cut or postponed.
I am vitally interested in this whole field of government expenditure. As ViceChairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts, indeed so I should be, because I am one of the watchdogs of the Parliament and thus of the people in trying to ensure that the people’s money is well spent, that we get value for the taxation funds which are taken from us. Frankly, I have my own ideas as to how the work of the Public Accounts Committee could be improved, could be made less stereotyped and more flexible and thus, I believe, of more value. T hope I shall be able to put these suggestions to the House on some other more appropriate occasion after I have had the opportunity for due consultation with others on both sides of the House. I think we may be able to take a lead from the terms of reference of the new Expenditure Committee of the British House of Commons - suitably adopted for our Public
Accounts Committee because we do not want a proliferation of committees in this Parliament.
But this is not the only way we can improve the value of our money in the matter of government expenditure. The Treasurer said in his Budget Speech:
It is proposed to initiate within the Government a review of the existing functions and activities of departments.
This could be well worth while. I withhold my judgment until I see by whom this review is to be made. Surely, anyway, this has been the continuing function of the Public Service Board. If there was a rationale for another independent inquiry, surely the independence of that inquiry might best be achieved by appointing reviewers from outside the Commonwealth Public Service. There need not necessarily be appointments exclusively from firms of management consultants in private enterprise. Why not also have more cross fertilisation of ideas by arranging the interchange of senior public servants from State governments too, or even, perhaps, from the governments of other English-speaking countries of the world?
Mr Deputy Speaker, I have digressed from the subject of economic policy for stagflation. I intimated earlier that Keynes’s theories, in my view, are not right in this day and age. The behaviour patterns of people have changed in these areas in the last 3 decades. With strong unions knowing that there is so much further to go before they get wage justice, a fairer share of the cake for their members; with so many large impregnable international companies; with institutions, financial and others, which are vastly different from what they were 30 years ago; with the growth of hire purchase and other similar forms of term lending and with savings in arrears; is it any wonder that these behaviour patterns are different? We need new economic theories, new policies to meet these new challenges.
At this stage, Mr Deputy Speaker, with the concurrence of honourable members - I have already received the permission of the Deputy Leader of the House (Mr Chipp) to do this, because I expected that he would be in the House at this stage, I incorporate in Hansard the clauses of the economic platform of the Australian Labor
Parly, from the A LP’s Platform, Constitution and Rules, as approved by the 29th Commonwealth Conference of the Party held in Launceston in June of this year:
Institute indicative planning and programmed budgeting for economic growth and social justice by the Commonwealth, in co-operation with the States, local authorities and organisations of employees and employers; this planning to be consistent with the maintenance of full employment and the conservation of natural resources.
Balance the functions and finances of the Commonwealth, States, regional and local authorities to ensure that resources are adequately developed and services adequately provided.
With the object of achieving Labors socialist objectives, establish or extend public enterprise, where appropriate by nationalisation, particularly in the fields of banking, consumer finance, insurance, marketing, housing, stevedoring, transport and in areas of antisocial private monopoly.
Identify, publicise and otherwise expose unfair prices or practices and the exploitation of consumers and in conjunction with the States to operate Australia wide price control. This policy to be supplemented by the use of power of government to purchase goods and place orders.
Legislate against monopolies and strengthen existing trade practices legislation.
Assist small primary producers, retailers and others to adjust to changing economic conditions by expanding Agricultural Extension Services, by using Rural Reconstruction Boards, by establishing a Small Business Administration and by instituting programmes to retrain and resettle small producers and retailers.
Regulate hire purchase, fringe banking and other credit-creating institutions, in order to control effective demand.
Use selective interest rates, particularly in areas such as housing.
Sever the Postmaster-General’s Department from Public Service Board control.
Establish clearer guidelines for overseas investors, for the benefit both of these investors and of the Australian community. Overseas investment in Australia to be encouraged only where it introduces new technology and expertise, includes plans for Australian participation in the enterprise, and/or otherwise shows itself to be in Australia’s national interest. 11. (a) reserve income tax exclusively to the
Review the Australian taxation system, especially in order to -
reduce taxation on lower and middle incomes;
adjust the system of deductions to avoid inequities;
prevent avoidance of taxation oy formation of companies, trusts, partnerships, or in any other manner;
re-define ‘Income’ for taxation purposes so that a fair share of taxation will be paid by those who benefit from the accumulation of assets;
tax company income at graduated rates;
redress the incidence of indirect taxes on essential goods.
Protect Australian industries, where necessary, by tariffs, import controls, and/or subsidies in order to safeguard Australian living standards and to develop Australian resources. The use and level of, and choice between, means of protection to be determined after examination and report by an independent, fully equipped, government authority which will consider, among other things, efficiency, growth prospects, trade practices and pricing policies.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I draw to the attention of the House particularly clauses 1, 4, 5. 7, 8 and 12. These clauses collectively form a blueprint for a war on stagflation. Let me firsty direct special attention to price control. We have not written into our policy anything which requires a change in the Constitution before it can be implemented. In fact, it is possible that we may want to do more in the way of direct control of prices. In that case we shall seek the necessary powers from the people to do these things which we consider so necessary for the proper control of our economy. We have merely at this stage talked in terms of some mechanism such as a prices justification tribunal to be operated, we hope, in conjunction with the States or the standing committee on prices of this Parliament mentioned in the Budget speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). And we believe that such methods of inducement to price restraint will be effective - very effective - particularly when supplemented by the Government using its power to purchase goods and place orders in such a way as to favour those who are efficient and are not seeking exorbitant profits.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I go so far as to say that this direct intervention of government or this Parliament into the field of price control, in conjunction with the implementation of a national plan and sensible tariff, and restrictive trade practice and fringe banking policies, is not only the most effective but also the only way to tackle stagflation; the only way to tackle inflation without causing stagnation. I am reinforced in my views by what 1 have learnt of the views of the Right Honourable Aubrey Jones, formerly a Minister in Conservative governments in the United Kingdom and more recently Chairman of Labor Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s Prices and Incomes Board which attempted unsuccessfuly to implement an incomes policy in Great Britain to overcome stagflation. Incidentally, Aubrey Jones is visiting Canberra next week to talk to the Canberra branch of the Economic Society of Australia and New Zealand. I am only sorry that the Parliament will not be sitting next week so that we could have him come to this place to discuss these most important matters with our appropriate committees. However, I am told that with all the experience he has had in these matters his views are that you cannot have proper restraint, you cannot have any sort of success with an incomes policy - let alone these blunt instruments being used by this Government - unless you first have some form of price control, ensuring that not only one sector of the economy, namely, that covering wage and salary earners, is being restrained.
Let me emphasise that we in the Australian Labor Party do not envisage a mighty bureaucracy controlling all prices. Not only would that be ineffective, but it would not be acceptable to the Australian people. What we do envisage is using power over key prices. In the meantime, we intend to use inducement, so that businessmen who have these great powers over prices are ‘persuaded’, and indeed induced, to justify their level of prices. This is not a bird-brain idea arrived at intuitively by me and some others. This is a well thought through theory of that eminent economist John Kenneth Galbraith which I outlined in the simplest possible terms I could command in my Budget speech last year. Mr Deputy Speaker, I have not been able to obtain permission from the Ministry to incorporate in Hansard the 3 appropriate paragraphs on this subject from my speech on the Budget last year, which appear on pages 738 and 739 of Hansard of 28th August 1970. The view expressed in those paragraphs - it is fully documented - is a complete justification for the policy of price control. This is the lie to those in Government, including the Prime Minister, who are saying that we are not concerned about inflation. Of course we are - not only this year, but also last year and the year before as any perusal of the Budget debates of recent years would show any interested person who was not intent to make cheap political capital out of untruths. I think I can be called an Australian Labor Party economic spokesman in these matters. I have directed my speeches to this most important matter of the stabilisation of the economy on more than one occasion. The Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), among others, covered this subject of economic stability in their speeches on the Budget. Indeed, it forms part of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition, which I support. The Leader of the Opposition has been criticised, on the one hand, for speaking for too long - I think 65 minutes was the time mentioned - and on the other hand for not saying enough about inflation. He certainly cannot have it both ways.
The Standing Orders allow me only 20 minutes to make this speech and so I must draw my contribution to a close. 1 have no time to talk further about the misallocation of our resources which is taking place, about the lack of leadership being given to our primary industries to get to the crux of the real problems facing the country people - the Wool Commission, the 36c per lb of wool, the rural reconstruction proposals so far brought before the House. These are only temporary sedatives. We have to look at the ways the United Kingdom, the United States and Western Europe have tackled these great rural problems which have overtaken us 20 years later than them. I have no time to talk further about the injustice and inequity of this Liberal-Country Party Government allowing exorbitant profits to be earned by so many companies in our community, particularly finance companies, and which then has the hide to blame inflation on the workers of this country in the lower income groups because those workers seek wage justice through the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission or by other means at their disposal. Do these Ministers not realise that the 6 per cent awarded last year was to a large extent only enabling those who received it to catch up with cost increases?
Mr Deputy Speaker, this country is being sorely mismanaged economically as well as socially. These people who govern us do not believe in planning, as the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) pointed out to his colleagues in his Budget contribution earlier this evening. They do not believe in controlling the level of investment. In the meantime, millions of ordinary Australians suffer because of a shocking Budget like this one. As my time is ending I had better sit down before my blood pressure goes up any further. I support the Oppositions amendment. Otherwise I oppose this Budget and all it stands for.
– I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in condemning this Budget. 1 think the House is indebted to the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) for his knowledgeable and penetrating analysis of the Government’s proposals. Clearly he tore to ribbons the policy enunciated in this Budget which was out of date the moment it was introduced. As the honourable member said, the Budget provides amongst other things for an expenditure of about $S,833m. It imposes vicious increases in personal income tax, telephone charges, postage, petrol and cigarette prices, television and radio licences, medical dispensing charges and the prices of a few other items. It gives the very minimum in the way of benefits in respect of child endowment, pensions and assistance to rural industry and education. As I said during the debate on the Social Services Bill the Budget still excludes from any benefits whatever about 181,000 part pensioners.
In every way it is a Budget that does nothing to prevent inflation which has been caused by the policy of this Government; it does nothing to relieve those suffering from inflation and it gives little relief at all to those who are dependent on social services. But the Budget gives us the opportunity to speak on a number of things. At this stage of the debate I think that the financial aspect of the Budget has been well covered by speakers on this side of the House. But we have to look a little behind the curtain: we have to look at those who framed the Budget, at the record of the Government, at its internal dissension and at the things associated with its economic programme. We have to look at those who brought this programme about and who, because of their disunity, are at this stage completely destroying the trust reposed in them by the Australian people.
Probably at no time since 1951 or the recession of 1961 has such an economic crisis faced Australia. At least that is what we are told by those who know. The rural industry is in ruins, inflation has run riot, the value of money is rapidly disappearing and all sections of the community are alarmed at our economic prospects. Unemployment is rising. Even the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) prophesied that the level of unemployment would be over 100,000 at the commencement of the new year. In addition we are still engaged in Vietnam and the great issues of development, immigration and other national problems face the nation.
To handle this situation and to face the crisis is possibly the most discredited government of our time. It is a government of bits and pieces. The Prime Minister is without the support and confidence of his Party and in its ranks are members who are bent on destroying him and who are riddled with hatred and animosity. This in itself makes stable government impossible and unless there is an election and a change of government the outlook for Australia will indeed be grim. You know. Mr Deputy Speaker. I would compare the Liberal Party today as to, say. a family at war under the benevolent parternity of the father of the year, or in more colloquial terms the daddy of ‘em all. The Party even numbers in its ranks prodigal sons like the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn), who is at. the table, and outcasts such as those who sit on the back bench. I suppose we could number the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) and his colleagues among the black sheep of the family. I wonder whether the father of the year is regarded as a father figure, popularly welcomed by the family at the start of each sitting day to the tune of ‘Oh my papa’. I wonder if this happens.
To add to the worries of the Liberal Party it has had. a shotgun wedding with the Australian Country Party and the honeymoon is over; the marriage has broken up and the decline of rural industries is a striking tribute to the Government’s illgotten policies of the last 20 years. Every time I look at the honourable member for Mallee I feel that the Liberal Party must think to some extent as I do. I would say that the Australian Country Party would remind most people of an appendix. Like the Country Party, that organ is, in the first place, perfectly useless; in the second place it is generally unpredictable; and in the third place it is always a possible centre of inflammation. The Country Party is the second leg of the Government.
Let us have a look at the ministerial circus that has brought the Budget before us. In less than 4 years Australia has had 3 Prime Ministers, 4 Ministers for Defence, 5 Ministers for Foreign Affairs and 3 Treasurers. Even since March - 6 months ago - we have had 2 Prime Ministers and another one is coming up.
Since March we have had 3 Ministers for Foreign Affairs, 3 Ministers for Defence, 3 Ministers for Health, 3 Ministers for Education and Science, 3 AttorneysGeneral, 2 Treasurers, 2 Ministers for Labour and National Service, 2 Ministers for Immigration, 2 Ministers for the Navy, 2 Ministers for Housing, 2 Ministers for Aboriginal Affairs and 2 Ministers for Supply. This makes 31 changes at more than one a week. If that is not a razzle-dazzle and a musical chairs proposition then I am a Dutchman. This has all happened without an election, lt is no longer true to say in the Liberal Party that it is easier to get into Cabinet than to get out of it. Members and Ministers are giddy and uncertain. This is a record of instability without precedent in Australian history and intolerable in this democracy of ours. There has been purge after purge. Ministers have not been chosen on ability but on how they voted. The honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham), who is interjecting, could not pick a winner anyway with all of those changes.
It is said that the staff of the Ministers are asking for danger money such is the precarious nature of their job. It is known in Canberra today that departmental heads have rung the Minister and could not remember who was there yesterday. This is the Government that tells us that it knows how to run the nation. What a tragedy - what a shocking state of affairs! This is the Government that boasts of stability and leadership. We heard the Prime Minister say during question time this morning that we want statesmanship in this country. We do want statesmanship but we will not get it from those changes.
There is a Ministry of 27 and there are 6 Assistant Ministers as well as a Cabinet in exile on the back benches. One cannot say that we are not under-governed in this Parliament. Let us have a look at the Cabinet in exile on the back bench. This group is made up of the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), an exPrime Minister; the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes), an exAttorneyGeneral; the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury), who was a Treasurer and a Minister for Foreign Affairs; the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), a former Minister for the Navy; the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), a former Minister for the Navy; the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin), who was the Leader of the House and a Minister for Air; the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer), a former Minister for the Army; and not to leave the Country Party out of it, the right honourable member for Fisher (Sir Charles Adermann), a former Minister for Primary Industry. Looking them over, I find they are a much brighter lot than those who sit on the front bench at this time. That is not saying much but it is the best compliment I can pay them.
To add to our woes, with 31 changes and a Cabinet in exile, we have 6 Assistant Ministers. They are the honourable members for Cook (Mr Dobie), Wimmera (Mr King), Cowper (Mr Robinson), Corangamite (Mr Street), Senator Marriott and above all else the honourable member for Boothby (Mr Macleay), the revolutionary republican Rhodesian Mounted Rifles man. He campaigned against the sovereignty of the Queen with the Rhodesian people. 1 know that Ministers want assistance but putting that lot in to help them is a frightening prospect for anybody in this country. Let us look at the newspaper articles that we are reading at this time. The former Prime Minister decided that he would write his memoirs, so I am told. Of course, the Prime Minister, after reading the first fnstalment, according to the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ - the paper you can trust - on 13th August 1971, said:
This afternoon I asked Mr Gorton, the Minister for Defence, to see me about his decision to write a series of articles for the ‘Sunday Australian’, the first of which has already been published. I informed him that in my opinion, his action breached the basic principle of Cabinet solidarity and unity and reflected on the integrity of some Ministers.
