27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth humbly showeth: That the undersigned believe . . .
That hunger, illiteracy, abject poverty and injustice are intolerable anywhere in the world.
That the knowledge, skills and resources to change these unjust conditions now exist.
That to obtain justice among peoples, world financial and trading systems can and must be changed.
That Australia has the capacity to play a more significant part in enabling the developing countries to achieve improved social conditions for all their people.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that Australia’s Official Development Assistance in 1972-73 be increased to at least $240m.
Australia’s aid policies be reviewed so that aid given provides maximum benefit to the peoples of developing countries.
Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide more favourable conditions for developing countries. by Mr Brown, Mr Fulton, Mr Grassby, Dr Gun, Mr Hamer, Mr Jacobi, Mr Jarman, Mr Killen, Mr Lloyd, Mr MacKellar, Mr Nicholls and Mr Reid.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:
That Lake Pedder, situated in the Lake Pedder National Park in south-west Tasmania, is threatened with inundation as part of the Gordon River hydro-electric power scheme.
That an alternative scheme exists, which, if implemented would avoid inundation of this lake.
That Lake Peddar and the surrounding wilderness area is of such beauty and scientific interest as to be of a value beyond monetary consideration.
And that some unique species of flora and fauna will be in danger of extinction if this area is inundated.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government take immediate steps to act on behalf of all Australian people to preserve Lake Pedder in its natural state. All present and particularly future Australians will benefit by being able to escape from their usual environment to rebuild their physical and mental strength in this unspoilt wilderness area.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Dr Everingham and Mr Uren.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned electors in the States of the Commonwealth respectfully requests:
Your petitioners therefore respectfully pray that your honourable house will, after due consideration, grant these requests.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Anthony.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, we, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, residents in the State of Western Australia do humbly petition and pray that all levels of Government responsible in Australia will take note of the wishes of we, the citizens, in so far as we request:
That the Commonwealth Government give urgent consideration to granting taxation concessions to mothers who are forced to pay fees to have their children retained in Day Care and Family Care Centres.
That these mothers and children are being disadvantaged by the economic circumstances where no concession is made for the charges which must be paid to have their children so looked after. In fact it means that a single parent is working for a subsistence wage and receiving a lower income than many who are living on Social Service at a cost to the community.
That these mothers efforts to maintain themselves and their families should be rewarded by taxation concessions for fees paid in recognition to their initiative and diligence by not placing their burden upon the community and so allow them to retain their dignity and standing in the community.
That single and married mothers are contributing to the community by the establishment of their home, the cost of which has become affected by inflation and so must continue to work to make the future for the children who are so cared for.
Therefore we ask that all these aspects be taken into urgent consideration and that taxation concessions for all child minding fees be granted to ease the burden.
We, the petitioners humbly pray that the House of Representatives in the parliament assembled would take immediate steps to ensure provision of this taxation concession and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bennett. Petition received.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, we, the citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, residents in the State of Western Australia, do humbly petition and pray that all levels of Government responsible in Australia will take note of the wishes of we, the citizens, in so far as we request.
That the Commonwealth Government give urgent consideration to the return of the land compulsorily acquired from the Shire of Belmont for defence purposes namely lots 313, 314, 324 and 325 bounded by Alexander Road, Belgravia Street, Ester Street and Daly Street.
That the land be returned to the Belmont Shire for the purposes envisaged of constructing an Aged Peoples Village and a Community Development.
We further believe that this site is one of the choicest sites for residential development remaining in the Belmont Shire and we feel (hat the Shire has lost a large proportion of its rateable land to the Commonwealth Government and that this will in some way compensate for the resumptions which have taken place and the lack of opportunity for community development which exists because of those resumptions.
Therefore, we urge that the matter be given urgent consideration so that proper planning and development of the Shire can continue. Your petitioners as in duty bound, wa ever pray. by Mr Bennett.
The Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth ‘‘h respectfully showeth:
That the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remo some inadequacies in the Australian Education system.
That there is a major inadequacy at present in the Australian education opportunity for all.
That more than 500,000 children suffer from serious lack of equal opportunity.
That Australia cannot afford to waste the talents of one sixth of its school children.
That only the Commonwealth has the financial resources for special programmes to remove inadequacies.
That nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States have shown that the Chief impetus for change and the finance for improvements coma from the National Government.
Your petitioners request that your honourable house make legal provision for -
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bennett.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned employees in Parliament House Canberra respectfully sheweth:
That the inadequacy of the present parliamentary building is resulting in unpleasant, inefficient and inconvenient working conditions in the House itself.
That the fragmentation of staff at West Block and other offices in the City due to the inadequacies of space in the present building causes inefficiency in staff control and working relationships.
That although the present patchwork extension system results in better accommodation for some sections of the working population in the House it has worsened the accommodation in other areas by shutting out light and ventilation.
That the older sections of the House, besides being cramped, are affected by extremes of heat and cold and quite out of keeping with modern office working conditions.
That the House lacks proper records storage facilities, and other facilities, especially related to staff comfort, a requirement highly desirable in view of Parliament’s extended working hours.
That the present extensions, as with past extensions, have been costly to the taxpayer and economically shortsighted and will merely relieve the most pressing needs for a very limited period of time due to the inevitable growth of the business of this Parliament.
Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that an early decision will be taken by the Government to build the new and permanent Parliament House which will, in the long run, be a more economical way to house the Parliament and which will, al the same time, be an impressive and proud symbol of Australia’s progress and national unity.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Enderby.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition from certain residents of the western suburbs in the Sydney Metropolitan area and surrounding districts respectfully showeth:
That due to an expanding passenger air travel business together with larger and more powerful jet aircraft, aircraft noise has already become a serious problem for people living in the vicinity of airports.
That jet aircraft operations have a detrimental effect by way of air and noise pollution on the environment and airports should be situated so as to preserve the environment of populated areas.
That protest should be made against the proposal to establish an international airport at Richmond owing to the detrimental effect it would have for the environment there and in surrounding districts.
Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray that this House take appropriate steps to ensure that the Government does not proceed with the proposal to site the second, 24-hour international airport for Sydney at Richmond or anywhere else in the far western suburbs of the metropolitan area.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Dr Klugman.
To the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth -
Pre-school and after-school education facilities are in urgent need within the Australian community. The shortage has become more acute as more mothers join the work force.
In advanced countries pre-school and afterschool education are recognised as essential aspects of education for all children.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to: Provide the necessary finance to enable state education departments and local government authorities to establish:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Dr Klugman.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to his announcement on 26th January concerning
Cabinet and departmental papers covering the war years 1942 to 1945 and the reduction of the access rule from 50 years to 30 years. On that occasion he said that he expected the first group covering 1939 to 1941 to be available about the middle of this year. I ask the Prime Minister whether these documents disclose that the Liberal and the Country Parties cannot be trusted due to their bungling and failure to safeguard this country’s interest during their period in power. If not, when will the documents be released, and does the Prime Minister expect that all documents up to 1945, which will give a clear illustration of the outstanding quality of the Labor Government, will be released before the election?
– This is, as one would expect from the honourable gentleman, a question containing a very nasty innuendo which he could not support because he has not read the documents involved. Therefore, the honourable gentleman has drawn conclusions from no evidence whatsoever. We are doing all in our power to see that these records are made available as soon as possible. When they are made available the honourable member will find that the Liberal and Country Parties have every right to be proud of the way in which they conducted the administration. That was admitted by leaders of the Labor Party immediately they assumed office.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Social Services been drawn to requests by church authorities for an inquiry into social conditions wider in scope than the approved inquiry into poverty by Professor Henderson? Does the Minister intend to make any recommendations in relation to these requests?
– I think 1 should say first that the scope of Professor Henderson’s inquiry will be very wide indeed. This arises, firstly, because Professor Henderson is such a competent authority and does take a very wide view of these matters; secondly, because the terms of the inquiry themselves are very wide; and thirdly, because although the Government will provide Professor Henderson with all assistance possible it will give him no riding instructions in the matter. I regret to say that a false impression also has been conveyed in this House and elsewhere that Professor Henderson’s inquiry will be confined purely to monetary terms. This is not so. If he so desires, he can examine all the matters that generally are described as quality of life’. I have seen the reports to which the honourable member referred. Of course, the present inquiry does not necessarily preclude a further inquiry at some later date. However, the request for a further inquiry should not be allowed to defer or delay the present inquiry. That is the view the Government has taken.
Let me mention some considerations involved in this matter. My Department is not perfect, but it is not in every respect imperfect. To a very great extent we have conducted over the years a running inquiry into these matters. As honourable members and other people know, my door is always open to those who would make recommendations. Although these matters are to some extent fragmented, this is not altogether a vice. There is, in the administration of these matters, some proper call for the use of different authorities, including church authorities, to whom I think we should be very grateful for what they have done in this sphere. I would be glad to hear any representations on the proposal for a further inquiry, but I suggest that we should not have this inquiry so diffuse as to be devoid of meaning. One thing that might be considered is a non-governmental inquiry conducted on an inter-church basis. I personally would welcome this and I would consider making available servicing staff, information, and perhaps, with the Treasurer’s permission, even some funds. However, I am not making any recommendation at present. I can say only that my mind is open in relation to what recommendations I would make and I will be listening to the representations made to me in regard to this matter.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. The right honourable gentleman will recall that in June, for the first time, the Commonwealth Statistician published estimates of the labour force according to country of birth and period of residence in Australia and that those estimates showed that unemployment was nearly 60 per cent higher among those born outside
Australia than among those born in Australia and that 9 per cent of last year’s migrants were unemployed. Furthermore, he will recall that the Statistician specifically stated that corresponding information would be obtained each quarter in future and would be published in the regular quarterly labour force bulletins. I ask the Treasurer why the following quarterly bulletin published only last week omits the particulars of unemployment among migrants relative to their year of arrival. Why has this very important information been so soon suppressed?
– The honourable gentleman is quick to use emotive terms like suppressed’. He seeks information and then he categorises that there has been suppression. Really, he cannot have it both ways. If he wants the information I will provide it for him when I ascertain it. In the meantime, I will be glad if he does not make accusations, the basis for which he is unsure of, but it seems that he is too often willing to do just that. The second point is that the Statistician in the first survey was seeking information which would be available to government for government to assess. My recollection is that he said that it could not be measured against anything that had occured before because it was the first of the survey. He was attempting to find a basis upon which to pursue statistical research. The third point I make is that inherent in the question of the Leader of the Opposition is his belief that the migrants of Austraia have not been able to make the contribution to the development of Australia which we, as a government, claim they have made. I am quite sure that the standard of living we enjoy in Australia today would be nowhere near the level it is had it not been for the flow of migrants into Australia in the past. The fourth point I make is that the Government believes in a big Australia and a developing, growing Australia and we acknowledge the contribution that migrants can make to it. We want to continue with a vigorous immigration programme for the benefit of Australia. My colleague, the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes), I am glad to say, shares the same sort of views as I had when I held that office, namely, that the Government should do everything possible to put the migrant on the basis of being able to integrate into our community as painlessly as possible. It has to be remembered that when the migrant comes to Australia he understands he is coming to a new environment, an environment to which, in the first instance, he has to adjust. My colleague the Minister for Immigration has put forward in this Budget a programme for migrant integration and social welfare services. The scheme for teaching of the English language I think will be very successful. The programme will enable us to maintain the growth rate that Australia is entitled to have and capable of having.
– Is the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who represents the AttorneyGeneral in this place, aware of any new information that would lead to the conclusion that the movement known as Scientology is now considered fit to be recognised, for example under the Marriage Act, as a registerable body?
– Honourable members will recall that the subject of Scientology was a matter of some considerable concern and inquiry in the 1960s and from time to time since then. Perhaps the major inquiry into this subject was conducted over a period of 2 years by Mr Kevin Anderson, Q.C. who is now a Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria. He examined the whole topic. This was the most exhaustive inquiry and it produced a report totally condemning Scientology. I quote from one of the conclusions:
Scientology is evil, its techniques evil, its practices a serious threat to the community, medically, morally and socially, and its adherents sadly deluded and even mentally ill.
If any honourable members have had any experience of Scientology they will appreciate what Mr Anderson was saying. Certainly most lawyers have had some experience of it. As a result of that report Scientology was banned in Victoria. It is also currently banned, as honourable members know, in South Australia and Western Australia, although there is some question with Mr Dunstan in South Australia as to whether there will be some change in the position in that State. I believe that in these circumstances it is a matter of surprise and of considerable concern that the Opposition Leader in the Senate, who is the shadow Attorney-General - and one would presume that he speaks for the Australian Labor Party - should state now that he favours declaring Scientology a recognised religious denomination under the Commonwealth Marriage Act, and thus recognising it. I believe that this is a matter of concern to all Australians, and I suggest that it certainly would be carrying the permissive society beyond reasonable bounds.
– Did the Deputy Prime Minister tell the National Press Club on 1st November last year, at a time when he was Acting Prime Minister, that the Australian Country Party favoured devaluation of the Australian dollar? On the following day, in answer to a question from the honourable member for Chifley, did he say that farming interests would like to see a depreciation of the Australian dollar because they would get an advantage from it? Were these statements made in the context of intensive reassessment of international currency values at a time of rapid velocity of international currency movements? Does the Deputy Prime Minister not agree that these 2 rash statements by an acting head of government in such a delicate economic climate could have exposed the Australian Government to attack by the international monetary bandits? Further, does the right honourable gentleman not agree that it must be a cardinal rule that any person holding a responsible position in a government that can influence the value of the Australian dollar should not speculate on anything that might alter the value of the currency?
-Order! I suggest that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition should complete his question.
– Finally- and this is a very important question-
– Why did not the Leader of the Opposition ask it?
– I can understand the Minister being upset, with his Leader being so embarrassed.
-Order! I suggest that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition should ask his question. Order! The honourable members in the corner will cease interjecting - all of them.
– I will be delighted to answer the interjections if I am allowed to do so.
-The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will not be allowed to do so. This is question time, and I think that we should get in as many questions as possible.
– Finally, I ask the Deputy Prime Minister: In view of what I have put to him, how does he justify his conduct, and why is he so intent on applying a double political standard?
– The Australian Labor Party has certainly been trying to do some research work; it has been trying to drag up some skeletons from somewhere in order to justify the unforgiveable actions of its Leader.
– Which is the unforgiveable one?
-Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has asked his question. Members of the Country Party will cease interjecting. That also applies to honourable members sitting on my left.
– You produced the great coalition.
-I would hope that the Leader of the Opposition would endeavour to maintain order at question time instead of encouraging disorderly conduct.
– Mr Speaker, are you a city slicker?
-Order! Often when the honourable member for Reid is sitting on the front bench he makes snide remarks about certain people in this Parliament. I want to inform him that I am not a city slicker. Secondly, if he continues to interject in this House he will see himself outside and he will be able to visit the city slicker than I can get there.
– It is interesting to note that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition feels that this matter needs to be raised.
– Will you speak up a little?
– Well, I will bark in a minute.
– It will not be the first dme.
-Order! The honourable member for Lalor walks into the House, does not even sit in his seat and makes an interjection. The next moment we will have Opposition members complaining that questions and Ministers’ answers are too long. Opposition members are not assisting in the running of the House by interjecting. I am glad to have the co-operation of the honourable member for Hindmarsh in this respect. Question time, as I have said a dozen times, is a period which honourable members on both the Government and Opposition sides of the House should be able to use satisfactorily. I am afraid it is not being used in that way at the moment.
– Apparently some 12 months ago I made some comments about devaluation of the currency or adjustments to the parity of the Australian dollar. I would like to look up those comments to see just what I did say and I am glad that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has drawn my attention to them. Apparently what I said was not very startling because it did not produce any comment or reaction from the Labor Party. What has brought this matter into the public arena now is a statement by the Leader of the Opposition immediately after he made his speech on the Budget. It was a statement dealing with an economic matter and the most profound statement that we have heard from the Labor Party in 1972. It has tremendous significance for industries in Australia; it is so significant that there has been a reaction from the honourable member for Riverina and the honourable member for Dawson who have both disowned their Leader and said that they are against revaluation. Quite obviously within the Labor Party there are marked divisions. While watching a television programme last night I was most interested to hear the Leader of the Opposition say that members of the Labor Party were free to make their own independent decisions on matters of social interest and matters of conscience. Apparently members of the Labor Party also can make their own statements regarding matters of tremendous national importance, in this case in relation to the currency. The sad part about the statement of the Leader of the Opposition is that he made it immediately after his speech on the Budget and neglected to make those remarks at that time although that was the right and proper time to make them. Having made his statement in an interview outside this House he then came into the House and tried to justify what he had said. He went on television and said that he believed in the appreciation of the Australian dollar.
So it is quite clear that the policy of the Australian Labor Party if it gets into office is to change the value of the Australian dollar immediately. Unless the Labor Party decides to change this policy the Australian people will have to accept that it will have serious effects on employment in secondary industries which already are feeling the cold winds of imports from cheap labour countries. The Labor Party’s policy will have a serious effect on the canned fruits industry which knows what these effects can be like following devaluation of sterling and an appreciation against the United States dollar. Who knows what the effect will be on the rice industry? The Queensland sugar industry, which is a substantial export industry, knows only too well what the effects will be on it. This is the reason why 2 members of the Labor Party have deserted their Leader and have publicly come out and stated in their own electorates that they would not have anything to do with revaluation. It is up to the Australian Labor Party to say where it stands. The biggest tragedy of all this is that the Leader of the Opposition -really does not understand the error that he has made and continues to try to justify his position. The longer he continues to do this the more serious will be the position in which he puts the Australian currency. He puts it into the ring for international speculation and he demonstrates to the Australian people that he is not a fit and proper person to be the alternative Prime Minister of Australia.
– 1 ask the PostmasterGeneral: In line with his recent comments on bias by some elements of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, will he suggest to the Commission that, in view of the exceedingly generous coverage given to clashes between police and demonstrators on such past occasions as the visit of President johnson, the tour of the South African footballers and, more recently, the removal of the so-called Aboriginal embassy from Canberra, it should also cover such incidents as the attack by communist led militants against a union official supporting a return to work by striking plumbers?
– My understanding is that the honourable member is perhaps referring to incidents related to Mr Ducker of the trade union movement. I believe that Mr Ducker was interviewed on television by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and that one of the current affairs programmes covered a confrontation in which Mr Ducker was involved outside the particular building. I think that what the honourable member is really referring to is that there are a number of organisations, including students in particular, which have limited financial resources and which depend upon the media to give them publicity They therefore indicate to the media some protest rally that they intend to hold, and the media are there when something is going to happen. I believe that this did not apply in the situation in which Mr Ducker was involved but it certainly applies in most instances. I remember a demonstration in Brisbane some time ago which Four Corners’ happened to include in its programme. How ‘Four Corners’ could have been accidentally in Brisbane at that time I have never been able to work out.
– J ask the Prime Minister whether he shares the sense of national frustration when, at the Olympic Games, the achievements of young Australians are celebrated by an anthem traditionally identified with another country. Will be encourage the selection of a distinctively Australian anthem for such occasions?
– I believe that most Australians today favour the anthem ‘God Save the Queen’. From all the representations that I receive I can say that there are constant requests that that anthem be retained. J also believe that there would be no harm whatsoever in reconsidering the matter, but what I do point out to the honourable member for St George is that, whenever a question comes up affecting the loyalty of this nation and the principles that we regard as of absolutely fundamental importance to the national spirit of Australia, we always find him against them.
– Mr Speaker-
-Order! The House will come to order. Honourable members will resume their seats. Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I claim to have been misrepresented and I take very strong exception to the statement made by the Prime Minister.
-Order! I have asked the honourable member whether he claims to have been misrepresented.
– I do.
– It is usual for personal explanations to be made immediately after question time.
– I regard this as a personal affront and I seek to make a personal explanation.
– The honourable member may make his personal explanation after question time.
– I ask for a retraction of the statement by the Prime Minister.
-Does the right honourable gentleman wish to make any further comment?
– If the honourable gentleman is genuinely offended I will withdraw what I said about him.
– You call yourself a Christian. You are a praying mantis.
-Order! I warn the honourable member for Reid.
– Mr Speaker should warn the Prime Minister.
– Of course he should.
-If the honourable member for Reid does not heed my warning I will name him. I call the honourable member for Ballaarat.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. There has been some confusion in the minds of the public on where the Government stands on the question of abortion on demand. Can the Prime Minister tell the House where the Government does stand in regard to this very important social question?
– Mr Speaker-
– Before the Prime Minister begins his answer I must say that there are some members in this House who for some reason or other do not want to remain in it for very long. I shall oblige the next two or three who invite me to take action.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. May I direct attention to what is provoking this? Ministers have been-
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I suggest that you control-
-Order! The honourable member for Lalor will resume his seat.
– I suggest that you control Ministers who are-
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat immediately. I call the Prime Minister.
– I believe 1 gave an answer to this question when I answered a similar question asked by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory in about December of last year. I then said that the Government had no intention of amending the law relating to abortion in the A.C.T. or the Australian Territories. That law does not permit abortion on demand nor a permissive approach to the question of abortion. I confirm now what I said in the answer to the question of the honourable member for the A.C.T. that that remains the view of the Government.
– 1 preface my question to the Minister for Immigration by drawing attention to his statement yesterday - I do not want to misquote him - to the effect that he was issuing instructions that migrants would be accepted only if they had special skills so that their acceptance would not aggravate the unemployment situation. I have not been able yet to check the Hansard report but I think that is what he said. I draw his attention to an advertisement appearing in the United Kingdom Daily Mirror’ newspaper of 28th April 1972 which says:
The average earnings of Australians are high: nearly £40 a week. Skilled men are paid the rate for their skill; and as Australia’s expanding economy needs many skills, they get a good rate.
What’s more, our tax system is designed to encourage hard work.
-Order! The honourable member is giving a great deal of information. 1 suggest that he ask his question.
– Yes, 1 will. 1 ask: ls it not misleading to use average weekly earnings of $80 a week as an inducement to migrants to come to Australia? Is it not a fact that average weekly earnings include the salaries of managers, members of Parliament, overtime earnings, bonus payments and so on? Would it not be more reasonable to quote in the advertisements the minimum wage or the tradesman’s rate? Would not the Minister agree that misleading advertisements, such as this, would be responsible for over 29,000 former settlers returning to their birthplace during 1971 and many others seeking to be repatriated due to unemployment? Are these advertisements still appearing? If so, will he have them amended?
– I have not seen nor do 1 know anything of the advertisement referred to, except the part the honourable gentleman has read, but from what he has read it appears to be a very good advertisement giving a very good description of the wonderful conditions that have been created in this country by a Liberal-Country Party Government over the last 23 years. Taken as a whole, in my view, it presents an accurate picture of what Australia holds for somebody who has what it takes. Let us not forget that, as part of the advertisement states, it is being addressed to somebody who is prepared to come to Australia to work hard, expend a bit of energy and display a bit of initiative. As the honourable gentleman well knows, every detail cannot be placed in an advertisement. A continuous advertising campaign is being conducted in the United Kingdom and it in general, and I believe in fair terms, represents what Australia has to offer. But relative to the detailed knowledge which a potential migrant has in front of him before he ultimately makes a decision to migrate to Australia, the advertisements are only the start of the process.
I would imagine that no person makes a decision to migrate to Australia on the basis of one of those advertisements. After a person reads an advertisement, the next step is for him to see the Australian immigration officers in the United Kingdom to be counselled, to make specific inquiries and to be given literature^ - for example, a pamphlet on wage rates and employment opportunities, which is amended at least 3 or 4 times a year and contains all the information to which the honourable gentleman alluded and which is available to the potential migrant - before even making a decision to apply to come to the country and before coming into contact with a selection officer and a counselling officer who are there to see that the potential migrant has available to him accurate information about current conditions in Australia. If those officers believe that a potential migrant has an unrealistic view of what he is likely to find when he comes to Australia, they tell him so. I make absolutely no apology for what my Department does in this respect in the United Kingdom in the terms of the honourable gentleman’s question.
– Has the Minister for Foreign Affairs seen reports that Jews wishing to leave the Soviet Union are being forced to pay for their freedom by being charged, on a sliding scale commensurate with their education, for their visas? Further, do the same reports place the price of freedom as high as 12,200 roubles, or approximately $20,000, for a university graduate? Can the Minister inform the House whether there is any truth in these reports, and, if there is, what action is open to the Government to make known its dislike of such an arrangement?
-I have seen these reports. I have also been referred to the speech made by the Israeli Prime Minister on this subject, and in Australia we have been approached by the Israeli Ambassador on the subject. We have not been able to confirm in detail all the alleged facts.
However on several occasions in the United Nations, the last occasion being at the meeting of the General Assembly last year, we have raised our voice and spoken in favour of the free movement of Jews from the Soviet Union in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We support that principle. We have expressed our views and will continue to do so. We had received information that in fact the Soviet Union had been relaxing ds restriction upon the movement of Jews from the Soviet Union. If what the honourable member suggests in his question is correct, it would place a considerable brake upon those who had degrees, particularly those with higher degrees. That information is yet to be confirmed in detail.
– I ask the Minister for Education and Science a question. Last week he told me in answer to a question upon notice that more than 4,100 additional teachers would be required to provide all children in the States with the standard of pre-school education provided in Canberra and that the estimated cost of training the additional teachers would be $25m, ‘which would’, to use the Minister’s words, ‘of necessity be spread over several years’. I ask the Minister: How many years does he estimate it would take to produce the additional number of teachers required?
-The Leader of the Opposition would know that the Government has decided to share with the States, on the same basis that we support universities and colleges of advanced education, the development of State teacher colleges, which are moving to a position of autonomy - that is, looking after their own affairs. All States have decided to give independence to the colleges which previously were run by the respective departments of education. In addition, we have also announced our decision that we will share on a similar basis with the States the further development of pre-school teacher colleges. The Chairman of the Australian Commission on Advanced Education already has been charged with the task of holding discussions with the various authorities in the States, and, if necessary, with the bodies concerned, and of reporting to the Commonwealth not later than the end of March 1973 on the further development of teacher training in these 2 areas. The object of this is to be able to introduce a supplementary programme to support teacher training in those 2 areas which the Government will be able to consider in the early part of next year. This would then bring the general programme for teacher colleges and pre-school teacher colleges, kindergarten teacher colleges, into line with the general triennial university and college of advanced education programmes.
I cannot foreshadow what might be contained in that report or how far it might go, but one of the things which is of importance in this area is the attitude of the State Governments. The Queensland Government, for example, has made a firm decision to provide one year’s pre-schooling for all children within that State. In Victoria and Western Australia, a commission or a committee or a person has been charged with the responsibility of surveying the requirement for pre-school education within those 2 States. There are changes in the attitude of the Tasmanian Government which look like resulting in greater concern for and greater development of pre-schools there. Therefore the demand for pre-school teachers will depend not insignificantly on the action that the States take. Quite obviously the demand will be greater if all States follow the example of Queensland and decide to provide one year’s preschooling for all children within a certain period.
There is one other aspect of this that I think I should mention because it is often overlooked. The starting age in primary schooling is different in different States. When one looks at the New South Wales figures showing children from 3 to 5 years of age in pre-schools, New South Wales appears to be doing very badly. But if one looks at the percentage of 3 to 5 year-olds in full time education - at pre-schools or primary schools - the New South Wales figures compare quite favourably with a number of other States. This is because in New South Wales the primary school age begins earlier than in some of the other States. This matter is often lost sight of when general comparisons are made about the level of pre-school education in all States.
– I address my question to the Minister for National Development and I refer to the publicised proposals to sell Palm Valley gas to overseas interests. I ask the Minister whether it is considered that the quoted $900m concerning the Palm Valley gas would be of value to the Australian economy. Would the construction of a 600 to 900-mile pipeline from Palm Valley to the north coast assist the unemployment situation? Finally, if such a programme were embarked upon, are there any by-products which could be used in Australia to the benefit of our industry?
– This matter has been raised by the honourable member on several occasions. I know that he has raised the matter in this House on at least one occasion and that he has been in touch with me on several other occasions in regard to it. He has done so principally, of course, because the area concerned is in his electorate. However, the area also is of great national importance. During the last week I dealt with a number of matters relating to the policy covering the export of LNG. The honourable member, 1 think, is well aware of the policy problems involved.
In answer to a question yesterday I touched briefly on other aspects such as the value to Australia of export earnings, the value to Australia of having a liquefaction plant which would cost many millions of dollars, the construction of a pipeline and matters of that nature. But the point is whether the gas from this field, which has not yet been proven, is to be used for export or domestic purposes. If it is used domestically, part would be liquefied because the consumer companies would carry, or will in the futue carry, a certain amount of gas in liquid form in storage. Domestic consumption of this gas also would entail the construction of a pipeline. It could be that pipeline could be sent up through the Northern Territory for a special industrial purpose. Alternatively it could go to the west, or east to Sydney by way of perhaps the pipeline from Gidgealpa-Moomba. Such a project would still involve some pipeline construction. 1 can assure the honourable member that these points are kept very much in mind.
The final point which I want to mention is that there are 2 areas involved here. There is the Palm Valley area which so far as indications of gas only and maybe a little condensate. Also there is the Mereenie area which has some proven deposits of liquid petroleum and some gas. The position regarding the utilisation of supplies of liquid petroleum is one of investigation at present. The proposal, as the honourable member knows, is that a small refinery be constructed at Alice Springs. If this is done it will be necessary to give a franchise only to the company in that area and exclude all other distributing operators in that area. Therefore there are many complications involving the Commonwealth subsidy and other matters which concern the Northern Territory Administration. However, negotiations are still continuing in that respect and I will let the honourable member know when some decision is made.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. At the Stockholm Conference on the Environment did Australia vote in favour of a 10-year moratorium on commercial whaling, and yet 3 weeks later at the International Whaling Commission conference in London did Australia abstain from voting on the moratorium issue and instead support the imposition of the usual quota system? Was a change made in Australian policy on this vital conservation matter in the 3 weeks between the Stockholm and London conferences, and if so, what was the reason for that change?
– As my Department of Primary Industry is responsible for the general negotiations that take place within the International Whaling Commission it might be appropriate if I explained to the House that there was no inconsistency between the vote cast by my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts at Stockholm and the others made within the International Whaling Commission for the control of resources of whales around the oceans of the world, lt needs to be recognised that whaling is an industry which today has contracted significantly. It is an industry which, nonetheless, is still of tremendous importance to 2 of the major maritime nations of the world, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Japan. While the United States, as the instigator of the motion at the Stockholm Conference, has withdrawn over the years from whaling activities, those other 2 great maritime nations have maintained very significant fleets on the world’s oceans in an effort to harvest the resources of the sea, including whales. Both countries regard whaling as a vital and continuing commercial interest which at this stage they have shown no inclination to forgo.
Australia has joined with the United States and other countries within the International Whaling Commission which over the years has placed restrictions on a number of species of whales which unfortunately, because of over-fishing, have fallen into a position of almost complete destruction. I am told that some species such as the gray, the righi, the humpback and the blue have today a complete prohibition on them. In other words, the ban does not apply just for a 10-year period as was suggested at the Stockholm Conference but for an indefinite period. I am told also that a quota below the present sustainable yield has been placed on the fin whales because the present sustainable stocks of these whales has declined. However, they are beginning to recover.
As to the other whale stocks, the quotas that have been set over the years within the International Whaling Commission have been accepted by those 2 maritime nations to which I referred and by other nations and, consequently, while Australia and other countries would be prepared to see a complete ban in accordance with the Stockholm resolution, they would seek that all nations comply with the ban and that the ban not apply only to those nations which were prepared to assent.
– What are you spouting about?
– I am saying that Russia and Japan at this stage would not be prepared to accept a 10-year moratorium. Australia has expressed its acceptance of the desire to conserve the stocks of whales as well as its acceptance of a 10-year ban but unfortunately to date the realities of the deliberations of the International Whaling Commission have meant that only a few defined species have had an indefinite period of non-exploitation placed on them. Australia is observing those conditions. It is acting responsibly and in accordance with the regulations of the International Whaling Commission. There is no discrepancy between the action taken by my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, and that taken by officers of my Department with the International Whaling Commission. They each seek to protect the stocks of whales in the sea. If all other nations are prepared to comply with a 10-year moratorium, Australia also would be prepared similarly to comply.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Having seen the David Frost television interview with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition last night, I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he will arrange for the programme to be shown to Australian Broadcasting Commission interviewers so that they can see that such a programme can be interesting, educational and even pleasantly amusing without the necessity to denigrate and score off the person being interviewed, which seems to be the starting point for most, not all, ABC interviewers.
– I am sure that all those Australians who are interested in current affairs programmes would have regarded the programmes last night as being among the best that have been seen in this country. As to showing the films to ABC interviewers, or indeed interviewers in relation to current affairs programmes generally in Australia, that of course would be a matter for the stations concerned. But I think that there was an object lesson in the programmes last night for many Australian interviewers. There is a great difference, of course, between a programme that lasts for half an hour with an interviewer who can put those being interviewed in a completely relaxed frame of mind and what I might term the quick-firing type of current affairs programme which we are used to, with five or six segments within half an hour and the maximum number of questions in each segment. I think the type of programme last night might not suit all occasions but I believe that it was a tremendously interesting and valuable contribution to television.
– Yesterday morning the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) drew my attention to a passage of quoted matter in the speech of the honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) at page 779 of the Hansard report of yesterday’s proceedings. The honourable member for Prospect said that the word solely’ had been omitted from the following sentence:
The basic struggles of class in society will not disappear, but in our increasingly pluralist society we have to adopt a radicalism that is no longer decided solely on the materia] interests of the lower income groups.
This omission, the honourable member said, made a significant difference between the two passages. I have ascertained from the Principal Parliamentary Reporter that the honourable member for Ballaarat used the word ‘solely’, that the Hansard copy contained the word but that it was inadvertently omitted by the printer. It will be restored in the weekly number.
The honourable member said also that the rest of the quotation was completely wrong. I inform the House that the honourable member for Ballaarat was faithfully reported by Hansard. While the Hansard staff makes every effort to verify the accuracy of quotations, obviously it does not always have access to the original documents and in such cases must accept the version given by an honourable member in his speech. In this instance, therefore, beyond the unfortunate omission of ‘solely’ the matter is one between the honourable member for Prospect and the honourable member for Ballaarat.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to apologise to the honourable member for Prospect if the omission of this word has offended him, but as stated by you, Mr Speaker, it was no fault of mine, nor was it the fault of Hansard. But I should also like to state that I did omit another section, for which I apologise.
-Order! The honourable member will not be in order in bringing in any other sections in his speech in relation to this matter.
– Mr Speaker, I did omit another part of this same statement.
-Order! If you did not say it in the House and it is not recorded it is not a matter that is before the House.
– For the information of honourable members I present the interim report of the Australian Wool Commission for the period ending 30th June 1972. When the final report is available I shall table it in accordance with statutory requirements.
– For the information of honourable members I present the interim annual report of the Australian Honey Board for the year ended 30th June 1972. When the final report is available I shall present it in accordance with statutory requirements.
– Pursuant to section 7 of the States Grants (Independent Schools) Act 1969, I present a statement of payments made to independent schools in each State for the year ended 31st December 1971.
– Pursuant to section 148 of the Social Services Act 1947- 1972 I present the 31st annual report of the Director-General of Social Services for the year ended 30 June 1972.
– For the information of honourable members I present the summary report of the
Australian delegation to the United Nations Conference on Human Environment, Stockholm, 1972.
– Minister for Immigration) - by leave - I wish to inform the House of the measures by which effect will be given to the Government’s announced policy of placing increasing emphasis on migrant counselling and selection and migrant education and welfare services.
In counselling migrants prior to their arrival in Australia, important new measures are planned. Specialist immigration officers are proposed for major migration posts overseas. Individual and group counselling will be given to better prepare migrants for life in their new country. A new migrant assessment system will be introduced. Work on this is already well advanced. The purpose of this system is to facilitate an objective assessment of prospective migrants in each of several crucial respects. It draws on past Australian experience and that of other migrantreceiving countries. It does not attempt to transplant the Canadian system into the Australian situation; nor will it be, in the Canadian sense, a cumulative points system. It will evaluate separately each key factor bearing on migrants’ socio-economic prospects in Australia. This will be mutually beneficial both to migrants who have yet to come here and to the Australian community generally. For migrants already here, the emphasis in the Budget on English language training facilities and migrant welfare services is of immediate importance.
As our migrant education programmes have gained momentum, there has been a corresponding increase in the funds provided for this purpose. Prior to 1970, expenditure on migrant education amounted to some $lm annually. In 1970-72, the first full year after a major expansion in these services was announced, expenditure increased to $3,875,000. Last financial year it rose to $6,275,624, and a further increase is proposed for this financial year.
The Budget accordingly provides for the expenditure of no less than $9,225,000 on migrant education services this year, an increase of 44 per cent over the amount expended in 1971-72. The main elements in these services are the child migrant education programme, the adult migrant education programme, full time intensive English language courses and preembarkation and shipboard instruction.
A total of $4,889,000 is provided in the Budget for the child migrant education programme for 1972-73 compared with an expenditure of $3,263,737 in 1971-72. This represents an increase of 50 per cent. This programme has gathered considerable momentum during the past 2 years. At the end of 1969-70 there were 8,800 migrant children in special classes. In 1970-71 there were 21,000. In 1971-72 there were 34,000. This year we expect 40,000 migrant children to be enrolled in these special classes.
The number of schools receiving direct assistance under the child migrant education programme has also increased greatly. At the end of 1969-70 there were 199 schools receiving assistance. In 1970-71 the number rose to 440, and in 1971-72 it again increased sharply to a total of 707. This financial year we expect the number of schools receiving assistance to reach 808. The number of special teachers whose salaries are paid by the Department of Immigration has risen in a similar manner. At the end of 1969-70 there were 246 of these special teachers. In 1970-71 their numbers rose to 546, and in 1971-72 to 903. In 1972-73 we expect that almost 1,000 special teachers will be financed by the Department of Immigration. About twothirds of these are expected to be working on a full time basis.
A total of $2,940,000 provided in the Budget for the adult migrant education programme for 1972-73, compared with an expenditure of $2,114,334 in 1971-72. This represents an increase of 39 per cent The major part of this increase results from the decision by the Government to pay living allowances to migrants attending accelerated courses on a full time basis. These full time accelerated courses will be of 10 weeks duration, and will involve at least 6 hours instruction daily, 5 days a week. The transfer in emphasis to accelerated and more specialised forms of instruction will help migrants reach, much more quickly than otherwise would be possible, a proficiency in English which will permit the fullest use of their qualifications and experience. There will also be an increase in the number of part-time accelerated courses for those migrants able to attend morning, afternoon or evening classes. Full time and par* time accelerated courses will be in addition to the full time intensive courses, which are also being expanded. Special consideration is also being given to the needs of migrant workers in industry. A 6 weeks course, specifically designed for this purpose, has been developed and teste J in selected factories. The co-operation of employers in this pilot project has been most encouraging, and part of the course has been given in normal working hours. It is intended to introduce this course for migrant workers in industry progressively in all States.
A total of $1,297,000. is povided in the Budget for full time intensive English language courses, compared with an expenditure of $859,607 in 1971-72. This represents an increase of more than 50 per cent. The number of centres for full time intensive courses - located in all States and the Australian Capital Territory - will be increased from 12 to 17, and their annual capacity raised from 1,585 to 2,170. A survey of the results of these full time intensive courses has been carried out. The results have confirmed our expectation that they are highly successful in improving the social and economic prospects of the migrants completing them and are, in consequence, also to the advantage of the community generally.
Amongst the other important measures proposed this year is the development of migrant education centres in all capital cities. These will provide a focal point for migrant education in each State. They will include facilities for full time intensive courses, accelerated courses and classes for special groups, for example, migrant women and adolescents. In addition education centres are being developed in 8 of the 14 hostel complexes now operating. These provide day and evening classes for migrant men and women, as well as intensive instruction for migrant children in courses of up to 12 weeks duration before they go into the normal school system.
An amount of $99,000 is provided for pre-embarkation and shipboard instruction this year, compared with an expenditure of $37,945 last financial year. The additional funds will be used for the development of pre-embarkation English language (raining and orientation instruction in France, Scandinavia, Yugoslavia and Turkey. Shipboard services will be maintained and continuity established with the on-going programme in Australia. This does not represent our total commitment in the field of preembarkation English language training. More than $150,000 of our annual contribution to the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration is specifically ear-marked for migrant training services. ICEM is responsible on behalf of the Department of Immigration for the language training programme in Greece, Italy, Germany and Austria and, to a more limited extent, in Malta, Belgium and the Netherlands.
As the well-being of migrants must be a paramount consideration, migrant welfare services are being expanded. The Budget provides for grants totalling $334,600 to community agencies involved in integration activities. This represents an increase of 45 per cent over payments made to community agencies last financial year when $230,982 was expended. The increase in the number of grants to voluntary welfare agencies will allow for an expansion of community social worker services to migrants which are, of course, additional to the Department of Immigration’s own social worker and welfare officer services. To inform recentlyarrived migrants more fully concerning the welfare services and other facilities available to them, a specialist counselling service is proposed. This will enable visits to the home, to the workplace and to the schools by members of a special team of trained welfare officers and interpreters. These services will be directed to the various ethnic groups in co-operation with the community agencies engaged in migrant welfare.
It is also proposed to extend the normal integration services to meet the special requirements of migrant children. Our intention here is that bilingual or multilingual officers trained in welfare work be attached, by arrangement with State and other education authorities, to schools or groups of schools in which there are significant numbers of migrants. Their purpose will be to help with enrolments, assist migrant children to adapt to a new culture, to eliminate problems of communication, and generally to assist liaison between the school and the migrant home. It is proposed to provide this service in State capitals and major provincial cities with substantial migrant populations. In addition, we shall seek to introduce a social orientation and language programme to prepare pre-school age migrant children for entry into primary school. Initially, these courses will be associated with child minding centres at migrant hostels.
The Budget also provides for increased financial support for the Good Neighbour Councils. The successful integration of migrants reflects to a very large extent their sustained and nation-wide activities. Accordingly, payments to Good Neighbour Councils will be increased from $525,123 in 1971-72 to $620,000 this financial year. Amongst the other measures provided for in the Budget, considerable thought has been given to the subject of interpreter services for migrants. In addition to existing interpreter services provided by the Department of Immigration, an ‘on call’ telephone interpreter service will be introduced. This will provide a 24-hour service for urgent community needs, lt will cover the languages which experience has shown involve the greatest problems of communication.
In summary, the Budget provides for the expenditure of $ 10.2m on migrant education and welfare services during the current financial year, compared with $7m in 1971-72. This represents an increase of $3. 2m, or 46 per cent, and is impressive evidence of the importance which the Government attaches to these matters. It is less than 2i years since the then Minister for Immigration, the present Minister for Labour and Mational Service (Mr Lynch), announced on 23rd April 1970 a migrant education programme to cost $16m spread over 4 years. The rate at which we have been able to develop this programme has, however, considerably exceeded our original expectation. We intent to maintain this momentum. In scope and content, and in flexibility and willingness to innovate, the Government’s migrant education and integration service have become a significant instrument of social and economic policy.
The further measures provided for in the Budget, which 1 have just outlined, are of obvious and direct importance to Australia’s very considerable migrant community. This alone would be sufficient to justify them. But I wish also to stress that the whole community, and not only migrants, will benefit both directly and indirectly. The further economic and social gains which will flow from this constitute a substantial further inducement, should any be needed, for the strongest possible support for our policies from all sections of the community. I present the following paper:
Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Beazley) adjourned.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, I present the reports relating to the following proposed works:
Ordered that the resorts be printed.
– On behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capita] Territory I present the Committee’s report on outstanding items 11 and 13 of the 49th series of variations to the plan of the layout of the city of Canberra. I seek leave to make a short statement in connection with the report.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
– The report which I have just tabled deals with 2 outstanding items which were referred to the Committee as part of the 49th series of variations to the plan of the layout of the city of Canberra. The Committee reported to Parliament on the remainder of items comprising this reference on 20th April 1972. In the report it indicated that it wished to give further consideration to items 11 and 13, and the report I have just presented is the Committee’s report on those outstanding items. From 1956 to 1971 proposed variations referred by the Minister for the Interior were considered by the Committee in private and the Committee communicated its decision direct to the Minister. In 1971 this practice was reviewed and since then reports on variation proposals have been made to the Senate and the House of Representatives. I know of no occasion in the past when the Committee has failed to recommend the implementation of a proposed variation referred for its consideration. The report I have just presented therefore represents a departure in that, having given careful consideration to these 2 matters, the Committee has decided that it cannot support items 11 and 13 of the proposed variations. The reasons for such refusal to approve are set out in full in the report.
