28th Parliament · 1st Session
The SPEAKER (Hon. J. F. Cope) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The Right Honourable A. A. Calwell
– I move:
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death on 8 July1973 of Arthur Augustus Calwell, a member of Her Majesty’s Privy Council, a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great, a member of this House for the division of Melbourne from 1940 to 1972, a Minister of the Crown from 1943 to 1949, Deputy Leader of the Opposition from 195 1 to 1960 and Leader of the Opposition from 1960 to 1967, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement
From the day he entered this House 33 years ago the right honourable Arthur Augustus Calwell was one of its significant members. He came here a fully-fledged politician. His political apprenticeship had been served in the rather more turbulent councils of the Australian Labor Party organisation. The moment he entered this place he was a formidable political figure with whom the leaders of all parties, not least his own, had to reckon. That remained true to the end.
There has been a remarkable unanimity among the tributes which have been paid to him by his colleagues, his friends, his opponents and the Press. All have very properly singled out his pioneering of the post-war immigration program as his most important and enduring achievement. It remains his monument, not so much because of the actual content of the program he himself administered but because of his seminal role in overcoming physical difficulties and sectional prejudices in establishing any post-war program at all. Sir Robert Menzies, in his tribute, has perceived that only somebody with Arthur Calwell ‘s credit and credentials in the Labor movement of that time could have carried this out. I might here express on behalf of my colleagues our deep appreciation of Sir Robert’s poignant and graceful gesture in saluting his old friend and adversary at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral last month.
Tributes to Arthur Calwell have also emphasised the 3 commanding influences and attachments in his life- his country, his party, his church. His was a singularly simple but fierce brand of Australianism. In a very basic, uncomplicated way, he was a nationalist and a patriot. His relations with his Party and his church were far more complex, as complex indeed as the relations between the Australian Labor Party and the Catholic Church were in his time. Consequently the traumatic events of the early 1950s left him, as they did so many who shared his loyalties, deeply and permanently wounded.
In sheer political terms his outstanding achievement was the great electoral triumph, the near victory, of 1961. What might have happened but for the survival of our friend from Moreton remains one of the tantalising ‘mighthavebeens’ in our history. That achievement of 1 96 1 was a very personal one and the subsequent failure of the 1963 election to redeem our great hopes fell as a very bitter blow upon him. His closest associates feel that, remarkably resilient a man as he was, that blow- a series of blows really, beginning with the assassination of John F. Kennedy a week before the elections- left him permanently depleted.
I have mentioned his instinctive Australianism. It should not be forgotten that he was also a political and constitutional nationalist. Along with his unrelenting opposition to conscription, carried on over a period of 50 years, this was a grand consistent theme of his career. He had scant respect, he had a just contempt, for the pretensions of State governments and the Senate. He saw both as obsolete obstructions to his vision for an Australia united for the welfare of all Australians wherever they may live or wherever they were bom.
He was an Australian citizen; he was a man very much of a particular city, the city of Melbourne. He took a particular pride in bearing that title ‘Member for Melbourne’. His desire to represent that city, to bear that title, as only its third representative since Federation, was part of the reason for his comparative lateness in entering this House.. It is possible to see in retrospect that the delay played a part in ultimately depriving him of the highest position. He was the Member for Melbourne and a man of Melbourne, the inner Melbourne in which he was born, in which he served his political apprenticeship, which he represented for so long in this Parliament, whose people paid him such singular tribute in its Cathedral and in its streets last month, the Melbourne where he now lies.
Among the great influences in his life, one should not ignore his special sense of family. As husband and father he suffered very terrible losses and as a man with a genuine dynastic sense, the tragedy of the death of his only son, Arthur, was deep and enduring in its intensity.
There is one other profound key to his character. He was Australian, he was Labor, he was Catholic, but he was also a Celt, not just Irish but a Celt. I shall quote something written 100 years ago about the archetype of great Celt parliamentarians:
He was a thorough Celt. He represented all the impulsiveness, the quick-changing emphasis, the passionate, exaggerated loves and animosities, the hyperbole of statement, the preference for impressions and intuition rather than cold facts, the ebullient humour- all the other qualities that are especially characteristic of the Celt As an orator of a popular Assembly, as the orator at a mass meeting, he had few equals in this country. He had many of the physical endowments that are especially favourable to success in such a sphere.
Those words were written of the great Daniel O ‘Connell whose statue stands, solitarily and . symbolically, outside St Patrick’s.
Our late colleague would not, I think, have resented the comparison or resisted the conclusions we may draw about the causes of the failures as well as the triumphs of his long and remarkable career, the flaws as well as the great qualities of this remarkable Australian.
I have much pleasure in seconding the motion moved by- the Prime Minister for it is a motion dealing with a man for whom those who served with him have a very special regard. Eight months ago many of us farewelled Arthur Calwell from this House. We thanked him for his contribution- one that ranged over 32 unbroken years. We wished him well in retirement, but he was not to enjoy a long retirement. Arthur Calwell last spoke from the floor of this House on 26 October 1972. He spoke twice on that day. Both times he typified the man and his philosophy. In the morning he asked his last question without notice of the former Prime Minister. He sought an expression of the chance for lasting peace in Indo-China. Peace, particularly peace in IndoChina, was a goal he pursued with unfailing determination. Arthur Calwell gave his valedictory late that night. He spoke briefly- perhaps for 10 minutes- but the speech revealed as much about the man as anything else. He saw his life in this way:
In all the time that I have been privileged to serve I have done my best. No man can say more. I have had my failures; I have had my successes; I have had a lot of disappointments.
Many words have been spoken about Arthur Calwell since his death. Everyone has recognised the significant contribution of his service to the nation. Arthur Calwell was, above all, a man of the people. He identified with and was concerned with the underprivileged. Concern for the little man was a strong motivating force for him. It was the basis of his personal philosophy and it was his humanity which characterised his policy ambitions and personal relationships.
On 20 November 1940 his speech in this chamber was an obituary. He spoke of his affection for Dr Maloney who had held the seat of Melbourne for many years before him. Arthur Calwell spoke in these terms of the funeral service with which Dr Maloney was honoured:
The people were drawn from the ranks of the very humble, the sustenance workers, the invalid and old age pensioners and many others who had cause to remember urn during his lifetimenot merely because he was a good friend but also because he was a devoted servant of all of them.
Several thousand people attended the service given to Arthur Calwell- one of the most impressive services ever held in Australia’s history. They, too, came from every sector of the community. Many of them had the same feeling for Arthur Calwell as he had described about Dr Maloney. I am grateful to the Prime Minister for making a point of mentioning the presence there of Sir Robert Menzies, Arthur Calwell ‘s old political foe.
Arthur Calwell ‘s concern for the interest of people made him an extremely popular man in his electorate. To be offensive to ‘Cocky’ in a North Melbourne pub was really to ask for trouble. His warm humanity is remembered today not only by those in this chamber but by everyone at Parliament House- the staff of both the House and Senate departments, officers of the Parliamentary Library and house attendants who have lasting memories of a man who was kind and generous to them. Arthur Calwell was also a man of crusades. He was passionate when he believed something strongly. I have referred to his dedication to peace in Indo-China. Associated with that, in his mind, was the issue of conscription. He had a deep concern for welfare, equality and the rights of individuals and he had a great vision of Australia.
Unquestionably, his greatest mark on today’s Australia is the immigration program he pioneered. In his very first speech he spoke of the need to populate Australia. He fostered his idea of a big and growing Australia at a time when it met with much opposition. We hear echoes of that opposition today. But he was undaunted. He fought hard for his belief, and he won. Much of Australia’s growth and development, its cultural diversity and its uniqueness that this generation enjoys and succeeding ones will enjoy is due to the insight and intelligence Arthur Calwell displayed. He spent 4 years as Australia’s first Immigration Minister and established a program which succeeding Ministers have been proud to continue. That single contribution alone has placed him as a great Australian.
Arthur Calwell ‘s regard for Parliament, the institution and its functions, never faltered. He left the Parliament still wishing to see the institution have great eminence. In his final words in the House he again expressed his respect for Parliament in these terms: … the supreme elective body in the whole nation. Arthur Calwell was always a tough man, a rugged man and a strong man. He spoke with frankness and expected the same in return. He was a man for a fierce fight, who rarely backed down or sought the easy compromise. In 1966 he survived the only assassination attempt on an Australian politician. That was in mid-campaign, and with typical Calwell courage he refused to accept it as a set-back and went on, as he himself put it, determined to have his turn at being Prime Minister. He had a sharply honed sense of humor which he often employed as a savage political weapon. I need not remind those sitting here of his wit, but I give just one example. Just recently, after 30 years in the Parliament, he said this of a senior politician:
Whenever I look at him -
I interpolate to protect the innocent- on television I look at an animated toad that croaks like a frog.
On the Speaker’s calling him to order he replied with typical Calwell panache:
I am sorry, Sir. Have I offended?
He was a man who gave criticism readily and often throughout his political career. Perhaps he was always aware that he would do so, because he made the following remarks in his early parliamentary days as though to apologise for all that would follow:
I bear no malice towards honourable members oppositeany criticism offered is purely impersonal. I hope they will bear with me as I bear with them. In the spirit of scriptural injunction I suffer them gladly.
Arthur Calwell was eminently Australian, a basic down-to-earth Australian. He was fond of referring to his horny hands and his sweat. Although he was brought into the palaces of the rich and famous he was never affected or over-impressed. He would have brought a humble and common touch to the great office of Prime Minister. He achieved elitism and yet he had a great dignity. Although he was being jocular when he made it there was a lot of truth in his claim that his face had its own rugged grandeur. Perhaps the best summary of his life was given by himself. He was a man who knew his failures and was ready to admit them even if with tongue in cheek. He told the House last year.
I have not always been as kind and as generous as I should have been. I consider that half of the problems and difficulties I have met in life I created for myself. I do not think I should make any further concession to my political opponents and my critics than that. I will settle for half.
He was not to enjoy the rest he had earned. To his wife and daughter I offer the deepest sympathy of my Party. Only they know the sacrifices he made to fulfil his commitment to Parliament, to his Party and to his electorate. They have now been robbed of the opportunity of enjoying some quieter hours with him. We deeply regret their loss. The nation owes much to the sacrifices they have made so that it could gain. Last year Arthur Calwell said:
I have a record of which I am very proud.
This House will agree that it is a record of which Australia is proud and for which it must be thankful. History will now honour that record.
– I join the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the very fine tribute they have paid to our late beloved colleague, the right honourable Arthur Calwell. I know that obituaries are sad affairs but they move people differently according to the closeness of their acquaintance with the deceased. There would not be a man in the House today who does not bow his head in great sorrow at the passing of a very significant parliamentarian, a former member of this House, who devoted his life to the service of his country and particularly to the institution of Parliament. Arthur Calwell was a very genuine Australian. He loved Australia and did what he thought was the very best for it. He was an unusual man in that often he made utterances that annoyed, bewildered and even staggered people. I was interested to see that in his book Be Just and Fear Not’ he blamed his propensity for getting into trouble on the fact that when his Irish blood cooled down his Welsh blood warmed up. But it did not matter how critical his remarks might have been; nobody really took personal offence. There was enormous affection for Arthur Calwell. He was a genuine personality. He had real kindness. He was always thoughtful about individuals. Although he and I belonged to opposing parties, he remembered members of my family and would always make personal inquiries as to how they were. He was a man of absolute dedication.
His departure from the Parliament really finished an era of great members of Parliament, such as Curtin, Chifley, Evatt and Wardmembers who carried great responsibilities as Ministers of the Crown during the war years. We regard him as one of those men who did a wonderful job for Australia. His post-war achievement was marked by the commencement of an immigration scheme which I believe will immortalise him. He was a man of great wit, and I think that was how he always got away with his caustic and often unthoughtful remarks. I liked the remark he made when he was leaving this Parliament. He said:
I now intend to take the advice the psychiatrist gave to the kleptomaniac I am going to take things quietly.
We express sorrow to his widow and to his daughter. We say with great feeling that he has immortalised himself in this House.
– I rise to join previous speakers in expressing deep regret at the passing of a very fine Australian. Arthur Calwell was a man who believed that the sort of Australia to which we should aspire should be a prosperous Australia based on principles of justice and equality- a society in which people are not divided by social barriers or by extremes of wealth and poverty. His efforts and plans were always directed to that end. His contribution to the Federal Parliament of this country is well recorded and his place in history is firmly established by his wonderful career as the Federal member for Melbourne- the electorate I now have the honour of representing, having succeeded him on his retirement prior to the election of 2 December. In many respects my entry into politics was a case of history repeating itself. Arthur outlined two things in the preface of his book ‘Labor’s Role in Modern Society’. He related the basis of his philosophy and his first political memory- a memory that has a marked resemblance to my own. Amongst other things he said:
To me, and all my comrades in the Australian Labor Party, Ben Chifley ‘s concept of the ‘light on the hill’ is not just a figure of speech. It is a beacon-light of idealism for all who believe that any system of society which is not founded on political democracy, social democracy and economic democracy-any system which is not characterised in all its aspects by equalityis a bad one. Neither capitalism nor communism can provide a society which will respect and safeguard the dignity of all men and women and their deepest needs as human beings, a society which will protect the interests of all.
My faith in the Labor Party as the sole means of achieving such a society is as firm today as it was in the days of my trusting, impressionable youth. I took an interest in politice from my earliest years, and, for me, politics meant Labor politics. My very first political memory is that of being taken by my mother, at the age of eight, to hear that great Labor man, Dr William Maloney, speaking in the by-election campaign in which he defeated Sir Malcolm McEacharn for the seat of Melbourne in the House of Representatives. Of course, little did I realise then that thirty-six years later I would have the honour of succeeding Dr Maloney as member for the electorate of Melbourne.
He said 2 things. He outlined a philosophy which he followed throughout the rest of his career. He also outlined his first political memory.
Mine was a similar experience, for at very much around the same age as Arthur was at that time, I was taken by my father to hear Arthur Calwell speaking at Labor Day celebrations and various ALP conferences, espousing the philosophy that he maintained consistently to the end. Little did I know that some 35 years later I would succeed him as the fourth member for Melbourne. It was indeed a very proud moment for me in following such a man. Arthur Calwell ‘s undying loyalty to the Labor movement stamped him as a true son of working people, a person who never forgot whence he came. He paid particular attention to the needs of people who found themselves on the lowest spokes of fortune’s wheel. He will ever be remembered for his contribution to society.
Arthur Augustus Calwell was in many respects a complex person, a man possessed of a medley of emotions. At one moment he was a hard and ruthless fighter for the principles he believed in. At the next moment he was a kindly idealist moving heaven and earth to assist an individual in trouble. He was an intellectual yet was able to stir large gatherings of people into action upon issues of principle by an eloquent turn of phrase but in language that ordinary people understood. Arthur, or ‘Ginger’ as he was affectionately known to his friends in the Labor movement, was steeped and soaked in Labor politics from 1916 when as a youth of 18 years he joined the Australian Labor Party to which he remained completely loyal and which he continued to love very much. In 1917 he was elected to the Victorian Branch Conference of the Labor Party as a delegate and attended almost every conference from that time onwards. His early training was assisted by involvement in great debates on the Yarra bank in Melbourne, a tremendous training ground which helped to develop an oratory delivered in the platitudes that the public loved to hear.
As the Prime Minister has outlined, Arthur Calwell was born in the electorate for which he worked for a great part of his life. He was born in 1896 in Stanley Street, West Melbourne, the son of a policeman and a Victorian born Irishwoman. He started school at St Mary’s, West Melbourne, and won a scholarship that enabled him to attend Christian Brothers College in North Melbourne. He started work with the Victorian Department of Agriculture, where he stayed for about 10 years, first as a junior clerk earning the magnificent salary of Five pounds a month. From 1923 to 1940 he worked for the Victorian Treasury. He was elected to the Victorian Central Executive of the Australian Labor Party in 1 926 and was subsequently elected to the Melbourne City Council as the last alderman in that city in 1939. Arthur then became involved in the administration of football and cricket and was a trustee of the Melbourne Cricket Ground from 1931 onwards. As has been indicated, he was elected to the Federal Parliament in 1940 and became Minister for Information under Prime Minister John Curtin.
In 1943 Arthur Calwell was promoted to the position of Minister for Immigration. In that post he displayed the great talents he possessed. His work as the architect of the immigration policy at that time was of incalculable benefit to Australia. He was a great family man, as the Prime Minister has said. The members of his family were very attached to each other and worked together. During 1947 he and his wife began a hurricane tour of Europe and the United States of America to find sufficient shipping, which was quite scarce at that time, to bring new settlers to Australia. They visited 23 countries in 13 weeks and were successful in achieving what they set out to do. This was typical of Arthur Calwell ‘s determination and of the co-operation of his family. He always had an ambition to lead the Party and nobody deserved more than Arthur the honour bestowed on him by his colleagues when he was elected Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party in March 1960. He believed that the Party must always maintain its industrial base. His first act as Leader was to attend the same afternoon as his election to that position a picnic of Canberra . trade unionists. As Leader he brought the Party closer to electoral victory in 1961 than it had been since 1946. Victory was so near and yet so far. He failed by only one electorate to achieve his ambition.
Arthur Augustus Calwell, in my view, would have made a very fine Prime Minister and more is the pity that he did not get the opportunity to prove it. Nevertheless, Arthur’s contribution over many years on the issues of Vietnam and conscription, among others, had assisted to lay the base for Labor’s victory in December of last year.
Finally, he will be remembered for his exploits over many years, for his contribution to this Parliament and particularly his contribution to the electorate of Melbourne. He will be remembered for all that great work and by all the friends that he made. I agree with those who said that Arthur Calwell would choose that his epitaph should include the words he used to the 1955 conference of the Labor Party, the conference in which he played a major role in ridding the Party he loved so dearly of those who desired and wished to undermine and to destroy it. He said at that time, with a great deal of emotion, that he still believed in 2 working class slogans. Firstly he said that unity of labour is the hope of the world. As well he said: ‘Workers of the world unite- you have a world to gain and only your chains to lose. ‘
I am sure that everybody in this Parliament will agree with me that using the terms he often used himself, Arthur Calwell fought the good fight, he did not spare himself in struggling for the principles he believed in and his memory will be indelibly imprinted on the hearts of all those who had the pleasure of knowing and working with him.
-I want to join with my Parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the House in paying tribute to the late Mr Arthur Calwell, a warm and human man who was at all times, I believe, a very great Australian. He served with distinction both in government and in opposition. He was Minister for Immigration and Minister for Information in the years 1943 to 1949 and later Deputy Leader and then Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party over a period spanning some 16 years. He represented, as the present honourable member for Melbourne has made clear, the seat of Melbourne in this House in a notable and inimitable way over a period of 32 years.