Following that the Prime Minister wrote this letter: ‘My Dear John, Oh, how 1 hate to write. You know, we all know, that you must leave me tonight.’ Then he ran down and subsequently the right honourable member for Higgins resigned. We know how it was done. A big axe, a little knife and he disappeared almost immediately. I now want to pose this question to the Prime Minister: How much longer can he, the Liberal Party and the Government tolerate a situation in which the former Prime Minister writing in a national newspaper denigrates senior members of Cabinet whose responsibility it is to run the country? I understand that the right honourable member for Higgins has been highly paid for these articles. I do not criticise him for taking payment because, according to open confessions made in the Parliament recently by certain prominent personalities it appears that the occupation of part-time journalist for some fortunate members provides a lucrative supplement to their parliamentary salaries. In my own case, I am not flattered to think that not only do I not get paid for any articles but I have never been asked to write any. Let us look at a few comments of the right honourable member for Higgins in regard to his colleagues. This is what he had to say of his colleagues in the ‘Sunday Australian’ of 8th August:
From time to time Cabinet Ministers have shown themselves so uncertain of their own opinions that they have chosen to canvass the value of impending legislation far beyond the Cabinet room, indeed beyond the confines of Parliament altogether. . . . Others are afflicted with the compulsion to try out ideas on their wives.
A petticoat government. What do honourable members think of that? That was written by the former Prime Minister and he should know. Now I come to the Minister for Defence who is at the table. He is a likeable, nice, decent type of fellow. We all like him. But listen to what the former Prime Minister had to say about him when writing in the ‘Sunday Australian’ on 22nd August 1971:
He could not in any one’s imagination be thought to pose a competitive threat. He was well liked, painstaking, and basically honest, but was so pedestrian, conservative and slow thinking, that it could never have seriously occurred to anyone outside his domestic circle to imagine he had the capacity to head a government. Nor was he an ambitious man.
I do not like it. It is hard when that is said about you by your own kith and kin. After thinking (hat of him he offered him a job in Paris or London. Sir Alec Downer must be upset to think he could be replaced by a pedestrian, conservative and slow thinking Minister. The right honourable member for Higgins then went on to deal with the present Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), that distinguished tall figure. In the ‘Sunday Australian’ on 29th August 1971 he said:
Malcolm Fraser, the new Minister for Education, and former Defence Minister is a wealthy grazier from Victoria’s western district. The possessor of inherited wealth and an only son, things have been easy for him. He is tall and good looking.
That is open to doubt. He continued:
He is a hard-working Minister with a capacity for application to detail. A strong-willed man, he is inclined to be abrasive to subordinates who disagree with him and to be petulant if he does not get his own way.
I have always felt that he has considerable ability and have also felt that nobody rates that ability quite as high as he does.
One must admit that the former Prime Minister has a discerning mind. Then he went on to say:
He has a reputation for aloofness which may perhaps stem from his unusual height-
He is a long way from you when he talks to you - but the most outstanding impression he gives is that of a man wilh no sense of humour and a lack of warmth in human relationships.
What a remark to make about a man he has put in the Ministry and, one would have thought, admired. What a come-down it must be for this great man to think that this has been laid at his door by his former leader. I understand it was feared at one time that the former Prime Minister might run right through the list of Cabinet personnel and it was thought he might have got to the Prime Minister. We on this side of the Parliament were waiting with bated breath for this instalment on the Prime
Minister. Had he written of the present Prime Minister I think this is what the right honourable member for Higgins would have said:
The Prime Minister is a man of considerable ability - charming in a strange kind of waydevious in political intrigue. A man devoted to physical fitness. He reveals extraordinary skill with the scalpel and the axe. He is also a man of great ambition but devoid of performance. 1 know he would have written something like that, probably a little harsher, but it might have run that way. However, he has been stopped. I have quoted from the comments. Surely the people of Australia are entitled to know whether the Prime Minister of the day - nobody knows who will be there tomorrow - supports these views. He has the responsibility to speak up for these men written about by the right honourable member for Higgins or say whether he endorses what the previous leader has said. How long can a country tolerate a government with a former Prime Minister sitting on the back bench undermining morale and plotting like MacArthur for his return to the corridors of power while the Prime Minister does nothing about it? Any Prime Minister who does not take action in regard to these matters should neither command nor will he command the respect of Australian people and should not be trusted with the Prime Ministership of this country. I am not reading what members of the Australian Labor Party say or what is said by the capitalist Press or the paper you can trust. They are the statements of the former Prime Minister about his own ministerial colleagues. The honourable member for Wentworth, the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, was reported in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 11th August as saying that the Party at present did not have a leader who carried genera) conviction and was trusted by the majority. What a comment that is. The report continues:
There isn’t someone who is a natural leader of men who is around mc with the necessary experience and technique.’
He went on to say: ‘Cabinet leaks like a ruddy sieve now and this must break down the trust people in Cabinet had in each other.’ He believed this, reflected a decline in the standard of honesty and decent behaviour.
This is out of the mouth of a man whom the former Prime Minister thought was good enough to be the Minister for Foreign Affairs of this country. The honourable member for Berowra is reported in the Daily Mirror’ on 11th August as saying:
The Liberal Party would wreck itself if it tried to sack the Prime Minister, Mr Gorton. Anyone who tries to move against Mr Gorton needs his head read. The Party is in a fragile position.
It has been like it for years as a matter of fact. It continues:
If anyone wants to wreck it this is the way to go about it.
Then in the ‘Australian’ on 12th August he was reported to have said:
The Liberal Party seems bent on an orgy ot self-destruction, If we don’t stop all this soon we shall certainly find ourselves on the Opposition benches.
Then on 17th August in the ‘Australian’ the former Minister for the Navy, the honourable member for Moreton said:
The Liberal Party must put itself in control of its own affairs. If prejudice of affection or dislike is to be in control then the Party will limp towards disaster.
In the ‘Daily Telegraph’ on 11 th August he was reported to have said:
There are people today pretending they are fervent supporters of Mr McMahon. Look, you should have heard them three or four years ago when it was very hard to get any support for Mr McMahon. We could have held a meeting of them in a telephone box.
The ‘Daily Telegraph’ then went on to say:
He said he did not believe it was now up In Sir Frank Packer or anyone else to be picking whom should be Ministers in any government.
Even the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) came out of his hole, so to speak, and said he did not believe the Liberal Party could do without Mr Gorton. I do not think Mr Gorton thought so either. As reported in the ‘Australian’ on 12th August he said:
The Patty is in a fragile condition. If anybody wants to set out on an orgy of self-destruction let him do it.
What a tragic state of affairs for a government which has said it is running the country to be condemned all over the place by its own members and Ministers and yet seeking confidence.
The Liberal Party these days has gone into music and everything is done to melodies, I am told. For instance, the former Prime Minister writes his weekly life story under the title of a melody made famous by Frank Sinatra, ‘1 did it my way”.
This opens up interesting possibilities as to how others will write their life stories. We might yet hear the honourable member lor Ballaarat (Mr Erwin), who happens to be temporarily absent, writing his memoirs under the title of that lilting tune, T used to love you but it’s all over now*. Even the honourable member for Berowra might come to light under the title ‘Somebody else has taken my place’. Then the Leader of the Country Party, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), would no doubt write under the title ‘Has anybody here seen Kelly’ or ‘I’d like to get you on a slow boat to China’. No doubt the honourable member for Wentworth may ultimately come to light under the title What kind of fool am I’. The Prime Minister has already indicated his leanings when writing for the resignation of the former Minister for Defence. He said ‘Dear John, you know how I hate to write’. He may of course finally decide that his memoirs would go better under the title Anything he can do I can do better’. In the turbulent days ahead for the Liberal Party its meetings might well conclude with the Party members rising and singing the chorus of ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ or maybe to paraphrase the words of a famous tune, ‘Faction Fights are Breaking up that Old Gang of Mine’.
Mr Deputy Speaker, we notice these things and they do show that there is a certain amount of disunity on the other side of the Parliament. If I might coin a phrase, I am sorry for this once great Party. I am sorry to see it split asunder, riddled with dissension and these things happening. My distinguished friend, the Treasurer (Mr Snedden), a man of considerable ability and achievement, was opposed by the long talking but rather quiet member for Darling Downs (Mr Swartz) for the position of Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party. Supporters of Mr Swartz are pushing the line that the Party needs a quiet, loyal uncontroversial man like him to help rebuild unity for the next elections. It was not that he had done too much. It was that he had not done anything. That was what appealed to most of the members of the Liberal Party. The Treasurer survived the ballot, but disunity has carried through to the very final episode of this great crusade that was started by certain members of the Liberal Party to cleanse and remove the former Prime Minister.
Even at this moment members of the Liberal Party are threatened with losing their preselection. We read headlines such as ‘Liberals may drop Hughes and Bates’ and ‘Twenty-one Liberals resign’. Here we rind in the Parliament a Budget brought down at the time of greatest crisis in this country by a Government which is merely hanging together, with 31 changes in the Ministry, riddled with dissension and hatreds, members disappearing and hiding from each other and yet claiming to have the confidence of the Australian people. The Government deserves to be condemned. It is a government of bits and pieces. Members of the Government Parties have no place on the Treasury bench of this Parliament. Therefore I support enthusiastically the resolution moved to condemn the Budget. I hope that this amendment is carried, and then we will have a new government prepared to give unity, solidarity, statesmanship and leadership to the Australian people.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
– During the course of his Budget speech the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) said that Australia is in the grip of inflationary pressures and, if allowed to develop unchecked, this will cause increasing economic hardship. (Quorum formed.) 1 thank the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton) for obtaining an audience for me. As he has done that, I think it is worth while beginning again. I said that during the course of his Budget Speech the Treasurer said that Australia is in the grip of inflationary pressures and, if allowed to develop unchecked, this will cause increasing economic hardship. I find myself in agreement with these sentiments. I believe that if we can do anything at all to reduce costs it is worth examining the proposal. I would like to make what I believe to be a constructive suggestion to the Government.
It is my belief that interest is a considerable factor in costs. If a manufacturer borrows money the interest which he pays forms part of his production costs. Obviously the selling price of his product is correspondingly higher. If a consumer borrows money to enable him to finance a purchase for which he cannot pay cash, obviously he has to pay more for the article than if he were able to pay cash. If he has to pay 10 per cent or 12 per cent interest then the ultimate price which he has to pay will be higher than if the interest charged were in the vicinity of 8 per cent. There are 2 main traditional sources of lending in Australia. 1 refer to the banks and to the finance companies, or fringe banking institutions. The current rate charged for a bank overdraft is in the vicinity of 81 per cent although the rate of interest charged by finance companies varies from 7 per cent to 8 per cent on new motor vehicles to as much as 11 per cent or 12 per cent on other consumer durables.
Over the past 7 years the trend of lending has been moving away from the banks and towards the fringe banking institutions. The reason that I have taken a period of 7 years is that it is only since 30th rune 1964 that the Commonwealth Statistician has compiled detailed statistics on the finance companies. But let me prove what I have said about the trend of lending moving from the banks to the finance companies. Between 30th June 1964 and 30th June 1971 the amounts which were owed to trading banks at the end of the financial year has increased over that period by 103.7 per cent. During the same period the amount of loans outstanding to finance companies has increased by 159.8 per cent. Let me express this in another way: The amount of money owed to trading banks represented about 60 per cent of the total which was owed to banks and finance companies combined at 30th June 1964; 7 years later, at 30th June this year, the amount owed to banks bad fallen to only about 54 per cent of the total.
I would like to remind the House that the amounts I am talking about do not exactly represent chicken feed. At 30th June 1964, the Australian people owed a total of $4,3 13m to banks and to finance companies. Of this amount the banks were owed S2,609.9m and the finance companies were owed $l,703.1m. At 30th June this year the total indebtedness had increased from $4,3 13m to $9,741. 6m, of which the banks were owed $5,3 1 6.8m and the finance companies were owed $4,424.8m. Honourable members can see that the movement of lending has definitely been from the banks towards the fringe banking institutions. This means that people are paying considerably more for goods for which they cannot afford to pay cash. It also means that many of the smaller manufacturers and the smaller builders who cannot be accommodated by banks have to borrow elsewhere at higher rates of interest. This also reacts to the detriment of the consumer. 1 would like to point out to the House that the trading banks are the major shareholders in many of the fringe banking institutions. My research has shown me that in the case of three of the major such institutions Australian banks own 100 per cent of the shares. In 3 other cases they own respectively 60 percent, 43 per cent and 42 per cent of the shares. In addition to this, overseas banks have substantial holdings in a number of finance organisations. This means, in effect, that in many cases where a person seeks to borrow money from his bank he cannot be accommodated at normal overdraft rates but he can be assisted if he is prepared to pay from 30 per cent to 50 per cent more for his money. The rate of interest which he is called upon to pay is, in many cases, dependent on the drawer from which the bank manager takes his loan application form.
The reason I have raised this matter is that bank lending is largely controlled by the Government through the Reserve Bank of Australia and it exercises this power in a manner designed to assist the Australian economy. With this I am in complete agreement. But I understand that the Government has no control whatsoever over other than bank lending. I am suggesting that it ought to be seeking this power. If the Government believes that it has a duty to control the economy in the interests of the Australian people and, in the words of the Treasurer, to combat inflation, to slow it down and to halt it, again I am in complete agreement with that. I believe that the Government ought to seek powers which will enable it to control all of the lending which is made both by banks and by other financial institutions - not only a reducing percentage of it which at the present time is not much above 50 per cent. I believe that high interest rates operate mainly against the ordinary people of the community and these are the people whom we as a Government claim to represent.
I now wish to turn to another matter which has been referred to during this Budget debate. I refer to immigration. I wish to join issue with my friend and colleague the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) who said earlier this week: 1 think it is about high time that the Government . . . put the axe into the immigration programme.
He went on to say:
Growth for growth’s sake is a spurious national goal.
He stated that we should be seeking quality rather than quantity. With these statements I am in complete agreement but I do not agree with the arguments which he developed. Today it is fashionable to knock immigration, and the critics of our immigration policy point to the demands which the immigration programme makes on the economy and the additional amount of money which has to be spent on roads, schools, hospitals and sewerage systems because of the number of migrants which we as a government have brought to Australia. The critics conveniently either overlook or seek to minimise the importance of the contribution which migrants have made and are continuing to make to Australia’s development.
The latest information that I have been able to obtain indicates that whilst migrants represent only 18 per cent of the total population they provide more than 23 per cent of the work force. As to the demand for more schools - and 1 do not deny that many more are required - migrant children represent only a little more than 9 per cent of the school children population. If Australia has an education crisis I believe that it is a crisis created by prosperity and not by migrants. There is a demand for higher educational standards and it is a fact that children today stay at school much longer than did children of earlier generations. 1 believe that we in Australia might find it worth our while to examine the policies of some overseas countries which make much greater use of their school buildings by having 2 shifts per day instead of only one as we do. In this way they not only save a considerable amount of capital expenditure but also they get much greater value for the money which they spend on classrooms.
The critics of Australia’s immigration policy base most of their criticism on the demand for capital which they claim is aggravated by our intake of migrants. They claim that much of our capital resources are diverted from productive fields to nonproductive fields such as the building of roads, schools, hospitals and power installations, the provision of water supplies and so on. The critics ignore the fact that migrants themselves contribute a great deal to our supply of capital. Migrants are not paupers. Many of them bring capital with them into this country. They are also good savers and experience has shown that per head of population they invest more of their savings in home ownership than does the average Australian. They also contribute substantially to Australian revenue, both federal and State, because they pay both direct and indirect taxes. They also pay their local government rates as, of course, do all Australians. To the extent that migrants through their work contribute to the profits made by the companies which employ them they also contribute to the capital which is not paid out in dividends but which is ploughed back into the businesses, and the industries which they help to develop also attract overseas capital.
Statistics show that migrant demands on social services are less than the Australian average. I would also point out that at a time when the primary producer is finding it extremely difficult to sell his products on overseas markets the migrant population contributes very substantially to the home market consumption. I have obtained some figures which were produced towards the end of last year. They show that migrants in Australia consume annually 70 million gallons of milk, 20 million lb of cheese, 55 million lb of butter, 525 million lb of meat, and 55 million eggs. In addition they consume a tremendous amount of fruit and vegetables. They must also be very big users of wool. I believe that those figures ought to be of interest to those who represent the primary producer. Without this contribution to local consumption 1 believe that primary producers would be in a much worse position than they are today.