We are all strongly of the view that there is already too much concession to the needs of private motorists and the accommodation of their vehicles in the existing proposals for the development of Canberra. Although there is a public transport system in existence, we have formed the impression that it does not provide an acceptable alternative to the private motorist, to the use of his own vehicle. Nor do we consider that improvement in the public transport system alone will reduce the community’s reliance on private motor vehicles. Improvement to the public transport system is needed but would only be effective in conjunction with some discouragement to private motorists for the use of their own cars, plus consideration of the introduction of staggered working hours. The provision of extensive parking facilities close to Government offices and other workplaces continues the trend of encouraging private motorists which we consider should be arrested.
There are 2 further points that I should make. The first concerns the position in which this Committee is often placed when asked to consider proposed variations to roads. In many cases these are identical to major develepmental projects undertaken by the Commission. Very often the land use proposals have reached a point of development which makes it very difficult for the Committee to oppose the proposed variations to roads which are incidental to the overall plan. This is a problem that previous Committees also noted. The Commission is also aware of it. We are grateful for the opportunity to attend sessions with the Commission when we are given some advance notice of the new developments which are being considered. However, we feel that it would be helpful if in future when variations are referred to the Committee, the referral were at an earlier stage so that the land development proposal could be modified should the Committee be disposed to recommend against the implementation of the road variations which it has been asked to examine and report upon. I commend the report to the House.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Mr ENDERBY (Australian Capital Territory - I ask leave to make a short statement.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– In some ways this report from the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory is a milestone for the Australian Capital Territory, as the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) has pointed out. It seems to be the first occasion, at least since the procedure was changed, on which the Committee has refused to give approval to a proposition to change the road plan of Canberra. The Committee serves a very important role in Canberra. With the lack of territorial government here, the Committee serves as a kind of watchdog. I am grateful for the short time that has been granted to me to speak today because I want to comment on the Committee’s report. Firstly, the report talks about the lack of liaison in Canberra between Government departments. For example the Committee says that it was shocked to learn that the police were not consulted about the proposition to change the road plan. But that relates to only one aspect of the report.
A very important principle underlies the Committee’s attitude to the second point about the excessive use of the private motor car. Canberra already has a population of approximately 160,000 and this increases by about 10 per cent - or some 15,000 people - every year. It is a city designed for the mo:or car; it has almost no real public transport. One has only to see the congestion around the Russell Hill complex - that was in the Committee’s mind when it drew attention to the excessive amount of space being taken up by bitumen - to realise what will happen if this development goes on in the way it is going on now. Something like 20 per cent of the urban surface is taken up with carriageways, and that does not take into account the area devoted to parking spaces.
It is not an easy problem to solve. You cannot take away unreasonably the freedom of the ordinary citizen to use his motor car, but you have to provide him with a better system. Cities like Rome and Bologna have experimented with providing free public transport. It seems to me that that is not the complete answer, but it is something that can be thought about seriously now and at least started as a beginning. Surely we have to move in the direction of regarding the motor car as part of public transport. I am thinking of the suggestions put forward for mini-buses, dial-a-bus and things of that sort to keep the motorist off the road at least in peak times and to provide him with a better system. Why should our taxi service not be regarded more as part of the public transport system than it is now? One should consider the social cost of the motor car that follows from the congestion and is reflected in twisted bodies, third party insurance premiums, industries like the panel beating industry, the excessive amount of land devoted to the motor car and the social wastage involved in the use of the motor car. lt is parked and left useless all day, merely to take a person to work and to bring a person home. Surely in Canberra of all places, where there are plenary powers, a survey could be undertaken to determine just how much it would cost and how much cheaper overall it would be - I suggest it would be cheaper - to subsidise either a private taxi service or a government run taxi service that would pick up people and take them to work by arrangement. It would be known that people in one area wanted to work in another area, and they would be taken there and brought back. It would not be beyond the present level of computer technology. It could be done, and I suggest seriously that it must be done. In Canberra 85 per cent to 90 per cent of people drive their cars to work. That is by far the highest percentage for anywhere in Australia and probably in the whole world. For a variety of reasons Canberra has by far the highest percentage of people owning and driving motor cars. One should look at the cost of the motor car - the hire purchase cost, the depreciation cost - and at the industries it supports which could engage in more socially useful activity. This is the problem but it is linked up with other matters.
For example, only a week or so ago the attention of the people of Canberra was drawn to the fact that the carbon monoxide levels at peak hours in Northbourne Avenue approached a standard which is the significant danger to health level, as recommended by the Government of the United States of America. The level was far in excess of the levels recommended by the World Health Organisation. It is true that it was not an average. The levels were taken at peak hour in Canberra. This is a city with only 160,000 people, yet the carbon monoxide levels are rapidly approaching those of Pitt Street in Sydney, and our population is increasing by something like 15,000 people a year. Canberra is a city designed for the motor car, but we are not taking sufficient account of the social cost of the motor car. Those are the features that underlie this report, which requires that it be given a very wide reading because it is, I believe, the beginning of an awareness of the problem that has to be solved.
– I seek leave to make a brief statement.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I intervene to make this statement because of my responsibility as the Federal spokesman on urban affairs for my Party. May I commend the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory on the important principle that has been set down in this case. The world as a whole is looking at the problem of the motor car in the city. All of us are proud of Canberra and we are proud of the National Capital Development Commission, which has been responsible for the planning of Canberra, but we have to recognise that Canberra is too orientated to the private motor car. Unless we lift the standard of our public transport system we have no chance at all of solving these problems. The Committee has determined to seek a better public transport system. If we are going to have an alternative to the motor car - whether it be in Canberra or in any other capital city - that alternative must be an efficient public transport system. The present public transport system in Canberra is a bus system but the buses do not run frequently enough. If we are to have a public transport system the first principle is frequency of service. Unless we have frequency of service people will not use the buses. In some cases, in the newer outer districts of Canberra people have to wait for up to an hour for a bus. 1 do not want to steal the time of the
House because the Leader of the House has been kind enough to allow me to make a few comments on this matter, but I think that the principle that this Committee has set down should be looked at in the light of public transport systems in every capital city in Australia. Australia has to move back to some type of public transport system in the cities. Each city has to determine, after scientific analysis, the type of rapid transport system it should have. It is about time that this Commonwealth Government became involved in the development of other cities apart from Canberra.
Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 12th September 1972 at 11 a.m., or at such time thereafter as Mr Speaker may take the chair.
– Order! I inform the honourable member for Sturt that the motion which has been moved by the Leader of the House should be agreed to by the House first in the sense that it relates to the sitting of the House. When that question is resolved the honourable member can raise his point and then the matter will come before the Chair and the House. I think that the motion which has been moved should be agreed to because it relates to the rising of the House and the next time of sitting.
– Fair enough. I will seek leave later.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
-The honourable member for Sturt has indicated that he desires to raise a matter before the House. The question that is posed to the Chair at the moment is the means by which the honourable member can raise the matter. I think that the only way is for the honourable member to seek leave. I cannot think that it relates to a personal misrepresentation or a point of order. I suggest in the circumstances that the honourable member should ask for leave to make a short statement.
– 1 ask for leave to make such a statement.
-Order! Is leave granted?
– On what subject?
– On the subject of the manner in which I have been dealt with in this House by members of the Government parties by the defacing of the office provided here for me, by abuse and ‘by certain statements made in this House last night, which I think-
-Order! 1 suggest that we proceed with the business of the House.
– I seek leave-
– Leave is refused. At this point I will refuse leave. I will have a private conversation with the honourable gentlemen to see if we can come to some arrangement about his point but now is not the appropriate time.
– I came close to being dismissed from this House last night over remarks made by Government members. This is the matter on which I seek leave to speak.
-Order! 1 suggest to the honourable member for Sturt that he might have a discussion with the Leader of the House in regard to this matter, and that the House proceed to the next business.
– 1 think the Leader of the House is probably aware of what I want to raise. Am I to be placed in the position of moving for the suspension of the Standing Orders? I have merely asked for leave to make a statement to the House. The Leader of the House, I am sure, knows full well the point I wish to raise. I have merely asked the leave of the House to make that short statement.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, with the indulgence of the House, at this stage I am not prepared to give leave. I do not think I can be fairer than offering to discuss the matter with the honourable gentleman to ascertain whether we can come to some arrangement so that he can be accommodated but at this point of time, in view of the Government programme as set out on the notice paper, it is not convenient to give leave. As I have said: I undertake to have a discussion with the honourable gentleman to see if we can accommodate him.
– I feel that I must persist with my request for leave because the matter I wish to raise-
– I appreciate that but may I say-
-Order! 1 point out to the honourable member that once leave has been refused there are no other means under Standing Orders by which the honourable member can proceed with his point. This is the situation in which I am placed at the moment. There is no opportunity at this time for the honourable member to say anything and accordingly we must proceed with Government Business.
– I want to move that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent my raising in this House a matter that is of vital personal concern to me.
-It will have to be put in writing.
– Yes, just give me time to write it. The business of the House is not all that urgent.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, the Leader of the House has suggested-
– He knows what it is about.
– No, I do not.
– The Leader of the House has indicated to the honourable member for Sturt that he will be prepared to discuss the matter with him. I suggest that in the circumstances, if the Minister is prepared to give an assurance to discuss it with the honourable member for Sturt - I hope that he will provide the honourable member with an opportunity to make his statement, if not today, then at the earliest possible opportunity - I think it might be wise for the honourable member to have a discussion with the Leader of the House.
– If I may-
-Order! This is all completely out of order.
– That may be so but I ask you to allow me a little latitude. The point that I made when I sought leave was that the Minister is aware of the matter which I want to raise and he has now confirmed this by nodding to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, so I do not think any good purpose would be served by having a discussion with him because he knows that the matter is semi-public within this House.
-I call on Government Business.
Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide parliamentary authority for the extension of the wool deficiency payments scheme from 1st July 1972 until 30th June 1973. On 20th June 1972 I announced that the Government had decided to continue for a further 12 months the positive programme of support for wool growers which operated during the 1971-72 wool selling season. To recapitulate briefly, the scheme which was introduced in 1971 was designed to supplement wool growers market returns from shorn wool for a period of one year to a level equivalent to an average of 79.37c per kilogram for the whole Australian wool clip. Some low-grade, low-value wools constituting about 10 per cent of the clip were excluded from the scheme as were woolled sheepskins. Deficiency payments already made to wool growers in respect of the 1971-72 wool selling season amount to just over$50m with a further amount of approximately $1.2m to be paid early in September in respect of wool sold in price averaging plan pool 4.
During the latter portion of the 1971-72 wool selling season the wool market rose to levels at which no deficiency payments were attracted. Nevertheless, the fact that the scheme boosted wool growers returns during the first half of the season by over $50m is positive evidence that the deficiency payments were of very real benefit to wool growers in a time of desperate need. The scheme itself guaranteed a reasonable return to wool growers for a product sold almost exclusively abroad at a time when there was a marked reduction in buyer interest. It enabled many growers to survive. The deficiency payments scheme was part of the extensive programme of Government support which has led to the renewal of confidence, now apparent, in the future of the wool industry. When the scheme was introduced in 1971 it was to have operated for one year only. In moving the second reading of the Bill last year I stated that the deficiency payments scheme should be viewed in the context of a total approach to the urgent problems affecting wool growers. Its purpose was to assist in preserving the wool industry’s viability and to provide a breathing space so that necessary adjustments in the industry could take place with a minimum of economic and social disruption.
The 1971-72 wool selling season was the first full year of the operation of the Australian Wool Commission. The presence of the Commission, as a strong seller in the auction market operating above its minimum reserve, resulted in the acquisition of stocks of some 930,000 bales of wool by December 1971. Throughout this period the deficiency payments scheme guaranteed reasonable returns to wool growers while the Commission ensured that the clip was not sold at give away prices in the market place. At the same time steps were taken to accelerate the application of pre-sale objective measurement techniques and the sale of wool by sample. The recovery of the market this calendar year has justified the confidence of Government in the industry. The measures now before the House demonstrate its continued confidence while marketing changes are being implemented. In the meanwhile the extension of the deficiency payment scheme for a further 12 months will protect the industry against extreme downward price movements while marketing reforms are being introduced.
The scheme is to operate on exactly the same lines as in 1971-72. A notional price schedule for all the wool types which constitute the Australian wool clip is being prepared to give an average price of 79.37c per kilogram greasy over the whole season for the full clip. This schedule will have regard to the average greasy wool prices achieved during the 1971-72 wool selling seasons. At the end of each auction week the Australian Wool Commission or its successor will calculate the percentage difference between the actual proceeds and the proceeds based on the national price schedule. This percentage will be applied to the gross value of eligible wool sold by each producer to determine the deficiency payment to which the grower is entitled. The scheme will cover wool sold and delivered by a grower up to 30th June 1973. Wool sold at that date but not delivered will not be eligible for a deficiency payment nor will wool delivered for sale but not sold. Proceedures for transmitting deficiency payments to growers will also bc the same as those applying for the 1971-72 wool selling season. A new category of persons registered under the Act is provided in the Bill. This category is the merchant who does not purchase wool direct from the grower but who sells it on commission on behalf of the grower. Such persons who are classfied for the purposes of the scheme as registered commission agents will need to apply for registration. The registration of other persons effected under the provisions of the wool (Deficiency Payments) Act 1971 will continue in force for 1972-73.
The question of deficiency payments in respect of woolled sheep skins has been again examined. After a thorough review of the situation, it has been concluded that during the operation of the scheme in 1971-72 the trade in woolled sheep skins had not suffered adversely by the operation of the deficiency payments scheme. It is likely that when the deficiency rate is of the order of 20 per cent, which was the case during the first half of the 1971-72 wool selling season, there is some incentive for growers to shear sheep before slaughter. During 1971-72 the number of shorn pelts which could not be used profitably by the sheep skin industry, increased markedly. This may have been due as much to the level of wool prices as to the operation of the scheme. When wool prices are at a level which attracts deficiency payments there is an incentive for wool growers to move from sheep to some other more profitable farm enterprises and there is a consequent rise in the number of sheep slaughtered. In 1971-72 despite the increase in shorn pelts, the number of skins with more than 2 inches of wool was only marginally down on the previous year. At this time there is no justification therefore in establishing a complex and costly scheme for the assessment of a deficiency payment on woolled sheep skins.
The Government will, however, continue to watch the situation and should it become apparent that the woolled skin trade is being disadvantaged by the scheme, consideration will be given to what measures may be appropriate to correct the situation. Wool prices at the opening sales of the 1972-73 wool selling season have been higher than the closing levels of the 1971-72 season. It is expected that they will continue above the level at which deficiency payments will occur and the Budget provision has been determined accordingly. The Act provides, however, for the appropriation of whatever funds should be necessary for the operation of the scheme, in the event that the market fall below present expectations. The extension of the deficiency payments scheme for a further 12 months will provide wool growers with a sense of security and should enhance confidence in the future of the industry. It will mean that those who are wool growers can again confidently programme knowing again this year the minimum return which they can expect. The measures are indeed a further positive demonstration of the Government’s continuing confidence in the future of the wool industry. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Daly) adjourned.
– I move:
I understand that this is a unanimous wish of the Public Works Committee. I have sought agreement from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard), and he has given his agreement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Construction of New Runway and Associated Works at Port Moresby Airport
– I move:
The proposed work comprises: Construction of new 14L/32R runway of 9,000 ft- 2,750 metres - length and associated taxiways; Extension of existing terminal apron and strengthening of portions of existing parallel taxiway and terminal apron, and associated engineering services. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $7. 5m. I table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Development of Nadzab (Territory of Papua New Guinea) Airport
– I move:
The proposed work is for the development of the existing airport facilities at Nadzab to a stage which will allow the transfer of airport activities from the Lae Airport.
It will include: Strengthening the existing runways and taxiways and construction of additional taxiways; construction of aircraft parking area’s; construction of operation, terminal and maintenance buildings and associated engineering services; and provision of general electrical reticulation, roads, drainage, fencing and river protection works. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $3. 85m. I table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented by Mr Garland, and read a first time.
– I move:
This is the first of 3 Bills needed to implement the proposal made in the Budget Speech to increase the rate of stamp duty payable on the sale and purchase of marketable securities. Stamp duty was introduced into the Australian Capital Territory on 1st July 1969 both to stop the Territory from being used as a haven from State duties and to ensure that Territory residents bore certain charges comparable with those borne by residents of the States.
On transactions in marketable securities - that is, in company shares or debentures or in rights to take up shares or debentures - A.C.T. duty is at present levied at the rate in force in the States when the A.C.T. duty was introduced The States increased their rates by one-half from last January. This Bill, with the 2 associated Bills I shall introduce shortly, will bring the A.C.T. rates up to the new State rates.
Where securities listed on a stock exchange are sold for full value through a stockbroker, duty - either A.C.T. or State - is collected from seller and buyer under the ‘broker return’ system. Where the order to sell the securities is placed with a broker in the Territory, A.C.T. duty payable by the selling broker is now imposed at the rate of 20c for each $100 or part thereof, if the sale price is $100 or more. For transactions of less than $100 in value the rate of duty is 5c for each $25 or part thereof. For sales of securities made on or after 1st November 1972 it is proposed by this Bill to raise the rate to 30c per $100 or part thereof, where the sale price is $100 or more. For smaller transactions the proposed rate is 7c for each $25 or part thereof.
An explanatory memorandum relating to this and the associated measures is being circulated for the information of honourable members. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Garland, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill is associated with the Australian Capital Territory Tax (Sales of Marketable Securities) Bill 1972 that has just been introduced. It proposes an increase - of the same order as proposed in the earlier Bill - in the rates at which stamp duty is imposed under the ‘broker return’ system on the purchase side of transactions in marketable securities. 1 commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Garland, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is the third of the stamp duty measures necessary to bring the rate of Australian Capital Territory stamp duty on transactions in marketable securities into line with the rates in force in the States. Under ACT legislation, duty on transfers in unlisted shares, and on other transfers outside the ‘broker return’ system, is payable by the person to whom the securities are transferred. The present rate of duty is 5c for each $12.50 or part thereof of ‘he value of the securities transferred. This Bill proposes to increase the rate to 15c for each $25 or fractional part of $25 of the value of the securities. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Garland, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill will give effect to the estate duty proposals announced in the Budget Speech. At present an estate is exempt from duty if its value is $20,000 or less and it passes to the spouse, children or grandchildren of the deceased. The corresponding amount where no part passes to these close relatives is $10,000. For primary producer estates the outright exemption is $24,000 for estates passing to close relatives and $12,000 where no part so passes. In broad terms, a primary producer estate is one that consists principally of farm assets, including land, and which results from the death of a person domiciled in Australia whose income was, in the 5 years before death, principally derived from a business of primary production.
This Bill proposes to double the exemption limits. The general exemptions will thus become $40,000 for an estate passing wholly to close relatives and $20,000 for an estate passing wholly to other persons. The exemptions for primary producer estates will become $48,000 and $24,000. The exemptions will continue to diminish at the existing rate of $2 for every $8 by which the value of an estate exceeds the outright exemption level. This means they will cut out for estates generally at $200,000, where the whole of the estate passes to close relatives, and at $100,000 where no part so passes. For primary producer estates the cut-out points will be $240,000 and $120,000 respectively.
As a result of the proposals in this Bill, about one-half of the estates that would have become liable for duty under the present law will be wholly exempt. Most estates that remain dutiable will benefit from some reduction in the amount of duty payable. The new exemptions will apply to estates of persons who died or die after 15th August 1972. A memorandum explaining the provisions of the Bill is being made available to honourable members. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Garland, and read a first time.
(11.57)- I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill will give effect to the Budget proposal to raise the gift duty exemption from $4,000 to $10,000. The present exemption limit of $4,000 was fixed in 1947 and applies to the value of all gifts made by the same donor within a period of 3 years. Where the aggregate value of all gifts made in a 3 year period commencing 18 months before and ending 18 months after the date of a particular gift is within the exemption limit, the gift is exempt from duty.
Under the proposals in the Bill, gift duty will not be payable on a gift made on or after 1 6th August 1972 unless its value is greater than $10,000 or its value, together with the value of all other gifts made in the aggregation period, is greater than that amount. The Bill also contains shading-in provisions - along the lines of those in the present law - to ensure that full duty is not payable where the value of gifts made by a person within the aggregation period is only marginally above the exemption level. A memorandum explaining the provisions of the Bill is being made available to honourable members. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Garland, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bil) be now read a second time.
This Bill is complementary to the Gift Duty Bill that has just been introduced. At present no gift duty return needs to be furnished unless gifts amounting to $3,000 - three-fourths of the existing exemption of $4,000 - are made in a relevant period. This Bill will raise the amount of gifts requiring a return to $7,500 - that is, three-fourths of the new exemption of $10,000. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1972-73 Second Reading (Budget Debate)
Debate resumed from 30 August (vide page 737), on motion by Mr Snedden: Thoi 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 it fails to define adequate economic and social goals for Australia; and in particular because it provides no programme for restoring full employment, no means of checking the costs and prices of goods and land, no framework for improving the standards of education, health, welfare and public transport and no national plan for our capital cities and regional centres’.
– The Treasurer (Mr Snedden) has unashamedly presented a desperate Government’s election Budget. The Budget strategy of 1971-72 is in tatters and the soiled anti-inflationary measures have been discarded. The harsh proposals of the last year which caused large scale unemployment have been put to one side at least until after the election. These give way to the election promises of correction of injustice and the remedy of anomalies. I express my approval of what the Government has done in giving this belated measure of justice to pensioners. It is high time that action was taken to remedy the needs of pioneers of this country who have made their contribution in building the economy and serving this country in war and in peace. Electors are entitled to ask why this help was delayed. Last year the Government budgeted for a $630m surplus. This year’s estimates will absorb all of that amount of money and the Government plans a deficit of $60m. Of course, with the continuing rise in costs and prices - the spiral which seems to be unending and which will be stimulated by this Budget - it seems definite there will not be a deficit because tax receipts should increase.
Despite the extravagant words of the Treasurer, it is obvious that taxation reductions will mean little to the low income earner, lt is true that those who have high incomes and those who are fortunate to own large estates will gain because of the reduced tax scale. But one should consider the words of Professor Hogan of the University of Sydney and see what he has put before thinking people. He said that the percentage rise in income as a result of the new tax scales reveals some interesting facts. The gain on a taxable income of $2,000 would be 1.54 per cent for a single man, 1.56 per cent for a man with a wife and child and 3.57 per cent for a man with a wife and 3 children. However, in respect of an income of $15,000 the percentage rise in income after tax would be 4.62 per cent for a single person, 4.90 per cent for a married man with one child and 5.30 per cent for a married man with 3 children. These figures clearly reveal that the person who has a high income will do much better under this Budget than the person in the lower income bracket. This result, of course, one would expect from a graduated scale of income tax.
This Budget is notorious for what it fails to do. In particular it fails the family. The family is neglected, abandoned and unwanted by this Government which gives practical aid to the zero population advocates. Those opposed to the family concept would certainly find comfort in what the Government has done in ignoring the wants of the family - the people who have built and who are maintaining our country; those who are upholding the standards upon which this nation has been built. In this year of handouts there is nothing for the family, which is the base of the development of our nation. There has been no increase in family endowment. The payment of 50c which was granted in 1950 for the first child has not been altered. After the laspe of 22 years this benefit remains unaltered. This is the sorry record of the present Government. The $1 which was granted in 1948 for the second child remains the same today despite the staggering increase in the cost of living which has occurred since then. As I have said, the Government has ignored the needs of the family, lt has disregarded the people who are playing a most important part in building this country.
The maternity allowance has not been changed since the anti-Labor Government came to office in 1949. It remains the same. Again the families - the people who are responsible for maintaining this country - are the ones who are suffering most because of the blindness and hardhearted attitude of this Government which through the years has shown scant respect for the family. When family endowment was first introduced in Australia in 1927 - it came into operation on 22nd July 1927 under the Lang administration in New South Wales - that legislation was bitterly opposed in a most cruel and nasty fashion by the Henleys and the Ness’ and others who sat on the LiberalConservative side of the Parliament. At that time 5 shillings a week was granted to children under 14 years of age. This was at a time when the basic wage was about £3 10s a week. Today this Government has failed to take any action to increase the endowment given to the first child which still remains at 50c.
The first endowment legislation was introduced into the Commonwealth Parliament on 7th April 1941. The late Harold Holt, a former Prime Minister, spoke of the value of this legislation when introducing it. He spoke of the 5 shillings for each child other than the first under 16 years of age. To those who might have been critics of the scheme he said that it would provide a high return in human happiness. The Government should realise that if it wants to have a high return in human happiness today action should be taken now to correct this scandalous state of affairs. Families have been neglected in this shocking and shameless way. I put it to the Government: ‘Please do something about this matter and do it now’, because if action is not taken now undoubtedly action will be taken by an incoming Labor government to correct this scandalously anomalous position.
The Government has failed the families of Australia. Prices have gone up out of reach for them and pressure has been placed on mothers to leave their homes in search of work, to the neglect of their children. Noble words are spoken by people who deplore juvenile delinquency, while mothers are compelled to leave their homes and go out to work in order to help provide the necessary income to pay for radios, television, instalments on the home and other debts which obviously occur in the modern home.
What does money buy today? It buys precious little. In the days when endowment was fixed at 50c, that amount of money would probably buy 2 lb of butter. Today 50c could not buy 1 lb of butter. Also, fillet, sirloin or a good rump steak would be a luxury in many homes today. I put it to the Government that if there is one area in which this Budget has failed - and failed in a most grievous way - it is in neglecting the children, and also the mothers of families who carry the great burden of high costs at present. The Government has failed to take any action in regard to costs. It has refused to act and has allowed prices to go on rising. It is true that from time to time members of the Government make some comment about wages and salaries and direct attention to the fact that these are increasing. The cost of dear money, dear land and dear foodstuffs and the ability of the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd to increase the prices of its iron and steel products without reference to anyone and then to record handsome profits go unnoticed by this Government. The Budget strategy of 1971 of curbing inflation is a casualty; the Government has passed that over for (he time being. What was not feasible or sound last year is feasible and practical today. Last year’s Budget surplus of $600m is spending money today, proving conclusively that money can be obtained when and where it is required.
Another deficiency in the Government is its promise on the means test. This promise does not form part of the Budget documents in any way. This is just another promise. Every honourable member will recall that the non -Labor parties were returned to power in 1949 on a promise to abolish the means test and to put value back into the pound. But what has occurred under the anti-Labor governments is the abolition of the pound and the maintenance of the means test. In fact, the pound has disappeared; it has given way to the dollar, which in purchasing power is also a casualty. This Budget, is not a good Budget; nor can a Budget be good if it harms or hurts people. The means test is one way of penalising thrifty people. The Government’s promises have been made over an over again. When election time comes, another promise is made. This has been the pattern of action throughout the years.
I have looked over some questions 1 have asked in regard to this matter. On 6th February 1952 1 directed a ques.ion to
Athol Townley, the then Minister for Social Services, who went on record as saying:
As for the means test and superannuated persons, I assure the honourable member that the officers of my Department and I have devoted a considerable amount of time to the preparation of a scheme to abolish the means test. We have made some real progress, and at the appropriate time, and in the appropriate way, a scheme will bc announced.
That statement was made in 1952 and all that the people have received now is another promise that something will be done about this matter. This is another area which has been neglected by the Government.
Another matter which should win the approval of people living in country areas is the question of decentralisation. Again, reference to action on this issue is missing from the Budget Speech. No reference has been made in the Budget to decentralisation or the dispersal of population from the overcrowded cities to the countryside. No reference has been made to the building up of our country towns and villages for the maintenance of our way of life in the country areas. It has been stated in the classical way that decentralisation means to break up the centralisation of authority, as in government or industry, and to distribute among them more places and local authorities. Lip service will be paid to this issue during election time. Much will be said about decentralisation. But, if one looks at the facts of the case, a disturbing picture is revealed.
By the year 2000, Sydney will have a population of 5.5 million. The only other cities in New South Wales which have more than 31,000 people are Newcastle and Wollongong. All the mainland capitals will double their population in the next 30 years. It has been claimed by a competent authority that SI 20m would be saved by locating 500,000 people in country towns and cities. In the light of the tremendous cost of maintaining our inflated capital cities, surely the Government should be stirred to action. According to a report made by the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board in New South Wales, $l,000m will be required to provide water and sewerage services in the next 10 years and, in any event, 1.25 million people in Australia are not likely to have water and sewerage services in that time.
These are the problems which constantly are being posed - the question of the big cities, their growth and pollution and the cost of providing transportation. In Sydney, the Warringah Expressway to date has cost $25m. It is estimated that the remainder of the expressway will cost between $60m and $70m. The Western Distributor has cost $4.3m; the Southern Expressway has cost $15m and the extension will cost $14m; the first stage of the Northwestern Expressway will cost $30m for a distance of only H miles. A similar story can be told of Melbourne and of other great capitals throughout Australia and the world. It is estimated that the Eastern Suburbs Railway will cost $130m. In Melbourne, it is estimated that the underground railway loop will cost $1 17.3m. These sums of money could be giving practical development in our country areas, where production occurs and where the nation’s worth and strength are being generated.
I put it to the House that the Commonwealth Government, in the long run and for the benefit of this nation, should provide financial aid to assist in the process of decentralisation. The Government should transfer government departments from the cities to the country areas. It should provide uniform telephone charges throughout the nation. The payroll tax, which has been handed over to the States, should be lifted from industries being established in country districts. I go on record as saying that the resources in the country districts should be developed for the purpose of helping this nation. The official committee on decentralisation met 4 times in 7 years. A report has been promised and, because an election is coming near, a report will be presented. However, this Government is not interested in decentralisation.
Only recently I led a deputation of mayors and leaders of industry to the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) in regard to a number of matters. One question which was raised referred to a new town project for Wallerawang. In his written reply to me, the Minister said that the matter was a State responsibility but that he would refer it to the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) ‘for information purposes’. This is the fashion in which the Government deals with the question of decen tralisation. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), in replying to a question I directed to him recently, said:
This matter is deserving of consideration. I will discuss it with the Deputy Prime Minister and if we think it is desirable we will take a submission on it to Cabinet.
No word has been said about any submission on this matter having been taken to Cabinet and no action has been taken to deal with this important question of decentralisation, to provide for the development of this country and to locate people in country districts in order to give them the opportunity to live better and healthier lives in an environment which would be to their advantage and to the advantage of their children.
The Budget completely disregards these matters. These are the important questions that the Government overlooks. The question of settling people in country areas and so saving the expenditure of vast sums of money is of tremendous importance; yet in Australia today some 112,000 people are unemployed, most of whom are in country districts. When one looks hurriedly through the list of country towns and cities in the unemployment statistics one sees that in Dubbo 1,117 men and 382 women are unemployed; in Kempsey 425 men and 282 women are unemployed; in Maitland 457 men and 254 women are out of work; in Parkes 305 men and 187 women are unemployed; and in Wagga Wagga 468 men and 334 women are unemployed. This is the situation throughout the country districts.
The Government could help by transferring government departments to country centres. The statistics will give honourable members a knowledge of the change in occupations of the Australian work force. In 1881, 44 per cent of the work force was engaged in primary industry, 26.5 per cent was engaged in secondary industry and 29.5 per cent was engaged in tertiary industry. According to the last figures available, in 1966, only 10.6 per cent were engaged in primary industry, 27 per cent in secondary industry and 62.4 per cent in tertiary in-service industries. These facts are unmistakable. They reveal that the Government has failed. Yet it is asking the electors to vote for it.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I am afraid I cannot agree with my honourable friend from Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) when he says that this Government has neglected the families in Australia. I feel sure that time will prove that I am right. It would appear that the backbenchers on the Opposition side are doing the job which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) should have done in his reply on behalf of the Labor Party to the Budget proposals made by the Federal Treasurer (Mr Snedden) 3 weeks ago. To say that the speech of the Leader of the Opposition was one of the weakest replies I have heard him make to a Budget would be an understatement. We all know that it is the recognised duty of the Opposition party in any Parliament to point out defects that there may be in a statement that is made by a government - that is if there are any - and to outline the remedies that it would apply to these defects in the best interests of a country and its people. But this noticeably was missing in the reply of the Leader of the Opposition the other night. His whole hour-long speech was devoted entirely to trying desperately, it appeared, to belittle the Government’s proposals for the benefit of Australia and its people. He offered nothing constructive whatsoever. In fact, his whole speech appeared to me to be a deliberate attempt to mislead the people as to the real benefits that will result from the Budget. He specifically attacked the proposals for the reduction of personal income tax, something which affects us all, and tried to sell the idea that it was only a rich man’s Budget. But let us have a quick look at the true facts. The rate of personal income tax will be cut by an average of 10 per cent. This means that there will be more money in pay packets from the first pay day in September. The Government has reduced personal income tax as a major step to encourage the consumer to spend more. More spending is what is needed to get the economy moving ahead as it should be to create enough jobs for our work force and reduce unemployment. The tax cuts are not the same for everybody. There will be relatively more for those who need them most. This is quite plain. It has been explained to the Opposition time and time again during the last . 3 weeks, but it is quite obvious members opposite are deliberately avoiding the true issue and placing their own interpretation on the matter, no doubt in the hope that they can confuse the issue in the minds of the electors, so I will endeavour to explain it again to the Opposition. Those who have a taxable income of more than $5,500 will receive a smaller tax cut than 10 per cent. Those with taxable earnings below that figure - that is, the majority of taxpayers - will get a larger tax cut. For example, anyone on a taxable income of $2,000 will find his tax cut by 14 per cent and anyone on a taxable income of $4,000 by about 12.5 per cent. At higher incomes the reduction is less. At $10,000, for example, it will be about 8 per cent.
Two other important steps have been taken to reduce the burden of income tax, but I have not heard the Opposition mention these. The first step was to raise the minimum taxable income. Previously, anyone earning more than $417 in a year had to pay income tax. Now this figure has been raised to $1,041. In other worJs - to make it quite clear - people earning up to $1,041 will no longer have to pay income tax.
The other major step taken was to increase dependants allowances in order to help the family man. These proposals will put an extra $565m into the pockets of the taxpayer each year and will particularly help the family man earning an average income. For example, a man on average wages with a wife and 2 children to support, with the increased dependants allowance will gain an overall reduction in tax of approximately 17.5 per cent.
The proposals put forward in the Budget for pension entitlements also were attacked by the Leader of the Opposition, and in my opinion also unfairly presented by him, so again let us have a look at the true facts. The standard rate of pension for single people will be increased to $20 and the amount for a married couple to $34.50 a week. Since March last year, the standard rate of pension will have been increased by almost 30 per cent while prices have risen by about 9 per cent since that time. This situation in my opinion is only as it should be.
Another step forward in the pension situation is a substantial easing of the means test. Many other people might now be eligible for a full or part pension. The amount of what could be termed ‘free’ means without any reduction in the pension is being doubled. This move will especially help those who have provided iu the past for their retirement, but have found their means squeezed by inflation. The Government’s intention is to abolish the means lest within 3 years. This must have stung the Opposition. Its last effort on this was in 1969, when it said it would abolish the means test, but it would lake 6 years. It was quite obvious to me at that time that its suggestion was what could be termed election bait, because I feel absolutely sure that it was of the opinion that this Government would never undertake such a move as complete abolition and consequently it felt safe enough to offer such bait. But to keep the record straight, 1 can assure honourable members opposite that this has been our thinking for many years. Before I came to this place 6 years ago - indeed well before then - it was the Government’s intention to ease the means test, wherever and whenever possible, with the intention of abolishing it when the situation could afford it. That time has arrived and it shall be done within 3 years. As I have said, how this must sting the Opposition, for it can no longer use such an attractive plum as election bait.
A major feature of the reply of the Leader of the Opposition to the Budget was the complete omission of any mention of the important matter of defence. This disturbed me, as it should disturb every member of the Australian community. A sound defence system is essential to national security. This is one of the first duties of any government and when the Leader of the Opposition in his capacity as leader of the alternative government neglects to mention this nationally important subject I think it is cause for concern to every Australian, especially as defence matters featured conspicuously in the Budget. Either the Opposition considers it not important enough to mention or it has no definite plans for a sound defence structure. If I remember correctly, the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, that great spokesman on Labor Party matters, quoted defence matters as number 7 on the list of matters which the Labor Party considered as important for the welfare of Australia. If this is Labor Party thinking on national security, it deserves the rubbishing it will get from the Australian people.
Over the last 20 to 25 years we have had plenty of evidence to point to the kind of demands that could be made on us through regional commitments, and because of this we know that there is a definite necessity to build and maintain a defence structure to enable us to sustain any commitment which would be within our means to maintain. But apparently the Opposition does not see it this way and is prepared to neglect this vital issue by giving the matter of national defence a low priority in the scheme of things. In fact, if we can believe the shadow Minister for Defence, it would reduce the existing structure of the Army and our pool of reserve forces. After listening to and reading his statements made over the last few months, it would appear that he is concerned only with the Army, and he appears to be obsessed with the idea of reducing its strength in regular personnel and trained reservists. The other 2 Services have barely rated a mention.
Who would be foolish enough to try to predict with certainty what the situation will be throughout the world - and especially in our own region - in 10 years time except the members of the Labor Party who appear to have adopted the thinking that nothing can happen to us, and the devil take any of our neighbours who suddenly find themselves in a hostile environment. This is dangerous thinking, politically, industrially, economically and militarily. For our own security, we must have the capacity to mobilise at extremely short notice, and this we cannot accomplish if our military structure is not there to build upon and if we have not enough trained personnel readily available to attempt to rebuild a substantial structure.
As far as our Army is concerned, I would remind the Opposition that there is no such a thing as an instant army. The Army should be an integral part of our whole defence effort, which must rely on a substantial trained reserve which could form the framework of a national army if required, and even this, with trained reservists, would take time - time that we could possibly ill afford. But if the Opposition’s idea of a completely volunteer army was to be implemented and our pool of reserve troops allowed to be drained to almost something nothing’, we would be involved in the greatest shemozzle in all our history, in the event of a national emergency. Without a substantial number of trained reserves, the very important role our Army could undertake in an overall defence effort would be a practical impossibility, and this becomes obvious if one sits down and studies the proposition.
I firmly believe that the adequate defence of our country is everyone’s responsibility. It is a task which should be shared by every member of the community, and I am just as firmly opposed to the Opposition’s proposals that this responsible load should be borne on the shoulders of a few members of the entire community who have no alternative but to accept this burden because they are the dedicated regular soldiers. The system under which we operate at the present moment has, in spite of the emotional red herrings that have been dragged across the trail to fool the people, proved successful, and I would say to those members of the Opposition who would destroy this system, if they were unfortunately to become the Government, that a tremendous responsibility would rest on their shoulders, for the price of their neglect of adequate defence for Australia would be our national security - and this is not hard to understand.
Another important industry affecting the economy of this country, which received favourable consideration in the Budget and which was not mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition in his reply, was the tourist industry. I guess he was too busy dreaming up ideas in an attempt to belittle the Budget to give this important industry any thought at all. This is big business and as such is entitled to receive consideration. Not only is it of great importance to Australia through its contribution to our earnings of overseas exchange and the additional income it generates within the Australian community; as an instrument of goodwill and understanding between ourselves and other countries of the world it is invaluable. It provides employment for many, many thousands of our people. In fact, if 1 remember correctly, one report stated that the travel industry was responsible for the employment of at least 10 per cent of the total Australian work force. Also, again if I remember correctly, in 1971 receipts from people visiting this country totalled SI 50m. But the position could be substantially improved, and it is gratifying to me to see that the Government also is taking note of the fact that this is an important industry to Australia and that it is prepared to assist its expansion. There is a lot of work to be done and a lot of thought to be given to an expansion plan if we wish this industry to reach a desirable and satisfactory position in world wide tourist activities.
Personally speaking, I believe that the tourist industry should receive more detailed consideration at ail levels of government in Australia in an attempt to ease the administrative problems, including management and finance, which so often prevent tourist development from expanding. I would suggest an even greater step forward which would benefit the industry: Because it is such an ideal overseas exchange earner, because it could be the means of employing many more thousands of our people, because it would generate more internal income within the community and because it is such a valuable avenue to build up goodwill between countries, I would advocate that in the Federal sphere tourism be administered by a separate Ministry, designed to co-operate with State Ministers of Tourism for the country’s overall benefit and to co-ordinate tourist activities between ourselves and other countries. It is a great income earner at the moment, it could be greater, and I feel my suggestion warrants consideration even if only because of this fact.
The Budget presented by this Government has been aptly described by the Press as the ‘right kind of Budget’, ‘steering an intelligent course between generosity and responsibility’, and I doubt that anybody could describe it more suitably. Certainly the members of the Opposition in the last few weeks have appeared to be finding it extremely difficult to match the Budget proposals; in fact I am positive they cannot do so without finding themselves beyond the borders of credibility. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition offers no improvement; in fact, again I think it is a poor attempt to confuse the issues in the minds of the people. For this reason I wholeheartedly support the Budget as presented, and will have no part of the Opposition’s amendment.
– I support the amendment because I agree with these remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam):
The Treasurer’s typical Australian is a ratepayer. Increasingly, he and his family depend on local government to provide a whole new range of basic services in health, welfare, sport, culture and recreation. Yet this Budget once again - like every Liberal Budget for the past 23 years - ignores the role of local government and ignores the national government’s direct responsibility for local government.
I support the amendment because I consider that local government is as much a part of the Australian governmental structure as State and Federal governments, that local government should be recognised as an equal partner in the structure of Australian government, and finally, that a proper and adequate sewerage system, a proper and adequate water supply, and proper and adequate transport are in fact national needs.
I speak with some knowledge of the needs of local government, for I have twice been mayor of an inner suburban city, and for 8 years I have been a commissioner of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works which is, of course, the authority responsible for water supply, sewerage and draining works within the metropolitan area of Melbourne. People in local government, being closer to the needs of the people, are well aware of the ill effects of this Government’s shortsightedness. I am certain that there are few better illustrations of the extent to which this LiberalCountry Party Government has lost touch with the needs of the Australian people than its utter contempt and complete disregard for the problems of our cities.
My electorate of Batman is one of the bigger electorates, having a population of more than 115,000 people and including parts of 4 of our oldest cities, namely. Collingwood, Northcote, Fitzroy and Heidelberg. While it may be considered that in an inner suburban municipality, such as the city of Northcote with very little of its 4,200 acres undeveloped, there would be no call for further major capital expenditure by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, this in reality is not so. In fact, in the north-eastern section of the city, only 4 miles from Melbourne, there is a partially developed industrial area containing a most modern industrial complex in which over 400 people spend, on average, half their working day. This area is not sewered but is served by a stinking, smelly pan system, which is located right alongside a modern technical school. In deference to the economic climate of our nation I will refrain from stating what sort of foodstuffs are handled in this particular industrial complex. Representations made to the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works for the provision of sewerage facilities in the area have been unsuccessful, due primarily to lack of finance.
But more than this, throughout the inner suburban city of Northcote, quite extensive residential redevelopment is taking place, and in consequence some replacement of existing sewers, water mains, and drainage facilities may be expected. One wonders whether these replacements will not be effected because of lack of finance. There is still a backlog throughout the metropolis of 90,000 properties still unsewered due to insufficient funds.
Let me mention another problem, not of this municipality’s making, which confronts its councillors and administrators. This municipality is bounded by the Yarra River, Darebin Creek, and Merri Creek, and these are adversely affected by reason of unsewered outer areas. Consequently, it does not surprise me, though it may surprise some honourable members of the other side of this House, that more and more councils and more and more ratepayers are becoming disenchanted with this Government, for its lack of interest and innovation in the area of local government.
There is no doubt that the Government has decided to ignore the fact that many millions of dollars will be necessary to finance the programme of sewerage, water supply, and main drainage capital works on which the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works has embarked, and which must be undertaken to maintain minimum standards over the coming years. Under the present loan raising arrangements, the provision of these funds will, of course, further increase the Board’s annual commitment for loan interest and redemption. At present, loan interest and redemption payments absorb approximately 38 per cent of the Board’s revenue, revenue which is raised by rates.
It is interesting to note, that very recently the Engineer-in-Chief of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, Mr A. G. Robertson, expressed the view publicly that as funds totalling hundreds of millions of dollars have been provided by the Commonwealth Government to stabilise the wool industry, and assist rural reconstruction, it would appear feasible for it to create a sizable fund from which local government authorities could borrow for approved works at very low rates of interest. Mr Robertson suggested further that these rates of interest should bear no relation to the market rate, but should merely cover the cost of administration of the fund. He said that the operation of building societies indicated that this cost would not exceed 1 per cent or at the most 2 per cent. Mr Robertson said further:
It may be argued that this is not an economic way of using capital, and that it should be invested in some other form of national development where a reasonable rate of return could be expected.