Arthur Calwell will be remembered as a distinguished member of the Australian Labor Party, but principally as a great Australian. He was the man who was destined not to lead the Australian Labor Party to government. Whilst this achievement was denied to him his great personal characteristics were undeniable. He was a man of unquestionable integrity and a great churchman who held firmly to his beliefs and stood by his convictions. He was in fact an espouser of what were at times unpopular causes in the electorate at large, but he was not a man to act for the sake of political expediency. He was essentially a humanitarian who worked untiringly for the rights and wellbeing of every Australian. As a former Minister for Immigration I have a particular memory of Arthur Calwell. I came to know him well. His advice to me as Minister for Immigration was at all times helpful and in Australia’s best interests I want to record my unqualified respect for this man who in both a personal and professional capacity was one of the great parliamentarians of this country. The tide of his recent book ‘Be Just and Fear Not’ is a fitting epitaph to Arthur Calwell which we, as Australians, can proudly and gratefully endorse. Australia is the poorer for his passing. I convey my sympathy to his wife and daughter.
-To the warm expressive tributes paid to Arthur Calwell by the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition the Leader of the Australian Country Party, the honourable member for Melbourne and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition I should like to add a few sentences of my own to pay a tribute to him. It is 43 years ago since I first met Arthur Calwell at a federal Labor conference. Arthur had come to the conference to assist the Victorian delegation, a delegation of earnest and in the main elderly men who were dedicated Labor men steeped in the tradition of our Party. Arthur was the enthusiastic young man. He was the zealot, the hard-working industrious person who was there to help them and to do all of the things that are required to be done to assist a delegation at a conference. I attended that conference as a representative of the New South Wales Branch of the Party. It was there that I had an opportunity to observe Arthur Calwell, to note his qualities and to try to understand him, for he was an idealistic young reformer with a deep faith in mankind and unswerving confidence in the aims and objectives of the Labor Party to create a better society. Arthur was firmly convinced of these things, as I and all members of the delegation were. He was a traditionalist who did not lose his youthful fervour.
Our late colleague was an unrelenting opponent of injustice. He would not stand for the little person being hurt or being denied the freedoms that he was entitled to have. He fought for those people even though many times it was not to Arthur’s great advantage to do so. He was in the broadest sense a good man who did not confuse modernity and progress with degeneracy. He had a great sense of quality, of value, of work. The quality of life to Arthur Calwell was the quality of the family, of happy communities of people, and of the development of a strong nation. He was a kind and generous man who never spared himself in his work. I recall his coming into the electorate of Macquarie to attend an official function and after that was over he went out of his way to meet a number of people. When that was done he travelled many, many miles very late in the afternoon to call upon an old friend and to make a little gift to the person who had almost forgotten Arthur, but Arthur had not forgotten him. In the words of Henry Lawson, he saw the vision splendid of
Australia- a progressive developing nation of independent, happy people. He never ceased to champion our country, to extol its qualities, and to defend it from traducers.
In every way he was a good Australian. He toured this country to the most remote places as he did Papua New Guinea. It was always a great delight to be in his company for he was an authentic Australian with the Labor spirit which one will never forget. He lived the life of an Australian. He had great faith in the future of this land. In this Parliament we will miss this authentic Labor spirit- a spirit that will live on. His colourful language will be missed. But whilst his colourful language will be missed we all remember him as having some words to say about those tired working bullocks of prose. They were not in Arthur Calwell ‘s vocabulary.
I support the motion moved by the Prime Minister. I am sure that the whole Parliament and the nation support the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister. I should like on this occasion to express publicly my deepest sympathy to Mrs Calwell, to her daughter Mary Elizabeth, to Arthur’s sisters and to other members of the family.
Mr Speaker, I rise to add a personal postscript and also one on behalf of the Department of State which was founded by Arthur Augustus Calwell. It is my privilege to head that Department at this time. Mr Calwell founded the Department. Immigration was his last portfolio in government. I remember very vividly that when the government changed in 1949 he made a speech at a citizenship convention which he had arranged but over which he, of course, did not preside because there had been a change in administration. He said to the Minister who succeeded him from the other side of the Parliament: ‘I bequeath you a fine Department and I hope to have it back in good order.’ That ambition of Arthur Calwell was not realised but one thing that we on all sides of this Parliament can say is that he did bequeath to the nation the Department of State which he founded, in which today there are many people whom he brought in, including the permanent head of that Department, Mr R. E. Armstrong, who began his career in the administration as private secretary to Arthur Calwell. He is now the permanent head and the custodian of the traditions that Arthur Calwell brought to the same Department of State. He left it with initiative, integrity and dedication which I am happy to place on record after my short term of personal stewardship. I should like to say also that he was a great personal inspiration. He gave his advice in a friendly but firm way. I was always grateful for it. I must also say that he was a great inspiration to me personally as the epitome of Australian democracy and an egalitarianism. I once sent him a telegram in which I said:
When Adam delved and Eve span, Where was then the gentleman?
I think if there were a gentleman in terms of service and dedication then it was Arthur Augustus Calwell. I am very pleased, on behalf of all who served in the Department of Immigration over the years and who serve now, to add to the tributes which have been paid to him today in the House of Representatives.
– I should like to speak briefly on this motion of condolence for the late Arthur Calwell. With the Leader of the House I think I am one of the two survivors in this Parliament whose membership dates back to the time when Arthur Calwell was a Minister. I remember that as Minister for Immigration he was an extremely kindly man to immigrant families whose cases were presented to him, as I presented some in my first years here. I remember that he showed the same great courtesy to members of the Opposition of that time in the personal manner in which he dealt with cases which they presented to him as Minister for Immigration. He had a style of oratory which I think is now extinct. I remember him describing the Opposition front bench when he was Minister as a gibbering array of pathological exhibits. I am not sure what a gibbering array of pathological exhibits would be, but I think he must have spent some time polishing that expression.
There were 2 men who were extremely kind to me when I was first elected to this House. One was James Henry Scullin, a former Prime Minister, and the other was Arthur Calwell. I noted at his funeral that the mortal remains of both those men rest within a few feet of one another. I think there are many in this House who over the years have been grateful to Arthur Calwell for personal kindness and for many quite remarkable conversations. He was a man of very wide interests. I join with other honourable members in expressing sympathy to his wife and family.
-As one of the 3 members of this place who were here when the late Arthur Calwell was Minister for Immigration, I should like briefly to add my condolences on this sad occasion. As was the honourable member for Fremantle I was assisted greatly by
Mr Calwell when I was first elected to this place. I think we all remember the man who helped us in our early days in the jungle of politics. It is only right that one should refer to this fact today because Arthur Calwell ‘s life was undoubtedly studded with thousands of kind acts which thousands of people in Australia will remember. He had a tremendous capacity for correspondencewriting to people, keeping in touch with people, and ringing people up, especially those who were in hospital and those who were having trouble. He was a thoughtful, considerate man to the extent that no matter how busy he was in this place, if he knew one’s wife was ill or one’s father, mother or relative was ill, he would often ask, not just once but several times a week, how that person was. I personally appreciate that sort of thing as much as anything because it shows just how genuinely thoughtful and considerate is a man in a busy life when he can consider some humble member of his own party or even in the Opposition, who is going through a very serious time of sickness and worry. We all know that he held strong views. The greatest example of these was his view on the Vietnam issue. He never flagged or wavered in his strong belief that we should not have been in Vietnam. His view on that great issue was finally shown to be right.
Arthur Calwell had a wonderful sense of humour. He was a humble and human man. He was a sincere Christian. He tempered his strongly held views with great kindness. One could not really get mad at Arthur Calwell because he would say something that disarmed one. He was great at disarming his enemies. I think that his enemies loved him as he loved them. He had a great capacity for loving people. Also, he had a fantastic sense of history, deeper than that of any other man I know. He could recall historical events as easily as we can recall the dates pf our births or wedding anniversaries. He also possessed what was to many people a frightening memory. I have often heard Arthur Calwell quote Hansard to a member who had made a most impassioned speech in this place to put a point of view. When the speaker had finished and Arthur had a chance to reply, he would quote to that member exactly what he had said three or four years before, when he had expressed an opposite view. He loved to debunk men in this friendly fashion, using the pages of Hansard. He had a frightening memory.
He loved his Party, his church, his God, the ordinary people and this Parliament. He was a wonderful leader for a Whip to work under. As Opposition Whip for approximately 17 years, 7 of which I served when Arthur Calwell was leader of our Party, I could not have wished for a more considerate, tolerant and understanding leader than Arthur Calwell.
Arthur was a radical and a stirrer in the early days of his parliamentary career. This was referred to by the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti). He was fiery and forthright in his speeches. I remember a story told about him. In 1947 the Whip of our Party, which was in Government at the time, went to Ben Chifley, the then Prime Minister, one evening when the debate was being broadcast and said to him: Ben, Eddie Ward has just spoken and Arthur Calwell wants to follow him’. Ben replied: ‘Not on your life. The Australian people could not take both of them on the same night’. That illustrates his firiness in those days.
Finally, I wish to pay a tribute to those persons who made the funeral arrangements in Melbourne. I was not able to attend the funeral but I watched the television presentation of it, which was outstanding. One must pay tribute to those who planned every detail of that marvellous service both in the cathedral and at the graveside. I would like to pay a tribute also to those who televised the funeral. It was splendidly done and was a great credit to all concerned. I pay tribute to Mrs Calwell for the long and wonderful family life that they had together and for the many sacrifices which she made to enable Arthur to carry out his very difficult duties. I pay a tribute and pass on my sympathy to Mrs Calwell and her wonderful daughter.
I pay a tribute also to someone we may forget, a person who served Arthur Calwell as his secretary for all the years that I knew him. I refer to Miss Joan O’Donnell. She is present today listening to the tributes being paid to her late boss. Of course she loved him very much. It is great to know that Joan was such a loyal, dedicated and able secretary to Arthur through all the years and all the vicissitudes of his political life.
– Very briefly, but nonetheless sincerely, I wish to be associated with the tributes so sincerely paid to the late Arthur Calwell. I think almost all has been said of the great qualities of a great Australian and a great Labor man. He did bring, as honourable members have said, determination and energy to his political career. In the conflict of politics undoubtedly he made political enemies on both sides but it is a tribute to his character and standing that he left life respected and loved by both sides of the Parliament. That, in itself, reveals his great qualities and it is something for which his family might justly be proud. Much has been said about the qualities he had and of his oratory but he had another quality that many did not seem to realise. He had a great memory for names and the most humble members of the staff, as with many people from all sides of politics, were always surprised when, frequently after a long absence, he remembered their first names and was able to address them in that way. This, in itself, was a capacity which was remarkable for a man with so much on his mind.
I was also a member in those years of vibrancy when he was in the full vigour of life and Minister for Immigration in the war Cabinet. Undoubtedly our immigration scheme, with its great contribution to Australia’s development, must go down as his greatest memorial as a member of this Parliament and as a citizen. Those who like oratory and Australianism should read his speeches during the early days of immigration, particularly his speech on the Citizenship Bill. They will see running throughout his speeches Australianism of the highest calibre. Those speeches, well written and well delivered, are an inspiration to all who have a nationalistic or patriotic spirit.
I do not wish to say more at this stage except that one of my colleagues mentioned to me one of the quips Mr Calwell made on one occasion. It is a quip which lingers in the memory of some honourable members. The late Archie Cameron was in the Chair and Arthur addressed him as chairman. Archie said: ‘I am not a chairman’ and Arthur replied: ‘I know you are not, but I thought I would pay you the compliment’. Having said so much, I join with others in expressing to his wife and family my deepest sympathy and my respect for a colleague I liked and respected in every way and whose absence I mourn with all other honourable members.
-This is the first occasion in 7 years that I have risen to speak on a condolence motion. It is something none of us treats lightly. Unlike the previous 3 speakers, I was not here in the days when A. A. Calwell was Minister for Immigration. I arrived at the time of his twilight on the national stage. I believe that I speak for a generation which was particularly harsh on the right honourable member in its judgment of him. As a person who in the last few years had an opportunity to get to know him quite well personally I express thanks for being given the opportunity to know the man well and to recognise that he had one quality perhaps above all other qualities- the quality of tremendous integrity. Despite differences which may have existed politically, no one will ever take from him his honesty or his integrity.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable members standing in their places.
– Thank you, gentleman.
Mr D. R. R. Munro
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death on 20 June 1973 of Dugald Ranald Ross Munro a member of this House for the division of Eden-Monaro from 1966 to 1969, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
Dugald Munro served only one term in this Parliament. In that time he endeared himself not only to his fellow members but also to the staff around this building as a man of great charm, openness and attractiveness. He, too, represented special Australian qualities- the qualities of his own generation. The death of a young family man of promise must in any circumstances be deeply saddening and, in the appalling circumstances of Dugald Munro ‘s death, most sad, most horrible. Party considerations apart, from his defeat in 1969 I have always entertained the hope that he might once again adorn this place and certainly, if not as a member, render further service to our nation, lt was not to be. His family have a very special place in our sympathies as he has in our memories.
I would like to second the motion moved by the Prime Minister relating to Dugald Ranald Ross Munro. We were speaking earlier of Arthur Calwell and his Celt blood. Dugald Ranald Ross Munro is a fine name indeed. All of us were deeply saddened to hear of the tragic death of Dugald Munro and the almost freakish circumstances that caused that death on 20 June last. All of us feel deeply for his wife and 4 children. In these tragic and unforeseen circumstances they lost a husband and a father who was so young in years, spirit, attitudes and action, a man of such high integrity and principle. Their loss will be hard for them to bear and comfort will be difficult for them to achieve. On behalf of my colleagues in the Liberal Party, 1 offer Mrs Munro and her children our deepest condolences and the comfort of her knowing that we know and understand their sorrow.
Dugald Munro ‘s service to the Parliament was brief-only one term of Parliament-but nonetheless it was of consequence. He was an able debater. He made a mark in those 3 years. He was always around the House. He was very active, especially in the committees of the government parties of the time, and after he left the Parliament he retained his interest in the Liberal Party and continued to serve the Liberal Party. He took the seat of Eden Monaro in 1966. In those elections he succeeded the late Allan Fraser, who was well known and respected in this House. Dugald Munro admired the contribution that had been made by Allan Fraser and sought earnestly to continue that contribution. He had a commitment to the future of Australia. As he put it himself in his maiden speech on 21 February 1967:
I hope we can continue to build a great country here. May we always believe that with some wisdom, firm resolve, hard work and a little bit of luck -
I interpolate to say that that is one commodity which in the end he did not have- we may continue to build a country in which we all can be happy and proud to live.
That was Dugald Munro ‘s hope. It is one which we all shared with him and which we will try to achieve for those he has left behind.
– I should like to join with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in expressing the sympathy of members of the Australian Country Party who served with Dugald Munro during his 3-year period in this Parliament. When we heard the ghastly news of his tragic death we were very moved and felt indeed sorry for his family. Dugald Munro will be remembered as a likeable, attractive, friendly person who took a keen interest in the activities of this House. It seemed almost that he had found his calling in life. He loved the Parliament and participated in debates and committees, as the Leader of the Opposition mentioned. In this period of sad bereavement for his widow and family I should like to express our deepest sympathy.
-I would like to couple my tribute to Dugald Munro with that of Allan Fraser, who is not, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) implied, dead. Allan Fraser held a great regard for Dugald Munro ‘s friendship and found that although he was his direct political protagonist in EdenMonaro his political fight with Dugald Munro could always be conducted on a proper personal basis, each paying due regard to the integrity of the other. Allan Fraser believed that only he, because of his previous experience- some 23 years experience in representing that electoratewho electorate- could possibly win EdenMonaro back from Dugald Munro, and it was for that reason that Allan Fraser ran again for the electorate in 1969.
Eden-Monaro is an electorate which is not particularly impressed with headlines in newspapers. There are over 50 population centres throughout the area. Unless one visits these centres and talks to the people in the individual areas one makes very little impression indeed. I think that one of the greatest tributes that can be paid to Dugald Munro is that the people in nearly every one of the population centres throughout that electorate remembered him before his death. They were able to make comments about Dugald Munro ‘s contribution to their community, which demonstrates beyond doubt not only that he played an active role in this place but also that he played an active role throughout the diverse electorate of EdenMonaro. He gave great attention to detail, and I think that in many respects when he left this House and became a student this attention was reflected in his interests in the university studies that he took up.
His loyalty to his own leaders was manifest in all sorts of ways. It came through in his defence in the electorate of the policy of the Government at the time he was a member and also in the way in which he championed many policies which in some regards were opposed to the interests of the people of his own electorate. In a sense this loyalty was one of the things he had to defend probably to the greatest extent throughout the electorate. He stood behind his leaders. The loyalty that led to this stand was recognised by the electors of Eden-Monaro and it is something they remembered vividly as they read the terrible news of his death. I express my sympathy, and I couple with this expression that of Allan Fraser ‘s, to his wife and family. We all feel the loss incurred by Dungald Munro ‘s departure from our midst.
– I am very glad that I have been now informed correctly about something on which I was previously wrongly informed, and that is the state of health of Allan Fraser. I am very glad that I was wrongly informed, and I hope that he will understand that I was not in any way foretelling doom. I do not in any way retract the statement I made that Dugald Munro had a very great admiration for Allan Fraser and had hoped to carry on the work that Allan Fraser had done.
– I would like briefly to pay a tribute to the late Dugald Munro and convey my sympathy to his wife and members of his family. Although he served as a member representing Eden-Monaro, he was a member of a well-known family which pioneered the Moree district, which happens to be my home district. His father was known as a truly great horseman, a great cattleman and a great figure in that part of New South Wales. Dugald Munro ‘s death removes from among us an outstanding man in the prime of his life, a man who had a warm and dedicated public spirit His death represents a great loss to the community that he loved so much.
-I join in the tribute so generously paid by the Prime Minister to the memory of the late Dugald Munro. As one who entered the House with him in 1966, I came to know Dugald very well and in a most personal way. He was at all times a frank man, a man of great charm and humour, a man of outstanding dedication to the best interests of Australia, a man with a great sense of public service to this country. I am certain that all members of this House mourn the fact that he died in such tragic circumstances. I convey my sympathy to his wife and young family.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable members standing in their places
-Thank you, gentlemen.
The Honourable Sir Walter Cooper, M.B.E
– I move:
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death on 22 July 1973 of the Honourable Sir Walter Cooper, M.B.E., a senator for the State of Queensland from 1928 to 1932 and from 1935 to 1968, a Minister of the Crown from 1949 to 1960 and a former Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate; places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service; and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow in her bereavement.
In style, background and allegiance one could scarcely find 2 such contrasting contemporaries as the late right honourable member for Melbourne and Senator Sir Walter Cooper. In very different ways they represented the same essential quality. The brand of authentic Australians was upon each, though Sir Walter Cooper was by birth an Englishman. Sir Walter epitomised the best of the Anzac generation. In his career, his demeanour, his bearing, his conduct to his colleagues and his opponents he was in the truest and best sense an officer and a gentleman.
He had particular need of those qualities when, from 1947 to 1949 he found himself Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Country Party in the Senate in an Opposition of 3 through the accident of an unreconstructed electoral system. There was, however, no accident or mystery in the fact that he was the longest serving Minister for Repatriation and, apart from his Pnme Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, the longest serving Minister in any single portfolio in the history of the Parliament. He brought to that particular Ministry a wealth of experience and personal knowledge of the problems of repatriation and rehabilitation, and a particular sensitivity to the needs of returned men and their families. He established a special relationship between the Department and the Service organisations which remains and will remain a feature of the Australian repatriation system.