Whilst on the subject of migration I would like to say that 1 favour the portability of pensions with respect to migrants who wish to return to their native land, provided of course that proper safeguards could be worked out so that elderly people would not come to Australia merely to qualify for an age pension and then return to their own country after qualifying. Al the present time 10 years residence in Australia is necessary to qualify for the payment of the age pension and this is probably an adequate safeguard. However, if at some time in the future the residential qualifying period were reduced this safeguard would not be as effective as it is at present.
I want to be fair to migrants but at the same time 1 do not want to recommend anything which could be unfair to Australian taxpayers. Migrants have pointed out to me that there could be a saving to revenue if we adopted this policy. If migrants who qualify for the payment of an age pension remained in Australia they would receive in addition to the pension all the fringe benefits which go with the pension. These fringe benefits have been estimated to be worth in the vicinity of $2 to $3 a week to each pensioner. To the extent that these fringe benefits could not be used by a person residing overseas this would be a saving to revenue. I understand that Canada permits the portability of pensions but there are very severe residential qualifications with respect to migrants who choose to return to their homelands. I understand this residential qualification varies from 25 years residence to 40 years residence. The United States also permits pensions to be paid to people in overseas countries. But comparisons with the practices in overseas countries are not valid because Australia’s age pension scheme is non-contributory whereas in most if not all overseas countries the worker himself makes a contribution towards his retirement allowances or age pension. It is not possible to estimate how many people may seek to take advantage of legislation such as this, nor is it easy to estimate how much it would affect our balance of pay ments problem but 1 believe it is worthy of investigation and 1 support the idea in principle.
In the few minutes remaining to me in this debate 1 would like to refer to a conference which I was privileged to attend as a representative of this Parliament. This conference was referred to earlier in this debate by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), lt was a conference arranged by the Working Centre of the 11 provincial parliaments of the Federal Republic of Germany and the theme of the conference was ‘The Environment’. The conference was attended by 70 to 80 delegates representing 23 countries including countries in Europe, Asia, North America, South America, the Middle East and Australia. The resolutions which were passed at this conference will be sent to a much larger conference which is to be held in Stockholm next year and is being organised by the United Nations. It is hoped that most of the member countries of the UN will bs in attendance at the conference. lt was made very clear at that conference that no country can live entirely to itself and that action taken in one country or on one continent can react on people who live in another country or on another continent, lt was pointed out that the world’s population will double during the next 35 to 37 years and that if the present rate of population increase continues there will be one person to every square metre on the face of the earth in 150 years time. Perhaps this is not quite as bad as it sounds because we will, of course, have available multi-storey buildings. This increase in population to the extent I have mentioned will not affect us and it may not affect our children but 1 believe that the actions which our generation takes today will have a tremendous effect on the lives of future generations.
The delegates at the conference were left in no doubt that the problem of pollution and the destruction of the environment is one which cannot be dealt with by one country in isolation and that laws relating to pollution, whether it be of the air, or of water, and to the destruction of the environment, have to be dealt with at international level.
For example, what happens in international trade when one nation requires an industry to bear the cost of combating pollution and another does not? Where the products of both countries are sold on the international market obviously the advantage must lie with the polluter. One of the problems discussed at the conference was that of non-degradable containers such as bottles, aluminium cans and plastic containers. People who travel extensively around Australia are appalled to see the extent to which the country is littered with these containers. Sooner or later, and the sooner the better, Australia will have to face up to this problem. Some countries and cities have already done so. I understand that the suburb of Bowie in Maryland introduced a law, effective from 1st April this year, which provides a fine of $100 for any store convicted of selling non-returnable containers. A bank in Pittsfield offered lc for non-degradable containers brought in by Boy Scouts. I believe it cost the bank about $1.2m.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Budget outlines a dangerous strategy, especially dangerous in view of the poor performance of the economy last year. Last year was a tough year for the economy. It was a tough year for business and the sort of strategy being proposed in the Budget suggests more toughness, more recession, more run down and a greater drop in output and productivity which will be lost forever. Value in terms of potentially improved welfare services, improved education and improved environmental conditions will be lost and will never be achieved again no matter how much the performance of the economy is improved in subsequent years. What concerns me particularly is the potential disaster which could be lying ahead of us because of the strategy outlined in the Budget. Let us take some of the points I enumerated so quickly. Last year was a tough year for the economy. The per capita real rate of growth was only .5 per cent. Honourable members talk a lot about growth rate and the quality of life. Many arguments being expressed today were initiated by Mishan several years ago. This economist, whose views have been taken up by many spokesmen today, indicated the dangers of an obsession about growth - that a fixation on this narrow quantitative area is a dangerous thing for an economy. This is true enough but the point is that we have not even made a reasonable fist of quantitative progress and if we cannot make a reasonable fist of quantitative progress in economic growth there will not be much in the way of a surplus to spend on qualitative improvement. This is a hard but realistic fact of life, so the first thing we must do is to improve growth rates in our economy if we are to talk meaningfully about qualitative improvement. Last year was an exceptionally poor year with a .5 per cent per capita real growth rate. It was one of the worst years for many years. There was no real growth per capita in retail sales, so business had a tough year.
In private companies the rate of increase tumbled from 13.5 per cent the year previous to a low of 3.2 per cent. That was a dramatic drop in the rate of performance of private enterprise in the economy. This is clear. These are some of the areas which have been taking the brunt of restrictive economic policies in the last 12 months. This is a not particularly publicised fact. Nevertheless these areas have been taking the brunt of fairly savage restrictions in the economy. In private fixed investment the rate fell from 6 per cent to 5 per cent. This is an important sector of the economy. Capital investment in the economy is the sort of driving force which gives a thrust to the progress of an economy. If there is a cut back in the rate of capital investment there is a cut back in capacity to progress in economic movement, lt is serious that this should occur.
Private dwelling commencements fell by 6 per cent after a poor year in 1969-70. Our rate of growth in exports fell from 22 per cent to 7 per cent and the terms of trade worsened. Interestingly enough, the fall in the terms of trade means that relatively our export prices fell and our import prices rose. We have heard no discussion from members of the Government about the inflationary effects which are injected into the economy by this sort of movement. Consumption demand increased by 5 per cent the year before last. The increase was 5 per cent, the lowest growth rate for more than 5 years. Again 1 raise an important point for consideration, namely, that the strategy of this Budget has been aimed at dampening down demand. As every finance writer is asserting forthrightly and correctly, this is the wrong area in which to aim the effects of the economy. It is not a problem at all.
I move to some more significant factors. The farm sector has been seriously savaged. Five years ago net farm income was $l,283m. Last year it fell by 22 per cent on this figure to $74 lm. Unemployment figures show that a serious problem is commencing to develop in the metropolitan areas. For instance, since about February last, in the metropolitan areas job vacancies expressed as a percentage of the number of employed showed a significant diminution on what had been the rate in the previous 18 months to 2 years. This is a reversal of the previous long term trend. But more import is the fact that in the rural area there has been a long term chronic depression, because in the rural area the registered unemployed exceed job vacancies by more than 4 to 1. For several years this has been a long term chronic problem in the economy. Up to this time there has been no evidence in this House that the Government has been aware of it, because there has been no definition of a consciously constructive policy to attack this serious problem.
As 1 have said, in some areas it has been a bad year, but it has been a peculiar year because on the one hand while there is evidence of stagnation developing, there seem to be contradictions. Obviously the monetary policy has operated unevenly. I mentioned that investment in private dwelling fell dramatically in the last 12 months, but investment in non-dwelling building skyrocketed. For instance, in the March quarter it increased by amost 46 per cent on the March quarter of the previous year. As the Treasury White Paper pointed out, this sort of influence on the economy will be with the population for some considerable time, because in most cases there are substantial gestation periods between when investment commences and when a project is completed in this sort of development.
Wages continue to push ahead and the cost of living soared by 5.4 per cent according to the consumer price index.
This was the highest increase in more than a decade and a half. As I said, we have this peculiar situation. Stagnation obviously is occurring in substantial areas of the economy yet in other areas, while this run down is occurring, there is an upsurge of inflationary pressures. The distressing feature is that it seems as though, through tha handling of the economic affairs of this country by the conservative Government opposite, we have finally achieved stagflation - the problem which has bedevilled so many of the advanced economies of the western world. What is even more alarming - 1 keep repeating this - is the uneven way in which the economic policies of the Government have operated. For instance, while trading company profits fell by $66m, finance investment company profits increased by $46m. Clearly the picture that is emerging is that there is a quite inadequate handling of the economic affairs of this country - a lack of selectivity in the way in which the various economic tools available to the Government have been applied.
I mentioned that last year was a bad year. The facts which I have given clearly evidence this. In my opening remarks I mentioned also that what we are really getting is more of the same. This is most disturbing. Evidence of more of the same is apparent in the Budget outline which is aimed at a surplus of about $630m. In achieving this surplus it is proposed to jack up indirect taxes and to set income and company taxes at a high. Of course, the purpose is to win the economy, to pull back demand, but it is fighting the wrong opponent. Let me give some evidence of this assertion that the whole strategy of the Budget is aimed in the wrong direction. In recent surveys the Associated Chambers of Manufactures and the Bank of New South Wales showed that the economy rather than being flattened out should be stimulated. Of manufacturers contacted only 38 per cent felt that the performance of business was satisfactory whereas 40 per cent expected that worse was to come. This is an unsettling influence because this is a psychological attitude which is developing and it is not the sort of thing which can be easily overcome through either fiscal or monetary policy. If we contrast that group of 38 per cent only which felt that business was performing satisfactorily for that quarter with the S3 per cent figure for the March quarter we get a picture of a complete loss of confidence in the way in which the economy is being handled. I mentioned that unemployment is climbing sharply. The Prime Minister calmly predicts that there will be 100,000 unemployed by next January.
I tura to the ronened publication from the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics which is entitled ‘Capital and Maintenance Expenditure by Private Businesses in Australia’, setting out the figures for the June quarter of 1971. This document includes certain projections. We see that the new private capital expenditure for the period July to December 1971-72 is expected to grow by 7 per cent. But we must balance that figure against past performances. For instance in 1970- 71, for the same period, the anticipated growth was 14 per cent. In 1969-70, for the same period, it was 1 1 per cent. Again, significantly in each case, the anticipated rate set out in those projections was approximately 100 per cent greater than the actual rate which was achieved.
So, here we have a situation in which the anticipated growth in new capital expenditure for July to December 1971-72 will be only about half of what the anticipated rate was for the same period the previous year. In the previous year, the actual rate of growth was only a little better than half the anticipated rate of growth. We again get the clear impression that this is going to be a fairly bad year all around in the economy. If investment or expenditure in the capital field is cut back, the rate of development in the economy is really being set back.
The Budget strategy at its best is punitive and inflationary. It will be stagnating at the same time as it will set off further inflationary pushes. What distresses me is that it could well prove to be a spectacular disaster. Let me make 3 points in relation to this factor. I refer to page 6 of Statement 1 attached to the Budget Papers. It is pointed out there that we are to have a really tight liquidity period in the second half of the new financial year. What happens then? This is an official document, which is further substantial evidence behind the point that I am making. We are informed that although we have had a bad year we will have an even more difficult year this financial year.
What will happen if the seasonal inflow of capital investment which the Treasury depends upon and relies upon in the closing stages of the second half of each financial year to bolster the operations of the economy does not materialise because of the international economic problems which are quite apparent today. In that situation, the monetary policy and the tight liquidity which will be the symptom of that monetary policy in the second part of the new financial year will have an especially savage bite on the economy. The impression that I gain is of a mounting problem. We cannot persist with the proposals in this Budget. A mini-budget, as these things are called, must be introduced fairly soon.
I turn to another factor which must taken into calculation. What will happen if trade with Japan suffers some sort of serious setback? It seems certain that we are to suffer some sort of adversity. The sale to the United States of articles containing wool fibre manufactured in Japan from Australian wool will certainly be set back. The sale of minerals to Japan or at least the rate of increase in those sales could diminish. But, somehow or other, one gets the clear impression that some sort of setback will occur in this area. All of this will have a shock wave effect which will be felt in the Australian economy. We will feel it more as a result of our economic situation than will the economies of Japan or the United States of America. Gregory Clark, reporting in the ‘Australian’ of 31st August 1971, stated:
New blast furnaces coining into production this year in Japan were supposed to meet an expected 100 million tons demand for crude steel. They are now being operated on half shifts . . .
Nippon Steel has announced postponement of its new Oha blast furnace, and is pressing the other steel companies to do the same. Iron ore and coking coal bought on long-term contracts to feed the furnaces have had to be stockpiled.
I am well aware that in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ this morning a journalist writing from Japan has put the situation another way. But his point of view is a highly qualified one. On the face of the evidence that I am able to assess, I am much more persuaded that Gregory Clark’s article is more likely to be the correct one. Even if it is not, this ought to be the way in which we slant our economic strategy, hedging all of our bets and covering all the possibilities.
Let me sum up the situation. We had a bad year last year and we have a worse one this year with potentially dangerous overtones as a result of factors some of which are outside our control because of their external nature. What is to be done? Frankly, I would not waste any time speculating on wages and prices policies except in the very short term because I have yet to see any evidence from overseas that such a policy has been effective in anything but the short term. It is about time in our community, especially on the part of those on the Government side, that there was an acceptance of the fact that wage price problems are a symptom and not a cause of inflation in the community. They are the symptom of an underlying morbidity.
At page 14 of the Treasury White Paper entitled ‘The Australian Economy 1971’, we read: . . wages are far from being the sole determinant of costs.
At page 17, after discussing the reasons why people seek wage increases and why in the relatively uncompetitive economy in which we live they are able to get them, the White Paper states:
Behind the normal urge to seek such gains were other influences such as the high and increasing burden of personal income taxation and the weight of personal debt on homes and household appliances and motor cars.
Where do these extra burdens come from? They come from the monetary and fiscal policies of the Government because these are the forces which are operating in the economy, which are injecting these increased costs and which in turn are pushing up the costs in the community leading to the sorts of demands that wage earners reasonably set about seeking. Is not the quotation I have just made from the Treasury White Paper a slamming damnation of the Government’s policy? Mr Deputy Speaker, rather than discuss any further these taxation aspects, with the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate in Hansard tables prepared for me by the Statistical Service of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library on the ‘Incidence of Taxation on Average Weekly Earnings’.
What is to be done? I see some excellent advice in the annual report of the Reserve Bank of Australia. I welcome this opportunity to read into the record some of the recommendations in the report because there seemed to be some disputation this morning between myself and the Treasurer as to whether criticism of the Government’s policy was involved in the annual report of the Reserve Bank. On page 36, under the heading The Problem of Inflation’, the Reserve Bank after a discussion of the economy states:
Hence, it is harder to attribute the recent acceleration of inflation in this country to excess demand pressures.
This is a significant factor because the whole strategy of the Budget has been to set about dampening down demand, a force which is not causing problems in the economy. What is to be done? The Reserve Bank report identifies a number of things that need to be done in the Australian economy. I will enumerate some of them:
Measures to decrease the degree of competition among domestic producers can be expected to exert a restraining influence on prices. . . .
We never hear this from the free enterprise Party which is supposed to be dedicated to this sort of competition. The report continues:
A greater degree of competition from abroad could also have a stabilising influence.
We never hear any theoretical or practical outline of the benefits of a programme in this area. The report states further:
Some countries have also appreciated their exchange rates as part of an anti-inflationary policy, package.
There is some evidence that de facto we are floating somewhere along this way. But I think that this country is entitled to an informed discussion which is presented to it through some sort of public document. The report states further.
However, supply policies can also ease inflationary pressures. Essentially, such policies involve encouraging labour and other resources into areas where prospective returns are greatest. More rapid productivity growth provides greater scope to meet demands for increased money incomes without increase in prices.
That, basically, is the problem with the Australian economy. It is a deep seated structural problem. Until the Government is prepared to face up to this problem and to bite into this deep seated imbalance in the economic structure, we will continue to be blighted by the problem of inflation which is now turning into a stagflation situation. My strategy would have been for a mildly expansionary Budget along Gal.braithian lines by which we would have given more emphasis to investment in the public sector. But I regret that the Government is too hesitant, too doubting and too weary to handle effectively the great economic challenges of the moment.