However, I have no doubt that, if the tangible and intangible benefits of maintaining a high quality environment were evaluated in monetary terms, the rate of return on capital invested would be extremely high.
I am not trying to persuade the Government to adopt Mr Robertson’s suggested method of providing additional finances to State semi-government and local authorities. The task that confronts us is much greater. It is to persuade the Government that its financial policies towards semigovernment and local authorities are destroying local government. And this is regrettable when in modern society the role of local government is increasing. There are few aspects of our environment, our culture or our welfare which can be handled adequately without involving local government. That this is apparent to so many people, particularly in our inner suburbs, is shown by the large numbers of candidates who offered themselves for election in the just concluded municipal elections.
There is no doubt that ours will not be a modern society, nor shall we begin to solve our urban problems, regardless of the quality of our councillors, until we permit local government to widen its role, instead of inhibiting its role, as the Government’s policies are doing at present. How is the Government inhibiting the role of our 950 local and more than 100 semi-governmental authorities?
As the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out more than once, the financial burdens of local government are magnified because they must finance much of their works programmes from loan funds, and not, as the Federal Government does, from revenue. The result is that councils are using a large proportion of their rate revenue, not to provide services but to service debts. More than $20 of every $100 of rate revenue is spent on the servicing of debts. It is worthwhile considering the remarks of Mr Robertson of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works on the matter of interest charges. He said:
The Board finances almost the whole of its capital works programme from loan funds. At present its loan liability or, to put it another way, the total amount it owes, is about $547m.
You will appreciate that the interest and redemption payments on a loan liability of this size are enormous, and that the situation has not been improved by the high rates of interest which have prevailed in recent years.
The only source of funds available to the Board to make these payments is its rate revenue.
The situation has now been reached where approximately 58c of each $1 of rate revenue is eaten up by interest, redemption and loan servicing charges on current loans.
Of every $100 of revenue $58 is eaten up by interest, redemption and loan servicing charges.
The position with the municipalities is not noticeably belter. Councils arc paying more than 20c in every $1 of their rate revenue to service debts. In other words 20c and more in every $1 of rate revenue is used not to provide services but to service debts. It is not surprising then that the Australian Institute of Municipal Administration called for a nation-wide royal commission into the structure and responsibilities of local government. It is disturbing that the Institute found it necessary to adopt a report which said among other things, that local government, starved of adequate funds and almost wholly dependent upon a property tax for income, is slowly sinking into further financial futility. So we have a situation wherein, on the one hand local government is being debilitated by lack of funds and on the other, local government’s ability to play an important governmental role is being increasingly recognised by ratepayers. But, unfortunately, not by the Government.
Many of us tend to think of local government, the third tier of government, the neglected tier of government, as of no great moment. The reason for this is that, since local government is so very close to the people, councillors who do not do their jobs are very often quickly voted out, because this tier of government was concerned, traditionally, with proper drainage and the health of the city, and it was apparent to everyone when the councillor’s job was not well done. However, in recent years the demands made of local government authorities have expanded into areas other than pipes and drains. No longer are the municipalities charged only with the comparatively uncomplicated but nevertheless vital tasks of collecting garbage, licensing dogs, vetting house plans and the collection of rates. Today, the municipalities have responsibilities and duties in areas such as infanct welfare, kindergartens, emergency social welfare, high contributions to road and other facilities including, in Victoria, the fire brigade. In some of these areas local governments have embraced duties not necessarily their own. They have embraced these duties because of their acceptance of social responsibility This is particularly so in some areas of social welfare, where the State Govern ment has instructed local authorities that their duties did not extend into those areas. But fortunately for us all, local authorities have not backed-off. because of their experience of the deplorab’e state of affairs which would exist in some areas of social welfare if they did not intrude.
In this budget, has the Government considered the increased responsibilities and functions imposed on local authorities by the increasing population of our cities? More than one-fifth of the Australian nation lives in the city of Melbourne. In the 20 years beginning in 1947 Australia’s population increased by 52 per cent. Victoria’s increase is 57 per cent and Melbourne’s just on 70 per cent. The decisions which have led to this explosion of Melbourne and its tremendous development have not been made by the local authorities which have had to cope with the problems of rapid development, and changed expectations. The decisions have been made by State and Federal governments, particularly the Federal Government. The Federal Government which made the decisions which led to the growth of our cities should accept the responsibility for financing the servicing of those cities.
The Leader of the Opposition has indicated on many occasions that it is clearly the responsibility of the Federal Government to see that all 3 levels of government have not on’y the finance but also the motivation and the expertise to play their part in creating a viable environment for the Australians who choose to live in cities. To that end he has said that an Australian Labor Party government would establish a Commonwealth department of urban affairs. The establishment of such a department would serve 2 immediate and important ends. They are the proper functioning of the Australian Federal system and the proper functioning of municipal government. That the present government is not ensuring the proper functioning of municipal government is evidenced by the Australian Institute of Municipal Administration’s report that local government is slowly sinking into further financial futility because this level of government is deprived of adequate finance. There is no doubt, that unless local government is financed from the common pool of taxation and loan funds, local government authorities cannot provide the services for which they are the most appropriate medium. But even worse perhaps than the failure to provide services is the sense of futility which emanates from the lack of power resulting from inadequate finance and the lack of public interest. I must confess that 1 was overjoyed to learn recently that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) received the first local government deputation that a Prime Minister has met for more than 20 years. 1 understand that the Prime Minister did this because of the pressures created by the work of the Leader of the Opposition in furthering the demands of the impoverished local authorities. 1 do not like to ascribe motives to persons, but we must consider the Government’s dismal failure to give proper consideration to the important third tier of government. We must look for motives. We must ask why the Government has concentrated so much power at the centre. Regrettably we cannot escape the conclusion of De Tocqueville who, referring to able and ambitious men, said that they will labour constantly to increase the scope of social power, for they all hope, sooner or later, to control it themselves.’ It is a waste of time to demonstrate to such men that extreme centralisation may be harmful to the state, for they are centralising for their own interest in it. The present Government is not going to do anything for local government. It has ignored the unequal development of municipalities and has ignored its own responsibility for local government. Ratepayers are looking forward to a Labor government to provide firstly, local and semi-governmental representation on the Loan Council; secondly, authorisation for the Commonwealth Grants Commission to recommend the nature and amount of Commonwealth financial assistance to remove inequalities in servicing developing suburbs; and thirdly, relief from extortionate debt charges. These things a Labor government will provide.
– This Budget- any Budget - has to attempt to do several things. These may be divided into 3 categories. Any Budget has to be formulated having regard to its impact effect on the economy - that is, the overall direction which it is designed to give to an economy - being either an expansionary Budget or a retractionary Budget. Correlated with that are certain assessments concerning the money supply that must accompany the working out of a Budget over a year. In the second place, a Budget has to have special regard to the redistributive effects of the resources for which it is responsible. That is the area which we have come to know over the years as the area of direct and indirect social services involved in a Budget. But underlying all these factors, and more important than any of them, has to be the attitude of a Budget and of financial measures towards the people of a nation in their request for and their right to full employment. On the 3 aspects on which this Budget deserves to be considered, it deserves to be supported. It will be supported in this chamber later today.
Before I examine those points it is worth recollecting the last one - the obligation which a government and a Budget have to full employment. Let me quote from that very famous document of 27 years ago, the White Paper on Full Employment, lt said in paragraph 5:
The policy outlined in this paper is that governments should accept the responsibility for stimulating spending on goods and services to the extent necessary to sustain full employment.
That was the philosophy of that very famous paper in 1945; it remains the philosophy of this Government: it remains the philosophy of this Budget.
Let me refer to the impact of the Budget. In what directions does it move the economy? Without entering into a plethora of details 1 will merely recount 2, because they are appropriate. In Statement No. 7 attached to the Budget Speech, and in the table which indicates the receipts and the outlay of the Commonwealth Budget in national accounts form. it is perfectly clear that the deficit to be contrived in this Budget as a proportion ot the total outlay of the Budget shows a substantial increase over the deficit over the previous year. Tn the previous year that deficit represented 2 per cent of the total outlay as part of the Budget; this year that deficit has been increased to 6 per cent as part of the total outlay. So in that respect it is quite clear that the Budget is an expansionary one. But rather more precisely, Statement No. 7 on page 61 of the Budget Papers shows the increases on the previous year with respect to both expenditures and receipts in the Budget. One will see that in 1971-72 the adjusted increase in expenditures was 14 per cent, the adjusted increase in receipts was 13 per cent, making a ratio of nearly one to one. In this year the adjusted increase in expenditures is in the nature of 12.6 per cent and the adjusted increase in rates is in the nature of 8 per cent - a 150 per cent increase in the ratio of each to the other compared with the previous year. That statement probably exemplifies more precisely than any other the philosophy of the Budget, as it is appropriate that it should so do.
If one turns to the second requirement of the Budget - its attitudes in the area of social services - one will see that 2 features have been stated very precisely by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). The increases in pensions and the concern with the means test and with social welfare are greater increases obsolutely and proportionately than have ever been sustained in a previous Budget. When it is borne in mind that a number of these increases are the fourth over a period of 18 months one realises that that is a situation which is unique also in its own right. These increases have been repeated in the area of repatriation. There are also very great indirect social service benefits to be sustained by the Australian people in respect of the changed taxation rates appropriate to this Budget.
The third point about the Budget is its concern with full employment. This needs to be examined because a whole philosophy of attitude is involved here. The Government, in its attitudes on full employment, has a record over more than 20 years which is probably unequalled in the world. People in Australia should be grateful that the targets that were set and aimed for by leading members of the Labor Party during its last years of administration have been exceeded consistently by this Budget. They should be grateful, for example, that Mr Haylen’s target for unemployment has been rejected by governments on this side for more than 20 years.
– What was that?
– Four per cent or 5 per cent. One ought to remember also that a former very close adviser to the Labor Party on unemployment, Professor Arndt - he seceded from it after the kowtow in Peking in 1971 - made it clear in 1963 that a registration of 80,000 people for employment was to be judged as an appropriately full employment situation. Given the size of the work force today, that target has been exceeded. The third aspect of the concern with full employment should be appreciated and realised. Wherever there is a Labor administration in Australia today in the States one can say that there is high continuing unem ployment. If one were to put it in economic terms, one could find a 100 per cent correlation between the existence of a Labor government and unemployment. One could go a little further and state with a 100 per cent degree of confidence that a Labor administration means high unemployment.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was discussing the record of Labor administrations concerning levels of unemployment in Australia. The very firm principle can be stated that wherever there are Labor administrations in Australia there are high levels of unemployment, in fact the highest in the nation. This is exemplified not only by statistical data but also by the perceptible migration of the work force out of some Labor States because of that fact. That reflects clearly the attitude of Labor administrations in this area.
The third aspect of unemployment to which I want to refer relates to 2 analyses, one of which has been made by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). The honourable member tried to indicate on some very imprecise data that because the work force will grow over the coming year by about 2 per cent or a little less, we can look forward therefore to a very great increase in unemployment in 1973. Other Labor authorities have said that we can look forward to anything from 150,000 to 200,000 men being registered for work next year. That very statement is based on incorrect information but, once made, it entices the solution which Labor poses for the Australian economy. In fact, the statement is designed to cause the very event which Labor says it does not want to occur; and the Opposition knows this. In another way the solution which is proposed is interesting to examine. The Australian work force grows by something in excess of 2 per cent a year. A suggested solution to the problems of the growth of the Australian economy is that the Australian work force and the Australian people ought to grow by 1 per cent a year. That proposition has been made, along with others, by for example, the shadow Minister for Cultural or Urban Affairs; I do not know what positions he fills at various times. In other words, the solutions to growth in the Australian economy are to be sought by deliberately embracing prospects of stagnation. The effects of that, I am sure, will be realised by the Australian people.
To turn to a further point, since we are speaking about the effects of the 1945 White Paper on full employment, its effects on the philosophy of development and of economic growth on this country, and revaluation in terms of its effect on employment in Australia, we could well ask why it has been proposed at this stage that revaluation ought to occur. Has an analysis been made of the circumstances under which it occurs? What is a suggestion such as that designed to produce at this time, not only in terms of the revaluation but in the uncertainty of the expectations which it must engender? it is not the first time that tragically incorrect solution has been proposed for an economy. In 1925 when Britain went back onto the gold standard the timing was incorrect. There was an incorrect reading for Britain’s position vis-a-vis her principal competitors in the world. Persistent levels of unemployment had been sustained in that nation. There was an effective upward valuation of the British currency and, largely as a result of that decision, the British economy deteriorated during the late 1920s and unemployment rose. The position continued to deteriorate until intercepted by the depression years.
Inadequate timing can be disastrous. It is in the same respect that the Leader of the Opposition has not calculated at the present time what his proposition means for this nation. But the very suggestion and the expectations which it arouses are like asking the Australian people not only to contemplate a guillotine constructed by the Leader of the Opposition but also to take pleasure in the coming months in the thought that he may drop it. I do not believe the people of Australia could be party to that. Expectations in an area of currency changes can be extremely dangerous.
I mention one other. The competitive devaluations which occurred throughout the world during the 1930s engendered their own expectations, engendered unemployment to a level higher than it would otherwise have been and were responsible, as we all know, for exporting unemployment from one nation to another. Surely a person who aspires to be a Prime Minister must take account of these effects or, if he has advisers who for one reason or other want him to do these things, he might discount their views upon occasions. We can ask one other question - a very appropriate and very pertinent question - concerning this matter. Why did he do it? The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) indicated the contradiction in what the Leader of the Opposition had to say concerning the Australian dollar. The Leader of the Opposition said:
I think the Australian dollar is undervalued but as long as that remains it will promote inflation in Australia.
Since when has he been concerned about inflation? Later he said:
But you ask me. I am convinced that the Australian dollar ought to be appreciating in value.
Then he went on to a tariff argument. He can create uncertainty concerning the national currency. We ask why he has done it. To whose advantage is it that the Leader of the Opposition should advance this proposition? Who would benefit by it? What sources in business enterprise or elsewhere would benefit from the proposition? We know that when the German Deutschemark was under some expectations in 1969 there was an argument as to the extent to which it would be revalued - 2 per cent, 4 per cent, 5 per cent. Do a calculation, firstly, of the direct effects on a number of exporting industries as a result of such a measure. They are multitudinous. Then look at the indirect effects on those centres of population whose activities are related to the vitality of export industries and of supporting industries. The effects of revaluation improperly considered at the wrong time can spread very quickly through an economy. Anyone would know that. But this is the proposition that has been made.
I ask a further question, the most important one that I ask. I do not proffer the proposition: Is a matter of Danegeld in reverse involved? That is for others to decide. I cannot answer that question. But when the Leader of the Opposition speculates concerning the Australian dollar note the answer to a question on a certain television programme last night when the same gentleman was asked under what circumstances he would think that he ought not disclose the whole truth on matters, and quite correctly he indicated that he would not tell the truth under certain circumstances if he were the Prime Minister. His answer to the question was:
Again, if, for instance, you learnt the Japanese were going to revalue, appreciate their currency, next Wednesday you couldn’t reveal that.
That is a very firm stance with respect to the Japanese yen, but contrast it with the expectations aroused with respect to the Australian dollar just days before. It is so very important. Why the distinction? The attitude about the Japanese currency was correct. Why was such an attitude not adopted with respect to the Australian national currency? How many men in Australia are employed directly with the Japanese yen compared with men employed directly with the Australian dollar? These are questions that deserve to be answered because it is pertinent that they be answered. Let it not be thought that a proposition such as this is made without authority. There are those on the back bench of the Opposition who would override the authority of the Leader of the Opposition. He does not concede that. From the first day he became Leader of the Opposition he declared that the authority became his. He overrode his Federal Conference; he changed his Federal Executive. He changed their structure. His authority is almost complete. The fact is that 2 years ago in another speech in Brisbane the Leader of the Opposition had this to say:
The fact is that anything I say on any matter is likely to be field to represent the Party view.
They are the words from his own mouth; they are his own words. So, Mr Deputy Speaker, I put this proposition: For reasons of party politics there are many different attitudes that could be taken in this nation. For reasons of party politics there are legitimately different points of view. Do those points of view extend to creating expectations of uncertainty concerning a national currency? That is something which ought to extend beyond parties because it involves at a very basic level, at the basis of the existence of their domestic activity, many hundreds of thousands of Australians. The ultimate question which has been asked and which needs to be asked again is: Why did the Leader of the Opposition do it? What advantages were there in doing it? Who would be advantaged? But most significantly, why the contrast between the attitude concerning the Austraiian dollar and what he proposed concerning knowledge of an expectation of change in an overseas currency? Many Australian citizens would like to know the answers to those questions.
Debate (on motion by Mr Jacobi) adjourned.
– by leave - It gives me great pleasure to announce that the Commonwealth Department of Social Services with the full support and cooperation of the State departments concerned with social and child welfare has commissioned a family research project. The project will be conducted by the School of Social Work within the University of New South Wales. This is the first project of its kind sponsored by the Department of Social Services and will be undertaken over a 3 year period. The project arises from the long standing and widespread concern felt in Government and voluntary agencies and the general community over what appears to have been a large increase in the number of deserted wives and unmarried mothers seeking assistance from community agencies. The areas to be included in the study will include the incidence, causes and consequence of family breakdown; the emerging new family patterns and structures; and community services available to the Australian family. The need for such a research project was discussed and agreed upon at the annual meeting of State welfare Ministers and myself held in Brisbane last June. While the project will be nationally oriented, it will include a series of specific studies in selected States and regions.
The project will be under the general direction of a steering committee headed by Professor R. J. Lawrence, professor of social work and head of the School at the University of New South Wales. Other members of the steering committee will be Mr M. Wryell, First Assistant DirectorGeneral, Commonwealth Department of
Social Services, Mr W. C. Langshaw, Under Secretary of the New South Wales Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare, who will also be representing equivalent departments from other States, and Mr A. S. Colliver, senior lecturer, School of Social Work in the University of New South Wales. Advertisements for staff for the family research project will appear within the next 2 weeks in the national Press. The study will have great significance for the long term development of Australian social welfare. Although the project is expected to extend over 3 years, each phase of it will be marked by productive research bulletins, which will be made available to interested persons and groups. 1 am sure that the House will be interested in the work to be undertaken in this project, which I am certain will make a significant contribution towards our objective of developing in Australia a social services system which is fully balanced, efficient and humane. I present the following paper:
Family Research Project - Ministerial Statement, 3 lst. August 1972.
Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– There has been a burgeoning of inquiries set up by the Government in recent weeks. It is rather remarkable that this should bc so because the Government has been in office for nearly a quarter of a century and until about a fortnight ago had seen little virtue in having inquiries in’.o various aspects of welfare needs in the community. A Government committee has already been set up to inquire into national superannuation after Government supporters had voted against such proposals moved by the Australian Labor Parly in this House on no fewer than 5 occasions during the course of this Parliament alone. We have already had the instances of the Government opposing proposals for inquiries into poverty put forward from this side of the House and other action associated with the problems of people on social service benefits and more particularly those who are living in what is termed the area of relative poverty.
In each case, of course, we have been setting the pace, as we have been setting the pace for the abolition of the means test. It took a quarter of a century again for the Government to reach the point where it was prepared to concede that it could be abolished. More recently we have been setting the pace on ways to help fulfil the needs of the family. We had been indicating that there is a case to provide, for instance, a mothers allowance so that mothers who wish to stay at home with their family will be able to do so or so that other mothers who work will at least have the opportunity of meeting the cost of providing adequate care for their children while they are at work. 1 think that the former issue is probably the more important one, namely, a mother’s allowance so that a mother can remain with her children. It is quite unacceptable in our society that so many mothers are forced into the work place, not as a matter of free choice or because they wish to have the stimulation of working. Many do make the decision on these grounds, of course, but many others do not. They make it solely on the ground of economic pressures and inadequacy of income in the home. There is so much mounting evidence which one can amass empirically in our society to show that tremendous social costs are being built up because of the pressures which have been developed in our society to force women into the work place. They have become cannon fodder for the industrial process.
Another inquiry is now to be held. This is another instance of the restless, frenzied blossoming of a dying species on the Government side. There has been no evidence of the Government being prepared o undertake these sorts of inquiries before. I want to say only a few things. First of all the Opposition, given an election in a few months’ time, will not necessarily be bound by the terms of reference or the personnel of this inquiry or any other inquiry set up by the Government. Anyway, we do not have a definition of the term of reference before the Parliament, and in these circumstances it would be too much to expect an open-ended commitment from the Opposition for such an inquiry.
I would next like to question why this particular case has been isolated for a special national inquiry. Why not inquire into the broad aspect of social welfare in the community into which the needs of the family dovetail very neatly although representing only one section of a vast range of high priority needs in the community. For instance, if we are concerned about social costs - believe me, I appreciate that the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) is not only aware of them but is genuinely concerned - arising in our community because of the destruction of the nuclear family unit, we also should be concerned about the tremendous social and economic cost of the single unattached male in our community and of his particular problem. More commonly he is referred to as the drifter. There is much convincing evidence from overseas by sociologists, social workers and social anthropologists, and a little in Australia confirming the findings of overseas, that these men who are regarded as hoboes, or to use the American term, as drifting bums, in fact are people who are quite capable of making a creative contribution in our society - creative economically and creative socially. We tolerate their alienation and their repression in our society at considerable social cost.
It is typical of a capitalist system that the provision of a little bit of money in some sort of miserable and inadequate system of social services to get them out of the way and to get pressure off one’s back from the morally concerned people in the community is the only sort of remedy that is sought. If the inquiry into this particular area dealt with by the Minister is to be meaningful, just as an inquiry into the broad aspect of social welfare services in the community is to be meaningful, questions must be raised about fundamental philosophical values, about the role of society, the relationship of people within society, the position of the productive system and what its purpose is within our society. The sorts of things that are so obvious as symptoms of a general breakdown in our society reach well beyond families. I refer to such things as the problems of drugs, alcohol, neurotic behaviour and the very distressing upsurge of suicides and attempted suicides in the community, more especially among young people and young girls particularly - and if we can define or refine that even further, among young girls in what are called relatively deprived areas.
The work by the Monash University team from the medical school in the Prahran area has established that what I have said in relation to young girls in deprived areas is a fact and is a problem which is gaining considerable momentum in the community. These sorts of things seem to me to be symptoms of a serious social morbidity. Merely to restrict the inquiry to the problems of the family is to set up an inquiry that is too narrowly based. After the next election, when Labor is in office and sets up a broad committee of inquiry into social welfare we will do what we hope this Government would do in framing the terms of reference for the matter dealt with by the Minister. We would make the terms of reference sufficiently open-ended to give sufficient indication of our intent to encourage the people conducting the inquiry to make a searching assessment of philosophical values in our society; to then move from that point to raise a series of questions about the functioning of an advanced, affluent, materialistically committed modern society such as ours. This, I believe, is where the real problem lies.
We will not, as I suspect will be the case with many Government supporters and possibly the Minister, be moralising to young people, particularly, for instance, young unmarried mothers whom I notice receive particular attention in that statement. In the case of young unmarried mothers, it may very well be that their position as a rising proportion of mothers in the community represents a fundamental change of values in society, and that change may not be an undesirable sort of thing. It may be, but also it may not be. On the evidence from several European countries, I suspect that probably it is not.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1972-73 Second Reading (Budget Debate)
Debate resumed (vide page 1028).
– The Budget is an instrument of Government policy. It is also an inventory by which people can measure achievements after 23 years of Tory Government. One test which every thoughtful Australian must apply is simply: What proportion of this nation’s real wealth do we own and control? The litany of ‘sell-out’ is scandalous. Foreign control is exercised over SO million acres of our rural land; 88.3 per cent of our motor vehicle construction and assembly plants; 78 per cent of our industrial and heavy chemical industry; 76.3 per cent of our pharmaceutical and toiletry preparations; 83.6 per cent of our non-ferrous metals; 81.6 per cent of our oils and minerals; 59 per cent of our mining sector; and 69 per cent of our metal mining. Is this a record of achievement or failure? On these figures the past decade is that period in which the greatest sell-out of this nation’s real wealth has occurred.
This nation’s continued growth, security and prosperity in no small measure will be dependent upon our capacity to retain control and ownership of our land and our vast, rich non-renewable resources, particularly those fuels on which we and every other country rely to meet energy needs. In terms of energy, the progress of this country will be in direct proportion to its capacity to supply or meet the demand for energy. The wealth created by or extracted from our fuel and energy resources in turn will be in direct proportion to this Government’s capacity to retain ownership and control of them.
Foreign control of our vast natural gas deposits is an established fact. If this Government’s policies continue, uranium deposits in the Northern Territory will share the same fate. To measure this Government’s concern and policies on national development, the only reference that appears in the Budget is the allocation of a miserable $15m to increase the Australian Industry Development Corporation’s allocation to $50m. It is a national scandal. The Opposition has repeatedly called for a national fuel and energy policy. On 1st August 1 sent a telegram to the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control requesting an immediate investigation of the alienation and foreign control of our vast and rich uranium deposits. I have not received even the courtesy of an acknowledgment of that telegram. Last week I asked the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) to set up a joint parliamentary committee of inquiry for the same purpose. Both requests have been flatly rejected.
This Government has no intention whatsoever of formulating a balanced evaluation of our mineral or fuel resources. Just how critical is the need for such an inquiry? Estimated Australian and world demands currently, and projected demands, show that there are ominous signs already of a world fuel crisis. Throughout the leading petroleum consuming countries consumption of energy has been growing at from 3 to 5 times the rate of population increase. World production has doubled in each of the past 2 decades to 1.620 million barrels per annum in 1971. If it only doubles in each of the next 2 decades it will reach 7,200 million barrels by 1991. Dependency on one source, the Middle East, is regarded, particularly by Japan and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, as an uncomfortable situation which by 1980 will be extremely critical. The simple fact is that the governments of those countries which operate through the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries may be unwilling, for reasons of conservation or whatever, to supply the enormous new quantities of oil which will be needed.
Currently Libya has cut production drastically, while Kuwait and Venezuela have banned further increases in off-take. On these facts there is a real possibility of a major free world shortfall of oil by 1980, estimated at 20 million barrels a day. Japan currently relies upon Middle East sources for 90 per cent of its crude oil. In terms of gas, the Japanese Energy Council estimates that liquefied natural gas imports will rise from the current level of around 340,000 million cubic feet a day to 2.7 billion cubic feet per day in 1985. Our prospects for both uranium and liquefied natural gas exports are excellent. Already Australia has entered into contracts to export uranium and discussions have taken place in relation to the export of liquefied natural gas. In terms of fuel resources, Japan is almost totally reliant on imports.
By 1980 one third of the world’s raw material trade will be influenced by Japan. In the same year, according to Dr Okita’s the director of the Japanese Economic Research Centre, estimates, 50 per cent of the world’s iron ore trade and 20 per cent of the international trade in petroleum, will be directed towards Japan. He predicts that by 1980 Japanese foreign investment will be around $US27,000m and half of that will be directed towards procuring raw materials. Some Japanese businessmen fear a scramble by the developed countries to obtain resources and there is certainly concern about Japan encountering the United States as a competitor for energy resources in the latter part of this century.
What is the position of the United States in terms of oil and gas? Twice in the past 4 months President Nixon has had to raise the permitted quota of crude oil imports into the eastern United States because of inadequate home production. As their economy recovers the Americans have woken up to find themselves rushing headlong into an energy crisis which a few years ago would have been unthinkable. Let me turn to a quote from that socially radical bank - the Chase Manhattan Bank. The energy economics report of that bank stated:
The United States is not going to be able to afford to fill its energy gap requirements between now and 1985 completely by imports. It is now obvious that the United States is faced with a very serious situation in respect of energy supply. And unless positive corrective actions are taken immediately the problem will become critical.
Oil and natural gas together supplies as much as three quarters of the United States energy requirements for all purposes. Domestic production is not sufficient to meet current needs. The deficit is certain to become progressively worse. Gas - self sufficiency up to 198S is estimated to be not much over SO per cent. Unless economic circumstances improve to stimulate a much more expanded search for new reserves of domestic natural gas, more than 25 per cent of the market must go unsatisfied.
If the United States is forced to import amounts of oil and gas necessary to meet its full requirements, the necessary outflow by 1985 is likely to be in excess of $30 billion a year, compared with about $4 billion at the present time.
In no sense would it be realistic to expect that the outflow of dollars would be offset by a corresponding inflow. The annual balance of payments deficit alone could be as much as $25 billion; a deficit the nation could not tolerate.
To put it more bluntly the United States faces currently imports of 23 per cent. By 1982 it will be forced to import SO per cent and by 1992 75 per cent. If we take the figures of $US4 per barrel and $US6 per barrel, by 1982 and 1992 the United States will be up for a cost burden per annum of SUS16 billion and $US48 billion respectively. In effect, the United States faces a crisis. Its demand in this area accounts for 80 per cent of the total free world demand.
Let me turn to Western Europe. Western Europe’s consumption of 12 million barrels per day is expected to double by 1980. With luck the North Sea fields may produce 3 million barrels per day. European members of the OECD will have to import over 20 million barrels per day - roughly double the current import level. The OECD may be confronted with a requirement of the order of 26 million barrels per day by the end of the decade. This means the increase is almost equal to the combined present consumption of the United States and of European members of the OECD.
I now turn to gas. Natural gas is likely to double its share of the European energy market to around 15 per cent by 1980. Despite large increases in North Sea production, it appears likely that European natural gas imports from the Soviet Union and North Africa will increase and Shell T. and T. Co. estimates that by 1976 imports from these 2 areas will have risen to 2.4 billion cubic feet per day.
I now refer to nuclear power and uranium. As an alternative fuel source it has been estimated that by the year 2000 63 per cent of the world’s electrical power will come from nuclear energy. Based on current United States estimates it will not be in a position to export enriched uranium beyond 1977. Japan, for energy purposes, is the third major world power in the utilisation of nuclear energy, and, unlike this Government, is fully conscious of the pending world fuel crisis and is rapidly stockpiling its imports. One authoritative statement which should force home to this Government the urgency of the situation is the recent statement made to the members of the OECD by Mr John Irwin, United States Under-Secretary for State who said:
This statement is based, I suggest, on 3 critical factors. First there is the harsh reality insofar as oil and natural gas is concerned because both have a limited life. If we take the static and expotential index in terms of oil and natural gas, in the case of oil it is 31 years and 20 years and in the case of gas it is 38 and 22 years respectively. Secondly, there must be a rational utilisation of energy resources.
Thirdly, if developed countries fail to respond, competition is inevitable - the backlash could be conflict. The past century had its glut of trade wars; the end of this century we may see national conflicts for resources. Our resources and their value must be measured in this context. It is surely abundantly obvious that as supply decreases, demand must increase and it follows our fuel resources will increase in value in direct proportion to the world demand. To what extent has this Government permitted the alienation and control by overseas corporations of our fuel resources?
Let us have a look at the position which currently faces Australia in terms of oil. On present known reserves by the years 1983-84 we will be producing 50 million barrels per annum. We will consume some 410 million barrels per annum. In effect, we will have but one-eighth of our own requirements by way of known reserves. Based on the world parity price of $2.60 per barrel, at 350 million barrels (C.I.F.) would mean an annual cost burden to this country of $l,500m.
Let me turn to the north west shelf and to the question of alienation. The north west shelf encompasses an area of some 140,000 square miles; an area larger than the British Isles, or the British sector of the North Sea, or the entire concessions in the Gulf of Mexico. It is, without doubt, one of the largest and richest hydrocarbon provinces in the world. Who owns and controls it? It reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ in the multi-national corporation manual. They include Burmah Oil of London, B.P., Shell, Californian and Asiatic. We did have up until only 18 months ago 100 per cent control. We have 13 per cent today under this Government. Recently, 4 farm-outs involving almost 21 000 square miles were carved up by 9 companies, 8 of which were overseas companies. There is a set of farm-out leases due to come out in 1974 and I will take an even bet that if this Government is in office it will likewise go to overseas corporations. Estimated natural gas deposits are 45 trillion cubic feet - and could be as high as 100 trillion cubic feet. In addition, there are large deposits of condensate which could be valued at $US3 per barrel.
Now let me put the 45 trillion in perspective. It is 5 times the stated reserves in the Gippsland off-shore fields and 5 times the estimated reserves of central Australia. This Government and the companies have persistently refused to in fact divulge what are the volume of the reserves. One is forced back on to ‘guesstimates’. If one accepts 45 trillion cubic feet and calculations on the basis of a projection of 20 years, the figures are staggering. If one uses figures out of the Kit Kat Aitken report in London and if one takes 80c which is paid to Shell-BP from Brunei to Japan the estimate by the Gas Producers Association of the United States fluctuates on a price level between 80c, $1 and $1.25. On the basis of 1.75 trillion cubic feet a year, which is equal to nearly 5 billion cubic feet a day, and on 30c a thousand cubic feet, revenue is worth $550m per annum. But if calculated at a selling price of $1 per 1,000 cubic feet the revenue return is $1,750,000,000. This is not profit. One can only estimate that. However, last year’s selling price was quoted about 60c, profit estimated at about 10c at 1,000 cubic feet; if one puts profit at 40c, on this basis annual profit would be $733m. However, it is interesting to note that at a price of $1, the estimated 45 trillion cubic feet would have an all-up value of $45 billion and at $1.25 per 1,000 cubic feet it would have an all up value ot $56.25 billion.
If profit continued at 40c a thousand cubic feet, the total profit for the life of the reserves would be $18 billion. After deducting royalties, taxes and all expenses, that amount is reduced by 50 per cent to $9 billion. The overseas multinational corporations would carve it up and could take out of this country $6.75 billion. If one adds to this amount the value of the condensate, a further $1.7m billion is involved.
The Amadeus Basin is estimated to have natural gas deposits of 8 trillion cubic feet and is valued at $50m. I have seen Press reports in which United States consultants claim that the reserves could prove to have up to 50 trillion cubic feet. This area is 90 per cent overseas controlled and 10 per cent Australian controlled. As I understand it, the agreement which has been signed between Magellan Petroleum Corporation
United States and the Pacific Light Company on the western seaboard of the United States provides a contract for the export of 600 million cubic feet a day. To increase the density of foreign control in this area, the Pacific Light Company has agreed to plough in capital to prove up the reserves, to supply the plant and to provide the pipeline. Before this agreement is ratified, I believe that the documents should be tabled in this Parliament to allow the matter to be considered and evaluated.
Sir Phillip Baxter is on record as saying that we have about 200,000 short tons of uranium. If one uses the recent selling price for uranium of $6.57 per lb, those reserves are valued at nearly $2,600m. This country’s fuel resources are being plundered and raped in the worst economic sense. Australia should have foreign investment but not to the extent that it results in foreign ownership and control. Lest it be thought that these criticisms of the Government’s policy are simply party politics, I shall quote from an authoritative paper published by the Economic Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs which was prepared by Professor Hirono of Seikei University, after an exhaustive survey of Australian mineral resources policy, or rather, the lack of it.
The report stated bluntly that the most important problem in connection with the mineral resources policy of the Australian Government is, as repeatedly said, that an inclusive and systematic resources policy has not yet been established. It went on to say:
It is necessary for the Australian Government to decide its own policy for the mineral resources based on the long-term benefits for Australia, and for this special attention should be paid to changes in the international relation of supply and demand for mineral resources, to future changes in the competitive power of Australian mineral resources, to relations between other countries, to changes in the relative position and standing of Australia in the world, to changes in the industrial structure within Australia, to the development of technological reform, to changes in the degree of national interest in the development of technological reform, and to the promotion of living and education standards.
How farcical it is to find that a Japanese Professor has a better grasp of Australia’s needs for a national resources policy than has this Government after 23 years.
In the national interest, 3 major decisions must be taken now. Firstly, positive legislation is needed to ensure maximum Australian equity, participation and control of these national assets; secondly, we must tap the vast reservoir of the Australian capital market; and, thirdly - I no longer request this but demand it on behalf of the people who have any concern for the assets of this country and our national heritage - we must set up immediately a national inquiry to establish concrete policies and guidelines which will co-ordinate, identify, and quantify, and plan the most economic and efficient use of these vast resources of fuel and energy, based not on this Government’s ad hoc, puerile decisions which are reached on a crisis to crisis basis, but on what this nation’s supply and demand requirements will be not only in the next decade, but also - this is equally important - for the next half century. After 23 years of this Government’s stewardship, our nation’s heritage has been sold out for a mess of pottage. For this reason alone I condemn this Government and I condemn this Budget.
– The honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) has just condemned the Government for its inactivity in relation to the resources of this country. That is extraordinary because the people of Australia know full well that until this Government came into power 23 years ago no action of the sort that this Government has taken had been taken by any previous government. The discovery of our mineral resources and the discovery of oil were initiated by this Government. A great number of the statements that the honourable member for Hawker made are mere speculation. I do not want to spend much time on this matter. But I have before me a statement by Woodside-Burmah Oil N.L. which deals with the discoveries on the north west shelf of Australia. It reads:
In view of the many different estimates that have been publicised concerning the gas reserves discovered on the north west shelf of Australia, I feel it necessary to issue a formal statement on the subject, and to emphasise that statements from unofficial sources should be disregarded.
I also have a statement from the Minister for National Development (Sir Reginald Swartz) which states that there is not sufficient evidence on which to base any definitive estimate of the size of the reserves.
The remarks of the honourable member for Hawker were mere speculation for political purposes. The honourable member heard me ask a question of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) only 2 days ago on this very matter. The people of Australia can rely on the fact that this Government will not allow foreign investment to get out of hand. Were it not for the investment of foreign capital in this country, we would never have reached the stage of prosperity and development in Australia that we have reached today. There is no doubt about that. Complaint has been made that Americans are spending many millions of dollars in the northern part of Australia and that we are selling our land. All that the Americans are doing is investing money to develop the land. It is still our land. They cannot take it away. We want development and we want to encourage people from other countries to invest in Australia, but we do not want them to go beyond a certain limit and we will ensure that they do not. It is of great credit to Australia that it is looked upon as the safest investment in the world, lt is the safest investment in the world only because it has had a stable government for the last 23 years.
I do not want to spend any more time on that subject. I want to talk about the Budget. In my opinion, this Budget will go down in history as the most beneficial Budget for the people which has ever been produced in this country. It is a well thought out Budget; it is designed to bring justice to the people; it is well balanced; it will inspire confidence; it will create the incentive to develop; it will assist unemployment; it will raise the standard of living and, above all, it will preserve the stability of our economy. Time does not permit me to go into the detail of the Budget because I now have only 15 minutes at my disposal. The Budget provides benefits to people on low incomes, to retired and semi-retired people on superannuation and fixed incomes, to the old, the ill or the infirm and to those who are just growing up - the young people of our community. The Budget will assist small business men and those about to start in business. I sug gest to the people - whoever may be listening to this parliamentary broadcast - that they should get the details of this Budget because the effects of the Budget are not yet widely known to the people. They should obtain them and find out in what way they will benefit. Whilst I do give a pat on the back to the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) for the provisions of this Budget and I do not in any way detract from the splendid work that he has done, I believe that great credit must be given to the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) for this best of all times Budget.
While the mass media in Australia has been relentless in a personality assassination of him, he has been busy behind the scenes working on a programme to give this country a new lease of life, and it is a new lease of life indeed. No-one who knows the Prime Minister will deny that he is a man of outstanding ability and an administrator and economist the equal of which there are very few in Australia. He is a prodigious worker, as we all know, and he is dedicated to his task. This Budget is not something cooked up for the election but is the result of many months of planning, research and imagination.
No Prime Minister who took office in Australia has done so in more difficult circumstances. Every country, in recent years, has been suffering from revolutionary changes. These are not yet fully adjusted. We all know that every country has suffered with inflation the same as Australia has suffered. It is not peculiar to this country, as some people like to make out, but it is less in Australia than in many other countries. The great confusion in the value of our currency, about which we have heard a lot, has created a psychological fear and an instability, and this has been running too. These are the circumstances in which this Prime Minister has had to work. The trade patterns all over the world have altered, particularly through the United Kingdom joining the European Economic Community.
Our defence preparations have been vitally affected by the United Kingdom withdrawing its forces from South East Asia. Labor charges this Government and the Prime Minister with deliberately creating unemployment. This is a dastardly statement because it cannot be substantiated in any way. This is not the only country suffering from unemployment. Every major country is suffering from it. The United Kingdom, United States of America and even West Germany and Japan have suffered from it. Does the Labor Party blame this Government for the unemployment in all the countries?
– Oh, yes! This is just so stupid. In the rural industries, which have been very hard hit, prices have slumped, markets have disappeared and the drought conditions in recent years have not helped. Yet the Prime Minister, despite all these difficulties, has not pressed the panic button. He has kept his cool and has worked on. Very few people know the work that the Prime Minister initiated behind the scenes in the preparation of this Budget. He- is the only Prime Minister I know of who has set up an extensive system of research with committees of the Party investigating every aspect of government. The findings were brought together under the Federal Secretariat of the Liberal Party and decisions made with a full understanding of the effect on the national economy. The welfare of the people was considered with due regard to priorities and in an orderly fashion. This, I believe, is the essence of good government. These things do not just happen; they are not haphazard or a catch as catch can policy playing to the gallery - the type of thing that the Labor Party does with special privileges for certain sections.
This is a national Budget that will do great things for Australia. I have said that it gives Australia a new lease of life. There is no doubt that the welfare of those in need has been cared for. The means test is to be abolished in 3 years. If I am any judge of this Government the means test could well be abolished before 3 years, and 1 certainly hope it will be. This Budget gives to every child throughout Australia basis, in collaboration with the States. The economy has been stimulated to cope with unemployment. Yet, there are charges from the other side of the House that nothing is being done about unemployment. Why, the whole Budget is based on overcoming unemployment. Some $500m or $600m extra will be in the hands of the people. If that does not have an effect on unemployment I do not know anything the right to a good education on a national about the subject.
Taxation has been reduced by a record amount for every taxpaying man or woman. 1 have tried to look up the records on this aspect, but I could not find any occasion in the history of Australia when higher reductions of taxation were made - 10 per cent right across the board. Everything that could be done within out resources has been done and we have scraped the bottom of the barrel to do it. Let there be no mistake about this: Further expenditure can be entered into only by increasing taxation. What does the Labor Party think about these things? The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has moved an amendment to the Budget condemning it for various reasons. All of his proposals would involve immense increases in taxation. Labor must make up its mind. Either it agrees or disagrees with the priorities of expenditure in the Budget. If it disagrees, it must say so and tell the people what it would put in place of the items opposed. In other words, it must choose its priorities. If it agrees with the Government’s proposals but wants more and wishes to bring in additional items, it can do so only by increasing taxation. These are the facts of life it must face.
The truth is that Labor has already announced a great number of things it would do if elected to office which are far beyond the people’s capacity to pay for, even with an enormous increase in taxation. I believe that this is sheer, unadulterated irresponsibility. Does the Leader of the Opposition take the people to be idiots who cannot see through his false promises? The Leader of the Opposition - I never like to be personal - is a very vain man. He likes to strut the stage and project his commanding stature in the hope that people will believe him and trust his word. I can assure him that the people do not trust him: They think he is phoney, and they are right. He knows these things himself. He knows that what he is putting up is quite false and yet he puts it up. I attribute this description to him and I believe that is what the people will call him.
Let us look at some of Labor’s promises. I cite some of the published promises which it is a good idea to examine. It is proposed to increase pensions to 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. This, together with fringe benefits, abolition of the means test and other benefits already in the Budget would require a very large sum of money indeed. The Leader of the Opposition has announced a S 10Om handout - giving S 100 to every pensioner and to all the unemployed. This is very big money and 1 do not know exactly how he justifies it in the circumstances. Speaking about hospitals on 1st August in Queensland, the Leader of the Opposition said.
Under Labor we will restore free hospitals in all States.
I ask the public: How much would that cost? After all, it is a question of money. On 16th July last the Leader of the Opposition promised free off-peak rail travel for most Australians. Where do we go from there? In regard to education, the Leader of the Opposition would set up a huge commission in Canberra to control all education in Australia, taking away all State rights - that is what it would mean with control in Canberra - and indeed the inalienable right of parents to send their children to whichever school they choose. 1 have no doubt that the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) will deal with that matter later.
I think this is a good one! The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), the shadow Minister for Social Services, announced on 28th February last a national social security policy to cover all Australians 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The scheme would be compulsory and it would cost $ 1,850m a year to run. I do not know whether the people want that sort of thing. Also, Mr Hayden has promised free dental service to schools.
– Order! The honourable member should use the name of the electorate.
– I am sorry. 1 was referring to the honourable member for Oxley. He also has promised the Australian people free contraceptives. He is very generous. The question of urban development has been dealt with at length by the Leader of the Opposition. Here is probably the ‘Daddy’ of all the promises.