Mr Speaker, I support the motion moved by the Prime Minister. On behalf of the Liberal Party I would like to extend my sympathy to the widow of Sir Walter Jackson Cooper. Sir Walter was one of the most distinguished of all who have served in the Senate. He was, as the Prime Minister said, Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate and at one time was in an Opposition of three. His period of service was long and valuable. It extended for 37 years. When he retired from the Senate in 1968 he had been a senator for a significantly longer period than half the life of the Senate. During that time he had seen Australia grow as a nation. He had witnessed enormous development of Australia and its people. He had played a major part in that development. His life inside and outside the Parliament marked him as one who made a great contribution to Australia.
He arrived in Australia from England at the age of 19. Within three or four years, as a young man in his early twenties, he joined the Australian Imperial Forces. He saw action at Gallipoli, in Egypt and in France. At the age of 25 he lost his right leg. The determination he displayed in overcoming that disability is a fine example of his courage. Sir Walter entered the Parliament in 1928 and maintained throughout a deep commitment and dedication to the needs of ex-servicemen. He was Minister for Repatriation for a record term of 1 1 years, as has been said, and in that post he made a singular contribution. I have recalled Senator Sir Walter Cooper’s outstanding achievements. He was often referred to as the father of the Senate. We are grateful for the service he so tirelessly and assiduously gave. We extend to his wife our deepest sympathy on the loss she has suffered.
– I thank the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition for their very kind remarks about the late Sir Walter Cooper. Sir Walter was one of the pioneers of the Australian Country Party and had a very distinguished parliamentary record. He was associated with the Senate for a period of 40 years, a remarkable achievement for one man. Within that period for 3 years he was not a member of the Senate so that he served for a period of 37 years. He had the further distinction mentioned by the Prime Minister that he held the post of Minister for Repatriation for 1 1 years, the longest term for which that portfolio has been held in Australia. I would like to pay a special tribute to his wife. She was of enormous help and a great companion to Sir Walter. I express to her the deepest sympathy of the members of my Party.
Sir Walter Cooper was unfortunate in losing his leg in World War I, but the loss did not inhibit him in any way. He still maintained a very active sporting career although he had lost a leg. We in the Country Party will remember him for his devotion to this country and to his Party. He was a gallant gentleman who served his country well.
-The question is that the motion moved by the Prime Minister be agreed to. I ask honourable members to signify their approval by rising in their places. (Honourable members having risen in thenplaces.)
-Thank you, gentlemen.
-I have to announce that on 1 1 July 1973 I received from the honourable Nigel Hubert Bowen, Q.C-, a letter resigning his seat as member for the division of Parramatta. On 14 August I issued a writ for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Parramatta in the State of New South Wales to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of the honourable gentleman. The dates in connection with the election were fixed as follows: Date of nomination- Friday, 31 August 1973; date of polling- Saturday, 22 September 1973; date of return of writ- on or before Friday, 19 October 1973.
by leave- I am sure that honourable members would want me to express the appreciation of the House of the services which the former member for Parramatta, Mr Nigel Bowen, rendered to the Parliament, and particularly while he was a Minister, to the nation. Mr Nigel Bowen brought to the Parliament and his Party great distinction. He served them both with great distinction. He was admitted to the New South Wales bar in 1936. He took silk in 1953 and was the distinguished editor of the Australian Law Journal ‘for 12years, from 1946 to 1958. From 1957 to 1960 he was VicePresident of the Law Council of Australia and from 1959 to 1961 he was President of the Bar Council of New South Wales. I might add that some 35 years ago he was my first tutor in law. I hesitate to say this because I must acknowledge that he took every care but does not accept any responsibility for my subsequent career.
Nigel Bowen came to this Parliament as an outstanding legal practitioner among practising barristers before the courts. His services were eagerly sought by clients in many States and in all the most important cases before the courts. I need not recount his career in the Parliament and in government because they are still fresh in the minds of honourable members. Last year he could have been appointed to the High Court. With remarkable selflessness and typical loyalty he declined. Earlier this year he was almost elected leader of his Party. He has now returned to his first love, the law. He is a very fitting appointment as a judge of the New South Wales Court of Appeal. He will bring great distinction and dedication to his new field of service.
Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I am glad that the Prime Minister has seen fit to pay a tribute to Nigel Bowen. I am glad also that we understand that this is not to be in any way an obituary; it is quite the contrary. Nigel Bowen departed from here in the greatest of good health. The last time I saw him, which was very recently, he was in robust good health, apparently enjoying the release from the strains of political office. Those on this side of the House who served with Nigel Bowen knew him to be a very fine colleague. When he came into this Parliament he did so, as the Prime Minister has said, an established man. I think it is worth mentioning that in his contribution to this nation in this Parliament he forwent a very great deal of income that he would otherwise have earned at the Bar. But he accepted that difficulty.
Nigel Bowen was able in all his posts. He will long be remembered as Attorney-General. There has never been a better equipped AttorneyGeneral than Nigel Bowen. But probably his most recent post as Minister for Foreign Affairs will be the one for which he will be best remembered. He was also Minister for Education and Science. He was a warm and humane man who was highly regarded in his electorate and by both sides of the House. He never lost the real legal capacity that he possesses. It is true that he was in every sense qualified to be a member of the High Court of Australia and he would have graced that Bench as he will grace the Bench- the New South Wales Court of Appeal- on which he now sits. I am glad to say that people of any political persuasion can serve in this Parliament and notwithstanding that service can go to judicial office and enjoy the respect and confidence of everybody in this Parliament. The people have good cause to rest their faith in Nigel Bowen.
– 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 humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the members in Parliament assembled will move to make available to theTasmanian Government a special gram for the purpose of securing Lake Pedder in its natural state.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Barnard, Mr Crean, Mr Clyde Cameron, Mr Grassby, Mr Enderby, Dr Cass, Mr Snedden, Mr Gorton, Mr Adermann, Mr Coates, Mr Collard, Mr Davies, Mr Edwards, Mr Fisher, Mr Fox, Mr Malcolm Fraser, Mr Garland, Mr Garrick, Mr Holten, Mr Hurford, Mr Keogh, Mr McKenzie, Mr Oldmeadow, Mr Staley and Mr Wentworth.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
We the undersigned believe the Aborigines’ Act 1971 and Torres Strait Islanders’ Act 1971 of Queensland, together with the Regulations of 1 972 pertaining to those Acts to be the most repressive and discriminatory legislation existing in Australia.
We urge the Federal Government most strongly to take responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs out of the hands of all State Governments and call for the total abolition of the said Acts.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bryant.
Notice of Motion
– I give notice of my intention to present at the next sitting a Bill for an Act relating to the distribution of States into electoral divisions.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has said that the record of conversation made by Sir John Bunting and by his own principal private secretary Dr Wilenski bears out the Prime Minister’s statement that no complaint was made to the Prime Minister by the Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation on 17 March last concerning the events of the day before, 16 March. Will he table these records of conversation? Will he also table such records of conversation as the Director-General, Mr Barbour, made.
– No, I will not table the notes of conversation which the Secretary of my Department made or which my principal private secretary made. I do not know whether the Director-General of Security made a record of conversation. The right honourable gentleman might like me to incorporate in Hansard a letter which the Director-General sent to the AttorneyGeneral yesterday and which the AttorneyGeneral has given to me. He has declassified it.
-Is leave granted?
– May I see it?
– I take a point of order. I ask the Prime Minister to table the document from which he has just quoted.
– I want it incorporated.
-Order! Does the Leader of the Opposition give leave to incorporate the document in Hansard?
– I wish to see the document first.
– I have to table it now that I have been asked to do so.
-The document is tabled and is available for persual.
-My question is addressed to the Minister for Housing. Is he aware of a statement made by the Victorian Minister of Housing, Mr Dickie, that Housing Commission rents will rise by $3 a week, that pensioner tenants’ rents will rise savagely and that these increases have been forced upon the Victorian Government by the Federal Government because of the terms of the recently concluded Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement? Did Mr Dickie indicate at any time before or during the conference that rents for Housing Commission tenants and /or pensioners in Victoria would rise after the Victorian State elections?
-I think the simple answer is that the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement has not yet been signed. The Victorian Minister has announced his intention to increase the rents of 45,000 tenants by, I think, $3 a week prior to the Agreement being signed. In the Agreement there is a provision requiring the States to review rents annually. I took the view that this was desirable rather than having a triennial approach to the problem which resulted in people being required to meet large increases in rents. I do not disparage the fact that the Victorian Minister has found it necessary to increase rents. What I do disparage is his tendency to blame the Commonwealth Government, particularly in the light of the proposed Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. As I understand it he is attempting to mislead the Victorian people by asking them to believe that it is because of the new Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement that the rents are to be increased. The fact of the matter is that under this Agreement the allocation of funds has gone up to $2 18m as against $166m for the previous year. Victoria’s allocation has been increased from $39m to $53m at a concessional rate of 4 per cent instead of the 6 per cent which would have been paid if the Agreement had not been introduced. In any case, under this agreement, the Victorian Government has received everything it has asked for. Without this agreement the tenants in Victorian Housing Commission homes would be subjected to a much greater rental than is proposed at present. I feel very sorry that the Victorian Housing Minister is continuing to misconstrue the facts associated with this agreement. I think that he ought to face up to the matter as the New South Wales Government does. He is saying now that the Victorians ought to cut even. The fact is that in New South Wales the Housing Commission has been subsidising rents to the extent of $2.5m or more a year in order to ensure that low income people are not subjected to a rental rate which exceeds their paying capacity.
– I ask the Prime Minister Why was the raid on Australian’ Security Intelligence Organisation, to quote the words which he himself used in his recent television performance, the worst mistake of the Labor Government’?
– Because the present Government is not accident prone.
– Will the Minister for Immigration give special consideration to the people who came to Australia on tourist visas under the policies of the previous Government because they were not eligible to apply for immigration? Is the Minister aware that all these people would be eligible to settle in Australia permanently under the present criteria? Will the Minister consider their cases separately from those people who come as tourists under the new rules?
– I realise the problem to which the honourable member has referred. It had been raised with me by honourable members on both sides of the Parliament. It is the problem of people who have come here as tourists in the past few years and, in defiance of their original visa arrangements, have taken employment, probably have a firm place in the society, have gained extension after extension and of course are here now. As Minister for Immigration I am faced with the fact that they have established themselves. They came as tourists and have freely confessed this. They came in this way because under the old policy in many cases they would not have been eligible for consideration as migrants. I have tried to look at their cases on an individual basis and take into account the previous policy and how they would be received under the present criteria. In the last few months a number of decisions has been made that have given permission for such people to stay in Australia. This has been in response to representations, I repeat, from honourable members on both sides of the Parliament. I have been happy to do that and will continue to do it in relation to those people who came under the previous criteria. But I want to stress to all members of the Parliament at this time that on 1 September there will come into operation in Australia, in relation to tourists, a completely new system which will enable people to come to this country with the minimum of red tape, with the rninimum of inquiry and with the maximum of help from the Australian Government. Of course, those people will be expected to honour the terms of their visa agreements and to leave on the completion of their visits. I make it quite plain that after 1 September we will expect those people who travel to Australia under the new procedures, which are the easiest that can be devised- and we will welcome all who take advantage of them- to honour their undertakings and to return at the end of the period specified. We will give consideration to the individual cases of persons who came here under the previous criteria as each case comes before us.
– Did the Prime Minister in a recent television interview- if I may say so, this seems to be his presently preferred forum for national policy comment- when questioned about a telex message from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation refer in derogatory tones to the security of Australian security forces? Does he hold the same views on the security of his own Cabinet over the publication of the Coombs Report? What action has he taken to identify the origins of this appalling breach of Budget privacy? Does the Prime Minister accept the Westminster doctrine of ministerial responsibility? If so, why has he not taken appropriate action against the Attorney-General and the Treasurer as the 2 Ministers responsible administratively respectively for ASIO and the Budget?
– I realise the difficulties of liaison between the Country Party and the Liberal Party. I remember that the Leader of the Liberal Party, the Leader of the Opposition, at a convention of the Queensland Liberal Party on 20 July at Surfers Paradise- a good place to hold a convention- made a speech in which he called for the immediate open publication of the Coombs Report. Whatever the character of the Coombs Report may be, one cannot ask on one hand for its full and open publication and on the other hand complain about some publications from it.
– Go on! You cannot expect us to accept that.
– I have brought the Leader of the Opposition in to help his junior, junior colleague. Of course, the Leader of the Opposition later asked for the Budget decisions to be announced because there are some leaks about the Coombs Report. The Coombs Report is not a
Budget document although, as I said some months ago and as all honourable gentlemen will find tonight, it will be tabled at the same time as the Budget papers.
– Is the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation aware of the fierce opposition of the residents of the southern areas of Sydney to any proposal to build the city’s second major airport at Towra Point on the foreshores of Botany Bay? Have the 4 local government councils of Kogarah, Rockdale, Hurstville and Sutherland Shire, along with many other civic and community organisations representing probably nearly half a million citizens, expressed such determined opposition? If so, will the Minister ensure that full consideration is given to the attitude of these people who have suffered the inconvenience of Mascot Airport for years when a decision, soon to be made, is taken on the four or five sites to be included on the short list for further intensive investigation? When does the Minister expect to announce the list?
-How long have I to reply, Mr Speaker? I appreciate the question from the honourable member for Barton. He is one of the members who have been very keenly interested in the second Sydney airport and the Towra Point area. He has made reference to a number of local government authorities. I think he omitted to mention some of his own colleagues who have made numerous representations to me and, I know, to my predecessors about Towra Point. I refer to the honourable member for Hughes, the honourable member for Cook and the honourable member for St George. All of these people are keenly interested in this matter. I could go further and draw attention to the opposition of the honourable member for Chifley and the honourable member for Mitchell to the siting of the airport at Richmond. The whole question of the second Sydney airport is one of great controversy. I am pleased to inform the honourable member for Barton that the first stage of the report has been completed. I have received a copy of it and a submission has been made to Cabinet. If we had had time to discuss it in the Economics Committee today it would have been dealt with today. I am hopeful that it will be dealt with at an early date. It contains some specific recommendations concerning a second Sydney airport.
– I ask leave to incorporate in Hansard the document which was tabled by the Prime Minister a short while ago. It is a declassified letter and bears the typewritten signature P. Barbour’. One assumes it is from him. It is a copy and bears the reference 50,008.
-I remind the honourable gentleman that this is question time. This could quite easily be done after question time. Does the honourable gentleman wish to ask a question as well as have this letter incorporated?
– I wish to ask a question as well but first I ask leave to have this letter incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
The document read as follows -
AUSTRALIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION
Box 5105 BB.G.P.O. Melbourne
20 August 1973
Certain newspapers have published what purports to be the text of a telex message sent to ASIO staff.
Late on 28 March in Canberra I drafted and issued a telex message to ASIO staff. The message was issued in response to advice that members of staff were concerned to obtain clarification from me of a number of matters relating to the events of 16 March. In any case, I was myself mindful of the need to stop incorrect speculation and rumour which appeared to be developing among the staff. It should be appreciated that some of these matters emerged or became clear only during the Parliamentary sessions on 27 and 28 March.
One matter was the question of a complaint. The word complaint’ appears in the message only as a heading and in order to refer in short form to the question asked in the House earlier in the day by the Leader of the Opposition. There was no reference to a complaint, or use of the word, in the telex message itself. This item was an attempt to convey in brief form the gist of my remarks. It does not claim to contain the actual words I used to the Prime Minister.
My meeting with the Prime Minister on 17 March took place at my request. I wished to ensure that the Prime Minister was fully informed as to the events of the previous day- in particular the use of police. Also, I was seriously disturbed about the future of the Organisation and the implications for security in Australia. I discussed these matters with the Prime Minister. I said during the course of the discussion that I had not come to complain about the Attorney-General.
The unauthorised disclosure of a secret telex message is a matter of serious concern to me. When it became apparent that some person or persons outside ASIO had access to it, I immediately instituted an investigation within the Organisation. To date the source and means of disclosure have not been established. All members of staff have been informed that unauthorised public disclosure of official matters will not be tolerated.
Senator the Honourable Lionel Murphy, Q.C., Attorney-General, Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T.
-By way of introduction to my question I read one sentence from the letter. It says:
Late on 28 March in Canberra I drafted and issued a telex message to ASIO staff.
The Director-General of ASIO said that he drafted and issued the telex message on 28 March. I ask the Prime Minister: Was the telex message that was drafted and issued by the DirectorGeneral of Security in the same text as that which has been published in the newspapers?
-There have been various versions given of a telex message. I am not prepared to confirm or deny which is the correct one or how far any of them are correct. This is a matter which is being inquired into by a Senate select committee and it would seem the proper course to put on notice any questions concerning this matter, if it is raised in this House at all.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. With the widening disparity between the value of the United States dollar and the Australian dollar there would be a tendency for Australian-based United States subsidiaries to raise capital in Australia by debentures and other means. I ask the Treasurer what is his attitude to this type of borrowing. Would he see such raising as bidding up the general level of interest rates, given that the gap between bank interest and the current rate of inflation is widening or, for that matter, the disparity between the bond rate and the current rate of inflation is widening? Does he regard an upward movement in interest rates as being necessarily a bad thing? Does he believe that higher interest rates would slow business expansion, encourage savings, dampen demand and ease inflationary pressures?
-In answer to the first part of the question, as the honourable member knows the present Government closely scrutinises the entry of any capita] to Australia from overseas. We have guidelines regarding particular sources. We deny access entirely in certain other areas. We have the variable deposit scheme to act as a barrier generally. I suggest that in view of the nature of the question I will treat it as a question on notice and give a fuller reply later.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. If there is speculation as to which was the correct version in the newspapers of the telex message from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, will the Prime Minister table the telex message? If he will not table the telex message, will he give the reasons for not doing so? Will he agree that, as he has given his version of the conversation with the DirectorGeneral on 17 March, when the DirectorGeneral goes before the Senate Select Committee on Civil Rights of Migrant Australians he ought to be free to give his version of the conversation he had with the Prime Minister on 17 March?
-The Director-General of Security and I both realise that it is quite improper and it is unprecedented to reveal and to publicise security documents or conversations concerning security.
– Is the Minister for Immigration aware that there is considerable anxiety among applicants for positions as multi-lingual welfare officers with the Department of Immigration at the delay in finalising the appointments? Will the Minister take action to finalise the appointments without further delay so that the additional much needed services to migrants can be provided and the expectant applicants can have their uncertainty ended?
-The honourable member and other honourable members have been very anxious about these appointments, and I can understand why. We received 600 applications for 48 appointments and they came from every State of the Commonwealth and included an array of talent which speaks well for the Australian people at this time. The selections by the Department of Immigration have been completed and the appointment action by the Public Service Board is taking place now in all States. There have been 48 selections made and the appointments are in process. They cover people from 17 different origins and between them they will have 24 languages which, again, is a pretty good indication of the talents we have in the community. I would hope that the precedures would be completed and the appointees would be in training for their jobs by next month.
-I ask the Minister for Urban and Regional Development a question. Is it true that some local government councils have already made approaches to the local government grants commission and received financial assistance? If not, have some local government councils been promised financial assistance for certain projects? Can the Minister inform the House of the exact position at present in respect of this local government assistance measure?