– We have just heard another cynical approach to economic problems by my colleague from the Opposition, the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). He based his speech - although he did not rely on it so much as did the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) or the honourable member for Kingston (Dr Gun) - on the fact that he feels that there should be more stimulus to the economy at this time. This spells out the very great difference indeed between the approach of the Opposition and that of the Government parties in this House. There are areas of Australia, my own electorate of Angas being one, where every small businessman, every small hotel, every small company, every small shopkeeper and everybody else who is in business and employs only a small amount of labour is now feeling the effects of the excessive rises in wage costs that have occurred in my own State under a Labor Government in the last 12 months, and, I presume, throughout this nation.
– What a lot of rubbish, and you know it.
– If the honourable member for Sturt would like buy in, may I remind him that one of the problems confronting South Australia at present is that for many years we have been exporting 85 per cent of our manufactured goods - being a frugal people - to the eastern seaboard, to bigger markets. But under the present government in South Australia the margin on which industry has to operate to sell to the eastern States is getting smaller and smaller. If this is another example of the philosophy we have heard put forward tonight that the economy needs some stimulus then I hope that those people listening to the broadcast of this debate appreciate the fact that there is a deep philosophical difference between the Government parties and the Opposition. All of the major economists that I have access to - and I suppose they might not be as evident as some other people - I do not know one who does not think that some heat should be taken out of the economy at this time. I do not know one who would say when some stimulus might be needed in the future, but, to return to my point, this is where we see the difference in approach between the Opposition and the Government.
In my electorate - and other members can talk about their own electorates - the most serious question that has ever faced the farming community, wineries and many other industries is that they will have to either increase production hand over fist, retrench or put up prices. Over and over during this debate we have heard
Opposition supporters try to skate around the issue of increased prices. It is not a fluke that prices have increased. It is not altogether the fault of the honourable member for Sturt, I suppose, that they have increased. It is not the fault of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, but it is, I maintain, the fault of the left wing of the Labor Party and the outrageous unions which are putting up demands for excessive wage increases at every available opportunity. This is the reason that my electorate today is feeling the pinch. How the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) can go into his rural electorate and try to pretend to the electors that this is not the core of the problem is beyond my comprehension. It seems to prove that the honourable member for Riverina has an almighty sway over some of his electors in some way or other. If that is so I give him credit for it, but if that is not so let us see what happens at the next election to the electoral figures in rural seats held by members of the Opposition who believe that the economy now needs some stimulus.
– Of course it does. In the countryside we have unemployment.
– I wish the honourable member would tell me a little more because I should be delighted to listen to him. If a stimulus is now given so there can be no halt to the pressures on costs that affect all the people in this country. Time and again we have had examples of this.
Last week in South Australia we had a new industrial disturbance, for a change. This time it was a milk factory workers’ strike. In the last 8 months the milk factory workers have had a 6 per cent rise, the 6 per cent national wage rise and another 8 per cent rise. They have now gone back to work in a pro tern fashion prior to putting forward another log of claims. I just ask in passing: Does this help the housewife or the family which wants milk? Does it help the dairy man who is not exactly in an affluent position, in spite of some Government subventions, at this time? Is it not about time that we had some regard for and some understanding of each other’s problems? I hope that people from time to time can say they have some understanding, but I am getting very fed up with those people who are quite prepared to put the industry in which they are involved to the wall without any thought of the implications of these wage demands. I am not concerned, as I said a little while ago, about the actions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission because I think that these at least are meant to be founded on proper economic criteria. But what have not been founded on proper economic criteria have been the recent strikes at, for instance, the Uniroyal Tyre Service Factory and in 101 other places that honourable members will think of in terms of their own electorates. These things are not fair. These things are not, in my opinion, examples of proper Australian tolerance and understanding of the other bloke’s point of view.
In his speech the honourable member for Adelaide referred to this Budget as ‘a blueprint for stagflation’. As far as I can understand his own blueprint it was for excessive public sector expenditure, excessive wages, excessive costs and excessive centralisation. Both the honourable member for Adelaide and the honourable member for Kingston obviously had little time for the proposition that the payroll tax - this was mentioned earlier in the day - should go to the State Governments. They made it quite plain tonight that they believe in the centralised power of Canberra over all States. I am not prepared to argue whether it is right or wrong but I do say that intrinsic in this proposition and intrinsic in the remarks that the economy needs more stimulus is the fact that we must have larger and larger bureaucracies and larger and larger civil service numbers. Might I demonstrate this point? The honourable member for Adelaide said, amongst other things, that there should be a fairer share of the wealth of the nation going to the people who work. I suppose that here he is thinking sectionally. I would not really expect an accountant who talks of himself as being the watchdog and who has claims to being an economist to read a newspaper such as the Australian ‘Economist’, but if he did he would see that the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly), or some such character who writes under a pseudonym, has in articles over the years produced figures that surely illustrate a truism that is worthy of note. It is that over many, many years there has been no real difference in the proportion of profits that go to management, on the one hand, and labour on the other. Every now and again one may get a bit ahead - perhaps there is a difference in costs or prices - but there will be a swing back again. Over the years many left wing trade unionists have, I think, wrongly convinced the Australian people that they can get a larger share of profits from industry. In spite of all their efforts there has been no difference of note. Let us follow on from this. If there are to be increased wages for workers in industry and if the price of the article produced is not going to increase then one of several things must happen. There must be either increased productivity or, can we say, increased productivity will be illustrated by a falling off in the work force from an increase in automation and technology. The only way that the nation can progress is by getting wage increases that are valid and well substantiated.
The honourable member for Adelaide also referred to price policies and wage policies. I was hopeful for a while. I thought to myself: ‘We are going to hear something a little new’. But very soon the honourable member called it price control and got back to the antediluvian piece of antiquity, founded on this dreadful philosophy of a rigid cost-plus system; one which destroys incentive and one which would penalise the small fast-growing firms which need to finance their capital requirements out of their own resources. It would also reduce the general flexibility of the economic system. In a nutshell, it would retard economic progress. I would hope for something a little better than that.
If I might return to the Budget, the fact that I think we should all absorb at this stage is that the Government, through this Budget, has tried to take some heat from the economy. It has tried to sop up some of the liquidity. It has aimed, where possible, to try responsibly to control or to bring controls to bear in order to ensure the economic competition that should apply between one firm and another and between one individual and another. The Government has aimed to cut down on the rate of increase in public sector expenditure, which is a very important side of this Budget and one to which I have noticed the Opposition has not referred during this debate. Yet at the same time the Government has continued to provide increased finance to State governments. This is a very responsible Budget in that regard, and in all of the years I have been a member of this Parliament I believe that this Budget has attracted less criticism than any other Budget I can remember.
Of course, the reason for this is quite plain. Whether the Opposition likes it or not, the reasons for the stringencies in this Budget are well recognised by the Australian people. They know of the tremendous times we have had with average wages increasing by 20 per cent in a year, and higher increases in some States. This cannot continue forever without unduly penalising those people on fixed incomes and some people in the rural sector whose returns are based on export parity. Unless the price for their goods moves upwards, these people have a very hard road to hoe. That is the reason why this Budget has been fairly well received by the community at large and is not to the satisfaction of honourable members opposite. In the short time left to me I shall continue on this theme about the present state of liquidity in the economy which was demonstrated, I thought very well, by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) today when he referred to an increase of $157m in trading bank deposits for the last month, to give some idea of the potential for increased expenditure let loose in the economy.
I should like to make a suggestion that I think deserves some thought. I refer now to private sector investment. I believe that it is wrong thinking to suppose that an increasing number of Australians should not become involved in investment in Australian mining and other ventures. More specifically, I refer to mining for petroleum, both oil and gas, and for minerals. I suggest that section 26a of our current income tax legislation is not, as presently worded, capable of giving the type of interpretation which today’s needs dictate. It is a restrictive section which breeds doubt in the minds of investors and conveys a state of affairs that bears no relationship to the requirement of a modern dynamic society. I beseech the Government and the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in particular to have a look at the vast potential that exists in the ordinary Australian’s pocket today, which could be used to help that Australian become a partner in Australian enterprises. I refer more particularly to the developmental ventures, or as they are commonly termed, risk ventures. A nation such as Australia today needs to utilise all available resources for efficient economic growth and development. Not only is this so, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that Australian investment is slowing down, and the reasons for this are not too difficult to see.
Principally, it can be summed up, in the few moments remaining to me, in these words: Any small investor - and let us face it, we are a nation of gamblers and speculators in our own right - can hope to become the equivalent of the shareholder in Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd of 80 years ago. Of course, more and more Australians over the years, particularly up to the time of the decline in the value of Poseidon shares, were prepared to do just this. But it is a statistical fact that for every 50 small companies mounted to invest or to explore the potential of these ventures, only one is ever effective. If a person resells shares at a profit, under section 26a of the income tax legislation, it is very difficult to prove to the Taxation Office that that person ever invested for any reason other than speculation. If that person did speculate, then according to his income he can be taxed at a rate up to 30 per cent on the difference between what he paid for the shares and what he sold them for. This is having the effect of depreciating the amount of private capital invested in small Australian firms.
I should like the Treasurer, when he gets his notes on the speeches that have been made in this Budget debate, to look at this question because I do not know that industry always comes good with the right corrective ideas in relation to this matter. There are problems concerning what happens to a capital loss if we are going to allow capital depreciation. There are problems which have been easily overcome in other countries but in respect of which we seem to have become quite bogged down, with our traditional taxation law. I believe that this is something at which the Government, in a relatively young and dynamic, nation such, as Australia, must look very carefully, because we have pride in our ownership of shares, houses, land, clothes and cars - as a nation we are probably second to none in this regard. If we ignore this question we do so at our peril and we will lose some of the dynamism that should go towards promoting this nation and the type of development that we need in the future. On our shoulders - on the Government’s shoulders at this time - rests the destiny, in a very large way, of future generations of Australians. I hope, even if the Opposition does not do so, that future generations have the freedom, the surplus money and the means to invest in this nation so that it will progress towards the type of society that I know fundamentally all of us in this chamber tonight want. I voice my objection to the amendment and support the Treasurer in his first Budget with all the pride I can muster.
– I wish to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) when he spoke in reply to the Budget presented by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden). So that we shall be clear about what is contained in the amendment, I shall read it to the House. The amendment states:
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) its 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.’
I join with the Leader of the Opposition in urging the House to support that amendment. Before going on with what I want to say, I would like to sympathise with the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles), who did his best to present some sort of a case in support of a political Budget - a Budget which has been rejected already by the people of this country. The honourable member said that the Budget has been well received by everyone. All I can say to the honourable gentleman is that there is none so blind as those who will not see. I know that it is an old saying but we can extend it a little. Not only has opposition to the present Treasurer’s Budget been pointed out on television, as we all know, but the radio Press and everyone in the community unanimously rejects it. I refer to the Treasurer as the ‘present Treasurer’ because we never know in this Parliament just when a Minister or, for that matter, a Prime Minister will be replaced. Already we have known organisations such as the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia, the Bank of New South Wales and the Australian Council of Trade Unions - any responsible organisation at all in the community today - condemn the Budget.
When the Leader of the Opposition spoke on the Budget on 24th August and forecast an unemployed work force of some 100,000 men and women early in the new year, the Prime Minister, speaking 14 days later, pooh poohed this forecast and said that it was just another one of the flights of imagination of the Leader of the Opposition. But what is the position today? The Prime Minister has already accepted the fact that 100,000 people will be unemployed in this country before very long. He has already stated that the Government will watch the position but that it will not do anything about it at this time. This is typical of the attitude that was adopted by Sir Robert Menzies, and by the present Prime Minister when he was a Minister in the Menzies Government of 1961-62-63, when a Budget similar to this one was brought down in order to create unemployment as part of a policy of alleged devaluation. At that time we saw one of the worst examples of unemployment in this country since the hungry thirties. This is what we have to guard against now.
I hope that the Government will have enough sense to do something about this position. I hope that it will take remedial steps immediately, even though the Budget has not yet been adopted, but it will be within the next hour. I hope that some Government supporters will be prepared to cross the floor of the House to defeat the Government and also this Budget and in that way give a responsible Party the opportunity to bring in a Budget which will ensure that there will not be a force of 100,000 unemployed people in this com munity within the next 3 months. No-one likes to see unemployment and no-one should tolerate or permit it.
Much has been said in this debate, and also in recent months, about the number of strikes that have been held. As a member of a trade union and as an active member of a trade union before I came to this place, all I can say to honourable members is this: From my experience of trade unionism the trade unionist was able to get increased wages and better conditions only if he was prepared to take action and to struggle for them. He could not get them in any other way, and this is the position that exists today.
Much has been said about men who work in government instrumentalities such as railways, bus services and sewerage services who have taken strike action in recent months. Could it not be that because of the attitude of governments throughout Australia today those men have lost patience with the arbitration system and have had to take this type of action in order to get wage justice? I suggest that this is the real reason why men have taken strike action. It is because they could not get justice in the place in which they were supposed to get it. It is for this reason, and this reason alone, that strike action has been taken. In any case, if one sets the amount of time lost as a result of strikes against the loss of production represented by the 75,000 unemployed today, there is no comparison between the two.
What I am concerned about is the failure of this Government to do something positive about housing, health and social services. We see the de-Gortonisation of our social services system. Under the former Prime Minister, a tapered means test was introduced. The first thing that the present Prime Minister did when he came to office was to grant a 50c increase in pensions to commemorate his elevation to his new office. That was the first step taken in the destruction of the tapered means test. The recent increase of $1.25 a week given to single pensioners and $1 a week given to a married pensioner is a further step in the de-Gortonisation of social services. At least that man tried to do something to reduce the effects of the means test. Unfortunately the niggardly
Prime Minister that we now have, better known as ‘Billy the leak’ is carrying out a policy of de-Gortonisation.
I do not want to speak at greater length on this subject because I wish to deal with some other matters, including the transport system of this country. Firstly I wish to speak about the railway system. This Government is not prepared to assist the State governments which, because of the financial policies of this Government, are not able to meet the increasing debt charges with which their railways are burdened. This has resulted in savage increases in fares. We recently saw in all States savage increases in rail, bus and tram fares. For example, in New South Wales the increase in bus fares was more than 200 per cent. In the same period train fares increased by over 100 per cent. The Governments of the States are not in a position to do anything about the fare increases.
With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard a table showing outstanding railway debts.
This table shows that there have been substantial increases in the debts of the railway systems of each of the States. Also, the table shows that the States are not in a position even to keep pace with what they are borrowing; they are not in a position even to pay off their outstanding debts with the amount of money they are borrowing. I do not have time to go into the position of each State. However, to illustrate this matter I would like to refer to the reply which I received on 30th October 1970 to a question on notice. I do not intend to incorporate this material in Hansard, but this information contains a substantial table which shows that in the 1960s the railways, and in particular the New South Wales Railways, were borrowing at the rate of $16m to $20m a year. In the same period the amount they were repaying was varying between $4m and $5m a year. So what can be said is that each year they were going further into the red to the tune of between $10m and SI 5m. Honourable members know what will happen to them; finally they will go out backwards.
In New South Wales - and I am using New South Wales purely and simply because it is the largest State railway system in Australia - the outstanding debt in 1950 was S3 59m and in 1970 it had climbed to $56 lm. That is an increase of approximately $202m. In the some period New South Wales was able to repay only a matter of $54.8m. It went further into the red to the tune of $202m. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard a table showing railway interest and other charges.
The table discloses that interest charges for the whole railway system of Australia, that is, those of the 6 States - I am not dealing with the Commonwealth at this point because it operates under a completely different position from the State railways - for the period 1950 to 1970 grew from $26.4m in 1950 to $51. 6m in 1960 and to $73. 125m in 1970. In the same period the New South Wales Railways interest commitment had climbed from $14.26m to $35.6m. I ask honourable members: How long can any railway system continue to carry this burden of $35m at year? In all probability in the next financial year it will climb to about $40m and keep on increasing at such a rate until we get to the stage where every time we buy a ticket or put a ton of freight on the State railways, most of the charge will be eaten out in interest payments. Of the total revenue of the New South Wales Railways roughly 14 per cent goes in interest and loan repayments. As I said earlier and will keep on repeating, there can be only one result from this.