The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) who, in a Labor government would be the Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, has stated frequently - and it has been supported by the Leader of the Opposition - that Labor would acquire or resume large areas of land around ail the capital cities and major towns in Australia, that it would develop this land by providing roads, water, sewerage and electricity and that it would lease the land to the people at a low subsidised interest rate. Can anyone here imagine what that would cost? The Labor Party would set up an enormous central commission in Canberra to cont-ol this great scheme for urban development.
The honourable member for Reid is on record also as saying that Labor will increase war service homes loans to $15,000 at 3 i per cent interest, broaden the scheme to include all personnel of the permanent forces - I do not know whether honourable members realise the millions of dollars this would cost - and progressively include others in the community. 1 presume that he means unionists. I have no doubt that Mr Hawke will soon enter business as a major developer in order to join in the scheme of things. In this massive socialist conception Labor has promised to take over the functions of the States and of local government by building transport systems, theatres and a myriad of public buildings in order to diversify the population. That is all stated in Labor’s plan. Of course, the Builders Labourers Federation, under Mr Mundey, a well known communist, will no doubt dictate what is to be built and where it is to be built - it is doing that at the present time. I have not time to go into the details.
No-one will doubt that if the Labor Party becomes the government this year, a universal 35-hour week will be approved, which will add hundreds of millions of dollars to the cost of production, thus increasing the cost of living and making competition with other countries impossible. All these promises make an enormous increase in taxation inevitable. The Leader of the Opposition is strangely silent on the question of taxation. He knows that it is not the rich who will pay; the lower and middle income earners will be hit hard, and they know that they will be hit hard. I do not have any more time to go into this matter, but it is not only in the field of irresponsible promises and the destructive effect of high taxation that we have to fear the possibility of this country being controlled by a Labor government. If we get a Labor government it will be without doubt under the direction of the left wing trade unions, dominated by the most powerful man in Australia, Bob Hawke, and I leave it at that.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, it is always very enlightening to listen to the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer). He seemed to devote very little of his speech to the Budget. He has this phobia about left wing unions, to which members of the Liberal Party refer ad nauseum. The Budget before the House represents the final act of panic by this coalition Government, lt. was presented purely and simply for political survival. It will not achieve that purpose because the Australian people simply will not be deceived by the hasty, ill conceived, cynical, and narrow economic proposals that are the measure of this document. The Budget is a testimony of conservative philosophy that has no relevance for this nation in the 1970s. If makes no effort to identify or to come to grips with the great national problems or the aspirations of the Australian people.
I want to make one comment on the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). He has referred to transportation and plans for our capital cities. The editorial in yesterday’s ‘Australian Financial Review’, under the heading ‘After the Budget a new stimulus’, states:
One of the most cogent and widespread criticisms of this latest Federal Budget has resolved around the rather narrow front on which it chose to attack the problem of lagging national growth.
Further on it refers to what Dr Bell, the economic adviser to the Australian Mutual Provident Society, stated. It reads:
Two possible fields in which the Federal Government could adopt both a creative attitude and one calculated to stimulate consumption and improve the structure of the economy in a basic way were mentioned by the Bill: Selective decentralisation; the provision of effective public rapid transit facilities . . .
This of course merely reinforces the 2 points made by the Leader of the Opposi tion. Much has been said about taxation in this hand-out Budget. The simple fact is that income tax continues to be pitched very heavily against the low and middle income earner. The crux of the matter is quite simply that only the rate of increase of taxation has been reduced, and that taxation paid by individuals in this financial year will in fact rise by $439m. The measure announced by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in the Budget, indicating that self-education expenses would be a deductible item, is in fact irrelevant, because this is an existing right which was given by the High Court of Australia early this year. I commend to the Treasurer the decision given by Mr Justice Menzies.
The Treasurer made a dramatic announcement in regard to the abolition of the means test and the feasibility of a national superannuation scheme. What remarkable inconsistency we have here. I would like to remind the House and the nation that whenever this proposal has been presented by the Australian Labor Party it has been ridiculed and dismissed as financial madness. Indeed, let me further remind the House of the incredible political gymnastics of this Government. Just 9 weeks ago the Treasurer, with his traditional gusto and extrovert energy, did his best to discredit the suggestion regarding abolition of the means test. Yet some 8 weeks later he introduced that measure in the Budget that was presented to this House. Are not people entitled to question the motives behind such an announcement? I leave this to the Australian people, and 1 am optimistic enough to believe that they will make the correct decision.
I turn now to the question of pensions. If any section of this community deserves justice with compassion it is the people who receive pensions and who in human terms have been responsible for the great development of this nation. But how have we treated them in the past 23 years? What techniques have we used? What ploy, if you like, has this Government used? The Government will give them 50c here or Si there in a Budget in the great hope that this will placate them, particularly on the eve of an election. But is this the way to treat them? Is this the method to employ? The Opposition has long advocated that pensions be 25 per cent of the average weekly wage and we on this side of the House are, of course, naturally delighted that the pensioners will receive some increase. But let us not continue with this outdated and anachronistic technique of giving 50c here or SI there in every Budget.
I want to turn briefly now to the area of defence spending. Defence has a fascination for the Government. I want particularly to highlight what I believe to be - and I would like the Australian people to hear what I have to say on this - one of the most disgraceful, opportunistic and irresponsible acts ever perpetrated by even this lacklustre coalition Government. On the eve of a Federal election some 9 years ago - note that it was the eve of an election - this Government with its fear phobia entered into a most extraordinary contract to purchase the F111C aircraft. Here it is, August 1972, and where is this devastating piece of aerial weaponry? At page 338 of the Auditor-General’s report for 1972 it says that previous reports mentioned that the 24 aircraft ordered by the Commonwealth were in storage in the United States. These aircraft are for the defence of this country, yet they are in storage in the United States. This is the piece de resistance. The approved estimated cost of this project currently stands at $US334m and we still do not have one aircraft. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said, it is a mirage. The slogan, or if you like the catch cry, of the Liberal Party whenever it is confronted by Labor policy has been, parrotlike, to ask: Where is the money coming from? Now I can ask: Where has the $334m gone and for what? If a Labor administration had committed an act of folly or of gross incompetence of this magnitude it would have been thrown out of office, and deservedly so. The people of Australia deserve to be reminded of this Government’s monumental miscalculation which has cost them so dearly.
In a broader context I want to deal with the proposals in this Budget which relate to Tasmania, its primary producers and its apple and pear industry in particular. The only reference in the Budget to the valuable fruit export industry was a slight increase in the stabilisation scheme for 1972. Some weeks ago I joined the Premier of Tasmania in a delegation to the
Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) seeking bridging finance for this industry. But what has happened? What has been the result? What has been the reaction? Precisely nothing. It is causing very great concern in Tasmania, and justifiably so. I would suggest that if that triumvirate in the Australian Country Party, comprising the Deputy Prime Minister, who might well be labelled the Coriolanus of t’-.e Country Party, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon), was as energetic and vocal about the primary industries as it is at hurling the most abusive and derogatory remarks at the Leader of the Opposition, our primary industries might be in a better way than they are. What about the extent of Commonwealth spending in Tasmania. This makes fascinating reading. The total allocation to the Department of Works for 1971-72 was $327m; Tasmania’s allocation was $3.6 lm, The total allocation for the Department of Trade and Industry was $52. 884m; Tasmania’s share was $60,000. The total allocation for the Postmaster-General’s Department was $l,142m; Tasmania’s share was $35m. The total allocation for the Department of Labour and National Service was $24. 186m; Tasmania’s share was $711,000. For far too long Tasmania which after all - this may come as a shock to some hoonurable members on the Government side - is still a member of the Commonwealth, has been treated with scant respect.
I want to turn to the fear complex of this Government and make particular reference to the Australian Broadcast ng Commission. In my time in this Parliament I have been not only dismayed and greatly disturbed by the efforts of honourable members on the other side who .’.ave mounted a concerted and concentra’ed campaign to stifle, silence and, if possible, remove any person who dares criticise this Government. We have the present controversy involving the Commission’s current affairs programmes. This is a most unhappy episode but it is not new. What is new and disappointing is the entry of the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) into this public argument. I say it is disappointing because hitherto he has exhibited a balance and an approach that was in my view certainly commendable. But his statements of recent weeks, his appearance on ‘This Day Tonight’ on 16th of this month places him fairly and squarely alongside the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and that right honourable gentleman’s attitude. The Prime Minister has never established a reputation for tolerance of any critical comment by the media. In fact if we look at the attitude of the Prime Minister in April of this year and again last Friday night on ABC television making demands as to who will or will not interview him, we can easily see how impossible it is becoming for professional broadcasters of talent and integrity to work with the right honourable gentleman at all. It can be clearly demonstrated that the Prime Minister and some of his supporters who are very vocal are trying in effect to emasculate current affairs programmes to such an extent that these programmes which enjoy substantial ratings among the Commission’s programmes will cease to be meaningful at all, and will cease to be meaningful as a substantial and critical assessment of the Government’s performance, and that is their task.
The proposition advanced by the PostmasterGeneral to preview some controversial segments before they go to air is as preposterous as it is impossible. I will not go into the impracticability of it because thankfully it has already been dealt with by the Chairman of the Commission, Sir Robert Madgwick. What the suggestion does reveal is that the Postmaster-General in advocating such a measure and in putting forward such a proposal after years in this portfolio quite simply does not understand the fundamental procedures involved in putting this type of programme to air, be it on radio or television. It simply cannot be done.
But what really is the motive behind these pressures? It is simply fear. This Government, which proclaims time and again that it believes in the freedom of the individual and that it believes in free speech, is at the moment, in my view, treading a very dangerous path if it pursues its present course, mapped out for it by the Minister for the Navy (Dr Mackay) in his now famous guideline statement in this House some time ago. If the Prime Minister wants the French system to prevail in this country let him say so. The French state radio and television system is a disgrace to any Western democracy. It has been used ruthlessly as an instrtument of the state, and it still is used as such. If the Prime Minister and his colleagues wish to have the Australian Broadcasting Commission as an impotent, uninformative, docile and uncritical assessor of the Government, by all means let them adopt the French system. What did De Gaulle say about his political opponents? ‘They have the newspapers but I have got the television’.
– Did he say that?
– He did indeed. If that is the sort of situation the Government wants in this country I am certain that the Australian people will not accept it. It is a Goebbels-like technique, and the honourable member for North Sydney, knows it, and appreciates that 1 am right. This Budget introduced by the Treasurer falls very far short of the vision and the statesmanship that the Australian people have every right to expect from their national leaders. It is the same dreary, unimaginative, predictable approach that has marked the coalition’s performance for so many of its 23 years in office, lt is time for a new approach, an approach that will ensure that this nation can surge forward, undivided, unimpeded and unhindered. That impetus can be generated only by new ideas, by political courage and by sweeping away the old tired concepts and by planning for this country a future that will assure us of a pre-eminent position in a world that is changing - and it is a fact that this Government simply cannot or will not recognise that this is a changing world.
The Australian people deserve the best. They are being served by a mediocre government which has demonstrated clearly that it lacks the confidence of the people. It is a government that has demonstrated quite clearly that it is out of touch with contemporary thinking, and any government that is out of touch ought to be out of office. It is a government that has demonstrated with quite remarkable ability how easy it is to achieve the second best. It is a government divided and divisive. It is a government that is tired, frightened and very angry. It is a government lacking in vision and lacking in trust. It is a government that deserves to be rejected, and that certainly will be its fate.
– The last few words of the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) reminded me of a country cricket match when a character was given out lbw by the umpire and as he walked towards the pavilion he gave the umpire what I would describe as a most ungenerous look. He said to the umpire ‘1 wasn’t out’ and the umpire said: ‘Just have a look in the paper in the morning.’ The honourable gentleman has tried to encourage himself with a wonderful di.-play of optimism. For my sins, I am addicted to going to the races. On the main gate of every racecourse should be printed a notice to this effect: ‘Through this gate pass the greatest optimists in Australia’. On the other side of the gate, there should be a notice to this effect: Through this gate go those who find the road to financial attainment on the racecourse difficult to get’. One may have to paraphrase it. a little, but I am sure that honourable members get the point.
This may not be a desperately profound thing to say, but I want to say it: The Budget must be looked at as a whole. We must be concerned with the totality of the Budget. For example, one could turn to the speech of the honourable member for Franklin and look at the transport problems of Tasmania in relation to the mainland. I can understand the honourable gentlemans concern about the difficulties in his own State, but to answer that would mean that one had to depart from the basic philosophy of the Budget. I would like to give him a quick assurance that, as far as the Australian Broadcasting Commission is concerned, I for one do not seek to impeach all of its members and burn them at the stake. I certainly do not resent criticism; but I am sure that my honourable friend will understand that this is not the luxury I want to indulge in. 1 want to turn to the totality of the Budget and see what it seeks to achieve. The Budget seeks to remedy what I, for my part, concede were errors in the last Budget in slowing down the economy of the nation. There may be those who say: It is unfair to concede that a mistake was made.’ I do not subscribe to that view. I believe that the dampening down of the Australian economy 12 months ago was a little too elaborate. As a consequence today, this Budget sets out to restore confidence to the community, to ensure that consumer spending is boosted, to give impetus to employment and so forth. It is very easy to look at any Budget and to find a fault here, a blemish there, a suspected weakness somewhere else and to concentrate on them. For example, I would have had a preference for cutting sales tax to give an immediate impetus to consumer spending. But, on the other hand, the judgment was made by the Government that income tax should be cut so that the money is immediately available. This is a judgment. Whenever any person criticises anything in the Budget he is under an obligation to say what is the effect of this on the Budget as it applies to some other area. It is the interrelationship of the Budget, the totality of it, with which we are concerned.
The Budget speaks for itself. Honourable members who have spoken have referred to its effects as they see them. What was the alternative that was put to us by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam)? Whereas private members of this Parliament can engage in criticism to their hearts” content, the leader of an opposition can enjoy no such place of favour. He speaks for his whole Party. It is his Party’s programme that he is presenting. Let us look at the speech made a week or so ago by the Leader of the Opposition. He started by describing the Budget in the imagery of the. desert. He said it was a mirage that would shimmer for 3 months. I am going to try to persuade honourable members that if they accept the proposals put forward by the Leader of the Opposition it will be like accepting an invitation to join the caravan which starts for the dawn of nothing. In 61 minutes of sustained moaning the Leader of the Opposition set out to give us the impression that he did not think much of the Budget. He is entitled to do that. If there should be any doubt in the minds of honourable members that he does not like the Budget, they can look at the amend ment that he moved. He said, for example, that the Budget should be condemned for a variety of reasons. He said that there is no framework for improving the standards of education, health and welfare’. I have just culled out a few that seem to me to bc of more significance than others.
There is only one inference to be drawn from the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition and that is that he believes that in all of these fields to which he referred, there should be greater expenditure. In other words, the deficit of $630m should be boosted. That is the only possible inference to be drawn. I come back to the original proposition that I put, namely, that it is the totality of the Budget which must be examined. Commonwealth expenditure in the field of education for the coming year will amount to $426m and for social welfare about $2,529m. These amounts, apparently, are not substantial enough for the honourable gentleman. He believes that they should be condemned. Therefore one can only conclude - it is a fair conclusion, I submit - that he has in mind no marginal amounts to boost them. He has in mind a very substantial amount indeed, and it is rather curious for the honourable member for Franklin and some of his colleagues to say: ‘This is a panic Budget. You are seeking to secure favour in the election’. If that proposition be true, what on earth are honourable members opposite seeking to do because their proposal is that a $630m deficit is not enough? Kick it up to $ 1,000m? Any advance on that? Make it $ 1,500m? Any takers? This is the logic of the Labor Opposition in this debate, and that is the first point of significance in the speech by the Leader of the Opposition.
But the second, and I believe the most fundamental, argument which the honourable gentleman mentioned, has as of now not been adverted to but I will spend a moment or 2 referring to it. During the course of his speech the honourable and learned gentleman said:
Any function of our society will grow in strength, quality and equality to the extent that the Commonwealth involves itself. But if the Commonwealth involvement is limited just to providing cash, then there is no true national commitment at all to promoting the quality and equality of that community service.
The significance of the words-
– If any persons ever describe the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) and myself as quivering towards centralism because we want the nonsense about the territorial sea settled, 1 hope that they will remember the words of the Leader of the Opposition.
– Read on a bit.
– There is no need to read on. His literacy is even extended to Queensland. What do the words ‘if the Commonwealth involvement is limited just to providing cash’ mean? They simply mean that the honourable gentleman certainly does not have in mind any section 96 grants to the States - Premiers’ Conferences, Australian Loan Council meetings, meetings of friends and supporters all gathered around a central table, and they go away from Premiers Conferences indulging in what is almost now a national sport saying that they have not got enough when they go back to their States.
The Commonwealth says: Here is a section 96 grant for you, old chap. This should encourage a smile back on to your face’. The Leader of the Opposition has not got this in mind at all. He would not be content with the grants procedure. He wants all functions, not merely to be susceptible to Commonwealth control but to be controlled by the Commonwealth.
We are not dealing with some private member of the Parliament indulging himself in the luxury of playing the role of a critic. One’s mind turns to the essay of Samuel Johnson when he wrote of a critic:
The power of invention having been conferred by nature upon you, there are many who seek notoriety by indulging themselves in the role of a critic.
Here is the Leader of the Opposition speaking on behalf of his Party, the alternative Prime Minister, saying to the Parliament and to the country: T propose to dismantle the whole process of government in Australia’. This is not some fiddling little point. All State functions and all local government functions are to be brought under the control of this Parliament. Let no person say that he did not know the gun was loaded. This is the policy of the Labor Party in Australia. Not to be content with providing the cash, it wants the control.
The curious feature about this is that the honourable gentleman did not say how he would get it. Would he get it by referendum? Would any person with 2 wits to rub together - I fear that may except one or two people - really contend that you can go to the Australian people with a referendum proposal and say: ‘Here it is boys, vote for giving all power to Canberra’. This was tried in 1942 when the late Dr Evatt vent to the States asking them to refer all powers to the Commonwealth. Two State parliaments were so minded but that proposal collapsed. In 1944 there was a 14-point referendum. We have had 24 or 25 referendums in Australia and 4 or 5 of them have been carried. It is almost hilarious to imagine that you would ever get out of referendum these powers. The only other way in which the honourable gentleman could possibly get these powers would be by persuading the States legislatively to vote themselves out of existence. Is he seriously contemplating saying to Sir Robert Askin: ‘Come on, you are running downhill. You look a little old and tired. We will take over from you*. Is he contemplating saying to the newly appointed Premier of Victoria, Mr Hamer: Look, old chap, Sir Henry has gone on his way and I think you had better go into retirement, too’? ls he contemplating saying to Mr Bjelke-Petersen in Queensland or to Mr Tonkin in Western Australia: Come on, give us all. We will run things from Canberra’7
By what means does he propose to get these powers? What I am putting to the House is this; It is passing strange indeed that any person should come forward with such a proposal, but when the Leader of the Opposition comes forward with such a proposal and does not say how he will get it, I think that the country is entitled to say to itself collectively: ‘What goes on here?’ But even assuming that he should be successful - in other words, let us assume that the witch’s brew, if you like, should work and he should get all the power in Canberra - what has he got in his mind? Again T do not want to give offence to the honourable gentleman because of an innate sense of courtesy and sensitivity, but let me refer to a few suggestions made by him.
He wants to restore the value of repatriation benefits despite the fact that this Budget provides the greatest repatriation benefits ever in the history of federation But what does the vague collection of the words ‘restore repatriation benefits’ mean? It is uncosted, unknown, unstated. I go to another one, restructing income tax’. What on earth does that mean? What are the costs involved in that? Again, unstated. Labor proposes to reduce sales tax. By how much, 2i per cent, 5i per cent, 10 per cent? Conduct an auction, if you like. What does it mean? What does the honourable gentleman have in mind? He said that a Labor government would purchase residential land. What, a $15,000 block close to Bondi Beach or a $500 block out the back of the Barcoo? What does the honourable gentleman mean by this? Again unstated, unkown, undeclared. Labour says that it will turn rural relief into a long range plan. Dearie, dearie me, fancy the Labor Party talking about turning rural relief into a long range plan. Most Labor members would get lost in a horse paddock. ‘Regeneration of urban transport’. What cost has the honourable gentleman in mind for that proposal? Again, unstated, undeclared, unknown. I could go on from one to another of these vague hilarious declarations of intention. But the truth is not declared. The truth is blurred. I remind the House that, when it comes to blurring the truth, the honourable gentleman paints with all the swift deftness of a Michaelangelo
But one thing above all other things is certain. If a Labor Government set out to implement its proposals in the vague sense in which they have been presented to the House, the country would face not a Budget deficit of $630m but a deficit getting within touch of $2,000m. What would be the effect of that? The effect of that would be to give to this country a form of inflation which would make a complete mockery of all the endeavours both of the governments of Australia in the last 20 years and of every private individual. I think that the choice before Australia in the coming election deserves to be stated with some measure of clarity. On the one hand, the people can settle for a party which for the moment has successfully concealed its deep ideological divisions and is led by a man-
– I know that this makes the honourable member laugh. This is the first time I have seen him smile genuinely in the last week. I was referring to a party which is prepared to tolerate proposals put forward in the form in which they were put forward by the Leader of the Opposition a week ago. On the other hand - I want to remind those who sit on this side of the House of this fact - the people can look to the great traditions of our Party, the Liberal-Country Parties. These traditions were founded upon a genuine belief in the capacity of the individual to use his initiative, to seek skills, and in the use of those skills to be rewarded. The great traditions of our Party were founded upon people being willing to have a go, to take risks and to stand up to the critics, be they to the Left or indeed to the Right. The traditions of our Party were founded upon a belief in building an Australia that is strong, free and above all responsible. The ultimate test of government is not what any one individual in the Government may stand for or believe in. It is what, the Government as a totality stands for. It is what the Opposition comes forward with such a stands for. For my part I would like the Labor Party to know that I go out into the next election, along with those others who stand behind the Government, with my head held high, and unless I am greatly mistaken I will be back here, my head again held high. When the ultimate test comes, when the Australian people realise the significance of the choice they make - responsibility in government or irresponsibility; that is the choice - people with normal cerebral processes should not be in doubt as to how they should vote on that occasion. The Labor Party says that it is time to do this and time to do that. I will tell the Australian people what they will get. If they vote for the Labor Party they will get 3 years hard labour.
– One of the first observations I made when I came to this place was that the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) was the molecule for Moreton because I thought he had some small substance. By his expression of opinion today he has confirmed that belief in my mind. I will deal with him during the course of my speech by saying to him that in South Australia one of the greatest debacles ever is unfolding before the people. One of the greatest political wrangles in all the political history of the Liberal-Country League in that State is taking place. Only a few days ago we saw a letter to the editor in the ‘Advertiser’ signed by the honourable members for Angas (Mr Giles), Wakefield’ (Mr Kelly), Boothby (Mr McLeay) and Barker (Dr Forbes) staling that Steele Hall was no good to the Liberal Party or to the Liberal Movement. In the last few. days the honourable member for Boothby and the honourable member for Barker have been frantically telephoning people, who are entitled to cast a vote tomorrow to determine who will be the President of the LCL in South Australia, trying to blackmail them into voting for the encumbent of that office,’ Ian McLachlan. He’ is. a brother of the bloke who tried to touch the Federal Government the other week for the Aboriginal land in Everard Park. It’ is the same family, although its members’, spell their names a little differently! ‘ :-
What do we find in this-.blackmail? Two of the honourable members t.p: whom I have referred said that they .will walk out of the LCL if Mc Lachlan, is not. re-elected. The feeling within the LCL’ in. South Australia is approaching . boiling, point. The conflict between the established authority of. the LCL and the so-called: progressive Liberal Movement is being waged on the battleground of party office bearers. The conflict has become so -bitter and intense that South Australia’s 4 remaining Liberal members of the House . of RepresentativesMr Bert Kelly, Mr Geoff Giles, Mr John McLeay and Dr Jim Forbes - have become embroiled. A letter in the ‘Advertiser? dated 4th August 1972 signed by the 4 members , of the House of Representatives strongly supported the current President of the LCL, Mr Ian McLachlan. They denounced Mr Steele Hall, the former Leader of the Opposition in the State Parliament. It is now obvious .that Senator Jessop has been under pressure to withdraw his nomination to stand for the presidency of the State LCL. Such pressure is clearly intended to reduce the chances of defeat for Mr McLachlan and destroy the prospects of Mr Hall’s pea, Mr Perryman. We are witnessing yet another attempt at standover tactics by Kelly, Giles, McLeay and Forbes designed to intimidate members of the LCL into supporting Mr McLachlan. I know for a fact that 2 of the members, Mr Kelly and Mr McLeay, are involved, and I suspect from information given to me that the other 2 are involved also. The 4 Federal members are known to be conducting an extensive telephone campaign directed at those who will be voting tomorrow in a frantic effort to save McLachlan’s bacon. They are using the ploy that if Ian McLachlan were defeated they would resign from the Liberal Party and there would be mass resignations from the LCL and mass defections from both of the State Houses.
My understanding of the rights of Federal members in the LCL is that they may exercise a right to sit on the Country Party benches in the Federal Parliament. Would the Leader of the Country Party welcome an old antagonist in the form of Mr Bert Kelly into his Party? Would Mr Geoffrey O’Halloran Giles, in a desperate attempt to hold off a Country Party challenge at the next election, seek protection from the Country Party? ‘Protection’ is a word well understood in that Party. How enthusiastic would Mr Anthony be about welcoming Mr John MeLeay, a member of the Adelaide establishment and a fervent supporter of the Smith regime in Rhodesia? Finally, how would he feel about the recruitment of the ineffectual member for Barker, Dr Forbes, who failed abjectly to sustain his rural electorate during the rural crisis? Quite clearly, Mr Anthony would have a bitter-sweet reaction to picking up these 4 Liberal converts. However, an increase in numbers is always welcome, and other factors must influence Mr Anthony.
Other members of the Federal Parliament have been refused pre-selection by the Liberal Party machine, and Mr Gorton and Mr Killen are waiting on the back benches ready to jump at the chance of getting away from the McMahon Liberal Party in a respectable way. If the balance of numbers between the coalition parties altered substantially, Mr Anthony would be having splendid visions of himself as Prime Minister and not as Mr McMahon’s loyal deputy. These are some of the not so long term implications of the present campaign of intimidation and threats now being conducted by South Australia’s Federal Liberal Party members. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) must be aware of these moves and be deeply concerned about them, as they represent a serious threat on the eve of a Federal election.
The voter in South Australia will have no faith in a party so divided as to be incapable of clear thought and planning on its own behalf and a party that cannot be trusted in government.
So much for the words of the honourable member for Moreton in the House a few moments ago about the great Party and the great solidarity in the Liberal Party when he himself is on record as saying not so very long ago throughout the length and breadth of this land that tha present Prime Minister ought to go. This afternoon he made some play about his attitude in regard to off-shore minerals. I say to the honourable member for Moreton: ‘When you had your chance to stand up and be counted as a man of substance and a man who backs up his own words with actions, you backed out the door, as the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) did. The voting records of this House will prove that.
The honourable member for Moreton referred to all sorts of things but I want to deal directly with the Budget. I will come back to something else later on if the clock does not beat me.
– Hear, hear! You will sidetrack yourself if you do not watch out.
– Why does not the honourable member for Angas stand in this House and talk about things that affect his electorate? They are the things that he ought to speak about; matters such as the imposition of a wine tax by a member of this House, the right honourable member for Higgins. The honourable member for Angas will trot through his electorate next week and I hope that his electors, particularly the grape growers, will remember that it was at his suggestion and that of the right honourable member for Higgins that the wine tax went on, and that he has twiced them ever since. I hope they remember that. May I meet the honourable member for Angas in the electorate next week.
There has been a marked deterioration in the state of the economy in the last 2 years. In July 1970, for Australia as a whole, there were 126 registered unemployed for every 100 job vacancies notified; in July 1971, immediately before the disastrous 1971 budget, there were 194 unemployed for every 100 vacancies; and in July 1972 there were 389 registered unemployed for every 100 vacancies. In Australia at present, the principal problem is to stimulate spending by consumers and investors so that production will be increased and, as a result, unemployment will fall. Production must be stimulated to such an extent that employers are not able to meet any new orders coming in by working existing staff more overtime hours - as is likely to happen if employers expect any resulting upturn in orders for their products to be only temporary. Instead they need to have the confidence to take on more employees. It is probable that we will see an increase in overtime hours worked per employee before there is a marked reduction in unemployment from its present un-Australian level.
The 1971 Budget was largely responsible for the situation we face today. Using outdated economic ideas, the framers of that Budget tried to reduce inflation by increasing the degree of slackness in the economy and, so they thought, cutting down the rate of increase of wages and then prices. The framers of that Budget believed that there was a fixed relationship between the amount of unemployment and the degree of inflation. They believed that a certain unemployment rate was associated with a particular amount of inflation, and that if unemployment was increased there would be less inflation. What an inhumanitarian action it was to transform such a belief into government policy.
One feature of the present depressed economy which will have serious effects for sometime to come is the fall in private investment spending on new buildings, plant and equipment which has occurred. From March 1971 to March 1972 there was an 8.4 per cent fall in total private capital spending. From June 1971 to June 1972, despite the restoration of the 20 per cent deduction from taxation allowed for new investment, private capital spending fell by 11.3 per cent. Clearly, there has been an accelerated fall in investment in new buildings, plant and equipment in recent months. Only by investing can we raise productivity and have economic growth. And as a result of these serious developments, Australian economic growth is likely to be retarded in the next few years.
Just as the 1971 Budget created added unemployment, this year’s Budget probably will not do much about reducing it. The 1972 Budget is unlikely to lead to an increase in production past the point at which employers stop working their existing staff more intensively through increasing overtime and have the confidence to start hiring added workers. The present Budget is unlikely to have much effect in expanding production because it has relied too heavily on the wrong sorts of measures. Cuts in the personal income tax of the type made are inappropriate in the present economic situation.
The reasons are as follows: Cuts in income tax, and as a result, increases in take home pay, cannot by themselves have a direct effect on production. The reason is that income can be put to 2 broad purposes, spending and savings. At any time, of any
Si dollar increase in take home pay, less than Si will be spent on production, since some of any increase in income will always be saved. The present income tax cuts are particularly badly designed because they increase by the smallest amount and percentage the take home pay of those income earners most likely to spend the highest percentage of any $1 of added income. On the other hand, those people least likely to spend and most likely to save - people at the top of the income scale - are precisely the ones who get the biggest increases in aftertax incomes in this rich man’s’ Budget.
Consider the case of a taxpayer with a wife and 2 children who has a taxable income, after making all other deductions besides those for dependents of $5,000. His increase in take home pay in a year as a result of the tax cuts is about $140, or a 3.4 per cent increase in take home pay. For a taxpayer in similar circumstances but with a taxable income of $10,000 ‘after making other deductions, the increase in take home pay in a year would be about $295, or a 4.1 per cent increase in take home pay. For a taxpayer in similar circumstances but with a taxable income of $20,000, the annual increase in take home pay is of the order of $670, or a 5.9 per cent increase in take home pay.
Surely a more equitable and more effective way of stimulating spending would have been to give all taxpayers an equal absolute cut in their taxation liabilities. For example, a cut of, say, $100 or $125 in each taxpayer’s liability - no matter what the size of his income - would have led to a greater expansion in total community spending than the present tax cuts. The income tax cuts are likely to have a weak effect in expanding production for other reasons too. One is that income tax cuts need to be viewed as permanent or lasting by wage and salary earners if they are to be induced to go out and spend.
It is well known that changes in income taxes which are regarded as being temporary by income earners have little effect in getting these people to add to their spending. The United States learned this lesson under President Johnson when a 10 per cent surcharge was added to the income tax to try to reduce spending by the American people in an attempt to moderate the US inflation of the late 1960s. There was no reduction in spending. Who in Australia in the present situation would go and commit himself to the purchase of a car or a refrigerator on time payment when it is likely that the Government will take back with the one hand what it has given with the other, if it gets back into power? The present tax cuts are an illusion.
Another factor reinforcing uncertainty among spenders is inflation. There is ample evidence to suggest that continuing inflation has sapped the confidence of consumers and that one result has been the enormous increases in bank deposits in Australia. In these circumstances, the most probable effect of cuts in personal income tax is a reluctance to spend and a rise in deposits at savings banks and trading banks.
The 1972 Budget might have had a marked effect on spending and production if the Government had cut sales taxes, especially those on large household items and on motor vehicles. The reason is that a cut in sales tax can be expected to lead to a fall in the price of these goods and consumers can be much more certain of the new price of the item, and hence (the value of any hire purchase contract they may enter into, than they can that an increase in takehome pay due to the present cuts in income tax will persist into the future.
The 1972 Budget shows that, just as in 1971, the Government is again subscribing to old-fashioned economic ideas. Just as it was wrong to believe that there was a choice between a certain amount of inflation and a certain amount of unemployment - the 1971 Snedden position - so too it is wrong now to believe that cuts in personal income tax of the particular type being made are an effective means of boosting spending and stimulating production in our factories.
To justify this statement I quote the views of 2 economists, David J. Smyth and Patrick C. McMahon - no relation, thank goodness - in the latest issue of the Australian Economic Society’s officially sponsored journal, the ‘Economic Record’ of June 1972. They concluded, on the basis of a study of the Australian economy from 1958 to 1968, that changes in personal income tax rates - such as those in the present Budget - do not directly affect spending by consumers.
Once again the Government has not done its homework, and, like the student who has not done his homework, the Government cannot expect to pass the endofyear exams. It is time to put an end to the stop-go budgeting that has been a feature of Government policy in recent years. It is time to embark on planned economic policies with annual budgets fitting into a comprehensive planning framework for the whole economy.
The Federal Government, as a result of its Budget, has inflicted on the community the unemployment of some 112,000 people. One can reasonably assume that for almost each one of those unemployed there are at least 3 dependants. The Government is inflicting a poverty line on 500,000 people in this country. The Prime Minister stood in this chamber the other night and said that the Government was going to hold an inquiry into poverty. He quoted from a book recently written by Professor Henderson titled ‘Poverty in Australia’, but he never damn well stopped to think that if he had looked at the poverty line drawn by that gentleman he would have found that it ran at about §50 a week. Does the Prime Minister have to wait for a poverty report, which may become available some time during the next 2 years, before deciding that the unemployment benefit payable to the people to whom I have referred, the unemployed, is only a little above 50 per cent of the $50 a week that represents the poverty line? Why cannot the Government be fair dinkum with its policy? It has never been fair dinkum. The Government brought in that policy only when it thought that the electoral climate was such that it found it necessary to do so. One act that this Parliament could do within the next week or fortnight - in fact it could do it this evening if it wanted to - is to pass a measure to increase the unemployment benefits to a level set out in the book which was praised by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in this House only a few nights ago. In the last 12 months the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) - and during this time he has brought in God knows how many Budgets - has been screaming to the country about the need to practise restraint. However, we find that he has been squandering the taxpayers’ money on VIP flights to the extent that one would think there are no commercial flights available in this country. The Treasurer had 14 flights on VIP aircraft in 28 days. One has only to look at the figures in the document tabled in the Senate to see how many flights he had in that period and other 28-day periods. Yet the Treasurer asks us to practise restraint.
The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) has done much the same thing, yet he stands in this House and blames the trade unions, the white collar workers, the blue collar workers and whathaveyou. He committed almost a white collar crime himself in this House when he sought the passage of a Bill to increase the salaries of a selected few in the Public Service by some 37 per cent. Where, then, is the Government’s sincerity to be found? Where in this Budget is the plan to return to the work force the 100,000 people who are unemployed? Where in this Budget is the plan which will cater for those who will normally leave school at the end of this year? Where are these people to be absorbed into the work force? In addition, where is the plan that this Government has in mind to make provision for those who returned to school last year because they could not find employment? Where is there any plan, beyond an immediate plan?
The Prime Minister said at the Cabinet meeting last week: ‘Get out and sell the Budget’. Would any Minister stand here and deny that Ministers were not put into the sausage machine and were told that their point of view was not to be objective but was to be defamatory? They were told to break up the trade unions and to kick the old communist can. This has been the theme at the end of almost every Budget Speech made from the other side of the House. There has not been one constructive speech that would convey to the electors that the Government was thinking about the long term benefit to this country of development generally.
The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), who preceded me, said something about where the money would come from. The Government will be collecting in this country $900,000m. It is not a question of where the money is coming from; it is what the hell has the Government done with the money that it has had. What has happened to the money which has run through its fingers and been wasted over the last 23 years? That is the question that the people ought to be asking themselves. They should ask: Where has the money gone? They should be told the answer dollar for dollar. Part of the answer is spelt out in terms of medical benefits to the nation. One only has to look at the huge reserves and investments that the fund organisations have. These are the sorts of questions that th people ought to be asking.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for Sturt, who has just resumed his seat, misrepresented me a few moments ago. He continues to do this - he has done it ever since he has been in this place. Normally I let such a reference go but I thought that I could not do so on this occasion. The honourable member accused me of frantically telephoning people in Adelaide. I think he used the word ‘blackmail’ somewhere. I find his language difficult to understand, but they are the expressions I believe he used. There is no way in the world how he or any other member would know that I was telephoning anyone anywhere. What he has said is completely false. He has accused me of the improper use of the telephone system which I categorically deny. I say that this is a typical completely untruthful statement-
-Order! The honourable member cannot debate the subject.
– I think it is worth the House recalling that throughout his speech the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) in fact did not criticise any of the positive proposals that are put forward in this Budget. The only answer that one could get out of his criticism of the Budget was that the Government ought to spend more than in fact it is spending. He also asked where the funds are going to, what has happened to them and what has been achieved with the funds that have been spent over a long period of years. Of course, he would know that this expenditure has resulted in higher and better standards within Australia. We have better government, social, welfare and education services through the whole Australian community.
The Budget that the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) introduced a few days ago is the kind of budget that will advance the cause of the average Australian throughout his whole life. In particular it is a budget for the family man. The Budget makes income tax cuts and a change in the minimum taxable level, increases the dependants’ allowances and provides modifications and relaxations of estate duty, especially on small estates. It also provides for improvements in student assistance and allowance of taxation deductions for a taxpayer’s own education. There is an improvement in the homes savings grant. All these are measures which are directed quite specifically at the average family person within the Australian community.
If we look at what the Government is doing for the older people in the community - particularly for the aged and ill - we can see that the nursing homes benefits are vastly improved. Additional provisions are made to help keep at home aged relatives who need nursing care. We see great changes in social service payments. A married couple paying rent will receive an extra $4.50 a week. There are substantial increases for single pensioners also who are paying rent. We know that the Budget modifies the means test and that the Government has a commitment to abolish the means test over a period of 3 years.
AH of these things represent a tremendous advance. This is a Budget that is more enlightened in these respects than any perhaps that has been brought in for many years. But for all of this there is to be an overall deficit of $630m. In the present circumstances this is a responsible deficit. It will provide a necessary stimulus to employment and to business activity. Also the Budget pursues the Government’s goal of encouraging individual initiative and self help.
The Budget responds with compassion to the need we all feel to help the less well off, the ill and the aged in the community. But when we look at the other side of the coin to the choice offered to the people of Australia by the Australian Labor Party, the kindest judgment that this House could make is that the alternative is one that carries with it some degree of irresponsibility. The additional expenditure which would be involved in the Labor Party’s proposals, on its own admission and from its own papers is very substantial. A further additional expenditure on top of the commitments that the Government has now entered into would result. There would be a national superannuation commitment of $43 5m and also health proposals from an ALP document of $520m. I think that the information contained in this document was meant to have been kept secret; it was not meant to be made public. There would also be an educational proposal for an emergency grant of SI 80m; a 2 per cent housing subsidy of $80m; $700m in capital funds for highways; and off peak rail travel concessions of $26m. This makes in all an additional annual exependiture of $1,241 m. This expenditure has been made on the ALP’s own admission and in its own papers. In addition to that there would be a capital expenditure of S600m.
But there are many other policies which the Labor Party has not been prepared to cost. The education proposals, which I have mentioned on earlier occasions in this
House, would cost $546m over and above the policies that the Government has been supporting. That at least would be the average over a 6-year period. Additional proposals for housing finance with subsidised loans would cost about $3 50m.
The Australian Labor Party proposes the replacement of private hospitals and nursing homes, which would cost $660m without providing a single extra bed. That comes from a statement by the. honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) who made it quite plain that within Labor philosophy there was no room for private hospitals or private nursing homes. So, that proposal involves an enormous additional cost merely to pursue a socialist objective without achieving any better service for any single person within the Australian community. In addition, Labor’s proposal to replace the medical and hospital benefit funds would cost about $14m.
The Opposition has tried to indicate that it would have a responsible defence policy, but one of the personal policies of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) is to sell the major Army base in eastern Australia - Holsworthy in New South Wales - and make the area available for additional housing. This is a personal policy because the Army base is near the honourable member’s electorate. But to push the Army out of Holsworthy with the capital investment there, and to relocate it in another place would cost not less than $110m. This again is a very substantial figure. The total cost of the policies which the Australian Labor Party has not been prepared to cost would come to $8 96m annually, with an additional $785m in capital expenditure. If we add together the cost of the policies which Labor has been prepared to cost and the cost of the ones it has not costed, we arrive at a figure of $2,1 37m in additional annual expenditure, year by year, with Sl,485m in additional capital expenditure on top of that. These are policies and promises which cannot be performed. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition and his front bench members know that these policies cannot be performed.
In addition to this, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has said that tax deductions will not be allowed, except for family purposes. Does that mean that all medical tax deductions will be disallowed, that all life insurance tax deductions will be disallowed and that all education tax deductions will be eliminated?
– I did not say that at all.
– If the honourable member for Melbourne Ports says that he did not say that, let me read what he said. I shall quote the honourable member’s words precisely. He said:
As things currently stand, most people, and particularly those with families on lower income levels, would be advantaged if family concessions were liberalised and all other deductions eliminated, and the revenue yield would go up as well.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I claim to have been misrepresented.
– You can do it at the end of my speech.
– I shall certainly do so.
– Order! The honourable gentleman can make his personal explanation at the conclusion of the Minister’s speech.
-The honourable member for Melbourne Ports surely must know of the turmoil and dislocation that would occur across a wide front in Australia if just one of those matters which he indicated were in fact implemented. If life insurance premiums were not allowed as tax deductions the whole structure of financial support across a wide spectrum of the community would immediately be damaged and destroyed. This again shows the degree of irresponsibility of the policies of the Australian Labor Party and these policies come from its own words, its own commitments. They are policies that cannot be performed.
In a remarkable fit of frankness last night the Leader of the Opposition made it plain that he could not always tell the truth. It thinks this question needs to be asked by this House: Do the policies which have been promised to the Australian people over the last 12 months or so represent in total one of the occasions to which the Leader of the Opposition was referring last night? The irresponsibility of the Leader of the Opposition does not stop there. When we come to the rural community and the community generally, we find that the Leader of the Opposition has pledged or promised to support a 35-hour week, which would add $3,000m to costs throughout Australia, reduce the incomes of farmers by up to 40 per cent and do great harm to all secondary industry. This policy would damage the prospects of improved employment in Australia which the Government is dedicated to achieve. But not only has he done that; the Leader of the Opposition has also committed himself to a revaluation upwards of the Australian dollar. So, the Leader of the Opposition has promised each farmer in Australia that, if he is returned at the election at the end of this year, each farmer will have a lower income than he would otherwise have had. That is a firm commitment and promise by the Leader of the Opposition. But this is not only a threat to the farming community; it is also a thr eat to industry and to employment in the metropolitan areas because Australian industry would be placed in a more difficult competitive position as a result of that policy.
One of the things that the Leader of the Opposition said last night on television was that if he learned that Japan was going to revalue he, of course, would not be able to say anything about it; he would not be able to make it public. What is so sacred about a Japanese revaluation? If he is prepared to give 2 or 3 months’ advance notice of an Australian revaluation, why should he feel so constrained and so concerned to be silent about another country’s revaluation which he learned about? Does he not have a greater respect for the Australian currency and the damage that will be done by his policies in this area? Between now and the election there must be a significant number of people who will contemplate bringing capital into this country in the hope that the Leader of the Opposition might win the election and put into effect his policy of revaluing the Australian dollar upwards. This would do great damage to Australia; these policies together would be disastrous in the rural area.
I think that these things recall to mind the policies that the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) criticised some time ago. He criticised the rural policies of the Australian Labor Party as they were defined and framed at the Launceston conference. The honourable member for Dawson said on a television interview, amongst other things:
He was speaking of the description of Labor’s rural policies. The honourable member for Dawson continued:
It was in fact the colossal ignorance of a person who should know better.