– Yesterday I made a statement to the effect that the regions for applications by local governments for assistance under the Grants Commission would not be ready for at least 3 months. Of course, there will be provisions directly relating to this in the Budget, but they will be revealed by the Treasurer tonight.
-Today is the thirtieth anniversary of the re-election of the Curtin Governmentthe election of the Australian Labor Party to govern in its own right. It is also, as the honourable member is kind enough to recall, the thirtieth anniversary of the election of the father of the House- the Leader of the House. I will consider the honourable gentleman’s suggestion. I must say, however, that I believe the monument of achievement that John Curtin erected in the history of this country is more enduring than any material monument that we could devise.
-Does the Prime Minister deny that the only reasonable construction that could be put on the words ‘unprecedented’, ‘extraordinary ‘ and ‘gravely damaging to ASIO and to the national security interest’ is that a complaint was being made?
-There was no complaint. The right honourable gentleman asked a question on 28 March, about whether a complaint or complaints had been made to me and in his second sentence he asked:
If the answer is yes, will he table the letter or other document in which the complaint or complaints were made?
There was no letter or other document in which any complaint was made. The Director-General of Security not only made no oral complaint to me when he called the day after the police visit to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation headquarters in Melbourne but on the contrary said that he had not come to complain about the Attorney-General.
– Did he use those words?
-Yes, and I believe they are repeated in the letter which I sought leave to incorporate.
– Did he use those words?
– Yes, he did.
-He used them?
– He said that he had not come to complain about the Attorney-General.
-Did he use the words unprecedented’, ‘extraordinary’ and ‘gravely damaging to ASIO’?
-No, he did not. I have said that already publicly. He did not use those words. I am not only relying on my own memory in saying that he did not use those words; I am also relying on the fact that notes which were taken by the Secretary of my Department and my principal private secretary do not note any such words. The Director-General has given evidence before the Senate Select Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians. That evidence shows that he deliberately distinguishes between making complaints and expressing concern. He was questioned at length. He was quite deliberate and consistent in making that distinction. He called on me to find out from me where he and his organisation stood in the light of the police visit. In particular, he expressed concern about access to information from other agencies and from individuals whose confidences he and the Organisation had undertaken to respect. His call on me was for constructive purposes and he spoke constructively. I believe I responded constructively. His sworn evidence before the Senate Select Committee shows that his concern has been allayed.
– Is the Minister for Transport aware that a strike by engineers which began yesterday has tied up all Australian National Line ships again? In view of Tasmania ‘s almost total dependence for its economic survival on shipping, 80 per cent of which is supplied by ANL, will the Minister confer with the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in an endeavour to have sufficient ANL ships released from the strike to maintain essential services to Tasmania, especially for the shipment of perishables, as we have no rail or road alternatives such as are available on the mainland?
-The honourable member would be aware that the Australian Council of Trade Unions has a policy that at all times it will endeavour to ensure that communications by sea between Tasmania and the mainland are maintained. The Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers was due to appear before Mr Justice Sweeney this afternoon at 3 o’clock. I do not know the outcome of those discussions or whether they have been fruitful but, in the event of the strike continuing, I assure the honourable member that I will draw the attention of Mr Souter and Mr Hawke to the 1971 statement which they made concerning Tasmania.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Did the Director-General of Security in the telex which he says he drafted and issued to the ASIO staff use the words ‘unprecedented’, ‘extraordinary’ and ‘gravely damaging to ASIO and to the national security interests’?
– I repeat that the telex, or reported telex, must clearly be a document from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. I believe that no document from that Organisation has ever been tabled. I believe that no such document has ever been quoted and I believe that it would be quite unprecedented and wrong for me to confirm or deny the text of any document emanating from ASIO. If it is proper for this document to become public then the Senate select committee which has referred to it or to reports of it should take steps to get it made public.
-Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the publication during the parliamentary recess of an honours list sponsored by certain of the Premiers who still quaintly regard themselves as leaders of sovereign States instead of parts of the nation? If these honours were of the type correctly rejected by the Australian Government as no longer fitting for Australian citizens, can he tell honourable members what action the Government has taken to introduce an Australian honours system and when he expects to make an announcement of its introduction?
– I do not believe it appropriate for me to make a comment about the relations which the States, which are British colonies, have with the British Government concerning the award of British honours. The Australian Government does not believe it appropriate to give titles and it does not believe it appropriate to give awards which have some Imperial connotation. The Australian Government has recommended to the Queen of Australia that she confer awards on members of the armed forces or the uniformed services for outstanding service in period or gallantry. The Australian Government has not given its time to devising any form of Australian awards. It may be that it is appropriate to have awards of a distinctly Australian character for members of the armed forces or uniformed services. I must confess, however, that my colleagues and I have been engaged in matters of greater priority.
-So I miss out, do I?
-Dame Myrtle will receive one.
– Has the Prime Minister had any conversation or conversations with the Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Mr Barbour, in which he, the Prime Minister, raised the possibility that a judge could be appointed as the DirectorGeneral of ASIO in place of Mr Barbour? If there have been any such conversations when did each occur?
– I have not had any conversation or correspondence with the DirectorGeneral of Security since the late afternoon of Saturday, 17 March last. The question of any successor to Mr Barbour has not been raised by me or by anybody with me.
– The question was: Did you have a conversation which raised the possibility that a judge could be appointed?
– A conversation with whom?
-With the Director-General of Security.
-Perhaps you are thinking that I had raised the question in conversation with him on or before 17 March. No, I had not. No, I did not.
– My question is also directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the answers that he has given to the Leader of the Opposition and in view of the reference which he made to the existence of a Senate committee, will he- make available to that Senate committee an authenticated copy of the telex sent from the Canberra office of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to other branches of ASIO on 28 March? If not, why not?
– Here again it is not the practice to confirm or deny the existence of any telex messages. There is a Senate select committee. If it believes that it is entitled to see any such documents it has procedures available to it. As far as I understand, it has not tried any such procedures.
-My question, which I direct to the Prime Minister, is supplementary to the question asked of him by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. When the Prime Minister was asked why he considered the ASIO raid as the biggest mistake made by his Government he replied that his Government is not accident prone. The significance of that is that the raid was deliberate, planned and accepted by the Government but was still a mistake. I ask the Prime Minister: If it was a mistake, why did he keep that opinion to himself when defending the Attorney-General in this House? Why did he ask the House for its confidence in the AttorneyGeneral?
– I did not keep it to myself.
-I direct my question to the Postmaster-General. What is the current position concerning the establishment within the PostmasterGeneral’s Department of a courier service competitive with the services being offered outside his Department?
– For some time the Australian Post Office has been anxious to enter the business conducted by courier services. There is some restriction in the Act because of a requirement that every article be deemed to be posted. On that point there is some difficulty in being able to establish a courier service. I hope that during this session the Act will be amended to overcome this defect.
-Will the Prime Minister permit Sir John Bunting to give evidence on oath before the Senate Committee? If he refuses, will he now give reasons for that refusal?
– The honourable gentleman, for whom as everyone knows I have the highest opinion, knows full well that Sir John Bunting is one of nature’s gentlemen and waits until he is asked.
-I ask the Prime Minister: In view of the fact that security organisations must be answerable to Parliament in some manner, will he consider making the Australian Security Organisations answerable either to a subcommittee of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence or the appointment of a special parliamentary authority consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and one other member of the Government?
– I do not concede that security services should be answerable to the Parliament. Security services should be answerable to a Minister who is answerable to the Parliament. Accordingly I will take no steps at all. I do not believe that anybody who is likely to be a Prime Minister would take any steps to see that security services will be responsible to Parliament or to any Parliamentary committee. The honourable gentleman asks me about establishing a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and another Minister to discuss these matters. The Leader of the Opposition knows, and I believe everybody in the Parliament knows, and the public should know, that there is no item of security to which I do not give access to the Leader of the Opposition when he wishes it. In many cases the fullest briefings have been made available to the right honourable gentleman who holds that position at the moment. There are very few people in this Parliament who have been fully briefed on security matters. The Right Honourable Leader of the Opposition is one of them and he became one under the present Government.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question which is supplementary to the question asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. My question concerns the Prime Minister’s statement in a recent television interview that the Government’s raid on the headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation was the greatest mistake that the present Government has made since it was elected to office. What action has the Prime Minister taken to censure those responsible for this mistake? What action or actions has he taken to ensure that such a grave mistake cannot be repeated?
– Why was it a mistake? Tell us.
-Would you disagree?
– You did not answer my last question.
-This is a secret.
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Are we to sit here while the Prime Minister consistently refuses to answer the questions asked? It is a disgrace.
-Order! There is no point of order. The Prime Minister or any Minister can refuse to answer any question if he so desires.
– In view of the Prime Minister’s second-last answer I direct the following question to him: If he is ready to make available to the Leader of the Opposition information on security matters will he make known the contents of this famous telex?
– If the right honourable gentleman seeks to see the text of any document of this character I would give him permission to ask the Director-General of Security whether he can see it. I would leave it to the DirectorGeneral to say whether he could, or on what conditions he could see it. I have made no such request. But if the Leader of the Opposition -
– Have you not seen the telex at all?
-I have not asked to see any ASIO security documents in my life.
-Perhaps it would be more convenient if the Prime Minister stood up all the time.
– I get sick of flattening the others. Perhaps other questions could be put on notice.
-I desire to inform honourable members that the installation has been completed at the Government Printing Office of new machinery for the production of Hansard by photo typesetting and web offset, which initially will enable the rapid printing of up to 10,000 pamphlets a day for each House with a further expansion later to 20,000 pamphlets for each House compared with a maximum of 3,000 a day for each House by the existing slower hot metal type setting method. The new system comes into operation today.
Typesetting and printing by this process are the most significant developments in the printing industry for 500 years. The machinery was selected by the former Government Printer, Mr W. G. Murray and was installed under the supervision of his successor, Mr F. D. Atkinson. Keen support for the purchase of the equipment was forthcoming from the Joint Committee on Publications and both Houses. The capability to increase the production of the Hansard booklets will, it is expected, allow the Australian Government Publishing Service to sell the daily issues and give them a much wider circulation than has been possible to date.
Some improvements have been made to the format of the daily and weekly issues, including the publication of the date on each page, whilst the names of honourable members and the index, which have appeared at the back of the publication, will be placed after the Ministry at the front of it. The design of the front page of the daily and weekly issues has also been given a new look in keeping with the changes in technology. I hope that the changes will commend themselves to honourable members.
-I have received a message from the Senate returning the Pipeline Authority Bill 1973 and acquainting the House that the Senate does not insist upon its amendments Nos. 1 and 2 disagreed to by the House, that it has agreed to the amendments made by the House to Senate amendment No. 3 and that it agrees to the amendment made by the House to clause 13 of the Bill.
-I have received a message from the Senate returning the Cities Commission Bill 1973 and acquainting the House that the Senate does not insist upon its amendments to which the House had disagreed.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate:
Housing Agreement Bill 1973.
States Grants ( Housing Assistance ) Bill 1 973.
States Grants (Housing) Bill 1973.
States Grants ( Universities ) Bill ( No. 2 ) 1 973.
States Grants (Technical Training) Bill 1973.
Grants Commission Bill 1973.
Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill 1973.
Agricultural Tractors Bounty Bill 1973.
Superannuation Bill 1973.
International Labour Organisation Bill 1973.
Papua New Guinea Bill 1973.
Papua New Guinea (Starling Assistance) Bill 1973.
Insurance Bill 1973.
Insurance (Deposits) Bill 1973.
Life Insurance Bill 1973.
Australian Electoral Office Bill 1973.
Wool Industry Bill 1973.
Social Services Bill (No. 3) 1973.
National Health Bill 1973.
Broadcasting and Television Bill 1973.
Public Service Bill (No. 2) 1973.
Evidence Bill 1973.
Acts Interpretation Bill 1973.
Public Service Bill ( No. 3 ) 1 973.
Maternity Leave (Australian Government Employees) Bill 1973.
Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill 1 973.
Australian Institute of Marine Science Bill 1 973.
Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Bill 1 973.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1973.
Superannuation Bill (No. 2) 1973.
Defence (Parliamentary Candidates) Bill 1973.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits (Pension Increases) Bill 1973.
Defence Force (Papua New Guinea) Retirement Benefits Bill 1973.
National Service Termination Bill 1973.
South Australia Grant (Lock to Kimba Pipeline) Bill 1973.
King Island Harbour Agreement Bill 1973.
Supply Bill(No.2) 1973-74.
Parliamentary and Judicial Retiring Allowances Bill 1 973.
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1973.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1973.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1973.
Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill 1 973.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 1) 1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 2) 1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 3) 1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 4) 1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 5) 1973.
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1973-74.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Prices Justification Bill 1973.
Appropriation Bill (No. 5) 1972-73.
Appropriation Bill (No. 6) 1972-73.
Book Bounty Bill 1973.
Cities Commission Bill 1973.
Pipeline Authority Bill 1973.
Housing Agreement Bill 1973.
States Grants (Housing) Bill 1973.
States Grants ( Housing Assistance ) Bill 1973.
Superannuation Bill 1973.
Parliamentary and Judicial Retiring Allowances Bill 1973.
Social Services Bill (No. 3) 1973.
National Health Bill 1973.
Broadcasting and Television Bill 1973.
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1973.
Income Tax Assessment Bill ( No. 2 ) 1 973.
Income Tax Assessment Bill ( No. 3 ) 1 973.
Grants Commission Bill 1973.
Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill 1973.
Stevedoring Industry ( Temporary Provisions ) Bill 1 973.
Agricultural Tractors Bounty Bill 1973.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1973.
States Grants (Technical Training) Bill 1973.
States Grants ( Universities) Bill ( No. 2 ) 1 973.
Australian Institute of Marine Science Bill 1 973.
International Labour Organisation Bill 1973.
Wool Industry Bill 1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 1) 1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 2) 1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 3) 1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 4) 1973.
Wool Tax Bill (No. 5) 1973.
Papua New Guinea Bill 1973.
Papua New Guinea (Staffing Assistance) Bill 1973.
Maternity Leave (Australian Government Employees) Bill 1973.
Public Service Bill (No. 3) 1973.
Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill 1973.
South Australia Grant (Lock to Kimba Pipeline) Bill 1973.
Insurance Bill 1973.
Insurance ( Deposits ) Bill 1 973.
Life Insurance Bill 1973.
Acts Interpretation Bill 1973.
Evidence Bill 1973.
Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Bill 1973.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1973.
Superannuation Bill (No. 2) 1973.
Defence (Parliamentary Candidates) Bill 1973.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits (Pension Increases) Bill 1973.
Defence Force (Papua New Guinea) Retirement Benefits Bill 1973.
Australian Electoral Office Bill 1973.
National Service Termination Bill 1973.
SupplyBill(No. 1) 1973-74.
Supply Bill (No. 2) 1973-74.
King Island Harbour Agreement Bill 1973.
-I have received a message from the Senate transmitting to the House a resolution of the Senate agreeing to the Australian Parliament’s participation in the Constitional Convention and appointing senators as delegates to the Convention. With the consent of the House I do not propose to read the message which will be recorded in the Votes and Proceedings.
-I have received a message from the Senate acquainting the House that in accordance with the provisions of the Parliamen tary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946-1960 Senator O ‘Byrne has been discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings and Senator Poke has been appointed a member of the Committee.
-Order! I have received the following message from the Senate:
The Senate transmits to the House of Representatives the following Resolution which was agreed to by the Senate this day:
That the following matter be referred to the Joint Committee on Prices:
The continuing oversight in examining the prices of goods and services of the following aspects in relation to the cost of those goods and services:
increased cost arising from industrial stoppages and strikes and from consent industrial agreements;
additional cost brought about by granting a fourth week of annual leave;
additional cost brought about by granting a working week of less than 40 hours; and
relative rise of wages to the rise in productivity over periods of time as determined by the Committee.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
Consideration of Senate’s amendment.
Proposed new clause 1 3A.
After clause 1 3, insert the following new clause: 1 3A. After section 3 1 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted:- “31 A. The Commission shall not more than four weeks after this Act receives the Royal Assent and thereafter from time to time at intervals of not more than four weeks transfer the monies representing provisions made by the Commission for staff superannuation from the accounts of the Commission to the Commonwealth Superannuation Board or to such other trustees as the Treasurer approves. “. ‘.
Motion ( by Mr Charles Jones) proposed:
That the amendment be agreed to.
-The Opposition naturally is very glad that the Government has agreed to this amendment which will put Trans-Australia Airlines on the same footing as Ansett Transport Industries Ltd from the point of view of having to borrow money instead of being able to use its superannuation funds.It will put it on the same footing as more than 30 Commonwealth instrumentalities which do not use their superannuation funds. I am glad that the Government has seen fit to accept this amendment. I am only sorry that it did not ac- cept it at an earlier time so that we could have had this Bill in operation as an Act some months ago.
As we stated quite clearly, the facts were that TAA was using a sum which I believe was about $29m, increasing at a rate of about $3m per annum. This was giving it an advantage over its competitor. Australia has a 2-airline system and we do not believe that there should be advantage for either airline. We certainly said that TAA was getting an advantage which was worth at least 500,000 per annum. Not only that, but it was able to use that money as it saw fit. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) did go part of the way towards meeting our request earlier by saying that funds borrowed from the superannuation fund of TAA would be charged interest at 7 per cent instead of 5.5 per cent, as had previously occurred. He has now taken the very wise course of agreeing that those funds should not be used by TAA and, as I pointed out at the time, the Bill was previously before the House, this is in accord with the agreement which was made between the previous government and Sir Frederick Scherger, the head of TAA. As a result of that agreement, of course, TAA was given a number of advantages. As I said before, a little bit of sugar makes the medicine go down. The sugar, of course, was that TAA received advantages in being able to run motels and activities closely related to airline operations and could go into some intrastate airline operations provided that was agreed to by the State government concerned. It could also acquire shareholdings and various things of that sort.
After TAA had made this arrangement with the previous Government and after the previous Government had made available the sum of, I think, $25m in the previous Budget, TAA then tried to take up the cheese and not spring the trap. It has now done so. The previous arrangement that superannuation funds must not be used has been agreed to by the Government. At the same time TAA will receive advantages which I think it is only fair that it should have. The Opposition is delighted that the Minister has accepted this vital amendment by the Senate.
– I join with my colleague, the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn), in congratulating the Government on seeing the sense of the amendment which we moved in earlier debate. It brings to an end a very sorry episode which started when the Australian National Airlines Bill was introduced by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Charles Jones) on 3 May this year. At that time the Minister said: ‘This is quite a minor Bill and, as there is agreement between the Government and the Opposition, I need not go into any detail about it’. The Bill as seen by the hotel-motel industry, the transport industry, the airline industry and many other ancillary industries turned out to be a Frankenstein monster. The Minister had to accept 14 amendments from the Opposition. If that had happened in the United Kingdom or in any decent parliamentary system the Minister having had to accept 14 amendments to a major Bill would have resigned. Any decent Minister would have resigned and said to one of his colleagues: ‘I am not fit to carry on. Please take my place ‘.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member not cast reflections on this House.
– I certainly do not wish to cast reflections on the House. In my view, with great respect, the Minister for Civil Aviation has cast reflection by not resigning.