I and the Party I represent believe that this Government should be using public transport to encourage people to desist from their present policy of using the public highways to travel to and from their places of employment. At the present time under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement the Commonwealth will make available to the State governments $ 1,252m for road construction. This will represent approximately one-third of the total cost of road construction in Australia today and all it is doing is encouraging the States to create concrete jungles like those we know of in other cities in other countries. I believe from the figures I have taken out that during the period of the present Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement the Commonwealth Treasury will finish with a surplus of about $800m in excess of the amount it will collect from fuel tax. What we should be doing is using this surplus money or, for that matter, general revenue to assist the States to overcome their financial problems. From the figures I have quoted it is quite obvious that there is a need to do something about this.
The railways are trying to tackle the problem of transport. For example, in Australia today - just to mention some of the major rail projects - there is the eastern suburbs railway in Sydney which started with an estimated cost of $80m; this has now climbed to $120m. There is the Melbourne underground railway which was originally costed at about $80m; it will probably cost $150m by the time it is completed. There are railway projects in northern and central Queensland which will cost $112m. There is the Melbourne rar! yard which has just been completed - an excellent piece of engineering - at a cost of $14.5m. Private railways are being built in Western Australia for the carriage of ore. So there is any amount of work being carried out on railways.
However, I am really concerned about suburban services. We should be using the railway systems and public transport to do something about getting people off the roads. The Sydney eastern suburbs railway will carry about 30,000 people an hour while other rail systems will carry an even higher number, about 40,000. However, a road or an expressway will take only 2,500 people an hour on each lane. So that if there is a 6-lane highway, 3 lanes each way, all we can expect it to carry is 7,500 people an hour as against the 30,000 people an hour carried by a railway. In the long run it will cost less to build and operate a railway system. In major cities, such as New York, only 23 per cent of the 4 million commuters each day to Manhattan Island travel by car, the remaining 77 per cent using public transport. In London only 10 per cent of people who travel into the inner city use their private cars. This is the example at which we should be looking rather than the set-up in Los Angeles where 85 per cent of the people travel to work in their own vehicles. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to go there have seen the concrete jungles that have had to be built because there is not a suitable public transport system. In the last 20 years the number of other cities which have underground or rapid transport systems either operating or in the course of construction has grown from 16 to 60.
As far as our interstate and intrastate transport is concerned I, just like honourable members of the Australian Country Party, am concerned with the cost of transporting rural production from the farms to the cities or to points of export and the back loading of goods required on the farms. We know that rural freights have been increased and we know that there are major problems with wool where rail co-ordination taxes are imposed, causing increased transport costs right throughout the State. I ‘believe the rail co-ordination taxes should be either abolished completely or the revenue received from them used to construct roads instead of as a means of offsetting rail losses in those areas.
The Opposition believes first and moremost that the rail system in Australia should be under one control instead of having the parochial systems which have been created. In New South Wales all the rail systems feed into Sydney. The same can be said of Victoria where all the rail systems feed into Melbourne. The same thing applies in the other States though not as badly. The Opposition believes that the Commonwealth should be charged with the responsibility of running the railways. A Labor Government would ‘be prepared to -take them over and to make money available to the States to overcome their shocking debt position. Until interest payments are reduced nothing can be done about ‘their debt position. Taking into account the $59m which last year the Commonwealth paid in subsidies relating to air travel, the $2m in subsidies for unprofitable air routes and the $19m paid last year in ship building subsidies, a total amount of $27 lm has been given in subsidies by the Commonwealth to various forms of industry, whether rural or secondary, throughout Australia in the last 12 months. This is where the money can come from to assist the railways throughout Australia.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The debate on the 1971-72 Budget is quickly coming to an end. I understand that I am the second last speaker and that the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) will follow me. At the outset, I should like to say that I will not go into any fine detail regarding this Budget. Honourable members who have spoken have given many figures and statistics concerning the Budget but no honourable member has been able to follow them or vouch for their authority. I take this opportunity to deal with things that matter to the Australian nation in a wide field and, as I always do, I want to state the priorities that I support. They have always been the same.
It may be tedious repetition but I should like to tell honourable members that my No. 1 priority is loyalty and the defence of this country; my No. 2 priority is primary industry, coupled with water conservation. Someone might say: ‘What about pensions, schools, etc.?’ It is from primary industry that money flows and makes possible education, hospitalisation and so many other things of importance in this country. Of course, without defence we would be hopeless. Without loyalty we would not care whether we bad defence.
Although many minerals have been discovered in Australia, primary industry remains Australia’s stable industry. The money earned by the export of our primary products pays for so many of the raw materials purchased overseas for use in Australia by our secondary industries.
I have listened to budget debates for the last 25 years and the debate on this occasion and the way this Budget has been received by the people have been the quietest in all that time. Generally speaking, members of the Opposition quote from newspapers to support their arguments. Opposition members are ever ready to tell us what the newspapers have to say about the Budget. However, I have noticed that on this occasion few honourable members have referred to newspapers for the very simple reason that the newspaper reports have not been favourable to the case the Opposition desires to submit. I know that many honourable members have travelled overseas; probably I am the only one of the long serving members of this Parliament who has not been on one of these trips associated with one of the parliamentary Associations. When they come back to this country invariably they say This is the best country in the world; we are so pleased to be home again’. They have travelled and looked into the economies and the general conditions of other countries and they come back here - Opposition members, Government supporters and tourists from all over Australia - and say ‘This is the finest country in the world’. I do not think that they would say otherwise now, but what Opposition members try to do is to pick out some little advantage that countries such as Sweden or Switzerland may have and they try to put this against the whole of the Australian economy in order to paint this country as being only second class. This was done recently by one honourable member in regard to Australian housing. I think that this is completely wrong.
Australia needs patriotism; anarchy flees before patriotism. Therefore, in the time that I have at my disposal, I should like to speak about patriotism and one or two other matters. Recently I heard a man who was once the Leader of the Opposition say T stand for Fortress Australia’. His policy was not to send troops overseas but to wait and to fight invaders in this country. He did not say that but this is what Fortress Australia means. This is one of the greatest fallacies ever conceived by any nation.
– Tell us, then.
– I will tell the honourable member. What is the history of Vietnam? The Communists were moving down through South East Asia and no-one was doing anything about it. Everybody was blaming everybody else and saying that something should be done to stop them. Then, America drew a line and said: ‘So far and no further’. What happened after that? The first thing that happened was that Indonesia, which is so close to Australia, took courage and threw out the Communists. This is one of the greatest things that has recently happened for this country. Of course, America still has troops in Vietnam and it is building up the local troops so that they can carry on after the Australian and American troops leave that country.
I should like to read to honourable members an article which I happened to pick up just by chance. It appeared in the Canberra Times’ on 26th April, the day after Anzac Day.
– Which Anzac Day?
– Anzac Day 1971. The article is headed The Price of Freedom’ and it appeals tremendously to me. It reads:
The Reverend J. R. Payne said at the dawn service at the War Memorial yesterday that many young people should remember that their freedom to express their opinions had been bought with the lives of those being remembered on Anzac Day.
Honourable members endeavour to laugh that off. The article continues:
Mr Payne, Commonwealth Secretary of the British and Foreign Bible Society, went on: Whether you are critical of war, whether you are an out-and-out pacificist or not, I believe there is no question of the debt we owe these people today. There are far too many people today who keep prattling about their rights who should be more concerned with living up to their own duties and responsibilities.’ Mr Payne said he had found no serviceman who loved war for itself but they were determined to defend their country to the best of their ability.
He said finally that that did not mean waiting until the enemy had stormed the shores of our land; it meant meeting him wherever it was possible to engage him in combat. I support those remarks to the hilt. Whenever our men have gone overseas they have never gone on a quest in search of gain. They have always gone to fight against people who were not upholding the laws of democracy and freedom. Thank God that that has been their mission every time they have gone overseas and we should be proud of them. Young people in this country today do not realise the debt they owe to the men who gave us the freedom to be in this Parliament today, talking as I am doing and as other honourable members have done on matters concerning this Budget and other subjects which are of vital importance to Australia.
I have told the following story before but I should like to tell it again. There was a young man I knew in Melbourne during the Second World War who said to me just after I had enlisted to go away T am not going to the war’. I said ‘If you do not do something and give a bit of assistance and Hitler gets over here with his men, you will be in a chain gang down near the wharf or somewhere’. He just laughed and said Oh, the unions would not stand for that’. This is the kind of thinking that one gets from the Australian Labor Party. What would happen to the unions if an enemy did come here? We do not want war but what is the alternative to war? The alternative is to fall at the feet of an invader, slaves to a foreign power. People say’This could not happen here’. This has been said down through history and it has been proved a fallacy. I could quote many such things that have been said. Socrates was referred to today by an honourable member and I now want to refer to Lord Byron. Great nations of the world fell not because of bad times but because they paid too much heed to luxury. They forgot those who upheld and built a nation. They became unprepared and could not fight. The enemy came in and took them over very easily. The great Roman Empire was one of them and the great Grecian Empire was another. Lord Byron said of Greece:
A king sate on the rocky brow which looks o’er sea-born Salamis;
And ships, by thousands, lay below, and men in nations; - all were his!
He counted them at break of day - And when the sun set where were they?
The Persians came in from the hills unexpectedly. They fought a battle at Thermopylae and swept the Greeks into the sea. The Greeks never rose again. Lord Byron said in his poem “The Isles of Greece’:
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.
Honourable members should not forget that this can happen here. We must be vigilant. Honourable members are laughing at what I am saying and not caring about what has happened. Let me go on further and refer to the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon was a prisoner on the Isle of Elba. They said: The time has come when we must weld our swords into ploughshares and our spears into pruning hooks. But within a week Napoleon had escaped from Elba and the whole of Europe was aflame. Honourable members will know the story about Neville Chamberlain who said, after seeing Hitler: “This means peace in our time’. Labor members say that this cannot happen here. Of course it can happen here. We must watch very closely to see that it does not happen.
What we need in this country is more loyalty. We want people to be well up in the knowledge of what can happen. Let me quote an article from the Melbourne Sun’ which is headed: ‘Change Flag Ceremony - say Parents’. The article reads as follows:
Toorak Central State School committee wants to update the patriotic ceremony - the salute to the flag in schools every Monday morning.
The Government makes national flags available to schools all over Australia. There would probably not be a member here who has not presented perhaps 50 or more of these flags all around the country and has seen them go to the masthead on a Monday morning. The article continues:
The committee’s president, Mr Ian Aird, said today: ‘We have heard that children in many schools are bored by it and pay scant regard . . The State president of the RSL . . . said: ‘We are a young country with few traditions. The ceremony in its present form is needed. It would be a great loss to the country if it were abolished’.
I hope that members of this Parliament stand for the continuation of that flag ceremony at schools on Monday mornings, because our flag will be honoured in this country and overseas only while we stand for those principles that have made it great. The article continues:
The president of the Primary Principals’ Association, Mr R. G. Jennings, said that he had no doubt that the idea behind the ceremony was good. “The question is how best to get this idea to the children.’
The idea of the tradition of Australia and the sacrifice that has been made so that children can go to school should be taught to the children. If the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) who is interjecting does not believe in these things let him get up and say so. Parents should teach their children and instil into them the traditions of Anzac and the other sacrifices that have been made in the 2 great world wars and the other minor conflicts. The parents and also the school teachers should do this, because it is the tradition that counts. I hope that school teachers - and a lot of them - will now and again calmly pause in this rush of modern civilisation for a few moments to tell the children the great story of the Australian tradition with its fighting forces. I believe that this must be done.
– What has that to do with the Budget?
– I am asked what this has to do with the Budget. That is a question I can answer very fully. Australia is said to have a high standard of living, but has it a high standard of conduct? This is the question to be answered. Are we ready and prepared for it? When our men went overseas they were described as being on active service. I ask the honourable member who is interjecting all the time whether he is always on active service as far as the protection of this country is concerned. Of course he is not. He cares little about it. Are the young people who get together in a conglomeration of population in Melbourne and other places thinking about how they are going to protect this country? I do not believe they give it a thought.
I read a story recently - I hope it is not true - about a conscientious objector who said that if a foreign foe came to this country and one of its troops was going to molest his mother he would not lift a hand to protect her. What decent man in Australia could stand for that sort of talk? I will not stand for it. I hope that every member of the Opposition is of the same opinion. Let me refer now to wheat sales to Mainland China. I want to read the following passages from Hansard to honourable members:
The Country Party, of course, will do anything for trade. As long as it gets the country vote in return for sales of wool and wheat it could not care whom the goods are sold to.
We refer to the hypocrisy of members of the Country Party for criticising Red China and its policies, on the one hand, while sending emissaries there to sell our products. Any markets in the world will be acceptable to members of the Country Party so long as the money comes in.
– That is right.
– The honourable member for Grayndler says that that is all right. This whole page contains quotations from Hansard of statements by him, sb he ought to know. He is the greatest circus acrobat in this country. He has changed his mind. I do not have time to read them all-
– I rise to order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I resent the bitter personal attack being made on me.
Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– The honourable member said at that time that the wheat was being used to feed the Vietcong. Now he is in favour of selling wheat to Mainland China, and conditions have not changed. The Vietcong are still operating in Vietnam. These quotations go back to 1965. Let me read another one:
One cannot help feeling disturbed when one reads, for instance, of the late Mr Moroney, of the Australian Wheat Board, receiving a nice cheque from Russia and China, worth $48m, for Country Party wheat, although China is said to be an enemy which the Government is conscripting boys to fight.
Now the honourable member for Grayndler is changing his mind altogether. If Wirth’s Circus were still operating he would receive more money than he receives as a member of this Parliament.
I appreciated the visit of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) to the Mallee electorate, where he addressed 4 meetings. At one of the meetings he explained the stabilisation plan for dried fruit. It was defeated last time. This time the vote was 4,560 for the scheme and 56 ‘no’ votes.
So there were 56 ‘no’ votes out of 4,616,. which was a great victory. The Minister also went to Hopetoun, Swan Hill and Kerang. At every meeting he answered! questions. There was not the slightest sign of any disruption, and I appreciated hisvisit.
The honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) said that we must legislate against monopolies. Are the trade unions, not the greatest monopolies in this country? Does he believe that we should legislate against them? The honourable member for Stirling says that the country areas are getting all the attention and, as a result, the urban areas are being neglected. That is the very opposite of the case. At the moment there is a great boom in Melbourne and other urban areas. When one listens to the kind of talk we hear from honourable members opposite one does not wonder that the Labor Party has been on the Opposition benches for 22 years. I believe that it should remain there for another 22 years.
Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Mr WEBB (Stirling)- I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, grievously. The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) took me to task for some interjection I made in regard to the presenting of flags to schools. My only interjection was that when presenting flags to schools we do not now also present a certificate from the Prime Minister of Australia. Perhaps this is because there have been too many changes in the position of prime minister. I think the practice of giving a certificate from the Prime Minister when presenting flags to schools should be reintroduced.
-Order! The honourable member cannot debate the matter.
– I am not debating the matter. I am asking that this practice should be restored, and I ask the honourable member to apologise.
Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) - I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I did say something about the honourable member fox Stirling interjecting all the time.
– That is not right.
– Well, most of the time. As a matter of fact it was the hilarity of honourable members on my right in this chamber when I was stressing the importance of Anzac and patriotism, that I took exception to.
– I have listened tonight with great attention to what the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) said. I must say that his speech tonight is not the best contribution he has made to debates in this Parliament. The honourable member spoke about Napoleonic wars and about Neville Chamberlain, Lord Byron and others. In my view the wars he spoke of were virtually fought with balloons on sticks when one considers the devastating weapons which the major powers in the world have available today. Anyone knowing little about politics who listened to the honourable member for Mallee may have been impressed by his remarks, but I believe the value of his contribution to this debate lies in what he did not say. The honourable member made no reference to the Pentagon papers. He made no reference to the fact that the United States was on the verge of using nuclear weapons in Vietnam.
– You are making the reference.
– I will make a reference and I will quote from the Pentagon papers. The extract reads:
The materials published by the New York Times contain few references to this problem. But some additional facts are cited in an article carried by the New York Journal National Review. These indicate that in 1954 the Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed to Secretary of Defence, Charles E. Wilson, that:
A high altitude nuclear bomb be exploded ‘by way of demonstration’ in the area of the North
Vietnamese port of Haiphong.