Later in the same interview on the programme ‘This Day Tonight’, the honourable member for Dawson said:
Yes, I find it very hard to believe, except that perhaps very few members of the conference-
That is, the Australian Labor Party Federal Conference - know anything about rural matters.
Later in the same interview he said:
We cannot just keep on pouring subsidies out willy nilly like a madman in charge of a counterfeit press, whether they go to.-, primary industries . or secondary industry. And incorporating those words in an amendment which was passed means it’s a very dangerous thing, because if this is followed by the caucus, as it should be, it means we will have to vote against the wheat stabilisation bill, dairy industry, the various wool commitments, the Australian Wool Commission, all of these are subsidised industries that cannot stand on their feet under this criteria.
The honourable member for Dawson was criticising his own Party’s policies. He continued:
More dangerously, Graham, is, if this criteria is paid to secondary industry which is a tariff, it means the abolition virtually of all secondary industries in Australia.
Later in the inverview, when he was speaking of one of his colleagues, the honourable member for Dawson said: if you are in a city electorate like Mr
Hayden - the safest in Queensland; a city electorate - have a go at the rural fellows, at subsidies and that, but make certain you don’t have too much to say about the tariffs.
What the Leader of the Opposition has said about revaluation of the dollar only confirms the criticisms that the honourable member for Dawson made of the rural policies of his own Party. But again it does not end there. I have a document titled It’s Time’, which is concerned with rural issues and which was published a short while ago. I quote a small part of the document:
Labor recognises that the preservation of the nucleus of primary industry is fundamental to the maintenance of a prosperous rural and city workforce and associated business enterprises.
If this primary industry nucleus is allowed to wither away, then the workforce and business community will collapse also.
What is the nucleus? It is the inner core. Is it 30 per cent of those now engaged in rural pursuits, or is it 40 per cent or 50 per cent? The farmers of Australia are owed an explanation because a nucleus is an inner core; it is only part of those now involved in an operation. That is the only concern of the Australian Labor Party.
There were other parts of this document that could well provide a grim foreboding for the Australian dairy industry on what might happen to this industry with the relaxation of margarine quotas if the Australian Labor Party were in power. These matters were criticised pretty firmly by Mr Ronald Anderson in his ‘Primary Industries Newsletter’ when he was referring to the Labor policy document which has recently been announced and called ‘It’s Time’. He said:
It says a large number of things no-one would argue with, some things which are meaningles and virtually nothing new . . . One ALP phrase which could scare the pants off some farmer leaders is reference to ‘preservation of the nucleus of primary industry,’.
Further on he says:
All told, the ALP rural policy is so vague that it is meaningless. It wallows in the use of words like assist, review, recognises, will strengthen, will provide incentives, will encourage and will initiate evaluation - all so much verbal garbage when one things about it The specific sections dealing with wool, wheat, dairying, meat and sugar offer nothing new or significant at all. The so-called promises are so vague, or are of things which already exist (or are about to do so), that they provide nothing but literary window dressing.
They are not my criticisms of the policy but Mr Anderson’s, in his newsletter. All this means that the hallmark of ALP policies is irresponsibility and ineffectiveness. Last night the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) again demonstrated his complete ineffectiveness in matters of importance. He was asked whether Barr-‘ Johnston, the draft dodger candidate for the electorate of Hotham, was an embarrassment to him and whether it would be better if he withdrew his candidature. Of course, the Leader of the Opposition said that it was an embarrassment and of course it would be better if he withdrew. But what does he do about it? He does nothing about it. He says that he cannot talk to Barry Johnston because he is in hiding and he would not like to be responsible for him being caught. But there is no need for him to talk to Barry Johnston to achieve something in this particular area. The Victorian Executive has the power to act. The Victorian Executive is not in hiding; far from it. It is using its influence. But the Leader of the Opposition cannot talk to the Victorian Executive about a matter of this kind because quite plainly the Victorian Executive would laugh at him.
This House should ask whether this is another of the areas in which the Leader of the Opposition feels he cannot reveal the full truth, because we all remember his phrase when he said: ‘Draft dodging was not a crime’. If he is prepared to stand by that statement, why should he criticise Barry Johnston’s candidature for the next elections. He has also, on other occasions, demonstrated ineffectiveness when, with the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron), he announced an industrial policy and on instructions from union leaders abandoned that policy within a day or two. His ineffectiveness has been demonstrated by caucus decisions which apparently had demanded that all 27 members in the Labor ministry should be in the Cabinet. A third of his caucus wanted to have portfolios allotted by a committee and not by the leader of the party. To have a third of the caucus against him on that issue was significant.
I, return to the great financial deception: Under Labour; it’s time’. All right; it is time to pay $2, 500m extra a year. It is time to pay. That amount is an equivalent of 62 per cent increase in income tax or 160 per cent increase in company tax. It would mean $500 a year in extra tax for every wage earner. It is time to pay. Every S500m extra means $2 a week for ever/ wage earner. Labor promises taxes of $10 extra a week for every wage earner. It is time to pay: For the national superannuation scheme which the Labor Party promised - nearly $2 a week; for education, an Australian schools commission and a new Canberra bureaucracy more than $2 a week extra; for a national health insurance plan - more money for less - more than $2 a week extra; and for housing, helping with interest subsidies, Commonwealth bank financing, $2 extra a week. In all $3, 500m will be needed - $10 a week from every wage earner. Time and again it is time to pay. If this country is to be governed with responsibility and stability we must hope that we never see that time.
– 1 seek leave to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I claim to have been misrepresented not only by the Minister for Education and Science who has just sat down but also by quite a number of those on the other side of the House. I should like to clarify what, in fact, . I have said, which is a matter of quite demonstrable fact from the statistics which the Government publishes, namely, that more taxpayers would be better off in Australia if family allowances were doubled and all other deductions were eliminated. That is a statement of fact. I have not at- any stage suggested that that is what would be done. Surely if anybody has any sense of responsibility about statements and about words, to deduce from what has been given as an example and which, to my mind, crystallises precisely the degree of inequity in the present structure, and to suggest that what has been cited as an example is to be a pattern to be followed simply indicates the lack of logic not only of the Minister but also of others who have been prepared to accept the statement. It seems to me that there is a lie factory in the Liberal Party which is simply handing out - one can see it in the patterns of the speeches - selected statements from people on this side of the House and putting their own interpretation upon them. As I said the other evening, it is flattering to me that something which has been said casually is acknowledged as holy writ the next day, but that anything the Government says one night can be ‘unwrit’ the next day.
– What the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has said about the speech of the Minister for Education and
Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in respect to that matter is true of all those matters, Everything the Minister has said is his own invention. He has his own strawman made for the purpose - so that he can appear to knock it down. Instead of being the Minister for Education and Science he should be the Minister for unscientific thinking and miseducation. I think most people certainly outside this House if not inside it are utterly tired of this method in which one member gets up on one side of the House and implies that everything to do with the Government is perfect and everything to do with the Opposition is false. Perhaps it is done even by members on this side of the House. 1 think that the people of this country are thoroughly tired of this kind of politics. We have had the best example of that that I have heard of for some time from the Minister for Education and Science. 1 want to talk about economics on this Budget as far as possible and not the kind of politics we have just had. I think that Australia is not a country where very radical changes are wanted by the people and therefore are not possible for any government to introduce. We can be sure in the future that there will be a rising refusal by the people to accept pollution, environmental damage and waste. We can be equally sure that the rapid economic growth to which we have aspired is not forever possible and that there will be a significant reassessment in the future of the whole value of economic growth. But the main question for Australia and the Australian people now is economic. The main problems are, first, inflation and, secondly, unemployment. Most people are concerned first with having a job - not in most cases because they like work but because they need the money. Secondly, they are concerned both now and in the future that the money they earn will not lose its value. They do not want inflation.
Since 1968, under the existing Government, the Australian people have had 18.9 per cent of inflation. Every dollar they have earned or saved in those mere 5 years has lost 20 per cent of its value. Of every $5 earned, $1 has gone in that short period. Very often unemployment is closely related to inflation and often it is the direct result of it. Hence, inflation can be considered, I think, as the main problem. The Government believes that inflation is caused alone or mainly by wage increases. We hear that tune played over and over again. But I think the evidence suggests that this is not so. Wage increases rarely initiate or cause inflation. No wage earner can increase his wages just when he chooses. It is not a matter of just putting his hand into the till. To get an increase in wages a wage earner or his union has to ask for an increase. When he asks for an increase he has to make out a case; he has to show that the cost of living has increased, that there has been a rise in his work value, that productivity has increased or that he can get more pay elsewhere. Normally, no wage increase is given unless the boss considers that he can afford it or an arbitration authority considers that an industry can afford it.
Generally, wage increases are not independent or initiating economic factors or causes: they depend upon other economic factors and are generally determined by those economic factors. Certainly, once granted wage increases may increase demand or be passed on into prices, especially because of the practices of modern industry and the restrictive practices that are adopted by it. In this sense wage increases will contribute to inflation. But what would otherwise be the result? The result would be that the wage earner would not get a wage increase but, nevertheless, he would have to face increases in the cost of living. No government can expect wage earners not to attempt to get wage increases if inflation is continuing at anything like the rate of 18.9 per cent at which it has been continuing since 1968. No government can expect wage earners not to attempt to get a wage increase when, over a period of 5 years, every $5 which they have earned has become $4, and Si has been lost.
Inflated results from expenditure in excess of what the economy can meet by production at constant prices. Expenditure originates from the system that supplies money to the economy through the banking system. In Australia today there are 3 banking systems. We have the traditional trading bank system, the finance companies and overseas capital. The inflow of overseas capital is the third banking system. The table of figures relating to the amount of money that has been lent by these 3 banking systems - and these are official figures to which I will be referring - shows that the total amount lent on instalment credit by finance companies, trading banks and capital inflow has risen in each of the years since 1965, as a percentage of gross national expenditure, as follows: 1965, 27.6 per cent; 1966, 28.4 per cent; 1967, 27.7 per cent; 1968, 31.2 per cent; 1969, 31.2 per cent; 1970, 31.3 per cent; and 1971, 33.8 per cent. Not only are these percentages significantly too high; no economy can afford that kind of money inflow without inflation resulting. The amount lent on instalment credit is rising as a percentage of the gross national expenditure. There has been a rise in money supply, as a percentage of the gross national expenditure, from 27.6 per cent to 33.8 per cent in a period of 6 years. There is the initiating and originating cause of inflation, and someting must be done about it if inflation is to be halted.
It has now been recognised for 40 years that unless the money supply is regulated to the capacity of the economy to absorb it inflation will occur. This was the basic lesson that has come out of all the revolution since Keynes; every conservative economist in the country has said that. I understand that many years ago governments in Australia had adopted that as one of the principles of policy. But looking at the table to which I have just referred relating to money supply we see a little more of what has been the cause of inflation in Australia. The tables show that trading bank lending seems to have been regulated. It has risen each year, on the year before, by no more than 12.7 per cent, and that happened in 1968. In 3 of the other years the increase was nearly 9 per cent. Each year there has been an increase of about 9 per cent in the first banking system because it is regulated with reasonable relationship to the needs of the economy.
The amount lent by the second banking system, that is, on instalment credit by finance companies, has risen in each of the years since 1968 as follows: 1968, 15.3 per cent; 1969. 15 per cent; 1970, 19.4 per cent; and 1971, 19.5 per cent - more than twice the increase which occurred in the trading bank area. Not only has there been a far more rapid increase in the lending of money on instalment credit by the finance companies, not only has the lending by the second and unregulated banking system risen so much in relation to the first banking system, but in 1971 the second banking system was allowed to lend $4,822m, an amount almost as much as that lent by the first banking system, which was $4,839m. I expect that in 1972 the second banking system will pass the first banking system and become Australia’s biggest banking system. That ought to make the supporters of the Australian Country Party, who have to buy so much of their machinery and plant on hire purchase, very happy indeed.
What is the significance of this second banking system? It is that the system is unregulated. Hence, the amount of money which the system puts into the economy can rise much above that which the economy can manage without inflation occurring. Secondly, the second banking system charges an average rate of interest which is at least twice as high as that charged by the first banking system. It is not only the regulation of the first banking system and the non-regulation of the second banking system that has caused this shift in Australia from the first banking system to the second banking system so that the second banking system is now as large as the first banking system and will pass it this year; it pays money lenders in the country, including trading banks, to be regulated because they do not want to lend money at an interest rate of 7 per cent if they can lend it at an interest rate of 15 per cent.
So these people move into the second banking system, and this Government has presided over the move that has allowed $4,822m to be lent each year at an average rate of interest of 15 per cent as against a rate that would have been half that if the economy had been properly regulated. Surely this has something to do with inflation. Surely the average citizen will not be taken in by the Government’s claim that it is the people who cause inflation because of their small increases in wages. The Government says that the people are the cause of inflation because they have been seeking wage and salary increases, but the Government has presided over this system which has caused such a diversion on money into high interest lending and has shifted the whole basis of the Australian banking system.
Reference to the table to which 1 have referred - and it contains official figures - shows what has happened in the third banking system, foreign money coming from outside Australia. First of all, the third banking system is erratic and irregular. The amount of money coming into the third banking system from the inflow of foreign capital fell by 20 per cent in 1966- 67, rose by 109 per cent in 1967-68, fell by 27 per cent in 1969-“0 and rose by 59.2 per cent in 1970-71. Little can be done to regulate the inflow of foreign capital when it falls, but an increase of 109 per cent in one year, in 1968, on a total capital inflow of $53 lm, and an increase of 59.2 per cent in 1971, on a total capital inflow of $9 10m, are far too great for the Australian economy to absorb in any one year and must have had a great deal to do with the inflation that occurred in those years. .
The link between money supplied from finance companies, trading banks and foreign sources can bo seen if we look at the record of inflation in Australia. Here I refer to the table containing official figures for the consumer price index, which is available to everybody. Reference to this table shows that since 1952-53 the index rose by no more than 4 per cent - and that was in only one year - and that in most years it rose by not much, more than 2 per cent. Very often the rise was around 1.5 per cent a year, until 1968 The days of inflation that the Government is talking so much about and for which it blames the wage and salary earner, the average citizen, began in 1968. In 1969-70 the consumer price index rose by 3.4 per cent, in 1970-71 by 5.2 per cent and in 1971-72 by 7.6 per cent. The years from 1968 to 1971 are the years of inflation. Reference to the money supply figures shows that in 1968 money from instalment credit and finance companies rose by 15.3 per cent, in 1969 by 15 per cent, in 1970 by 19.4 per cent and in 1971 by 19.5 per cent. It must be remembered that this is high interest money with an average interest rate of at least 15 per cent.
It was in 1969, the very year inflation began, that the foreign capital inflow rose by nearly $600m or 109 per cent and it was in 1971, when inflation became a more serious problem, that foreign capital inflow rose by $500m or 59.2 per cent. It is a fair conclusion that the way finance company money has risen since 1968 - in 2 years by over 15 per cent and in another 2 years by over 19 per cent - associated with a foreign capital inflow in 1968 of nearly $600m. that caused the inflation for which the Government now seeks to blame the wage and salary earners. And it was the increased foreign capital inflow of $500m in 1971 which pushed inflation to its highest point since World War II. This is the basic economic problem which any government has to tackle if it is to deal with inflation. The present Government has never been concerned to do this, although it has been the elementary rule of all those experts who have considered these matters for over 40 years that to prevent inflation the money supply must be regulated. It is the mushrooming of the high interest charging finance companies - the second banking system - and the vast increases in foreign capital inflow - the third banking system - which are the initiating causes of inflation in this country. When a government has done what it is necessary to do in order to regulate these creators of money it may earn some right to tell the wage earner what he should do about wage increases.
It is not much good turning to a Budget that increases only consumption expenditure when we have a policy supervised by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) which is creating a lack of confidence throughout industry. Industry understands that it is the policy of the Government to give the Tariff Board its head to go on a search and destroy mission and to cut down Australian industry where the Tariff Board considers it to be unecoromic and inefficient. That is what the Tariff Board has stated it will do and industry believes that nothing the Government has done will prevent that from occurring. I give one example of this. The year before last the Tariff Board brought down a recommendation in relation to the footwear industry. This recommendation was adopted by the Government and since then employment in the industry has fallen from 18,000 to 12,000 people and continues to fall. Today the Tariff Board is working as hard as it can on more than 1,000 items with the object in most cases of bringing in tariff reductions. The Minister responsible is the Minister for Trade and Industry, and he is the Minister who is responsible for this search and destroy mission of the Tariff Board among Australian industry.
I say as the Labor Party’s shadow Minister for Trade that it will be Labor’s policy to safeguard the employment of Australian workers and to ensure that no tariff reduction will be accepted unless at least 2 conditions are met. The first condition is that the proposed tariff reduction is the result of a plan for the development of Australian industry in which every relevant factor is taken into account, and not just the narrow doctrinaire factors that the Tariff Board considers, and as a result of which industry will be able to plan 2, 3 or 5 years ahead or whatever period is necessary. No Labor government will accept any recommendation unless it meets that condition. The second condition is that no Australian worker will be disemployed on the pittance of the present unemployment benefit. I know personally, from having them in my office and from correspondence with them, dozens of men who worked in the footwear industry and who are among those 6,000 who. lost their jobs because of the Minister’s policy. They have come to my office at a time’ when they were trying to live on the miserable unemployment pittance. No Labor government will put any’ worker in that position and I challenge the Minister to Say what he intends to do about it.
No Australian worker will be disemployed by any Labor government. When a change has to take place because we are moving resources to more economic and efficient places, retraining will be made available to those people affected and compensation will be paid to them so that the cost of the shift of resources will not fall as it does now and as it always has done upon those directly affected. For a future Labor government I say that there will be a stop order on tariff reductions until we are satisfied that Australian industry can be properly planned and developed and until we are satisfied that the change is essential for greater efficiency and economy of operation without the costs involved falling as they do at present and as they have done throughout the years on those directly affected. It is time we got rid of this horse and buggy method of running the economy and brought the system into the 20th century.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I listened with great interest to the final remarks of the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) relating to Australian tariff policy and his approach to the question of the levels of tariffs and the protection needed by Australian industry. It seems to me that the Labor Party has been infected with a disease which allows everybody to speak up and say exactly what he thinks and get away with it, because the remarks of the honourable member seem to be diametrically opposed to those of the Leader «v the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I am pleased to be associated with the Budget which will guide the economy of the nation for the next 12 months. Confidence on the one hand and lack of confidence on the other can each be powerful influences on the national economy. Confidence can he a strong stimulant and the lack . of confidence a strong depressant. The Budget we are debating was designed by the .Government to bring about a significant improvement in national economic performance in the coming year. It is designed also to stimulate confidence, the great economic catalyst in a free enterprise society.
In the Budget the Government has gone as far as the bounds of good economic management will permit. To add the extra cost of the long list of proposals that the Leader of the Opposition has advocated would completely alter the taxation arrangements or, failing that, be an exercise of reckless indulgence in financial irresponsibility. In his speech on the Budget the Leader of the Opposition listed something like 23 or 24 items which would commit a Labor government to the spending of more money. Some of the items are relatively small but some are enormous in cost. And this is not to mention the string of other promises he has made as he has moved around Australia, simple promises like taking over the State railway systems or free off-peak rail travel, etc. I am sure that the Australian public has enough wisdom to measure the after effects of such a binge. Within the total Budget strategy and capacity we have aimed to help those who need help most. The Budget provides an extra $145m for pensions, an extra $17m for health benefits for the aged and an extra $72m for education.
Much of the impact of the Budget is directed towards that large group of people in the community who, I believe, have not received sufficient recognition in the past for their difficulties. I refer to young married couples setting up a home and raising and educating a family. These , young men and women, totally preoccupied with working, building a home and establishing a family, have not the opportunity to organise themselves into yet another pressure group to petition, demonstrate or lobby. Yet they are probably the most vital section of our community - the workers and the builders of our nation. The taxation reductions will be a big help to them. They are conscious of taxation and its impact, and they have an ability to measure the cost of promises against the impost of additional taxation they are .likely to receive. The higher allowances for dependants will also be useful.
I have mentioned that the’ Budget provides more help for education. There will be many thousands more scholarships, with better living allowances and. lower means tests to qualify for scholarships. We are offering help for child care centres. The home savings grant will be improved. One of the main objectives of the Budget is to stimulate stronger consumer spending. We believe that this will generate a chain reaction leading to a rise in business confidence, an expansion of production, a rise in investment and hence a rise in demand for labour. The Budget is the latest in a series of demonstrations of he willingness of the Government to take action on many fronts to improve the state of the economy. Earlier there was an easing in bank lending policy and a reduction in interest rates. The industry investment allowance was restored. We have taken special measures, such as the rural unemployment relief scheme for which S72m has been allocated in this Budget. We are also very conscious of the problems facing the economy.
At the same time, there are some quite bright spots. In the rural sector in particular there has been a significant improvement in the last year. The output for that sector rose by more than 6 per cent and there were real gains for meat, sugar, sorghum and barley, and a very good recovery in wool prices. We have seen total exports jump almost 13 per cent to record levels, and our current account deficit has fallen to the lowest point in almost 10 years. For the rural sector the Budget contains 2 highly significant new provisions. The first is a proposal for a new long term loan facility which, I believe, will lead to the establishment of a significant new source of rural finance. The second is the new provision for the easing of estate duty for everyone. For rural industry the changes we have made mean that about 8 times as many rural estates as before, or approximately 40 per cent, will now be exempt from estate duty and many more estates will be subject to less duty. All the measures I have mentioned are designed to help people who need help and, in more general terms, to create a climate of confidence in which the Australian economy can function to the advantage of the nation and all its people..
I referred at the beginning of my speech to the destructive effects on the economy of a lack of confidence. If we look at the actions of the Australian Labor Party in recent times we cannot escape the conclusion that the Opposition is determined to depress the economy by creating a climate in which confidence is wanting. We all know that Labor Party members are constantly making gloomy forecasts especially about the level of unemployment. No-one would suggest that it is not a legitimate political tactic to do this, but neither would anyone deny that these forecasts by the Labor Party must have a depressing effect on the economic situation. Again we have the example of the Labor Party strongly supporting the idea of shorter working hours for more money. There is a violent disagreement between the Government and the Opposition on this question. The Government sees a general reduction in working hours in the immediate future as being quite unacceptable. It would have the most serious repercussions on the economy and on the living standards of the Australian people.
By supporting the campaign for shorter working hours the Labor Party no doubt believes that it is acting in the interests of the Australian work force. But is it in the interests of the community to push up costs, to increase the cost of living, to make our exports dearer and less competitive, to reduce the spending power of the worker’s weekly pay packet? Is it in the community’s interest to add to the costs of local government so that rates become an even bigger burden than they are now? Is it in the interests of the Australian people to make food more expensive and to make homes dearer? There can be no doubt that the Labor Party very seriously misunderstands the national interest and the community interest in this matter. This misunderstanding by a Party which should be able to understand is a betrayal of people who have looked to the Labor Party to speak for them over so many years. This misunderstanding must raise the most serious doubt as to the capacity of the Labor Party to manage the Australian economy properly.
One of the most important attributes of a government must be the ability to distinguish between what is popular and what is responsible. A government that cannot make the distinction will lead the nation into disaster. The most outstanding example of the inability of the Leader of the Opposition to bring responsibility to economic policy lies in his recent comments on the parity of the Australian dollar. In his original statement and in his subsequent comments in this House and on television perhaps the most significant thing of all was his complete inability to distinguish between the responsibility’ demanded of an alternative Prime Minister and his desire to say something he hopes will be popular. I believe that this aspect has ever more serious implications for the future government of this country than the short term consequences for our currency which the statement by the Leader of the Opposition could generate. In both cases - the campaign for shorter working hours and the Labor Party Leader’s comments on currency values - there is a salutary warning to the Australian people. Can a Labor government act responsibly in relation to the economic management of this country? Certainly its Leader does not demonstrate competence or capacity.
There is another very significant danger signal in the equally incredible statement on tariff policy made by the Leader of the Opposition. He said that, in general terms, tariffs in Australia are too high and he would like to see a reduction in tariffs generally. The Australian people must ask themselves what the Labor Party’s policy on tariffs means for their future economic security. To make the not just incredible but quite staggering suggestion, as the Leader of the Opposition has done, that there should be, apparently at the same time, a revaluation of the currency and a reduction in tariffs raises the picture of a situation in which Australian industry and all those who depend upon it for their living would suffer extremely serious damage. This blast - a real double-bunger - hurled at Australian industry, the life blood of employment, must leave industry and trade unions staggering. The traditional Labor supporters must be bewildered and perplexed about what the Leader of the Opposition stands for. Job security and peace of mind for the ordinary working man and woman must be shattered. The Australian people need have no doubt where the Government stands on both of these questions. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and I have made it perfectly clear that the Australian exchange rate stands where it is.
The Government has repeatedly stated in the clearest terms its attitude to tariff protection. We believe that tariffs should be no higher than is necessary to give adequate and reasonable protection to economic and efficient Australian industries. We believe that no decision can be made on the levels of tariffs needed to fulfil this policy without the fullest possible examination by an independent authority, namely, the Tariff Board which makes a thorough examination of all the circumstances of the industry concerned. To suggest, as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested in his sweeping and irresponsible statement, that tariffs generally are too high and should be reduced, is to completely throw away any semblance of a responsible approach to economic management. The Government does believe that tariff levels should be reviewed. We have set in train a systematic process through which tariff levels can be carefully examined. We reject outright the Labor Party’s approach to this fundamentally important matter.
There has been criticism of the fact that the Budget contains no allocation of funds for decentralisation. What this criticism ignores is that the institution of a comprehensive national policy of decentralisation must involve much more than mere money. It must involve a lot more than a simple statement by the Labor Party that it would build some new cities along the roads linking our existing capital cities. When the Government determines its long term approach to this very important question, it will be an approach which looks far beyond the necessarily limited range of vision of a Budget.
In considering the Budget the Australian people also must make some other important decisions. They must look at all the things I have mentioned - the economically dangerous campaign for shorter working hours and the nationally irresponsible attitudes of the Labor Party to the questions of currency values and tariff protection. They must look at the attitude of the Labor Party to questions of industrial unrest which also present dangers to our economic stability and to our standards of living. The people in our rural areas must decide whether they want the kind of approaches which the Government has taken to primary industry policy with real success, despite difficulties, or whether they want the ‘anything for a headline’ technique which the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) would apply to rural policy making. Do the primary producers want policy decided by people who, according to one of their colleagues, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), treat rural policy as a bit of a joke. These are the things which the Australian people must decide. When they consider all these matters I am sure there can be no doubt about the decision they will make. I have pleasure in supporting the Budget.
– In following the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) in the Budget debate I must say that the best thing that can be said for him is that at the rate his partner in the coalition is going at present he could very well be making his next speech in a Budget debate from this side of the House, not just as Leader of the Country Party in opposition but as Leader of the Opposition. He spoke about things in which we know from past experience he has no genuine interest. The hide of him to stand in this House this afternoon and talk about the workers of Australia and his concern for their security, and to talk about the young families in Australia when all this Government is prepared to do for young families in regard to such an item as child minding centres is to offer them as much as it is prepared to offer the farmers to pull out trees which a few years ago it encouraged them to plant. That is the policy of this tired listless Government.
The best that I can say about this Budget is that without doubt it will go on record as the last of a long tragic line of LiberalCountry Party budgets, not one of which has had any clear plan for national progress and development. Each one has been designed principally to suit the immediate purpose of the Government and, of course, the main aim of the Government at this time in this Budget was to save its political future. From start to finish it is a give away bonanza budget designed in a desperate attempt to win votes and to save Government supporters from electoral defeat. Its long list of benefits will naturally be welcomed by the recipients’. Many of the social service and repatriation increases fall far short of the level a Labor government would currently be paying. Many increases, for example, the homes savings grant, were predictable and long overdue. One serious problem that this benefit has failed to overcome is the great need for financial assistance for young couples who have not been able to save for the home they wish to buy and thus benefit from this grant.
At present in Queensland 4,691 applicants are seeking rental accommodation through the Queensland Housing Commission. Of that number 4,227 applicants with 40 points or less - the points system is operated by the Queensland Housing Commission for the allocation of houses - face at least a 2 year wait to rent a house. The majority of these applicants are young couples most of whom would prefer to own a home if the hopeless problem of saving a deposit to purchase a home could be oversome. But even in the 2-wage economy that this Government has allowed to develop in Australia, that is an almost impossible task for many of them. The hypocrisy of the Deputy
Prime Minister to claim that the Government is genuinely interested in young families. What a joke. “
What has this Government offered these young people who seek to purchase a home? It has offered nothing, despite the claim by the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in his Budget Speech that in framing the Budget he was concerned with the needs of the family man. Surely it is time for the introduction of such beneficial measures as have been urged on the Government by. the Housing Industry Association, for example, for assistance to low income earners.- That Association provided me some time ago- - as I nm sure it did all other, honourable members - with a copy of its submissions. I mention only 2 of them. Firstly:the Association calls for more Government finance for public housing programmes, especially for cooperative building societies, and secondly, it calls for a reduction in or subsidy on interest rates as a practical means to assist lower income families to- obtain- their own home. The Housing Industry Association recommends that interest charged on housing loans should be included as an allowable deduction from assessable income for personal tax purposes. This provision operates successfully in other countries, as many honourable members may know.
If the Government is genuine in its desire to help young families where in this Budget is provision made for this? Surely it is time to consider such things as 100 per cent loans for low income .families unable to save the required deposit, ‘which would be some where between 10 per- cent and 20 per cent of the cost of a home? Why should a young couple with 10 per cent equity be considered more morally reliable, less likely to default on their repayment commitments, than the equally deserving couple in need of that little extra 10 per cent help to buy a home on no deposit? Yet this Government does nothing.
Press reports suggest - leaks from Cabinet and ministerial discussions no less - that the Government is planning to announce the introduction of a scheme of capitalisation of child endowment for housing purposes similar to a scheme in operation in New Zealand since 1959. If this scheme is to be introduced, why must the introduction be delayed simply to suit the Government’s purpose of announcing its introduction in its election policy in an effort to buy votes. If it is so beneficial, why the delay? Electors likely to be influenced by the scheme would be well advised to remember such promises in previous times by the Government as the abolition of the means test, first announced in 1949 and now, as we see, to be the subject of a departmental feasibility study to see how it can be implemented. This, of course, is forced on the Government by the definite undertaking of the Labor Party, which is well known, to abolish the means test by 1975.
As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said in his remarks on the Budget, this Budget sets no strategy. We are merely told that in looking at the years ahead the Government has in mind a number of considerations. Its principal link with past budgets is to clarify the failure of the last two. It is the second budget by the present Treasurer. That at least indicates a greater degree of stability in this portfolio than existed for some years previously. The 1970-71 Budget was delivered by a Treasurer, the honourable member for Wentworth (Mr Bury), who was sacked from the Cabinet and finally sacked from the Ministry. The 1969-70 Budget was delivered by the Treasurer who is now the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). Honourable members will recall how in this great Liberal Party that he represents he came to power. He came to power by the political assassination of the previous leader of the Liberal Party who the Party then believed, quite wrongly, would be the most disastrous leader to take them to the next election.
It is interesting to note that in each of the budgets to which I have referred there has been either a resultant deficit or a planned deficit. For the years since the 1968-69 Budget the accumulated deficit is $ 1,284m. 1 do not claim to be an economist, but it seems to me that a disastrous situation has been allowed to develop in this country in the financial management of the national resources. Yet the Prime Minister appeals to the nation for confidence. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) spoke this afternoon about confidence and suggested that the nation should have confidence in this Government. Apart from anything else, I cannot imagine how he can expect confidence from the nation when his Government has handled the finances of this nation in such an irresponsible way. This has been highlighted in this Budget by the very obvious way that money has been thrown around in an endeavour to buy back the flagging electoral support that has been shown repeatedly in public opinion polls for many months now.
Certain Government supporters during this Budget debate have referred to the cost of implementing Labor’s proposals. Noticeable amongst these was the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who I thought at one stage in his excitement about the costs of the Labor Party’s policies was about to have a stroke or burst a blood vessel. Government supporters have talked about the costs that would be inflicted upon the nation if the Labor Party was in government and its proposals were to be put into effect. It is interesting to note the Prime Minister’s attitude to financing Government policy. If this applies to the present Government surely it must apply to the Labor government after the next election. In a prepared weekly radio broadcast on 16th August following the Budget the interviewer, Paul Lynch - as many honourable members will know, he is one of the approved interviewers the Prime Minister will allow to interview him on the national radio programmes - asked the Prime Minister in part:
On the incoming side of your finances, with this 10 per cent cut in personal income tax, do you feel there is any risk you won’t be able to pay the larger social service bills?
The Prime Minister replied:
No risk whatsoever because the Commonwealth always has the power to be able to pay for the promises it makes and the legislation it introduces.
The philosophy that the Prime Minister applied to the way that the Government is able to manage the nation’s affairs surely indicates that if this Government can pay for whatever policies it introduces a Labor government equally will be able to pay for whatever policies it introduces. One of the stock in trade remarks of the honourable member for Wentworth at the time when he was Treasurer was that the past is a mirror of the future. The past is certainly a mirror of the future and the people of
Australia would be well warned that the past performances of this Government mirror the future that they can expect from the Government should they ever be unlucky enough to have the same Goverment inflicted upon them after the next election. In a speech to a business and professional men’s dinner on 24th July the Prime Minister is reported to have said:
I want to sum up in this way. Confidence is catching. If we all have confidence, talk with confidence and above all, act with confidence, we will get ahead faster and much further this year than we did last.
Of course that would not be very hard to achieve. But let me remind the Prime Minister and the Government that they cannot con this nation into having confidence. If qualities of leadership are obvious, if stability of performance warrants confidence, it will come naturally. The Prime Minister may as well face the facts. His leadership is not worthy of the people’s confidence and is not likely to become so. How can he expect confidence in himself or his Government when even his colleagues who sit behind him in this Parliament lack confidence, in .him? As the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) reminded the House yesterday, the Country Party of Queensland had very little confidence in the Prime Minister during its last election campaign when it com.paigned with a full page newspaper advertisement claiming that while Australia searches for a leader Queensland has found Joh Bjelke-Petersen. Of course many of us will agree that it is not a very high standard to set, but nevertheless it is the way that the Leader of the Country Party in Queensland, the Premier of Queensland, thinks. We will not go into the fact that he is Premier because of a gerrymandered electoral boundary system. The fact that the Premier of Queensland supported such an advertisement shows what little confidence he has in the Leader of the Liberal Party in this Parliament, the Prime Minister of the nation.
The things the Australian people should be carefully considering in the next few months before the election are very clear to him. There will be no confidence shown in this Government and in the Prime Minister unless that confidence is warranted. But of course even Government supporters are reflecting public opinion because many of them during this Budget debate have indicated the certainty of a Labor victory in the next election. Member after member on the other side of the House has spoken of the impending defeat of the Government, and misquoted, distorted or misrepresented Labor Party policy. I have sufficient confidence in the Australian people to feel sure that even now their minds are firmly made up that it is time for a Labor government. They know that this transparent, hoodwinking Budget is nothing but an election bribe. They know that the only alternative to a new Government is a continuation of the present Government in some form, perhaps under a new leader, but certainly a continuation of the stop-go attitude of the present Government.
I have here dozens of newspaper reports picked out of my files in the last 12 months. ‘McMahon to’ Act on Poof Rating’ is a headline from the Telegraph’ of 2nd September last year. The headline Nothing has gone right for Billy!’ appeared on 5th September 1971. Others are: ‘Credibility is the PM’s- latest crisis’, PM climbs to fame - and Blame’, ‘Liberal MPs call for Meeting’. The Liberal members of Parliament referred to ‘included the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), who spoke this afternoon of what a great Government we hive. ‘Liberal MPs call for Meeting- that Was to depose the present Prime Minister. ‘ ‘
– Twelve months later.
– I am ‘quoting the Brisbane ‘Telegraph’ of 27th March 1972. On 26th May this year this was reported:
Suggestions had been made that there would be a change in the Prime Ministership, the Sta*.e Country Party President, Mr. R. L. Sparkes, said today.
It is still not too late to make the change.
– You should, have heard what he said about the Labor Party.
– Mr Sparkes was talking about the leader of a partner in the coalition. That is what I am referring to. I intend to finish my remarks in this debate by speaking briefly about one of the problems that the Government has failed to tackle successfully throughout the life, of the Liberal-Country Party coalition since 1949. Even now, the Government, having in ite hands an effective plan to provide for the stability of the shipbuilding industry, appears to be firm in its opinion that the industry in Australia must continue as a necessary evil rather than be fostered and developed in a stable fashion for the future. Recently a spokesman for the Australian shipbuilding industry, Dr Hughes, criticised the Government for its failure to implement the Tariff Board report on shipbuilding. He criticised the Government principally for its failure to subsidise ships that are constructed mainly for overseas trading purposes. He said that the situation is that the Australian National Line currently is planning construction in a Japanese yard of a 731 -foot vessel of design similar to the ‘Australian Enterprise’. A publicly owned Australian organisation is thus giving work to an overseas yard while our own shipyards are facing a crisis through lack of orders.
I want to mention this point because the Government has talked about what a great deal it is giving the future shipbuilding industry in Australia by the piecemeal implementation of the Tariff Board report. It is implementing certain sections of the report to suit its political aims and intentions. It has no genuine desire to implement the report in total and thus provide planned successful prosperity to this very valuable industry in Australia in the future. I call upon the Government to act genuinely and to realise the gravity of the problem facing this great Australian industry. I plead with the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) to give an assurance that the Government will review its refusal to accept the Tariff Board recommendations to grant subsidies on vessels built for export use and immediately to instruct the ANL, as a special consideration for the present unemployment level, to renegotiate the contract and complete arrangements for the construction of this vessel in an Australian shipyard.
I will end my speech on that note, Mr Deputy Speaker, but no doubt my appeal has fallen on deaf ears. There is no doubt also that the Australian shipbuilding industry is doomed unless there is a change of government. I am sure that there will be a change of government and that the industry will be secured after the next election.
Motion (by Mr Chipp) - by leave - proposed:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister speaking without limitation of time.
– I would like to speak for a moment to this motion. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) takes every opportunity to gag debate in this House and provides no opportunity for the House to discuss many matters of national moment. However, we on this side of the House, because of his high office but not because of his behaviour or courtesy to any of us, are prepared to grant him this favour.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, this debate concerns the most humanitarian, the most wide-ranging and the most acceptable Budget that the great majority of members of this House can remember. It has been notable, at least so far. for one outstanding reason; that is the utter and total failure of the Opposition to fault it. For nearly 3 weeks members of the Opposition have tried to misrepresent it, have tried to distort it and have failed. This Budget has been accepted nation-wide. Even our regular critics have praised it and said that it was responsible. But in this House the Opposition has officially opposed it, in general terms at least. Well, it is the official Opposition and no doubt Opposition members see it as their duty to oppose even when their hearts are not really in it. There could be no other explanation of the flat and flaccid contribution to this debate by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), a speech which everyone could see was just as much of a damp squib for his own followers as it was universally throughout the whole nation. If ever there was a time when one could point to the Opposition ranks and watch morale collapsing like the air from a pricked balloon, that was it.
This is a Budget for every man, every woman and every child in this nation. It is a Budget of action, of major and decisive commitments to the Australian people. It is a Budget of incentives and of confidence. But it is also a document of humanitarian hope and compassion. It lifts the social welfare horizons of our nation and it clearly shows a path ahead under a Liberal and Country Party Government. It is a Budget designed to help all sections of our society, to restore full employment and to quickly stimulate growth in our national economy.
May I first speak about national economic growth. This Budget will both directly and indirectly stimulate spending, strengthen employment and speed up economic growth. It will provide direct stimulus in the area where it is most needed - that is in private consumption demand. In money terms, the domestic deficit of $60m in this Budget will represent a turnaround of almost $450m on the actual outcome of last year’s Budget and this will ensure that the strengthening trend already apparent in the economy will be improved. This is the basis on which the consumer and the businessman can plan and spend with confidence.
Some critics say that unless the Budget is ‘defused’ by the middle of next year there will be a major bout of demand inflation and that savage counter-measures will be needed. There is no evidence whatsoever to support this view. That is not opinion but fact. Inflation was very much in our minds as we planned this Budget and iwe will continue to keep it there. To understand the Budget we must distinguish between the various causes of inflation and we must at present distinguish between inflation and the level of consumer and other types of demand. We have attacked the causes of inflation, particularly the current phenomenon of excess wage increases. We have done so by our intervention wherever practicable before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. But, as I have said, inflation and the level of demand at the present time are separate and severable problems. It is, as the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) said, central to our objectives that consumption demand needed to be stimulated by a boost to private sector spending and not by excessive growth of Government spending. For this reason we decided to reduce the burden of taxation by $565m in a full year.
We also have made great concessions in the social welfare field. This year social welfare payments will add an extra $377m to demand. I believe this is a dramatic contribution towards achieving our goals of stimulating growth, of ensuring full employment and of contributing to our vitally important social objectives.
I think that having set the Budget in its economic context it is fair to have a look at what the Opposition has said. For this reason we must look once again to the contribution made by the Leader of the Opposition in what should have been the keynote speech, both in answering and providing an alternative to the Government’s strategy as set out in the Budget documents. Instead of a considered reply, instead of an alternative strategy, instead of a choice between 2 parties, we find absolutely nothing. We find the Leader of the Opposition’s speech devoid of economic content, without hardly a mention of economic priorities. It was a speech full of bland and irrelevant slogans and generalisations. He gave us plenty of broad brush and unspecified proposals. But we waited in vain for even the slightest hint of serious economic analysis or practical alternative action to what is proposed in the Budget itself.
It is worth recalling that his 2 great criticisms of the Budget - what he termed his 2 fundamental propositions - were, first, that the Budget narrowed the role of the national government and secondly that it narrowed the real meaning of being an Australian citizen in 1972. I submit that a very great many Australians, certainly a majority of them, will find it very hard to accept that the great increase in our contribution to Aboriginal advancement in the Budget narrows the real meaning of being an Australian citizen. Is it narrowing the role of this Government to revolutionise arrangements for nursing home care, or care in their own homes, for the aged? Are the very substantial increases in pensions of all kinds demeaning to other Australians? Is it narrowing the real meaning of being an Australian citizen to ease the disincentive of personal income taxation? Does it demean us to increase foreign aid? Is it narrow to extend the help and financial strength of the national Government to Australian children in Australian schools? There is only one answer to such questions - unbelievable and absolute nonsense.
This must have been surely the most ineffectual and soon forgotten Budget speech by a Leader of the Opposition for many, many years. But let me outline to honourable members for a moment what else we are offered on the other side. The Opposition has talked with abandon about national goals, but it has never told us what they are. So let me tell honourable members. In foreign affairs members of the Opposition talk about independence when they mean isolation. They would abandon our role in the Asian and the Pacific region and destroy our security treaties. They talk of co-operation when they mean control - government control of just about every aspect of our lives. They talk of a vast new structure of centralised authority which would dominate the whole life of the nation and which would certainly involve unknown but vastly increased taxation for all. They threaten to make fundamental changes in Australia’s tariff machinery. They say they would set up some kind of protection commission with powers exceeding those of the present Tariff Board and impose a degree of direction on resources and people going far beyond anything we have had in Australia since World War II. They speak with two or more voices on our rate of exchange. It is clear from all that has been said that the Leader of the Opposition would now revalue the Australian currency. This would inevitably, under present circumstances, seriously prejudice our primary, manufacturing and mining industries. It would slow down business, create unemployment and seriously destroy confidence. All of these are the consequences of their expressed intentions and the results that would flow from them. I speak of them in this Budget debate because they represent a planned gigantic exercise in economic and social dictatorship.
The national goals of the LiberalCountry Party Government are, I believe, clear and uncomplicated. We seek one Australian society, free, secure and progressive. We seek an environment where man and nature can live in harmony. We seek to use our resources to our best advantage and our greater prosperity. We seek equality of opportunity of jobs for everyone able and willing to work. We seek to secure the dignity of man by our social welfare policies which provide for all those in need. We seek a responsible place in the international community, giving aid to the needy countries. We seek these in this society, where the rule of law is honoured, where the individual and his liberty are first in our consideration and where the incentive genius of man has unfettered opportunity in a climate of free enterprise and healthy competition. These are our goals and I submit that they are reflected throughout this Budget.
Now may I turn to some of the main points that merit emphasis. I believe that this Budget is one of the most significant and humanitarian for many years. It reaches out into many fields and is based on concepts which will carry out well into the future and will provide the answer to our immediate short term problems. The Budget is the result, I believe, of superb team work within the whole Ministry and is a credit to the Treasurer personally.