-Order! I suggest that in saying ‘any decent parliamentary system’ the honourable member was reflecting on the House and not on the Minister.
– It is certainly not my intention to reflect on the House and I withdraw the word decent’. I make my point again. Had the Minister been decent on this matter he would have said to one of his colleagues: ‘Take my place as the Minister for Transport. I have made a mess of the first major Bill I have introduced into this Parliament’. It is a very sorry episode and reflects very gravely on the Minister for Civil Aviation. 1 hope the Minister sleeps with a clear conscience now that he has finally accepted the last of the amendments. As I recall his words, as recorded in Hansard, the Minister, when in Opposition last year, gave notice that the TAA superannuation funds would never be transferred. Putting it more positively, the present Minister when in Opposition said that superannuation funds would be transferred only over his dead body if he became the responsible Minister. He said: Over my dead body’. Well, his body looks pretty alive to me. That is the point I wished to make. Therefore he has retracted the last vestige of principle that he has in respect of this Bill. It was a very sorry day when the Minister did not accept this amendment when the honourable member for Farrer and I put it to him very graciously when the Bill was before the Committee earlier.
I am delighted that the last of this Frankenstein monster has been properly dealt with and that the Government has seen some sense with respect to it. At least the Bill now appears to be a rational, sane Bill. It places the 2 airlines on a proper competitive basis. What is more, it brings TAA into line with all other Government bodies in that their superannuation funds are not used in a commercial sense. This is the case with the Australian National Line and all other such bodies. We put this case to the Minister earlier and he declined to take our advice. He has now had to retreat from his earlier stand. 1 am glad that the Government has made him retreat.
– I heard a whisper that the Opposition intended to do some bragging this afternoon when I accepted the amendment. The honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) inquired at my office yesterday as to what the Government would do about this matter. I very openly and frankly told him that we would accept the amendment. I wish to clarify a few points. What a difference there is between the crowing of the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) this afternoon and the laudatory remarks which he made after I had accepted all the other amendments when the Bill was dealt with by this Committee before it went to the Senate. I wish to make it clear that the reason I accepted those amendments on that occasion was that I preferred to have the Bill dealt with by this Committee rather than by another place. In this Committee I had some control over what was going on. Let us not make any bones about why 1 dealt with them here. The only reason I accepted the amendments was that the Government does not have the numbers in the other place. Let us be frank about that too. I give the honourable member for Gippsland and the honourable member for Farrer credit for being prepared to sit down and negotiate in relation to the amendments. The Government did not agree to everything they put forward but at least in this case we were able to work out a compromise in this House rather than it going before the other place.
The honourable member for Gippsland said that we accepted the amendment previously put in this House by the Opposition. We have not accepted that amendment because the Senate did not move as an amendment the amendment which was moved here by the Opposition. It moved a different amendment containing some of the proposals which the Opposition had written into its amendment. The Senate wrote into the amendment some additional points which the Government has accepted. So far as I am concerned we can live with the amendment which we are accepting from the Senate, but we do not agree with it 100 per cent. When the sta tement was made dealing with the 2-airline agreement I said that I would not accept this amendment. That was the Government’s attitude and if we had the numbers in the Senate we would not accept it now. Let us not have any illusions about it. It is only because the Opposition has the numbers in the Senate that we are accepting it -
– Go to the people on it.
-We are doing all right out of the amendment and honourable members opposite will squeal their heads off when they find what we have done with it. I am going to do some bragging as well. On the question of the 2 airlines being on an equal footing, I point out that members of the Opposition have been under the domination of the Ansett Transport Industries Ltd for the 23 years they were in government. Ansett Transport Industries told the previous Government what it was to do and it toed the line. Let us make that point clear. The Liberal-Country Party Government toed the line when Ansett called the tune. Members opposite have done so on this occasion. The amendments which were moved by the Opposition were amendments it was told to move by ATI. When it comes to a comparison, what I have stated is a fact and the honourable member for Angus (Mr Giles) knows it because he is one of those who toed the line with the rest of the members of the Liberal and Country Parties.
So far as ATI is concerned let us be clear. Trans-Australia Airlines has a much better superannuation fund than does ATI. It costs TAA more than Sim a year more than it costs ATI. What the Opposition hoped to do was to place TAA at a disadvantage of about $1.5m a year compared to ATI. Do not let honourable members opposite forget that when they were in government they directed Qantas Airways Ltd to adopt a similiar method of investment for its superannuation fund as TAA was doing. TAA followed the previous Government’s policy for 23 years and it was only in the dying hours of the last Parliament that the previous Government once again toed the line- that is the Ansett lineto extend the terms of the 2-airline agreement for another 5 years when there was no justification for it. Sir Frederick Scherger and other members of the Board at no time agreed to it. It was only under duress and pressure that the then Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Lowe, leaned on them because ATI was leaning on him. Honourable members opposite should get the facts clear.
With respect to the interest being charged on these funds, the former government allowed TAA to get away with a 5.5 per cent interest charge on the funds it was using. One of the things I did was to say ‘that is not fair and reasonable; it should be at a rate higher than that’, and I required the Company to charge itself what was then the long term bond rate, which I considered was fair and reasonable. That is the situation. I think it was the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) who used the expression that Trans-Australia Airlines was prepared to take the cheese but not to spring the trap. Let me point out to the honourable member that the person who took that action was the Minister for Transport- me. I was the one who directed the management of TAA and the Board not to transfer the funds. I emphasise that very early in the piece I directed them not to transfer the funds. As far as I was concerned, if I could have left the funds under the previous system they would have been left under that system without any change being made. It is only because the Australian Labor Party does not have the numbers in the Senate that members of the Opposition were forced by Ansett to write in the amendment which we have been pushed into accepting. So, it was not TAA that did this.
Incidentally, Sir Frederick Scherger at no time has agreed to the proposition relating to superannuation funds which honourable members opposite have tried to force on him and other members of the Board. So, he has not reneged on any agreement which he entered into. What are honourable members opposite going to do about the service in Western Australia? At the moment, Ansett Transport Industries is lobbying members of the Opposition in the Western Australian Parliament not to permit TAA to operate an intra-State service in that State. What are honourable members opposite going to do there? Are they going to support TAA’s entry to intrastate operations in Westeran Australia? After all, one of the conditions of the extension of the 2- airline agreement for another 5 years was the transfer of superannuation funds out of TAA’s hands. If the Western Australian Parliament does not agree to TAA operating intra-State in Western Australia, will members of the Opposition parties in another place amend the Bill, withdraw the amendment and allow TAA to operate on the superannuation funds as was previously the practice for 23 years under Liberal government? I do not think that they will, because they must toe the line as Ansett Transport Industries tells them to. We accept.the amendment because of the reasons I have outlined. We can live with it and we will live with it for as long as we do not have the numbers in the other place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
– I move:
Before that question is put, with your indulgence, Mr Speaker, I just say that when this Bill is called on tomorrow I intend to move for a change to the amendment proposed by the Senate. I hope that this amendment and another minor amendment that I shall propose can be circulated later today so that honourable members may consider them in time for tomorrow’s debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
Consideration of Senate’s amendment. Clause 4.
After section 7 of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted: 7A. ( 1 ) There is payable to each State during the year 1973, for the purpose of financial assistance in connexion with students in need, the amount specified in the following table opposite to the name of that State:
Senate ‘s amendment:
Leave out sub-section (2) of proposed section 7A, insert the following sub-section:
The financial assistance by way of payment of an amount to a State under sub-section ( 1 ) is granted on the conditions that-
the State will ensure that the amount is applied towards assisting students in need; and
the State will furnish annually to the Commission statistics and information in respect of the application of the amount by the State.’.
– The amendment requires the States or the colleges of advanced education to report to the Australian Universities Commission on the expenditure of money granted to them, or which was purported to be granted to them, under the emergency legislation- this Bill- when it left this place. I move:
-The amendment is not quite in the form in which it was originally moved in this House but it was negotiated in another place and the Opposition accepts it in its present form.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr Beazley)- by leave- agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Minister for Education moving an amendment to clause 2 of the States Grants ( Universities) Bill during the consideration in committee of the whole of amendments made by the Senate in the Bill.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Consideration of Senate’s amendments.
After section 1 1 of the Principal Act the following section is inserted: 11A. (1) In relation to each University specified in the Eighth Schedule there is payable, in the year that commenced on 1 January, 1973, to the State in which the University is situated, for the purpose of financial assistance, the amount specified in the second column of the Eighth Schedule opposite to the name of that University.
Senate’s amendment No. 1-
In sub-section (2) (a) of proposed section11A, leave out and’.
Senate’s amendment No. 2-
In sub-section (2)(b) of proposed section11A, leave out need ‘, insert ‘need; and ‘.
Senate’s amendment No. 3-
At end of sub-section (2) of proposed section11 A, add the following paragraph:
the State will, as a condition of the payment to the University, require the University to furnish annually to the Commission statistics and information in respect of the application of the amount by the University. ‘.
– I move:
The purport of the amendments is similar to the amendments to the States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill, and the point of similarity is amendment No. 3 that at the end of sub-section (2) of proposed section11A, add the following paragraph:
The other amendments are that in clause 3, line 12 leave out ‘and’ and that in clause 3, line 14, leave out ‘need.’ and insert ‘need; and’. I believe those 2 amendments are consequential on what comes as the substantial amendment.
– The Opposition agrees to these amendments. Their origin is the same as that of the amendments moved by the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley) in relation to colleges of advanced education. They are not in the same form as the amendments originally moved in this House but again they were negotiated. I only add that the experience of universities since these special funds were made available emphasises the need for this particular requirement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
This Act shall come into operation on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent
– I move:
Since the first Bill was introduced a second Bill, the States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2) 1973, which concerns special grants for increasing the number of social workers in training at the universities of Sydney and Melbourne, has been passed, and it is necessary to deem the first Bill to have come into force before the second Bill. To enable this to be done a further amendment to the first Bill is now proposed. I have circulated the amendment. In place of the words This Act shall come into operation on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent’ the amendment proposes to substitute the following words:
This Act shall be deemed to have come into operation on 17th June, 1973.
This amendment to clause 2 will require the Bill to go back to the Senate for a second time for its acceptance.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Motion (By Mr Beazley) agreed to:
That in the message returning the Bill to the Senate the Senate bc requested to reconsider the Bill in respect of the amendment made by the House of Representatives to clause 2.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
-I have received advice from the Leader of the Opposition that he has nominated Mr Peacock to be a member of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence in the place of Mr N. H. Bowen.
Debate resumed from 22 May (vide page 2382), on motion by Mr Barnard:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
-The Opposition supports this measure which, as was pointed out by the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard), has 2 purposes. One, in the broad, is to apply to regular servicemen the rehabilitation and retraining benefits which have applied in the past to national servicemen, and the other is to put into legislative form the already announced proposal to pay a re-engagement bonus of $1,000 after 6 years of service on the basis of a further 3 years of service. We support these proposals because they will benefit servicemen and, together with other measures which were undertaken by the previous Government, to some extent attempt to compensate servicemen for the hardships and difficulties involved in the sort of life that they have to lead. Also we believe that these proposals will play some part in attracting people to a Service career.
Having said that, I believe that out of all responsibility I must comment on this legislation in the context of what the Government is doing in relation to defence spending and the defence of this country as a whole. In the last sentence of his second reading speech the Minister for Defence states:
The Bill is complementary to other measures such as defence service homes and repatriation benefits which the Government is in the process of extending to servicemen not only in recognition of their occupation in present day circumstances but also in pursuit of the Government’s determination to provide an adequate volunteer force.
We have the extraordinary situation that on the one hand the Government, by means of this measure, is spending money in providing these benefits- I do not know how much; the Minister did not put any cost on the proposals- but, on the other hand, in the interests of economy and in order to find money to finance the vast welfare proposals which this Government has it is ruthlessly cutting back on defence expenditure as a whole. This cut-back on expenditure applies both to the manpower for the Services and. to equipment. We will hear more about that tonight.
But I only have to remind the House of what the Minister had to say in his statement to the Parliament towards the end of the last session when he announced the Government’s decisions in relation to the Army. He said then that the Government had decided that Australia should have an Army of 34,000 by 1976. If the current recruiting rate continues- encouraged somewhat, no doubt, by the measures contained in this legislation- the Government, by putting this ceiling on the size of the Army, will be knocking back SOO recruits a year. Those SOO recruits out of the 1,500 that are becoming available would be eligible in all respects to serve in the Services. It seems to me to be quite extraordinary to say, as the Minister has said, that the Government is providing the measures contained in this legislation in order to provide an adequate volunteer force and that, because the Government gives such a low priority to defence as a whole, it puts a limitation on the manpower for the Services in the interests of the economy. It is not based on the interests of the security of the country but it is based purely on a desire to economise and to reduce defence spending.
We all know that the Army and the Department of Defence have advocated an army of 38,000 men. That information came out of a report by a committee set up by the Minister. The Minister rejected that advice and came to this House with a proposal for an army of 34,000 by 1976- not now. If the Government were prepared to accept the recommendations of its defence advisers it would at the very least be accepting every recruit that comes forward. But it is not doing that. It is knocking them back at the rate of 500 a year. One of the reasons for this is the additional expense that is involved as the result of the introduction of measures such as the one before us. This is an extremely topsy-turvy situation. These sorts of considerations lead me to believe that the motivation of the Government is highly suspect and that it is not really interested in the welfare of servicemen at all.
Of course, in this measure the Minister is honouring an election promise to provide these benefits. It is now clear in the total picture that I have presented why he gave these particular undertakings, all wrapped up in the guise of the suggestion that the Labor Party is interested in the welfare of servicemen and in the defence of the country. He gave these undertakings at that time because he wished quite deliberately to allay public disquiet about the prospects of a Labor government in charge of the defences of this country and particularly in the context of an undertaking to abolish overnight the national service scheme. As in so many fields, the Government set out in a deliberate attempt to mislead the country about its bona fides in the defence field and to quieten public distrust of the Labor Party.
The other reason why it gave this undertakingagain had nothing to do with the interests of exservicemen. It had a lot to do with the desire of the Labor Party to win the seat of Herbert, from my colleague. In that electorate the servicemen’s vote is quite considerable. The Labor Party’s election undertaking had a lot to do with the Government’s desire to retain the seat of Bendigo which contains the large Army complex of Puckapunyal. It had a fair bit to do, even though his was a safe seat, with the desire of the Labor Party’s leader to please the people who occupy the Holsworthy-Ingleburn complex in the electorate of Werriwa. It was a vote catching device. It was not related to any genuine feeling for the interests of servicemen at all.
– How do you know?
– I gave the reasons why I know that earlier. The honourable gentleman should have been listening. I am very glad to say that servicemen in these electorates, particularly in the electorates of Herbert and Bendigo, did not fall for these venal bribes of the Labor Party. The honourable member for Herbert (Mr Bonnett) retained his seat with an increased majority, and to the greater glory of Australian democracy the former member for Bendigo lost his seat. One of the reasons for that was that servicemen in those electorates instinctively knew that a Labor Party government could not be trusted with defence; that, whatever the Labor Party might do about providing marginal benefits of this sort as a vote winning device, when it came to establishing priorities defence would be very low down on the list.
As I understand it, the Treasurer (Mr Crean) tonight will indicate in no uncertain fashion the truth of those words. It has even been suggested that the inadequate Army of 34,000, which the Minister for Defence announced as the Government’s decision only a few months ago. has been reduced still further to 3 1 ,000 in the course of the Budget deliberations. The Government has been knocking back all recruits except those necessary to replace people who leave the Services at least during the current 12 months. These are the sorts of things which servicemen instinctively feel about the Australian Labor Party. That is why they did not vote for the Labor Party, and everything that has happened since this Government came into office makes it quite clear that servicemen showed very good judgment in this respect.
Of course, the Government realises that improved conditions of service play a part in the process of attracting volunteers to the armed Services, and this was recognised by the previous Government. Most of the measures which have contributed to the present higher recruiting rate for the Army were instituted by the previous Government. That trend was in existence before the new Government came into office. But the Government should also realise that the provision of improved conditions of service plays only a part in the process of persuading people to volunteer for the Services. Just as importantperhaps more important- in persuading people in the community to volunteer for the armed Services is the creation of a feeling that the government of the day will not renege on its obligation to maintain adequate defence forces; that if a person comes into the Services he will have an assured career; that the Services operate on a scale which guarantees him an assured career; that there are opportunities for advancement; and that he will have interesting and gainful training and things of that sort. I believe that this is even more important than the offering of inducements. This is what servicemen had under the defence policy of the previous Government.
It is an interesting fact that during the period of the national service scheme the structure of the Regular Army was expanded and improved to an enormous extent. Over that period people were able to see for themselves that the Government meant business, that there was a career that meant something, that the Government was serious about the Army and defence. Even though there existed alongside it a national service scheme the volunteer content of the Army improved progressively throughout the whole of the life of that scheme. I put that down to the sorts of considerations I was talking about earlier. I believe that despite the honouring of these commitments, made partly as bribes in certain key seats and partly to allay public disquiet about the defence policies likely to be pursued by the Labor Party if it came to office, the other actions in the defence area taken by this Government demonstrate without a shadow of doubt that it has very little interest at all in defence; that defence comes very low in the priorities it has set. As I have said, I believe that this situation will be amply demonstrated when we hear the Treasurer’s Budget Speech tonight. The feeling in the community and in the armed forces that this is the attitude of the Government to defence will more than compensate for any recruiting advantages that this sort of measure will have.
We do not oppose the Bill because we are genuinely interested in defence and the welfare of servicemen. We do not regard servicemen as political pawns. Anything that is done to improve the conditions of service and the welfare of servicemen will receive our support but we condemn the Government for its overall approach to defence.
-The speech made by the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes), the shadow Minister for Defence, was extremely interesting from a number of points of view. He started by saying that the Opposition supports the Bill. Then he launched an attack on the Labor Government for its entire defence policy, particularly in relation to manpower and equipment. I found his speech interesting because one does not have to be very old to recall the parlous state of Australia’s defence forces in 1963, at the time of confrontation between Indonesia and Malaysia, and the situation that was arrived at after 14 years of Liberal-Country Party rule. The Labor Party in government does not pretend that it can sort out the problems of Australia ‘s defence forces in a very short space of time. It will take quite a number of years to overcome the effects of the policies of the previous Government and its neglect of equipment, accommodation and decent working conditions for our armed forces, together with proper pay scales and a decent defence forces retirement benefits scheme. But that is the task to which the Government has set itself and the honourable member for Barker has correctly predicted that some of these aims will show forth in the Budget when it is introduced tonight.
I remind the honourable member for Barker that manpower limits in the Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Australian Navy were set by the Gorton Government so that limits on the armed forces are not new in Australia. The new proposals of the Government will be the subject of statements to be made by the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) in this session. The honourable member referred to the motivation of the Labor Government in promising better conditions for the armed forces. We could well consider what would have happened if the Liberal-Country Party Government had continued in office and was in office now. The stories which the honourable member is putting before us tonight are symptomatic of the previous Government’s attitude to the armed forces. The honourable member made it quite obvious that with the present satisfactory recruiting rate this legislation would not have been introduced by the previous Government. That Government would not have given permanent servicemen these improved conditions because it would have had all the recruits that it needed. The recruiting position is actually better than the honourable member for Barker suggested. The number of people who are being declined is actually greater because a much higher standard of recruit is offering at this time. The previous Government would not be improving the conditions of the armed forces because it would have continued national service. It would have taken young people away from industry, from rural pursuits and from studies if they were not full-time students in order that it might avoid its responsibility to improve the conditions of people in the permanent armed forces.