In 1962 the Pentagon was working on a nuclear demonstration’ on a larger scale, namely, the use of bombs and other nuclear weapons against military targets of major importance.
That article goes on to say:
Secretary McNamara then went on to say that the possibility of major ground action also led to a serious question of having to use nuclear weapons at some point’.
Admiral Felt responded emphatically that ‘it was essential that the commanders be given freedom to use these as had been assumed under various plans’.
That information came from the secret documents of the Pentagon. This was a move by the United States war office to destroy the very fabric of the earth. Every member of this Parliament knows that China has now developed a nuclear bomb but that country does not have the skill to deliver it to a target more than 3,000 miles away. What a catastrophe it would have been for the world if the United States had gone ahead with its war hawk attitude of using nuclear weapons in Vietnam.
– Too many ifs andbuts.
– The honourable member has a conscience, and my remarks have hurt him considerably because I have spoken the truth. In every man, even though he be evil to some degree, there is always some spark of decency. The honourable member for Mallee said that he had never heard any member of this Parliament come back from overseas and not praise the high standard of living of the Australian people. Later in his remarks he spoke about the plight of the rural people in Australia. He emphasised their plight On the one hand he praises the high standard of living of the Australian people while on the other hand he criticises it.
Before I get on to my general remarks I want to make some reference to the new Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). I do not believe he will be a member of this House after the next federal election. Yesterday afternoon when I was sitting in my office doing some research work I heard, through the public address system, the Minister speaking in his Budget speech. He said, and this is recorded at page 1132 of Hansard:
A Labor government would apply a means test-
He was talking about the proposed 36c a lb guaranteed price for wool - with every wool grower having to submit bis returns, his confidential records, to the official of some department or other to show cause that he was needy; going cap in hand as it were, pleading that he was a more needy bloke than his neighbour.
What a shocking thing. The wool growers want hand-outs without any query. What about the poor old pensioners? They are required to state their assets to the Social Services Department. This is something which has been emphasised time and again in this House by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly). But no, says the Minister, we cannot do this to the wool growers; they should not have to show their records; they are confidential records. What impertinence it is for anyone to suggest that the wool growers should not have to show their records. It is my belief that every person in a responsible position - and the only man whom I have heard refer to this was the former honourable member for Scullin, Mr Peters - whether he toe a parliamentarian, a judge or some other person in a position of trust where he is susceptible to graft, should have to declare his assets to the nation. Every parliamentarian should have to declare his assets when he first comes into Parliament. Whenever he is called upon to declare his assets he should do so. Some shocking scandals would be revealed, particularly involving members of the Government, if that were made a legal requirement.
The honourable member for Mallee spoke about the sale of wheat to China. Let me refer to the May issue of the Catholic Worker’ which reads:
As the world gets set for a rush on the China market, Australia looks like being left behind, which is about all she deserves.
I will now refer to the ‘Far Eastern Economic Review’ which quotes the attitude of the new Australian Prime Minister, Mr McMahon, in relation to Australia’s recognition of China. This is a conservative journal printed for businessmen in Hong Kong. The issue of 8th May 1971 says at page 4:
Premier William McMahon said Peking must first meet certain obligations before Australia could extend diplomatic recognition to China: These include not trying to achieve political objectives by, force, not using insurgency and guerilla tactics in neighbouring countries, and letting those countries determine their own futures. 1 will bet that when Chou-en Lai read that, he said ‘McMahon? Never heard of him.’ What impertinence on the part of our Prime Minister, representing a country of 1 2i million people, to speak in that way to a man representing a quarter of the world’s population. What damned imperti nence. I think that the Australian Country Party has recognised its error. Only a short time ago the honourable member for Mallee said how proud he was to have Mr Ian Sinclair address 4 meetings in the electorate of Mallee. He has the jitters. It was a confession: ‘I am in trouble. My people have woken up. They will not accept my integrity any more’. The honourable member will want the Minister in his electorate another 44 times to save his political life in Mallee. His people are not altogether dumb. They have accepted his integrity as I have done. For a long while I have regarded him as a man of integrity. I did not think I was easily deceived, particularly in view of my previous profession. But he deceived me. He, a man of integrity, needs the Minister for Primary Industry in his electorate.
This Budget debate is drawing to a close. I am, as it were, the last bat - the last Opposition speaker. I intend to carry my bat. During this debate much ground has been traversed and trammelled. I agree entirely with much of what has been said and I support wholeheartedly the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I believe our duty requires that what we see praiseworthy in others we should imitate carefully but what we see defective we should try to amend. This is the objective of a true Opposition in the parliamentary democracy in which we live. Labor’s policy on wool subsidies is designed to aid the poor wool grower. Recently when I was in Brewarrina I discussed the wool problem with wool growers. They did not agree with the overall subsidy. They said that the wealthy wool grower, who did not need help, would benefit from it. This aspect has been effectively put to the Parliament by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) in recent debates. It is a pity that public money should be handled so recklessly by the Government. Expenditure of public money should be carefully scrutinised. One appreciates that the man on the land has made a great contribution to Australia’s economy over the years. In the main primary producers are citizens of integrity. However it is true that if one examines annual reports of the Taxation Office it can be seen that many graziers default in compiling their taxation returns.
They get their figures mixed up. Admittedly such graziers are in the minority.
This Budget deserves the criticism that has been levelled against it by the Opposition and the Australian mass media. It is designed allegedly to reduce inflation. Public opinion and economic experts are of the positive opinion that the Budget will increase inflation and unemployment. The Prime Minister already has indicated - if one can accept with some degree of faith reports in the national newspapers - that a mini Budget probably will be brought down next February or March.
– You do not believe them, Bert.
– 1 would not believe in anything that this Government does. By sacking Ministers and Prime Ministers it has shown that h is unstable. Experience in the United Kingdom and the United States of America in recent years indicates that inflation and unemployment gallop along together. The United Kingdom Government took drastic steps some months ago to stimulate the economy after dampening it down. Its action was followed a few weeks later by the United States Government which took more drastic action - steps involving it in virtual blackmail of an international monetary nature to force the world to accept devaluation of the United States dollar.
One feature of the Budget is the failure of the Prime Minister to carry out his promise, which has been referred to on numerous occasions by Opposition members, to review the plight of pensioners when he gave them a miserly 50c last February. He has failed to honour that promise and has lost the faith of the pensioner organisations throughout Australia. On 15th March, in his first speech to this House as Prime Minister, he said:
We will follow this immediate increase in pension rates with a fundamental review of social services and related pensions.
This review resulted in this Budget in a lousy $1.25 increase in the base age pension rate and $1 each for a married pensioner couple. These increases are an insult, in my view. They will not enable Our pensioners to catch up with rising costs of living since the last 50c increase. We have learned that between 150,000 and 170,000 pensioners who have small private incomes or small superannuation receipts will not get any increase at all. The increase from 50c to $1 for pharmaceutical prescriptions has been criticised severely by pensioner organisations. Mrs Ellis, who represents pensioners nationally, has expressed such criticism in documents which have been sent to all members of the Parliament.
The increased petrol tax will yield $43 m to the Government. Its effect on costs in every section of industry will be ruinous and will have a detrimental effect on the economy. As 1 have said, the effects of the Budget will result in increased prices and unemployment will soar. The Leader of the Opposition has estimated that there will be 100,000 unemployed within the immediate future. I believe his estimate is conservative and that by March - and only time will tell - the figure will soar to 150,000 to 200,000, despite the manipulation of unemployment figures by certain Government departments. One thing of which I am fairly sure is that this is the last Budget of the Treasurer, the honourable member for Bruce (Mr Snedden). He will not survive as the late Mr Harold Holt did because of the stranglehold that Sir Robert Menzies had on the Liberal Party machine.
The Budget fails to meet the critical situation existing in our education system in public and private schools. Teachers are leaving the profession faster than they can be recruited. I venture to suggest that this situation has never arisen before in Austtalia. Evidence given to a 5-man Senate committee of inquiry on education reveals, amongst other things, that 9,000 to 12,000 new teachers are available each year but that the resignation rate from within the ranks of practising teachers alone is between 14,000 and 19,000 annually. Mr Hughes stated this in sworn evidence before that Senate committee. There was evidence of a substantial wastage of potential teachers during training. The committee was told also that the New South Wales Government has recently set up a committee to investigate the high teacher wastage rate in that State. In Australian schools there are about 115.000 teachers and there are 35,000 students in training undertaking courses of from 2 to 4 years. In the main, teachers are leaving the profession because of the inducement of higher salaries in other professions and because promotion by seniority is something with which many are disgruntled. Teachers are being recruited from abroad. This is an indictment of the national Government. In my view married women teachers should be given special treatment to encourage them to remain in the profession. They should be provided with kindergartens for their children and domestic assistance in the home rather than that their talents should be lost. To me it is somewhat ridiculous that the Government should subsidise the training of teachers and that after 2 years or 3 years teaching their teaching talents are lost to the education system when they marry. The Government should take some action in this regard.
The private school system is in a similar chaotic state. I have here a letter signed by E. T. Carroll who is the secretary of the Federal Catholic Schools’ Committee of 175 Elizabeth Street, Sydney. It is accompanied by a statement from Roman Catholic bishops. These documents point out the plight of Roman Catholic schools. The statement by the Roman Catholic bishops says, in part:
The Bishops are deeply concerned at the increasing financial burdens . . .
If time were available to do so, I would have liked to relate to the Parliament the criticism by certain Roman Catholic educationists in relation to persevering with the Roman Catholic education system. Father Kung has been outspoken on this subject. Time will not permit me to refer to an article by Father Kung that I have here. I hope that at a later stage in the debate on this Bill I will be able to impart to the Parliament all of this information including, for the benefit of the parliamentary records, the criticism by Roman Catholics themselves of their perseverance with their private school system, particularly in the primary sector. This criticism shows that this perseverance is not justified. The continuation of this system cannot be justified. I believe that the Parliament should know these things. Time will not permit me to refer to all of these documents which I consider should be read by honourable members. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr J. M. Hallett)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - In accordance with standing order 226 the Committee will first consider the Second Schedule of the Bill.
– May I suggest that it might suit the convenience of the Committee to consider the items of proposed expenditure in the following order:
Consideration of the items in groups of departments which have a functional association one with another has met the convenience of the Committee in past years. The proposed arrangement will also ensure that as far as possible departments will be considered while their Ministers are in Canberra. I also take the opportunity to indicate to the Committee that the proposed order for consideration of the estimates of departments, as well as the time to be made available for debate on each department or group of departments, has been discussed with the Opposition which has raised no objection to what has been proposed.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Is it the wish of the Committee to consider the items of proposed expenditure in the order suggested by the Leader of the House? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– by leave - I present to the Parliament a statement on a matter of great importance to the Post Office and the community it serves. Management authority is to be decentralised to a major extent from capital cities to country centres. Concurrently, in the country districts the existing divisional offices are to be regrouped into larger area offices. The objective of the reorganisation is to establish a number of fully equipped business management headquarters under the control of Area Managers. These will be capable of handling to finality the normal Post Office telecommunications services.
Area Managers will produce their own works programmes and budgets and be responsible for their execution within overall guide lines and policies laid down by State and central headquarters. It is proposed for example, that the Area Manager have authority and delegations in the conduct of work somewhat similar to those now held by the State Directors. At the present time, the State Administrations, each under the control of a State Director, direct and control operations including the works programmes.
Within the States there are currently 106 engineering divisions (SO metropolitan and 56 country) and 74 telecommunications districts (26 metropolitan and 48 country) which contain the field and operating staffs and provide the contact with our customers. In these areas there are 2 separate main elements working side by side - the engineering unit being responsible for the technical aspects and the telecommunications unit for commercial aspects and customer advisory and service functions. Each of these district units has limited authority and must refer many aspects to State Director level for decision. Also responsibility for a number of activities is shared between the engineering and telecommunications groups, while certain work affecting the area is performed by specialist groups at State head office. Under these arrangements allocation of final responsibility is difficult.
An opportunity to review our organisational structure and working arrangements arose following a recent service-wide study of the employment of engineers by the Public Service Board. The improvement will be a re-grouping of engineering functions which will promote greater efficiency and the introduction of an area management form of organisation. Area management will provide unified control of engineering, telecommunications and associated administrative functions at area level and a more effective and business-like basis for our telecommunications operations. State Head Office staffs will concentrate on development of State plans, and on the establishment of policies and standards within the overall parameters determined by Post Office headquarters. -
Economies will result from amalgamation and integration of functions at present performed in different sections, from the simplification of procedures by the elimination of circumlocution and from minimising reference to other functional areas. The amalgamation of the related functions of engineering and telecommunications operations will provide for more efficient use of resources and facilitate the achievement of the heavy engineering annual works programme. From the viewpoint of service to the Department’s customers the proposed arrangements are designed to place responsible management of telecommunication facilities as close as possible to the customer in the interests of improved service and efficiency.
District technician and lines staffs will be retained at existing locations. In addition, improved customer advisory service will be provided where such facilities are currently available and as the need arises these will be established at other centres. The proposal which 1 have described will have some effect on Post Office staff. I want to put this aspect into proper perspective. There will be transfers of certain administration functions from 25 of the existing 56 country district headquarters to the new country area headquarters. In each of these 25 districts there are between 300 and 400 staff employed comprising professional engineers, clerical and administrative officers, district telecommunications sales and service staff, technicians, lines and telephone operating staff. In each case between 25 and 35 positions only will eventually be transferred to area headquarters.
The new organisation structure for engineers will provide opportunities for promotion which should encourage the willing movement of a large number of these officers. Avenues for promotion are similarly expected to be available for other designations as the new organisation is further developed. To the greatest extent practicable staff at existing centres will be redeployed on to other duties at the same locations to reduce the need for transfers. To minimise inconvenience to the remaining staff, implementation action will be phased over a period of several years, during which period it can be expected that promotion and normal staff wastage will make minimal the number of employees who may eventually need to be compulsorily transferred. During this transitional period some engineering divisions and telecommunications districts will function as outposted units of the area management.
The establishment of area management will provide career opportunities for locally recruited staff. A similar study of the activities associated with Post Offices and mail services in the country is in hand and it is planned that these services also will be reorganised into a postal area management system. The headquarters of these postal areas will we expect be located at the same centres as the telecommunication Area Managers, and will share some of the common services. The changes are quite radical. They are designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Post Office telecommunication management. They are in harmony with modern business practice of clearly identifying management authority and responsibility.
Finally 1 would like to repeat that there will be no large scale relocation of staff. A small number of positions representing less than four per cent of total staff in country districts will be affected by the change. For many of the individual staff members affected, the change will be accompanied by immediate promotion. For all those affected the Post Office will take all possible steps to minimise personal problems. Accompanying this statement and available to honourable members, are maps indicating area boundaries and in most cases the location of area headquarters. I present the following paper:
Re-organisation of the Australian Post Office Telecommunications Activities - Ministerial statement, 16th September 1971.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– 1 should like to say a few things about this proposition which the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) rightly describes as being a quite radical change. But what seems to be missing all through the statement is any suggestion that the people who will be vitally affected by this re-organisation have been consulted in advance. I know that quite a number of my colleagues, particularly those in the Queensland area, have already had representations made to them by the people who are likely to be affected.
– We have had discussions with staff associations.
– 1 am glad to learn at least that there has been some discussion with the staff. But the interesting thing is that what is claimed to be an example of decentralisation actually will turn into further centralisation. Where there are now 56 districts there will be 25 districts. There is the rather astonishing suggestion, too, that whilst this proposal applies to telecommunications activities, a similar study is already under way into activities associated with post offices and mail services in the country. 1 suggest that members of the Australian Country Party should be a little concerned about what is involved here.
– Country Party members are not interested.
– At least it appears that the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) is concerned, and I am glad to know that there is some glimmering in the Country Party of what is involved in this proposal. It is quite easy to say that only 40 people in each of the 25 districts may have to be transferred. But that is 1,000 people out of a total unit of approximately 10,000. Very human problems are involved. If I gleaned anything from some of the things that were said in a debate earlier today, I gather that if one moves from one country town to another it is not easy to dispose economically of one’s house, and I do not know what will be the opportunities for acquiring a similar house in the town to which one moves.