I want to refer to social welfare and then to taxation. We have made the historic decision to abolish the means test within 3 years. The Leader of the Opposition, as honourable members know, has with indecent haste, decided to do the same. His shadow Minister resisted strongly, but was peremptorily overruled. This Government’s initiative is, I assure the nation, a major social advance and will, I believe, meet with the widespread approval of the Australian people. It will enable citizens to receive their age pensions as a right without having to disclose personal and private information. It will be a hedge against inflation for those on fixed incomes and on superannuation. It will give all citizens the right to share in the national wealth which they have helped to create by their own work and the taxes they have paid. The new provisions that we have made for age and invalid pensions will put most above the poverty line as defined by Professor Henderson.
In addition I draw the attention of the House to the provisions in the Budget relating to child care centres, to nursing home benefits, for more hostel accommodation for elderly citizens, for young couples building their first homes and for relief from estate duties which have been unchanged for years. Further, the poverty inquiry which I announced on Tuesday will provide us with evidence on which future action can be based to eliminate pockets of poverty. In our Australian society these should be wiped out as quickly as possible.
The Opposition has challenged our policy on social welfare. Again it is wrong. I reject the statement that pensions have merely been adjusted to where they were before inflation was cut back. In fact, the standard rate has gone up from $15.50 per week to $20 a week for single pensioners, an increase of 29 per cent in 18 months. In that same period prices have risen 9 per cent. We have doubled supplementary assistance to $4 a week for pensioners paying rent and extended it to married pensioner couples. We have more than doubled the level of minimum taxable income - that is from $417 a year to $1,041 a year.
I now turn to the taxation reductions. Earlier I spoke of the extent of the tax cuts. Let me refer briefly now to the reasons for those cuts. They are designed to do 2 things. Firstly, they are an act of social justice. They recognise the changes in money values which have taken place in recent years. Secondly, they will stimulate consumer spending. As I have already pointed out, slackness in consumer spending has been one of the major causes of subdued economic activity and the stubborn unemployment figures. An extra $434m of the taxpayers own earnings will be left in their pockets in 1972-73 and, as I have said, $565m in a full year. This will allow them to greatly increase their spending.
The Opposition on the other hand betrays its class-conscious outlook on this issue as on many others. It says this is a rich man’s budget - that he gets the best deal in the tax cuts. This again is absolutely false. The Labor Party has never been able to shake off the mentality of the great depression. A depression long past and never to return under a Liberal-Country Party government. The simple fact is the greatest tax cuts go to those on the lower incomes. I remind honourable members that 57 per cent of the reduction in taxation will go to those with taxable incomes under $4,800 a year; 75 per cent will go to those with taxable incomes under $6,400; and 83 per cent will go to those with taxable incomes under $8,000 a year. In short, those whose need is the greatest, will receive the greatest assistance.
I repeat that the $3 77m increase in social service benefits will also soon be reflected in increased consumer spending. In short, in economic terms the Budget is aimed at areas where it will do the most good in the shortest possible time. The tax cuts are a beginning, not an end of taxation reform. I remind the House that the Government has initiated a wide-ranging inquiry into the whole taxation system. This independent inquiry will provide the information on which a fundamental resstructuring of our taxation system can take place.
There are, of course, other matters of national significance in this historic Budget. It provides for a substantial increase in the defence vote, to match our declared policy of ever-increasing self-reliance, and a sustained capacity to meet our international obligations. It provides for greatly increased spending on education - another area where Labor would impose class distinctions by downgrading the place and rights of independent schools in the education system. And it provides larger grants to the States to enable them to increase their own expenditure on education, health and all those services within their authority. In short, this Budget is a prospectus. It is a prospectus for a national company with growth prospects and the capacity to pay a healthy dividend for its shareholders, the people of Australia.
Labor has complained that the Budget is a reversal of the policy of a year ago. This clearly shows that Labor suffers, as it has long suffered, hardening of the arteries and is obviously unable to move with and match the times in which we live. This as a contrast is a Budget for the times and for the future. I conclude on this note: We in the Liberal and Country Parties want a happy and prosperous country. The people have a right to happiness and we will do all we can to create the social and the economic conditions conducive to the realisation of this dream. We look to the future with confidence, and I believe the people of Australia will share that confidence with us, too.
– The Australian Labor Party joins with the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) in his wish that the people of Australia shall have happiness and a happy nation. The people of Australia will get the opportunity to have that happiness as soon as the Prime Minister makes up his mind to have this year’s elections. I must say that the Prime Minister surprised me this evening. It is obvious that his public relations men have been working on him very hard. The usual feline nastiness of the Prime Minister did not show out at all this evening. 1 really expected him to do what some of his senior Ministers have done during the course of this Budget debate, namely to attack personally, violently and without due regard to the facts the Leader of tha Australian Labor Party (Mr Whitlam).
Apparently the Government has decided that there is only one way in which it can win the next election, and that is by destroying Whitlam. During the course of the Budget debate I have seen senior Ministers of the Government completely demean themselves in bitter, biased personal attacks upon the Leader of the Labor Party. I do not think that the Leader of the Labor Party or any member of the Labor Party needs take too much notice of these attacks because when one appreciates how the present Prime Minister of Australia became Prime Minister of Australia, one must realise that he does not enjoy the confidence of his own Liberal Party members, nor the confidence of the members of the Australian Country Party.
One does not need to have a very long memory to recall that the previous Leader of the Country Party, Sir John McEwen, after the death of Mr Harold Holt, made a statement in which he said: ‘I will not serve under McMahon. I cannot trust him*. Then, after a short period, while the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) was Prime Minister of the country, the present Prime Minister encouraged, or at least remained silent, while members of the Liberal Party in cahoots with certain sections of the commercial mass media organised a sustained and violent attack upon the right honourable member for Higgins which culminated in a revolt in the Liberal Party. The votes being equal, the right honourable member for Higgins used his own vote against himself in order to give an opportunity to the Liberal Party to change its leadership. This decision was made by something like 66 members of the
Parliament without the present Prime Minister ever having had to face an election.
The same thing applies to the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony). He inherited the position he now occupies - the position of Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and Leader of the Country Party. Neither the present Prime Minister nor the Deputy Prime Minister has received the mandate of the people to be in charge of the government of Australia. I refer now to the figures for the 1969 House of Representatives election and the 1970 Senate election that were contested in both instances with the present Leader of the Labor Party leading the Labor Party and with different leadership of the Liberal Party and the Country Party. In the 1969 House of Representatives election, under the leadership of the present Leader of the Labor Party Labor received 2,870,792 votes, or 46.95 per cent, of all formal votes and it won 59- seats. The Liberal Party, under the leadership of the right honourable member for Higgins, received 2,126,987 votes, or 34.79 per cent of the formal votes cast, and it won 46 seats. The Country Party, under the leadership of Sir John ‘ McEwen,. received 523,342 votes, or 8.56 per cent of the formal votes cast, and it won 20 seats. The total Liberal-Country Party vote was’ 2,650,329 votes - 43.35 per cent- of the formal votes cast. The Labor Party received 2,870,792 votes - 46.95 per cent of the formal votes cast. In other words, the Labor Party gained 220,463 .votes more than the combined votes of the Liberal-Country Party and .3^.6 per cent more of the formal votes cast yet, it won 7 seats fewer.
Let us face- this next election on the Budget that has been produced - a completely predictable Budget. It is: a Budget which almost every political commentator and political writer judged to be the type of Budget that would be brought down, for 2 reasons: first, it was an election year and, secondly, inflation was riot in the community. Unemployment was rising each month. The economy needed a fillip and the reputation and popularity of the Government also needed a fillip. But this stagnant Government would not have taken action had it not been an election year. As far back as May members of the Labor Party and political commentators were predicting that there would be across the board increases in social services and repatriation benefits, that there would be reductions in taxation, that the education commitment of the Commonwealth would be increased, that there would be improvements in the national health scheme, that there would be an increase in home savings grants, that there would be a few incentives to primary and secondary industries and a sop or 2 to the Aborigines. Had it not been for the fact that the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) came out with a statement about the easing of the means test perhaps that would not have happened. It was only this conflict between the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) and the Minister for Social Services - a public conflict - that brought about an easing of the means test with the promise of its abolition in 3 years.
To most members of the Labor Party and to most members of the community the only real surprise in the Budget is the fact that families have been virtually neglected. It is in this area that assistance is greatly needed. Earlier today the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) devoted a certain portion of his speech to family allowances and child endowment. He traced the history of child endowment since it was introduced by a Labor government in New South Wales in 1927. Families have been neglected and families are the life blood of the community. They are the future generation. Children are needed and children should be given the happiness that the Prime Minister said that all Australians deserve. It will be too late, although I predict that something will be proposed by the Government in its policy speech, for some families in the community if they have to wait much longer for assistance. Many families in Australia today live close to the poverty line. Honourable members can take it from me that the Labor Party as a government will certainly see that family allowances are increased substantially.
This Budget is another example of Liberal chicanery. It is a good election Budget but it was a predictable one. But it is also a shallow document. It introduces no new approaches to any major issue. Any new innovations that appear in the Budget have been policies that have been espoused by the Labor Party and other parties for a long time. I admit that some of the things that have been introduced have also been espoused by backbench members of the Liberal and Country Parties. But there are no really new policies in this Budget. It is a propping up of the present system. It is as it is, as I said earlier, because it is election year and because the economy of the country is running down rapidly.
The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition has far more depth in it than the whole Budget. It is an amendment which looks to the future. In his speech earlier, the Prime Minister said that the Labor Party has espoused no new ideas during the course of this debate. But for the last 6 years representatives of the Labor Party have been attempting wherever possible to put forward new ideas on health, decentralisation, urban development, the need for a national fuel and energy policy, education, the need for industrial research and development and the need for a science policy. Some of these ideas that have been propagated by members of the Labor Party have been taken up by this Government. Nobody in his right mind, in a Budget speech just prior to an election, would expect the Labor Party to telegraph its punches as to what will be its policy speech at the election. But all members of the Labor Party believe that Labor’s policies, as a government, will give new ideas, new approaches and new innovations. Labor will not only do things for Australia and Australians but it will also take a major role in the Pacific region. This is a status quo Budget - a propping up of the conservative ideas of this present Government. This, to me, marks the Budget as a failure.
Sitting suspended from 6.14 to 8 p.m.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, before the suspension of sitting I was talking about the Budget. I admit that there are many good things in the Budget. The Prime Minister and the Government have placed a lot of reliance on the fact that the Budget has introduced into Australia policies which will give concessions to sections of the community that deserve them. They place a great deal of reliance on the Budget achieving electoral victory at the end of this year. The Prime Minister also admitted last night that he was praying for an electoral victory. I acknowledge his right to pray. I also try to pray. But if I can give him a little bit of advice, I would think that after the election his prayer might go something like this: ‘Mea culpa, mea culpa, mca maximum culpa’; a rough translation of which would be: ‘Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault’.
I turn now to a matter which has not been mentioned in the Budget and which has been rarely mentioned by this Government in the 23 years that it has been in office. I refer to the urgent need for a national fuel and energy policy. The Australian Labor Party suggests that the basic objectives of a national fuel policy should be to ensure, firstly, maximum long term benefits to Australia by the optimum utilisation of energy resources and, secondly, adequacy of resources for the country’s future needs. The vital role which fuel and power play in national prosperity calls for positive forward - thinking and a coordinated policy on a national basis.
Some of the important reasons why this question has to be tackled with competence and foresight in Australia are as follows: Firstly, the country is large and any energy resources are unevenly distributed geographically; secondly, primary energy consumption is increasing at an annual rate of 6 per cent compared with about 3 per cent for the rest of the world; thirdly, electricity consumption is increasing at the rate of about 9.S per cent per annum compared with 5 or 6 per cent for the rest of the world; fourthly, a high rate of industrialisation and development is taking place in Australia; fifthly, a major exporter of energy resources needs to review periodically its resources and pattern of use to ensure that adequate reserves are retained for domestic use; sixthly, State fuel resources and energy consumption can no longer be considered in isolation - for example, natural gas and proposed interstate transmission lines; seventhly, the environmental and pollution aspects of fuel and energy production and utilisation are becoming of much greater concern to governments and communities; and eighthly, economic benefits may accrue to the nation by control of energy usage patterns - for example, incentives to reduce heavy fuel oil imports.
State governments cannot be expected, of their own volition, to adopt the necessary national approach to a fuel policy. Private enterprise certainly would not do this. Only the Commonwealth Government could be expected to be interested and effective in this area. The elements which should go into the formulation of a national fuel policy are extremely complex and cover both socio-political and technical matters.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. (Quorum formed)
– Mr Deputy Speaker, it. must be understood that I did not empty the House because I had not been speaking. When a member is’ speaking and the House empties, it may be the fault of that member. Nevertheless, now that members of ‘, the Australian Country Party are here in force it is all the better for rae. I compliment the honourable member for .Lang (Mr Stewart) on his speech. I thought that he gave a very reasoned contribution; When he began his speech he said he was surprised at the very moderate speech made by the Prime Minister and he complimented him. He said he had expected that the Prime Minister would make a rather fiery speech and that perhaps he would make personal attacks upon people. Courtesy must be catching because the honourable member for Lang acted in the same way as the Prime Minister. Very often his speeches are not moderate, but I compliment him on this speech on this occasion. As I say, courtesy is catching and it will flow on to me. I say once again: What a wonderful debating forum this would be if unjustifiable purpose attacks were not made by some members on other members in this House and if we fought only on the policies of the parties.
I sat here in my seat and watched very carefully from the very outset when the Budget was presented. It was a very rewarding experience to watch the faces of members of the Opposition. As the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) unfolded the wonderful benefits contained in the Budget I noticed that members of the Opposition took it in different ways. Some of them became quite pale, others sat without moving and others were fidgeting in their seats as the Treasurer unfolded the many benefits for the community. Members of the Opposition, after the Budget was read, were quite different people from what they had been before the Budget was read. Perhaps I could illustrate the point I want to make. A young man went to an artist and said: T want you to paint a portrait of my father’. The artist said: ‘Yes, I will do that but it will be expensive’. The boy said: ‘It does not matter about the money; I want a very good portrait of my father’. The artist said: ‘Well, bring him along, let him sit for me and I will paint a portrait of him’. The boy said: T cannot do that; he is dead’. The artist said: This will be rather awkward but I have an idea. You come along twice a week for month and explain to me how your father looked - his moustache, hair, nose and everything about him - and I will paint a portrait of him - and I will paint a portrait from that.’ The boy did this and on the last day he went to the artist to give his father’s description, the artist said: *You come back tomorrow and I will unveil the portrait I have painted of your father and you will see it yourself. The boy went back the next day, sat right in front of the portrait and when he saw it he said: ‘It is father all right but how he has changed’. That point can be made with the Opposition. It is the Opposition all right, I can see that, but how it has changed.
Honourable members opposite do not now say: ‘When we win the election’ - and this is the point - they now say: ‘If we win the election’. Instead of being so optimistic and arrogant about what will happen in the next Parliament the position has completely reversed. Even the best Labor man must admit that the Government has taken the initiative and that the Labor Party is trailing along waiting for the day when it will suffer another defeat. I have noticed very carefully, and I have listened to 26 Budget debates, that at this time the Labor Party usually quotes prolifically from newspaper articles. Honourable members opposite would say: ‘Here is a piece from the “Sydney Morning Herald” ‘ or ‘Here is something from the Melbourne “Age”*. Time after time they have done this. Have honourable members noticed that not one Opposition member this year has quoted from a newspaper? I do not know of one who has quoted from a newspaper to any extent. The simple reason for this is that they cannot quote from newspaper reports which are very favourable to a Budget that the Opposition is condemning. Therefore, the Press has robbed the Labor Party members of much of their speeches because they used to quote very prolifically from newspaper articles.
Also Opposition members do not speak about the benefits that are provided in Budgets. All the time I have been in this House they have said that they want this and that and certain other benefits but have not mentioned the benefits that will be provided. I have worked out that this is because they are thinking: ‘Why advertise our opponents?’ I think that is a very good attitude and one I would advise all honourable members to adopt. When I go around campaigning in the Mallee electorate I never mention my opponent’s name because I do not want to advertise him. The Labor Party does not want to advertise the Government, but the truth will out and the Budget is there for all the people to see. I think the Prime Minister acted correctly when he said that he would not have an early election because even now, after I have studied the Budget, I am finding every day some special benefit that has been provided in it for the people of Australia. Therefore if the Prime Minister calls an election after all the Budget provisions have been explained it will be a certainty that the Government will come back into office.
I do not want to go into the Budget in fine detail although I could if I had time. There is only one special item to which I want to refer and of which the people of Australia should take notice. Some honourable members may recall that I asked the Prime Minister whether he would hold a referendum on socialism and ask the people whether they wanted to be governed by socialist rule. I say to the people of Australia, the Opposition and the Government tonight that the main question today is: Do we want to be governed by socialists and live under socialist rule? And let us not forget that the Government is all powerful in this country. It can rescind laws, it can amend laws and it can introduce new Bills; it is almost all powerful. Therefore, do we want the socialists to have control? 1 do not think we do in any circumstances. We in the Country Party and honourable members generally have all been very keen on the Australian Wheat Board, the Australian Wool Board and any other authority exercising producer control. Such control is very good indeed. But even the Wheat Board, if it wants to pay a certain figure for the first payment on wheat, has to get permission from the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) - in other words, from the Government. If the Labor Party were in power, would it give permission for the price that the Wheat Board recommends to be paid?
How did socialism act in the New Zealand wheat deal? What did any wheat authority know about it, when the sale was made? Nothing. It was not until we had asked questions day after day in this House that finally it had to be admitted that the sale had been made to New Zealand without the knowledge of the wheat growers or the Australian wheat authority and at a price that was much lower than the then current price and which became less favourable to the grower as time went by. I have written down one or two questions that I want to ask, just as though it were question time. The first question is: Why is it that the Labor Party has occupied the treasury bench for less than 17 years in the 72 years since federation?
– Mr Deputy Speaker, could I answer that question?
– Order! The honourable member for Grayndler has been in the House long enough to know the answer to that question.
– You only got 8 per cent of the votes but won 20 odd seats.
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt will cease interjecting.
– 1 would not mind all these interjections if I had unlimited time to speak. Honourable members can see and the people outside the House can hear what sort of a reception I am getting. I must be hurting Opposition members very much. Why is it that the Labor Party has occupied the treasury bench for less than 17 years in the 72 years since federation? The answer is that the people do not want socialists in government. When the Labor Party did get into government, with the exception of 2 war periods, it was in office for only 8, 9 or 12 months. It did not run the full course. Parties like the Liberal Party and the Country Party have had, as it were, to pick up the economy, prevent it from drowning and resuscitate it. This will happen again if the Labor Party gets into office.
The next question is: What has kept the Labor Party out of office for the last 22 years and 8 months? The answer, of course, is that the policies of the LiberalCountry Party Government have. Every time the Labor Party has been defeated its members have said: ‘If only we could go to the people now we would ‘ win*. When they try to find fault with the Government, as Opposition members do very often, they have a pretty tough row to hoe if they have to say: ‘We have had all these elections over the years and we have not been able to win government’. So the . Government cannot be too bad. The people of Australia must be given credit for shoeing sense in the way they voted. That question has not been successfully answered by the honourable member for Grayndler, who promised to answer it, or by anybody else.
The next question I have written here is: Does history show that whenever the Labor Party has been in office, except lor the war period, the finances on which the economy of the nation depends diminished? This is because of the fear of nationalisation. The Labor Party says that the Constitution will not permit nationalisation but there are many other ways of crippling an industry which has Labor’s disapproval. A former leader of that Party said: ‘You cannot unscramble an egg.’ That is very true. The next question is: Are some key unions controlled by officers who are members of the Communist Party-
– The answer is yes.
– The answer is yes; thank you. But the question is not quite finished. It continues: . . . with the approval of the Labor Party or at least without the disapproval of the Labor Party? I have never heard the Labor Party disapprove of unions being led by Communists. 1 have never heard that and I will not hear it.
– On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Can you enlighten me? Are there any provisions in the Standing Orders that protect the listening public from this drivel?
– Order! The honourable member for Blaxland also has been in this House long enough to know that that is not a point of order.
– It ought to be.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member give consideration to the Standing Orders.
– Of course, one can always act in an insulting way, as the honourable member has just done. He is a young man. He thinks he is smart. He is completely insulting. If he wants to insult me he can do so. He can wallow in it - put h that way. He knows what it means to wallow. Only certain animals wallow. Does the ALP believe that the hours, conditions and pay of employees should be fixed by the government in office and that the arbitration system should be abolished? Of course it does. I have just received a telegram and I will take time off to read it. This is really good news. It says:
You win be pleased to learn that nationwide subscriber trunk dialling (STD) from Werrimu will be brought into service on Monday, 18th September 1972.
It is signed ‘I. M. Gunn, Director, Posts and Telegraphs, Victoria’. Honourable members will recall that Werrimul is the largest town in the Millewa area of north west Victoria. Only last week we were debating a Bill to give us a water pipeline to and in that area. Now they will have nationwide subscriber trunk dialling. This is practical decentralisation.
I desire to talk about the Japanese Trade Agreement. New members of this House do not know what took place in this House. When the Japanese Trade
Agreement was brought about by the Government and it came into this House for ratification, every Labor man in the House at the time voted against it. It was pledged at that time that if the Labor Party was ever returned to office it . would rescind it. Does that still stand? Will *he Labor Party rescind it? We must remember at the same time that through the years Japan has been our greatest buyer of wool. A Labor candidate writing to a newspaper recently said that the Agreement was the greatest confidence trick ever put over the people. At the time he wrote that letter about the Japanese Trade Agreement the wireless broadcast that other wool companies did not get much chance to buy wool today. Japan has set the price top high. That is what was said, and Labor has pledged to rescind the Japanese Trade Agreement. The Opposition has conveniently forgotten about it and it will probably be just another repudiation of their words on this matter.
If they’ had the power, , some ALP members would change our national anthem and our flag. One honourable member asked a question today about changing the national anthem. We have been asked to change the flag. Does the. whole of the Labor Party agree with this? Does it want to do away with our national anthem? Does it want to do away with our present flag? I think it does. The people should watch this very carefully, because this is something we do not want to sec happen. The Opposition says that the Budget is gauged to save the Government from electoral defeat. Maybe. If it does save the Government from electoral defeat the people should be thankful for it, because we do not want the socialists coming into office under any circumstances.
I want to refer to the great success of the Australian Wool Commission in the support price scheme and to the amount of money - about $10m - that has been made out of the deals. Besides that, look how it kept the price of wool up all through the season. This is something of which the Australian wool grower, and therefore the community, should be very proud. I believe it is something that has been in Australia’s very best interests. The Prime Minister said tonight that the Budget is a prospectus. If it is a prospectus, I would like to have some shares in it because it looks to me like a winner. Let me make some general comments. I have not touched on the Budget Papers because-
– He suddenly remembered the Budget Papers.
– I did not suddenly remember them at all. There were so many interjections and so many uncouth fellows trying to stop me speaking that I did not have the opportunity. People say that the Budget is a rich man’s budget. This is completely wrong. For people on certain incomes under $5,500 there is to be a 10 per cent reduction in taxation. The Government now proposes to increase the limit of free means from $10 to $20 a week. Let me repeat one thing because honourable members are saying all the time that there is nothing in the Budget about the abolition of the means test. The Treasurer said in the Budget Speech:
We have decided to abolish the means test within the next 3 years for age pension eligibility for residentially qualified men and women aged 65 and over.
Finally, in the few minutes I have left, 1 want to ask honourable members opposite what they think they gain by the uncouth way they have treated me tonight. As far as I am concerned-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like to take a point of order. The honourable member for Mallee looked across here, looked at me arid said in so many words that I have treated him in an uncouth manner. I have been most courteous to him because this is his swansong.
– Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member is almost inviting the Chair to make a remark that might be unparliamentary.
– If I was looking in the honourable member’s direction I did not mean him. I just want to say that while I have been in this House I have always extended the best of goodwill to all honourable members. If anyone can say that I have not, let him stand and say it now. I have always done that. I have always been willing to accept the friendship and the goodwill of honourable members, but it is a pretty difficult thing to do when I strike the attitude of some of the members who have been interjecting so often and so prolifically tonight.
– As this is the honourable member’s last speech, I move:
That the honourable member for Mallee be granted an extension of time.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has not yet expired. The honourable member for Mallee may continue his remarks.
– I do not think I want an extension because, after all, I would still have these interjections all the time from honourable members opposite trying to stop me telling the truth about the Budget and how it will benefit the people of Australia.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member for Boothby claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I claim to have been grossly and seriously misrepresented by the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster). During the debate this afternoon the honourable member for Sturt attacked the 4 South Australian members on the Government side and said, amongst other things, that I had been spending the whole of the day frantically ringing up my Party headquarters in Adelaide trying to influence some sort of vote which will take place tomorrow to elect the new President of our Party. He used another word. I do not know the context because I was on the way intothe chamber, but the word was ‘blackmail’. I came into the chamber and drew attention to this matter at the time, because there is no way in the world that the honourable member would know whether I was using the telephone or whether I was not.
– Oh yes there is.
– He interjects and says: Yes there is’. I make the point that if there is, I think the evidence should come forward and I would like to have the matter finally resolved in the Privileges Committee. The point is that I came into the chamber and refuted the honourable member’s allegations which were totally untrue and which culminated a series of chapters of untruths that have been evident since he has been in this chamber. I thought that was the end of the matter. Someone has just telephoned me from Adelaide to say that all the items mentioned by the honourable member for Sturt have been used in a television programme and regurgitated as fact. What concerns me is that in this Parliament we enjoy privileges. One can say anything about anyone else in this chamber, and if this is going to be taken-
-Order! I suggest to the honourable member for Boothby that matters relating to this are irrelevant. The point is, where the honourable member for Boothby has been misrepresented. The honourable member may point that out, and that is all he may point out.
– The point of misrepresentation is the one I mentioned earlier, that is, that in the television programme the misrepresentation comment was not mentioned. Obviously the material had been forwarded before the words were ever uttered. It just seems to me that it is making a mockery of this place when one can be accused-
– I rise to order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Is not the honourable member going beyond the provisions of the Standing Orders insofar as a personal explanation is concerned?
– Order! I point out again to the honourable member for Boothby that he may not debate the matter. He must confine himself to the relevant part of the misrepresentation which, as far as I can understand, he has already done.
– Thank you. The position is that if these things were said outside the House I would have the law to protect me but as they were said inside the House there is nothing to protect me, either inside the House or outside the House. I suggest that the honourable member for Stuart should retract completely what he said because he knows, I know and in fact we all know - if there is anybody left on the other side who has any sense of fair play at all - that what he said is untrue.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement.
Government members - No. Mr FOSTER (Sturt)- well, I claim to have been misrepresented. I hope that you,
Sir, will give me the same latitude as you gave the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay).
-Order! If the honourable member for Sturt claims to have been misrepresented I suggest that he make the point of misrepresentation.
– I have been misrepresent by way of implication by the honourable member for Boothby who wishes to goodness that certain statements which he made had been made inside this chamber otherwise he would not be in the position he is in regarding the printing of literature.
– If I may, Mr Deputy Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented.
– Sit down.
-The honourable member for McMillan will come to order.
– I claim to have been misrepresented in what was said this afternoon in reference to allegations that I made against the honourable member and his 3 remaining colleagues on that side of the House from South Australia. If it is necessary to vouch for what I have said the honourable member can come to my home over the weekend and he will see the proof to support what I said in this House. The point I want to make in claiming to have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Boothby is that he implied that I had made a certain television station in Adelaide aware of something before I spoke in this House. I cannot use in this House the term that I would like to use because it is unparliamentary, but let me say this-
– Use it outside.
– You have misrepresented the facts. You wish that you had used inside the House those words which you used outside.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, how long is this to be allowed to go on?
-Order! The honourable member for McMillan will resume his seat.
– Mr Deputy Speaker-
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. I suggest to the honourable member for Sturt that although there may have been an interjection which took the honourable member off the point that he was trying to make, I think the honourable member has made the 2 points on which he has claimed to have been misrepresented.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I crave the indulgence-
-Order! Does the honourable member for Grayndler claim to have been misrepresented?
– No. I seek leave to make a brief statement and I ask the Minister to consider my request seriously. The honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull) in his final speech in the Parliament asked a series of questions and I-
-Order! The honourable member for Grayndler is asking for leave to make a statement.
– Yes, to answer the honourable member for Mallee.
-Order! The honourable member for Grayndler is actually making a statement at the same time as he is asking for leave to make a statement.
– If I might take the point, my only reason for doing it is that the honourable member for Mallee-
Government members - No.
-Order! The House will come to order.
– I did not want to leave the honourable member wondering for the rest of his life.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I do. The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) in his speech in the Budget debate is reported at page 932 of Hansard in these terms:
A couple of days ago, the former lecturer at Melbourne’s Monash University, the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) went on television to say that it is still not too late to change the Liberal leader if events decide that that should be done. He was supported by the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) who also said that they should change the Prime Minister.
I said that they could change the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) but I saw no reason so to do. I suggest that the honourable member for Grayndler was rather careless with his words.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented by the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess). This matter was raised last night after I had spoken and today I collected the actual files. In order to clear this matter up completely for the benefit of all concerned, I will seek leave later tonight to read to honourable members the actual newspaper report. They will then know who is right.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I am not claiming to have been misrepresented. I had hoped to raise this matter earlier. I have a great affection for the honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull) and I did not get the point about the story he told about the painter so I would like to move for an extension of time to enable the honourable member to explain this once more.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– 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 order and groupings shown in the Schedule circulated to honourable members, which are as follows:
Consideration of the items in groups of departments which have a functional association with one another has met the convenience of the Committee in past years. 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.
– 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.
Proposed expenditure, $5,699,000
– I move:
The tariff proposals I have just tabled introduce the tariff alterations necessary to give effect to the Government’s decisions relating to the Tariff Board reports on shirts and knitwear. Honourable members will recall that on 7th September 1971 I tabled the Tariff Board reports on knitted shirts and outer garments and woven shirts, etc. At that time I announced that the Government had decided to continue the quantitative restrictions and temporary additional duties on these goods for a further period of up to 18 months, during which period negotiations for voluntary restraint arrangements would be initiated with the principal supplying countries. The Government has conducted negotiations with countries which are major suppliers of the products covered by the Board’s reports. The objective of these negotiations was to arrive at mutually acceptable arrangements which would allow these countries both reasonable access and growth prospects and also to enable the more efficient sectors of the Australian industries concerned to continue to operate on a viable basis. Discussions with the countries concerned have been co-operative and constructive but for various reasons it has not been feasible to conclude arrangements uniformly acceptable both to the countries concerned and to Australia, despite the acknowledged reasonable nature of Australia’s offers. I might mention that the increasing significance of other supplying countries has emerged as a factor which could impair the stability of the proposed restraint arrangements. However, the Government remains willing to examine with countries concerned mutually acceptable arrangements as an alternative to the action now proposed.
The Government has examined alternative arrangements to voluntary restraints and has decided to introduce tariff quotas on knitted shirts and outer garments and woven shirts for a period up to 30th June 1974. The tariff quotas will be established on the basis of the value of imports during 1971- 72, and will provide for growth in 1972- 73 of 20 per cent in the case of knitted goods and 2½ per cent in the case of woven shirts. Part of the growth will be set aside for new importers. Tariff quotas in 1973- 74 will be increased again by 7½ per cent in the case of knitwear and 2½ per cent in the case of woven shirts. Imports above the quotas will be subject to additional duties of $7 per kilogram on both knitted goods and woven shirts. The range of knitted goods covered by the tariff quotas will be extended to include knitted blouses.
The Government has also decided to implement the general rates of duties recommended in the Tariff Board’s reports.
These rates are:
Knitted Goods until 31st December 1973 - 45 per cent or, if higher $1.30 per lb. from 1st January 1974 - 45 per cent. Woven Shirts until 31st December 1973 - 40 per cent plus $1.50 per dozen. from 1st January 1974 - 40 per cent.
These are the long term rates recommended by the Tariff Board and which the Government accepted in the expectation that satisfactory voluntary restraints would be achieved.
The Government reiterates its firm intention that the more efficient sectors of the Australian knitwear and woven shirts industries should continue to operate on a viable basis. The present action reflects the Government’s policy that, if tariff action is to lead to any phasing out of any segment of an industry, firms would not be expected to adjust overnight and that special care will be taken relating to changes that might have the effect of putting job opportunities for Australians at risk.
The Government is taking an active part in current international moves that could affect the long term position of the textile industry. There is considerable uncertainty in the international trade situation in textiles, and a study group under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is preparing a report which is scheduled to be completed by the end of December 1972. In addition multilateral negotiations have been suggested under the GATT in 1973. Both of these developments could have an important bearing on the future situation of the textile industry both in Australia and overseas, and the Government will maintain close liaison with the Australian industry on the implications of these developments for the industry. The Government has decided to look at the situation again during 1974, in the light of developments within the Australian industry and overseas.
– 1 would like to continue the debate on this matter at this stage. I regret that the Government, with all its resources, has found it impossible to give the Opposition more than a few minutes notice before introducing this matter. I have not had time to study it. From what I have seen and read in the very glib and uninformative speech of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), I am quite disturbed at the prospects for the textile industry in Australia, particularly in regard to knitted shirts, outer garments and woven shirts - very disturbed indeed. I had to say earlier this afternoon that I thought that the Government was being completely irresponsible in regard to adequate protection of Australian industry. It is playing politics with the subject. It wants to give the impression, because of isolated remarks made from time to time by honourable members on this side of the House that we of the Opposition are not primarily concerned to retain and develop Australian industry. This is playing politics badly. I would suggest that the way in which this proposal has been introduced into the House might have been deliberate in that respect. I am very disquieted as a result of-
– If the honourable member wants to speak later we would be pleased to adjourn the debate. As the honourable member knows, normally we cannot give notice of tariff proposals. We have not acted deliberately as suggested. It is not usual to proceed with a customs tariff debate immediately after the introduction of the proposals.
– It is a very strange thing that when the Minister who has just been speaking, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp), was introducing tariff proposals, he was always able to give notice.
– I am sorry, not of the proposals, just that they would be introduced.
– Yes, I have had notice of the proposals. But this is the first time for a long time that we have seen the Minister for Trade and Industry performing this task. It is rather strange that because the Minister for Trade and Industry introduces the proposal we are faced with the situation about- which I have complained.
– Does the honourable member agree to adjourning the debate?
– No. I know that there are other honourable members on the Opposition side who want to debate this matter now. If the Government had had the courtesy and consideration to give us some notice we might have been prepared to consider it, but in view of its flat presentation at this stage, just after the second reading debate on the Budget has concluded, no. There are a number of things that we want to say and we want to say them now. The Government has now told us that the proposals of the Tariff Board, which would have had a very serious impact upon the industry, were being held at bay because of discussions with countries so that some co-operative and constructive arrangements might be arrived at to prevent excessive imports. But the Minister has told us that although the discussions have taken place, no satisfactory arrangements have been arrived at with other countries. That possibility has been put aside, for the time being at any rate.
The Minister went on to tell us that the Government had examined alternative arrangements to voluntary restraint as this is now no longer considered to be a possibility. He therefore has introduced tariff quotas on knitted shirts, outer garments and woven shirts for the period up to 30th June 1974.
No-one would object to those quotas because it seems to me to be quite apparent that if the textile industry in Australia is to survive we must have quotas. Rather than consider this as a temporary thing, I think the Government should be prepared to ask the Tariff Board to consider without delay whether this measure of a temporary nature should be considered as a permanent measure.
The second thing I have to say about this proposal for quotas is that the proposal may be totally inadequate. I do not know whether it will be adequate from reading the Minister’s speech and I have the feeling that the Minister does not know. The Minister said:
The tariff quotas will be established on the basis of the value of imports during 1971- 72. . . .
The imports of 1971-72 have done enough damage already. Therefore if the quotas are to be on the 1971-72 basis we can consider that the damage that has been done this year will be continued. But that is not all. The Minister also said that the Government proposes to provide for:
Who has made this decision? Is it a decision of the Tariff Board or is the Government pushing aside its virtuous Tariff Board? Where has the Government achieved the particular result that the Minister has decided to adopt as revealed in that paragraph of his speech? There is another point that the Minister revealed in his speech. These long term rates that he was talking about were recommended by the Tariff Board and the Government accepted them in the expectation that satisfactory voluntary restraints would be achieved. But satisfactory voluntary restraints have not been achieved.
I think that at the moment it is very important for the Government to realise that throughout this nation we have secondary industry that employs directly about lb million people and upon which another 2i million or 3 million people are indirectly dependent. This industry is in a state of great uncertainty about Government policy. Investment programmes are not being proceeded with. The kind of economic recovery that the Government pretends in this Budget to regard as essential will not occur in those circumstances.
How can the Government reiterate its firm intention that the more efficient sectors of of the Australian knitted shirts and woven shirts industry should continue on a viable basis? If this test is applied, how many firms will go out of existence? The Minister gave us no indication of the sectors which, he thinks, are the most efficient. This proposition assumes that there will be some which are not efficient and which will be put aside in the course of the next 12 months. We should know which ones are in the more efficient sector, how many will be affected and how many people will be unemployed as a result of this. I notice the Minister for Customs and Excise is speaking to the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan). Yes, try to get him in to say something if you can. He was always good for a word or two on tariffs. He is always good for a word or two in defence of removing tariffs or reducing them, and in defence of the Tariff Board. Try to fill in for a desperate situation which has been created by your own complete absence of a policy on this matter.
The more efficient sectors of Australian industry are expected to survive. A very considerable swathe of Australian industry can well be cut out by this approach. So I think that this is a matter that should not be allowed to pass this day unless we make clear that this kind of policy, this searchanddestroy mission, as I described it earlier, that the Government and the Tariff Board together are undertaking in their attitude to Australian industry, will not be one that is consistent with the proper and balanced economic development of this nation.
The Government we are told is taking an active part in current international moves that could affect the long term position of the textile industry. I have no doubt that that. The international, long term position of the textile industry will be that these will not be over in Australia.
So I express clearly and without equivocation the concern of the Australian textile industry. Recently a deputation approached the Prime Minister, who for the time being is the Right Honourable William McMahon, C.H., M.P. The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister met a deputation from the Textile and Apparel and Retailed Industries Conference and little satisfaction was given to it. The Minister has told us nothing about what that deputation told him. I guarantee that everything I have said tonight allowing for the very short notice that we had that this measure was coming on, was stated to the Minister by the deputation. Australian industry has no confidence in this Government and the kind of measure that the Minister has introduced tonight will reduce still further the confidence that Australian manufacturing industry might still have in the Government.
-I call the honourable member for Angas.
– I move:
That the debate be adjourned. (Opposition members interjecting) -
-The question is: That the debate be now adjourned. Is a division required?
Opposition members - Yes.
– Ring the bells.
– Before the bells are rung, Mr Speaker, will the Opposition call off the division if I give an undertaking that this matter will be debated in the reasonable future because there are members on our side of the House who want to debate as well. For the reasons mentioned by the honourable member for Lalor they also have not had a chance to study the measure.
– I think that the Minister could have told us before. But I am prepared to call off the division.
Debate (on motion by Mir Giles) adjourned.
– For the information of honourable members I present a joint statement by myself and the Papua New Guinea Chief Minister on the constitutional discussions held during July and August this year. I also present a statement by the Chief Minister to the Papua New Guinea House of Assembly.
– I seek leave to make a statement. I will take only about 2 minutes to do so.
– Wait a bit.
– What is the honourable member rising for?
– I want to know what the statement is about. The Minister has treated us with scant courtesy today. I will not give leave unless he explains what it is.
– Would the Minister like to say something?
– I would just like to explain, out of courtesy to members of the Opposition, why the debate on the tariff proposal which was just lodged by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) has been adjourned and why an opportunity could not be given to the
Opposition to study it beforehand. It seems to me that there has been a misunderstanding in this regard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– As the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) knows, a Minister can table a tariff proposal at any time. This is provided for in Standing Orders and there are very good reasons for it. Advance notice given to anyone about tariff proposals can affect stock exchanges, and so on. Therefore, normally, they are tabled after 4 p.m. This particular tariff proposal was no different. For the convenience of the House instead of myself as the Minister for Customs and Excise tabling the proposal, as is normally done and this being followed by a statement by the Minister for Trade and Industry, we thought that it would shorten the time occupied by the proceedings if my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry, handled both matters at the one time. I give an assurance to the House that there was no intention to delude the House or to keep anything from honourable members.
– Mr Speaker, I am sorry that this has happened, but I can assure-
– I seek leave to make a statement on this matter.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I am sorry that this has happened. Had I known (personally that the Leader of the House (Mr Chipp) had not intended to introduce a tariff proposal and that this matter would be handled by the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) I would not have given my personal approval to the introduction of the proposal without ensuring the opportunity for further debate. This sort of arrangement will not happen again. I assure the Leader of the House that unless he is prepared to allow the debate to continue now that the Minister has opened this very important subject, thereWill be no agreement between the Leader of the House and myself in the future. I suggest that because of the importance of this subject the debate ought to continue. This is up to the Leader of the House to decide. Apparently this matter was put to someone in my office just before the suspension of the sitting for dinner. I think that the Leader of the House ought to understand that this is a very important subject which has been introduced by the Leader of the Australian Country Party and Minister for Trade and Industry. Because of the importance of this matter to honourable members on this side of the House, the debate ought to continue. I am putting it to the Leader of the House that that ought to be done. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has indicated that he wants to speak on this subject. Therefore I ask that the debate be continued..
-Order! I think that I should intervene. The House has already decided that the debate be adjourned.
– Mr Speaker-
-The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The motion by the honourable member for Angas that the debate be adjourned was opposed but the division was called off with the permission of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports on the assurance of the Minister that time would be given for this matter to be debated. The House has already decided that the debate be adjourned.
New Power Station at Tennant Creek, Northern Territory
– toy leave - I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: Construction of a new power station at Tennant Creek, Northern Territory.
The proposal is for the construction of a power station comprising steel-framed power station building to house 3 1.4MW Diesel generators, auxiliaries, crane, switchgear and controls; steel-framed distribution workshop building; bulk fuel storage; and, services to the site. At present, Tennant Creek is supplied with power by Peko Mines NL under contract, but notice has been given by the company that it will cease to supply power after 1st November 1974. The estimated cost of the proposed work is SI. 8m. I table plans of the proposed work.
– Is this part of an election gimmick?
-Order! The honourable member for Reid will resume his seat.
– Quite frankly, I wonder what is happening. This matter is not listed on the blue sheet and I think that, in all fairness, the Leader of the House (Mr Chipp) should have given some indication that he proposed to move this motion. If matters are to be raised in this Parliament, the Opposition is entitled to know what is happening. Quite frankly, I am disgusted with the attitude of the Government in relation to these matters. This is the second such matter to which I have referred this evening. A few moments ago the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) introduced a Tariff Board report, and now another matter which does not appear on the blue sheet has been introduced. Unless the Leader of the House can offer me some explanation for this peculiar attitude on the part of the Government, no permission will be given for statements to be introduced into this Parliament.
– You are on shaky ground if you go too far, I promise.
– Then perhaps the Minister could offer an explanation that would satisfy me.
– I could and you will get one.
– All right. I will leave it at that. I want it to go on record that I am not satisfied with the procedure adopted by the Government on this occasion in relation to both of these matters.
– This motion comes as a very pleasant surprise to me. Having been in Tennant Creek last weekend, I know that Peko Mines NL proposes to cease supplying power to the town some time in 1974. If the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage), who is interjecting, got around his electorate the way I do, he would know these sorts of things also. I commend the Government for setting in motion some plan to ensure that the people of the town of Tennant Creek will continue to receive a supply of power, despite the fact that in’ 2 years times Peko Mines will be using its own power at the Warrego mine and at the smelter it is building in that area.
The only other comment I wish to make is that, whilst I commend the Government for its action on this matter, I suggest that the power station should be sited in an area in which it will not cause any real distress to the townspeople. The site of this proposed power station should have regard to the prevailing winds, noise and so on. I commend the Government and I am very pleased that this motion has come before the House.
– I made the comment earlier that the action of the Government in moving this motion was a political gimmick. I suppose I should have said that it was a political bribe. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), in his innocence, said that he knew nothing about this matter. Even if this is so, I have no doubt that he will make great news in the Northern Territory to the effect that it was his influence which prompted the Government to bend and take this action at this time.