The honourable member for Barker made no mention of the improved pay scales. I venture to say that under the previous Government that improvement would not have happened. One recalls that the report of the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation, which was chaired by the previous honourable member for Latrobe and of which the Deputy Chairman was the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) who is now the Treasurer, was brought down last year but that it was not accepted by the previous Government. We have been treated to the story of the fate of the armed forces under the Labor Government. One can only speculate as to their fate if a Liberal-Country Party Government had continued in office. I think that one can only judge the previous Government by its record.
The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), in the Australian Labor Party policy speech, stated:
The defence forces must be shown to be as necessary, and their conditions as attractive, as any other pursuit in the community. The way to attract and retain regular soldiers in peacetime is to guarantee that they and their dependants will be and after discharge will remain, on a par with civilians of the same age. Defence pay and allowances will be automatically adjusted each year to preserve their purchasing power. The report of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Committee, on which our shadow Minister for Defence and Treasurer served, will be adopted without equivocation or delay; those who have greater benefits under existing legislation will retain those benefits. We will appoint a military ombudsman. We will pay a $1,000 bonus to any serviceman accepted for reengagement. Members of the services should be given War Service Homes, repatriation health benefits, civilian rehabilitation training, scholarships for their children and generous retirement and resettlement allowances.
– That has all been done.
-Yes, that has all been done. I point out that this measure which has come on for debate and which has been brought down by the Government is the first item of business of the current session. That indicates the importance which the government attaches to keeping the promise made to. the defence forces of Australia in the policy speech which I have just read. All members of the regular forces, including members of the Citizen Military Forces and reserves, on continuous full-time service who are honourably discharged after 3 years continuous service- or earlier if they are discharged on medical grounds-now will be entitled to postdischarge vocational training, re-establishment loans so that they might be properly reestablished in civilian life, rehabilitation treatment and training for disabled ex-servicemen without a means test and repatriation benefits. All members of the regular forces including CMF and reserves on continuous full-time service who serve beyond 3 years will be entitled to war service homes benefit while continuing in the service and re-engagement bounty for other rank members of the regular forces.
The Labor Government believes that those fine Australians who choose to serve this nation through a service career should be treated no less generously than were national servicemen who were given no choice by the previous Government. The date 2 December 1972 was a watershed in the history of the defence forces of this nation. Prior to that time we were told by the Opposition that as national service would be abolished under a Labor Government there would be insufficient recruits for the Australian Regular Army. One can remember these things being said by honourable members opposite a year ago to this day. Of course now we have the shadow Minister for Defence talking about the fact that the Government has the luxury of more recruits offering for the Australian Regular Army than are actually needed. The number of recruits offering has exceeded the Government’s best expectations and this is at a time of near full employment. We are able to select the best of the young men and women available with all that this means to the Army and the quality of its serving personnel and the fact that it no longer has within its numbers those national servicemen who did not choose to serve, is, of course, another factor which will improve its morale and standard of service.
The Government has appointed an inquiry into the CMF and while we anticipate that many benefits will follow that inquiry it will be some time before the CMF recovers from the effect of national service. I think that we all recall the earlier days when serving in the CMF was an honoured occupation and many fine men chose to serve as officers and as other ranks in that body. National service had an extremely harmful effect on the CMF in the sense that many young men who did not wish to have their lives interrupted by undertaking national service opted to go into the CMF. The CMF contained a large number of young people who were not really interested in the CMF but were there to avoid the possibility of the national service ballot. This Government does not pretend that these disabilities can be overcome in a day, in a year or in a short term. But they will be overcome in the long term. The men who now join the CMF again now do so from a desire to serve their country and not to evade national service.
I have referred to the new pay scales introduced by this Government and, as the Minister for Defence who is at the table has correctly said, in this legislation- and this will be reflected in the Budget that comes down this evening- all of the commitments made to the serving forces of this country will have been carried out by the Labor Government. I would like to take the opportunity of paying a tribute to the Minister for Defence for the vigorous way in which he has given leadership to the defence forces of this country. In the comparatively short period of time that he has been the minister he has brought to his duties a capacity for hard work, a clear understanding of the defence problems of this nation, a sympathy for serving personnel and an understanding of the problems of our defence forces. As a result of this the defence forces of this country are about to make very great progress under the Labor Government.
We followed the comments that were made by the honourable member for Barker, the shadow Minister for Defence, who was the previous speaker, about the results of the last election. We do not do these things for political purposes. But I believe that when the armed forces of this country go to the polls again they will realise that they have been well served by a Labor Government.
-The Australian Country Party supports this measure. It certainly appears that the provisions of this Bill are very necessary. The honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) who has just resumed his seat waxed eloquent, and was supported by the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) who is at the table, in talking about the Labor Party’s efforts since it has been in Government in building up our armed forces. As the Minister for Defence said in his speech this measure has been designed in pursuit of the Government’s determination to provide an adequate volunteer force. I certainly ope for Australia’s sake and the Labor Government’s sake that it has better results than we have seen to date in recruiting people and maintaining the size of our armed forces, particularly the Army, which has dropped in size from 41,000 to about 31,000 since the Labor Government took office.
Honourable members opposite talk about the success that policies and measures of the Labor Government have had in terms of assisting the Army. This is why I say that the provisions of this Bill are obviously very necessary. Certainly they could receive a great deal of use particularly if the Labor Party pursues its extraordinary policies of doing everything it can to do away with the incentive for people to join the armed forces. Troops have been withdrawn from Singapore and there will be no overseas postings as an inducement to recruitment. We read in this morning’s papers- and I presume that this will be confirmed in tonight’s Budget- that there will be a slash in Army expenditure. Statements such as ‘Savage cuts in the expenditure for our armed forces’ appear. This will be a great incentive to people to join the armed forces of this country! It will boost the morale, I am sure, of the many wonderful soldiers, airmen and sailors whom we have already in our forces! However, we do not want to judge a situation too hastily. I put to the Minister for Defence, the Government and the people of Australia that there are dangerous signs with respect to the weakening of Australia’s defence forces. If this trend continues we will be one of the worst defended countries, particularly in view of the geographical size of our country, its wealth and the standard of living that we enjoy.
I deal now with the objectives contained in this Bill. The Repatriation Department will have a basic concern for the administration and decision making in respect of some of these matters. As I understand it, the well-established regional committees and the Central Training Committee which are headed by people from the Repatriation Department and staffed by representatives of many other departments will continue to make the administrative decisions in areas such as business loans, primary industry loans and rehabilitation. Business loans will still be made by the Repatriation Department whereas primary industry loans will be made by the Department of Primary Industry. Rehabilitation of those members of the armed forces who are not disabled by war service will, I understand, be provided by the Department of Social Security unless they had war service overseas. As this Bill applies basically to regular servicemen some conditions will be different.
– What others are there?
-For the information of the honourable member for Bowman, there are national servicemen. They have been covered by this legislation for many years. These provisions are to apply to people who voluntarily join the Army as regular servicemen. Naturally different conditions will apply to them. The criteria are not set out in the Minister’s second reading speech, but no doubt in the normal administrative procedures certain changes in criteria will apply in the granting of business or primary industry loans. When national servicemen were the only recipients of these loans one of the conditions was that the purpose for which the loan was sought had to have some relationship to their previous occupation. Some members of the Regular Army have been in the Army for up to 20 years, so that criteria would not be applicable to them. No doubt the authorities, who have done a splendid job in the past in administering these benefits for national servicemen, will continue to use their experience. Each case will be carefully studied by the members of these administrative departments and decided on its merits, bearing in mind the soldier’s background and ability. In view of the exigencies of time and the program of the House I conclude by saying that I certainly hope that this measure will counter the drastic fall-off in recruitment for our armed forces.
Debate (on motion by Mr Kerin) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.
Bill presented by Mr Crean, and read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In doing so I present the Budget for 1973-74.
Since taking office nine months ago the Government has acted energetically to implement many of its election undertakings. Many major spending proposals of the Government’s program had of course to wait for the Budget and are now included in it. The task of the Budget, however, is to reconcile the Government’s determination to carry out the whole of its program with wise management of the economy. This we have done.
– Ha, ha!
– If wisdom had been displayed before I might not have been here. This Budget incorporates far more decisions than any previous Budget and therefore it will take longer to read. Its overriding theme is one of reform. It is designed both to clear the decks for progress in the years ahead and to ensure that in major areas of concern- social welfare, education, the quality of urban life- real forward moves are made immediately.
The main elements of the economic situation are strongly rising demand, vigorous growth in output, full employment and external strength. These favourable features are, however, coupled with persistent inflation.
Outstanding recently has been consumer spending. With disposable incomes buoyant, and confidence rising, consumer spending has accelerated and is now running high.
Investment spending presents a mixed picture. The continuing housing boom is straining resources and adding considerably to the upward pressures on prices of homes and land. By contrast, private business fixed investment has been until recently rather weak. However, preliminary figures suggest a strengthening during the first half of 1973.
Public spending continues to rise strongly. Exports too continue to grow rapidly. Imports have gathered pace recently and are now rising fast.
Overall, the economy has responded well to the buoyancy of demand. In 1972-73 non-farm product at constant prices rose by over 5 per cent. The rate of increase, however, was considerably faster than that in the second half of the year.
The labour market has reflected this resurgence. Unemployment has receded markedly, job opportunities have broadened and the workforce has grown rapidly.
For the year ahead, expansionary forces are powerful and likely to remain so. Personal incomes will continue buoyant and keep up consumer spending. This applies to all forms of incomesfarm and other business incomes, social service incomes and the rest, no less than wages and salaries.
Additionally, prospects for private business fixed investment are improving. Domestic demands are already straining productive capacity in many industries. Some of these demands can and will be met by imports; but increasingly they are inducing a strengthening of business investment.
Housing demands, given the backlog of finance approvals not yet translated into bricks and mortar, should continue high. However, we will be seeking some moderate abatement of the private housing boom in 1973-74, both to reduce the strains on the industry and to make room for the substantial expansion of public welfare housing for which we have recently provided.
Public sector demands on the economy will be expanding strongly during 1973-74. Exports also are expected to go on rising.
Overall, non-farm product should grow by as much as 6 or 7 per cent; given a favourable season, gross domestic product could actually better 7 per cent.
Inflation has been and remains our major economic problem. Like other countries, Australia will be grappling with it in the year ahead. However, there will be at least two moderating factors. The first is a high rate of importing. When the year began we expected imports to increase by some $800m or 20 per cent in 1973-74; the decision to cut tariffs by one quarter will add further to that increase. We can well afford a strong expansion in imports. By taking some pressure off domestic productive capacity, that will help to ease inflationary strains.
Secondly, the monetary situation will be much less expansive than last year. Particularly in the first half of 1972-73, the money supply rose very rapidly. Since then, we have acted both to diminish our current account surplus on the balance of payments and to cut off excessive capital inflow. In addition, the Reserve Bank has made calls to the Statutory Reserve Deposit Accounts to help mop up excessive bank liquidity. The very successful July loan has also contributed to this.
With resources already under strain, however, we would be foolish to overload them further. In framing this Budget, that consideration has been very much to the forefront.
The Budget is not simply an economic document. It is also an important instrument whereby we give effect to our goals and aspirations.
In Australia today we are much better at selling cars than providing decent public transport services; much better at building houses than providing sewerage services for them. I could go on, but the point needs no labouring. These priorities are all wrong. However, as the Prime Minister said in his Election Policy Speech, ‘We cannot expect to clear away that backlog in three months or even three years’. But we are now embarking on the task.
In doing so, we engaged in a wide-ranging examination of the commitments inherited from previous governments. We believe that proper budgeting requires continuing critical review of existing programs. It is only too easy for inertia to take over- for 95 per cent of budget outlays each year to be pre-determined by the past. It was time for such a thoroughgoing critical reviewagain that might well have been taken years before-to clear away deadwood, and we cleared some of that, and thereby begin to make room for the programs to which we are pledged. As a first step in carrying out that review the Prime Minister appointed a Task Force under Dr Coombs.
-Yes, and the honourable member will be able to judge how much of a leak it was. He will find that it would not have mattered much if it had been left on the tram. His report, which makes no specific recommendations on individual outlay or tax items, was used by the Government as a working document in our task of balancing existing expenditures with the requirements of our own program. It is being published with the Budget papers. Why people cannot contain their patience about what is in or is not in a Budget until the night of presentation is beyond my comprehension.
In a buoyant and strongly growing economy, with inflationary pressures intense, we are limited by the over-riding need to bring down a Budget which does not add to these pressures.
I do not suggest that we can aim, through the Budget, to do the whole job of curbing inflation. Rather, we aim to attack rising prices by a series of inter-related measures.
We have already taken some far-reaching steps. The Prices Justification Tribunal is now in operation. In December 1972 we acted to appreciate the Australian dollar and thereby restrain price increases. We have cut all protective tariffs by one quarter. The report leading to that decision is being published with the Budget papers. The flood of borrowed overseas funds in 1972 which helped to build up the inflationary pressures now so evident has been stopped. We have acted to reduce excess liquidity.
The Budget too must fit into the overall antiinflationary policy. With that in mind the Government came to two major conclusions.
First, despite competing demands for resources, the whole thesis of the Government’s policies requires that there be some increase in the share of resources going to the public sector. (Opposition members interjecting)-
-Honourable members opposite can indicate which ones they would like to cut down on.
-Order! I will name honourable members if they continue to interject. I will see that the Leader of the Opposition when he speaks on Tuesday night next is heard in silence just as I intend the Treasurer to be heard in silence. I warn Opposition members that if they persist in interjecting I will name them.
-Secondly, given the need to avoid adding to net pressure on resources, it is necesary that the increase in outlays budgeted for be more than covered by increased receipts. In 1972-73 outlays increased about twice as fast as receipts- and I did not draw that year’s Budget. The very different economic circumstances 34 REPRESENATIVES 21 August 1973 Appropriation Bill (No.1) now prevailing dictate a much more circumspect approach.
This year, for the first time, we have adopted a classification of outlays based on their functions and purposes. In certain cases items previously treated as revenue are now classified as offsets to outlays. The classification adopted is based on a widely used international standard developed by the United Nations. The functional classification is, I believe, a major innovation which will aid in the understanding of Government policies.
This functional classification is also being used in the three-year forward estimates of Australian Government budget outlays which have been developed in the Treasury over recent years. We give high priority to the further development of this work. Longer-term estimates can provide a much more rational framework for decisionmaking.
Total budget outlays are estimated at $12, 168m in 1973-74. This is an increase of $ 1,938m or 18.9 per cent on actual outlays in 1972- 73. Details are set out in Statement No. 4.I shall be briefly outlining our proposals for 1973- 74 but not much detail can be given here. Additional information will, as appropriate, be provided by the responsible Ministers.
The Budget provides for a total defence ouday in 1973-74 of$ 1,266m. This compares with actual outlays of $1,234m in 1972-73, and comprises some 10.4 per cent of total budget outlays. This provision for defence purposes results from careful assessment both of relevant strategic considerations and of the competing demands of other Government programs.
Since coming to office, the Government has successfully implemented its policy for an allvolunteer Army. Pay and allowances for Servicemen have been markedly improved with the adoption of the recommendations of the Woodward Committee on Service Pay and Conditions and an improved Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Scheme. This approach has proved successful, and volunteer enlistments and reengagements in each of the Services are buoyant.
There will be some re-structuring of the defence forces and manning of particular units in 1973-74 in conformity with the present strategic outlook. This will permit some reduction in civilian manpower and a smaller reduction in Service manpower, mainly in support and other lower priority areas. Australia’s defence capability, as a base for future expansion should the need arise, will be maintained and in some areas improved.
The Government is pursuing its policy of equipping the Armed Services with modern weapons systems. A number of significant defence equipment projects are in hand. These include additional Oberon submarines, improvements to the Charles F. Adams class destroyers, heavy landing craft and anti-submarine cargo helicopters for the Navy; Nomad aircraft, light observation helicopters and radio relay equipment for the Army; and medium lift helicopters, Mirage trainers and new Air Traffic Control Radars for the RAAF. Other authorisations are expected to be announced later in the financial year by the Minister for Defence.
For this Government, education is a top priority -it constitutes the fastest growing component of the Budget. We will provide $843m for education in 1973-74, an increase of $404m or 92 per cent on last year. There will be a further substantial rise in 1974-75 as the programs commencing in 1 974 come fully into effect.
The assumption by the Government, from 1 January 1974, of full financial responsibility for tertiary education at universities, colleges of advanced education, State teachers colleges and other approved teachers colleges, including the abolition of fees at all these institutions and at technical colleges, will entail additional oudays of$ 179m in 1973-74. In addition, the Government’s decision to support a program of financial assistance for the recurrent and capital needs of teachers and pre-school teachers colleges from 1 July 1973 will involve it in an outlay of $33m in 1973-74.
From the beginning of 1974 non-competitive means-tested living allowances will be offered to all full-time un-bonded Australian students admitted to approved courses in tertiary and approved post-secondary institutions; the allowances will be higher than are at present available under existing scholarship schemes. These measures will cost $32m in 1973-74, or $17m more than the cost of continuing present schemes with existing benefits.
Increases in allowances will be made in the Government Post-graduate Awards scheme, together with the provision of some additional awards. These new awards and increased allowances are estimated to cost $531,000 in 1973-74.
The Government will increase by $10m to $25.6m the unmatched capital grant for the building and equipment costs of technical schools and colleges in 1973-74.
To assist low-income families to educate their children in the final two years of secondary school, means-tested educational allowances of up to $304 per annum will be paid from the beginning of 1974. The cost is estimated at $1.75min 1973-74.
The two-year program of capital and recurrent grants for primary and secondary education, arising out of the recommendations of the Interim Committee for the Australian Schools Commission, will commence in 1974. This will require expenditure of $97m in 1973-74. This program will improve the quality of education in Australian schools and promote greater equality of opportunity in education. Substantial special assistance will be made available to provide for areas of particular need.
The Government’s promise to make one year of pre-school education available toall Australian children will begin to take effect from January next. $10m has been included in the Budget in advance of the report and recommendations of the Australian Pre-Schools Committee so that a start may be made as early as possible in 1 974. In addition, $8m is being provided to assist in the construction and operation of child care centres.
Several other important programs in the field of education are provided for: $2m will be provided in 1973-74 for emergency supplementary class-room accommodation in State and nongovernment schools to facilitate special instruction of migrant children; subject to negotiating satisfactory arrangements with the New South Wales Government and the University of New South Wales, we are prepared to provide for the establishment of a national post-graduate school of management at that University. $2. 3m will be made available in the 1973-75 triennium, of which $350,000 is provided this year; in order to increase the number of social workers in training, special grants will be made available to New South Wales,
Queensland and Victoria to provide additional places for trainee social workers in universities in those States; the value of the grants over the triennium 1973-75 is $440,000, of which $162,000 is provided this year.