I suggest that this only highlights the things that we suggested in the debate on the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill recently. There ought to be a re-examination of the structure of the Post Office. In theory, what is proposed in the re-organisation of the Australian Post Office telecommunications activities seems to me to have some merit, but this does not apply to the way in which it is being handled. In recent times we have had a number of examples of unrest among Post Office staff mainly in the metropolitan areas. I suggest, with all respect to the Postmaster-General, that this proposition will present difficulties for people in country areas. It is intended to close down centres in cities like Cairns and Mackay, and to transfer the activities to cities such as Maryborough.
– And Roma.
– Roma is another city which will be affected. I have not had time to study closely the map which is attached to the Minister’s statement. All I know is that this proposal was kept reasonably secret. The Postmaster-General paid me the courtesy, as he always does, of providing me with a copy of the statement a couple of hours in advance. Actually, I lost the original copy and he furnished me with another one. But today some of my Queensland colleagues have come to me and said: ‘Do you know anything about the changes going on in the Post Office?’, because they have already had telephone calls from some of the people who will be affected. It may be that only 35 or 40 people in each district will be affected, but this is a rather bland sort of a way in which to announce this change - to say that it will have some effect on Post Office staff. If it has any effect on Post Office staff I suggest that there should have been closer consultation with them. The PostmasterGeneral said that be has had discussions with the staff associations. Perhaps he has had discussions with the staff associations in Brisbane or Sydney or Melbourne, but this proposition vitally affects people who currently are living in country districts. The Postmaster-General indicated that the re-organisation will begin to operate in the first quarter of 1972. I suggest that he ought to give consideration to consulting with the local people concerned in the particular districts. The implementation of the proposal will mean that people will have to move from the towns where they have lived all their lives and where their children are at school. These people will be told that they have to move.
In his statement the Postmaster-General made the delicate suggestion that ‘normal staff wastage will make minimal the number of employees who may eventually need to be compulsorily transferred’. There are some rather disturbing undertones. I know that the Postmaster-General is not the kind of man who goes into these things suddenly. I suppose that there have been discussions. But certainly in the statement there is no indication that there has been any really serious discussion with the people who will be transferred. It is all right to say that the changes are in accordance with the latest management techniques and so on, but there has been no reference to the human problems which will confront those who may be affected. I do not want to say any more about this proposal this evening because I know that one or two of my colleagues, mainly from Queensland, are deeply concerned about the possible implications which this re-organisation will have for their constituents. I hope that the House will be tolerant and give those honourable members a few minutes in which to speak, even at this late hour tonight.
– I should like to say a few words on this matter. I have had representations from very disturbed technicians in Mackay which will be one of the district centres affected. What surprises me is the great complacency of members of the Australian Country Party in this matter.
– Technicians will not be affected.
– Perhaps I do not use the word ‘technician’ in the same way as the Postmaster-General does. I refer to the technical people - the engineers and the telecommunications people. I do not mean linesmen.
– Engineers - they are about one-quarter of the division.
– According to what the Postmaster-General said in his statement between 25 and 35 areas will be affected. The 3 main centres affected are Cairns, in the electorate of the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton), Mackay, in my own electorate, and Roma, in the electorate of the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett). These 3 centres are important in the communications field. I support what the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) said, that this is quite a strange proposal coming from a Government which is supposed to follow the principle of decentralisation. Here we find deliberate centralisation, which is quite contrary to the accepted principle of decentralising in order to keep people in the country. I find it quite strange that the Country Party accepts this proposition without any protest whatsoever, lt is not difficult to understand the principal reason for this. Probably most of the people who will be transferred compulsorily from these areas will be Labor voters, and the Country Party could not care less about them. If the people being transferred were farmers, it would be different. The people in these areas are entitled to some consideration.
The Postmaster-General indicated that these people have been consulted. I do not know who has been consulting whom, but not much consultation has gone on in Mackay and I doubt very much whether much consultation has gone on in Cairns, which is in the electorate of the honourable member for Leichhardt. I have looked at the map which is attached to the statement. I suppose that one must bow to the expertise of the Postmaster-General’s Department. But for the life of me I find lt most difficult to understand why an area like the Mackay district and the Pioneer Valley has been cut right out in terms of a centralised headquarters.
As the Postmaster-General knows, this district is the most important timber growing area in Australia. In addition, it is now developing into one of the most important areas in Australia for the production of coal for export. Already parts of the hinterland are recognised as some of the greatest coal districts in the world. One railway line has been constructed in the last 12 months and another railway line is mooted to go from Hale Creek through the Pioneer Valley into Mackay. Yet, competent and efficient men ia this district are to be compulsorily removed to Rockhampton on the departmental pretext of achieving greater efficiency and economy. The principal reason given is centralisation. I suppose if the Postmaster-General wants to take it further he might as well abandon more boundaries and have fewer than 25 in the whole of Australia. The figure of 25 contained in the Postmaster-General’s statement must have been worked out by a computer. But why was the figure 25 instead of 24, or 23 or another?
I am concerned, as I hope the PostmasterGeneral is concerned, about the people who will be moved. I would have thought that the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) in particular would speak on this matter because he represents an area in which land values are somewhat depressed at present. The people in his electorate who are affected by this change will probably have to sell on a depressed market houses which they purchased and developed over the years. They will possibly move into areas where land values are much higher. 1 am hoping that the Postmaster-General will give us some indication that a man who is compulsorily transferred and must sell his assets and thereby suffers a loss will be compensated. I believe that is only fair because most of the men, perhaps, have mortgaged their lives and future. Many of them would have put their wives’ savings into the purchase of houses and the development of the blocks. However, under the scheme before the House they may find that they have to moye out of the area in which they now live. Maybe only a relatively few people will be affected in each of the existing country districts. The Minister in his statement said:
In each case between 23 and 35 positions only will eventually be transferred to Area headquarters.
But it does not matter if there is only one transfer. The principle is still the same whether 1, 25 or 100 families are affected. If there is any distress or loss of equity because families have been compulsorily transferred the Government should take this into account.
A loss of purchasing power also is involved. If 35 men are transferred from one of the local headquarters this in itself might mean that, taking into account wives and children, 100 people move out of the area, with resultant loss to that district. As I have said before, it is amazing to me that this Government which stands - or is supposed to stand - for decentralisation is deliberately bringing in a policy which will lead to centralisation; it is deliberately moving people out of country areas to the cities. Yet members of the Country Party sit quietly in their places and do not even object to this proposal. This is against Country Party policy. As the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) said this afternoon, the Party is a sham and this is another example of it.
– I would like to make a comment on this paper.
– You took a bit of stirring.
– That is rather unfair because I have been trying to ask a question on this matter since Monday. Over the last 2 or 3 days, I have been attempting to submit a proposition to the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) and the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on this question. To me, the proposal is something that we could call decentralisation of authority - and I hope that this turns to be correct - but centralisation of personnel. With management efficiency, as in many other cases, the only person who does not seem to be considered is the consumer. I fail to see how it will be in the interests of the public that in many cases the person who has to use these facilities and who has the problems associated with them will have to go many miles further to find somebody who can make a decision.
To give an example in my area - I believe there would be many others like it - Shepparton is the largest city in northeastern Victoria. Its rate of growth is the most rapid in that part of the State. It has the largest telephone traffic. It has a switching station. The centre will be moved to Benalla, which does not have a switching station. Benalla is a smaller centre with not as much traffic. Actually the change would appear to be against the main flow of traffic which is south to Melbourne. What is more, Benalla is in a separate geographic region. For the Shepparton area, the Goulburn Valley and right up to Balranald in New South Wales the contact would not move across in this direction to Benalla.
I thank the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) for the opportunity to discuss this with him and with the new Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Victoria. This gentleman assured me that movement of personnel would be a slow process and that as many as possible would be kept in their original centres. I hope this will turn out to be true. I certainly will be keeping a watch in my area to see that this is so. One piece of comfort in this paper is in that part which states:
In addition, improved customer advisory service will be provided where such facilities are currently available and as the need arises these will be established at other centres.
I certainly hope that some of these advisory centres will be established and that at them there will be people who can provide information and make decisions affecting the consuming public. One part of the paper that causes me concern is that part which states:
A similar study of the activities associated with post offices and mail services in the country is in hand and it is planned that these services also will be reorganised into a postal area management system.
To me this is rather a dangerous thing. I would hope that if something quite as radical as that is being proposed members of this House would have a better opportunity to study the matter. If the reorganisation of mail services means the same as the reorganisation of telecommunications activities I doubt whether the service in the country areas will be improved. Evidently the reorganisation is already in band in relation to telecommunications activities. To me it is quite dangerous to think that at some future time we will be presented with something similar in regard to mail services. That would be the worst sting in the tail of this reorganisation. I reiterate that I am not at all happy about the way in which this reorganisation is being carried out, but I thank the PostmasterGeneral for his courtesty in allowing me to discuss this matter with him and the other gentleman.
– I protest emphatically against this attitude of the Postmaster-General’s Department. Like my colleague the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), I think all members of the Australian Country Party should be against this if they are fair dinkum in their attitude to decentralisation. The previous speaker, the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd), spoke about centralisation of personnel and decentralisation of work. This does not happen. In the area which I represent, the Cape York Peninsula, a third of the area is still without telephone exchanges. Let honourable members remember that it is a developing area and will be greatly developed in the near future. Therefore, there will be more work for the divisional staff of the Postmaster-General’s Department in design and engineering. I believe that 42 families are to be moved from Cairns south to Townsville or elsewhere. Townsville is a long way from Cairns and Cape York Peninsula.
If the Country Party is fair dinkum and believes in decentralisation it will support the Opposition and try to stop this proposal of the Postmaster-General’s Department. The Department proposes to take 42 families from Cairns but does it realise the imposition that this will be on these families? They have been there for years and have their own homes. They will have to sacrifice the homes and sell them at deflated prices because the buyers will know they are trying to clear them. They will then have to go to another area, find new homes and establish themselves there. I do not think the Postmaster-General’s Department will save anything because the staff will have to travel the long distance from Townsville into the area from which they have come for design and engineering purposes. They will have to travel by car. There are no aeroplanes operating to this area and in much of it there is not a good road. Because of their travelling costs and their keep while they are in the area the Postmaster-General’s Department will not save any money. Cape York Peninsula, as the Minister knows, is a developing area not only because of minerals but also because of cattle and agricultural pursuits as well as fishing. This area must be serviced by the Postmaster-General’s Department in the future to facilitate its development. More people are moving into it every day. Therefore, it is a bad step for the Department to transfer these people from Cairns to Townsville when they will still be required in that area.
If we are to adopt a policy of decentralisation we must look at the question of taking personnel away from a developing area in which they will be needed. If we do move them we will not save money. Some of the staff will want to look for other positions. The Department is losing its design staff to private enterprise because of this attitude. It is transferring them from homes in which they live and their children from schools which they attend, uprooting them, and taking them to another area. Eventually they will finish up in Brisbane instead of Townsville. The Department is always talking about losing divisional staff; this is one way in which it will lose that staff. If the Department lifts 42 families from Cairns and sends them to Townsville this will disrupt those 42 families and make a big difference to the income and economy of the Cairns area.
This brings me back to the point of decentralisation. The Government is not doing anything to help decentralisation or to help this area to progress, as it will progress despite the Government because the potential is there. The natural resources are there and they will be developed. These people will be forced to go back into that area again, and the Government will be losing money in the meantime by sending them and their families from Cairns to Townsville.
I assume that the Postmaster-General has received telegrams from various organisations in my electorate. I have one here from the Cairns City Council advising that it has informed the Minister that it is most emphatically against the move. I also have a telegram from the Cairns Chamber of Commerce. There is nothing political in this matter because these organisations are not Labor supporters. Their members are citizens who have a vote and a conscience of their own. They are not Labor supporters, but they are with me in opposing the action that the Department has taken in sending these families away from Cairns, and ceasing the service they were providing in that area. They know as well as I know that these people will be required back in that area again very soon because of the development that is going on there not only in the minerals industry, which I have mentioned, but also in the cattle indusry and the fishing industry.
I must thank the Postmaster-General for granting extensions of communications within my area. We have had our difficulties, but over the years I have been successful in getting these communications through the Postmaster-General, and the people of my electorate are grateful to him. But he is smashing all the good work down to the ground by implementing this policy and taking these people from Cairns to Townsville when they will be required in the Cairns area in the future. The Government will have to pay for them to come back into the Cairns area to do the design and engineering work that will be necessary, and it will cost the Government a damn sight more than it will cost to shift these families to Townsville. This move will inconvenience the people in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. These people will be disheartened and disinclined to work for the Department because their homes are established in Cairns. They will be looking to private industry for further work rather than stay in the engineering section of the Postmaster-General’s Department and be shifted from post to post. They have been in Cairns for many years. Their children have been reared there and have gone to school there.
These 43 families are to be shifted from this area to Townsville. Townsville itself is overcrowded and the local authorities there have their problems in supplying houses, water, sewerage, electricity and other facilities. These facilities exist in the area of Cairns. Why shift these people? I believe that if I sit down now this debate will be adjourned. I want it to be adjourned so I can get more information.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.48 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
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 information sought by the honourable member is not available in the manner requested. Statistics in relation to the Subsidised Health Insurance Scheme are compiled in respect of the following groups: (0 low income families;
unemployed sickness and special beneficiaries under the Social Services Act; and
In respect of low income families, there was only one category of beneficiary when the Scheme commenced operation on 1st January 1970, viz., families whose gross weekly income did not exceed $39 per week, a figure which at that time approximated the average minimum weekly wage payable under Commonwealth awards. As from 1st July 1970, the National Health Act was amended by extending this assistance, on a graduated scale, to low income families whose gross weekly income did not exceed $48.50. Eligible families were divided into three categories, viz.. Class A, Class B, and Class C.
These income limits for eligibility under the Subsidised Health Insurance Scheme have been adjusted from time to time, and at present the eligibility limits applying to each class of low income beneficiary are as follows:
Class A - gross weekly family income not exceeding $46.50 or, if the applicant is of pensionable age means as assessed not exceeding $2,418;
Class B - gross weekly family income not exceeding $49.50 or, if the applicant is of pensionable age, means as assessed not exceeding $2,574;
Class C - gross weekly family income not exceeding $52.50 or, if the applicant is of pensionable age, means as assessed not exceeding $2,730.
It is only necessary for low income families to make application to the Department of Social Services for assessment of their eligibility for assistance. Unemployment, sickness and special beneficiaries automatically become eligible for assistance under the Scheme when their entitlement for the respective Social Service benefit has been granted.
In respect of migrants, it is not necessary for separate application for assistance to be made. By joining a health insurance fund and verifying their first date of entry into Australia, migrants are eligible for assistance with medical and/or hospital expenses incurred in the first two months from the date of entry.
In relation to low income beneficiaries, the Department of Social Services has advised that information is not available as to the number of persons who have applied for assistance. The figures below relate to the number of applications which have actually been approved by that Department.
The following figures show the number of beneficiaries who have utilised their assistance under the Subsidised Health Insurance Scheme by registering with a medical and/or hospital insur ance organisation. It is not possible to separate unemployment, sickness or special beneficiaries and a total figure has been included in respect of these beneficiaries.
Based on the figures in the foregoing tables, the following information, for the period 1st January 1970 to 31st December 1970 relates to the percentage of eligible persons in the above categories who have taken advantage of the assistance available by approaching a health insurance fund.
As statistics are not maintained in relation to the number of applications by low income families to the Department of Social Services, the information requested by the honourable member in relation to this category of beneficiary is not available. However, on the basis of the number of low income families approved for assistance the following data indicates the percentage of these beneficiaries who have approached a health insurance fund:
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 Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) The Acting Commonwealth Statistician has advised that the statistical collections conducted by the Bureau of Census and Statistics do not obtain information in respect of separate categories of marine insurance. Information is collected only in respect of marine insurance in total and figures are published in the statistical bulletin ‘Australian, Fire, Marine and General Insurance Statistics’ and various other publications issued by the Central and Stale offices of the Bureau.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Please see answer to Question No. 3087 (Hansard, page 2890, 6th May 1971).
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2), (3) and (4) The Superannuation (Pension Increases) Bill 1971 that was introduced into the House of Representatives on 19th August 1971 makes provision for increases in existing pensions payable under the Superannuation Act 1922-1971, The Bill provides for the increases to be calculated by the notional salary method using an adjustment date of 30 June 1971.