The honourable member for the Northern Territory made certain comments in regard to the siting of the proposed power station. I should like to draw the attention of the House to the fact that on 24th May this year the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) stated that, when Commonwealth Government money was involved in anything that could have an environmental impact, an impact statement would be made. A power station is to be built at Tennant Creek and a power station, whether it is small or large, can have an environmental impact. If the power station is to be built in the township, I would like to know the environmental impact it will have on this area. I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) whether any impact statement has been prepared by the Department of the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, because Commonwealth money is being used for a project in a Commonwealth Ter ritory. An eleventh hour decision has been made and I would like to know whether an environmental impact statement has been prepared in regard to the siting of this power station in Tennant Creek.
This Government has issued bribe after bribe in its Budget policy and I have no doubt that this is the first of many such eleventh hour decisions, forecasting what it will do in the future, that this Government will make between now and the election. The Government has been in power for 23 years and I have no doubt that the desperate men on the Government side will now pull everything out of the hat to try .to-
-Order! The matter before the Chair is not the attitude of the Government towards elections. The matter before the Chair is the reference of a proposed work to the Public Works Committee.
– With all due respect to you, Mr Speaker, I know that, in your capacity as a private member, you are the honourable member for Phillip and I know that yours is one of the dangerous scats that could go-
-Order! I do not need anybody to tell me my own position; I realise it. However, I suggest that the honourable member for Reid is out of order. The matter before the Chair is the motion that a proposed work be referred to the Public Works Committee - not approved - and the honourable member will speak only in relation to that matter.
-I know, Mr Speaker; but I was just reminding you that you are on dangerous ground in the electorate of Phillip, and the honourable member for the Northern Territory also is on dangerous ground.
-Order! If the honourable member for Reid continues in this vein I will have to ask him to resume his seat. He may talk to the motion, which is for the reference of a proposed work to the Public Works Committee.
– The fact is that this matter is not even listed on the blue sheet. If I might say so, it has come out of the blue. The honourable member for the Northern Territory said that it came so much out of the blue that even he did not know anything about it. I am pointing out that the Government has moved to refer a project to the Public Works Committee so that it can gain some publicity for a Government supporter who is likely to be defeated in the next general elections. Therefore, I consider the bringing of this proposal before the House at this time to be outright bribery.
– As a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works I might mention that the Committee has visited the Tennant Creek area and made preliminary examinations, interviewed the townspeople and visited the site of the proposed power station. I honestly believe that there is a need for this work because Peko-Wallsend Ltd has been expanding in that area as has the township and there is a bigger drain than ever on the power resources generated by Peko-Wallsend which has been the supplier of electricity to the township of Tennant Creek. The company has advised the local authorities that after 1974 it will no longer be able to supply power to the township of Tennant Creek. This makes clear the need for a power station. My only regret is that the power station is to be fuelled with imported oil instead of Australian indigenous coal.
– How would you get coal to Tennant Creek?
– Coal could be got there if the Government were sincere about how the station should be fuelled. The question of whether it is difficult to get coal there should be secondary to the provision of employment in the coal industry. Australian indigenous fuel always should, if possible, have a priority over foreign oil. The argument used by the Government is the urgent need for this work to proceed. 1 support the motion irrespective of the political gains the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) is trying to derive from the matter.
– As Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works I point out that the motion concerns the referral of this matter to that Committee. I know of no group of people more competent and more dedicated in giving such a matter the type of active and intimate examination that it should require. The honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) mentioned environmental difficulties. These are the very matters that would receive the attention of the Public Works Committee. I cannot understand why there should be any argument about why this matter should be referred to the Committee.
– Like the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) and the honouable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) I believe that this is an important matter and that the Parliament should not hesitate about referring it for quick and, I hope, positive inquiry and determination by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works because that Committee has had a fair bit to do with the problems of Tennant Creek and has been able to identify the fact that people there live in disadvantaged circumstances. As a member of that Committee, even at this late stage preceding the elections, I would be prepared to make some sacrifice and go to Tennant Creek to help the residents with the difficulties they encounter. Recently the Public Works Committee was asked to resolve the sewerage problem in that area and this was accomplished with satisfaction. Nevertheless I think it is important that the Parliament should recognise that some politics is being played in respect of the whole process of referring matters to the Public Works Committee. There is a great flurry of such referrals. The Chairman of the Committee, the honourable member for Wakefied (Mr Kelly), who spoke a few moments ago, said some very sensible and accurate things, but he could have gone further and said more. He could have said, for example, that this year - election year - the Committee looks like undertaking about twice as many inquiries as have ever been undertaken in the history of the Public Works Committee.
The Committee is tearing around the countryside at frantic speed. It is not simply a matter of the members of the Committee being disadvantaged. Sometimes the public are disadvantaged as well because there should be proper notice and sufficient time to enable the democratic process to run its full race and to go the full course. Sufficient notice should be given to enable people to consult with one another - for groups to discuss these matters and prepare evidence to submit to the Committee. However the Committee is going at such a rate that people are hardly given time to prepare properly. Next Monday morning the Committee sets off on a week of examinations and inquiries. In my case, I leave Sydney at 7 o’clock on Monday morning and fly to Papua New Guinea - to Lae and Port Moresby - and return via Canungra, Amberley and Townsville arriving back in Sydney on Friday, This is a valuable week in this pre-election period as I am sure you, Mr Speaker, will recognise.
Other matters are yet to be referred to the Committee, including telephone exchanges and, I think, a chancery in Papua New Guinea. So there will be this mad rush, and it just is not good enough. I want to cause the Parliament to know that there is an obvious playing of politics here. I can understand the ‘honourable member for the Northern Territory being enthusiastic, because every time the Committee goes to the Northern Territory he sets out very effectively, I might say, to give the people of the Northern Territory the impression that it is his representations which have resulted in these works being undertaken. This has happened in the past and, of course, he would like the Committee to go back to the Northern Territory as many times as possible before the election. But we should not be exploiting the Public Works Committee or this process for miserable election purposes.
It is important to draw the conclusion that this mad rush that is now evident on the part of the Government to squeeze all this work through the Public Works Committee process demonstrates the incapacity of the Government to properly organise and harness the release of work to be undertaken by various contractors. The Department of Works obviously must come under undesirable pressure as a result of the spasmodic flow of work. Additionally when one takes a place like the Northern Territory and throws all the work into the programme at one time pressure is put on contractors and probably on prices at the expense of the taxpayers. All this is being done for electoral purposes and it is not good enough. It certainly is not fair to members of the Parliament who are involved with the Public Works Committee to be rushing projects through at the expense of the obligations they have to their electorates. I know that some members of the Committee are not coming to
Papua New Guinea next week. Last week some members were not present at Committee inquiries and I venture to say-
-Order! I have been fairly lenient with the honourable member for Hughes in relation to this matter but I suggest he returns to the motion.
– I will, Mr Speaker. Regarding this proposed referral I confidently predict that it will be impossible for a number of members of the Committee to participate in the inquiry. Obviously this is undesirable but the reason is that so many inquiries are coming forward in such a short period of time. So I protest. I protest also about the fact that this motion was not on the notice paper for today. The Leader of the House (Mr Chipp) knows of my personal interest in democratising the work of the Public Works Committee and I should have liked to have known that this matter was to be referred to the Committee. I hope that he does not make this kind of mistake in the future. It would be a good thing if the Committee were not required to undertake much more work before the elections because it will be skimmed over. It will be done in a relatively inefficient way and many people will be deprived of the chance to give the considered evidence which the Committee invariably likes to have.
– I believe I should reply briefly to some of the comments that have been made about this motion, particularly concerning my part in it. This is the end of the third week of our first session during which I have been Leader of the House. This House cannot function without close co-operation between the Leader of the House and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). In this 3 weeks the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has gone out of his way to co-operate with me at all times for the smooth running of the House. For my part, I have been meticulous in informing the Deputy Leader of the Opposition of the Government’s intentions as far as its legislative and other programmes in this House are concerned. There has not been one thing which the Government has introduced about which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has not had prior notice. There have been occasions when it would have suited the Government’s convenience to have brought some business on, but because it did not suit the convenience of the Opposition I willingly yielded to the wishes of the Opposition for the purpose of gaining co-operation. The question before the House is a case in point. Notice of this proposal could have been given on Tuesday week, 12th September, and the resolution could have been debated on the 13 th.
But the Chairman of the Public Works Committee made representations to me in which he said that it would suit the convenience of the Committee to have this matter referred to it now. I am surprised that the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) and the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) - both very hard working and dedicated members of the Committee - did not make this point in their speeches. I have said publicly in my capacity as the Minister representing in this chamber the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) that there is no harder working committee of this Parliament than the Public Works Committee. As I say, the proposition was put to me, as the Minister representing in this chamber the Minister for Works, by the Chairman of the Public Works Committee that it would suit the convenience of the Committee to have this referral - and it is only a referral. I have another proposal to put forward to the Committee in a moment.
Accordingly, the matter was processed today by my colleague in another place and at approximately 5 o’clock this afternoon I sought the agreement of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to have this matter brought on tonight. It was not listed on the blue sheet; I apologise for that but I have given the reasons. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition agreed to give me leave to move this motion and another motion tonight, and I thank him for his co-operation. I can understand the attitude expressed in the speeches that have been made. I realise that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has to appear, to his own Party, to be aggressive, particularly at this time, but when an agreement is made in his room it is a bit hurtful for me to sit here and be accused by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition of not informing him of developments. For that reason I wanted to inform the House of the correct position, and I thank the House for its indulgence.
– Mr Speaker-
-The Minister has spoken and has closed the debate. The honourable member will not be in order in speaking in this debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969-1972, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: Construction of a Commonwealth Office Block at Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
The proposal involves the construction of a 3-storey office block as the first stage of a Commonwealth complex which ultimately will include a Supreme Court, a post office and a communications building. The estimated cost of the proposed work is $ 1.25m. I table plans of the proposed work.
– I should like the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp), in his reply, to say whether this is just a coincidence; whether or not this second proposal relating to the Northern Territory is a further bribe to try to retain the seat of the Northern Territory for the Government. I think it is a question that we should ask. We are on the eve of an election, and we find that this proposal is being referred to the Public Works Committee in the week prior to a week’s parliamentary recess so that the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) may go to the Territory and use this for electioneering purposes. Quite frankly, I would like to know how long this proposal Was being considered before it was referred to the Committee. Perhaps some members of the Committee could indicate how long they have been waiting for this proposal.
– As a member of the Public Works Committee I feel impelled to take part in this debate. I want to refute the idea that because works are undertaken in a particular part of the Commonwealth they are carried out necessarily in the interests of the member who represents that particular area. For instance, this year the Committee considered a proposal to build a post office at Bathurst. I think that some members on this side of the House paid a very warm tribute to the work that had been done by the member who represents the area in which the post office is to be built. Other honourable members object to any credit being given to the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) for the part he has played in having similar buildings constructed in his electorate. In point of fact, the Public Works Committee examines work to be carried out right throughout the Commonwealth.
As the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) has mentioned, a great strain has been placed on the members of the Public Works Committee. I do not claim any special credit in this regard because I have not been on some of the trips and I will not be going to New Guinea. I would like to ask the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) whether he suggests that by going to New Guinea we are doing some electioneering? These points have to be taken into consideration. As every honourable member knows, the Northern Territory comes under the direct control of the Commonwealth. Naturaily because of the size of the Territory, the Public Works Committee has to undertake more investigations in that area than in other areas of the Commonwealth. It is wrong to suggest that the Committee is doing certain work because this is an election year.
During the time that I have been a member of the Public Works Committee we have constantly visited the Northern Territory. I was in the Territory twice during the winter recess. We have visited the Territory on many occasions and I believe that a wrong impression has been left in the minds of honourable members. 1 pay a tribute to the other members of the Committee who have worked so earnestly and energetically in trying to arrive at correct decisions. I believe that the Committee has considered projects from a broad national outlook, and this has helped to make working on the Committee much more pleasant than otherwise might have been the case.
I thank the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) for the compliment which he has paid to the Committee. Although I may not attend Committee hearings as regularly as do other members of the Committee, the other members deserve the full credit that has been paid to them. I deprecate this idea of trying to link the Public Works Committee with any suggestion that the works are carried out in order to gain some political advantage. Works in all parts of Australia have been referred continuously to the Public Works Committee.
- Mr Speaker-
-Order! Before the honourable member commences his speech I should like to point out that the Chair has allowed some leniency in this debate and in the previous debate because of the matter that has been introduced into the debates, because of the difficulties that occurred when the first motion was introduced and because of the speeches by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the House. I should like to draw to the attention of the House and to subsequent speakers the fact that this is a very narrow motion. It seeks to refer works to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. It is not a question of seeking approval for the works. Therefore, the debate should be kept within those confines.
- Mr Speaker, I am disappointed that you should give that ruling after the latitude that has been extended to other speakers.
-Order! I have extended latitude on all sides.
– I come in at the cut-off point.
– I could see a number of honourable members rising to speak in this debate and I thought that I should say what I did in the interests of the House.
– Thank you. I am not surprised that a number of honourable members want to speak in this debate because this is a matter in which we ought to show an interest. I agree that it is a restricted debate, but because of the remarks made by the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett), who pointed out that the Northern Territory is under the control of the Commonwealth, I want to say briefly I do not think that any lesser significance should be attached to other areas of the Commonwealth where the Commonwealth has a responsibility to construct complexes such as the one which is the subject of this motion. I want to make the point that there should be much more of this type of work being done around the Commonwealth. In Adelaide the Commonwealth has paid for half a dozen business buildings-
-Order! The honourable member will be distinctly out of order if the refers to works in any other place. The matter before the Chair relates only to the referral of proposed work to the Public Works Committee.
– I did not make any reference to other works undertaken by the Commonwealth in Adelaide. I am referring to the fact that the Commonwealth is not undertaking work in Adelaide.
– The motion before us seeks to refer the question of the construction of the proposed Commonwealth offices at Alice Springs to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. I just cannot understand why there should be any argument about this important referral. I emphasise that the question before the Chair is whether the work should be referred to the Committee. We would presume that the Parliament would expect to be informed by the report that the Public Works Committee would bring forward after the question is referred to it. There has been comment that this is some kind of political gimmick. I would point* out that recently the Committee had similar referrals relating to Bathurst, Woolloomooloo and Melbourne. 1 do not recall the criticism being made that those projects were political gimmicks. This is the procedure that the Department of Works has to adopt for the orderly disposal of works. The proposal has to be referred to the Public Works Committee and if it is agreed to by the Committee, the Government and the Parliament orderly documentation and the letting of the contracts proceed.
The important thing here is that the orderly operation of the Department of Works in relation to the construction of buildings should be allowed to proceed. The only way in which this can be done is by referral of each proposal to the Public Works Committee so mat the Committee can take the first step. If the first step is not taken then the subsequent steps cannot be taken. If we deny the right of the Government to refer matters to the Committee we are denying to the Department of Works the opportunity of taking the subsequent steps it must take if it is to proceed with the construction of the building, or whatever it may be, in the most economic way. It is a great pity that this matter should be the subject of a political debate The Public Works Committee has always prided itself on not being a political instrument. I regard it as a departure from the standards adopted in the past for this matter to be the subject of a political debate. I am certain political aspects are not in the mind of the Government and they are certainly not in the mind of the Public Works Committee.
– I have no intention at this stage of making any derogatory remarks about the members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. They are, and have been over a long period of time, a very dedicated bunch of men who have put in long hours and I compliment them on the work that they have done. I realise that I am restricted in this debate to speaking about this referral but I would like to make one comment. The referral of this project at Alice Springs, a project which must cost over $750,000, in my view is a political gimmick. Honourable members can do all the hoo-haaing they like. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) is in a vulnerable position.
-Order! I have already told honourable members that I will not allow this matter to develop into something outside the confines of the debate. I will not allow, as I did not allow when the honourable member for Reid and others were speaking, the question of whether this is a political gimmick, of where the work ought to be done or anything else of that nature to be discussed. I will debate only on the referral of this project to the Pub lie Works Committee.
– I know that you are a very fair man, Mr Speaker, and I would hope that you would allow me the same latitude as you allowed the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) when he referred to Bathurst, Wooloomooloo and
Melbourne. There is not the slightest chance in the world that the Government would win the seat in any of those areas. The honourable member for Wakefield referred to these other areas and I think in fairness that I should be permitted to refer to them also. The other matter I want to comment on - I hope that you will allow me to comment on it, Mr Speaker - is the indecent haste with which this proposal was brought forward. This Parliament has been treated with contempt. I am sick to death, and so are other honourable members on this side of the House, with the contempt with which the Government treats the Opposition. There is another issue which I know you will not allow me to debate, Mr Speaker, and that is the number of speakers that the Government will allow in a debate which is to take place later tonight. The Government is restricting us-
-Order! The honourable member is out of order and will resume his seat.
– 1 want to deal specifically with the matter which is sought to be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and there are a couple of quick points I wish to make. The first is that it is becoming unreasonable to have such a large number of important matters referred to the Committee at this late stage in the Life of this Parliament. Perhaps the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) who is at the table could indicate to the Parliament when the election date will be. Will the Committee have time to deal with the matter? If we knew when the election will be we could determine whether this referral is a reasonable proposition. If the election will be in three or four weeks the Committee will not be able to do justice to this important inquiry which concerns a Supreme Court building; it is not something to be trifled with. It is one of the most important matters in the land. The proposal concerns the place where the Supreme Court will sit in Alice Springs. It will also be the Post Office, a communications building and Commonwealth offices. It is a vital matter. Will the Committee have time to conduct a hearing at Alice Springs? Perhaps the Chairman of the Committee, the honourable member for Wakefield, could indicate whether this is in the planned future movements of the
Committee. I doubt very strongly, from a consideration of the time which will be available to members of the Committee to move around between now and the election day, whether the Committee will be able to go to Alice Springs and conduct a public inquiry. Perhaps the honourable member for Wakefield could indicate by nodding or shaking his head whether this would be possible. Could he give an assurance that the public, who would ordinarily have a chance to give evidence, will have the opportunity to do so at Alice Springs?
– We inspected the site the other day but unfortunately you could not be with us.
– I am not talking about inspections. This is the kind of thing-
-The Chair is not interested in inspections either. It is interested in whether this matter is to be referred to the Public Works Committee and I suggest that the honourable member for Hughes get to the basis of this debate.
– The matter that concerns me most of all is whether this project should be referred to the Public Works Committee. Would honourable members on the Government side be anxious to have it referred to the Public Works Committee if the Committee could not go about its work in the proper and traditional way? That is the question that has to be put to the Parliament before it makes a determination on this matter. It has always been the practice of the Committee that it inspects the site of the proposed work, then calls public, evidence which is heard in the area where the construction is to take place. If those requirements cannot be fulfilled, it may well be unreasonable to refer the project to the Committee at this stage. The Government is showing signs of wanting to be the last of the big spenders for some reason or other and I would hate it to do anything, for an ulterior motive, that would sacrifice the high traditions that have characterised the Public Works Committee for many years.
– All I wish to say is that I will undertake to submit to my colleague in the Senate, the Minister for
Works (Senator Wright), all the speeches that have been made on this resolution and I will draw his attention to them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have the honour to bring up the twentieth report of the Publications Committee sitting in conference with the Publications Committee of the Senate. Copies of the report have been circulated to honourable members in the chamber.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Debate resumed from15 August (vide page 1 44), on motion by Mr Snedden:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– May 1 have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill I would like to suggest that it might suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4) as they are associated measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest therefore, Mr Speaker, that you permit the subject matter of both Bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 2 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
– I am sorry that the Income Tax Bill should have been delayed so long. It is a Bill that determines the rates of income tax that shall apply on individuals for the period ended June 1973. The other Bill, the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4), covers adjustments made to the principle of assessment. In aggregate, the tax that will be imposed under this measure, according to the Budget estimate, is $4, 208m. 1 understand that, after an elevating debate of nearly 2 hours on 2 very minor matters, we will now be restricted in this debate to not much more than 2 hours. In the course of the Budget debate there has been a lot of discussion about the so-called tax reductions that are to be included in this measure. I want to give some figures showing broadly what the increase in taxation has been in Australia since the time of the last election, a period of nearly 3 years. I quote from Statement no. 7 attached to the Budget Speech, Table 1 - Summary of Commonwealth Expenditure and Receipts, 1962-63 to 1971-72 and 1972-73 (Estimate).
The period I want to look at is the period ended June 1969 to the period ended June 1972. That table shows that for the financial year ended just before the last election - the last election was held in November 1969 - the total collections by the Commonwealth from all sources of taxation amounted to $5,466,303. For the year ended 30th June 1972 - the last completed year - the aggregate tax collections amounted to $7,843,927. In other words, in the life of this Parliament the aggregate increase in Commonwealth taxation has been about $2, 378m, an increase of 45 per cent on the total collections at 30th June 1969. That increase is more than can be accounted for by the increased number of people to be serviced. The Australian population rises by about 24 per cent per annum. Something like 8 per cent to 9 per cent more people had to be serviced at the end of June 1972. In that period prices have increased by an aggregate of about 14 per cent. The total tax collections have increased by 45 per cent.
We have heard a lot of nonsense this afternoon in the Budget debate and in earlier debates about the so-called tax reductions of this Budget in particular. Bad and all as the aggregate collections are, 1 want to draw particular attention to the income tax itself. When the last election was being fought, the aggregate collected in income tax for the period ended 30th June1969 was about $2. 379m. For the year ended 30th June 1972 - 3 years later - the total tax collections for income tax on individuals had increased from about $2, 379m to about$3,768m, an increase of about $1,3 89m or 60 per cent. I repeat that over that period the number of people to be serviced increased by something like 8 per cent and prices increased by something like 14 per cent while the total increase in taxation collections was 60 per cent. Even after the so-called tax reductions of this
The income tax ought to be the crown of the tax pattern of a democratic system of government. The income tax structure, in regard to both the rate and the concession deduction, is rotten with inequity. I want to state categorically and 1 want to have this matter evaluated properly in the so-called intelligent atmosphere of the House of Representatives. I had to make a personal explanation here this afternoon. 1 gave an example which simply indicates the reality of the tax pattern in Australia. I gave the example merely to highlight the inequities in the system. Certain unscrupulous people on the Government side - I described them this afternoon as the lie factory of. the Liberal Party - have formed a sort of secretariat and are circulating excerpts from speeches made by the shadow Minister for Health, the shadow Minister for Trade and by me. They are taken out of context and are used to indicate the terrible fate that will overtake this country if there is a change of government. We will be inflicted, we are told, with excessive taxation. I simply say again - to repeat the 2 examples - that in the life of this Parliament aggregate taxation has increased by 45 per cent and income tax by 60 per cent. If the reductions which we are contemplating in taxation rates set out in these Bills had not been made, the aggregate increase in one year alone on income tax would have been 25 per cent. 1 do not believe that after 23 years of Liberal government we have the right pattern of taxation in Australia, that every body is just paying precisely what they should be paying, that everything that is being taxed is taxed at the appropriate rate and that even some sources of income which should be subject to tax are not being taxed at all. Surely that is what the argument on tax reform is all about. I refer to the example which I gave in Sydney. The figures are now one more year up to date because of the document tabled in. this House with the Budget entitled ‘Commonwealth Income Tax Statistics’. I sought leave earlier from the Minister in charge of this Bill to incorporate in Hansard 2 tables and he acceded to my request.
Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -
– One table is a tabulation by grades of actual income of all taxpayers in Australia for the period ended 30th June 1970. The first table shows that for that year, taking a dividing line of incomes above $4,000 per annum - this is actual income - which is near enough to $77 a week, what was called average weekly earnings was slightly in excess of $77. Yet the statistics show that of the 5,372,000 taxpayers only 1,528,000 or 28.4 per cent, which is slightly more than a quarter of all taxpayers, had incomes in excess of $77 a week. So despite what is sometimes said, Australia is by no means an affluent society as far as a large number of its citizens is concerned.
The other table is rather more significant. It deals with what are called concessional deductions. It sets out the figures in detail. 1 refer honourable members to this document which is set out in the centre page of the booklet ‘Commonwealth Income Tax Statistics’. This table shows that those 5,372,000 taxpayers were allowed deductions of various kinds which aggregated $3.25 billion. But again, using the same dividing line which I used before - incomes above $4,001 and incomes below that figure - of the total deductions of $3,257,000,000 over onehalf, or about $1,867,000,000 went to that section of the taxpayers who had incomes exceeding $77 a week. One-quarter of the taxpayers got over 50 per cent of the deductions that were allowed. The particular deduction to which 1 drew attention in Sydney was the deduction for life insurance and superannuation which for the period ended June 1970 aggregated $700m. Over one-fifth of all the deductions allowed to all taxpayers was encompassed in this one item, life insurance and superannuation. Of that sum of $700m, an amount of $465m - over two-thirds - went again to that lucky section of taxpayers with incomes in excess of $4,000 per annum. The aggregate of what was allowed for life insurance was the same as all the family deductions for taxpayers who had incomes less than $70 a week in Australia. I used that example and I quote it again as a parameter or a measure of justice.
It is literally true that more taxpayers would pay less tax if the concessions for families were doubled and every other deduction was eliminated. That is the reality of the situation.
– Do you advocate that?
– The honourable member, as usual unscrupulous, asks: ‘Do I advocate that?’ 1 am not advocating that. I am simply asking this House as a democratically elected body how it justifies allowing a sum of $1,200 per annum whilst it allows deductions of $364 for a wife, $208 for the first child and $156 for other children? What sort of logic is it that allows this Government to arrive at that sort of situation? If a person happens to be in a certain income bracket and he pays $1,200 per annum into life insurance, the tax system underwrites him by as much as $800. Can anybody justify that on any logical basis? Yet, that is what has happened. What we have at the moment is insurance agents hawking what are basically not legitimate life insurance policies. They are saying to the people ‘Take a policy on your life for 5 years or 6 years, not for 25 years or 30 years’.
In essence what happens is that if you put money into a savings bank and get interest on it, you are supposed to include that interest in your taxable income but if you put the money into a life insurance policy and by proxy it is invested for you, at the end of the term of the policy you get back your sum of money with more interest than you would get from a bank and it is free of tax. This sort of thing is costing the revenue of Australia, according to the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) something like S250m. He made a facile comparison the other evening that it meant on the average $50 for every taxpayer. It means no such thing. Two-thirds of it goes to one-quarter of the taxpayers, and it is worth more to them because their rate of adjustment is greater because their marginal rate of tax is greater. What I am trying to suggest here this evening - 1 repeat what I said earlier - is that the rates and concessions under the income tax system are rotten with inequities, and it is time that something was done to adjust them. T am not suggesting, and I have not suggested, that we should remove all the inequities immediately. But surely we are entitled to ask: What is the logic of the rates and the concessions? What is the equity in the system?
The same situation applies at the moment to the so-called rate reductions. Succeeding Treasurers have added 2i per cent on top of the rate structure. Last year the Treasurer intended to add 2i per cent, but the Government changed its mind on 1st April - a good day to change its mind. All Fools Day was recognised by the fools and the folly at least acknowledged. But it made in essence an increase in the tax rates that year of something close to 31 per cent. The 2i per cent levy has now been taken off and a certain amount of adjustment made to the schedules. The adjusted rates can be seen in the document that was tabled by the Treasurer. These were supposed to have been introduced in the interests of the family man on low income. I give an example that 1 quoted the other evening in the course of my speech on the Budget. I simply took as an example a man with a dependent wife and 2 children who was enjoying the magnificent income of $54 a week. I think if we asked whether that man should pay any income tax most people would say no. What in fact does he pay? Under theses proposals he will still pay, after these reductions, the sum of $163.57. Does the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) think that is equitable? That is the pattern that exists at the moment. What do honourable members think he ought to pay? I will be categorical. I think he should pay nothing. What I want to see is a system that reforms the tax scale from the bottom up, not a system such as this one which reforms from the top down.
Take members of Parliament, who have an income of a little less than $10,000 per annum, if they have no source of income other than their salary. Presumably an Assistant Minister, might get some other kinds of inducement. But on a- salary of $10,000 a member will now pay $2,521.78 in tax. Do honourable members think that is too much? If they think it is too5 much, do they think they are paying too much in comparison with the man with an income of $2,800 with a wife and 2 children who is still paying over $3 per week? Surely this is what arguments about the equities of taxation are about. They are not about whether, when reductions are made, everybody should get a bonanza out of the system.
The amount of tax is one thing in relation to the total needs of the community, but how the burden of taxation is distributed among the various citizens of the community is a separate matter. I submit that that is the matter the Government has ignored over a long period of time. We are having trotted out in this House- humbug about reducing taxes in an election year. I hark back to 3 years ago when Government members were campaigning on the hustings, saying ‘Elect us to Government, and at the end of 3 years the total yield from income tax will rise by 60 per cent and the total yield from all taxes will increase by 45 per cent.’ That in fact is what happened. Of course, like anything else, it has increased because of inflation, because there are more people in the community and, fortunately, because of some increase in standards in the community.
The Government yesterday gave a miserable miscalculated catalogue of what the Labor Party’s proposals will cost. What is the difference in the total economy between the Government abolishing the means test by 1975 and the Labor Party abolishing it by 1975? The problem is the same for both sides. Surely the argument for the next 3 years should be about the potential of the Australian economy for the next 3 years. What are the sorts of things that the economy is supposed to do? How can a government improve education unless it spends more money? How can it improve country towns and the quality of life in them and how can it reduce crowding in cities unless it spends more money? How can it improve public transport except by spending more money? How can it pay more pensions to more people with higher real standards except by spending more money? Unless the country has a proper and an expanding economy, which it does not have at the moment, all these propositions are a mockery.
We have heard what the Government will do about an exchange rate which might vary by 1 per cent or 2 per cent, but we have heard nothing about the inflation which took 6 per cent from every income last year, 5 per cent the year before and which will take an anticipated 5 per cent this year. Inflation is reflected also in the tax yields. I should hope that there will be at least a proper analysis of what people on given incomes should pay in income tax, not this wretched, threadbare, dishonest argument which the Government uses to support its claim that it has reduced taxes. All the Government has done is to remove some of the fat and redistribute it the wrong way. Even though the Government is reducing tax, the yield will still go up.
I ask honourable members to read the tabulation that was circulated by the Treasurer and note the marginal rates of tax. Consider the problem of those who attain the level of average weekly earnings. By the end of this year average weekly earnings will be near enough to $100 a week or $5,200 per annum. The marginal rate of tax on an additional $1 earned by the average wage earner is 331 per cent - that is, one-third of it will be taken despite the so-called tax reductions. And 85 per cent to 90 per cent of taxpayers of Australia are wage earners who cannot split their incomes. A skilled tradesman earning $5,200 per year will pay the full amount of tax on his earnings. But a person who owns a farm and earns $5,200 per year income and who divides his income into 2 incomes of $2,600, as he legitimately may, is in a different tax bracket. The tabulation shows that the tax payable on one income of $5,200 a year is $983.90. But make 2 incomes, each of $2,600, and the total tax burden is $552.
That is the kind of thing that is going on in the tax structure at the moment. It is called income splitting. J hope that the Treasurer will remember this when he tries to make some capital out of what I said merely by way of example. He floated this concept of family taxation. In the United States of America, for instance, a married couple with one income can opt to have that income treated as 2 incomes. That is why it is difficult to make comparisons between what happens in one country and what happens in another. There is no doubt that in Australia at the moment, even after these tax reductions, the married man with a nonworking wife and with children to support is still paying too much tax. To suggest that if he pays less somebody must pay more is introducing another kind or proposition. We are looking at the structure of the income tax. This is another occasion on which the Government has missed an opportunity. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), as long ago as when he was Treasurer, said that he wanted to make a fundamental adjustment to the tax structure, particularly income tax. Three years later the Government has come up with this bowdlerised version that still reeks of injustice.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– At this stage, Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 seek your guidance on a point of procedure. Last night in the course of debate I made certain statements about the honourable members for Chisholm (Mr
Staley), La Trobe (Mr Jess) and one or two other honourable members. At about this time last night the honourable member for Chisholm said that I had been incorrect and tonight, as you know, the honourable member for La Trobe said that I had misrepresented him. I wish to put the record straight and I was wondering whether this would be an appropriate time for me to make a personal explanation and clarify the matter. I do not want to be unjust to the honourable members concerned. As the proceedings are being broadcast I thought that this is when I should take this course.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Grayndler seek leave when we conclude the debate on the present item of business that is before the House.
– If that happens after 11.30 p.m. it will be most unjust to the honourable members concerned. If the House would grant leave now I would be prepared to put the record straight, briefly and without political comment. I assure the House that I will not take political advantage. I will just read the article.
-Order! Leave has been refused. Leave is not granted.
– During the course of the remarks of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), which 1 might say were mostly moralising, he used an expression which probably came close to being unparliamentary and I must draw attention to it. He used an expression which I think I heard him use much earlier today. He said that people in this place were peddling documents which he described as being the work of the lie factory of the Liberal Party. I wondered why the same honourable member did not support me earlier this afternoon because a deliberate falsehood was dreamed up about me today and used by one of the honourable member’s colleagues, transmitted to an Adelaide television station and broadcast by the journalist, a fellow named Thornquist, as fact. This television station is not even represented here.
– I rise to a point of order. Are the remarks of the honourable member for Boothby relevant to this debate? He is referring to something quite foreign.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! I ask the honourable member for Boothby to relate his remarks to the 2 Bills that are now the subject of a cognate.
– Very well. I was just drawing attention to what was said by the honourable gentleman who has just resumed his seat. He is honestly annoyed at what he believes is a piece of denigration, but I assure him that it is not. I can assure him that the regurgitation as the truth of something which is not a fact is enough to make me as well as the honourable gentleman feel most annoyed.
I return to the Bills before the House. The purpose of these Bills simply is to implement the taxation proposals contained in the Budget. I make the point, because I am quite sure that many people in the community are not fully aware of it, that these proposals affect everyone, not only employees but also employers. They mean that as from tomorrow all taxpayers will pay lower income tax and higher family deductions will be available. It is important also for us to remind taxpayers that these concessions are an additional reduction in income tax to the decrease of 24 per cent in income tax which was enacted by legislation passed last April. The reductions across the board average out at approximately 10 per cent. This is a significant reduction. The taxpayer in receipt of an income of $4,000 a year or approximately $76 a week - I believe that that is close to the average wage - will have his income tax reduced by 12.4 per cent. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports mentioned the person in receipt of $10,000 a year. That person’s taxation will be reduced by 6.6 per cent. It is interesting to note that fewer than 3 per cent of all Australian taxpayers earn more than $10,000 a year.
I put the view to the House and to anyone who is listening to this debate that we should consider the philosophy behind these reductions. In the first place, they are designed to benefit the family man and, in particular, the one-income family. Of all taxpayers in the community, in my view the one in most trouble is the oneincome taxpayer with a family to support. 1 think that we would all agree on this point. We see reports about high savings bank deposits. I do not know of anyone who can accurately determine the statistical evidence in this respect but I am confident that most of those with high savings bank deposits are young people who are perhaps not yet married and are saving up to buy a home, 2 income families and persons in the middle age group whose family is off their hands.
– Everyone except politicians.
– Politicians fit into many taxpaying categories. Some are young and unmarried. Some are older with families off their hands, such as the honourable member who interjects and myself. It is the persons in between those 2 categories who are in trouble. They have all the responsibility of bringing up their families and they must do this on the one income. The provisions of this legislation will provide help to those on lower income levels but will be useful also at higher income levels because there is a significant and positive saving. As a matter of philosophy, we have not destroyed the incentive for people to work harder, perhaps gain higher academic qualifications and to earn higher incomes. One aspect of this legislation that I wish to mention - perhaps others who follow may mention it also - concerns the allowance in respect of the expenses of self education of a taxpayer. In his second reading speech on the Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4) 1972 (No. 2), the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) makes the point that the Government has decided. . . that a concession should be available for people who set themselves the task of gaining educational qualifications connected with their careers. We therefore propose a special concessional deduction for expenditure incurred by a taxpayer on fees, books and equipment associated with a course of education he undertakes for the purpose of acquiring qualifications related to his employment or career. The new concession will not be subject to any age qualification. It will be available whether a course of education is attended on a full-time or part-time basis or is carried on by correspondence.
I would think that there is not a member of this House who has not made representations about this matter. I would like to be informed by the Minister for the Army (Mr Katter), who is at the table, before the debate is closed whether this would also apply to a professional man such as a doctor who goes for example, to London to obtain higher professional degrees? In the past this has not been so.
The amount of tax which is forgone in these proposals is approximately $480m a year. I suppose if we deal in approximations and take an average across the board figure of 10 per cent, we could say that a 10 per cent rise or fall in taxation at the family level is worth about $500m. We heard a few ‘hear, hears’ tonight when the honourable member for Melbourne Ports mentioned that too much tax is being charged. We want to know what Labor intends to do about financing the promises which it continues to make. There was not a single reference to taxation or costing in the amendment to the Budget moved by the Leader of the Opposition. We have to look elsewhere, therefore, to find out how the Labor Party proposes to finance its proposals. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports objected to the piece of paper I am now holding which contains a record of what he said on 7th August during the interview on television. He was asked about his taxation proposals and the people who would be paying the taxes which obviously would be necessary to pay for Labor’s proposals. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports indicated that the family man - the man on $90 a week or thereabouts - would be the person who would be paying the tax. I do not want the honourable member to think that my Party is, as he described it, a lie factory, because I intend to quote to the House what he said during that television interview on 7th August. The honourable member was asked the question:
How about the chap who is earning more than $90 per week, more than $4,500-5,000 per year, would he pay more under a Labor government?
The honourable member for Melbourne Ports gave the following reply:
Again, no doubt it seems unlikely to me that in terms of all the needs that are required, (hat we are going to be able to do with less revenue in total. So that obviously, if some people’s tax is reduced, well there arc going to be some whose taxes are increased.
We waited in vain for the Leader of the Opposition to even mention this. We had to look at the text of a television interview with the shadow Treasurer to get a clue The honourable member for Melbourne Ports was then asked:
Do you see the differential point being $4,000. $4,500, $5,000 a year?
The honourable member replied:
Well, it at least would be anybody around thai sort of level at the moment. . . .
So what we have been able to discover finally is that the Labor Party proposes increasing the levels of tax on the man on or about $90 a week. What we want to know is how on earth the Labor Party can possibly finance even half of its proposals. During the Budget debate and in other places we have had a series of promises from the Labor Party which I do not think would hurt to record. The Labor Party has promised an immediate pension and unemployment payment of $100m. It has promised a reduction in sales tax. No amount has been mentioned in this case. This is one of our problems. We find that Labor makes ail sorts of promises but is not specific. That is good politics. But we should try to be specific.
– You want our brains.
– The honourable member said that we want their brains. I would not like to be unkind, but one could go hungry. I think it would be reasonable to say that the Labor Party would reduce sales tax across the board by about 10 per cent. This would cost $70m. The Leader of the Opposition has promised an increase in the unemployment benefit. The increase by the Government in the unemployment benefit resulted in its expenditure on this item increasing from $44m to $S7m, which represents a 20 per cent increase. I take it that the Labor Party would increase the unemployment benefit by at least 10 per cent, and this would involve an additional expenditure of $12m.
The Labor Party has indicated in its statements on the Budget that if it were in government it would further increase hospital benefits. The Government has increased the expenditure on this item by $43m. When the Government says it will increase something it means what it says. The Government has to be able to justify its actions and it has to be able to account for what it does. The Opposition does not have to do the same. I suppose the Labor Party would further increase hospital benefits by the same amount, and this would involve an additional expenditure of $43m. The Labor Party has indicated that it will spend a fantastic amount on education, including extra expenditure on schools and pre-school education as well as the provision of free university education. That has been costed publicly at $540m in one year. The Leader of the Opposition, in an instant policy decision, said that the Labor Party would also abolish the means test within 3 years. I do not know why he has selected the age of 69. Nobody has told us yet. But on the old rate of pension and on the old rate of tax net, that would cost on our figures $200m in a year.
Yesterday the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) indicated that if the Labor Party were in government it would pick up the deficits of the railways around Australia. That would work out at $66m in one year. The Labor Party also has announced that it will reduce home mortgages. That would cost $80m in a year. I cannot see how the Labor Party can philosophically justify doing that because it would benefit most of the people who have the larger mortgages. It has other housing proposals amounting to over $500m. All of its proposals add up to over $1.5 billion. That expenditure would be financed by a 30 per cent increase in the rate of tax imposed on the sort of taxpayer which the honourable member for Melbourne Ports thinks can afford to pay it, namely, the person on $90 a week or over. The Labor Party would have to reduce Government expenditure on other things, jack up the tax or impose a tax rate right across the board and tax the poor as well as the wealthy. There are lots of other proposals that I have not included. These include national insurance, urban transport and ownership of Australian resources. In fact, these proposals make up a whole procession of gobbledegook. In the Government’s view the financial proposals of the Labor Party are entirely irresponsible. The Government believes that the Labor Party should be honest with the taxpayers and say where the money will come from to finance all of its extravagant proposals. I do not think there is much doubt but that a Labor government would jack up taxes and reduce defence spending, thereby endangering the security of this country. There can be no other conclusion but that.
The Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4) 1972 (No. 2), which is the other Bill before the House, provides, as taxpayers will be interested to learn, for an increase in tfr* deduction allowable for a spouse from $312 to $364 a year, from $208 to $260 for the first child under 16 years and from $156 to $208 for other children under 16 years. I do not want to labour the point about family deductions that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports made in his interview. I believe that he is an honourable man and that he was sincere when he talked about doubling family deductions. But he must admit that his statement would creats doubts in the minds of all taxpayers about whether such things as insurance, education expenses and hospital and medical expensewill be allowed as taxation deductions. Th. taxpayers must wonder what the Labo, Party would do about those deductions i! it were in office. Would Lt wipe them off? Would they be no longer deductible?
The Government really cannot be blamed for drawing attention to this matter, lt i fairly obvious that the Labor Party no longe represents the people in the lower income levels. That is obvious from its proposal to abolish the means test. The abolition of th means test will simply mean that the ga’‘< between the poor and the wealthy will be come wider. How can honourable members opposite possibly reconcile that with their former socialist philosophies? I have already mentioned interest on loans. I should now like to refer to the last national wage case. The Australian Council of Trade Unions - the Australian Labor Party’s industrial organisation - had to have the hearing deferred from November to April because its submissions to the Court in respect of those people at or near the minimum wage level were not ready. So thousands and thousands of people on low incomes did not receive the benefit of the national wage case decision because it was late in being decided. The industrial organisation of the ALP did not have the case ready.
I shall quote the remarks of Mr Justice Moore from the transcript of the national wage case for 1970. Mr Justice Moore said:
We find it hard-
That is, the Court - to see how future benches can continue to give him special treatment-
Him’ means the person at or near the minimum wage - in the absence of more information such as the actual living standards of people on or near the minimum wage, how many there are-
Surely these are fundamental statistics - how many would be affected by any future claim and what effect the introduction of minimum wage has had generally in industry.
The point I make is that the Labor Party can no longer purport to represent those at or near the minimum wage levels.
– People still seem to vote for us.
– They do; many of them vote for you because these sorts of matters do not receive a public hearing. The judgments of Mr Justice Moore cannot possibly be refuted. The Opposition has speakers following me in this debate. All that we want is for honourable members opposite to tell us how they represent the people on the lower incomes and how they propose paying for the proposals that they have poured out willy-nilly.
– Why did you not say this in the last Budget?
– I hope the honourable member for Sydney will follow me in the debate and provide us with such an inkling because the taxpaying public is entitled to know. What honourable members opposite really are saying is that if they were in government they would have to . increase taxes just to keep face. I have not heard a single Oppposition member mention one of these issues or give the House any indication of where the money is coming from. It can come only from increasing taxes or cutting down on expenditure.
– Where is your money coming from?
– We have the job of running the Government. We are putting through the legislation now. The money can come from only one of 2 sources.
– Well,, you have made a mess of it.
– I would make a mess of you if you attacked me outside the House as you do inside the House under privilege. Another way of providing the money would be by trimming down the defence expenditure. That is the secret, that is what the Opposition proposes to do. It has indicated that it will cancel the order for the Fill aircraft. The Opposition will destroy the Army through the abolition of national service. That is how the Opposition proposes to find some of the money. Even if the Opposition were to abolish all defence expenditure it could not pay for all of its promises. I think that these 2 Bills are marvellous legislation. The people in the country will feel its benefit in the next week or 2 and it is for this reason that honourable members opposite are so sensitive about the entire legislation.
– I should like to protest at the repeated absence from this House of the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) when any debate takes place over which the Treasurer nominally is in charge. This comment is not meant to cast aspersions on the Minister for the Army (Mr Katter) who is at the table and who, I know, has a profound knowledge of economic matters. As far as 1 know, apart from his own address when introducing the Budget, the Treasurer has not come into the House during the entire Budget debate. This time, we do not even have the Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Garland) in the House. 1 think it is a little rough that we cannot engage in meaningful debate with the Minister who presented the Bill or, better still, with the Treasurer himself. Most other Ministers come into the House when a Bill of which they are in charge is being debated. ] think that it is not too much to ask the same of the Treasurer.