Education in the Territories
Grants totalling $54m will be paid to the Australian National University and the Canberra College of Advanced Education in 1973-74. Outlays on schools and technical colleges in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory are estimated at $57m in 1973-74, compared with $52m last year.
In this Budget we are making the first financial provisions for reforming health services in Australia.
The present health insurance scheme is inequitable and inefficient. This Government intends to introduce a fair and universal health insurance program. A Health Insurance Commission is to be established to administer the program, to operate from 1 July 1974. $8m is provided in the Budget for the purchase of computing equipment for the program. We are providing $361m to meet the Government’s commitments in 1973-74 under the existing scheme.
The establishment of regionally organised, community-based health services, with their emphasis on rehabilitation and preventive rather than curative health measures, must not be delayed any longer. Accordingly, we are making an initial allocation of $10m in 1973-74 to assist States and eligible organisations to meet the capital and operating costs of providing such services.
We have also allocated $7.5m to assist the States to develop community-based mental health, alcoholism and drug dependency services. An additional $1.75m is included to meet the remaining commitments towards the capital costs of mental health institutions.
The Hospitals and Health Services Commission is assessing hospital and health service requirements throughout Australia. In the interim, $4.5m is being provided in 1973-74 to meet urgent needs for additional hospitals in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Of the total, $4m will be provided towards the costs of planning and commencement of construction of a major hospital at Westmead in Sydney, and $250,000 in each case towards the cost of acquiring sites and preparing plans for major hospitals in Melbourne and Brisbane.
A sum of $7.9m is included in the Budget for the national school dental scheme in 1 973-74.
We propose to abolish the $ 10 charge currently paid by eligible pensioners and their dependants who are supplied with hearing aids by the Government Acoustic Laboratories. Also, the Laboratories will supply these persons with hearing aid batteries free of charge.
The Hospitals and Health Services Commission will be examining ways to encourage the expansion of home nursing services. Pending the receipt of its recommendations, we propose to increase, with effect from 1 September 1973, the existing subsidy to approved organisations providing such services. For organisations established before September 1956, the annual Australian Government payment for each nurse who attracts subsidy will be increased from $4,300 to $4,700. For organisations formed after that date, the annual subsidy for each nurse employed will be increased from $2,150 to $2,350. As at present, the Australian Government subsidy to any organisation will not exceed that paid to the organisation by a State. The increase in the subsidy is expected to cost $155,000 in 1973-74.
Advertising of cigarettes and cigarette tobacco on radio and television is to be phased out over three years. In addition, the Government will continue to support anti-smoking education programs through the National Warning Against Smoking Campaign. A sum of $500,000 will be directed towards this campaign in 1973-74.
The Government has decided to enter into discussions with the State Governments with a view to modifying the free school milk scheme as from 1 January 1974, or as soon as possible thereafter. The modified scheme will apply only to children at specific community schools and others selected on a ‘needs’ basis to be agreed with State health authorities. Other than in these limited areas, there is no longer any justification for the scheme on nutritional grounds; it is an outstanding example of a scheme that has long since outlived its purpose but has been allowed to continue at a cost running presently at $ 12.7m per annum.
Australia was once a leader in the provision of welfare services. It is so no longer but this Government intends to change that, state of affairs.
Since 2 December much has been done to improve social security benefits. We shall now do more.
All social service pensions will be increased by $1.50 per week as soon as legislation can be enacted, thus bringing to $23 per week the rate for single aged, invalid and widow pensioners and to $40.50 per week the combined rate for a married couple. This increase will apply also to supporting mothers benefit, sheltered employment -and rehabilitation allowances, and unemployment and sickness benefits. Further increases of the same amounts will be made in the Autumn session.
Additional pensions and benefits payable in respect of dependent children, including student children, are to be increased by 50c to $5 per week.
The increases in the rates of social service pensions and benefits will also apply to repatriation service pensioners and to recipients of tuberculosis allowances.
We propose also to introduce a new benefit of $ 10 per week to be payable in respect of children whose parents are both dead.
We have promised to abolish the means test on age pensions payable to residentially qualified persons 65 years of age and over within the life of the Parliament. As the first step, the means test on age pensions for persons 75 years of age and over will be abolished from the Spring of 1973. The means test will also be abolished for repatriation service pensions for persons 75 years of age and over. The 40St is estimated at $40m in 1973-74.
Abolition of the means test does, however, give rise to problems of equity. (Opposition members interjecting)-
-Listen carefully. After all, this was suggested by yourselves. At least honourable members opposite can begin to see how it is to be implemented. There are others outside this
House who may want to listen. Unless age pensions are taxable, aged persons on higher incomes would be put in a privileged position by comparison not only with pensioners on lower incomes, but also with people below pensionable age on equivalent or smaller incomes and paying tax on the whole of that income. It is necessary, however, in introducing taxation of age pensions, to ensure that pensioners in the lower ranges are not disadvantaged. The Government proposes therefore that age pensions should become taxable but that special steps be taken to protect those wholly or largerly dependent on pensions from detriment.
The existing age allowance cannot do this. Indeed, the age allowance has been anomalous ever since the introduction of the tapered means test and we propose to abolish it with effect from the beginning of this income year. The Government proposes that all pensions, excluding supplementary payments, paid under the social security legislation to people of pensionable age, including wives of age pensioners, will be taxable. Equivalent pensions paid under the Repatriation legislation to people of age pension age, but not war pensions, will also be subject to tax. A basic tax rebate of $156 will be given in 1973-74 to aged people. This will ensure that persons wholly or largerly dependent on pensions will not have to pay any tax. The rebate will reduce by 25 cents in the $1 for each dollar of taxable income in excess of $2,236 and will be limited to the amount of tax otherwise payable. The rebate will be phased out as it serves its purpose.
Home Care Programs for the Aged
We propose to increase subsidy payments by the Australian Government under the States Grants (Home Care) Act from one-half to twothirds of State expenditure on such services. It will be a condition of this additional assistance that a State’s own expenditure be not reduced below its present level.
We propose, in addition, to double the Australian Government’s present contribution towards the capital cost of senior citizens centres to $2 for every $ 1 contributed by a State Government or local governing body, and we will increase from one-half to two-thirds the Australian Government’s contribution towards the salaries of welfare officers employed at such centres.
The basic rate of subsidy paid to ‘mealsonwheels’ services under the Delivered Meals Subsidy Act will be increased from 15 cents to 20 cents per meal. The increased subsidy will become payable from 1 January 1974 and will apply retrospectively to meals delivered since 1 January 1973. To facilitate the financial arrangements of ‘meals-on-wheels’ organisations we will, from 1974 onwards, make payments to them on a quarterly rather than an annual basis.
The present rate of subsidy to eligible organisations providing personal care services for the aged in approved hostel accommodation will be increased from $10 to $12 per week for each resident aged 80 years or more. The same subsidy will be paid also in respect of residents of approved hostels who though not yet 80 years of age require and are receiving approved personal care services.
We are proposing improvements in rehabilitation services. Details will be announced by the Minister for Social Security.
The need for social planning at the regional level was recognised in a major election proposal, the Australian Assistance Plan. A pilot program is being started. Regional Councils for Social Development will be established at an estimated cost of $ 1.5m in 1973-74.
To improve personal service and attention in those areas presently poorly covered, we are embarking on a considerable expansion of the Regional Office network of the Department of Social Security; a $lm program will be implemented in 1973-74.
The Handicapped Childrens Benefit will be doubled to $3 per day.
Repatriation benefits are being substantially increased.
The Special Rate pension, or its equivalent, will be increased by $4.50 per week to $55.60 during the Budget sittings, and by a further $4.50 to $60. 10 during the Autumn sittings.
The maximum General Rate war pension will be increased by $3 per week to $19 during the Budget sittings and by a further $3 a week to $22 during the Autumn sittings. The Special Compensation Allowance will be reduced by $3 during the Budget sittings and eliminated in the Autumn.
There will be an increase of $ 1.50 per week in the rate of war widows pension in both the Bud- get and Autumn sittings. Domestic allowances will also be increased by $ 1 a week in the Budget sittings.
New benefits to be introducted in the Repatriation field this year include free medical and hospital treatment for all returned servicemen of the Boer War and World War I, and free treatment of malignant cancer for ex-service personnel who served in a theatre of war.
We have decided that 25 per cent of war pensions will be disregarded as income for the purpose of calculating Repatriation service pension payments.
We will arrange for Repatriation Artificial Limb and Appliance Centres to be expanded so that, in addition to their present functions, they can arrange the supply, either directly or through commercial limb makers, of artificial limbs, free of charge, to all persons in the community who need them.
Since achieving Government we have been active in the cause of the Aboriginal citizens of this nation. This Budget provides a major expansion in activity. Outlays on Aboriginal advancement will total more than $1 17m in 1973-74, almost double the level in 1972-73. Improvements in housing, health, education and employment training facilities and opportunities are the prime objectives.
We propose action on several fronts to help meet the housing needs of low-income families and intending home buyers.
At the Premier’s Conference in June we agreed to advance $2 19m to the States for welfare housing purposes in 1973-74. This is 26 per cent more than in 1972-73.
An amount of $102m, $28m more than last year, is being provided for housing loans under the Defence Service Homes Scheme in 1973-7$?
The Government proposes to introduce during the coming Autumn Parliamentary session legislation to provide for a scheme of deductibility of mortgage interest as promised in the Policy Speech, to have effect from 1 July 1974. In the light of that we have decided to end the Home Savings Grant Scheme.
Opposition members- Oh!
-If honourable members opposite will listen they will see that we do not do things suddenly and that what we put back is better than what we take away.
Grants will continue to be paid on homes contracted to be bought or built, or to be commenced by an owner-builder, on or before 31 December 1976, by persons who have commenced to save in the prescribed manner before this announcement. This will give those who have only recently commenced to save for the grant time to complete their three years saving and to acquire a home.
Housing in the Territories
We are providing a net $38.6m for housing in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory in 1973-74, nearly 40 per cent more than last year. The Government has decided that there is no longer justification for concessional rentals for government housing in the Territories, including housing provided through the Northern Territory Housing Commission. Full economic rentals will apply to government housing in the Territories from the earliest date practicable. As a first step, pending that, the present maximum rental of $15 per week paid by public servants in the Northern Territory will be increased to $25. Special assistance will continue to be given to needy tenants of Government houses in both Territories.
Cities- both old and new- will be a continuing focus of our attention and efforts. We have pledged to involve ourselves directly in the cities. Australia is essentially an urban nation; the overwhelming majority of Australians live in cities and towns. We are seeking to work with the States and with their authorities, especially at the local government level, in a major effort to improve our urban areas and make life in them more pleasant and more purposeful. Already in our brief period of office we have taken important steps to that end. The Department of Urban and Regional Development has been established to provide the overall co-ordinating machinery for our policies. A Cities Commission is operating to provide expert independent advice and work in close consultation with the States on technical aspects of our cities initiatives.
This Budget provides in total for expenditure of $ 1 36m in 1 973-74 for our cities initiatives. Even so, this marks only the beginning.
An amount of $33m has been provided for expenditure on Albury/Wodonga and other growth centres in 1973-74. The States will be invited to enter into agreements in 1973-74 for the development of these growth centres as alternative high-quality urban living environments. Also provided is about S2.7m for specific activities of the Cities Commission in facilitating preparatory planning and feasibility studies and associated technical work required for growth centres.
A further basic element of our cities initiatives relates to land. We have initiated negotiations with all the States for the establishment of Land Commissions designed to provide Australian families with land at fair prices. The functions of Land Commissions may also include the acquisition of land for national parks, the national estate and scenic and recreational pursuits and funds are provided in the Budget for these purposes. The Australian Government will be prepared to provide assistance of up to $60m to the State by way of repayable loans to meet expenditures deriving from commitments entered into by them during 1973-74 for the acquisition of land for urban development and is providing $30m in this Budget for expenditures during 1973-74 for this purpose. Again, this should be seen as merely the beginning of a continuing involvement by the Australian Government in land acquisition and management for the benefit and welfare of the whole community.
We have undertaken to overcome the national backlog in sewerage services in major urban areas. This initiative is well advanced. State and other instrumentalities are geared to making a start on the physical task. So that real progress can be achieved in 1973-74, the Budget provides for $30m to be advanced to the States as a first step towards this objective.
The Western sectors of our two major cities illustrate in their most acute form the problems typical of our urban areas. In this Budget we have made provision for the urgent task of assisting local councils in these two areas. This assistance will cover such items as surveys and investigations, administrative and technical assistance and housing and welfare demonstration projects. Amounts of $5m for expenditure in Sydney and $3m in Melbourne have been provided for in 1973-74. The specific programs will be worked out with the appropriate State and local government authorities.
Another key initiative designed to improve the quality of urban life is our program to provide efficient and economic public transport systems in Australian cities. A provision of $32m has been made in this Budget for assistance to the States for upgrading urban public transport services. The detailed arrangements are being worked out with the States and it can be expected that our outlays in this field will increase rapidly in 1974-75 and beyond as this major new capital works program gets under way.
Protection of the Environment
The Australian Government is supporting a wide range of activities in the field of environmental protection and conservation.
Provision is made in this Budget to contribute $150,000, on a matching basis with the States, towards the establishment of an Australian Environment Council Fund that will enable the Council to commission selected environmental studies.
We propose to establish an Interim Council to be responsible for stimulating the scientific study of Australia’s biological resources and an amount of $120,000 is provided in the Budget for this purpose.
The Budget provides for significant developments over a wide range of cultural and recreational needs.
National Library $7m will be provided for the National Library in 1973-74, including a provision of about $100,000 for the initial development of scientific and technological information services.
Australian National Gallery and Collection $4.7m is provided for additions to and maintenance of the national collection, and for activities associated with the construction of the National Gallery.
Assistance to the Arts
Provision is made for expenditure of $ 14m on the programs of the Australian Council for the Arts- an increase of $7.3m on 1972-73 expenditure.
The Film and Television School will provide training courses and open-school activities for the industry, educational institutions and community groups. It will co-ordinate the granting of financial assistance for film and television training both in Australia and overseas. The Budget provision is $292,500.
The Government aims to facilitate the creative use of leisure time. Our proposals include the provision of $3.2m for the development of community recreation complexes and we will continue discussions with the States on the development of multi-purpose community centres in schools.
We also propose to increase the annual grant to the National Fitness Council in 1973-74 from $600,000 to $lm, and $lm will be provided to assist sportsmen and sportswomen to participate in national and international events
The Government will legislate in this session to establish an Australian National Parks and Wildlife Commission and Service. $3m will be provided for the acquisition of land for the development of national parks within the States, and to preserve the national estate. Although the precise allocation of funds between the two programs is to remain flexible, tentative allocations of $500,000 and $2.5m respectively are proposed.
It is the Government’s policy to increase the quality and content of Australian programs in radio and television. To enable the Australian Broadcasting Commission to play its full role in this respect, almost $76.5m, or $ 10m more than in 1972-73, has been provided for operational expenditure by the ABC. An amount of $1 1.3m has also been provided for expenditure on capital equipment, including equipment required for colour television.
The fees for commercial broadcasting station licences will be increased. It is expected that the increase will yield about $120,000 in the year 1973-74. The higher fees will apply to licence renewals from tomorrow. Details will be announced by the Minister for the Media.
The immigration program for 1973-74 is 1 10,000 settlers, the same as the revised 1 972-73 program. The number of assisted migrants is expected to increase from 57,000 in 1972-73 to 60,000 in 1973-74.
Embarkation and passage costs of the program are expected to increase from $ 1 8.7m to $20. lm in 1973-74, although much of this rise will be offset by the recent increase in migrant contributions to passage costs. Total outlays associated with the immigration program, net of recoveries and repayments, are estimated to be $5 1.6m this year compared with actual expenditure of $47.6m in 1972-73.
I turn now to the various services and forms of assistance provided by the Australian Government to industry and the community generally.
The Post Office investment program needs to provide for normal growth in demand and maintenance of service standards. An advance of $320m is provided in the Budget to help the Post Office finance its investment program in 1 973-74, compared with $288m in 1972-73.
To provide additional resources and at the same time reduce the heavy deficit in prospect on the postal services, some increases in Post Office charges and certain cost-saving measures are proposed. Certain concessions which the Government considers no longer justified will be eliminated. Among these are concessional postage rates on registered newspapers and periodicals, concessional tele-communications charges to the media and the low telephone rentals that have applied in non-metropolitan areas up to now. The basic postage rate of 7 cents will not be changed some other postal charges and charges for a range of tele-communications services used primarily by business subscribers will be increased. The telephone connection fee for new subscribers will be increased from $50 to $60.
Details of these and other measures will be announced by the Postmaster-General.
The annual cost of providing and operating airport and airway facilities is currently running some $70m above the annual revenues received from their use. We see no reason why the general taxpayer should subsidise air services in this way. We propose to increase the rate of recovery of the costs of civil aviation to 80 per cent within five years. Air navigation charges to the airlines will be increased from I December 1973 by 10 per cent, the maximum increase presently permitted under the terms of the Airlines Agreements with the two major domestic airlines. There will be a substantially larger increase in general aviation charges. This will yield additional revenue in 1973-74 of $1.75m. We propose also to move immediately to renegotiate the Airlines Agreements so as to remove the constraints on rates of increase in air navigation charges and aviation fuel taxes.
We have also adopted a policy of recovering the full economic costs of airport terminals from occupants. This policy will be applied in respect of future terminals, and existing terminals as present lease agreements expire.
We have decided that all future proposals for investment in civil aviation projects should be subjected to economic evaluation.
The Government will continue to provide financial assistance for the operation of air services to remote areas during 1973-74. An amount of almost $2m is included in the Budget for this purpose. We have decided, however, to phase out these subsidies progressively. Subsidies for so-called ‘essential rural’ services to some country centres will cease on 30 June 1974. Subsides for ‘developmental’ air services will be phased out over a period of four years.
To enable the in-flight testing of the large and growing number of air navigation aids, three turbo-jet aircraft will be ordered for the Department of Civil Aviation this year. The estimated cost of the aircraft and associated items is $ 15m of which $700,000 is required this year.
Marine navigation aids are now provided to users at less than full cost. To remove this burden from the general taxpayer we propose to increase light dues- the charges to shipping for the use of these facilities- from 25 cents to 31 cents per net registered ton per quarter from 1 October 1973. This is estimated to yield an additional $ 1 .6m in 1973-74.
The Australian National Line loses at least $1.5m per annum on sea passenger services to Tasmania. Given the importance of this tourist link to Tasmania, the Government has approved a subsidy of $lm per annum to continue the operation of the ‘Empress of Australia’ passenger services. This will be reviewed in three years. Changes in passenger and vehicle rates will be made and other arrangements pursued with a view to reducing the present rate of loss.
The Budget provides for an advance of $ 107m to the Pipeline Authority for the purpose of constructing a natural gas pipeline from the Cooper Basin gas fields in South Australia to Sydney.
This Government supports the development of sound and healthy industries in Australia as being basic to the growth of a modern industrial economy. But to achieve this objective it is essential that industry be competitive and responsive to the challenge of economic change, and that such assistance as the Government does provide facilitates desirable change and does not impede it by propping up uneconomic and contracting industries. Against this background we have carefully examined the arrangements for assistance to industry which we inherited from the previous Government.