The notional salary method was also used to calculate the increases granted in 1961, 1963 and 1967 but, as stated in my Budget Speech on 17th August 1971, that method is complex and experience has shown that it generates anomalies and inequities between pensioners. The Government proposes to examine simpler and more equitable methods of adjustment with a view to future application on a regular basis.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Will he consider providing under the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act for the forfeiture of so much of the allowance as would cover the cost to the public purse of the by-election rendered necessary when a Member of the House of Representatives retires voluntarily before bis current term of service expires.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act 1948-1968 provides a superannuation scheme for Members of Parliament. Members contribute to the scheme at the rate of11½ per cent of the Parliamentary Allowance.
I am not aware of any contributory superannuation scheme that provides for the forfeiture of so much of a retiring contributor’s benefit as would cover the cost of selecting his replacement.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Reverse signal lamps
Door latches and hinges
Seat belt anchorage points
Direction turn signal lamps
Hydraulic brake hoses
Standard control for automatic transmissions
Internal sun visors
Glare reduction m field of view
Rear vision mirrors
Demisting of windscreens
Windscreen wipers and washers
Location and visibility of instruments
Safety wheel rims
The dates of application and the classes of vehicles involved vary for each rule, but each Government has agreed to require compliance with the applicable rules before new motor vehicles are registered for the first time.
The applicable legislation appears in the following Acts and/or Regulations made under them:
New South Wales Motor Traffic Act
Victorian Motor Car Act
Queensland Traffic Act
South Australian Road Traffic Act
Western Australian Traffic Act
Tasmanian Traffic Act
Australian Capital Territory Motor Traffic
Northern Territory Vehicle and Traffic Ordinances
Road Accidents: Safety Factors (Question No. 3511)
Or Everingham asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Will the Attorney-General recommend at the next meeting of Commonwealth and States Attorneys-General the introduction of legislation to (a) oblige coroners to investigate safety factors involved in road accidents as thoroughly as in aircraft accidents, (b) enforce standards for licensed control of land vehicles comparable to standards applied to aircraft and (c) impose on vehicle manufacturers penalties for unsafe practices comparable to penalties imposed on unsafe drug manufacturers.
If not, will be take unilateral action in respect of the Territories of the Commonwealth.
en- The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable members’ question:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
How many Commonwealth employees (excluding First and Second Division officers) are required to work (a) 40 hours, (b) 36¾ hours and (c) other hours per week at ordinary rates of pay.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Public Service Board has advised me that the information which the honourable member requests is not available from the records of the Board.
A large proportion of Commonwealth Officers and employees work the normal week of 36¾ hours. Others of course work according to awards which cover their particular activities.
It would be possible to obtain this information but it would entail considerable analysis and collation within departments in order to achieve this break-down of information. In the circumstances I am reluctant to authorise the undertaking of this large administrative task.
asked the Minister for Externa] Territories, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourmember’s question is as follows:
The matter referred to is one which falls within the authority of the Ministerial Member for Education in the House of Assembly for Papua New Guinea. The Administrator on the advice of the Ministerial Member for Education has provided the following information:
The adequacy of the training of primary school teachers is particularly dependent upon the qualifications of students entering colleges and the length of the course of training. Over the last few years the numbers of students undertaking one year courses have steadily decreased and as from the beginning of 1971 all students entering teachers colleges undertake a two year course.
Significant improvements have been made in the level of recruitment of students as is shown in this table.
The percentage of Form 4 students is expected to increase in 1972.
With the introductionto the new Education Ordinance, boards of studies, which are advised and assisted by departmental officers and the Teacher Education Committee of the Territory Education Board, have been set up in all colleges. These boards are responsible for the general supervision of the academic and professional instruction and training given in colleges.
Although there have been inadequacies in the past in the preparation of teachers - due to the necessity to create a system of education in a very short time - these are now being rapidly overcome through the sorts of development outlined and through greater provision of in-service training opportunities.
Additional training is available to primary teachers after appointment. A considerable number and variety of in-service training opportunities are available to primary teachers after appointment. For practical purposes these inservice programmes may be divided into two parts:
The above courses were widely advertised and available to qualified primary teachers on application.
In all, 243 primary teachers will be released for full time in-service training (professional and general education) courses in 1971. Due to the variable lengths of the courses (some six months; some one year) the number of teachers actually attending in-service courses at any one time is 183.
Form 2 equivalent up-grading Vacation Courses (taken during Christmas school vacation).
In addition to the formal courses mentioned above, the Department of Education provides ad hoc training workshops at various times throughout Papua New Guinea to familiarise teachers with recent syllabus developments (for example primary science). As well, National In-Service Training Week which allows all teachers one week off normal school duties each year to attend approved in-service courses in their district centres, is organised by the Department for the purpose of improving teaching skills in needed areas. The number of courses available and the number of teachers who participate depend to a large extern on the demand for courses by teachers.
It is apparent that a considerable number and variety of additional training opportunities are available to primary teachers after appointment. The Department of Education is aware of the effect of these opportunities on the morale of teachers and is constantly seeking to take advantage of additional worthwhile training opportunities which will lead to increased effectiveness of teachers. To do this it is planned to increase the in-service training commitment each year to the extent circumstances permit.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Is it possible to estimate how many Commonwealth employees with children at secondary schools are posted from one State to another in the course of any one year.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I have been advised by the Public Service Board that it would not be possible to furnish from its records the information which the honourable member wishes to have. The Board has also advised me that information of this nature would not be readily available in Commonwealth departments or instrumentalities, and that the only way to obtain it would be from the individual officers concerned. This would involve making persona] enquiries outside the scope of the direct responsibilities of departments and instrumentalities and would be an administrative project of considerable magnitude which 1 would be reluctant to authorise.
Vietnam: Casualties (Question No. 3615)
asked the Minister for the
Army, upon notice:
How many soldiers have been (a) killed and
– The answer to the honour able member’s question is as follows:
Since 12th July 1965 seventy-eight Australian soldiers have been killed by mines or booby-traps and five hundred and eighty-nine have been wounded of whom seventeen subsequently died of wounds.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
What steps are being taken to commemorate the centenary of Miklouho-Maclay taking up residence at Astrolabe Bay in September 1871.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
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:
Senator the Hon. Ivor J. Greenwood, Minister for Health.
The Hon. W. C. Wentworth, M.P., Minister for Social Services and Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs.
New South Wales-
The Hon. A. H. Jago, M.L.A., Minister for Health.
The Hon. J.F Rossiter, M.L.A., Minister of Health.
The Hon. S. D. Tooth, M.L.A., Minister for Health.
South Australia -
The Hon. A. J. Shard, M.L.C., Minister of Health.
Western Australia -
The Hon. R. Davies, M.L.A., Minister for Health.
The Hon. Dr N. D. Abbott, M.H.A., Minister for Health.
The Ministers who attended this Conference agreed that public statements on discussions at the Conference should be limited to the following matters:
I will forward to the honourable member copies of the statements issued on these matters.
Housing: Cost ofLand (Question No. 3691)
asked the Minister for
Housing, upon notice:
What information has each State housing authority provided on the average cost of (a) acquiring and (b) developing the blocks of land on which it is at present building houses under the Housing Agreement (Hansard. 6th May 1971, page 2868).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
It is not possible to set out the information supplied by the State housing authorities in a manner that would permit direct comparison. This is so because of variations between the States in such factors as the proximity of the land being used to the capital city centre, the date of acquisition of the land, whether the land was purchased in a developed state or was bought ‘raw’ and developed by the housing authority, the extent of development required, and whether the land was bought in small quantities or in broad acres.
For this reason the information for each State is shown separately.
So far as houses for ordinary family applicants are concerned, the land principally being used for this purpose in the Sydney area is located at Mount Druitt and was purchased in 1961. The cost of acquisition was $426 per lot and $1,288 per lot was spent on road and drainage works, provision for kerbing, guttering and footpaving, water and sewerage. This land reserve is now virtually exhausted and it is expected that the Housing Commission will shortly bring into use land it has acquired progressively during the past 2 years in an extension of the Mount Druitt Estate and at Campbelltown. The estimated cost of this land per developed lot is$2,500 at Mount Druitt and $3,500 at Campbelltown.
The South Australian Housing Trust rarely acquires individual allotments for its building programme in the metropolitan area. The average cost of buying land in broad acres, using a figure of 31 allotments to the acre, would be about $700 per allotment Development costs for roads, kerbing, water table, footpaths and other site works excluding drainage would be approximately $550 per allotment with a further $450 (approximately) per allotment for water and sewerage. Land at present being used by the Trust was purchased some 3 to 4 years ago.
The State Housing Commission is at present building houses on land it has held, in some cases, for up to 15 years. As the cost of land purchased and developed in recent years is higher than it was some years ago the Commission has attempted to equalise these costs by making the following charges against rental homes:
The average cost of land currently being used by the Housing Department in the Greater Hobart Metropolitan Area is $250; the average development cost is $1,350. The holding period for this land varies from virtually immediate development following purchase, to 2 or 3 years.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
On what dates have Treasury officials conferred with State officials concerning a new Commonwealth Insurance Act since 18th December 1970 (Hansard, 30th March 1971, page 811).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
There have been no further meetings between Commonwealth and State officials since 18th December 1970 but discussions have been taking place between Commonwealth officials and representatives of the general insurance industry. On completion of these discussions, it may be necessary to arrange further meetings with State officials.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
In your question on notice. Question No. 2319, you asked for information in respect of the maximum interest rates authorised by tha Loan Council for semi-governmental borrowings in the last 20 years.
I said in my interim reply, recorded in Hansard on 23rd April 1971, that, as Chairman of the Loan Council, I had written to the other members seeking their views as to whether the information could be provided to you.
As a result of their agreement, I am glad to say that I am now in a position to meet your request fully and I enclose a statement of the maximum rates of interest for semi-governmental borrowings authorised by the Loan Council since 1947.’
The statement was as follows:
Superannuation (Question No. 3734)
asked’ the Treasurer, upon ‘ notice:
pensions based on the notional salary operating on 30th June 1971.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) The Superannuation (Pension Increases) Bill 1971 that was introduced into the House of Representatives on 19th August 1971 makes provision for increases in existing pensions payable under the Superannuation Act 1922-1971. The Bill provides for the increases to be calculated by the notional salary method using an adjustment date of 30th June 1971. The same method was used when increases were last oran tol
in 1967. The estimated cost of the increases in 1971-72 is$9m.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
What are the provisions of the last award handed down by the Arbitration Commission governing the pay and allowances of, and all cognate matters relating to. male and female journalists.
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
I am informed that the last such award is the Journalists’ (Metropolitan Daily Newspapers) Award, 1971, dated 13th July 1971. In view of the detailed nature of this document 1 would not propose to incorporate it in Hansard. T have made a copy of the award available to the right honourable member.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
Can he give the text of the resolution adopted by State Ministers for Local Government at Hobart on 23rd April 1971 concerning the financial needs of local government.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Ministers of all States unanimously carried a resolution that because (a) the cost of local government services is rapidly increasing; (b) the sources of revenue to local government authorities are limited; and (c) many rural areas are in a critical condition and no increases in rates are likely to be practicable in the foreseeable future, the Ministers believed firstly that additional financial resources are essential to local government and secondly that as local government is the responsibility of State governments, the annual reimbursement grants from income tax from the Common wealth to the States should include an additional element of contribution for local government finances.’
As a result of the discussions at the Premiers’ Conference additional Commonwealth assistance is to be provided to the States to assist both their revenue budgets generally and local government authorities specifically. Briefly, the Commonwealth is to transfer pay-roll tax to the States on a date to be agreed in 1971-72 on the basis that the States’ financial assistance grants will be reduced to help offset the loss to Commonwealth revenue resulting from the transfer. However, the Commonwealth has agreed that the reduction in the States’ grants will be somewhat less than the full loss to Commonwealth revenue. In particular, the reduction in the grants will be smaller than the loss to Commonwealth revenue by an amount equal to the pay-roll tax payable at the existing rate of 2.5 per cent in respect of non-business activities of local authorities. By this means the Commonwealth will, in effect, be bearing the cost which would otherwise be incurred by State Governments in exempting non-business activities of local authorities from payment of pay-roll tax as from the date of transfer of the tax to the States. The relief that the States will thus be able to provide to local authorities is estimated at about (6m in 1971-72 and about $8m in a full year.
The Commonwealth also agreed at the Premiers’ Conference to make the reduction in the States’ grants in 1971-72 smaller than the loss to Commonwealth revenue resulting from the transfer of the tax by a further amount now estimated at about $22.4m, and, as well, to provide $40m special revenue assistance by way of a nonrecurring grant in 1971-72. The smaller reduction of about $22.4m, like that in respect of pay-roll tax on non-business activities of local authorities, will also be made to the ‘base’ used to determine the formula grants for 1972-73 and subsequent years, so that States will continue to benefit from both these factors in those years.
The Commonwealth Government believes that, with the substantially improved arrangements for the payment of financial assistance grants settled at the June 1970 Premiers’ Conference, with access now to a new field of taxation which they have already moved to exploit, and with the additional financial assistance provided as a result of the June 1971 Premiers’ Conference, the State Governments are well placed to meet their financial responsibilities, including their responsibility for local authority finances.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Can he state in respect of each ship:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Shipbuilding (Question No. 3860)
asked the Minister for
Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Can he state in respect of each ship:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Post Offices: Closures (Question No. 3911)
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice:
How many post offices (a) were closed in each State during the last 12 months and (b) will be closed in the near future.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
These post offices all fall within the non-official category.
Post Offices (Question No. 3965)
asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice:
How many (a) cities and (b) towns in Australia in which municipal council administrative offices and council chambers are located, are without an official post office.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Nautical Training (Question No. 4022) Mr Whitlam asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
What stage has been reached in the plans to establish nautical training institutions and programmes in Australia (Hansard, 2nd September 1970, page 904).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
As the honourable member was informed late last year, the Department of Shipping and Transport’s inquiries into the possibility of establishing nautical training facilities in Australia have been extended to encompass the whole field of training and examination of all classes of seamen. A document on this subject entitled ‘Training for Work at Sea’, which was prepared by Mr T. Norris, a former First Assistant Secretary of my Department, has been circulated to shipowners, unions, educational establishments and other interested parties. When people have had a chance to look at the proposals contained in this document. I propose that the Secretary of my Department will convene a conference of interested persons so that the views and thoughts of people closely connected with this aspect of the Australian Merchant Marine can be taken into consideration.
Shipping Register (Question No. 4023)
asked the Minister for
Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
What stage has been reached in the plans to establish an Australian shipping register (Hansard, 2nd September 1970, page 906).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is’ as follows:
Considerable progress has been made on the question of the establishment of an Australian shipping register, and 1 hope to be in a position to make an announcement about this matter later in the year.
Australian Shipping: Overseas Voyages (Question No. 4024)
asked the Minister for
Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2), (3) and (4) (a) and (b) The attached list sets out the details of overseas voyages made and cargoes carried by ships owned by the Australian National Line and Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Limited during 1970-71.
Motor Vehicle Exhaust Emissions (Question No. 4050)
asked the Minister for
Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
What consideration has the Transport Advisory Council given to the aspects of environmental pollution?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Australian Transport Advisory Council has been closely concerned with motor vehicle exhaust emissions for the past two years. On the advice of a special committee set up to examine the problem of motor vehicle exhaust emissions the Council has endorsed the ‘Australian Rule for Vehicle Engine Emission Control’.
The Rule is divided into two parts. The first which takes effect from 1st January 1972 calls for the limitation of the emission of carbon monoxide to 4.5 per cent by volume of total exhaust emissions during idling. The second part, to be implemented on 1st January 1974 will control both hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions during all phases of vehicle operation.
The Rule applies to all passenger cars and station wagons manufactured on or after the dates mentioned above.
The Council through its Advisory Committee on Vehicle Performance is also preparing Draft
Regulations to control truck emissions. When Draft Regulations are agreed by Council on this matter, it is proposed they be then implemented by the States and the Territories.
The Council is continuing to keep a close watch on exhaust emissions of other vehicles.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 September 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1971/19710916_reps_27_hor73/>.