The previous speaker, the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay), posed a number of questions which I will not have time to go into in very much detail. It is interesting to note that he regards suggestions of help for urban development and public transport as being t> ‘<y of gobWp.de- gook. Perhaps that is something He will mention to his constituents when he is up on the hustings before the forthcoming election.
Mir Hurford - We will be drawing it to the attention of his constitutents
– No doubt. The honourable member for Boothby also made passing reference to the last national wage case. For some reason he tried to describe the Australian Labor Party’s attitude. I do not know why he did that, because the Australian Labor Party was not a respondent or a claimant in the national wage case. I do not see what it had to do with us at all. But I do say that it is rather interesting that the honourable member refrained from mention ing the role of the Commonwealth Government in the national wage case. As everyone knows, that was a very shabby role indeed. It is small wonder that the honourable member for Boothby made no reference to it. As everyone knows, what actually happened was that the Commonwealth Government went to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and submitted that there should be no increase whatever in the total wage this year. It is small wonder that the honourable member for Boothby did not bother to mention that.
He asked a number of questions about where the money would come from to finance Labor’s proposals. 1 suppose it is rather difficult for somebody with the wit, or lack of it, of the honourable member for Boothby to try to understand how these proposals would be financed when he thinks entirely within the framework of conservative thinking. I suppose he does not even really understand how his own Government has financed its proposals in this or any other Budget. I wonder whether he knows about the fiddle which goes on annually in the Budget Papers in respect of what is known as the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. A book entry is made to convert what is in fact a large budgetary surplus into this Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve which is lent to the State governments at the prevailing rate of interest. In this way the Commonwealth has managed to transfer all its debts, which were quite considerable at the end of the Second World War, to the State governments, which are now saddled with large debt burdens. The same applies to local governments. At the same time the Commonwealth Government has been able to finance all its public works out of revenue. By this fiddle the Government has been able to finance much of its own activities. But I doubt whether the honourable member for Boothby knows about that. I think we have to throw off all the shackles of conservative thinking. This will be possible only under a progressive government, which I hope will take office after the next election.
I shall make a few general remarks about the income tax schedule which is being amended under one of the Bills which we are debating at the moment. The Government has alleged that it gives greatest help to those in greatest need. The Treasurer produced a table which showed that the largest percentage reduction in taxation accrues to those on the lowest income. Of course, if that were the end of the story that would be very laudable. However, that is not the end of the story. If we have a closer look at the papers which were issued by the Treasurer with the Budget we see that the absolute reduction in income tax is greatest for those with higher levels of income. The same applies to the table which was produced by Professor Hogan, who is-
– He is Professor of Economics at the University of Sydney.
– Thank you. Professor Hogan shows quite clearly that the most important parameter, namely the increase in after tax income, is greatest for those on the highest income. So, in this sense, this is a rich man’s Budget.
Tonight I want to make some constructive criticisms. I will come to them in a moment. I do not want to make endless carping criticisms. I will be the first to concede that some very valuable innovations are contained in the Budget that was brought down a couple of weeks ago. The Labor Party believes that a complete overhaul of the taxation schedule is necessary. As my colleague, the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean), has pointed out, we believe that the people on the national minimum wage or thereabouts should not be paying any taxation.
I want to deal mainly with the question of taxation concessional deductions. I know that this matter is fraught with danger because when my colleague the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, merely mentioned as an example the sort of inequities that were taking place with deductions for life insurance, the Treasurer tried to misrepresent his remarks by saying that he would cancel those concessional deductions should he become Treasurer of Australia. Similarly, I suppose, we all remember the Treasurer having his fingers burned earlier this year when he flew a kite about taxing families rather than individual units within a family.
I believe that concessional deductions are highly repressive and must be looked at in a completely different light. I have taken out some figures which have been derived from the taxation statistics of 1969-70. I refer, firstly, to the total amount of concessional deduction claimed by various income groups - from the group earning $417 to $599 a year all the way up to the $30,000 a year and over group. According to the statistics, the greater the income the greater the amount claimed in concessional deductions. It increases with the amount of income. In other words, there is a greater total for educational, health and insurance deductions and for land tax. council rates, water rates and so on. I will not seek to incorporate in Hansard the details because there are quite a number of figures and I want to get down to more detail. For example, in the lowest income range of $417 to $599 actual income per annum, the average amount claimed in concessional deductions per taxpayer is $15. In the group earning from $2,800 to $3,000 a year the total amount claimed is $563. Those in the $20,000 to $30,000 a year bracket claimed an average of $4,453 a year which is a mighty big amount. I suggest that there is a lot of inequity and that a lot of people are getting away with perks and lurks.
Regarding medical expenses, I have taken figures out in relation to the man who earns about $60 a week - that is the person in the income range of $2,800 to $3,000 per year. In this case the average deduction for each person in that bracket for medical expenses - that is, for claims for medical and hospital fund contributions, doctors’ bills and hospital bills minus Commonwealth and health fund benefits - is $113 a year. But in the $10,000 to $12,000 a year bracket the average deduction per taxpayer is $225 a year. In other words it is twice as much for the person on the lower income. 1: would seem, therefore, that the person on twice the income has twice the medical expenses. I suppose that that should mean that he is twice as healthy but, unfortunately with the medical system we have in Australia cost does not seem to be related to health or anything else. In fact, what these figures really show is that the person on a higher income can afford to go into a private ward of a hospital and pay a private specialist. I suppose we would not deny anybody the right to do that, but I wonder whether he should get this extra subsidy equivalent from the taxpayer for the right to do this.
If we go up into the very top income, bracket- that is, the $60,000 to $100,000 income bracket - we find that the average deduction foi medical expenses is $615 How can people in this bracket spend an average of $613? At that rate it sounds ti me as though everybody in that income range has had a heart transplant performed by a private surgeon, and 1 doubt whether that is the case. I think that in many cases the reason for this high figure might be that people in the higher income brackets declare, without having to substantiate it. a large amount for medical expenses ami they are not questioned by the Commissioner. 1 think this is something that could be looked at much more closely. However the position is even worse than that. I have said that the tax deduction from taxable income is twice as much for the person on $10,000 a year as it is for the person on $3,000 a year. If we look at the tax saving, the disparity is even more marked because the person on $2,800 to $3,000 a year claims a deduction of $113 and, at his marginal rate of tax, his tax saving is $24. For the person in the $10,000 to $12,000 a year bracket his $225 concessional deduction gives him a tax saving of $108. In other words, this is a subsidy from Com monwealth revenue which works out to b: 4 times as much for the person on the highe income. He receives 4 times as much from the Commonwealth government to go to a private doctor or a private ward as does the person on about $60 per week to go to a public ward or to be treated at a public hospital.
The same situation applies to educational expenses. The figures in relation to educational expenses are rather interesting because we find that there is a plateau as we go up the income range. Up to about the $4,000 a year range everybody claims between $72 and $82 per child per year. After that the rate starts to climb. I suspect the reason for that is that as people get out of the $5,000 a year bracket they tend more and more to send their children to fee paying schools and they spend more and more money on education. If we go back to our $60 per week man again, we find that he claims $79 per child per year, but the bloke on $10,000 to $12,000 a year claims $155 per child per year, which is almost twice as much. If we look at the tax saved, the person who claims a deduction of $79 from his taxable income at the lower level that I mentioned has a tax saving of $17, whereas the person on the higher income has a tax saving of $79, which is more than 4 times the tax saving of the person on the lower income. Frankly, I do not think it is politically possible for either the Australian Labor Party or the crowd opposite to do away with concessional deductions, but I do think it is possible to introduce some reform to bring about a greater degree of equity. I think what could be done is to allow a standard deduction which is something like the deduction given for dependants, except that it should be a flat deduction from tax payable.
If we look at the deductions for dependants, we find that the situation is a little fairer because everybody gets the same concessional deduction from taxable income. Everybody now can deduct $260 for the first child, irrespective of income. Unfortunately, the same inequalities arise because of the difference in the marginal rate of tax. The person with one child and earning $60 a week - that is, $2,800 to $3,000 a year - will receive a tax saving of $52. The man in the $10,000 to $12,000 a year range with one child will receive a tax saving of $125. Surely the fair thing would be to allow everybody the same deduction from tax payable, not only for dependants’ deductions but also for other things such as medical expenses, educational expenses, council rates, water rates and so on. 1 think that if this were done we would be able not only to get some equity into the system but also to obtain a certain amount of extra revenue which we could use for selective benefits.
Today I have received from the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) answers to questions which I placed on notice. I have not sought leave to have them incorporated in Hansard because they will be included in the answers to questions upon notice in today’s Hansard. But they point out the amount that could be saved under the type of arrangement that I have advocated. For instance, concessional deductions for children cost the revenue SI 70m a year. That estimate is based on income tax statistics for 1970-71 income year when the national minimum wage was $2,309 a year. At that marginal rate of tax concessional deductions represented a tax saving of $41.57 for the first child and $29.94 for subsequent children. What I am suggesting is that if this standard deduction from tax payable, at the marginal rate of tax for an income equal to the national minimum wage, had been allowed to everybody, it would have meant a saving to revenue of about $55m. If we applied the same principle to the wife’s allowance, if we gave everybody a standard deduction from tax payable, at the marginal rate of tax for an income equal to the national minimum wage, instead of allowing a deduction of $312 for a wife, it would mean a tax saving of about $70 for the wife. If everybody received a tax saving of about $70 for the wife, based on the figures for 1970-71, there would be a saving to revenue of $18m.
I suggest that if this saving to revenue could be made we could spend the money on providing selective benefits to those most in need of them. I think that the family area is the most critical area of need. We could make a payment to large families where mothers have young children and are unable to work. These mothers could be paid a small wage so that they could stay at home and look after their young children or, if they preferred, they could go out to work. We might be able to provide selective benefits to the low income families so that their children could be sent to proper child minding centres, not just somewhere where the children are plonked in front of a television set all day. I think that this would be a very good way in which to rectify these social inequalities.
The same thing could be done in the case of tax deductions from tax payable for local government water and sewerage rates. There could be a standard deduction. The answer which I received from the Treasurer shows that $21m could be saved to revenue in this way. We could spend that money on selective benefits. We might be able to give money to the poorer sections in the outer metropolitan areas which, as honourable members know, have rate problems, or we might be able to give money to low income families or to pensioners to help them to pay their rates. The same principle could apply to educational expenses. There would be a saving to revenue of $23m a year, which I think could be used to give selective benefits to government schools or to poor parish schools in special areas of need. I think that perhaps I had better conclude on that note as I do not have time to start on any new matter.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
Assent to the following Bills . reported:
Asian Development Bank (Additional Subscrip tion) Bill 1972.
Lighthouses Bill 1972.
Consular Privileges and Immunities Bill 1972.
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1972.
Excise Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1972.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 4) 1972.
Pay Roll Tax (Territories) Assessment Bill 1972.
Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill 1972.
Australian Capital Territory Stamp Duty Bill 1972.
Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Bill 1972. Victoria Grant (Millewa Pipelines) Bill 1972.
Minister for Immigration - Rifle Clubs - Immigration - Australian National Anthem - Film Industry - Oil Industry Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– -Last night in the House and for the past 2 weeks while I have been sitting here I have been subjected to a great deal of abuse and suggestions about my legitimacy by two or three members of the Liberal Party, I have had my office door in this building defaced by members of the Liberal Party.
– That is not true. It was done by members of your Party.
– I have had my office door defaced by members of the Government Parties. Last night during the course of the adjournment debate the honourable member for Chisholm (Mr Staley) entered the chamber and referred to me in a most disgusting way. I was spoken to by the Speaker for mentioning the word that the honourable member used, soI will not repeat it tonight. On leaving the chamber after a quorum was formed the Minister for the Navy (Dr Mackay) said: ‘You are an animal’. I serve notice on Government members that in this election year I will not respond to this filthy type of attack and to the defacing of my office door in this building. I will give them no electoral gain for their lousy, mean and miserable tactics.
I wish to speak on another matter tonight. lt concerns the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes). I understand that he was told that I intended to have a little chat about him tonight, but he is not in the chamber. The matter concerns a Press statement which I made initially about the use of VIP aircraft. Recently I was absent from the chamber because I had to return to Adelaide. I was only back in the building a few short moments when I received a telephone call asking me to go and see him. I thought that this request was rather odd. In Adelaide I ase the same lift in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices as the Minister does. He does not even grunt, let alone say ‘good day’. I went to his office here. He said: ‘A statement has been made by you across the nation’ - to use Al Grassby’s phrase - ‘and it could be damaging, lt could embarrass me. lt could be used against me electorally. How about making a low key statement in the House about this matter?’ I perceived that the honourable gentleman must have been perturbed about the position in his electorate. I gave no firm undertaking that I would make in the House a low key statement to protect the Minister. In the local Press in his electorate he attacked me quite viciously because I had raised the matter of the use of VIP aircraft. I said that there was a commercial flight available when he used the VIP aircraft. There were charter craft available. There would have been a considerable saving to the Commonwealth if he had used a commercial flight to perform the duty that he was supposed to perform.
I further checked information on the use of VIP aircraft by the Minister. I did that by perusing the papers that were tabled in the Senate last week. I find that he has had 13 flights. I find that on all occasions that he has used VIP aircraft when commercial flights would have been available. If he wants to have a further shot about what I had to say about him in that regard, all right. But he is worried about his elec torate. A letter appeared in one of the papers in his electorate recently. It was written by one of his constituents, a Sean Monahan. I will give a brief background of this fellow. After serving in the forces he was discharged. He was trained, under the ex-servicemen’s scholarship scheme as a secondary school teacher. He taught at the Marist Brothers College at Penshurst in New South Wales. He became a lay missionary, without pay, in PapUa New Guinea for a number of years. He taught at St Augustine’s Church, Brookvale, and at St Joseph’s’ Church, Ascotvale Since 1970 he has been at the Marist Brothers College at Mount Gambier. He has always taught under-privileged boys and girls whose parents cannot afford education fees. He gave them tuition after school and on Saturdays. He is an active member of the St Vincent de Paul Society. He is now an active member of the Prisoners Aid Society. He visits the Mount Gambier gaol and occasionally takes into his home men who are released from prison. He has a reference from every school at which he taught, with the exception of one. He directed quite an innocent letter to the local paper - the Naracoorte Herald’ - which appeared in that paper on 29th July 1972. In it he made some mild criticisms of his local federal member.
I come now to the point which caused me to rise to my feet. The honourable member is fearful of his electorate but he neglects the electorate. I have never heard him say in the House anything about the rural problems in his electorate. Not one word did he breathe about the wine growers in his electorate when that matter was before the House. He has never in any way in this House entered into debates on the wool crisis, a subject which of course concerns his electorate. He has never uttered a word about tourism in this House although he represents a South Australian electorate which has wide tourist appeal, with attractions such as Victor Harbour on the near South coast, the forests of the south east, the caves of the south east, and the Coorong, which is a unique tourist attraction. There has never been a word uttered on those subjects by the Minister. However, he has seen fit to have a letter directed to the person to whom I referred a moment ago.
– In the Press or privately?
– He is trying to scare and intimidate this man. The letter read:
We have been consulted by the Honourable A. J. Forbes, M.H.R., with reference to a letter published in the Naracoorte Herald of 3rd August 1972 over your signature.
The letter includes an allegation that at a dinner at Coonawarra ‘circa 1956’ our client said, ‘Friend, the Australian Government wants large landholders - not peasants’.
The inference obviously intended to be drawn is that Dr Forbes and the Party to which he belongs have little or no regard for the interests of small landholders and considers them to bc members of a servile class. In attributing such a statement to our client, your allegation is injurious to his character and reputation and reflects seriously upon his ability properly to fulfil the public office that he holds.
Our client emphatically denies that he made the statement you have attributed to him - on the occasion alleged or at any other time.
In the circumstances we have advised Dr Forbes that your allegation is libellous and defamatory, and as such would entitle him to recover substantial damages in an action against you.
This i addressed to the fellow I referred to as carrying out public duties within his electorate. The letter continues:
We are therefore instructed to demand from you a full and unqualified apology for and withdrawal of the imputations contained in the abovementioned passage of your letter, such apology to be approved by us-
That is the hierarchy of the legal fraternity, with whom the Minister is in cahoots: and published (at your cost) in the Naracoorte Herald’. Our client also requires payment of the legal costs he has incurred herein.
Failing receipt of your advice within fourteen days that you will sign such apology and pay such costs, our instructions are to commence proceedings against you without further notice.
BARNF1ELD, NOBBS & SOMERVILLE
This letter was written on behalf of the Minister for Immigration. What a way for him to treat one of his constituents. This is a contemptible action which has been taken by the Minister. What is more contemptible is that the Minister is attempting to silence this particular individual - his own constituent - and also intends to scare the newspaper from printing anything that this person or others may write, in the hope that he can tie the paper down during the course of the coming election campaign. If any honourable member opposite thinks that I have been unfair to the Minister let him stand up here tonight and say so, but I can draw no other possible conclusion because there have been letters to the editor of the newspaper since the last election and the Minister has not responded to them in any way. Of course, this is an unusual year. We are about to go to the people and the Minister feels that he should attempt to stifle people who write letters to the editor. This is not an uncommon practice in public life. However, it is a pretty contemptible practice. The actions of lawyers who write letters of this type to scare the hell out of people and to extract from them some form of payment seems to me almost to fall within the category of unprofessional conduct. Nevertheless it goes on within the profession and I do not suppose there is much we can do about it unless we embark on a policy of general law reform. I hope that the Minister will enter this debate tonight and inform the House that he will withdraw this intimidation against this particular person.
– I had intended to put a question to the Minister for the Army (Mr Katter) yesterday or today but as it was not my turn to get the call I was unable to do it. I would like to refer to that question now. The question would have read as follows: 1 am informed that there has been a sharp rise in the price of ammunition supplied by the Department of the Army to Victorian rifle clubs. As rifle clubs come under the administration of the Department of the Army and in this House, the Minister for the Army, I ask: Will the Minister make investigations with a view to reducing the price of this ammunition to a reasonable level?
I am sure the Minister will .know that nuclear means of warfare and long range guns have not made the rifle obsolete. I happen to be the President of the North Western Rifle Club Union in Victoria, lt comprises a fine body of men. Every Saturday they hold rifle shoots. It is pointed out to me by Mr Walter Chivell, who is a very prominent rifleman, that if the price goes up - it is about 8c a shot now which is too dear - it will become a rich man’s hobby and many of the smaller, weaker clubs will have to close.
Although we have nuclear warfare and that sort of thing now the rifle is not obsolete because once you are at war and you take a position, you have to hold it. Generally speaking, it is held by rifle fire. The riflemen move in. Rifle clubs were formed at the outset to train young men. to handle a rifle and to shoot accurately. After all, if a man is not trained he would not be very valuable in matters of defence. A lot of people say that there is no need to worry about defence because this country could not be invaded. They say that it could not happen here. Of course it could happen here. We should be ever ready to defend this nation, otherwise it is possible that it could fall to a foreign foe and we could be slaves to that foe in future years. So it is necessary that we keep the rifle clubs active. To the members it is a hobby or a sport, but they are also doing it for the nation because a rifle club with well trained men might be invaluable to this country at some time in the future. I ask the Minister to investigate the position with a view to having the price of ammunition for rifle clubs reduced to a reasonable level.
– I wish to refer tonight to a matter relating to the Department of Immigration. I informed the office of the Minister of Immigration (Dr Forbes) that I would be raising this matter and I had hoped that he would have been here. The matter concerns a constituent of mine, Mrs Larraine Carbonaro who has had her 18-months old son abducted and taken to Malta by her estranged husband. Her husband, who is a Maltese national, had been in Australia for 9 years. He married the girl 2 years ago but they separated by mutual consent. They had a child during the period of the marriage and the child was 18 months old as at last May when he was abducted. The father visited the child regularly and returned it early in the evenings. On 31st May this year he collected the child as normal but, unbeknown to the mother, he took the child on a Qantas flight on Maltese passport No. A 12999 and flew to Malta.
He was able to do this because the child was endorsed on his Maltese passport. I telephoned the Maltese High Commission, and the passport officer told me that it is within the provisions of Maltese law that a father can endorse his son on his own passport without the mother’s consent. We have permitted a Maltese national to abduct an Australian child with impunity. The child was not subject to any court order in Australia but, had it been, our court order would have been nullified in deference to the immigration laws of another country. I think this is a hopeless position. I have spoken to officers of the Department of Immigration and they have informed me, rightly or wrongly, that the Department has no responsibility in this matter. Had the father been travelling on an Australian passport the Department would have accepted some responsibility, but, according to the officers to whom I spoke, because he was travelling on a Maltese passport the Department had no responsibility. Because of this we have the situation where an Australian child, born to an Australian mother, was taken from Australia on a Maltese passport, without her consent, and she is left in Australia with her 18-month old child in Malta. I do not know the provisions of the immigration law relative to this matter, but I should not think they would be so loose as to allow that situation to occur. If they are not so loose as that, the Commonwealth has acted at least negligently in permitting the child to be taken from Australia.
In any. judicial separation or divorce proceedings custody is always given to the mother. Even in many cases where the mother has been a woman of ill fame the court still has given custody of the child to the mother. But we find in this case, regardless of the mother’s character, the child has been taken from the country. I ask the Minister to investigate this matter and take whatever steps are necessary to have Mrs Carbonaro flown to Malta at the Commonwealth’s expense and to provide her with legal assistance to enable her to secure a court order in that country for the custody of the child so that she may bring him back to Australia. I suggest that this should be done at the Commonwealth’s expense. If the Australian immigration laws have no provision which will prevent a Maltese national registering a child on his passport without the permission of his wife or the child’s mother, that loophole should be closed. Otherwise any Maltese who took a liking to an Australian child could falsify documents to prove that it was his own child, go to the Maltese High Commission and have the child’s name endorsed on his passport, and take him from Australia with impunity. If this is how our immigration laws stand at the moment they contain a serious loophole which should be closed. I ask the Minister to act in this case as quickly as he can. If he requires further information on the matter I shall be very glad to supply it to him.
– I assure the honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull) that I shall most certainly take up on his behalf the supply and price of ammunition. I should point out to the honourable member that these matters do not come within my responsibility as Minister for the Army but are more matters for the Minister for Supply (Mr Garland). Nevertheless I shall have great pleasure in passing this information to the Minister. I agree entirely with the honourable member’s comments, particularly in regard to the value of rifle clubs. I think honourable members will agree that not only do the rifle clubs throughout Australia do a wonderful job but also they attract a splendid type of fellow into their ranks.
– The majority of Australians favour their country having a distinctive Australian national anthem. The majority of Australian athletes competing on behalf of their country at the Olympic Games in Munich are embarrassed that they are reduced to the colonial status of Southern Rhodesia because of the absence of a distinctive national song. I was asked by some Australian athletes who represented our country at the Games in Mexico to press for Australia to have its own distinctive anthem. We have failed them in not ensur ing that their victories are properly recognised as Australian triumphs by Australian men and woman. This failure occurs every time we take the international arena. I well recall the Australian Lionel Rose taking the ring in Japan in a world championship fight. 1 remember the embarrassment and resentment among Australians that Australia could not even honour the event and honour Lionel Rose with a song of his own country. If we were resentful and embarrassed, 1 can tell you that the Japanese were confused. It is little wonder that we are called the last of the colonies. It is little wonder that some Indonesian school books I have seen describe the political structure of Australia as being headed by the British High Commissioner. Yet the
Prime Minister of Australia in 1972 (Mr McMahon) said this morning that the majority of Australians favoured having no Australian anthem.
Further the Prime Minister of Australia attacked my friend and colleague, the honourable member for St George (Mr Morrison), and reflected on his loyalty to Australia and our national spirit. It is incredible that the Australian Prime Minister in 1972 should give a reply so out of keeping with national sentiment. I draw a parallel with the reply by one of his predecessors, Prime Minister Stanley Melbourne Bruce. In answer to a question which appears in volume 120 of Hansard reporting the debates of 6th February 1929 to 22nd March 1929 at page 1096- just in case you wish to refer to it, Mr Speaker - he said:
I am not prepared to suggest to the people of Australia that they should substitute for the present national anthem any other composition although I entirely agree the ‘Song of Australia’ may be suitably sung on Australian occasions.
We had the spectacle of an Australian Prime Minister 43 years later being even more conservative, even more colonial and even more rejecting of any recognition of Australian sentiment.
– Lord Bruce lost his seat too.
– Quite right. I seem to recall that Prime Minister Bruce went to his reward when he lost the general election, lost his seat and left his country never to reside here again.
– The same thing will happen to the present Prime Minister.
– Whatever events lie in store for the present Prime Minister he should be reminded that he is completely out of touch with Australian national sentiment. A survey carried out in August last year disclosed that 90 per cent of the people of New South Wales. Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia shared the view that we should have an Australian anthem. Two years earlier a gallup poll on the subject showed 51 per cent- even in 1969 - favoured an Australian anthem and this was a remarkable 13 per cent increase since 1965. The onward march of Australian national sentiment in clearly established. Yet the Prime Minister today denied this and indicated it was disloyal to favour the expression of an Australian sentiment. He failed to tell us disloyal to what - perhaps to the colonial past.
I want to direct further attention to just how much out of touch with the country the Prime Minister really is on this matter, and I am indebted to my friend the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) who pointed out that at the 19th annual convention of Australian Lions, embracing 800 clubs and 32,000 members throughout Australia, it was decided to recommend to the national Government that a new national anthem be adopted. They happened to recommend ‘Song of Australia’ which is already played, I understand, as a national anthem at many functions in South Australia. This bid for a new national anthem has been supported in writing to the national chairman of Lions by professional musicians, music teachers associations, brass band associations, many local government bodies, the Country Women’s Association, the Methodist Church, the Catholic Church through its spokesman and the Anglican Church through Bishop Reed of Adelaide. They have all written to the national chairman of Lions, R. A. V. Wallace, who has circulated the music and history of the song which the Lions have recommended as the new national anthem. I think it is incredible that the Prime Minister should describe all these people in Lions - and 90 per cent of the population - as disloyal. I discovered this afternoon that the Prime Minister himself is an honorary Lion. I would think that as an honorary Lion if he really feels that the Lions are disloyal because of their attachment to Australian sentiment I think he would either want to cease to be an honorary Lion or perhaps he would like to participate fully in the spirit of Lionism recant the statement that he made this morning and so stand with other Australian Lions.
At this convention, at which he was present, the Prime Minister was warmly welcomed as the Prime Minister and as the head of the government of this nation and even after this incredible resolution, according to the Prime Minister, was passed he had his picture taken with Lions delegates and stood with them proudly as an honorary Lion.
– He was not in Tasmania when the motion was moved against him down there.
– Actually I am not sure just where in his capacity as an honorary Lion he roars. He may not have roared in Tasmania but he certainly purred happily at the national Lions conference.
– He says he is a ‘dandy Lion’.
– Well, that is a very interesting observation. I want to draw attention to the fact that as long ago as 1929 the national Rotary convention held that year began with a distinctive national anthem. So, the Rotarians stand wilh the march of national sentiment, and, in fact, did so in 1929, as the Prime Minister will remember. Forty-three years later the nation is still struggling to emerge from its colonial trappings that embarrass us so much at home and abroad. I certainly join with the great majority of Australians and ask Mr Bruce’s successor to listen to the voice of the nation on this matter arid to issue immediate instructions that Australian victories at Munich be saluted by a distinctive Australian anthem.
– It’s time.
– It is time that we came of age and displayed our modest maturity. I will never apologise - I am sure that you would not do so, Mr Speaker - for either the sentiment or the expression ‘Advance Australia Fair’.
– I will detain the House only briefly. There are 2 matters with which I wish to deal. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) raised a case. Unfortunately, I was not able to be present to hear the early part of what he had to say about this case. I heard the latter part of it. It is a rather complicated story. I sympathise with the position of the people concerned. All I would like to say is that I will study the Hansard report of his speech carefully and give him full advice on the situation.
I am told that earlier the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) chose to launch a personal attack on me. It is not my policy to answer personal attacks. I will content myself with saying this: The honourable gentleman referred to the fact that I asked him to come down to my office. He chose publicly to interpret this as my being fearful of my electoral prospects and trying to buy him off. I would like to make it quite clear that that is not so. As I made clear to him at the time. I asked him to come down to my office because 1 wanted to give him a little fatherly advice - not fatherly in the sense that 1 regard myself as being older than the honourable gentleman because 1 think that he is older than I am, but fatherly in the sense in which we talk about it in this House, namely, that T have been a member of this House for very much longer than he has. What I wanted to suggest to him in the most considerate terms was that, if he continued in the way he was going, in many respects he would find himself emulating the ex-member for Adelaide, Mr Andrew Jones, and that he would suffer the fate of Andrew Jones. Andrew Jones, for all his good qualities - that applies also to the honourable member for Sturt - in many ways pursued the same sort of course as the honourable gentleman. The electorate took care of Mr Jones in the same way as, after listening to the honourable member tonight, 1 am sure it will take care of him.
– lt seems opportune tonight to discuss the Australian Film Development Corporation. It is a few years since this Corporation was formed. Accordingly, the time would be right to make some sort of review of its progress to date. The Minister responsible for the Corporation - the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) - might care to claim that the Corporation’s role has consisted primarily of creating a climate of stability and confidence in the Australian feature film industry, encouraging private investors to join in the development of that industry, and so on. That is the sort of usual grand and somewhat embellished claim that Ministers are wont to make when they are promoting a particular area of responsibility. In fact a number of independent producers have approached the Corporation with some or part backing from the private sector of the economy and this body has declined to invest in their productions. In fact the Corporation has invested in only 2 35 millimetre feature films before production. It has invested in or made loans for a number of 16 millimetre low budget features after these films had begun production. One of the 2 35 millimetre productions, ‘Sunstruck’, which had an investment of SI 00,000, was written, directed and photographed by English personnel. For the other, ‘The Adventures of Barry McKenzie’, the Corporation footed the entire cash budget of $250,000 after a private investor, who had been lined up by the executive, pulled out. This film was shot almost entirely in Britain and employed a British, not an Australian, crew except for cameramen and the production manager.
It can be argued that the Australian Film Development Corporation may only help a future and potential film industry by insisting that projects in which it is involved employ Australians in the key command and creative positions. It has been suggested to me that a number of scandals surround some of the television series and documentary projects. Four projects which ,ire listed in the yet to be presented annual report - ‘Night of Fear, ‘Devlin’, ‘Origins of the Polynesian People’ and ‘Prelude’ - representing the investment, not loans, of $51,000, are in fact co-productions with Australian Broadcasting Commission ‘e’evision. They are listed as having been submitted by independent producers, which is technically true, but in fact they are being produced in conjunction with the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The latter pays for what is called the below-the-line costs - the costs for technicians, faciliti rs, transport, etc. in return for Australian television rights while the producer - the ABC controls the actual content of the programme - pays for the writing, the actors and other incidental cash costs. He then has to rely on an overseas sale for his - that is the Australian Film Development Corporation’s - return. Often his contract states that the ABC is the agent for overseas sale. As has been pointed out to me, this is a sort of ‘Catch 22’ situation.
It should be remembered that the General Manager of the ABC, Mr Duckmanton, is a member of the Australian Film Development Corporation Board. The question immediately arises in one’s mind: Does Mr Duckmanton leave the board room when ABC co-productions are considered? I am assured that the answer is no. The next question is: Does he support and vote on ABC co-productions? I am assured that the answer is yes. Of the $136,673 committed for investment or loan at June 30th at least $72,000 is earmarked for an ABC co-production, ‘Seven Little Australians’. The head of the production company, Ethel Turner Productions, Judge Sir Adrian Curlewis, is not, I believe, a writer, producer or director and it seems pretty clear that the Australian Broadcasting Commission drama department will be handling this project.
The Geelong Grammar club atmosphere in which decisions are reached is distressing to those in this industry. The executive officer, V. T. Stacey, has continually recommended that the application for funds for the ‘Boney’ series, now on television in all States, should be rejected on the grounds that an overseas sale was not secure and the budgets of about $65,000 per episode were padded. He was overruled and a second series of 13 episodes is being supported by the Australian Film Development Corporation after it had initially knocked the series back. The producers are John Mccallum and Bob Austin. Did they see the Australian Film Development Corporation Chairman, John Darling, titular head of the merchant bank, Darling and Co., socially and put the hard word on him? Has the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) been hovering around in the background on this one too?
It is reported that the Minister is pushing quite madly the ballet film ‘Don Quixote’ wilh Helpmann and Nureyev and others initially budgeted at $650,000 with overseas cameramen and entourage. This is supposed to be a meeting of high culture and commerce. Many in the industry feel that the popular culture could have a lot more to offer. Hector Crawford, another mate of the Minister, received over $200,000 for Homicide’ and ‘Ryan’ a new cops and robbers series, in July. It seems that if the money is to be used on capital expenditure surely Mr Crawford should be raising this money from a trading bank if he has such a successful business. I am not suggesting that the Australian Film Development Corporation should not have received $950,000 from this Budget, but either now or when the annual report is presented there should be some attempt at reform of this establishment institution.
– Mr Speaker, it has been my practice as a Minister to refrain from speaking on the adjournment debate but on this occasion I am moved to refer to the charges made by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) last evening on the administration of the indigenous oil. policy - charges which should not be allowed to go unchallenged because they are on record and, if they are unchallenged, they might be believed by default. However, in replying to the charges I am inhibited in replying in detail to the accusations made by the honourable member because of the rather delicate stage that has been reached in the pertinent negotiations between the companies. The honourable member alleged that all major oil companies and refiners in Australia including Ampol and H. C. Sleigh, are acting in collusion with this Government to squeeze the 2 small Melbourne-based independent marketers out of existence on the grounds that the Government parties receive thousands of dollars for election purposes from the international oil cartel. He went on to attack me personally and the only interpretation which could be drawn was that I am personally guilty of conniving in an exploitation by the major refiners of these 2 small independent companies.
The name of the honourable member’s game is politics, and the way he has played it since he was elected to this House has been to sprinkle all of his speeches - perhaps ‘litter’ would be a better word - with personal venom against individuals on this side of the House. It is a practice which 1 personally abhor. But as his own Leader said on television last night, politicians must be prepared to have such allegations thrust at them. However, this honourable member went further. He included in his attack, by inference - indeed almost explicitly - the dedicated officers of the Department of Customs and Excise and brought their integrity into question. The honourable member said he was speaking quite bluntly. Let me be equally blunt with him. His speech consisted of a collection of scurrilous, unwarranted and unjustified allegations devoid of truth. He said: ‘1 wish I had time to give the facts.’ Mr Speaker, he did have time, but he chose not to give the facts. Instead, he launched into one of the most irrational attacks I have heard in this House. As I said before, it is inopportune for me to debate the charges in detail tonight because 1 am not prepared to prejudice the outcome of current negotiations being conducted between the refiners and the independents, which have reached a delicate stage. However, there are some points which the honourable member would be well advised to study in order that his next contribution to an adjournment debate will be more factual and more honest than his last.
The honourable member alleges that as a result of the Government’s actions the price of petrol in our community is 2c to 3c a gallon more than it need be. The facts are that the retail price of petrol is set by a Labor Government in South Australia, his home State, through the operations of the Prices Commissioner of South Australia. The honourable member seems to applaud price cutting wars and the importation of petrol in job lots from overseas. This attitude has a certain superficial appeal. This Government is certainly not against petro) being sold at the lowest possible price. The honourable member was rightly concerned for the little bloke, as he called him; the small independent marketers. So are we. However, has he given any thought to those other little blokes - the hard working proprietors of petrol stations whose livelihood can be devastated by irrational price cutting wars. The Government is most concerned for the thousands of people employed in this country in the refining and distribution of petroleum products. There are 4,000 workers employed in refining and 25,000 employed in marketing and distribution.
– This is completely irrelevant.
– Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Kingston cease interjecting. The honourable member for Adelaide already has interjected 3 or 4 times and I suggest that he desist also.
– These people depend for their security and welfare on the Australian refining industry and the enormous capital investment tied up in that industry. The honourable member further accused this Government of doing nothing effective in what he describes as an iniquitous situation. It should not be necessary to outline again to this House the Government’s indigenous oil policy. Briefly, however, I point out that first, the Government has, by all the means within its power, encouraged the search for oil in this country. When oil was found it further ensured that the maximum benefit to Australian citizens was given by requiring all of it - as far as is practicable - to be refined in this country.
Mr Speaker, 1 point out that Australian crude oil is being sold at a reasonably attractive price, but if I understand correctly the intentions of some members of the Opposition - and I refer the House to a speech by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) as reported in Hansard at page 1778, 19th April 1972 - they would prefer to see this price increased immediately, with a resultant increase in the price of petrol to the consumer. The honourable member for Adelaide did not refer to that last night. The Government has not ignored the position of those marketers who do not own a refinery. In order to ensure fair play it appointed Sir Leslie Melville as an independent arbiter to recommend fair refining prices for the independent marketers. This report was tabled in October 1971. As a result protracted negotiations have been conducted and, I hope, will shortly be resolved. I might add here that my officers and I have bent over backwards in an effort to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion satisfactory to all parties concerned. As 1 said earlier I do not propose to prejudice these negotiations by pointing out in detail the inaccuracies in the speech made by the honourable member for Adelaide. When the negotiations have been completed I certainly will be making a full report to the Parliament. It is enough, however, to say now that the Government will see that both parties in these negotiations play fairly. Neither one side nor the other will be given any advantage. Mr Speaker, the responsibility to ensure fair play falls primarily upon my shoulders, and that responsibility I will discharge regardless of any further scurrilous attacks made upon either myself personally or officers of ray Department.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I realise that I am prevented from replying to what the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) said because he moved the motion for the adjournment of the House. I consider that he made a scurrilous attack in an irrelevant speech. I think that I can say in a personal explanation that last night I made 3 charges in relation to this matter and none of the 3 charges was referred to by the Minister. The first was that-
– I rise to a point of order. Will the honourable member state where he was personally misrepresented by me?
– The honourable member for Adelaide will not debate what he said last night. He will only show where he has been personally misrepresented by the Minister tonight.
– The whole speech was a misrepresentation because it did not answer the 3 main points that I brought forward in my speech last night on the motion for the adjournment. The only way that I could answer it in full would be by repeating those 3 points in order to remind the Minister and to show how irrelevant he was in his speech. I realise that that course is not open to me under the Standing Orders but I will take another opportunity to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.49 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance
Unemployment: Reimbursement of Fares
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Qantas Airways: Representatives’ Visits to People’s Republic of China (Question No. 4666)
asked the Minister for
Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
Did the Government of the day advise against the visit which Messrs C. O. Turner, C. E. Oliver and N. R. Moon proposed to make to China on behalf of Qantas in 1965 (Hansard, 13th October 1971, page 2339 and 3 November 1971, page 2996).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Government consults constantly and informally with Qantas, as Australia’s designated international airline and as a company in which the Government is sole shareholder, in the formulation and implementation of policies related to international civil aviation. It would not serve any useful purpose in present circumstances to isolate particular aspects of discussions that took place with Qantas in 1965.
United Nations Fund for Population Activities (Question No. 5306)
asked the Minister for Foreign
Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Human Rights Conventions (Question No.5505)
asked the Minister for
Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Nos 87 and 98 - All States having agreed to ratification, the question of Australian ratification is under active consideration.
No. 100 - The position remains that no State has agreed to ratification.
No.111 - The position remains that one State has agreed to ratification. The Department of Labour and National Service is currently awaiting advice from the International Labour Office to determine precisely what action this Convention may require in the Australian context.
Non-Government Schools (Question No. 5783)
asked the Minister for
Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
This figure represents a minor statistical discrepancy between figures in the first column which were compiled from survey returns and figures in the final column which were compiled by the Commonwealth Statistician from school census returns.
asked the Minister for Exter nal Territories, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
However, having regard to the staff resources available to the Norfolk Island Administration, it would not be practicable to extract the information on record at the Companies Registration Office in respect of l*ie 1,556 companies that were registered there as at 30th June 1972 without the engagement of additional personnel. I have given careful consideration to the matter but am unable to see that the engagement of additional staff for such a purpose would be warranted, particularly in the light of the Government’s recent announcement concerning the introduction of legislation designed to put a stop to Norfolk Island being used as a tax haven for the avoidance of income tax.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Will he extend Table 36 (Value of Minerals Produced and State Government Collections df Royalties; 1966-67 to 1970-71) in the Treasury Economic Paper No. 1 - Overseas Investment in Australia, by supplying similar information for the Northern Territory.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Drugs (Question No. 5996)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
Can he supply figures showing at least approximate estimates of the number of people in Australia who are addicted (psychlogically or physically dependent) to:
– The answer to the honourable members question is as follows:
The National Standing Control Committee on Drugs of Dependence has long recognised the deficiencies in this area, and is currently taking steps to improve the methods of collecting and collating statistics of drug dependent persons on a uniform basis throughout Australia. At the Ministerial Conference on Drug Abuse held in Adelaide on 11th August 1972 arrangements were finalised for a trial to be conducted by the Victorian Government on methods of collecting and unifying statistics of dependency.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
What has been the date and outcome of the meetings of Ministers of Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom as envisaged in the communique issued in London on 16th April 1971.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Since the entry into force of the Five Power Arrangements on 1st November 1971. there has been no occasion to request the convening of a Five Power meeting at Ministerial level.
asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
When does he expect to make his announcement on the establishment of an Australian Shipping Register (Hansard, 16th September 1971, page 1516 and 21st March 1972, page 951).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Whilst further progress has been made towards the preparation of the complex new legislation that will be necessary for the establishment of an Australian shipping register, I am not yet in a position to make an announcement about the introduction of the necessary bilL
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
How many defence personnel were carried on charter flights by Qantas in its financial year ended March 1972 (Hansard, 23rd February 1972, page 190).
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Defence personnel carried on charter flights by Qantas during the year ended March 1972: 15,940.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The tax saving in respect of the 1970-71 income year resulting from a deduction of S208 to a taxpayer earning an annual income equivalent to the national minimum wage (assuming that he had no other deductions) amounted to $41.57. The further tax saving to the taxpayer resulting from an additional deduction of $156 amounted to $29.94. Assuming that all taxpayers who were allowed concessional deductions of any amount in respect of dependent children under 16 years of age for the 1970-71 income year had been allowed a standard reduction in tax payable of $41.57 for each first child under 16 years of age and $29.94 for each other child under 16 years of age, the revenue loss would have been approximately $II5m
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
For taxable individuals with annual incomes equivalent to the national minimum wage or less in 1970-71 the average concessional deduction allowed for education expenses, in respect of taxpayers who were allowed such deductions, was $115 per taxpayer.
The tax saving in respect of the 1970-71 income year restilting from a deduction of $115 to a taxpayer earning an annual income equivalent to the national minimum wage (assuming that he had no other deductions) amounted to $22.98. The loss to revenue that would have resulted from allowing taxpayers a standard reduction in tax payable, equal to $22.89 per dependant for whom concessional deductions of any amount for education expenses were allowed, is estimated at S60m for the 1970-71 income year.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows-
For taxable individuals with annual incomes equivalent to the national minimum wage or less in 1970-71, the average income tax deduction for local government, water and sewerage rates on non-income-producing property per taxpayer paying such rates was approximately $100.
The tax saving in respect of the 1970-71 income year resulting from a deduction of $100 allowed to a taxpayer earning an annual income equivalent to the national minimum wage (assuming that he had no other deductions) amounted to $19.98. The loss to revenue that would have resulted from allowing taxpayers a standard reduction in tax payable equal to $19.98 for each taxpayer who was allowed deductions of any amount for such rates is estimated at $43m for the 1970-71 income year.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The lax saving in respect of the 1970-71 income year resulting from a deduction of $312 to a taxpayer earning an annual income equivalent to the national minimum wage (assuming that he dad no other deductions) amounted to $62.29. Assuming that each taxpayer who was allowed a concessional deduction of any amount in respect of the maintenance of a wife for the 1970-71 income year bars been allowed a. standard reduction in tax payable of $62.29 in respect of bis wife, the revenue loss would have been approximately $104m.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
When did he receive or does he expect to receive the report and recommendation which the Australian Broadcasting Control Board had to make to him as soon as possible after the conclusion of the inquiry which he directed it to hold (Hansard, 14th May 1970, page 2130) into the desirability or otherwise of introducing frequency modulation.
– The answer to the honourable members question is as follows:
The Board submitted its report to me on 7th July, 1972.
asked the Minister for the Environment. Aborigines and the Arts, upon notice:
– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 31 August 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720831_reps_27_hor79/>.