In what follows I deal primarily with the outlays side. I come later to assistance provided in the past through taxation concessions.
Details are provided in Statement No. 4.
As already announced, the Government has decided to phase out the bounties on butter and cheese production over the next two years and to place increasing emphasis on adjustment of the industry. Butter and cheese bounty payments will thus be reduced by $9m, to $18m, for 1973-74 and to $9m for 1974-75. They will then cease. The processed milk products bounty, the rate of which is tied to the butter and cheese bounty, will be phased out simultaneously.
Meanwhile, the Government will examine the most effective way of further assisting the industry to adjust to changing circumstances. We will stand ready to provide additional funds for this purpose.
The Government has decided to impose a charge on the export of meats, to recoup from the meat industry the substantial expenditure incurred by the Government for the benefit of the industry on export meat inspection services.
From 1 October 1973 to 30 June 1976, the charge will be 1 cent a lb on meat exports. The charge is expected to yield $ 14m in 1 973-74.
The Government has also decided to recoup from the beef industry the expenditure incurred in the campaign to eradicate bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis. The amount to be recouped in 1973-74 will be approximately $6m. Details will be announced by the Minister for Primary Industry in due course.
As already announced, $20m is provided in the Budget to facilitate long-term rural lending by the Commonwealth Development Bank for a wider range of purposes, namely financing of farm purchase, repayment of short-term debts in appropriate cases and holding a farm together after the death of a farm proprietor.
The whole of the $100m provided only two years ago for expenditure on rural reconstruction has now been committed, although the agreement with the States has two years to run. The Government will introduce legislation to extend the scheme to 30 June 1 976 and is providing $47.2m in this Budget for expenditure in 1973-74. In addition, the fruitgrowing reconstruction scheme will be extended to 30 June 1974 at an estimated cost of $2m. These measures will facilitate the adjustment of rural industries to changing market trends.
The Government has decided to undertake an exploration program to add to knowledge of recoverable coal reserves. The Budget provides $ 1 m for a coal exploration drilling program.
The Government’s contribution to research and investigation undertaken by the Joint Coal Board is to be phased out by 30 June 1975. The contribution was $200,000 in 1972-73; in 1973-74 it will be $167,000
A review will be made of the Industrial Research and Development Grants Scheme. Firms will be assisted to commence research and development and thereafter will be required to finance such activities themselves.
We propose to set a limit on the amount of grant payable to any one company or its whollyowned subsidiaries for any one grant year. Also we are extending the scheme to enable consideration of applications from companiesgenerally smaller concerns- which perform worthwhile research and development under the direction of personnel who possess practical skills and experience but who lack formal qualifications. The Budget allocaton for the grants scheme in 1973-74 is $ 16.5m, compared with expenditure of $ 1 4.0m in 1 972-73.
The main effort to encourage higher standards of industrial design in Australia is undertaken by the Industrial Design Council. Last year the Council received $213,000 from the Government of which $168,000 was conditional on the
State and industry matching contributions. It will be increased this year to $340,000, of which onehalf is conditional on matching.
-I will come to that, if you will be patient.
We are establishing an Interdepartmental Committee to examine and report on the general issue of the encouragement of private Australian investment overseas. Meanwhile, we have decided to provide $100,000 in 1973-74 for this purpose.
The Government will expand the scheme of grants for tourist attractions introduced last year. $2m is being provided in 1973-74 for this purpose.
We are also providing $320,000 in 1973-74 for expenditure on domestic tourism promotion by the Department of Tourism and Recreation. i)p to now promotional expenditure by the Australian Government has been directed towards international tourism through the Australian Tourist Commission.
The Petroleum Products Prices Stabilization Scheme provides a subsidy to users of certain petroleum products in non-metropolitan areas, such that wholesale prices in those areas do not exceed metropolitan prices by more than 3.3 cents per gallon. The Government proposes to increase the margin specified in the scheme to 5 cents per gallon. This will save about $3m on expenditure which would otherwise have arisen this year.
It is important that the labour force be trained- and re-trained where possible- to meet present day requirements. The Budget provides for new expenditures directed towards that end, including: $ 1.83m to encourage improved apprentice training and strengthening of the program for the improvement of training in industry and commerce; $200,000 to encourage greater participation of Aboriginals in the Employment Training Scheme for Aboriginals; $750,000 to inform the public of the nature and extent of the Government’s various industrial and employment training initiatives.
OTHER ECONOMIC SERVICES
When reducing all non-revenue tariffs by onequarter on 18 July, the Government also announced the immediate establishment of a Tribunal to recommend appropriate assistance to firms and employees who may be affected seriously by this measure. An initial budgetary provision of $25m has been made to meet the cost of such adjustment assistance in 1973-74.
The Government has decided that the Export Payments Insurance Corporation should pay interest on its existing and any future provisions of Government capital at the long-term bond rates ruling at the date of the provision of the capital. It is proposed to phase in this policy over three years in order to enable the Corporation to adjust its premium fixing policy to offset the loss of income thereby involved. Savings in 1973-74 will total $160,000.
The Government will provide $3m in 1973-74 for grants to the States for a one-year program of traffic management and improvements at locations with poor accident records. We will also provide $825,000 for road safety promotion and research- an increase of $250,000 over 1972-73- as well as the annual grant to the States of $ 1 50,000 for promotion of road safety practices.
We propose to continue in 1973-74 the existing annual grant of $50,000 to the National Council of Surf Life Saving Associations and in addition we will provide assistance of up to $100,000 during 1973-74 to the National Council to assist surf life saving clubs, on a $ 1 for $ 1 basis, in the purchase of surf life saving rescue equipment.
In furtherance of its policy on legal aid, the Government has introduced an Aboriginal Legal Aid Scheme, appointed an Expert Committee to examine all aspects of legal aid in Australia, initiated a study of a possible salaried legal aid service, and instituted a comprehensive administrative scheme of legal aid in the Northern Territory. In addition, provision has been made for a grant of $2m to the State Governments to supplement their existing legal aid schemes.
The Government has decided to publicise Government activities through the media so that the people may become aware of their rights and responsibilities, the Government’s own special responsibilities, and the overall functions of Government. A provision of $ 1.25m has been made for this purpose in 1 973-74.
Outlays from the Budget on external aid, including defence aid, will increase from $257m in 1972-73 to $334m in 1973-74. Most of this increase will occur in aid to Papua New Guinea and is associated with that country’s movement towards self-government and independence. A comprehensive statement of Australia’s foreign aid program is given in the document on that subject being tabled with the budget papers.
At existing rates of taxation and charges, including the lower customs duties announced in July, receipts in 1973-74 are estimated to increase by $ 1 ,62 1 m to $ 1 1 , 1 42m. That estimated increase falls well short of the estimated increase in outlays of $ 1.938m. We have therefore found it necessary to raise additional revenue.
Aided by the Coombs Report the Government has reviewed a large number of ‘disguised expenditures’that is, revenue concessions. The Government has decided to modify or abolish a number of these concessions. We are doing so in the interests both of tax reform generally and of the ordinary taxpayer, who has to bear higher taxes than otherwise simply because the tax base has been so heavily eroded by concessions for sectional purposes. The saving to revenue in 1973-74 will be $1 16m and will rise sharply in later years. Details are set out in Statement No. 5.
-I will tell the honourable member if he is quiet and listens. I am sure he is capable of listening even if he is not capable of acting. There are a number of tax concessions for the mining industry, the original purposes of which have vanished. At present, all profits from gold mining. 20 per cent of the profits from mining certain prescribed minerals, and income derived by prospectors from the sale of mining rights are exempt. In addition, dividends paid out of those categories of exempt income and dividends, up to the level of deductible capital expenditures, paid out of profits from the sale of oil and natural gas, are exempt. The exemptions of profits from gold mining and 20 per cent of profits from mining prescribed minerals will be withdrawn commencing with this income year.
Income from the sale, after today, of mining rights, and dividends in the categories I have mentioned which are declared after today, will not be exempt.
There is a variety of concessions subsidising capital expenditures or encouraging otherwise uneconomic investment that the Government has decided to end.
The investment allowances for manufacturing and primary production plant allow a deduction of 20 per cent of the cost of the plant over and above normal depreciation, so that 120 per cent of the cost is deductible over the life of the plant. These allowances will not apply to expenditure incurred after today except where it is incurred under a contract already entered into and, in the case of manufacturing plant, is incurred by 30 June 1975.
Some capital expenditures by primary producers are wholly deductible in the year in which they are incurred, while others are subject to accelerated depreciation over five years. The deductions unduly favour those benefiting, and are seized upon by some, including ‘Pitt Street farmers’, to avoid tax. They can lead to resources being channelled into uneconomic activity and, in the process, may have questionable environmental consequences.
The concessions will not apply to expenditures incurred after today unless under a contract already entered into. In future, deductions will be allowed as ordinary depreciation for plant and structures, and over ten years for other items.
I turn now to certain major anomalies in the rates of tax levied on particular classes of companies. The general public company tax rate is 47.5 per cent, but private companies, life insurance companies and certain other companies pay less on some or all of their income. The differentials involved arose on no grounds of principle- indeed, there are no reasons why private and public companies should not be treated alike so far as the company tax rate is concerned. The differentials will be removed except in the case of co-operative and non-profit companies.
This will mean that, with the exceptions mentioned, the lower rate of tax on the first $10,000 of income will be abolished. Its existence encourages tax avoidance by means of company splitting. Mutual income of life insurance companies, which except for the first $10,000 of income has been taxed at 42.5 per cent, will be taxed at 47.5 per cent immediately, to apply in respect of 1972-73 income. A consequential change will be made to the rates on the 1973-74 investment income of a superannuation fund that does not observe the 30/20 rule. Private companies will pay tax on the whole of their 1 972-73 taxable income at a rate of 45 per cent. For subsequent years they will be taxed at the public company rate.
The Government proposes two other changes in the basis on which life insurance companies are taxed. Life insurance companies pay remarkably little tax in all of the relevant circumstances. Their taxable income is assessed on a most generous basis. A special deduction frees from tax an amount of income equal to 3 percent of calculated liabilities, and the rebate of tax on dividends confers an over-generous benefit. In respect of 1973-74 incomes the special deduction will be reduced from 3 per cent to 2 per cent of calculated liabilities, and the amount of dividends subject to rebate will be diminished by an appropriate part of the deductions allowed for calculated liabilities and expenses of general management.
The income tax deduction for private rates and land tax, which now has no upper limit, will be subject to a ceiling of $300 commencing with the income year 1973-74 and will be available only for a principal place of residence.
It is proposed to remove deductibility for gifts to war memorial funds, a concession that has been widely exploited. Gifts to appeals already launched will be deductible for 1973-74 but no deductions will be allowed thereafter.
There exists a remarkable anomaly in the basis of valuation of trading stock manufactured from grapes. A special provision permits a winemaker to value such stock for taxation purposes at any figure he chooses, provided only that it is no less than certain prescribed minimum values that have not been increased since the provision was introduced in 1953. A substantial deferral of tax results. The economic condition of the industry- including the transfer of a large part of it to foreign ownership-has changed markedly since 1953. If there ever was a case for a special basis of valuation it no longer exists. The provision will be repealed, and valuation in accordance with the general provisions of the law will be phased in by three annual steps starting with end- 1 973-74 valuations.
I turn now to the area of sales tax. The exemption from sales tax on non-alcoholic carbonated beverages containing not less than 5 per cent of Australian fruit juice will be abolished, with effect from tomorrow.
– The kids get no milk and now no soft drinks.
– If the honourable gentleman will listen I will tell him why this has been done. The ostensible purpose of the exemption is to enlarge the market for fruit grown in Australia. As such, it is a classic case of using the wrong instruments to achieve an objective. Of the $25m a year which the exemption costs, only a fraction finds its way to the fruitgrowers. In abolishing the exemption the Government stands ready to provide such funds as may be necessary to assist with the reconstruction of any sectors of the fruitgrowing industry that may be affected.
Several of our decisions designed to correct shortcomings in the taxation system affect customs and excise duties. Two of them merely bring the application of duties into line with current technology and paractice. They are a reduction in the wastage allowance on imported tobacco leaf to levels approximating present day actual wastage, and an increase in the specified dutiable contents of standard bulk beer containers to the actual average fills which are larger, now that stainless steel containers are widely used, than they once were. Both of these changes will take effect from tomorrow.
– How much?
– They are just technical changes to measure honestly the real tobacco content and the real beer content of the keg.
It has also been decided to abolish the difference in the rates of duty on brandy and on other spirits by raising the duty on brandy in three equal annual steps, commencing tomorrow. The differential, which was introduced in 1953-54 as an emergency measure, is anomalous and provides the industry with an advantage over its domestic competitors which cannot be justified.
It has been decided- for you world travellersto reduce the very generous duty free concessions on cigarettes, tobacco and liquor for passengers arriving in Australia. As from 1 October 1973 they will become 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco, or an equivalent quantity of cigars, and one litre of liquor.
We have also taken some decisions affecting taxation in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. The rate of pay-roll tax in both territories will be increased from 2 1 12 per cent to the present State level of 3 1/2 per cent from 1 September 1973, and from 1 July 1974 to the projected State level of 4 1 II per cent. Stamp duties in the Northern Territory will be increased to the levels ruling in the Australian Capital Territory. There will be increases in drivers licence and motor vehicle registration fees in the Australian Capital Territory.
The increased revenue arising from the decisions I have announced so far will go some way towards providing the additional revenue required in 1973-74 and towards financing our continuing programs in later years. I reiterate however that the primary objective of these decisions is not one of short-term revenue raising. It is to remove the accumulated distortions in the structure of the revenue system. The waste, economic injustice and misdirection of resources involved have not only hindered economic growth but have also given rise to much resentment as taxes generally have had to rise to offset the erosion of the tax base.
Other Structural Measures
The Government proposes two other measures, in the income tax area, not primarily for their revenue yield but to improve the tax structure.
First, the law relating to taxation of casual profits from the resale of property will be amended to increase certainty and reduce abuseWhere real or personal property is disposed of within twelve months of acquisition any profits made will generally be treated as assessable income of the taxpayer. An important exeption will be made to meet the case of a taxpayer who sells his residence in consequence of changing his place of employment. For disposal outside the twelve-month period the ordinary law will apply. The special provisions inserted last year in relation to share transactions will be repealed. The new provisions will apply to property acquired after today. Full details will be available when the legislation is introduced.
Secondly, in this year we shall commence to move towards a system for collecting company tax by quarterly instalments. This will serve a dual purpose of reducing inequity and improving economic management. The large seasonal swings in monetary liquidity associated with the concentration of company tax payments in the last quarter of the financial year are a hindrance to economic management. A more even spread of such payments would improve matters considerably. The move to quarterly payments will be phased in over three years, commencing in 1973-74. This year, one instalment of 25 per cent of tax will be payable before 1 January 1974, the balance being payable by the ordinary due date. This measure is thus concerned with the timing rather than amount of tax paid by companies.
Other Revenue Measures
Despite the revenue arising from these decisions, further revenue measures are needed. Personal income tax paid in 1973-74 is estimated to rise by $ 1,089m or close to 27 per cent. Even apart from the Policy Speech statement on income tax rates this fact militates against looking to personal income taxation for even more revenue. Companies particularly will be affected by several of the more important decisions I have already announced, as well as, in some sectors, by our tariff reduction decisions. It is therefore not proposed to take any further revenue-raising measures in that area. Those which we propose are in the field of customs and excise.
The increasing usage of motor vehicles, including commercial vehicles, imposes heavy costs on the community. I refer not only to the costs of roads but also the costs of police, traffic control, accidents and pollution. Australia, which on a per capita basis is one of the world’s most motorised nations and thus especially subject to these costs, levies comparatively low taxes on petrol. A recent OECD study indicated that, of the OECD members, only in Portugal and the United States were taxes on fuel a lower percentage of gross domestic product than in Australia. Meanwhile public transport services and urban services generally have been held back by lack of funds.
The Government has decided to raise the bulk of the additional revenue it requires by increasing the duty on motor spirit and on aviation gas, aviation turbine fuel and diesel fuel. The increase will be equivalent to 5c a gallon in each case save diesel fuel, where the increase will be fractionally less in order to bring the duties on motor spirit and diesel fuel, which currently differ by the equivalent of 0.2c a gallon, into line. The question whether an excise duty should be levied on liquefied gas used in motor vehicles is being put under study.
These increases will raise an estimated $130m in 1 973-74 and $ 1 5 7m in a full year.
The duty on cigarettes, tobacco and cigars will be increased. The increases will be equivalent to 5c of duty on the average packet of 20 cigarettes. Equivalent increases in duty will apply to other tobacco products. The increased duty will raise an estimated $63m in 1 973-74 and $76m in a full year.
The duty on potable spirits will be increased by the equivalent of about 3c a nip. This increase is estimated to yield $30m in 1973-74 and $36m in a full year.
In total, these increases in duty, which all take effect from tomorrow, are estimated to yield $223m in 1973-74 and $268m in a full year.
The Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise will be introducing amending legislation on these matters later this evening.
The question of whether these increases in excise duties I have announced can be added to prices of goods cleared after today, including in the case of potable spirits the consequential increase in sales tax payable, is of course a matter for the Prices Justification Tribunal in relation to those companies subject to the Prices Justification Act. It would be a matter of concern, however, if there were attempts to profit from the increases by adding mark-ups or making other arrangements to profit from the excise increase by those outside the ambit of the Prices Justification Tribunal who are involved in the manufacture, distribution and sale of the items in question.
After allowance for the decisions we have taken it is estimated that receipts will be $ 11,481m in 1973-74. This is an increase of $ 1,960m, or 20.6 per cent, over the 1972-73 level.
The summarise: Budget outlays are estimated to increase by $ 1,938m, or 18.9 per cent, to $12, 168m in 1973-74. Budget receipts are estimated to rise by $ 1,960m, or 20.6 per cent, to $11,48 lm.
The estimated deficit is thus $687m and the estimated domestic deficit $162m. In 1972-73 the deficit, on the same basis, was $709m and the domestic deficit $2 1 5m.
By ensuring that receipts will increase faster than outlays the Government has reduced the prospective domestic deficit from that of 1972-73. We thus propose a marked reversal of the highly expansionary 1972-73 situation, when outlays ran ahead at twice the rate of increase in receipts and the domestic balance, by comparison with the previous year, deteriorated by $620m.
This large turnabout in the Budget trend is, of course, not only appropriate but necessary in the buoyant economic circumstances which confront us in 1973-74.
The expenditure programs I have outlined tonight derive from our Election Policy Speech. They will be developed further in the years ahead and those election policy undertakings which we have not yet been able to embark on will also be encompassed. As the Prime Minister has emphasised, we will do what we have said we will do. To raise taxes and remove concessions is not a course on which we eagerly embark; there can have been few Treasurers who have enjoyed that course, and I am not among them. What I do say is that this Budget combines some appreciable steps towards fulfilling our electoral undertakings, with major reforms both on the revenue and the outlays side and, above *. all, a fiscally responsible outcome.
On that note, I commend the Budget to honourable members.
– To bring this to a merciful end, I move:
Question resolved in the affirmative. 48 REPRESENTATIVES 21 August 1973 Appropriation Bill (No.1)